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  • Writer's pictureJulia Roy

Types of Air Conditioners

Updated: Dec 3, 2021

Cooling season is in full swing across the country! Understanding the different types of air conditioning systems available will help you make an informed purchase decision should you need to replace yours this season, and help you understand how each works so you can maximize your system’s efficiency.

Types of Air Conditioning Systems

Deciding the best option for your cooling needs can be confusing and exhausting when looking at everything available in the industry. We want to provide you with information that is concise and easy to understand how they operate. Information is knowledge and knowledge is power, so we want to give you the power to buy smart for both your wallet and your needs! Below are the most common types of air conditioning systems and the process by which they operate.

Central Air Conditioners

Central air conditioners are the most commonly used cooling system in the U.S. This system takes cool air and circulates it through a system of supply ducts and return registers. These supply ducts and registers can be found in many locations:

  • Openings in walls

  • Openings in floors

  • Grills in the ceilings

As the system carries the cool air through the home, it becomes warmer as it travels through the system. The air then circulates back to the central air conditioner through the return ducts and registers. A benefit of a central air conditioner is that it helps dehumidify the incoming air but with extreme humidity, you may have to invest in a dehumidifier to help lower the moisture in the air. There are also two different types of central air conditioners to choose from.

  • Split-system central air conditioner – for this type of system, there are two separate cabinets. One is located outside in a metal cabinet and houses the condenser and compressor. The second cabinet is on the inside of the house and contains the evaporator. Typically, the indoor cabinet contains a furnace or part of a heat pump, which has the evaporator coils installed in the main supply duct of the heat pump or furnace. This system is great for anyone who already has a furnace but no air conditioner. It offers the most affordable option for their needs.

  • Packaged central air conditioner – the name is a good indicator of what to expect from a packaged central air conditioner. The evaporator, compressor, and condenser are all installed in one cabinet. This cabinet is typically placed on a roof or a concrete slab near the house’s foundation. Packaged ones normally include electric heating coils or a natural gas furnace, which eliminates the need for a separate furnace inside.

Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioners

This is a great option for cooling your home or business without having to deal with the ductwork. Other systems require ductwork so that the cool air can travel throughout the space. A ductless mini split air conditioner doesn’t require ductwork because it has an air conditioner or a heat pump outside that connects to units in the home that handle the cooling being pushed into them from outside. You can control the temperature of a whole home or just one room by controlling the air handlers in each specific area. This allows for more control and a more efficient way to control the temperature and cost of operating the ductless mini split air conditioner.

Heat Pumps

A heat pump is a type of split system that utilizes the functions of both heating and cooling in the home. During the summer months, it provides cool air to flow throughout your house and during the winter months, it supplies warm air to keep you comfortable in the chilly weather. There are two types of heat pumps available:

  • Air source heat pumps – These pumps pull the heat from the outdoors or release the heat from your home into the outdoors. Air source heat pumps achieve the goal of heat and cool no matter what the weather is.

  • Geothermal heat pumps – Also known as ground source heat pumps, they pull the heat from or put the heat back into the earth in order to cool and heat your home.

Browse Types of Air Conditioners on is the world’s leading HVAC resource website. We have all the information you need to evaluate top-of-the-line cooling systems manufactured by trusted industry brands. Through the links below, you’ll find product information and units by leading manufacturers such as Lennox, Goodman, Trane, and others!

If you need help with your air conditioner or want to learn more about the types of air conditioners available for your home comfort needs, explore’s HVAC Contractor Directory. Through the directory, you’ll be connected with local cooling contractors who can answer your questions and help you determine the best system and best value for your home. Just enter your ZIP code to see local HVAC contractors near you!

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