What is the difference between a residential mailbox and a commercial mailbox?
Given no other information beyond these simple terms, most people might mistakenly conclude that the only difference is that a residential mailbox is used for residential mail while a commercial mailbox is used for business or commerce mail. But there’s much more to it than that.
Commercial Mailbox Regulations
Residential mailboxes are not subject to the same scrutiny or regulations as commercial mailboxes. The United States Postal Service (USPS) regulates the use of commercial mailboxes and dictates the specifications for their manufacturing, installation, and use.
While residential mailboxes are typically purchased by the homeowner who, for the most part, can choose whatever type of residential mailbox best suits his or her needs, commercial mailboxes are most often chosen by a developer or property manager; someone who has a duty to choose a mailbox system that will accommodate a wide variety of needs.
To assist commercial mailbox buyers, the USPS sets specific standards for commercial mailboxes that provide a high degree of security, ergonomics, and quality for the widest array of users, including height restrictions to accommodate those with disabilities.
In this article, we will look at four key areas where USPS approved commercial mailboxes are quite distinct from their counterpart residential mailboxes including:
- Inclusion of Parcel Lockers for Small Packages
- Heavy Duty Commercial Mailbox Construction
- Mounting and Installation Guidelines
- Multiple Mailbox Configurations
Commercial Mailbox Parcel Lockers
First, commercial mailboxes often feature parcel lockers so that small packages can be safely and securely delivered in a separate, larger mailbox compartment that is accessible only by a key that is placed in the tenant’s mailbox by the postal carrier. While some large residential mailboxes can accommodate packages as well as mail, most struggle to do so with the same level of package security that a USPS-approved commercial mailbox provides.
Heavy Duty Mailbox Construction
Second, while great strides have been made in utilizing the highest quality raw materials for the construction of residential mailboxes (especially by The MailboxWorks’ mailbox designers), commercial mailboxes take heavy-duty construction to a completely new level. Fabricated with heavy-duty extruded aluminum with welded seams and 360-degree wrap around stainless steel hinges, vandal proof commercial mailboxes are designed for secure, continuous, uninterrupted use over long periods of time.
Commercial Mailbox Installation & Mounting Recommendations
Third, because property managers and developers have varied applications for their use, commercial mailboxes are offered with several different styles of mounting or installation options but must still meet USPS requirements. Commercial mailboxes can often be mounted:
- Upon a post or pedestal outdoors
- Into an outdoor enclosure or mail stand
- Wall mounted for rear access by the postal carrier
- Wall mounted for front access by the postal carrier
- Plus various other mounting options
Residential mailboxes, on the other hand, are designed for only four specific mounting applications, which may be at the homeowner’s discretion:
- Wall mounted residential mailboxes
- Through wall mailbox installation (mail slots)
- Curbside post mounted residential mailboxes
- Column mounted residential mailboxes
The MailboxWorks recommends that you always check with your local postmaster first if you are installing a new residential mailbox or moving your existing mailbox location.
Standard Commercial Mailbox Configurations
Finally, while residential mailboxes simply serve the homeowner, commercial mailboxes nearly always feature multiple mailbox units. Property managers and developers are generally given the opportunity to choose from a number of different commercial mailbox configurations.
Some commercial mailboxes may feature dozens of tenant doors plus parcel lockers and an outgoing mail slot. It’s easy to see how these commercial cluster mailboxes can become a community hub for tenant interaction – far different than the solitude that a walk to a residential mailbox provides.