Whether you’re suffering a hot summer day, asking yourself, “how much does central air conditioning cost” or just need to get the stifling indoor air from your house moving, central air conditioning is a true luxury and convenience. Central air keeps your rooms cool, draws out warm, stale air, and helps to dehumidify air to ensure better comfort, health, breathability and overall indoor air quality.

There are several different types of central air conditioners available for your home. Read on if you’re looking to learn more about installation or simply need heating and cooling replacement.

Split System Air Conditioners

Split system air conditioners are the most common cooling systems used in homes throughout the United States. As the name implies, split systems split the heating and cooling elements. The condenser, compressor, and hot coils are housed in a metal cabinet known as the condensing unit outside the home. The cold coils, evaporator, and expansion valve are placed indoors, usually within an existing furnace or air handler.

The ac unit uses a long, cylindrical evaporator coil. Within the coil is a fan, which blows the cool air through your home’s ducts. The ducts then transport cold air throughout the individual rooms in your home. The evaporator coil is cooled via a refrigerant, which absorbs heat as it moves through the coil and carries it outside to the compressor.

Packaged Central Air Conditioners

Unlike split systems, packaged central air conditioning contains all of its equipment, including the compressor, air handler, condenser, and coils, within a single unit that is usually placed outside. Ducts connect from inside the house to the unit. It otherwise works in the same way. Refrigerant gets cycled through the coils, while the unit pulls in warm air from the environment. The warm air cools the evaporator coil as it passes over it. A fan then blows the dehumidified, cooled air through the ducts and into your home.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are similar to traditional refrigerators. They transfer heat from a cool space to a warmer space, which decreases the temperature in the cool space while increasing the temperature in the warm space. There are three general types of heat pumps. Air-to-air collects heat from the air. Water source heat pumps collect heat from water. Geothermal heat pumps collect heat from the ground.

Air source heat pumps tend to be the most common. As an air conditioner, heat pumps can move heat that is trapped indoors and move it outside. However, unlike other types of central air conditioning, heat pumps can act as heaters by simply reversing the action, taking warm air from outside and transferring it indoors.

Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioners

A common choice as a retrofit for homes and smaller living spaces, ductless mini-splits are similar to split system air conditioners but without the need for ducts, which can make for easier installation. Ductless mini-splits comprise an indoor unit that contains the air handler and an outdoor unit containing the compressor and condenser. The two units are connected by a conduit, which also holds the power cable, refrigerant tubing, a drain for condensation, and suction tubing.

Ductless mini-split units otherwise function similarly to split systems. The indoor unit absorbs warm air from inside your home and passes it over the evaporator coils. Refrigerant in the coils absorbs the heat and transfers it to the outdoor unit, dumping the hot air outside.All types of central air conditioners require regular maintenance, cleaning, and repairs. Make sure to check your air filters and vents and hire a professional hvac contractor for routine maintenance on your central HVAC systems at least once per year. Depending on the age of your ac unit, you may require an upgrade or replacement. This ensures your own personal comfort and helps you save on energy bills in the short- and long-term.