Three Types of Home HVAC Systems
There is this interesting quote by Ajahn Brahm, a Buddhist monk, which perfectly captures the effect of the weather on our lives.
Brahm said, “When the weather is hot, keep a cool mind. When the weather is cold, keep a warm heart.”
Wise words indeed, but as every American will know through personal experience, this is a lot easier said than done!
Fortunately, modern HVAC systems go a long way in helping Americans stay comfortable through various seasons and if you live in the Bay Area you know how cool the winters can be and how hot the summers can get.
HVAC essentially stands for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning. As the name suggests, this is an all-in-one system meant to address both hot and cold weather conditions. But while the name is universal, the technology isn’t.
In fact, a person living in sunny Florida may need a different HVAC system than a person living in the much colder New York region. Fortunately, for those in the Bay Area, we don’t have to deal with that type of cold or humidity in the summer. Nonetheless, a good HVAC system is still vital.
For this reason, HVAC systems come in 3 types, with differences in installation, energy efficiency and costing.
- Split Systems
The name is indicative of the technology, as heating and cooling are split across 2 primary units. It is the most commonly used type, as it is ideal for both hot and cold temperatures. However, it requires a gas connection to the house.
Here, the heating unit is installed indoors (typically in the basement), and comprises of a gas-heated furnace, and a fan/ evaporator to disperse the heat. The cooling unit is installed outdoors (typically outside a window).
It includes a refrigerant with a compressor, and a fan to remove hot air. Finally, the temperature within the house is controlled through a central thermostat.
- Hybrid (Split) Systems
Again, the name showcases the underlying technology. It is a step above split systems as it can be powered by both gas and electricity. For this, it makes use of a heating pump powered by electricity.
Like the split system, it includes traditional ducts that run through the house, and temperature is centrally controlled through a thermostat.
The use of electricity makes this system more energy efficient. (It can also be more cost-effective in some cities).
Finally, this system is ideal for mild to hot climates, as the heating provided by electricity is lower than in a gas-powered system.
An extension of this system is the packaged system (also called packaged heating and air). This comprises of one single unit installed indoors (typically in the attic), and can be powered by both gas and electricity. This makes it ideal for small homes with mild to hot climatic conditions.
- Mini-split (Ductless) Systems
The mini-split is a ductless system. This makes it ideal for new additions to the house (like a garage or an extra room), where the homeowner does not wish to deal with a HVAC revamp including installation of ducts.
It can also be installed in rooms without windows, as the air condenser can be installed on the ceiling. (This is not possible in a traditional split system.)
This type allows you to control the temperate by room (in single-zone systems). This makes it perfect for those in the hospitality sector (like a bed and breakfast), as each room can have its own thermostat control. It is also ideal if you expect to downsize, and hence do not wish to heat/cool the entire house.
Finally, ductless systems are expected to provide almost 30% in energy savings, as there is no loss of energy due to the nature of ducts. In the long term, these savings can offset the higher cost of maintaining this system.