What are the different types of air conditioners?

types of air conditioners

It’s officially summer and in Tennessee, that means it’s hotter than a billy goat with a blow torch!

As the weather heats up, here are some things you need to know about your air conditioner.

What are the main types of air conditioners?

There are six types of air conditioners: Central air conditioners, heat pump split systems, geothermal heat pumps, ductless heat pumps, packaged air conditioners, and packaged heat pumps.

Central air conditioners circulate cool air through a system of supply and return ducts, according to the Department of Energy.

Supply ducts and registers (i.e., openings in the walls, floors, or ceilings covered by grills) carry cooled air from the air conditioner to the home. This cooled air becomes warmer as it circulates through the home; then it flows back to the central air conditioner through return ducts and registers. 

Central air conditioners are either split-system units or packaged units. If you’ve already got a furnace, the split-system is going to be more economical to install. A packaged central air conditioner will generally mean you don’t need a separate furnace indoors. 

For climates with moderate heating and cooling needs, heat pumps offer an energy-efficient alternative to furnaces and air conditioners, according to the Department of Energy.

When it’s cold outside, heat pumps move heat from outdoors into your house. When it’s hot outside, heat pumps move heat from inside your house to outside. The interesting thing is they’re not actually generating heat … they’re just moving it from outside to inside or inside to outside.

Because of this, they can sometimes provide comfort at a more affordable price than conventional units.

How does air conditioning work?

One misconception about air conditioners is that they somehow cool the air.

In reality, they remove heat from the area they’re cooling. They do this by using a compressor, a condenser, and an evaporator.

Those words probably don’t mean much to the average person who just wants a reprieve from a scorching summer day, but here’s a great explanation from HVAC.com:

  • Warm air from inside the home is circulated across an evaporator, where the refrigerant absorbs heat from the air. At this point, the refrigerant transforms from cold liquid to hot vapor, allowing the warm air to become cooler.
  • The refrigerant vapor moves to the compressor, within the home’s outdoor unit. The compressor compresses the refrigerant vapor, increasing pressure, and temperature.
  • The refrigerant then moves to the condenser, where it is condensed back to a liquid, allowing the heat to release, exiting the unit through the fins.
  • Cooled, liquid refrigerant then cycles back into the home, where the expansion device regulates its flow back into the evaporator to repeat the cooling process.
types of air conditioners

What is a SEER rating? And what’s a good SEER rating?

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio rating measures the ratio of cooling output over a season divided by the energy it consumed.

Essentially, it lets you know how efficient your unit is going to be, and therefore how much it cost you to operate it. The good news is that if it’s been a while since you’ve bought an air conditioner, you’re probably going to be getting an upgrade.

Most air conditioners these days have a SEER rating between 14 (good) to 25 (great). The higher the number, the more you’re likely to spend on the front in and save in the long run.

As standards improve, newer units are most often going to be more efficient than older ones.

How much should a good air conditioner cost?

If your home’s AC unit is not as efficient as it once was and is having difficulty maintaining a consistent temperature in warm months, then an air conditioning unit replacement may be the next step. 

While the cost can vary from home to home depending on the size of your house and how much power you’d like to have, you can reasonably expect to spend anywhere from $3,000 to $11,000. According to Home Advisor, the national average cost to install central air conditioning is $5,570. 

Our expert installers offer a complete line of air conditioning installation services. Whether you plan to upgrade or replace your current AC system with a newer, more energy-efficient model or install the first air conditioning system in your new home construction, our AC installation crew has the necessary expertise to skillfully handle your project.

In fact, our personal and professional team can handle the design as well as the installation, assuring a comprehensive perspective that’ll ensure the right system for you at the right price.