As you consider your options for a new air conditioner, it’s a good idea to explore your options. A common question is whether there is a particular type of air conditioner that is better than others. Here are the main types you may want to explore and a little about the situations they are ideally suited to serve.
Ductless Mini-Split Units
A ductless mini-split is essentially a form of heat pump air conditioning, but with individual air handlers throughout your home. These mount to your wall and have refrigerant lines that go through the outside wall and out to the heat pump unit.
Unlike a central air unit, you may have several air handlers, each with its own evaporator coil. However, they all tie into the same heat pump and compressor, so you aren’t running multiple independent units.
This kind of unit works for nearly any size home that needs more control over zoning. They also are often sought because they don’t require tying into or installing new ductwork throughout your home.
Ductless mini-splits are more expensive to install than a standard central air conditioning system. They also do not provide the same amount of circulation as a central air handler. However, that is easy to overcome with some ceiling and pedestal fans.
Central Air Conditioner
Most people think of the central air conditioner when they think of a home air conditioning system. This has a central air handler and a single evaporator coil, usually tied into the heating system. It pulls air in through the same return vents, cools it, and then pushes it back out through the ductwork.
These are often easy to install, especially if you already have existing ductwork. The newer models are energy efficient, so with proper maintenance, they provide substantial cooling for the energy consumed.
Unlike the ductless mini-split system, the basic central air commonly has a single thermostat for your home. This leads to some areas of your house being cooler than others, depending on several factors. If you want to invest a little more, you can add zone control, but that also adds more complexity to your ductwork.
Window & Portable Room Units
When a central air unit goes out, one common idea is to replace it with a window or portable room unit. The common thought is that these units are less expensive to install and use less energy than central air.
While the wattage on these units is certainly less, the idea that they use less energy is a bit of a fallacy. With a properly fitted central air system, your unit will run for 15 to 20 minutes per cycle. It may run two or three cycles per hour when operating at its optimal efficiency.
Window and portable units are often used ineffectively. Either you run multiple units throughout the house or try to cool too large a space for the size unit. For the latter, this keeps the system running for longer cycles and running those cycles more frequently.
If you choose to use multiple units, you are running several individual full air conditioning systems. This drives up your energy consumption considerably and also creates multiple systems to maintain.
These smaller systems are perfect for small apartments, individual dorm rooms, or other small spaces. These may also be a good idea for additions until you’re ready to add to your whole-house system.
If you live in a tight space, a packaged heating and cooling system may be the right idea. Most systems are split, with both inside and outside components. A packaged system contains everything in one unit that sits outside, usually on concrete or the roof.
These are perfect when you don’t have space for the indoor air handling unit. They also keep everything together, which can improve energy efficiency.
However, they also are more prone to damage, being everything sits in the unit outside. It can also be difficult to find a location sufficient to install the unit. If you do not already have this kind of system, it can pose a challenge when tying it into your existing ductwork.
Affordable Service Solutions Heating & Air Conditioning has been a trusted installer of new air conditioners for people around Richmond since 2012. Residents seek out our technicians for their expertise in heating and cooling installation, maintenance, and repair. Call to schedule a consultation with one of our expert AC installers today.