How to Tell What Kind of HVAC System You Have

What Type of AC and Heating System Do I Have?

If you’ve just moved into a new house, you may not know what type of HVAC system you have. Maybe it’s been too many years since you paid attention to your existing system. When you check your thermostat or walk outside to inspect your unit, you may find it a little too complicated and give up.

Either way, homeowners should be aware of the type of heating and cooling system they have, how it works, and if it’s efficient enough for their needs. That way, they’ll have a stronger idea of their options for affordable maintenance and potential upgrades in the near future.

In this post, we’ll explore the four main types of HVAC units most commonly found, all the benefits they have for homeowners, and which system types are right for your home.

Split System

The most popular type of home heating and cooling system is the split system. When you think about air conditioning units, your first mental image will probably be of the split system.

Your outdoor HVAC unit is a traditional condensing unit that works in tandem with indoor components like your evaporator coil, blower, and furnace. The condenser for these cooling systems is the most archetypal version of an air conditioner you’ll find in the United States.

Split HVAC system Lennox Heat Pump Condenser

Hybrid Split System

Hybrid air conditioning systems are very similar to normal split systems except for one key difference: they can switch between power sources. Hybrid systems give you a choice between natural gas and electricity.

Gas power is a great way to provide treated air for your home, but the HVAC system is often more energy intensive.

Electric heat can be a good choice during the winter months, but only if you’re okay with even higher energy costs. Being able to switch to electricity in the summer months is a cost-effective and preferable option for most homeowners.

Gas furnace dual fuel hybrid HVAC system

Ductless Mini Split Systems

This is another option typically installed for homeowners in more temperate climates. Ductless split systems operate with several smaller units connected through an outdoor compressor. The treated air they provide can be changed from room to room as the units tend to be installed directly into the zones that need heat and cooling.

Ductless systems are also excellent for properties where a lack of traditional ducts makes installing ductwork too difficult or altogether impossible.

The downside of a mini split system is the maintenance factor. Because there are so many smaller sections of the system, you may need more frequent maintenance to ensure every part works at optimal efficiency. It can also be difficult to source repair parts.

Mitsubishi mini-split ductless HVAC system heat pump condenser outdoor unit

Packaged System

Many homeowners have packaged heating and cooling systems. These systems include both furnace and air conditioner and are a somewhat common form of home central air conditioning systems. If you have a packaged system, you’ll likely have a large outdoor unit covered by a metal hood. This hood protects against debris, rain, and small animals and insects.

These all-in-one heating and cooling systems vary in appearance but tend to be larger metal boxes with plenty of ductwork and wiring leading to and from the unit and your home. They function in much the same way as other HVAC units and at similar efficiency when providing cool air through traditional ducts.

You’ll sometimes find these in commercial settings as well – especially if your building lacks adequate space for the usually larger components of split systems.

American Standard packaged HVAC system 16 SEER heat pump

What About a Heat Pump?

When you hear the term heat pump, you might expect it’ll only be used during the winter months. In fact, the term heat pump is something of a misnomer – heat pumps are very similar to traditional air conditioners.

The only difference is that when you need to reverse its function, it supplies heat. If your house is in a part of the world where temperatures rarely dip below freezing, a heat pump may be just right for you.

Similar to the way your refrigerator works, a heat pump uses electricity to move heated air from areas with cool air to areas with warm air. Heat pumps typically operate like mini split systems with both an indoor cabinet and outdoor cabinet.

Determining Make and Model

If you need to find out more specific information regarding your HVAC system, you don’t need to have a thorough understanding of all the components. Instead, you can simply look for the logo or label. Once you find it, you should know your HVAC system’s brand and model number.

Afterward, you can Google and find out more detailed information like the efficiency ratings of your air conditioning system and what categories it falls under. This can be especially helpful for homeowners who aren’t sure whether they have a heat pump, electric hybrid heating system, hybrid split system, or one of many other HVAC systems.

What Type of HVAC System is Right for You?

Now that you know the types of common HVAC systems, you may wonder if your current system is ideal for your house. Some heating systems are outdated, and older air conditioner models may not be as efficient as newer ones. HVAC units are pieces of technology that should be kept up-to-date – in other words, it’s not just about keeping a fresh air filter year-round.

Consider Climate Zones

Think about this: if you live in Las Vegas, you probably have a very different climate than you would living in Miami. The heating systems most common in Minnesota (where they hardly need an air conditioner!) will be dramatically different from those systems found in New Mexico. Mild climates and moderate climates may also require totally different heating and air conditioning systems for their indoor air needs.

Consider where you live and the type of HVAC systems you see on a regular basis. Additionally, consider what your desired temperature might be throughout the year for your indoor environment.

Conclusion

Trust the Experts

Each HVAC unit and system types we’ve described have their own benefits for heat and cool air. They also have their own downsides, depending on your specific needs for heat, utility bills, moving air in your building, and so on.

That’s why your next best step is to reach out to a professional HVAC company. Find out what heating and air system types are most common in your area. If you have specific heating needs, your HVAC contractor can let you know which furnace systems will suit your needs the best.

If you want to know the type of system they recommend most, they’ll provide you with a range of affordable choices that suit your family, your budget, and your home.

Call Blue Water Climate Control

To schedule a consultation regarding HVAC systems, ductwork, heating and cooling accessories, gas versus electric, the ideal system types for indoor air in your home or business, or anything else, trust the experts at Blue Water Climate Control.

Our Knoxville, TN HVAC company can help you identify your home or business air conditioning system and let you know exactly what you need to be more comfortable and cost-efficient year-round. Contact us today!

Written by Jeremy James

Jeremy James is a veteran of the U.S. Navy who has grown his family's HVAC business into one of the most successful home service businesses in Knoxville, TN. More than 20 years of experience in the HVAC and Engineering industries and passion for what we do has translated into our customer service, professionalism, and quality. LinkedIn

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