There are many options available to you when it comes to selecting which system is best to replace your old air conditioner. There’s no cookie cutter approach to replacing and installing an A/C unit. Our Comfort Consultants approach this problem differently depending on our clients’ needs and the home they’re working in. Our trained air conditioning experts will assess the situation and make sure you have the right air conditioning unit to keep you comfortable all season long.
Types of Central Air Conditioning Systems
There are two primary central air conditioner system configurations: a split system and a package system.
A split system includes an outdoor metal cabinet, which contains the condenser and compressor, and an indoor cabinet which contains the evaporator coil. The outdoor cabinet is located next to the home and the evaporator coil is located inside the home, above or near the air handler unit (furnace or blower). The indoor components may be located in a crawlspace, basement, attic, or closet. In split systems, the outdoor and indoor units must be properly matched in order to achieve their efficiency rating.
In a package system, all of the mechanical parts are housed in one cabinet, typically located outside the house.
In size and appearance, a heat pump looks like a central air conditioner. But unlike a central air conditioning system, which only cools a home, a heat pump provides both heating and cooling. Here’s another way to think of it. A heat pump is an air conditioner in the summer and a reverse air conditioner in the winter.
Most central heat pumps are split‐systems, which means they have an indoor unit and an outdoor unit. Some heat pumps are packaged systems, which means they usually have the compressor, condenser, evaporator coil, and fan located outdoors in a single cabinet. During the summer, a heat pump extracts heat from your indoor air, transfers the heat through refrigerant, and releases it to the outside. In the winter, the heat pump takes that hot air and, instead of venting it to the outside, pushes it back into your home. When an air‐source heat pump is heating your home, the cooling cycle is reversed. Whereas an air conditioner works just in the summer, the outside unit of a heat pump system works all year.
An air handler contains the components that move the air throughout your home, called the blower. It is usually set inside the home and operates with both the heating and cooling components of your HVAC system. If you take a quick look at an air handler, it may closely resemble a furnace. Air handlers can run with an air conditioner and contains the indoor coil, used to cool and heat your home depending on which system it’s running with.
If you have a heat pump outside your home, the air handler is likely the indoor component comprising your two-part, split system that keeps the indoor temperature of your home comfortable all year long. Most often, are located in the attic, basement or a dedicated closet, and may closely resemble the shape of a gas furnace. As its name suggests, an air handler “handles” the air inside your home and delivers warm or cool indoor air throughout your entire home. What would we do without delivery!
A Ductless Unit
A ductless heat pump or air conditioner typically consists of a wall-mounted indoor unit combined with an outside compressor. It’s most often used in a situation where a window AC unit or baseboard heating would be considered, such as a new addition to a house. But unlike window units, ductless units require only a very small hole to be drilled into the wall, making them less vulnerable to air leakage and security problems. Plus, they’re less visible and audible.
They’re also exceedingly energy-efficient. In an average house, you may lose 25% of your energy to ductwork. Simply by removing the ducts, you end up with a more efficient system. Ductless models also have inverter-driven compressors, which speed up and slow down based on the needs of the system instead of shutting off entirely like traditional HVAC compressors do.
Geothermal energy is up to 500% efficient. In other words, when you use one unit of electricity, you get up to five units back to condition the air in your home. That means that it takes less energy to keep you comfortable which saves you money. Plus, it can heat your water during the summer without additional energy usage. Since heating and cooling your home accounts for about 50% of your utility bills and water heating is another 14%, you can save big. Geothermal systems are so energy efficient that you may get your investment back in savings in as a little of 5-10 years, depending upon the efficiency of the system you are replacing.