Comparing 5 Types of Air Conditioners
Think it might be time for air conditioner replacement? Are you building a new home and need comprehensive a/c installation? Then you should know a few things about the different types of air conditioners on the market, so you can choose the best a/c system for your needs and budget.
Read on for a rundown of the various types of air conditioners and the pros and cons of each.
1. Central Air Conditioner
Central air conditioners are perhaps the most well-known type of a/c unit since they’re the most common type of unit installed in homes and commercial buildings across the U.S. These units have an outdoor component, which houses a condenser and compressor, as well as an indoor unit that houses an air handler and evaporator coils.
Central air conditioning systems rely on ductwork installed within the walls and ceiling of a home or building, which carries cool, conditioned air through vents and into each room. These units also rely on refrigerant to remove heat energy from indoor air that repeatedly circulates through the HVAC system. A separate, wall-mounted thermostat is also necessary with central a/c units since these units do not have a built-in temperature control panel.
Advantages of a central a/c unit include:
● Capable of cooling an entire home as the unit pushes cool air into all of the ductwork installed throughout a home
● Built-in humidity reduction since the unit naturally removes moisture from the air that circulates through the a/c system
● Option to use a smart thermostat, which learns occupancy patterns and homeowner preferences and adjusts indoor temperature accordingly
Disadvantages of a central a/c system include:
● These units consume a lot of energy, which typically increases electricity costs. However, an appropriately sized unit can cool a home efficiently and help keep energy bills under control.
● Air conditioning efficiency can be negatively affected by problems with the ductwork or thermostat.
● These units are large and may be considered unattractive, but they can be concealed with fencing or landscaping.
Not sure how to choose the right central A/C for your home? Check out Understanding HVAC Efficiency Ratings for some helpful information.
2. Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioner
Ductless mini-split air conditioners can be installed in any room of your home that needs cooling, and these units allow you to control the temperature in each room separately. Each ductless mini-split features a combination indoor/outdoor unit, the outdoor component of which features the compressor and condenser.
The indoor unit features an air blower and temperature control panel that allows you to set a desired temperature for each room that has a mini-split. As their name indicates, these units do not need ductwork to operate since they’re designed for separate installation in each room that requires temperature control.
Advantages of a ductless mini-split air conditioner include:
● Easy to install
● Can improve household energy efficiency and reduce electricity costs since each unit can be set to the desired temperature
● Quiet operation
● Slim profile
● Does not require a window for installation
Potential drawbacks of a ductless mini-split include:
● A single unit cannot provide adequate cooling for your entire home.
● The indoor component of the unit must be mounted on the wall, and while this component has a slim profile, it can negatively impact the aesthetic of a room.
3. Window Air Conditioner
Like other types of air conditioners, window a/c units are available in several sizes, each of which is designed to cool a room or small area of different sizes. As you likely assume, these air conditioners sit within the frame of a window, and they can be placed in double-hung, slider, or casement windows.
When choosing a window a/c, you’ll want to select a unit based on the size of the room or area you intend to cool. The larger the space, the more BTUs the unit will need to have to effectively and efficiently cool the area. You'll also want to consider ceiling height and number of room occupants as these factors will also impact the unit’s ability to efficiently cool the space.
For areas of 100 to 350 square feet, you’ll want to select a unit with 5,000 to 8,000 BTUs. For larger areas ranging from 1,000 to 1,500+ square feet, a window a/c with 18,000 to 24,000 BTU is ideal.
Why might you want to choose a window air conditioner? Advantages of this type of unit include:
● Easy to install and replace
● Simple to maintain
● No floor space required
● Less costly than other a/c systems and typically less expensive to operate
Disadvantages of window a/c units include:
● Can negatively affect aesthetics, both inside and outside the home
● Noisier operation than other types of air conditioners
● Certain types of window a/c units are not suitable for placement in certain types of windows.
4. Geothermal Cooling System
Of all the air conditioning options on the market, geothermal cooling is the most efficient of them all. That’s because geothermal systems rely on the earth’s stored thermal energy to cool a home, so they use far less energy than even the most efficient traditional air conditioners.
With a geothermal system — which is also capable of heating your home during the cooler months — you can expect to save a whopping 50%-70% on your energy bills. Keep in mind, though, that superior efficiency comes at a considerable cost. You’ll need to invest several thousand dollars upfront for geothermal installation, so if you’re looking to upgrade your a/c on a budget, this option probably isn’t your best choice.
That said, the federal government offers some pretty attractive tax incentives for geothermal system installation, and your local utility provider may offer you some kickbacks, too. If you do the math and the installation numbers make sense for you, a geothermal system will last for decades with minimal maintenance.
If you're curious about what your installation costs might look like and whether your property is a good candidate for geothermal, contact our team at The Comfort Company. We’ll set you up with a geothermal heating and cooling consultation, which can help you determine if this energy-saving system is right for you!
5. Hybrid Heating/Air Conditioning System
Also known as a dual-fuel air conditioner or hybrid heat pump, these air conditioners combine two cooling and heating technologies (geothermal and fuel-powered) into one highly efficient system.
This style of cooling unit is ideal if you live in a climate that features both warm and cold months, like our climate in Minnesota. Dual-fuel systems allow you to take advantage of the relatively constant subsurface temperature of the earth, which hovers around 55 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.
During the hot months, a dual fuel air conditioning system will remove hot air from within your home and transfer that heat energy into the earth, thereby cooling your living spaces. During the frigid months, the fuel-powered component of the system can kick into action when outdoor temperatures dip super low.
Although geothermal systems can heat a home even when it’s cold outside, they’re not always the most efficient heating option. When our Minnesota temperatures dip below freezing or, worse, below zero, geothermal heating typically isn’t the most cost-effective way to warm up your home.
At that point, you can use fuel-powered heating to keep your indoor temperature stable and comfortable and then switch back over to geothermal as it gets warmer outside.
Get an A/C Installation Quote from The Comfort Company!
Time for air conditioner replacement? Or maybe you’re building a new house and need a/c installation? Either way, our team at The Comfort Company is ready to help!
We specialize in air conditioner repair, maintenance, and installation for homeowners throughout Hermantown, MN and the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. We also offer indoor air quality improvement services, heating services, and geothermal installation system design, installation, and maintenance.
To learn more about our services or get an installation quote, give us a call today at 218-231-4436 or request a quote online, and we’ll be in touch with additional information!