In the United States, about 90% of households rely on one or more types of air conditioners. In fact, you’ll even find some homes in Alaska that come equipped with these systems.
There’s no doubt that AC systems are now a must for most people, especially during summer. The cool air they provide can help lower the health risks of high temperatures. After all, heat-related illnesses in the US are common; over 300,000 of them occurred in 2017 alone.
So, if you don’t have an AC yet or your existing system is on its last legs, it’s best you get a new one as soon as possible. This guide will discuss the most common air conditioner types you can choose from, so be sure to read on this website.
Window Air Conditioners
A window air conditioner is a type of room air conditioner installed or mounted in a window. It’s small enough that all its parts, including the thermostat, come in a single box or encasement. Its power or voltage requirements are also low enough that you can plug it straight into a wall outlet.
Moreover, the compactness of window AC units gives them portability. This means you can move them from one window to another. So, if you ever move to a new home, it’ll be easy for you to uninstall the AC and bring it to your new place.
However, it’s also because of that small size that a window AC can only cool a small area, such as a single room. Typical models have cooling capacities that range from 5,000 to 12,500 British thermal units (Btu/hr.).
Through-the-Wall Air Conditioners
Like a window air conditioner, a through-the-wall air conditioner is also a type of room AC. They even look alike, as wall AC units are also single-unit appliances.
Upon closer look, though, you’ll see that the vents in a wall unit are on the rear, while in a window unit, they’re on the sides. That’s because you need to install a through-the-wall AC right into the wall. As such, the wall blocks the sides of the AC.
What’s great about a wall AC is that it doesn’t consume much space. That’s because its rear side hangs out just a bit or even sits flush with the exterior side of the wall.
By contrast, a window air conditioner takes up an entire window and hangs out the wall. Unfortunately, this also means you can’t use the window where the AC is in.
In that sense, a wall AC may be a better choice if the room you’ll install it in only has one window. This way, you can still use the window for natural ventilation or as an escape route if a fire or emergency occurs.
The drawback is that a through-the-wall AC is often fussier and costlier to install, as you need to cut a hole in the wall.
Central Air Conditioners
Since 2012, more than 90% of new home constructions came with a central home air conditioner. The percentage had since then risen to 93.7% in 2018.
One reason central AC systems are popular is because of their cooling efficiency. Unlike window and wall air conditioners, it only takes a single central system to cool an entire home. It can do so by circulating conditioned air through large ducts.
Moreover, a central AC system comes with two chief components: an indoor unit and an outdoor unit. The outdoor unit contains a compressor pump, a condenser coil, and a condenser fan. This unit then connects to the indoor unit, also sometimes referred to as the air handler.
The indoor air handler is where the duct system connects to circulate conditioned air in a home. The cool, comforting air then comes out of supply vents, which can be on the ceiling, wall, or floor. The ducts themselves run throughout the home, supplying cold air to all areas of the building.
The thermostat of a central AC also has a separate location, ideally on an interior wall. It’s never a good idea to place it near a door or a window or in direct sunlight, as this can lead to incorrect readings.
High-Velocity Air Conditioning Systems
High-velocity air conditioning systems work much like traditional central AC systems. The key difference is that high-velocity AC units don’t require huge and bulky metal ducts. Instead, they only need flexible tubing small enough to run through walls.
That makes high-velocity AC units ideal for retrofitting older homes. They’re also a good option for smaller homes that can’t accommodate large ducts.
Unico and SpacePak air conditioning are examples of high-velocity air conditioner options.
Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioners
Ductless mini-split AC units also have indoor and outdoor units. Unlike a central or a high-velocity system, though, ductless mini-splits don’t need ducts. Instead, they provide cool air through individual indoor air handlers.
A single mini-split system can have four to five air handlers placed in different areas of a home. These areas, known as zones, can be individual rooms or sections within a house. For example, a large living room can be one zone, while the master’s bedroom is another zone.
All the indoor units then connect to one outdoor condenser/compressor unit.
Because each zone has an air handler with a thermostat, you can adjust the climate in each zone. For instance, you can set the thermostat in the living room at 68 degrees and the one in your bedroom at 70 degrees. You can also turn off all other thermostats in unoccupied zones.
That adjustability and flexibility can then help everyone at home stay comfortable. More than that, you can save on energy costs since you won’t have to cool unused rooms throughout the home.
Another key advantage is that you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on ductwork. Even if you have existing ducts, you don’t have to get them fixed since a mini-split doesn’t need them anyway.
However, ductless mini-splits are often more expensive upfront compared to central AC units. This can get offset over time, though, since a mini-split can be more energy-efficient. These long-term savings can then make a mini-split an ideal air conditioner replacement.
Stay Cool With Energy-Efficient Types of Air Conditioners
As you can see, there are at least five different types of air conditioners you get for your home. If you want to cool your entire home, you can go with a central, high-velocity, or mini-split system. However, if you only need to cool a small space or a single room, then a room AC or single-zone mini-split may be better.
Regardless of the type of AC you buy, though, be sure it’s energy-efficient.
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