Types of Residential Air Conditioning Systems in Florida

Whether you are replacing an older AC system or deciding on options for a new home, it’s easy to be puzzled by all the cooling options available today. The certified Sarasota AC technicians at Custom Climate Systems can help you choose the system that is right for your home and needs in Sarasota or Manatee county.

More than 85% of Florida homes use a central air-conditioning system and that system accounts for 27% of the energy consumed in our state. A central air conditioner can be a split-system unit or a packaged unit.

UNDERSTANDING THE PARTS OF AN AIR CONDITIONING SYSTEM

  • Evaporator: Cooling coils remove heat and humidity from the air by using refrigerant.
  • Blower: This ‘fan’ circulates air over the evaporator, dispersing the chilled air. It is located inside in a closet or other hidden space.
  • Condenser: Hot coils release the collected heat into the outside air.
  • Compressor: A pump that moves refrigerant between the evaporator and the condenser to chill the indoor air, the compressor resides outside the home.

You will notice that the different types have all the same components but they are positioned or configured differently.

SPLIT AIR CONDITIONING SYSTEMS (Typically a HEAT PUMP)

A split system is the most common type of central air conditioner found in Florida and the entire U.S. As the name implies, it consists of two major parts. Outside, a large metal cabinet contains the condenser and compressor. Inside, tucked in a cabinet, is a fan-and-coil system that removes heat and moisture from the air. Pipes that carry refrigerant connect the two. The refrigerant cools the air, dehumidifying it in the process; a blower circulates air through ducts throughout the house. A thermostat maintains the temperature at the setting you select.

Good to Know 

  • Split systems are easy to install – almost all the work is done outside your home.
  • This type of AC is optimized for efficiency. It uses less energy and, as a result, its ongoing costs are lower than other choices.

PACKAGED AC UNIT or PACKAGED SYSTEM

Packaged systems are essentially a combination of everything all in one place. Only one cabinet contains the evaporator, condenser, blower and compressor. Usually located outdoors, the cabinet can be placed on a roof or on a concrete slab next to a house's foundation. The packaged AC is connected to the indoor air supply and return ducts through a home's exterior wall or roof.  Packaged systems often include electric heating coils or a natural gas furnace for when heat is needed.

Trane Packaged Unit Heat Pump

Good to Know

  • This type of air conditioner is used to cool and heat homes as well as small commercial buildings.
  • Packaged systems are a popular choice for homes with limited space, since they take up less room than split systems.

MINI-SPLIT SYSTEM or DUCTLESS SYSTEM

Like a basic split system, a mini-split AC system has two main components: an outdoor compressor/condenser and an indoor air-handling unit. A conduit, which houses the power cable, refrigerant tubing, suction tubing, and a condensate drain links the outdoor and indoor units. A mini-split AC system is most commonly used for retrofit add-ons to houses without and ductwork or multifamily housing. They can also be a good choice for room additions and small apartments, where extending or installing distribution ductwork (for a central air-conditioner) is not feasible.

Close Up Of Mini-Split Air Conditioner

Good to Know

  • Compared to other choices, mini-splits offer more flexibility in interior design options. The indoor air handlers can be suspended from a ceiling, mounted flush into a drop ceiling, or hung on a wall.
  • Each indoor unit operates from its own control creating a more customized environment that allows for individual comfort preferences.
  • Mini-Split systems rely on electronic circuit boards which sometimes fail. Be sure to choose one with a warranty that includes parts.

ROOM/WINDOW AIR CONDITIONERS

Window air conditioners are markedly different than central ACs. They are single units that contain a condenser, evaporator, thermostat and fan. A window unit is designed to be wedged into a window frame so it can vent to the outside. A window AC is most effectively used to cool single rooms. While they cost only a fraction of what a central AC unit would cost,  in Florida it will likely take a central AC system to cool an entire house.

Good to Know

  • Proper sizing is key when using window ACs. If the unit is too small the room the space will not cool down, if it is too big for the area it is supposed to cool it will perform less efficiently and effectively than a properly sized-unit.
  • Based on size alone, an air conditioner generally needs 20 Btu for each square foot of living space. Other important factors to consider when selecting an air conditioner are room height, local climate, shading, and window size.