Types of Cooling Systems
Central Air Conditioners
A whole house air conditioner, also known as a central air conditioner or split system air conditioning system, transfers heat from a home’s interior to the warm outside environment. Split system cooling systems are made up of an outdoor unit and an indoor unit. The indoor unit or the evaporator is connected to a furnace or air handler. The outdoor unit, the condenser, houses the engine of the air conditioner, the compressor. The condenser, compressor, evaporator, blower motor, fan motor, and other components work together to produce cool air, or air conditioning, by removing humidity from the inside air.
Central air conditioners are rated according to their seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER). SEER indicates the relative amount of energy needed to provide a specific cooling output. Many older systems have SEER ratings of 6 or less. Effective 1/1/2015, the U.S. Department of Energy changed from a national standard for air conditioning, to regional standards. As a result, the required SEER of an air conditioning system differs by region. The minimum SEER for Maryland is 14 SEER for both split system air conditioners and single package air conditioners.
In a packaged central air conditioner, the evaporator, condenser, and compressor are all located in one cabinet, which usually is placed on a roof or on a concrete slab next to the house’s foundation. This type of air conditioner also is used in small commercial buildings.
If your air conditioner is 15 years or older, consider upgrading to an energy-efficient model. In addition, be sure that the evaporator coil is replaced with the new air conditioner and that it’s an exact match per the manufacturer’s specifications. The air conditioner’s efficiency will likely not improve if the existing evaporator coil is left in place; in fact, the old coil could cause the new compressor to fail prematurely.
Although we can technically call an air conditioner a heat pump, the term “heat pump” is generally used to refer to an HVAC system that can pump heat inside or outside. Heat pumps are machines that can pump heat in both directions—from the inside to the outside (cooling) and from the outside to the inside (heating). In the cooling mode, heat pumps are very similar to an air conditioner.
The efficiency for heat pumps is measured by SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio), EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) and HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor).
Do these terms confuse you? Not sure if you have or need an air conditioner or heat pump for cooling? Contact Us today or call 410-391-3070 and let our comfort advisers educate you. We don’t sell comfort, we educate our customers about comfort and the choices available in equipment selection.