Choosing a new air conditioner for your home can be an overwhelming process. There are so many different types of AC units to choose from and it can be stressful and confusing to determine what’s best for you and your home.
Replacing or upgrading your AC unit is typically a substantial investment, so you want to be sure you go with something that’s best for all your needs. Evaluating the size you need, what efficiency features you want, quality, cost, and your home requirements can get confusing. To help alleviate some of the stress, here are some types of air conditioners to help you understand your options.
6 Different Types of Air Conditioners
1. Central Air Conditioners
Central air conditioners are built up of an evaporator, condenser, and compressor all in a single unit. They are typically placed on the roof of a building or outside the home near the foundation. Out of all types of air conditioners, central air conditioners are the most common for residential homes due to their ability to cool an entire home efficiently.
As with many different types of AC units, central air conditioners work by circulating cool air through the home’s supply and return ducts, which are found in the wall or floors. Once the air warms, it circulates back into the supply ducts and registers, moving back into the air conditioner to be cooled again.
If you’re hoping to install a central air conditioning system then be prepared to do a lot of planning. Sizing is critical for this type of unit, especially if you want to save on energy costs and have your unit operate optimally.
2. Window Air Conditioners
Window air conditioners are one of the most common types of AC units for single room use. The entire AC unit consists of a compact box with a single thermostat gauge, fitted into the wall or window sill where it sits. Window air conditioners are certainly not ideal for larger homes but can work well for anyone living in smaller spaces with minimal amounts of square footage to cool.
3. Ductless, Mini-Split Air Conditioners
For homes that don’t have any ductwork, it’s often desirable to look for types of AC units to accommodate you. Ductless mini-split air conditioners are an excellent option. Similarly to central air conditioners, ductless, mini-split air conditioner systems work by using an outdoor compressor and condenser along with an indoor air-handling unit to cool the air in a home. These units are typically mounted on a wall and use a blower to move cold air into the home.
Ductless, mini-split air conditioners work well at cooling individual rooms so if you need to cool your entire home you’ll likely need multiple handling units, all connected to the outdoor unit. Each zone will have its own thermostat, allowing you to adjust temperatures in different rooms as desired. This is an advantage for any homeowner only wanting to cool the particular spaces they use.
Overall, ductless, mini-split air conditioners do well if you only need a few rooms cooled. They can be incredibly energy efficient in this way but tend to be more expensive if used to cool an entire house.
4. Portable Air Conditioners
Portable air conditioning units are similar to window air conditioners but instead of being mounted in the window or on a wall, they can be moved from room to room. This sets them apart from different types of AC units since they can be so versatile.
Portable air conditioners are completely self-contained. As freestanding units, they are powered by plugging into an outlet and work by taking air from a room, cooling it, then pouring it back into the room while venting the warm air outside.
While the portability of these air conditioners make them versatile and helps it become easier to stay cool, they aren’t the most realistic option if you have a lot of space you need to cool.
5. Package Terminal Air Conditioners
Package terminal air conditioners (PTACs) are common in residential homes and more common in commercial spaces like hotels, apartment buildings, senior living facilities, and hospitals. These units are usually installed above the floor and normally below a window, but the parts of the unit you don’t typically see are outside the wall where the exhaust is sent.
While PTAC units aren’t typical for residential homes, that doesn’t mean they aren’t a viable air conditioning option. They send coolant through a compressor to cool the air, then send that cooled air into the room without the use of ducts. That makes them a viable option for any homes without ductwork since they are easy to install and fairly efficient.
PTAC systems tend to be used to cool one room, so if you have small spaces you need to cool or want to supplement a room where there isn't ductwork, a PTAC unit might be perfect for you.
6. Geothermal Heating & Air Conditioning Units
Geothermal cooling is a newer, energy-efficient technology that is quickly becoming more and more popular. Geothermal heating and air conditioning is a sustainable, energy-efficient option since it capitalizes on the consistent temperature of the ground below. No matter what temperature the outside atmosphere hits, the ground maintains 55 degrees and geothermal technology is able to extract that to heat or cool a home.
How to Choose the Right Type of Air Conditioner for Your Home
When looking at different types of air conditioners, choosing the right one for your home is important, but there are a few things you can consider to narrow down the options. Consider your budget for the upgrade, determine how much space you’ll need to cool (to help with load calculations), and then determine the scope of the job for installing the units still in your consideration.
When in doubt, never hesitate to contact a professional for expert advice on the best unit for your home at the best price.