September 15, 2022

An Ultimate Guide To The Different Types Of A/C Units

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Split, ductless, hybrid… Confused by all the different types of A/C available? ICE Heating & Cooling is here to help. Choosing an A/C system that suits you requires understanding your needs as well as what performance features you are looking for out of your upgrade. Also, a bit of professional advice never hurts.

So which type of air conditioner is best for you? Let’s explore the main types of air conditioning systems available and compare the benefits of each.

Types of Central Air Conditioners

Split System Central Air Conditioner

Why is it called a split system? Because the condenser and compressor is outside the home, and the evaporator is inside.

Packaged Central Air Conditioner

In these types of A/C systems, the evaporator along with the condenser and compressor are all located outside the home.

packaged central air conditioner

How Much Does Central A/C Cost To Install?

Central air conditioning falls in the middle of the spectrum in cost when compared with other types of A/C systems. It’s more expensive than window A/C and more economical than geothermal.

What Is The Average Lifespan Of A Central Air Conditioning System?

Central A/C can last up to 20 years or longer with regular maintenance. Neglected systems can fail early if small issues aren’t fixed in time. So considering the upfront cost, it’s well worth calling us to keep a professional eye on it over the years.

Is Central Air Cheaper To Run Than Other Types Of A/C?

Usually, yes. Unless you really only want to cool one room in your home using a portable or window air conditioner, central A/C is cheaper in the long-run.

You wouldn’t want to install several window units in place of one simple, connected central air conditioning system.

If you’re interested in long-term savings, take a look at geothermal and hybrid A/C systems too.

Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioners

Mini-split air conditioners are a good compromise if you have more than one room to cool, but don’t need A/C for the whole house.

Are Ductless Mini-Splits Worth It?

At first glance, ductless mini-splits are one of the most expensive types of air conditioner. They’re about a third more expensive than central A/C without factoring in the ducts that central A/C needs.

Are Mini-Splits Cheaper To Run Than Central Air Conditioning?

In terms of energy efficiency over time, ductless is a good choice. That’s because over 30% of your energy can be lost through ducts.

What Are The Disadvantages Of A Mini-Split?

Apart from the cost, central A/C is a better option if you need to cool the whole home. Mini-splits are among the best types of A/C if you want a cooling system for one or two rooms.

What Is The Life Expectancy Of A Mini-Split?

Here’s where the mini-split takes a bow. Your average mini-split unit can last up to 30 years only when called for properly maintained.

That’s around 30% longer than most other types of air conditioner. As you can imagine, it will boost your property value too if you have a system that is in good condition and will last for years to come at the time you are trying to sell.

what is the life expectancy of a mini split

Hybrid Air Conditioners

What Is A Hybrid A/C System?

Hybrid air conditioners combine green and traditional power sources for reliable cooling and heating. This type of air conditioner switches power sources between gas and electric depending on which is the most energy-efficient.

Year-Round Comfort

Fans of hybrid consider that it’s the best of both worlds in terms of cooling and heating. It makes use of the natural environment when it can to draw air inside your home. This means warm air in the winter and cool air in the summer.

How Much Is A Hybrid Air Conditioner?

Hybrid A/C does cost more at the beginning than other types of A/C. It’s second only to geothermal in upfront unit cost. However, the money you save over time in energy costs make it an attractive option for many homeowners.

Hybrid A/C And Efficiency

Your bills could halve from day one, so hybrid is worth thinking about. You could make your investment back in around three years depending how much power for heating and cooling you use.

Geothermal Air Conditioners

Geothermal is the kindest choice for the planet, as confirmed by the Environmental Protection Agency. Also, you can use a geothermal system all year round for heating and cooling.

How Does A Geothermal Air Conditioner Work?

Geothermal A/C is an innovative way to utilize the natural coolness of the ground. It pumps liquid through pipes underground and uses it to cool your home.

Heating And Cooling, Geothermally

Like hybrid air conditioning systems above, geothermal systems can also heat your home in the winter. They do this in cold weather by taking the natural warmth further down in the ground.

Most people assume that the ground’s cold. In fact, that’s just the surface. You only have to go about ten feet underground to get past the cold winter ground chill and reach a warmer area.

How Much Does Geothermal Air Conditioning Cost To Install?

It’s true that compared to other types of A/C, a geothermal air conditioning system is among the most expensive to install. That’s because of the additional underground work we have to do.

Is Geothermal Cooling Worth It?

Geothermal cooling lasts… wait for it.

Up to 50 years.

That’s right. You may never need to install another A/C system again. Unsurprisingly, geothermal boosts your property value because such an energy-efficient system will save the next owner in energy costs.

How Long Does It Take For Geothermal To Pay For Itself?

Not as long as you might think. Depending how often you use your cooling system, you could make your investment back in two years. In other cases it could take around a decade, but considering its 50-year lifespan, it is still a worthwhile investment.

As global energy costs rise, you’re unlikely to have to wait long before you save the money you would have spent on utilities.

Geothermal A/C And Maintenance

You’ll save money on maintenance here, too. There aren’t as many moving parts in geothermal systems when compared to other types of air conditioner. That means there’s less potential for an issue to arise.

Also, consider the fact that the geothermal system is underground. That means that compared to a system with a unit on your roof or in the yard, it’s protected from disasters like falling trees, fires and extreme weather events

geothermal ac and maintenance

Window Air Conditioners

Window units are one of the types of A/C with the lowest upfront costs, which make them initially attractive. As they vent outdoors, they are more efficient than portable A/C, but less efficient than central air conditioning systems.

Can Window A/C Cool The Entire House?

The idea of a window air conditioning system is just to cool the room they’re in. They’re not really powerful enough to cool a whole house, and putting one in every window is both unsightly and inefficient. You may be able to make the room right next to it cool though depending on the capacity of the unit and the size of the areas.

Do Window Air Conditioners Use A Lot Of Electricity?

If you just need to run one window unit, they use less electricity than other types of A/C. However, it wouldn’t be efficient to run a window air conditioning system in every window, compared to one central A/C system.

Is It Cheaper To Run A Window Unit Or Central Air Conditioner?

If you need to cool your whole home during the scorching summer, central A/C is your best bet for efficiency.

Portable Air Conditioners

You may have seen that you can buy a portable air conditioner relatively inexpensively. So how does it stand up as an air conditioning system?

How Long Does It Take A Portable Air Conditioner To Cool A Room?

Portable A/C takes longer and is less efficient than other types of air conditioner. This is because they have to vent the warm air back into the same room they’re trying to cool.

Vent less Portable Air Conditioners

There are vent less units that address the issue mentioned above. It solves the warm air issue, but then the air in the room you’re cooling does get humid.

Is A Portable Air Conditioner Worth It?

For homeowners, not really. They’re designed for renters who want to cool small spaces.

Portable air conditioners are certainly among the cheapest types of A/C in terms of upfront cost. However they’re much less efficient in terms of cooling power and running costs.

Which Type Of Air Conditioner Is Best?

Choosing the ideal air conditioning system for your home is important because it will impact the amount of energy you will need to run it and the amount of comfort you will experience from it. Here are some factors that you should consider when deciding the best option for you.

  • Your upfront budget

  • How much you’d like to lower your energy bills after a higher upfront investment

  • Whether you want to sell your home in the future and therefore boost your property value

  • How important green energy and eco-friendliness is to you

The ICE Heating & Cooling team is happy to visit your home to recommend the type of A/C that will best suit your needs.

Want more information? Check out our Comprehensive Home Air Conditioner Buying Guide.

You Can Count On ICE Heating & Cooling To Recommend The Best Types Of A/C For Your Home

We hope you found this air conditioner buying guide useful. Choosing a new home air conditioner is a big decision, so we’ll be happy to guide you through your options in person.

ICE Heating & Cooling provides quality air conditioning installation. Questions about A/C? We’d love to hear from you at (702) 820-2184 or you can contact us via our contact form.

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