Learn About The 6 Major Types Of HVAC Systems

HVAC systems play an important role in creating a comfortable living environment in your home, and if you are looking to purchase or replace your home’s HVAC (which stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system), it’s worth taking some time to explore the available options, so that you can pick the best option for you. HVAC systems typically have a life span of 15 to 25 years, so choosing wisely now can either save or cost you significantly in-home energy costs for years to come.

Knowing that the decision you make now can have such a long-lasting impact on your home’s heating and cooling costs for such a long period of time into the future, it’s worth the time to get to know what the options are and choose the HVAC system that will work best for you. Here’s a rundown of the different types of HVAC systems that are available today.

Choosing the best HVAC system option for your home will depend greatly on where you live and the months of hot and cold weather you experience throughout the year, as well as the type of installation system (including radiator systems, ductwork, and piping) in place at your home to connect the HVAC system up to.

Electric Furnace/AC System

Cost: $6,000-plus

If you live in a location where warm weather prevails, such as parts of Texas or Florida, this type of HVAC system might be suitable for your home. Whereas most HVAC systems utilize gas or oil, an electric furnace for heating, combined with an electric cooling system, offers a more eco-friendly option. Ductwork is required for this option, which uses electricity to push heated or cooled air throughout your home.

This option eliminates the fear of potential gas or oil leaks that can be hazardous, as it only requires access to an electricity source to operate. Installation of this type of unit is less expensive than gas or oil options, but if your home requires a lot of heat, it may not be the most cost-effective option.

Boiler/AC System

Cost: $9,500-plus

This system is distinguished by its boiler component, which is typically installed and located in the basement of a home. The boiler is connected to pipes and radiators throughout the house and sends heated water throughout after it has successfully warmed the water effectively. Many homeowners choose the boiler system to meet their heating needs and have a separate, but complementary, air conditioning system installed along with the boiler unit to complete their home’s heating and cooling needs.

A good boiler unit can last 10 to 15 years but must be regularly cleaned and serviced. Gas boilers are considered to be a more energy-efficient option than their oil-burning counterparts. Combi-boiler units, which provide both cooling and heating throughout the home, are available but with a downside—if the unit malfunctions, you lose your heat and hot water as well as your air conditioning.

Furnace/Split AC System

Cost: $6,500-plus

If you have a larger residence, this system might be a good option because it allows you to customize the system to meet the needs of your home. This type of system is made up of an outdoor cabinet that holds a compressor (for cooling) and a condenser (for heating) as well as an indoor cabinet that houses an evaporator coil for heating and an air handler for cooling. Both of these cabinets are connected by a copper tube called a line set, which transports cold air to the home.

Gas, propane, or the least popular oil furnace component of this system blows heated or cooled air throughout, and is known as a forced-air system. While this type of system can be a cost-effective and energy-efficient option, the downside is that it can aggravate individuals with allergies by blowing dust and allergens throughout the home.

These systems can also dry out the air significantly more than other units. The blower component of the furnace can also transport odors from kitchen cooking throughout the home.

Heat Pump/Air Handler System

Cost: $7,000-plus

This system is made up of a heat pump that is typically installed outside of the home and works to heat and cools the air by way of a refrigerant, which transports hot air outdoors and vice versa. The air handler exists inside the home and circulates cool or warm air throughout by way of an air blower.

These units are significantly cheaper to operate than HVAC units with a boiler or furnace component, but if your home requires a lot of heat throughout the year, it’s good to note that the resistance heat strips are needed to allow the air handler to produce heat can be quite costly.

Mini Split Heat Pump

Cost: $8,000-plus

This HVAC system option has become more popular in recent years for several reasons—it does not require any ductwork, it is one of the most energy-efficient heating and cooling options available for homes, and the indoor component of mini-split heat pumps are installed inside your home’s existing ductwork, so as to remain hidden (it’s good to note that mini-split heat pump systems are available as ducted units as well, but may require more money to install).

Single-zone units that fall under this category have one outdoor component and one indoor component, whereas multi-zone units have an outdoor component that can service up to eight indoor components installed throughout the home for maximum heating and cooling. Heat pumps ramp up and down using inverter technology to maintain the desired temperature in the home, so they are constantly running.

These popular HVAC units do come at a cost that is a bit more than traditional split HVAC systems, and should they require servicing, the replacement parts can be hard to secure.

Geothermal Heat Pump

Cost: $18,000-plus

These units are the most energy-efficient of all the HVAC systems presently available on the market today, but getting one won’t be cheap. At a cost upwards of $18,000, Geothermal Heat Pumps are an extremely pricey, albeit energy-conscious and environmentally friendly, option for heating and cooling your home.

These systems create heat from underground sources—water and soil—to warm the home. Water is gathered by way of an underground piping system that gathers water and works to either heat or cools it before pumping the water back into the home to create and maintain the desired temperature.

If you are hooking this pump to a hydronic system (which uses water to heat the air) no ductwork is required, but if you intend to use an air handler, installing the necessary ducts can add to the already high expense of opting for this type of HVAC unit. Repairs on geothermal units can be costly as well, but the upside is that this type of system can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in energy costs, so if you can afford the initial investment, it is worth exploring.

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