Selecting the right type of AC is crucial for home comfort, especially in the summer. What are the types of AC homeowners can choose from?
While the two most common systems are the central air system and single-room air conditioners (commonly known as wall-mounted or window units), the ductless mini-split system is a third path that represents a bit of a compromise. Here we'll take a hard look at these three types of AC, examine the strengths and capabilities of each one and help to determine which option is most suitable for your home.
Central AC options are probably the most popular pick for homeowners, for a variety of reasons. This system circulates cool air through a network of ducts, spaced throughout the home via vents in the floors, walls or ceilings. The duct network carries cold air from the air conditioner to the different areas of the home. As it circulates, the cool air warms up; eventually, warm air flows back into the central unit through the return ducts.
So why choose these types of AC units? Here are some good reasons central air options may be the best bet:
- They're very quiet. Indoor noise from a modern central AC system is quieter than a mouse. Noisy parts like the fan, condenser and compressor are all outside, where they won't disturb anyone.
- They add home resale value. It's an investment that will make your home more attractive.
- There's no ugly hardware. A central air system does not require any boxy hardware taking up space inside your home, lending it a more streamlined/modernized look.
- It's user-friendly. The whole system is conveniently controlled by a thermostat that can be easily programmed to run at certain times and temperatures.
- It's good for air quality. Central air cuts down on allergens and potentially harmful toxins in the air you and your family breathe. This is because any air drawn through the ducts is filtered.
- Moisture is easier to control. Lowering humidity levels is crucial in climates with high moisture, as lower moisture levels will increase general comfort and help prevent the growth of mold.
As one might expect, rather than cooling an entire home, room air conditioners cool individual rooms. Since these types of AC units provide targeted cooling only where they're needed, they're typically not as pricey to operate than central units. And while the unit efficiency of this type of AC is usually not as high as that of central air conditioners, wall-mounted and window-mounted AC units are probably the speediest fixes available in times of extreme heat.
One potential drawback is that these types of AC can also put a heavy strain on your home's electrical system, especially if a homeowner makes the common error of buying too big of a unit in the hopes of cooling off the room faster. But these units can cool before a room is properly dehumidified, giving the area an uncomfortable, "muggy" feeling.
For some consumers, though, these types of AC units can be the best fit in a given situation.
- They don't take up floor space. This is perfect for smaller homes and apartments with limited space.
- They fit most homes. Sometimes installing additional ductwork is simply not practical (like in in-room additions or small apartments), and window units are the most suitable option.
- It's easy to install. You won't have to put any holes in your wall.
- They move with you. The units are portable (if a bit heavy), so it's easy to move them where they're most needed.
- They're often the most affordable option. For people on a tight budget, remodeling with central air or investing in a sometimes expensive mini-split just isn't possible.
Ductless Mini-Split Systems
With mini-split air conditioners (mini-splits), there are two basic components: an outdoor compressor/condenser and an indoor air-handling unit. A conduit houses the tubing, a power cable, and a drain for the condensation, connecting the outdoor and indoor units.
While it's true that mini-split systems are the most flexible type of AC, the dealbreaker for many consumers is the higher cost. A mini-split system may even cost twice as much as window units of similar capacity.
So why invest in these types of AC if it's cost-prohibitive? There are a few good reasons:
- They're visually appealing. A mini-split system offers flexibility with interior design. They can be hung on a wall. They look far less bulky than your typical wall-mounted unit.
- They're more secure. Window units can be easy to remove from outside, allowing burglars and intruders a quiet entrance. This isn't an issue with a mini-split.
- They're ideal for homes without ductwork. Ripping up walls and putting in ductwork is not possible for a lot of older homes in Pittsburgh.
While central AC options are probably the optimal air conditioner type for a house or a larger apartment, depending on your requirements, a mini-split or a window unit can sometimes be a better fit for smaller areas or targeted cooling. For those looking into ductwork installation or AC repair, Stahl Plumbing offers fast and effective service nearby in Pittsburgh. Call us 24/7 for emergencies or feel free to use our contact form.