If it has been years since you last purchased an air conditioner, you might be surprised how many options you now have. A few decades ago, almost every homeowner either opted for central air or window units. Now, alternative options — like geothermal air conditioning, ductless systems, and hybrid air conditioners — have become quite commonplace. Keep reading to learn the basics about each type of system so you can make the best choice for your home's air conditioning replacement.
Central air conditioning systems consist of an outdoor condensing unit, an evaporator coil (which usually sits on top of your furnace), and a system of ducts. If you have a furnace for heating, the AC unit will use the same ducts as your furnace. Central AC units are the easiest to come by and are easy to install if you already have ducts. However, they are not as energy-efficient as some of the other options on this list, especially if you have an older home with leaky ducts.
Window Air Conditioners
Window AC units are the cheapest option in many cases, but they are not a very efficient choice. You'll need one unit per room, and you have to install and uninstall the units every season. A window unit might be a smart choice, however, if you live in an area where you rarely need to use the air conditioning and you just want the ability to cool one or two rooms down a bit.
Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioners
Ductless mini-split air conditioners consist of two primary components. There's an outdoor condenser, just as there is with a central AC system. There's also an air handler, which is mounted on the wall and blows the air directly into your living space. Because of this arrangement, there are no ducts associated with this type of system. This makes ductless AC a good choice for owners of older homes with narrow walls that can't accommodate ductwork. If you have a boiler heating system, for example, and you want a more efficient choice than window units, you should consider installing a ductless AC system.
Even some homeowners with existing ductwork are choosing ductless systems over standard central AC systems. This is because ductless AC tends to be more efficient, particularly if the ducts are worn and leaky. Ductless AC systems also let you control the temperatures of various zones in your home independently, since you can install two or more separate air handling units.
Geothermal Air Conditioners
Geothermal air conditioners are really popular among those who favor green living and extreme energy efficiency. This type of system circulates water through pipes that run through the soil deep below your home. The water gathers heat as it travels through your home, and then it discharges that heat into the soil. Most geothermal systems are set up to heat a home in the winter and cool it in the summer.
Although geothermal systems are efficient, they are expensive and hard to install. Energy companies in your area might offer rebates and incentives to make geothermal systems more affordable.
Hybrid air conditioning systems are a cross between a classic, electricity-powered air conditioner and a heat pump, which works by gathering heat from your home and discharging it into the air. Generally, these systems are set up similarly to a ductless mini-split AC system. Some are reversible, heating your home in the winter and cooling it in summer.
To learn more about the above types of air conditioners, reach out to an AC installation company near you. They can help you choose the best type of system for your climate and cooling needs.
A few years ago, I could tell that we were having serious furnace problems. In addition to dealing with a house that was constantly too cold or too warm, we were also plagued by a noisy, smelly furnace that seemed to have trouble on a daily basis. Unfortunately, I didn't know enough about furnaces at the time to spot the problems quickly. One day, the entire system died, and it was beyond repair. After having that experience, I learned a lot about HVAC systems, so that I could troubleshoot future systems. This website is all about teaching you what you need to know so that you don't end up in the same situation.