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What are the Types of Air Conditioning Systems?

If you need to replace an old air conditioner or are perhaps looking to expand or upgrade your existing AC, it’s helpful to appreciate the full range of options available on the market. Sanks Mechanical is an HVAC company that has served Southeastern PA for more than a decade and which has installed, serviced, and repaired a wide range of air conditioning systems used in area homes. Let us explore what are the types of air conditioning systems and consider the pros, cons, and usage scenarios for each.

Central AC

Central air conditioning is the most prevalent form of residential air conditioning in the U.S. These systems have an air conditioning unit but also a blower that forces cooled air through ducts, and due to pressure, that air reaches the living spaces in an even manner via return vents. There are a number of advantages to central AC, including noise, efficiency, and consistent comfort throughout the home.

Central air conditioners have traditionally been paired with forced-air furnaces, which provide heat. But you also have the option of a heat pump. A heat pump is similar to an air conditioner in that it transfers heat energy, but a heat pump can do it in both directions and therefore heat and cool. Dual-fuel systems are also an option. These provide you the energy-efficiency benefits of a heat pump most of the time, but when the temperatures get extremely low, an auxiliary furnace kicks in and provides heat.

Ductless AC

A ductless air conditioner cools a home with the same fundamental technologies used with central AC but blows the cooled air directly into the living space rather than ductwork. Ductless AC has long been a popular solution in older homes that weren’t built with HVAC ducts and for home additions and garage apartments. More recently, ductless systems have become a popular alternative to centralized systems when implementing zoned HVAC. Some homeowners also opt to have a ductless system in a particular room, such as a bedroom, as an add-on to the central system that serves the entire home.

When discussing what are the types of air conditioning systems, it’s important to note that ductless air conditioners are also referred to as mini-splits, a term that refers to their overall size relative to a centralized system and that they’re a split system, which means some of the components are inside and some outside. You can opt for a cooling-only mini-split, or you can choose a mini-split heat pump that can provide both heating and cooling similar to the central heat pumps discussed above.

Window AC Units

A window AC is a self-contained—or packaged as opposed to split—unit that is installed in a window. They’re an effective option in small areas where no other form of cooling is practical, such as in a garage or dorm room, and particularly in regions where the need for cooling is neither high nor consistent. The downsides to window AC units are that they can be noisy and a bit of an eyesore. They also occupy your window, and if you’re on an upper floor, you have to take great care to ensure that they’re properly secured.

Portable AC Units

In the discussion about what are the types of air conditioning systems, portable ACs, which are an alternative to window ACs, are a relatively new option. They are similar to window ACs in that they’re self-contained but stand on their own and don’t need to be mounted. Portable units do, however, still need access to a window or similar space in order to exhaust heat. Use in RVs is largely what has driven innovation with portable AC. In a home, a window unit is generally preferable, but a portable unit may make sense if your windows are not appropriate for mounting an AC or your HOA or apartment forbids them.

Local Air Conditioning Pros in Southeastern PA

Sanks Mechanical is here to help with all of your AC needs, and you can call us today at 1-215-960-4803 or reach out to us online. We’d be glad to schedule a consultation or answer any additional questions about what are the types of air conditioning systems and which is right for your home.

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