Understanding HVAC Systems, Air Conditioners, and How They Work

October 3, 2022



Many homeowners are confused when it comes to HVACs and air conditioners. They believe that the two refer to the same thing, which is not exactly correct. This is because air conditioners and HVACs are two different home systems.


If you want to learn more about HVAC systems, read on.


What Does HVAC Mean?

HVAC is an acronym for heat, ventilation, and air conditioning. It describes the three primary components of the HVAC system used in many residential homes and commercial establishments. Specifically, it includes the furnace, the vents, and the air conditioning unit. In its simplest form, an HVAC system often comes with an air conditioner. However, not all ACs carry an HVAC network.


Types of HVAC Systems

There are two general types of HVACs, namely, ductless and ducted. The latter uses a central unit that helps push air through a network of ducts. The former is known for not having any air conduits and uses alternative methods when distributing both hot and cold air.


When classified further, an HVAC system can fall into the following categories:


1. Split System

Split systems are considered the most popular type of HVACs as they are usually installed in many residential buildings. These normally have two separate components. One is for heating while the other is for cooling.


The heating unit is often placed either in the basement or a utility closet. It uses gas when carrying out its heating functions. On the other hand, the cooling system is located outside and connected to the ductwork through several tubes. To produce cool air, the system uses refrigerant, coils, and compressors.


2. Hybrid Split System

Electricity runs this type of HVAC system and is usually made up of a combination of heating and cooling units. The system's slow heating process allows many homeowners to enjoy lower energy consumption charges.


3. Zoned System

HVAC zoning systems, said an expert in HVAC in San Jose, are ideal if you want to control the temperature in the different rooms of your home. The size of your property will usually determine if this type of HVAC system will work for you.


4. Packaged Heating and Cooling System

This HVAC system is quite popular in homes with limited storage space because of its compact size. Both its cooling and heating components are stored in one unit. Installation-wise, a hole can be drilled in the wall, so this type of HVAC system can be connected to a building's supply ducts.


5. Hydronic Heating System

Unlike other HVAC types, a hydronic heating system uses liquid heat when it goes to work. The boiler distributes heat through a network installed below the floors. Once the liquid heat has reached a radiator, a baseboard heater, or any similar device, it will start warming up the target area.


6. Ductless Mini-Split System

Ductless HVAC systems are suitable for individual rooms. Sometimes referred to as mini-splits, these systems usually contain a thermostat, an outdoor compressor, a condenser, and a heat pump. Most hotels and corporate offices are known to use them.


7. Portable Heat Pump System

When the heating mode is turned on, portable heat pumps draw in air from the outside and run it through its condenser coil. Since it's portable, this HVAC system type is perfect for smaller houses.


8. Portable Spot Cooler System

These HVAC systems can be installed anywhere where electric power is available. They work on cooling the air by pumping out warm air through a flexible exhaust pipe.


HVAC System Life Span for Residential Places

If properly maintained, most residential HVAC systems can be expected to last between 10 and 25 years. However, this can be affected by a host of factors. These can include the local climate, the temperature level in your area, the configuration of your HVAC unit, and how long the system is running on a daily basis.


Additionally, some components of your HVAC system may have a longer life span when compared to the others. A window-type air conditioner, for example, can function well for at least ten years, while a furnace can last double that time frame.


Key Takeaway

Many people often think that HVAC systems and air conditioners refer to the same thing, which is clearly not correct. Yet, this mistaken belief is somewhat understandable when you realize that even manufacturers and experts use both terms rather loosely. It's as if there's no real difference that exists between the two.


Yet, it is important for people to realize that air conditioners are only one component of HVAC systems since the latter also covers heating and ventilation units. This information should prove to be helpful when the time comes for one component to be repaired or replaced. It will help you decide wisely on the best option that you can take and perhaps even help you save money in the long term.



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