Some residents or building owners will have a natural curiosity about how certain systems in their structures work, whether for upkeep and maintenance reasons or just out of pure interest. Such individuals may look for information on several different components in their structures, and one such component that’s particularly intriguing to some in this position is the central air conditioning system.
At Lee’s Heating and Air, we’re happy to provide high-quality air conditioner installations for any client in need, including those looking at a central AC system for any home or building. How does central AC work, and what should homeowners know about it? Here’s a simple primer.
Basics on Central Air
Also sometimes called “central air” or “split-system air conditioning,” central air conditioning is a system where there is one central unit that both cools and dehumidifies the air in a building, and then sends that air through a series of ducts and vents to different rooms. In most cases, the central AC unit will be located outdoors, while the indoor portion of the system will generally be located in the basement or attic.
This process involves a few specific components:
- Evaporator: Using refrigerant, the evaporator essentially absorbs heat from the air in your building, lowering the temperature of that air.
- Blower: A blower, or fan, circulates air over the evaporator, moving the cool air around.
- Condenser: The heat that was previously absorbed will now be released outside, cooling the refrigerant gas in the process.
- Compressor: The compressor is what moves the refrigerant between the evaporator and condenser, starting the whole process over again.
- Ductwork and Vents: The cooled air will then travel through a system of ducts to different rooms in your building, exiting through vents.
- Filter: Your AC system will also have a filter to catch any particles or debris in the air, keeping them from recirculating through your building.
- Thermostat: Finally, you’ll also have a thermostat to control the temperature, telling the AC system when to turn on and off.
Types of Central Air
There are a few specific varieties of central air, including:
- Split-system AC: By far the most common type of central air, a split-system unit will have both an indoor and outdoor portion. The indoor unit, which is usually either a furnace or a fan coil, includes the evaporator coil and blower fan. The outdoor unit will contain the condenser and compressor.
- Packaged AC: A packaged AC system is one where all the components are located in a single unit, either on the roof or just outside the building. This type of system is generally used in smaller buildings.
- Ductless AC: A modern option that’s growing in popularity is the ductless AC system, which is a split-system that doesn’t require any ductwork. Instead, cooled air is sent directly to different rooms or areas through individual blowers.
Benefits of Central Air Format
So why is central air such a popular option? There are a few key benefits. One of the first here is air quality, which is improved both by the filtering of the central AC unit and by not recirculating dirty air through ductwork. Additionally, central air is a very efficient way to cool a larger building or home, and can often be automated or controlled remotely for even more convenience.
On top of this, central air is relatively simple to install compared to other cooling options, and can be integrated with existing heating systems relatively easily. Finally, central air can often add value to a home or building, making it a smart investment for any property owner.
Considerations for a New Central AC System
If you’re in need of a new AC system and have determined that central air is the way to go for your needs, here are some simply themes to consider as you’re making your product selections:
- Utilize professional assistance: It’s a simple reality that most homeowners don’t have the experience or expertise needed to properly install a central AC system. As a result, it’s highly recommended that you seek out professional assistance from an HVAC contractor to help with both the installation and maintenance of your new system. Ask about things like SEER rating and energy efficiency to be sure you’re getting the most cost-effective option for your needs.
- Size and capacity: Central AC systems are available in a wide range of sizes, so it’s important that you select one that’s appropriately sized for your specific building. An HVAC contractor can help with this process, but you’ll also want to consider the cooling capacity needed based on the square footage of your building.
- Energy efficiency: In addition to sizing, you’ll also want to be sure you’re selecting an AC unit that’s as energy efficient as possible. This will help to keep your costs down over time, and is good for the environment as well. The SEER rating is a good metric to look at here, with higher numbers indicating a more efficient unit.
- Cost: Finally, you’ll of course need to consider the upfront cost of your new central AC system. But beyond just the purchase price, be sure to also factor in the cost of installation as well as any ongoing maintenance or repair needs. Balancing all of these factors will help you to select the best option for your specific budget.
For more on how central air conditioning systems work and why you should consider one for your needs, or to learn about any of our other HVAC or related services, speak to the team at Lee’s Heating and Air today.