For those living in a home without air conditioning, the option of having one installed for the first time means that there is a major decision to be made. There are three main forms of air conditioners and a few methods of actually cooling the home to choose between. The following guide can help you do just that.
When comes to cooling, you have three primary choices – a central AC unit, a window unit, or a mini-split unit. The following can help you determine which is best for your home.
Central air conditioning will provide the most consistent cooling through the entire home, but it does come at a cost. If your home doesn't have ductwork, such as for the heating system, it must be installed. This can be challenging in homes that do not have the space between walls to easily place ductwork without major construction. If you already have ducts, installation is much less expensive and entails minimal work.
Window or room units are the least expensive option, although they don't provide cooling consistency throughout the home. Each unit only cools one or two rooms. They can also be noisy, depending on the unit. Window units are best if you need a low cost option or only have one or two rooms to cool.
These units are a cost effective substitute for central AC. With a mini-split unit, the condenser is placed outside the home, similar to central AC. Hoses are then run through the ceiling to connect with air vents installed on the upper walls indoors. You can usually connect several rooms to a unit, but larger or multistory homes will need multiple condenser units.
There are also three main cooling methods used. The type of unit you choose as well as your climate helps determine which is best for you.
Heat pumps are only available for central units that use the same duct system as the furnace. The pump works by moving hot air outside in the summer and bringing in cool air. In winter, they work in reverse to warm the home. This is very energy and cost efficient. They work best in moderate climates that do not have severe winter lows or summer highs.
These are your normal refrigeration units. They work by blowing air over a condenser coil, which is filled with refrigerant and cools the air before it is blown into the home. This is the type of cooling most people are familiar with for central and window units, and it is your only option for a mini-split system. Standard AC is suitable for all climates.
You can find window or room coolers, or you can have a whole-house central cooler installed. These work by passing the air moist cooling pads. They do not work well in humid or wet climates, but they are very efficient in dry, moderate climates. As an added benefit, they also help add needed moisture to the air in these climates.
Talk to an HVAC contractor for more help.