If you’ve been shopping for a home or a system replacement for your existing HVAC equipment, you’re probably learning that there are different kinds of HVAC systems available. This guide explains the basics about the kinds of systems available.
A package system combines all the components of an HVAC system in one package that sits on a concrete slab or the roof. The air the system conditions enters the home through a plenum that attaches to the ductwork. Their primary advantage is that the system doesn’t use any indoor space.
A split heating and cooling system has a separate indoor air handler and an outdoor condenser. These systems are by far the most common. Most of the time, the air handler sits in a closet inside the finished area of the home. Rarely, HVAC contractors install the air handler in the garage or the attic.
Ductless Mini Splits
Ductless mini split heating and cooling systems are gaining in popularity because they offer advanced energy efficiency features. They use no ductwork that contributes to energy losses through leakage or thermal transfer. They blow air directly from individual air handlers placed strategically throughout a home. The air handlers connect to an outdoor condenser via flexible conduits that carry the refrigerant, drain lines and power. A ductless system is available as an air conditioning system only, or as a heat pump.
Available almost exclusively as heating systems, a radiant system uses a boiler that heats fluid via the combustion of gas, oil, or a wood product. They send heated liquid or steam through pipes installed in the floors, walls, or supply radiators that radiate heat outward. They’re quiet and provide even heat.
HVAC systems that provide both heating and cooling use forced-air to deliver the conditioned air. These systems share some of the same components, like the blower motor, fan and thermostat. You’ll find them as:
A gas pack combines a central air conditioning system with a combustion furnace, typically gas or oil.
Heat Pumps & Hybrids
Heat pumps provide both heating and cooling by exchanging heat. In the summer, a heat pump works just like a refrigerator and moves heat outdoors. In the winter, it reverses its cycle and pulls heat from the outside air to warm the home. The technology inside heat pumps has advanced to the point where they will keep a home warm in subfreezing weather.
Hybrid heat pumps are also available that allow homeowners to use the energy efficiency and safety of heat pumps until the system can’t harvest adequate heat from the outdoors. A hybrid heat pump contains components that switch to a burner that uses gas or oil combustion during exceptionally cold weather to produce heat.