HVAC systems come in different types, sizes and forms. Some of them are capable of both heating and cooling and some of them are specifically designed for either heating or cooling. Last time, I talked about the heating systems. So, it’s time for the cooling systems to get their fair share.
Before I talk about the different types of cooling systems, let me start by saying that cooling systems do not work heating systems. While heating systems use the energy to produce heat, these air conditioners use energy to take the heat away. These air conditioning units use the typical compressor cycle used in your refrigerator.
Now that you know how these cooling systems or air conditioners work, let’s talk about the different types of AC that people use in their households.
1. Central Air Conditioners or The Heat Pumps
Central AC unit and heat pumps are very common in North American households. While a central air conditioner is equipped to make the home cool centrally, the Heat Pumps can do both heating and air conditioning for your home.
In a central AC unit, you will find a large compressor and using the refrigerants inside it, the central Air conditioner keeps the house cool. The heat pumps are similar to the central AC units but the major difference is while a central AC unit can just turn down the temperature, these heat pumps can also work the other way around.
Also, the heat pumps are more versatile than central AC unit. These heat pumps can be sourced from the air or from the ground, giving us the Air-Source heat pump and Ground-Source or Geothermal heat pump.
Due to the versatility and efficiency of these heat pumps and central AC units, the number of HVAC companies increased. Now, Trane systems, Carrier systems and GoodMan systems are some of the most popular ones in the market. These units are rated by SEER and EER. The higher the SEER and EER rating, the more efficient the HVAC system is.
The best use of these central AC units is as commercial HVAC systems because you get a bigger coverage for an average HVAC cost.
2. Room Air Conditioners
Room Air conditioners are most popular for single room use – as you can guess from the name.
These are small air conditioning units and they are less efficient than the central AC units. You can only condition one room or a small space using a room AC.
They are mostly mounted on the walls. But other setups are available too. The compressor of the room AC is kept outside while the unit that blows the air in the room is mounted on the wall. Unlike the Central AC units and Heat Pumps, these room air conditioners are only rated by EER, which is the cooling output amount divided by the total power consumption. As usual, the higher the ratings are, the higher efficiency you get from these air conditioners. Besides, these are the more inexpensive options for small homes and single rooms because these room AC units are a lot less than central AC units.
3. Evaporative Coolers
Evaporative Coolers pull the outside fresh air and put them through a moisture pad. This moisture pad then makes the air cool by evaporation and that’s how you get the cold breeze in your room.
These evaporative coolers are also called swamp coolers sometimes. They are not as common as vapor compression AC units that use refrigerants to cool the environment. However, using the moisture pad instead of refrigerants has its own advantage. Due to the usage of moisture pads, people on the southeast side of America, where the environment is much dry, these evaporative coolers work better.
They also feel somewhat different from other air conditioners because the air from these coolers feel like natural winter breeze and not like traditional AC breeze. As for the efficiency in cost, these cut almost 75% of the electricity bills in the summer. This is because the only mechanical component of these coolers consume energy is the fan. Besides, compared to the central AC units, they cost almost half. So, for the households in the Southeast part of North America, these Evaporative coolers are a good option.
4. Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioners
Mini-Split Air conditioners work like traditional air conditioners. They have compressors that stays outside and the air flowing or air handling unit stays inside either mounted or on any other setup in the house.
These mini-split ACs are used in households where there is no air ducts or vents setup. This means no molds in duct, no mold removals, no air duct cleaning cost to bear. You only need to manage the AC repair cost and energy cost.
Another major advantage of these split cooling systems is the zoning facility. With these split HVAC systems, you can control the temperature and humidity of the different zones of your house. So, when you feel cold in the living room, you can just increase the temperature of the living room without violating the temperature balance in the guestrooms, bedrooms or the kitchen. Also, having no air ducts for the HVAC system means you are saving from your energy bills. That’s why I personally, would suggest these split systems if you have a big house.
Let’s review what we have learned from here. Central AC units are efficient and cover a lot of areas. But the heat pumps are much more flexible because they can do both heating and cooling as you need. Then we have the room air conditioners that are used in a single room or small space. They are comparatively inexpensive and energy-saving. However, the most inexpensive options are evaporative coolers. They are cheap and best suitable for dry areas like the Southeast part. And lastly, we have the ductless mini-split systems. As they are ductless, you don’t need to bear air duct cleaning costs or maintenance for them. The only thing you need to manage is the AC maintenance & repair cost when required. Most importantly, you can control the individual zones with these AC units, which is a big advantage for medium to big houses. So, I would suggest the Ductless Mini-Split AC setup for your house.