Air Conditioner are unsung heroes- they keep us cool during the hottest days and warm and cozy during winter months. Do you know what kind of air conditioner you have? It may not seem important, but a little goes a long way especially when it comes to maintaining your AC and keeping it running at full capacity. You’ll also want
your air conditioner to keep you comfortable and save you money in energy costs too.
Here’s a quick primer and guide to determine what type of air conditioning unit you have in your home.
Evaporative coolers are kind of cooling system that uses evaporation to keep the heat down. A fan motor rotates and blows air through a damp medium, thereby dispersing water molecules into the air. These molecules then absorb heat from the environment. These AC’s work similarly to how you’re cooled down right after coming out of a swimming pool.
As water droplets evaporate from your skin you feel colder, even when under direct sunlight. It’s worthy to note that evaporative coolers work better in areas with a dry climate and low humidity.
Advantages of Evaporative Coolers
Most AC’s depend on a sealed environment, e.g., closed doors and windows to maintain efficient cooling, but this is not the case with evaporative coolers. An open-air environment may be better for your health, and evaporative coolers require fresh air and ventilation in order to work well. Outside air is drawn through the unit and out comes the water droplets. In essence, you’ll have a constant supply of fresh, cooled air that circulates in the room.
Evaporative air coolers have a lower eco-footprint compared to other types. The running costs of a cooler is only a third of a typical air conditioning system.
Disadvantages of Evaporative Coolers
Evaporative AC’s work great when there’s low humidity and when evaporation is optimal. Otherwise, they won’t cool as much as say, a regular fan. Installation of a cooler will require it to be close to a roof or window. The pads must be constantly moist or wet, which means you will need to supply it with water on its reservoir.
The pads require attention as it can accumulate minerals from the evaporative mechanism. It’s not uncommon to change them once or twice a year, and drained during colder months to prevent equipment damage. Lastly, an evaporative AC’s performance fluctuates depending on the temperature and humidity.
Split Type AC’s
Split system AC’s are called as such because they’re made up of two units- a blower (located outside) and a condenser unit (located inside). The delivery system of a split type is such that the air handler generates wind that passes through the coils which connect the two systems together. The air passes through the condenser and comes out nice and cold.
A split type can have ducts that connect to every room in the house and has the capacity to cool them efficiently with only one unit. The investment costs for a split type is higher than most, but more often than not you’ll only need one system to cool your entire home.
Advantages of Split Type Air Conditioners
With a split system AC you get even distribution of cold air where ducts are installed. You only need one unit for the whole structure or property, thus eliminating the need to purchase more AC units. This kind of air conditioning’s efficiency will depend entirely on the ductwork, so make sure to hire a professional AC technician to do the job. In a best case scenario where the ducts are good and proper and the rooms are well-insulated, you can expect excellent cooling and superb use of energy.
Split type AC’s do wonders in maintaining air quality as well. Its mechanism expels stale air out the return ducts and contaminants in the filter, thereby promoting a healthier environment.
Disadvantages of Split System AC’s
Split types suffer in cases where there’s poor ductwork and when it gets damaged. Technicians will know that the best duct is one that’s shortest between the rooms and the inside unit. Improperly sized ducts and ones that work around large obstacles or sharp bends need special attention as these can affect air flow, energy consumption and overall comfort. Also, it needs proper insulation and must be located in conditioned spaces for optimal cooling.
Then, there’s the filter. These vital components must be cleaned and changed at least once every three months to prevent poor air circulation and system damage.
Ductless Split Type AC’s
Ductless split types are essentially split type units without ducts. You get an indoor unit and an outdoor one that sits near your home, and a hose that delivers cool air to rooms via the outdoor condenser.
Package Air Conditioners
Package AC units are technically single products and operate more or less the same as central air conditioners. Its compressor is usually installed on the roof or an outside wall. The blower and controls can be found right inside the ceiling space or wall.
Package types require no ductwork- the coolant moves constantly through the air handler and the outdoor compressor while the unit blows cold air in the room. The space gets cool very quickly as there’s very little distance required for the air to travel, and this makes package air conditioners one of the best in terms of efficiency.
Package AC’s perform best when they’re put in single rooms and work in confined spaces. They can quickly cool a room and are a relatively inexpensive option in small facilities and dorm rooms. Users get full temperature control in an easy to install unit.
Advantages of Package Type AC’s
Package types shine in guesthouses, single or double-occupied nursing homes, campus and dormitories, motels, garage apartments and small office spaces. They’re pretty much unparalleled in terms of cooling efficiency and installation compared to split types and others.
Disadvantages of Package AC Systems
Package units can only do so much when it comes to cooling a whole house or a large space. It’s possible, but AC technicians will usually recommend a different air conditioner type for ballrooms, living rooms and warehouses, for example.
The reason for this is simple- the bigger the area, the more uneven the distribution of cold air. This means that the farthest space away from the unit will be uncomfortably warm while space right next to the AC will be sufficiently cool.
It’s worthy to note that package types produce more sound than their other AC counterparts, something you may want to consider when noise is an important factor.
Wall Air Conditioners or Window Types
A window type AC holds all the essential cooling parts inside it, including the condenser, compressor, coil and expansion valve. The box-shaped cooling system is small enough that it can be installed through a window or wall, depending on your preference. Installing a window type air conditioner is simpler than say, a split type. Moreover, due to their all-in-one nature they can be removed and installed in another room when needed. A wall AC may require wall modifications but they can still be installed with little to no problem.
Advantages of Window AC Units
Wiring a window unit AC is easy- just point to the nearest compatible outlet and you’re good to go! In terms of cost these air conditioners are hard to beat. As long as they’re running in optimal condition and has sufficient capacity to cool the room they’re in, you won’t be running a huge energy bill.
Wall types are compact and can be moved from one room to another. You won’t have to allot a large portion of the room’s space to accommodate them. An AC technician can install these units quickly and have them running in an hour or so. Maintaining a window unit is a matter of cleaning and replacing the filters as needed.
Disadvantages of Wall and Window Units
A window unit’s portability and small form factor means it won’t be able to cool as well as a package type, for example. As these AC’s get older they become less efficient and cost more energy to run.
Wall types produce a steady hum and vibration that’s more noticeable as time goes by. Loose sashes and cases can cause rattling and knocking noises. The AC technician will need to do a good job of sealing the unit so air won’t flow into the cracks and open spaces.
If you’re willing to sacrifice the view a window can offer, then you won’t have a problem getting a window unit. Window types aren’t recommended for whole-house cooling as you’ll need to purchase several units.
How to Check Your Air Conditioner Unit Type
So, how can you check the kind of AC you have? The first step is to find the air conditioning unit. The location depends on what type it is, e.g., a window type can be found at a window, and a split type is usually found outside.
However, we recommend having a professional check your air conditioner for you if you’re not sure how it works. Have it maintained regularly by calling a certified AC technician and feel free to ask questions about your unit.