Different Types of AC units – Understanding them all
According to the Department of Energy, the greatest challenge facing the US is the global warming crisis. One of the ways that people contribute to global warming is by using energy-inefficient systems for cooling or heating their homes. The air conditioner is not the sole way of cooling your home, there are other systems that can be more energy-efficient under some conditions.
For the majority of people, AC systems are still the best way to cool themselves during the summer. Generally speaking, there are six broad types of AC units. Different types of AC have different characteristics and are designed for different spaces. So let’s get on with explaining different types of AC units in greater detail.
CENTRAL AC SYSTEMS
Central air conditioning systems are one of the types of AC units for homes and larger buildings. They combine all the functional parts of the cooling system into one unit that is usually placed on the roof of the buildings or next to a house, and from it ducts transport cooled air throughout the building.
These types of AC units can use the same system of air ducts as the gas furnaces. These systems are convenient in some cases because they cool the whole building or home. But it also makes them the most expensive to run, and when there is no need to cool the whole building, the least energy-efficient.
Mini-split systems are types of AC units that are a good solution for homes that don’t have ductworks. They are called a split system because they are made of two units, an outdoor unit that houses the compressor and condenser, and an indoor unit that houses the evaporator. These two units are connected to each other by two insulated semi-flexible pipes.
Split systems are used for cooling individual rooms, and because of this, they can be very energy efficient to run. But the initial costs of installing these types of AC can be very high in case of a high number of rooms that need to be cooled.
WINDOW AC UNITS
These types of AC units are probably the most common in the US. They are intended for cooling individual rooms but as opposed to a split system they are made as a single unit. Their name comes from the fact that they are usually mounted on the window sill, but can be also in a slot cut into the wall.
These types of AC systems have all advantages and drawbacks of split systems but also have the advantage of all the parts being packaged in a single unit.
PORTABLE AC UNITS
Portable types of AC units come in different sizes and shapes but are based around the same concept of the self-contained cooling system as window units, with the addition of the ability to be transported around the home. These are very convenient and energy-efficient ways to cool only the rooms you want to while keeping the initial expenses as low as possible.
HYBRID AC SYSTEMS
Hybrid types of AC units combine cooling and heating into one single system. They are similar in design to central air conditioning systems but have a gas furnace for heating when the temperatures drop and the refrigerant is not able to warm up the air. This AC type has the same drawbacks as central systems, but also the advantage of heating.
Central AC systems work, in sense, by taking the heat from your home and releasing it on the outside of your house. Hybrid systems can also run in reverse, by taking the heat from outside and releasing it inside your home. When the temperature drops too low during the winter, a gas furnace comes online automatically to produce the heat.
GEOTHERMAL AC SYSTEMS
Geothermal AC systems similarly to hybrid systems are able to both cool and heat your home. These types of AC units in a way don’t cool nor heat your home, but maintain the temperature stable. The main part of these systems are pipes buried underground through which a fluid circulates. These pipes are usually at the depth of five feet, where the ground temperature is constant.
This way, the AC system is constantly equalizing the temperature in the home with the ground. During the summer it will be cooling, and during the winter it will be heating your home. This system is the most energy-efficient system to cool the whole house but comes with very high costs of installation, and the pipes system is very expensive to fix in case of any leaks.
TYPES OF AC MOTOR
Most of the types of air conditioning systems have one or more motors that make them run. Depending on the exact type, they can have one or more of the four possible motors. Because in the AC system the main energy consumers are these motors, you can very easily compare the energy efficiency of various AC types by the number of the motors they have.
Condenser fan motor
In AC systems that use phase change of refrigerant to cool the air, it is very important to have a constant flow of air over the condenser that radiates the heat accumulated from the inside of your home. Maintaining sufficient airflow is the role of a condenser fan which has an electric motor that spins it.
Blower fan motor
A blower fan moves the air over the cooling coils and pushes it into your house or a room. As all fans do, these also have motors. These motors, particularly in central AC systems consume huge amounts of electricity because they need to move huge amounts of air.
Combustion fan motor
If the AC system has a gas furnace it will also have a combustion fan and its motor. The purpose of this fan is the forced induction of air into the gas chamber. Just as with a turbo or supercharger on your car, this provides more oxygen for better and more complete combustion of the natural gas, but also a higher pressure that increases the temperature of combustion.
Part of refrigerant cycling through the AC system involves its compression, which can not be done without a motor which is located inside the compressor.
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