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Types of Air Conditioning Systems

What AC type should i buy

The long hot days of summer are finally upon us! Is your home ready to take the heat? If you’re looking for a cooling solution, there are several options to choose from.

Every home and every situation will lend itself better to a certain type of cooling system. From central air conditioning to swamp coolers, know your options before you decide which one is right for you.

Here are five types of air conditioning systems that might be the right fit for you.

Central Air Conditioning

Central air conditioning is a popular choice for those who want to cool multiple rooms in a large home. They use a system of ducts to distribute air to each area of a home simultaneously. This type of system functions by splitting its important components between an indoor and outdoor unit. 

The outdoor unit holds the condenser and compressor while the indoor unit houses the evaporator coils and blower. Refrigerant pulls heat and excess moisture from the air within the indoor unit and then that heat and moisture are transferred to the outdoor unit to be released. Meanwhile, the blowers distribute cool air through the house.   

A central air system is compatible with programmable or smart thermostats. This makes it a good “set it and forget it” option. You can easily develop a cooling plan for the whole house so you never have to stave off the heat of summer in your home. 

Choose This Option If… 

  • You want to cool a large home with multiple rooms 
  • You want reduced humidity 
  • You want the ease of a programmable thermostat

Don’t Choose This Option If 

  • You’re concerned with energy efficiency or high energy bills 
  • Frequent maintenance isn’t something you want to deal with 
  • You find outdoor units to be an eyesore 

Ductless Mini-Split

The ductless mini-split system simplifies the cooling process. There’s no need to install complex ductwork. There’s simply an indoor and an outdoor unit connected through tubing. Those looking to cool only a portion of their home will be good candidates for the ductless mini-split system. 

These air conditioners use a split system similar to central air conditioning. The outdoor unit is where the compressor and condenser are situated. Air is shuttled into this unit to release heat from the refrigerant. The indoor unit houses the evaporator coil and blower. This is where heat is removed and cool air is fed into the room. This component is usually mounted on the wall.

Ductless mini-split systems can operate as an AC or a heater. The settings are usually controlled with a remote or a smartphone. Keep in mind that if you want to cool or heat multiple rooms, you’ll need separate indoor units. This can be a large financial investment. 

Choose This Option If… 

  • You only want to cool a small portion of your home 
  • Installing ductwork seems like a hassle 
  • You’re concerned with energy efficiency

Don’t Choose This Option If…

  • You want to cool your whole house at once 
  • The wall-mounted look isn’t for you
  • The cost of installing in multiple rooms is too costly for you

Window Air Conditioners 

A timeless classic is the window air conditioner. This is one of the most popular cooling options for a number of reasons. Rather than separating out different components of the air conditioner into two separate units, a window AC houses everything in one package. This includes the evaporator coil, blower, compressor, and condenser. 

If you’re looking to cool a small, single-floor home, the window air conditioner is a great option for you. As the name suggests, this type of AC sits inside a window. Sometimes, homeowners will choose to create a hole in the wall to install this type of unit. Regardless, they’re usually fairly easy to install. 

Window air conditioners take in hot air from the room and use similar technology to the central air conditioner and mini-split system to cool the air down with refrigerant. You can control them either directly on the unit or with a remote. They are cheap to operate and maintain but they can be quite noisy while running. 

Choose This Option If… 

  • You want a straightforward installation
  • You need to cool a single room or small area
  • An easy to maintain option is up your alley

Don’t Choose This Option If…

  • The window obstruction will bother you
  • Noise bothers you
  • You have casement or irregularly shaped window

Need help picking out a cooling solution? Reach out to WM Buffington for assistance!

Evaporative Cooling System 

Another type of air conditioning system that many people opt for is evaporative cooling. This option is a lot different from the three previous options we covered. It utilizes completely different technology to cool down a space. Instead of using refrigerants, compressors, and condensers, this type of AC simply leans on water and electricity.  

Also known as a swamp cooler, the evaporative cooling system works by cooling air as it passes through a water-soaked medium such as a pad. Fans usher in the air and the natural evaporation process of water captures heat as liquid turns to gas. Fresh air is usually important for a swamp cooler to operate. Homeowners should keep a window open while operating this kind of AC. 

This type of cooling system can be pricey to install but they’re cheap to operate and maintain. It’s important to clean out the water reservoir and pad to prevent mold at least twice during the cooling season. They also require special ductwork to distribute air and usually operate using a thermostat. 

Choose This Option If… 

  • Simplicity is something you’re looking for in an AC
  • You want a system that’s cheaper to operate and maintain 
  • You want to avoid using refrigerant which can be bad for the environment

Don’t Choose This Option If…

  • You live in a humid climate 
  • Cleaning it out is too much of a hassle 
  • You don’t have the proper ductwork and don’t want to install it 

Portable Air Conditioner 

Last but not least is the convenient portable air conditioner. If you have a small space to cool and don’t want to go through a complex installation process, the portable air conditioner is for you. This AC is a low-commitment take on the window air conditioner. It holds all its components in one unit and features an in-window funnel. 

Portable air conditioners consist of hoses, a funnel, and a free-standing unit that can easily move from room to room. Installation is simple: plug it into a wall outlet and place the funnel into the window. Some units feature one hose tasked with taking in and expelling air while other units feature a dual-hose that completes these tasks separately. 

Due to its quick setup and mobility, the portable air conditioner is ideal as a temporary cooling solution. It can only cool a single, small space so this isn’t a great option for those looking for a way to cool their entire home.  

Choose This Option If… 

  • You’re looking for a quick, easy installation 
  • You need a spot cooling option 
  • You want to store it easily when it’s not in use

Don’t Choose This Option If…

  • You need to cool a large room 
  • You don’t want any part of your window obstructed 
  • The noise it makes while operating is bothersome

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