What is an HVAC System?

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HVAC

HVAC stands for “heating, ventilating and air conditioning”. It represents the three main functions that are usually combined within one central system in many modern homes. This system generates and transports warm, cool or dehumidified air throughout the home, in a quiet and convenient manner.

The Different Types of HVAC Systems

There are several types of HVAC systems available on the market, and some are more efficient than others depending on your needs. There are split air conditioning systems, mini-split/ductless systems, and heat pumps/air handlers.

Split Systems

The split HVAC system has components that are located both inside and outside the home. This type of system is commonly known as “central air.” The outdoor unit of this system is made up of a condenser and a compressor, while the indoor unit is made up of a fan, an evaporator coil, and a separate heating unit (usually a gas furnace). Split systems operate by taking the air in the home and cycling it through a series of ducts. The air is heated or cooled before being returned back into the home. Split systems are the most common system used in homes and small buildings.

Packaged Systems

Packaged systems are similar to split systems except that everything is in one outdoor unit instead of split between two units. These units are usually located on the roof or a concrete slab near the foundation of the house. 

Mini-Split/Ductless Systems

The mini-split/ductless system is very similar to a central air system but differs in one significant way. As the name suggests, it is a smaller version of the split system but without air ducts. These systems are designed to heat or cool a single room.

There are two units to this system. One outdoor unit can be connected with up to four indoor units. These indoor units have individual thermostats to condition the rooms as needed. This can save energy and money by only heating and cooling the rooms being used. Typically smaller in size, the ductless systems are more flexible and easier to install. Unfortunately, they are generally more expensive than central systems, not including the ductwork. They are very energy efficient and are mostly used in converted living spaces, or garages and workshops. They can be a cheaper option instead of extending the existing ductwork of a split system.

Heat Pump/Air Handler

A heat pump/air handler combo is similar to the split system because it has inside and outside components. These systems provide heating and cooling in one unit, eliminating the need for a separate heating system. However, this system does not use fuel to heat the home. 

An electric air source heat pump (EASHP) uses the outside and inside air to heat or cool the building. It uses electricity to move heat into or out of the home, operating in both the cold and the warm seasons. In more moderate climates, this system can heat up the home during the cold seasons on its own, but in regions where winters are harsher, a furnace might be required.

There are also ground source heat pumps available. Although they have high initial costs, they are some of the most energy efficient systems. Instead of using the outside air, they use the earth as a heat source in the winter and a heat sink in the summer.

Thermostat

Thermostats are an essential part of any HVAC system, and they can range from fairly basic, to highly sophisticated. Some features include climate control in different zones of your home, remote control, humidity control, and advanced monitoring capabilities. A good thermostat will allow you to schedule and program your HVAC so that it meets your daily routine while minimizing expenses.  Investing in a good thermostat can help you reduce your utility bills.

Want to know more?

How is your current HVAC system working for you? Do you need to upgrade? Are you interested in finding out which system is best for you? Whichever type you choose, make sure you get the right size system for your home. Bigger is not always better. An oversized system can actually do more harm than good by putting a strain on the components, which shortens the life of the HVAC system. Contact us and we will answer any questions you might have.

 

Sources:

https://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/publications/pubdocs/HeatingCoolingGuide%20FINAL_9-4-09.pdf?c018-4cbd

https://energy.gov/energysaver/central-air-conditioning

https://energy.gov/energysaver/geothermal-heat-pumps

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