The HVAC industry is absolutely rife with terminology that isn’t really found in common vernacular. This can make shopping for, or understanding, air conditioning systems quite the challenge for a homeowner!
Thankfully, though, the truth is that most terms are actually quite simple once you have a basic understanding. Follow along while the experts at Jack Lehr Heating, Cooling & Electric answer one of our most common AC questions—what is a split air conditioning system, and how does it work?
The Difference Between a Split AC and a Packaged Air Conditioner
Split cooling systems and packaged ACs are the two most commonly used cooling systems, and they do not necessarily dictate any specific cooling type. For example, both can be central air conditioners. Where the difference actually lies is in how the units are laid out.
In most common home air conditioning systems, you will have a unit located outdoors, which houses the condenser and compressor. There will also be a unit located indoors, often (though not always) attached to your furnace. The two systems are connected by a refrigerant line. This is a split air conditioning system!
A packaged air conditioner, on the other hand, tends to have all of the components related to the refrigeration process located in one package. These systems are occasionally used in homes but are more commonly found in commercial applications in the form of a rooftop packaged unit.
In short, your split system is called a split HVAC system because it has an indoor unit and an outdoor unit.
What Is a Mini-Split AC?
Mini- and multi-split air conditioning systems, also called ductless heat pumps, are a newer subset of split air conditioners. These units still feature the outdoor unit. However, the indoor unit is small, wall-mounted, and does not utilize ducts at all, as there is a simple fan assembly in the indoor wall unit. These units are ideal for cooling specific areas of a home or office, or multiple units can be installed throughout your space for precise zone cooling.
How Do Split HVAC Systems Operate?
Split air conditioning systems operate using the refrigeration cycle to pull hot air out of your home and replace it with cool air. Air from your home is pulled into the system using return vents. This air is circulated through the system and will eventually blow over the evaporator coil—housed in the indoor unit of a split system—where it will rapidly cool before being put back into your home via the supply vents.
The refrigeration cycle, another common HVAC term, refers to the compressor, condenser, and evaporator coils located in your HVAC system. The compressor and condenser are located outdoors and are responsible for expelling heat (this is why the large fan on your outdoor unit is always blowing hot air). Once heat has been expelled, the refrigerant returns to the indoor unit where it will rapidly expand, which creates a strong cooling effect that runs through the evaporator coils, which is where your circulated air is being pushed through before it returns to your home.
Split HVAC System Services in Allentown, PA
With over 40 years of experience in the HVAC and electrical industries, Jack Lehr is your single source for comprehensive split AC and packaged HVAC services. If you’re looking for new AC installation, repair, or routine service, our NATE-certified technicians are ready to help.
Contact us online any time to schedule HVAC services!