What Type of AC Unit do I Need?
TechXpert verified by Ken Kontra
Your AC unit should match the size and layout of your home and your available energy source. Buying a new AC unit is an investment, so you’ll want to choose the most cost-efficient style for your home.
Six Ways to Keep Cool
The six types of AC units are each unique, serving the same purpose (keeping you cool), but with a different approach.
Central AC units are the most common, especially for larger homes where they can cool all the rooms efficiently. This type of cooling system consists of the evaporator and blower in one indoor unit, condenser and compressor in one outdoor unit, normally located on either the roof or near the foundation of your home. Central AC units circulate air through supply and return ducts that line the walls or floors of your house and circulate air from the inside of your house to redistribute as cool air.
You can also link your central AC unit to heating coils or a natural gas furnace inside your house to serve multiple purposes. Picking the right size of central AC unit is crucial so it can maximize the amount of energy it uses and ensure your utility costs stay where they should be.
Ductless, Mini-Split AC
A ductless, mini-split AC unit may be the best fit for your home if it lacks ductwork or if you’re looking to cool rooms individually. Similar to central AC units, this type of cooling system combines an outdoor compressor and condenser that connects to indoor air-handling units.
Mini-split systems can have as many as four indoor unit handlings, and each of these zones has its own thermostat where you can adjust the temperature for that room. This type of cooling system can be more energy efficient than others — and more cost-effective, since it can be installed without tearing apart your walls. However, if you plan on cooling your entire house, this system will likely be more expensive.
Window units are a great choice for cooling small spaces or individual rooms. All the parts are combined in a single unit that’s installed in your window next to a thermostat gauge where you can control the temperature.
Similar to window units, portable AC units are best for cooling individual rooms. An extra perk is that they’re self-contained and free-standing, meaning you can move them easily from room to room. All a portable unit requires is an outlet to power and a window where it can release the exhaust air.
A heat pump gives you dual action — cooling in the summer and heating in the winer. To cool, a heat pump transfers heat from the indoor air handler unit and rejects it outside at the heat pump unit . To warm your home, the refrigerant cycle reverses, extracts heat from the outside air and transfers it indoors.
This system has an electric back up resistance heat assembly that supplements the heat pump during extremely cold weather, or during defrost cycles. This is commonly called an air to air heat pump system.
Geothermal Heating and Cooling
This type of heating and cooling system is very energy efficient and sustainable, likely lasting you longer than other types of AC units. A geothermal coil is inserted deep in the ground and depending on the season, it can both warm and cool your home.
In the summer, the coil extracts heat from your house and redistributes it back into the ground.In the winter, it extracts heat from the ground and redistributes it into your home. Overall, this technology is durable and highly efficient.
Time to Chill
Once you’ve selected the best AC unit for your home, all you need to do is sit back and chill. With a proper, professional installation, you can rely on your AC system to keep you cool all summer long.
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