An air conditioner provides cool air to a room or enclosed space. Air conditioning, often abbreviated as AC, A/C, or air con, refers to the process of adjusting the temperature of a space by removing heat and controlling humidity. Using a system of refrigerant, compressor, coils, and other mechanical components, they transfer this unwanted heat outside.
In homes and commercial buildings, air conditioning helps maintain personal comfort. In some industrial spaces, it can be used to keep equipment cool in a temperature-controlled space.
You can find a wide variety of air conditioner units, including split systems, portable units, window units, packaged terminal air conditioners, and more. Additionally, some heat pumps can supply both cooled and heated air.
Packaged HVAC systems house all of their components, like the heating and cooling components, in a single unit. Where split systems, like standard central split or ductless mini splits, require both an indoor and outdoor unit, packaged HVAC systems require only one unit. This unit typically gets placed outside, either on the roof of a commercial building or on the side of a home. They may see use heating and cooling homes without a basement or crawlspace while larger units may install on the roof of a commercial or multi-tenant residential building.
You can choose from a few types of packaged HVAC systems:
A packaged air conditioner houses the compressor, evaporator coil, condenser coil, and air handler in a single unit. A packaged air conditioner typically only cools but may offer heating using heat strips. They work well in areas with limited space as they require less space than a split system.
Packaged gas-electric units combine an electric air conditioner and gas-powered furnace technology.
Packaged heat pump systems utilize a heat pump to heat and cool a home. They combine heating and cooling components as well as an air handler into a single unit. They can keep your home comfortable in an energy efficient way.
Packaged dual-fuel systems, sometimes called hybrid units, operate similarly to packaged heat pumps. However, these systems utilize a gas furnace as well. The heat pump provides efficient air conditioning during the warmer months and heat in cooler temperatures. Once the temperature drops in the winter months, the gas furnace takes over to provide heat instead.
The life expectancy of an air conditioner varies depending on a few reasons. The quality of the air conditioner, the installation, the climate where you live, and how well it’s been taken care of can all factor into how long the unit lasts. A well-made, well-maintained air conditioner can last around 15 years with proper maintenance.
The three main types of air conditioning systems are:
You can also find room air conditioners, like portable or window air conditioners, which cool a single room or space.
Window units offer a low-cost alternative to other types of air conditioning systems, including portable units! Unlike central AC systems which come with high installation costs, window units are easy to install. You can also find many energy efficient units, including Energy Star rated window ACs like this MRCOOL 8K BTU/H U-Shaped unit.
Since they install in the window, they work well in areas with limited floor space. Use them in home offices, bedrooms, or living rooms. Window units can also move from location to location if you’re planning on moving.
BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. It is the measurement of heat energy. One BTU equals the amount of heat required to raise one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. BTU per hour, also stylized as BTU/H or BTUH, estimates the amount of heat the air conditioner can remove from a room in one hour.
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. SEER ratings function as an efficiency rating to measure how efficiently the air conditioner operates. Higher SEER ratings mean higher efficiency. The minimum standard SEER rating for air conditioners is 13, though older AC units may operate with a lower SEER rating.
Portable air conditioners use hoses to get rid of the warm air from your home in order to cool it down. That warm air must exit the room in order to feel the effects of the air conditioner. If you don’t vent the warm air out, it stays in the room. This means your room doesn’t cool and you end up wasting money.
Many portable AC units include a window kit so they can properly exhaust warm air. These kits typically work with sliding windows and not casement windows. Casement windows are the types of windows that have hinges on the side and swing open to the left or right. These kits can pose a problem if you have a casement window as they won’t properly seal with these windows. While venting out a window offers the most convenient and popular option, you can vent in other ways.
But if you can’t vent out through a window, your next best option may be a patio door or door that leads outside. Just keep in mind that you need to seal the door to prevent the warm air from coming back inside the home. That way, you can enjoy the benefits of the portable unit.