Frequently Asked Questions
What is Central Cooling and Heating?
Forced air central system is one of the most common types of air conditioning and heating systems. The system depends on a central source to heat and cool air which is dispensed to different rooms or any other area where it is needed in a building. The system has the capacity to deliver air through vents in the ceiling, walls, floor and ductwork.
To better understand exactly how central air conditioning and heating as well as HVAC works in general, here are three key facts you shouldn’t miss:
- The refrigeration process cools air, and at the least, the process requires a
- , condenser,
- , and
- s. Heat is generated through several different sources and they include boilers and electric furnaces, or electric heaters and fuel burning. Interestingly, central heating and cooling systems are combinations of heating components and air conditioning. But each of them are separate systems. In contrast, an air conditioner
- works quite differently. The
- uses the exact component that cools –
- , evaporator and
- s to generate heat.
You can configure central heating and cooling systems in various different ways. Consider these:
Heat Pump Split System
Heat pumps rely on the refrigeration cycle for cooling air and the system generates heat by simply reversing the refrigeration cycle. Heat pump systems are recognized for consuming very little electricity. The system consists of two units: the indoor unit and the outdoor unit, and the compressor is installed in the outdoor unit. One of the key reasons why the heat pump is a unique system is that its two coils can have the capacity to function as an evaporator or condenser. You can reverse the refrigerant’s direction with just one flip of a switch and the coils will reverse their functions accordingly.
Packaged units are stored outside buildings and homes. The unit is an all-in-one cooling and heating solution. In many residential homes, packaged units are stored at ground level or in a crawl space. But in small commercial buildings, packaged units are often installed on the roof.
There are 4 different types of Packaged Unit configurations and they are:
- The air conditioner
- , which only has the
- to provide cool air. The gas/electric
- combines gas heat with air conditioning to generate strong gas heat for harsh climate zones as well as standard 24V air conditioning. Dual-fuel
- s are an all-inclusive solution that provides energy-saving heating and cooling through a technology called a
- . But when the temperature in the winter gets too cold for the
- , it automatically triggers the gas furnace to start working. The
heat pumppackaged unit
- depends on reverse cycle technology to generate heat and these systems are often available with field-installed emergency/auxiliary heat strips.
Air conditioner split systems are made up of two units: the outdoor unit and the indoor unit. The indoor unit, known as an air handler, houses the evaporator coil and the blower motor. The function of the blower motor is to blow air over the evaporator coil. The evaporator coil cools the air, which is dispensed through the ducts to each room or any area where the cooled air is required. The process is repeated continually for cooled air to be generated and dispensed. Outdoor units of air conditioner split systems are installed on the buildings exterior. The unit houses the condenser coil as well as the compressor.
But in cases of homes with furnaces, integrating cooling into the system only requires adding a compatible evaporator coil into the system. This process works effectively because furnaces contain blowers. Here is how it works. The blower in the furnace propels unheated air in a room over the evaporator coil to trigger the refrigeration cycle. The evaporator coil is often installed at the top of the furnace.
One other heating option is to join an air conditioning system with an electric heater. In this method the air handler’s blower is used to spread the heated air.
Regardless of what you intend to achieve, either adding central air conditioning to your heating or adding heat to an existing air conditioning, make sure all the different components you’re combining are compatible. If you prefer a manufacturer preconfigured complete split system with a central air conditioning and heating system, you can buy them together so you wouldn’t have to be concerned with component compatibility.
Ductless systems don’t rely on ducts for air distribution, rather they dispense air directly from their indoor unit. The systems are not as big in sizes as the normal central ducted split system HVAC. But the ductless systems are split systems too. That means the system is made up of at least one outdoor unit and one indoor unit also referred to as a fan coil. Ductless systems are often call “mini split” because of their small sizes.
What makes a mini split appealing to many people, aside from the minimal energy consumption benefits, is its capacity to hold up to 5 individually controlled zones all connected to only one outdoor unit. Each of the zones inside the mini split has an indoor fan coil. But each of these fan coils can be unique with different design styles and installation options. Each zone can be turned on and adjusted based on the specific usage of the zone and the number of people occupying the room at any period.
Ductless systems with one zone are referred to as a mini split or a one-zone system. Ductless systems with two or more zones are called multi-zone systems. These systems ranges from five-zone or penta-zone systems to a dual zone or two-zone system.
During summer, some families may want some of their bedrooms to be cooler at night before they go to bed while leaving unoccupied rooms unadjusted without altering their temperatures. Common factors like weather conditions and time of day makes it easier for families to cut energy costs by simply making the most of the flexibility and control mini-split systems, with a one zone system or a multi-zone system.
Mini-splits air conditioners are one of the best options in forced air heating and cooling, which relies on ducts to dispense air to rooms or throughout a building. However, in new homes, expansions, remodeling and additions, installing ductwork may not be a possible option or in some cases, the ducts can be too costly.
What are the key benefits of ductless systems?
Here are the key benefits of using ductless systems:
Ductless systems are easy to install
- Installing ductless systems does not require any expensive or complicated ductwork. All that is required to install a ductless system is a 3-inch hole that will connect the interior unit to the exterior unit. As a result of the availability of longer conduits, you can keep the distance of the outdoor unit about 50 feet away from the indoor unit.
Ductless systems are convenient
Contrary to what some people think, ductless systems are not operated manually 100%. The systems are often standard and come with a remote control, dedicated dehumidification, and other features such as a 24-hour programmable timer, sleep mode, and LED display. What’s more? Recent technology like remote sensor temperature control and self-clean functions are available and in high demand.
Ductless systems are eco-friendly and energy-saving
Ductless systems are not noisy! The system operates very quietly without disturbing you or your neighbors with noise from the outdoor unit.
As its name implies, ductless systems don’t require ducts to function. Ducts are often prone to ineffectiveness like thermal shock and air leakage. Air loss is bound to happen with Ducted systems, as air moves from the major output to each room vent. In ducted systems, thermal shocks often happen when ducts run across unconditioned spaces such as basements and attics. The irregular ambient temperature in these spaces makes the ducts expand and contract unequally. The physical pressure affects duct seals and results in more air loss.
Ductless systems are stylishly designed
Ductless systems are designed in several different beautiful colors and finishes, all available for indoor and outdoor units. The systems blend easily with interior décor and they don’t require a dropped ceiling or soffit to hide the ducts. Indoor units can be mounted on a wall at a low or mid-height, or flat against the ceiling.
Ductless systems uses inverter technology
Energy-efficient inverter technology is integrated with your heating load and cooling load. With the use of self-diagnostic tools, the technology automatically controls the compressor for specific output depending on the intended air conditioning needs. This implies that your system actually regulates electric input to avoid overconsumption. If you’re using a multi-zoned application, increased energy efficiency is viable because the compressor will change its speed, but the fan coil of each will function based on what each zone needs.
Improved unit lifespan: unlike ductless systems, traditional systems function at fixed speed. The compressor goes on and off based on the thermal load. The on/off cycle uses excessive energy and cuts the lifespan of the compressor and other components that often go on and off.
Contrary to what many people assume, indoor air quality is not usually better than outdoor air.
In fact, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that indoor air is 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air. How can you reverse that? What exactly can you do to stop or prevent this air contamination? One of the reasons why indoor air contamination is so high is because of household cleaners.
Additionally, many homes are made of materials that produce hundreds of different chemical compounds that causes indoor air pollution. Regular household products such as carpeting, plywood and particle board can produce the common carcinogen, formaldehyde. This released substance is often trapped inside a home as air particles.
The results of indoor air contamination can be devastating. It is estimated that more than 50 million people in the United States are suffering from allergies and asthma. If you’re one of the fortunate that are free from chronic diseases caused by indoor air contamination, contaminants from household chemicals and other allergens often interfere with sleeping habits, can alter your mood, drain your energy, cause sore throats and even headaches. All of these are linked to contaminants such as volatile organic compounds, mold, dust and viruses.
Humidity, the level of moisture in the air, also affects indoor air quality. One guaranteed method of reducing air conditioning and heating bills is to maintain the best relative humidity in your home. This relative humidity should range from 30% to 50%, though this depends on the season and the temperature outside the home. But if you really want a solution for your entire home, you can integrate dehumidifiers into your central air conditioning system.
Also, if you maintain the recommended air moisture levels in your home, it will prolong the lifespan of your household items such as furniture, drapery, home décor and more. Additionally, if the humidity level in your home is comfortable, it can prevent static electricity and dry skin.
Static electricity, which is caused by a lack of humidity, is not only annoying, it can also create unhygienic conditions by causing dust and dirt to cling to household items and objects. It can also cause severe long term damage to building structures. In contrast, extremely high humidity establishes an environment that can trigger the growth of dangerous microscopic organisms such as mold and bacteria. Dusts easily pile up in moist conditions, too.
Indoor air systems differ in cost, efficiency, and application. Treated air can actually be circulated through your central duct system by using a central air whole house and building system. Some of the key options you can choose from include dehumidification and humidification systems and ventilators (Energy Recovery Ventilators and Heat Recovery Ventilators), as well as air cleaners.
These systems can be installed on your air handler; mounted on the wall, ceiling or furnace; can be freestanding, or in your ductwork. Central AC air purification systems with filtration and odor-absorbing capability are obtainable with sterilization technology like photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) and UV lights.
One-room and portable units are also well-known and they are effective. These units do not require installation, have the capacity to treat specific areas and save space. Many homeowners prefer a combination of whole house and portable systems for cleaning, humidifying and dehumidifying indoor air.
If you intend to choose just one room to improve your best clean air efforts, pick your bedroom. The logic behind this is simple: most people spend 90% of their lives indoors and one third of that time is spent in the bedroom. For instance, if you keep a portable air purifier in your bedroom, it can help you sleep better, and can relieve chronic ailments and sicknesses like asthma and headaches.
Here is how Air Purification Systems can improve your indoor air quality (IAQ):
- The sterilization kills bacteria and viruses
- Air purification systems remove or capture allergens
- Air purification systems eliminate odor
- Air purification systems provide
- (the process of letting in outdoor air)
- Air purification systems create healthy and comfortable air moisture levels via dehumidification and humidification
- Air purification systems protect against volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and toxic airborne chemical vapors
You can improve the indoor air quality in your home by carefully selecting the cleaning products you use in your home. Do this in addition to improving IAQ with technology.
Packaged units are combined central cooling and heating units that are installed outdoors, at ground level, in a crawl space or even on the roof.
Electric/gas packaged units are a combination of a gas furnace and electric air conditioning.
Dual-fuel (hybrid) packaged units are a combination of heat pump heating and cooling as well as backup furnace heating.
Heat pump packaged units cool the air through the refrigeration cycle process and generate heat through reverse refrigeration.
All these units require ductwork for dispensing air all over the indoor space.
Selecting packaged units based on climate zone
People living in the southern US region should consider a heat pump packaged unit. This unit has the capacity to offer high SEER cooling along with energy-saving heat. Reversing the refrigeration cycle of this unit is enough for zones where the temperature hardly falls below 20 degrees F. However, for the few days that the temperature may fall below 20 degrees F, a backup electric coil will be used for auxiliary heat at a cheap cost.
If you live in the northern regions where winter temperatures are very extreme, you’ll need fuel heat. Some of the key options you can choose from include the hybrid packaged unit, a dual fuel, or electric air conditioning and gas heat.
If you’re living in south Florida and the area south of Texas, you can opt for a cooling-only packaged air conditioner with an electric heater coil. Since the weather is often very mild with just a few high heat days, it’s a smart and cost saving choice to use an electric heater.
A Condenser Coil is a heat exchanger inside an air conditioning system. In a standard split system, it’s found inside the outdoor unit, also referred to as the condensing unit or condenser. Its function is to remove heat from incoming high pressure, heat vapor refrigerant, change its state and condense it into a liquid form. As a fan blows ambient air through the condenser coils, the refrigerant, in a gas state, rapidly loses heat and condenses to a liquid state. From the condenser, the refrigerant travels to the expansion valve and then to the evaporator coil to complete the refrigeration cycle.
In HVAC, a heat pump transfers heat from one area to another to cool or heat a space. Heat pumps provide cooled air through the regular refrigeration cycle and provide heat by reversing the refrigeration cycle.
The best gas furnaces for homes are now designed with new furnace technology with features that can cut your energy bills, increase your comfort, and they are affordable.
Right from the moment you start looking to buy a new furnace, you’ll have to make up your mind on the right place to have it installed. Would you want the unit to be indoor, outdoor, in a crawl space, attic or basement? The specific place you intend to install the unit can determine the size of the unit and how the furnace will be configured.
Another key aspect to consider is heating capacity. This is listed in BTUs and is needed for your space and air conditioning capacity. Available AC capacity is important if you intend to add central air conditioning later, or if you intend to integrate the furnace to a central air conditioning system you’re already using.
If you intend to purchase a gas furnace that is combined with air conditioning, also called an air furnace matched system, the information below contains key facts that will guide you:
Furnace heating output is measured in BTUs. While many people are more familiar with the term “tonnage,” it is a term that is often used when referring to the capacity of air conditioning and heating. Here is how it is converted: 12,000 BTUs = 1 Ton. The full meaning of BTU is British Thermal Unit. One BTU is the amount of thermal (heat) that is needed to lower or increase the temperature of one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. In fact, the heating output is only as high as the BTU.
Once you have all the information you need, you’ll inquire about the efficiency rating of whatever furnace you’re considering. Other things to consider are the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE), which is designed to measure the efficiency of a gas furnace while converting fuel to heat energy. For instance, an 80% AFUE rating indicates that 80 cents in every $1 you invest in your home is used by the furnace to keep your home warm.
Main components of a gas furnace
- Blower for air movement Burner that ignites fuel inside a combustion chamber Valve for regulating fuel release Vent for exhausting the by-products of combustion Heat exchanger for transferring combustion heat to the air
How exactly do gas furnaces work?
Regular gas furnaces rely on a valve to control the amount of fuel that is delivered to the burner. Right inside the combustion chamber, a flame will ignite the fuel. After that, the furnace blower fan will turn on and pulls air through the vent outside. This air will go through a filter and over the furnace’s heat exchanger to warm it. The furnace blower then propels the warmed air throughout the building through the ductwork. The furnace vent exhausts the combustion by-products outside – water vapor and carbon monoxide.
By using two heat exchangers, an effective condensing furnace will extort the heat for a longer period of time. This will cause the condensation of the water and gases that vent from the house via a PVC pipe.
Speed is the technology of the circulating blower motor, which propels conditioned air through your ducts.
- Variable speed ECM technology can automatically modify heat output. But they have no speed limitations. Single-speed circulating blower motors are designed with just one speed. This indicates that your furnace is either on or off. Multi-speed motors are designed with more than one speed that can be set to control the furnace through its wiring. Multi-speed ECM (Electronically Commutated Motors) are designed with a fixed number of multiple speeds. The self-regulating technology of ECM changes “gears” as required to have a stable temperature.
- The valve regulates how gas is released to the burners One-stage valves often open fully for full
- Two-stage valves open partly for low heat or open completely in the second stage for high heat. Modulating is the third type of valve. The valve dispenses gas based on the amount of heat that is needed to reach and maintain the desired temperature.
Air Furnace Matched Systems, otherwise known as Gas Furnace Systems, are a combination of gas furnace, air conditioning, condenser, and evaporator coil. This unit is specially designed to function without an air handler unit for air conditioning.
Air furnace matched systems rely on one blower to push conditioned air through your ducts. This unit is space-saving and absolutely economical. By purchasing just one unit, you can upgrade your cooling and heating systems easily.
Gas furnace systems are central ducted split systems. This means that one part of the unit, the condenser, is stored outdoors, while the other part of the unit, the furnace plus coil, is stored indoors in a basement, crawl space or in a closet attic.
For efficient hot air distribution throughout your building, the blower in your furnace propels heated air into your ductwork from one indoor central location. In order to supply cooled air, the furnace propels ambient air via your evaporator coil and into the ducts for central air conditioning. The evaporator coil is often located at the top of the furnace.
When you’re looking to purchase a gas furnace system, pay attention to these features:
- Flue type: furnaces that are in the highest efficiency range are 90% AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) to more than 98.5% AFUE. Make sure you consider a
- that requires a PVC flue. Gas valve type: a 2-stage valve or modulating gas valve can regulate the temperature of a room more economically and efficiently compared to a 1-stage gas valve and it can prevent the fluctuations of temperatures that are a common occurrence when people use 1-stage gas valves. Blower motor type: this unit is a multi-speed ECM motor or variable speed motor that will keep the room or space temperature stable and consumes less fuel compared to a standard 1-speed motor. You can choose a Gas heating efficiency also known as AFUE. The higher the AFUE the more efficient the unit. Consider a gas heating
- that is listed as BTU. Do not miss the chance to get an air conditioning
- that is detailed in BTUs and
- (12,000 BTUs = 1 Ton).
An Air Handler Unit is the indoor unit in a ducted split system. It contains the evaporator coil and fan blower. Heat pump indoor units are designed with coils that function as either evaporators (for cooling) or condensers (for heating), based on what the user wants.
Refers to a heat exchanger built inside an air conditioning system. In a standard split system, the air handler unit/inside unit contains the evaporator coil. It works by causing incoming low pressure, cold refrigerant to completely vaporize. Refrigerant enters the coil in precisely regulated amounts from the TXV in two states: gas and liquid. As a fan blows indoor air through the evaporator coil, the refrigerant rapidly absorbs heat and fully changes to gas form. This is called superheating. From the evaporator coil, the refrigerant travels to the compressor.
The MERV Filter Rating refers to a heat exchanger built inside an air conditioning system. In a standard split system, the air handler unit/inside unit contains the evaporator coil. It works by causing incoming low pressure, cold refrigerant, to completely vaporize. Refrigerant enters the coil in precisely regulated amounts from the TXV in two states: gas and liquid. As a fan blows indoor air through the evaporator coil, the refrigerant rapidly absorbs heat and fully changes to gas form. This is called superheating. From the evaporator coil, the refrigerant travels to the compressor.
EER refers to the rating of an air conditioner’s cooling efficiency. In the United States, SEER is calculated by dividing the cooling output, measured in BTUs, during a usual cooling season by the total electric energy input (consumed) in watt-hours. A higher SEER rating signifies higher energy efficiency. In the United States, SEER makes use of the cooling season average outside and indoor temperature of 82 degrees F and 50% relative humidity. SEER does not consider the differences in cooling seasons across the country.
Air curtains, otherwise known as air screens or air doors are self-reliant units that propel high-speed air between two spaces to create a concealed obstruction. Air curtains are often installed beside openings or right above doorways.
Interestingly, air curtains can maintain different temperatures between two spaces, reducing heated or cool air loss in the process, because the curtains function as invisible doors. When you install air curtains, it’ll cut your energy bills and you can save enough to pay for the unit within a short period.
Some of the best uses of air curtains include keeping out dust, odors, dirt, fumes, insects, and smoke. Homeowners, retail shops and restaurants have realized how effective these curtains are for entrance especially for doors that are continuously closed and opened as people come in and go out.
For more convenience, some air curtains are designed with a door switch that controls how the unit turns on and off as the door is opened or closed. While these curtains are not air conditioners, they are designed with electric heat or steam/hot water heat. Other additional features include multiple fan speeds and remote controls.
Two of the best cooling and heating solutions for commercial spaces are Packaged Terminal Heat Pumps (PTHP) and Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners (PTAC). These two air solution units are ductless, convenient, and both are all-in-one heating and cooling units.
PTAC’s are often called through-the-wall air conditioners because it’s easy to notice them in hotel rooms and other public places. So, many people often refer to them as hotel air conditioners or thru the wall hotel air conditioners. While this unit is often used in commercial places like hotels, offices, and hospitals, PTHP/PTAC are very good all-in-one units for home renovations like attic garage conversions where more cooling and heating is needed.
These two units don’t require ducting. They are designed to slide into the wall for installation. One side of the unit is designed to dispense conditioned air indoors while the other side of the unit is designed to ventilate outside. The functions of these units, compact design (standard 42” width and slim profile), horse capacity, along with high tech features boosted them to be appropriate for commercial spaces. But all PTAC units provide cooling and electric heat with an electric heat strip.
These two units PTAC and PTHP are outstanding as a result of their super energy efficiency. PTHP’s supply the larger part of their heating and cooling output by depending on energy-efficient reverse cycle technology. The electric heat strip only functions as an “emergency” or a “supporting heat” when the outside temperature is extremely low, to the extent where the heat pump is no longer efficient. Heat pumps use about 1/3 less electricity than many standard air conditioner and heating systems.
What’s more? PTHPs/PTACs perform two key functions – they work as air filters and dehumidifiers with several other varieties of performance enhancing-features.
Benefits of using PTAC/PTHP
Here are the key benefits of using PTAC/PTHP:
Hassle-free installation, maintenance and operation
- You can reduce operational noise of PTAC/PTHP by using units that are designed with separate indoor and outdoor fans. You can choose an air filter that is absolutely great for clean air demand and is easy to clean. You can take the stress out of maintenance and extend the life cycle of your unit by using a weatherized chassis. You should consider grill styles (architectural or stamped aluminum) that can blend with your exterior façade. You can preserve the design of your building by using an exterior flush mount option. Consider all interior mounting choices including areas that are near ceilings or floors. You should be on the lookout for units that fit an existing sleeve in replacement applications.
- PTAC/PTHP are designed with DIP switch settings for front office control. PTAC/PTHP are designed with energy-saving DC inverter technology with different fan speeds. PTAC/PTHP have
- s that randomly restart to avoid power surges. PTAC/PTHP have high EER or SEER ratings.
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