Should I Buy A Rooftop Or Interior Mounted AC Unit?

Should I Buy A Rooftop Or Interior Mounted AC Unit?

Mar 29th 2023

If you are considering an air conditioner for your semi truck/tractor, commercial van, or other HD vehicle, you may be wondering if it's better to install a rooftop or interior-mounted unit. The answer depends on the type of vehicle, which in most cases, has a preferred mounting location. That's why it's important to check the vehicle's manual or look for some form of indention, reinforcement, or other indicators as a guide for where a unit can be installed.

However, if your HD vehicle provides options for either a rooftop or interior/back-wall unit, this guide can help you decide which option is best. In it, we'll cover the two types of air conditioners and things to consider before making a decision.  

Rooftop Air Conditioners

Rooftop air conditioners are a great option when you have limited space in your cab or want to mount one out of the way, giving you more room for crew or equipment.  Units like the Red Dot R-9727-3-24P are ideal for vehicles used in tough, off-road work environments like construction, mining, and agriculture.  The rooftop location also helps minimize exposure to dirt and dust. Additionally, the rooftop mounting locations tend to be more centered, which helps distribute airflow in the cab and crew compartment more evenly.  

However, there are some drawbacks to a rooftop air conditioner, including the following:

  • The primary drawback is weight. Many units weigh more than 100 pounds, which makes installation difficult.
  • If your vehicle is not set up for a rooftop unit, you may need to reinforce the roof structure to prevent damage to your cab or crew space.  
  • The rooftop location makes rooftop units harder to service than interior-mounted air conditioners. 
  • Exposure to obstacles like low-hanging branches or low-clearance areas can damage rooftop air conditioners. 
  • Typically rooftop units are more expensive than interior-mounted air conditioners. 

Interior Mounted Air Conditioners

Interior-mounted air conditioners are ideal for various applications, including vans, commercial trucks, and agricultural, construction, and mining vehicles. For example, the Red Dot R-6840 On/Off-Road Backwall Air Conditioner is compact, measuring less than 21 inches tall, 12 inches wide, and weighing about 26 pounds. Yet it still provides a similar cooling capacity to many larger, roof-mounted units. Additionally, the cost of an interior-mounted air conditioner is significantly less than a roof-mounted unit, giving you budget flexibility as well as mounting flexibility.   

Drawbacks for interior-mounted air conditioners include:

  • The mounting location could affect airflow and output.
  • It takes up interior space - two to three cubic feet on average. 
  • The mounting location could require structural reinforcements. 

Let PartDeal Help You Decide Which Air Conditioner Is Best For Your Vehicle

If you still have questions about rooftop mounted vs. interior-mounted air conditioners, call us at (503) 802-1370 or contact us online. We can help you find a solution that fits your needs and budget. 

Our friendly and knowledgeable team has years of parts-industry knowledge. That's how we provide a unique combination of customer service and technical expertise for OEMs, fleet operators, dealerships, installers, and exporters. Plus, we can help you find replacements or matches for obsolete parts, set up special orders, or create custom parts with your branding on them.