What is a PTAC?

PTAC (Packaged Terminal Air Conditioner) is a standalone AC/heater that is installed through a wall. PTAC units are self-contained, meaning they do not rely on ducts to operate. This makes them a great option for those who want to heat or cool a single room versus an entire home or building.

What is a VTAC?

VTAC (Vertical Terminal Air Conditioner) is a vertical heating and cooling unit that is usually installed in a space hidden from view, such as a closet up against an outside wall. A VTAC can control the temperature of a single room or multiple rooms in a building.

PTAC vs VTAC: What’s the Difference?

While both VTAC and PTAC units are commonly used in similar settings — hotels, motels, assisted living facilities, etc. — there are quite a few differences between the two.

Firstly, PTAC units are installed into a wall via a wall sleeve so that they can be easily accessed and operated from the room. VTAC units, on the other hand, are installed in a closet or a similar space so that they are hidden from view. They still must go through the wall like a PTAC unit. This makes VTACs an appealing option for those who don’t want their heater/air conditioner in plain sight.

Because PTAC units are installed in a room, users can control the temperature directly on the unit or with a wall thermostat. Since VTAC units are hidden out of view, they can only be controlled via a thermostat. Both wired and wireless thermostats are available for both.

Pros and Cons of PTAC

Benefits of PTAC Units

  • Easy to install – PTAC units are easily installed directly into a wall with a wall sleeve – no ductwork necessary.
  • Inexpensive – PTAC units are fairly cheap to purchase compared to other commercial heating and cooling solutions. This means they can be easily replaced if necessary.

PTAC Drawbacks

  • Loud – Unfortunately, PTAC units aren’t the quietest heating and cooling options. Pay attention to factors such as Sound Transmission Class (STC) and decibel ratings to compare loudness across models.
  • One-dimensional – PTAC units can only control a single room, which doesn’t make them practical for an entire building.
To determine the right PTAC capacity, check out our guide on PTAC unit sizing.

Pros and Cons of VPTAC

Benefits of VPTAC Units

  • Versatile – VTAC units can control the temperature of one or multiple rooms.
  • Quiet – Because they’re hidden out of view, VTAC units are ideal for those who want a quiet HVAC solution.
  • Powerful – VTAC units are available in sizes of up to 2 tons for more power.

Disadvantages of VTAC Units

  • Expensive – VTAC units carry a higher price tag than many other HVAC solutions.

PTAC vs VTAC Summary





Service capacity

Noise level



Relatively cheap

Easier to install

Exterior wall

Single room




More Expensive

Requires ductwork

Exterior wall in a dedicated closet

One or multiple spaces


Hidden from view

Our clients often ask, “what is the best heat pump for my condo?” We are restricted by Condo HVAC requirements, space, compatibility, and liability issues in a condo environment. Therefore, we may only have a few choices when selecting the correct replacement heat pump system for your condo.

Condo Heat Pump System

Condo Heat pump is different from traditional air-source heat pump in residential homes. Residential Heat pumps have to have two systems connected; one indoor & one outdoor (condenser). They are also known for ductless heat pumps or mini-splits. Condo Heat pumps are also known as Water Source Heat Pump Systems

Condo heat pump systems are package units, and there is no requirement to have an outdoor condenser connected to it. 

How Does a Heat Pump Work In a Condo?

Water Source Heat Pumps use the building water loop system to dissipate and extract the heat during refrigeration cycles. In the air source heat pump, this cycle happens via the outdoor heat pump unit, where the fan dissipates the heat into the air. 

How Does a Heat Pump Work In a Condo?

Water Source Heat Pumps use the building water loop system to dissipate and extract the heat during refrigeration cycles. In the air source heat pump, this cycle happens via the outdoor heat pump unit, where the fan dissipates the heat into the air. 

Where Is The Heat Pump Located In My Condo?

Condo Heat Pump Systems are located inside a closet or through the wall in a cabinet space. The heat pump’s electrical & mechanical compartments are accessible through an access panel door.

Here we can briefly elaborate on each limitation.

Condo Heat Pump Installation Requirements

Although condo water source heat pump units are individual HVAC systems, they are connected to the building’s common elements Plumbing, Boiler, Cooling Tower, Heat Exchangers & Pumps. Each heat pump is designed to operate within a specific water temperature & flow range. Low or inadequate water flow or temperature can result in heat pump malfunction, such as intermediate shutdowns & resets. Therefore, replacing your heat pump with another manufacturer may not always be a good idea since your building has specific designs and requirements for each apartment.

Condo Heat Pump System – Cabinet Space

Condo heat pumps are located in a tight cabinet space inside the wall cavity. These HVAC systems come in different dimensions & design specifications. There are various types of heat pump manufacturers in the market, but not all have the same specs, designs,  and dimensions. Therefore, we have a space limitation when trying to replace an existing heat pump with a newer model. 


Condo heat pumps consist of mechanical & electrical components. When replacing a heat pump, you only need to replace the mechanical compartment (Chassis), not the electrical (circuit board). Therefore, it is best always to replace your heat pump with the same manufacturer to avoid further compatibility issues in the future. Please keep that in mind, replacing a circuit board may increase the costs of parts & labor. 

Liability Issues

There are a lot of unknown brands and custom manufacturers in the market. Living in a condo comes with a lot of responsibilities against your neighbours. Condo heat pumps can cause floods, leaks, or even unwanted noise if not designed or installed correctly. We recommend installing reputable manufacturers with proper track records to avoid future downtime and liability problems. 

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