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What is the difference between HVAC and AC?

Sanks Mechanical is among the leading residential HVAC companies serving Pennsylvania, and there are a lot of acronyms that we use on a daily basis and tend to take for granted. But every now and then we’ll meet a new homeowner who asks us a question, such as what is the difference between HVAC and AC, that reminds us that these terms aren’t necessarily as clear to our customers.

What Is HVAC?

HVAC is an acronym that stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. These are the three core technologies used in most homes in order to control temperature, humidity, and indoor air quality. HVAC refers to the overall system and isn’t necessarily limited to just those components. It can, for instance, encompass dehumidifiers and air purifiers.

What Is AC?

AC is also an acronym, and it stands for air conditioning. This refers to any system within your home used to cool it and keep you comfortable during the summer. When the term AC is used within the context of HVAC, it often indicates a central air conditioning system, which is the most prevalent form, but there are other technologies, including window AC units and ductless air conditioners.

The Component Difference

HVAC as a home comfort concept is all-inclusive. If you have a forced-air furnace that heats your home in winter, a central AC that cools your home in summer, and a mechanical ventilation system that introduces fresh air throughout the year, those are all aspects of your HVAC system. AC, on the other hand, refers just to the aspect that cools the home. It often refers to an air conditioner, but AC can also refer to the cooling mode of a heat pump, a system that both heats and cools.

The Functional Difference

In order to understand what the difference between HVAC and AC is, it helps to look at these concepts from a functional perspective. An AC has evaporators that allow it to exchange heat energy inside the home to the outside and also a drainage line for condensation. HVAC encompasses that but also the electrical system that powers the AC and the air handler that forces air through the system.

What About Heating Systems?

Heating is another important aspect of understanding what the difference between HVAC and AC is,  as the H in HVAC stands for heating. Furthermore, almost all homes in the U.S. have some form of heating system whereas it’s much more common not to have AC in certain areas, such as up north. Furnaces and air conditioners are the traditional pairing, but heating systems also include boilers, the heat mode of heat pumps, and the heat modes of ductless mini splits.

Sanks Mechanical Is Here to Help

HVAC is the whole. AC is part of the whole, and Sanks Mechanical is here to help you with your AC or any other aspect of your HVAC system. We also encourage you to call us or contact us online if you have any additional questions about what is the difference between HVAC and AC.

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