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Types of AC – How to Choose the Best Air Conditioner for House?

Air conditioner – a device that becomes everyone’s best friend during summer. Who doesn’t love those chilled waves of air that pass by during a hot day? With around 87% of US citizens having at least one AC, you’ve got one yourself. However, if you do or are planning on getting one for your house, you may have wondered how many types of AC units exist. To help you quench your curiosity, today, we’ll go over eight main types of air conditioners along with a buying guide.

8 Different Types of Air Conditioners

Below we explained in depth about all the 8 types of air conditioning system that are popular among people. Learn the pros and cons of each type to know what suits you the best.

1. Central Air Conditioner Unit

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Central or whole house air conditioning units have become customary in every home today. As its name suggests, the system of this AC relies on a central location that is outside the unit. There are two main units- indoor and outdoor units. Firstly, the indoor air conditioner, which is in the basement or near the house’s furnace, has an evaporator that works so that the condenser coil (a type of refrigerant) absorbs heat and moisture from home.

Secondly, an outdoor unit or condensing unit is responsible for expelling air out of the house. Absorbed heat then gets transferred to the outside coil by the refrigerant. The refrigerant cools the house when moved by the unit’s compressor. There is also a fan in the external unit that can cool refrigerant even quicker. Finally, the air is circulated into the entire house by a series of registers and ductwork present in floors and walls.

The Central AC unit comes in two types: Split System and Packaged System

  1. Split System: These air conditioners are among the most common central AC’s. Like its name, the functions are split up into different units, with the air conditioner and heat pump being divided. Split Systems are also more economical. 
  2. Packaged System: On the other hand, a Packaged System has multiple units with the compressor, fan, blower, and heat exchanges.

Pros:

  • Keeps the house cool and regulated by reducing the humidity levels through adequate circulation. 
  • Filters airborne particles, including dust, allergens, pollen, or lint. Certain filters can also remove microscopic pollutants. 
  • The noise of a central air conditioner is much less than a window AC as its compressor is the outside unit.

Cons:

  • A central air conditioner requires many ductworks and furnaces. 
  • The installation can be costly.
  • They are more susceptible to having gross particles if left untouched for a longer time. 
  • The constant running of the AC during warmer months will lead to an increase in energy bills.

2. Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioners

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If you have been searching for an efficient air conditioner, it has to be a ductless one. Generally, this type of AC contains one or more indoor units and an outdoor unit with a condenser and compressor. The exterior unit is responsible for condensing the cool air and transferring it to the interior part of the system via the connecting refrigerant tubing. The internal unit mounted on walls then circulates the cool air into the room.

These wall mount air conditioning units are most suited for people who want a specific room cooled. They are also suitable for contemporary houses or apartments. Another advantage of this mini-split is that its remote consists of an intelligent controller that you can utilize with your phone.

Pros:

  • It is relatively easy to install in a house and comes with simple integral components. 
  • Specializes in maintaining the temperature in every room by its controlling units however you like.
  • Ductless Mini-Split AC’s are more cost-efficient than Central AC.

Cons:

  • It is ideal for only a specific room as they are costly to install in multiple rooms. 
  • Not appropriate for cooling a large house with just one indoor unit. 
  • Many do not prefer the appearance of the interior unit due to the electrical connections or condensate drainage.

3. Window Air Conditioner

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Window air conditioners are one of the relatively well-known and common types found in various households. An air conditioner is placed in a window wherein heat is expelled through the back, and cool air is distributed from the front. This AC is often best sorted for cooling small spaces or homes.

Window or box air conditioners are available in numerous sizes depending upon the area of a house. A bigger unit would, in turn, distribute cooler air. A window air conditioner has a thermostat to adjust cooling output. There are also fan speeds that can be controlled to be low, medium, or high. However, it would impact noise levels if kept on high. 

The air conditioner also has a filter type: standard and washable. The typical filter type will require replacement on a timely basis. On the other hand, washable filters can be cleaned in your kitchen sink.

Pros:

  • Lower prices for purchasing and maintaining 
  • Easy installation 
  • Consume less energy when used only for one space
  • Easy to clean

Cons:

  • A window unit air conditioner produces more noise during operation than a central AC. 
  • Obstruct the natural light coming from the window due to the air conditioner’s occupation. 
  • All windows may not be suitable for holding the weight of the unit due to irregularity or unfitting shape.

4. Portable Air Conditioners

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There are situations when you temporarily need an AC unit, but it’s certainly an expensive option in such scenarios. Also, if there’s no suitable space or area to install a window or split type air conditioner, it becomes problematic to position it. For such complications, a portable air conditioner is a good match. This freestanding ac unit has all the components in a single unit with a similar structural design to the window air conditioner. Its fan continuously runs as its unit evaporates the condensed air collected inside the AC.

As the name states, it’s a portable appliance; thus, it can be carried and placed easily anywhere which makes it the best air conditioner for a small single room like bedroom, guest room, or others. Also, even smaller models of the same can be installed even in kitchens or bathrooms as they don’t take up much space. Generally, you’ll see they will come either a single hose or a double one. The single design is a simple one where the Portable or Stand Alone air conditioner sucks the indoor air and blows it outside, whereas the dual hose version pulls the outdoor air to cool its compressor, and it’s disposed of outside again.

Pros:

  • It’s pretty easy to use, carry and place in any room since its portable
  • They are not installed thus are quick to set up without much technical assistance by a professional 
  • Perfect to cool small spaces efficiently 
  • When not in use, it is simple to store 
  • Ideal for a temporary solution

Cons:

  • Fan sound is constant throughout as it works that may be disrupting 
  • Not suitable for cooling large spaces 
  • The models with a hose require it to be placed near a window and thus block the lower end of a window.

5. Floor Mounted Air Conditioner

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Floor-mounted air conditioners are an excellent choice for those lacking space in their home. They are basically like your everyday wall-mounted air conditioners, with one exception, they are on the floor instead. These air conditioners also have an interior and exterior unit. The interior unit is placed on the floor, and the external unit is located outside and does not require ductwork. 

Many brands are also making floor mounted mini split units for more modern interiors. This is an excellent option for the elderly as it is easy to reach out to. The air conditioner is also better accessible and makes it easier to clean out air filters to ensure air quality. 

In addition, these air conditioners are widely used in restaurants or motels. While wall-mounted ACs appear to impact a room’s aesthetics, floor-mounted ACs tend to be more discreet on floors. Nonetheless, airflow can be affected given that furniture such as sofas and beds can come in the way. This would be a problem for those sitting away from the air conditioner.

Pros:

  • Better aesthetics as some of them have modern designs 
  • It does not occupy much space 
  • Easy installation
  • Easily accessible

Cons:

  • Unevenly distributed air for those away from the air conditioner 
  • Furniture can cause the airflow to be restricted

6. Hybrid / Dual Fuel Air Conditioner

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Hybrid AC, also called a dual fuel air conditioner, is a gas furnace and a heat pump (powered through electricity), making its users leave a lighter carbon footprint. The device automatically alternates between burning fossil fuels and using electricity depending on the temperature outside. A hybrid air conditioner can set the temperature at which the system converts from using a heat pump to a furnace, or you can make changeover manually.

Hybrid air conditioners also save a lot of energy costs. A heat pump expels hot air and circulates cool air during warmer months. This process is then switched to a furnace during colder months.

Pros:

  • Environment-friendly as it has a dual-fuel system
  • Reduces long-term energy bills
  • Reduces the carbon footprint

Cons:

  • The initial investment is expensive.
  • A more extensive heat pump system may deliver less cooling power than the same size air conditioner for the same electricity demand.

7. Smart Air Conditioner

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Is your home a spot with modern technology? Is everyone in the family a tech-savvy person? If you’ve answered yes, this type is what you’re looking for! For example, smart air conditioners are IoT-enabled, meaning they can connect to your home Wi-Fi and be controlled through an app. These can be either a window, mini-split, or portable.

You can utilize various features such as geofencing, weekly schedule, intelligent home compatibility, etc. These features can range on a broad scale, depending on the manufacturer. If you’re running on a budget, try getting your hands on a smart A.C. Remote control. These gadgets enable your traditional ducted units to gain the same features as a smart air conditioner would have. Try thinking of them as a programmable thermostat to get a more technical idea of what they are.

Pros:

  • Ease to use since you can control these devices at the palm of your hand (phone) from anywhere, it makes it a lot easier for people to turn on/off their a.c. from various locations. 
  • Smart ACs will automatically slow down once your room temperature has reached your desired coolness.
  • Smart ACs can let you know beforehand whether a service checkup is in need or even if the air filters have become dirtier through regular use.

Cons:

  • The first thing that may remove smart AC’s from your buying list is that it is relatively more expensive than your regular AC. 
  • You’ll need a stable or high-speed Wi-Fi/data connection throughout the house to get the most out of this AC. If the Wi-Fi goes out, so does the AC. 
  • You might get lazier since you can rely on accessing the AC through your phone.

8. Geothermal Air Conditioner

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Now, this is more of a modern-day advancement, you could say. Geothermal air conditioners use insulating properties from beneath the ground. If you dig below 4-6 feet of land, there is a strong temperature consistency. Temperatures inside this range do not/hardly change even if the climate outside does. This is where geothermal ACs jump in. This technology makes the most out of nature with a piping framework that loops and circulates water between your home, a suitable ground, and a heat pump.

Pros

  • Geothermal uses nature’s underground temperature, making it extremely energy efficient to rely on other sources.
  • This air conditioner tends to live longer than your typical ACs, coolers, and heaters.

Cons: 

  • The cost of establishing a geothermal heating/cooling unit is prohibitive. Initial installation can be troublesome since the loops are set on the ground and depend on the location.

What Size AC Do I Need? – Factors to Consider Before Buying

Now that you know the various types of air conditioners, it’s also crucial to identify which will match your requirements. So let’s look at some facts you need to check before buying an AC.

Budget

The first and most significant factor is undoubtedly the budget you have. When we talk about portable or window AC’s, they are relatively a cheaper option but are only best for cooling small spaces at a time. Next, the mini-split ductless AC is an affordable air conditioner if you only want to cool a particular room.

However, the other AC’s such as the central AC, geothermal heating, and cooling ones, are more pricey. These are not necessarily an out-of-budget option if you are looking for an AC to run for a long time. Select an AC depending on the size and requirements of your home to get the best deal!

Energy Efficiency

One of the most important aspects to look for when buying an air conditioner is making sure it is energy efficient. Less efficiency means your AC will use up more electricity to function. This can lead to higher electricity bills.

Efficient ACs use less energy (electricity) while providing the same features. However, note that the higher efficiency an AC has, the more costly it is.

Room Size and Maintenance Requirements

An air conditioner that you can maintain with ease indicates and ensures that it will run long-term. In addition, another vital aspect to keep in mind is the size of your house or room that you’d like to stay cool in.

This will help you navigate the multiple air conditioner types and model sizes. For example, a window AC can be more than enough for small rooms, whereas spaces such as offices might require central AC units. For bedrooms, split/smart ACs are the typical choice.

Cooling Capacity

Lastly, do remember to check the cooling capacity or power of the air conditioner. The main thing is to get an appropriate cooling capacity that will fit according to the space.

There might be cases where a larger AC unit doesn’t provide the cooling you require. To avoid instances like this, check the cooling capacity of an AC before you purchase it and take the one according to your needs.

How Much is an Air Conditioning Unit?

The cost of AC varies based on the type. Below we listed the approximate price range for different air conditioner types.

  • Central AC: $1000 to $5000
  • Ductless mini-split: $700 to $6000
  • Window AC: $150 to $500
  • Portable Air Conditioner: $250 to $500
  • Dual Fuel AC: $4000 to $7000
  • Smart Air Conditioner: $250 to $1000
  • Geothermal: $3000 to $8000

However, these are just the average cost of a AC unit, basic model. For installation there will be additional charges that ranges from $500 to $30000 based on the type. Highest is for the Geothermal units installation ranging from $10000 to $30000. Cheapest is the Window AC which costs from $50 to $100.

Conclusion

To wrap up, several air conditioners serve different features, which means they are efficient in various aspects, yet each has a unique feature. Typically, people go for the expensive ones, but in reality, there are other cost-effective and better models of the same. Hence, it’s essential to look at all of its characteristics and compare. Overall, your choice will also depend upon the size of the home and where it’s best to install it.

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