Making the Right Choice: AC Options for Homeowners

September 17th, 2015 by admin

While cooling your home during the summer months is a no-brainer, choosing which system best fits your home and needs isn’t so simple. As cooling technologies advance, an increasing number of air conditioning options are available to homeowners. One aspect remains common to each, however — air conditioning systems actually do not create cold air.

Instead, each has a system for removing hot air and humidity from your home. That means that each type of cooling unit must have a connection to the outdoors. Though this basic principle remains constant, choosing the right air conditioning system depends on your lifestyle and the capacity of your home.

Central Air

Central air is arguably the most popular system for cooling residential spaces. It features a condenser and a compressor located in an outdoor unit and an evaporator coil inside the home. This is often referred to as a “split system.” In a central air “packaged system,” all three components are located outside. As a refrigerant–freon, for example–circulates between the evaporator coil and compressor, it absorbs the heat from your home and leaves only cool air. This cooled air is delivered throughout your home via vents, which are connected to a duct system.

A central air system is very quiet, as the noisier parts of the unit are located outside. It can also effectively cool your entire house. Some units even split your home into sections or zones, allowing you to cool different rooms to specific temperatures. Central air units also feature an air filter, which greatly improves the air quality in your home as well as the temperature.

However, a large amount of cool air can be wasted as it travels through your home’s duct system, and your ducts need to be properly maintained for the system to be effective.

Window Units

Window units contain a condenser, compressor, and evaporator within a single unit. Because they are placed in a window, window units are able to quickly push warm air outside while using a fan to return cooler air into your home. Their system is much less complicated than a central air system, but window units vary widely in efficiency and cooling capacity.

The nature of window units allows them to cool a single room at a time, which gives you the freedom to keep separate rooms at separate temperatures. However, window units require a house to have adequate window space and insulation to be truly effective. Additionally, window units can be noisy and require setup and removal with a change in seasons, which may be inconvenient.

Portable AC

Portable air conditioners, like window units, contain all the components of an AC system in one unit. However, they use a hose to connect to the outdoors, where excess heat from your home is dispelled. This hose can be installed in a window, a fireplace, or any type of wall that has access to the outdoors.

Some portable air conditioners store the moisture they pull out of the air in a tank that must be emptied regularly. Their cooling capacity is not quite as strong as window units or central air, but portable units can be moved from room to room with ease and stored without hassle.

It’s possible to use a portable unit as a temporary or supplementary cooling solution if it’s not strong enough to be the primary cooling system for your home.

Ductless Mini-Split System

The ductless mini-split system is the most efficient alternative to central air systems. Like central air, the condenser and compressor are outside of your home while the evaporator is inside — but, like a window unit, the mini-split system is contained in one unit. Imagine that a wall of your home was built right down the middle of a window unit; that’s the mini-split system.

As its name reveals, the ductless mini-split system does not require any ductwork to cool your home. It is convenient for older homes that don’t lend themselves to ductwork installation or homes with few windows that can’t be cooled with window units. However, like a window unit or portable air conditioner, multiple mini-split systems are required to cool an entire house. Installing such a system is also relatively expensive.

Regardless of which system you decide to use this summer, make sure the system that you install is the right size for your home. If your system is too powerful for the size of your home, it will turn on and off frequently and will fail to pull humidity out of the air. If it is too small, it will be working constantly to cool your home and raise your electric bill. Finding a balance is key. Call JK Mechanical at 800-JKM-0028 to talk to a professional about which cooling system is right for you and get the installation process started.

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