Windy City Reps

Packaged Terminal Heat Pumps as a Hospitality HVAC Solution

September 17, 2021

The average US hotel spends up to $2,196 per room in energy costs each year. A sizable bit of that bill goes to keeping HVAC systems running. Because hotel occupancy rates can be difficult to forecast, HVAC services must run even in empty rooms, and that alone adds up quickly. 

​Luckily, recent advances in HVAC technology make cutting energy use much easier for hospitality property owners. One of these is the packaged terminal heat pump, a cost-effective, energy-efficient, and easy-to-install solution. Let’s talk about this system and how it can help lower your property’s energy bills.

Basics: Heat Pumps vs. Air Conditioner Units​

Until recently, the majority of rooms in a hotel or assisted living facility used packaged terminal air conditioner (PTAC) units. The single cabinet is designed to fit in a slot with outdoor access but does not require any ducting in the interior. With an air conditioning unit, the refrigerant is warmed by the inside air, sent outside to be cooled down, and the cooler air is moved around inside.

This works for cooling areas, but properties delivering hospitality services run into a problem at or below 60 °F.

A standard PTAC unit provides heat by moving air over a heated element. In comparison, a heat pump simply reverses the process for cooling: the refrigerant absorbs heat from the outside (down to a very low temperature) and transfers it inside.

Packaged Terminal Heat Pumps vs. PTAC Units​

The key issue when it comes to using packaged terminal units is understanding their efficiency levels. Both an air conditioner and a heat pump operate with the same amount of efficiency when providing cooling to a unit. The key difference is during heating. A single unit of electricity used to power a heat strip is only able to provide one unit of heat. In addition, the system must still power the fan that moves the air.

In comparison, the heat pump is not heating the air, but moving the refrigerant from the evaporator to the condenser and back. This provides a maximum efficiency of up to three times that of a traditional PTAC unit with a heating element. As the temperature drops, the efficiency of the heat pump drops, but not drastically.

Even in snowy and cold states, heat pumps can still be more efficient than baseboard heaters at temperatures down to 0 °F. The cost savings simply aren’t as dramatic, dropping to 200 percent efficiency at that temperature and lower depending on the particular unit’s capacity.

Comparing Packaged Terminal Heat Pumps vs. Mini-Split Units​

'A mini-split unit moves the condenser from the room to either the roof or the ground outside of a hotel or assisted living facility. Doing so offers several benefits: the noise of the compressor is further away from occupants and ducting can be used to deliver air through the ceiling, tops of walls, or even existing ducting. Since condensers are outside of the room, more space is available for occupants and the air can be delivered via wall-mounted units or ceiling cassettes.

The same flexibility for an HVAC retrofit or upgrade can be problematic for a property manager who is simply looking for a quick upgrade. Packaged terminal heat pumps can be installed by a handyman or maintenance person without specialized tooling and only require an available AC outlet. In addition, many manufacturers offer remote connectivity to allow for centrally set minimum and maximum temperatures to optimize efficiency.

Packaged terminal heat pumps offer significantly higher heating-efficiency than standard PTACs and are one of the most cost-effective options for retrofits. Indeed, they’re an ideal choice for any savvy property manager.

One Step Further: Vertical Packaged Terminal Heat Pumps Offer Additional Benefit​

A vertical packaged terminal heat pump can be installed on the exterior of a building and concealed in the space to; enhance aesthetics, reduce sound and allow for ducted air distribution with outside air ventilation. These units can also be designed to accommodate cold weather climates (down to -10 °F) by incorporating heat pump operation and then auto-changeover to electric resistive heating or gas heat. Brands like Napoleon offer this type of solution. See rendering photo below.


Contact Windy City Representatives for HVAC Design and Commissioning

Contact Windy City Representatives for HVAC Design and Commissioning Windy City Representatives can assist you in everything related to packaged terminal heat pumps. We are a full-service manufacturer’s rep firm offering competitive pricing as well as end-to-end service and support on state-of-art commercial HVAC products. To request a quote, call us at (630) 590-6933 or email us at

At Windy City Representatives, we partner with premier HVAC equipment providers to help you design the best HVAC system for your building or facility’s needs and budget. 

Contact us today for a quote or bid.
200 Windsor Drive
Oak Brook, IL 60523
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