8 Types of Air Conditioning Systems [video]

Types of Air Conditioning for your Home
Types of Air Conditioning for your Home

There are at least nine different types of air conditioning systems to cool down your home. Explore the options, see how they work, and make an informed choice for your residential space.

1. Central Air Conditioning System

The ideal cooling solution for most homes and businesses is a central air conditioning system. Central air will be the lowest maintenance, easiest to use, and most cost effective in the long run. However, a central air conditioning system is the most expensive to set up. Make sure the HVAC company you’ve hired is reputable and highly experienced to install a central air conditioning system.

Save up to $1,150 in rebates and another $1,600 with your energy provider when you purchase Lennox air conditioning systems.

Central Air Thermostat - Types of Air Conditioning
Central Air Thermostat – Types of Air Conditioning

How it works: a central air conditioning system cools air in a cooling compressor, a unit that’s outside of the house. A fan blows the cool air through ducts to deliver it to all of the rooms in your house. Warm air is pulled out of the house through a return system and pushed outside through the exhaust. You control the temperature using the thermostat on the wall in your home.

Central air conditioning is standard in newly built homes, but older homes are not always set up for HVAC. However, most houses at least have the ductwork established so it’s easier to install central air conditioning.

See the Consumer Search Buyer’s Guide to Central Air Conditioners

Portable, Wall, and Window Types of Air Conditioning

2. Portable Air Conditioner

Portable air conditioners are convenient and affordable options for cooling down small spaces quickly. Comparable to a floor fan, you can take a portable air conditioner room to room, plug it in, and use it to cool your space down. Some models have wheels on the bottom making it easy to move. The bothersome thing about using these types of air conditioning systems is when the condensation catch gets filled up, or when you need to run a drainage tube out a window or into a bucket.

If you are conservative with the use of air conditioning, a portable AC unit may be the right choice for you. Instead of running your central air all day, use a portable air conditioner as needed, for shorts periods of time. Here are some other energy efficient air conditioning tips.

Ductwork - Types of Air Conditioning
Ductwork – Types of Air Conditioning

3. Ductless Split System

Even though central air conditioning is often the way to go, certain situations call for an alternative like ductless air conditioning.

xample, although central air is set up in your house maybe there’s a room or a floor that needs its own independent cooling system. Such is the case for a new addition, a guest room or area that you rent out, a sunroom or a mancave, especially if its a designated smoking area. A ductless split system allows a room to have its own controls, and avoid circulating the same air throughout the rest of the house.  

Using a ductless split system as needed in place of central air is more energy efficient. If your upstairs level is only utilized when you have guests, for example, it’s more cost effective to keep that floor shut off from  central air and cool it down with the ductless system when needed.

Pros and cons of a ductless split air conditioning system

4. Mini Split System

When you want to skip the ductwork, mini split systems are worth consideration. Similar to the ductless split system mentioned above, a mini split can also be installed without much fuss. A mini split is a smaller and more affordable system and it serves the same purpose. Put a mini split air conditioning system in a sunroom or a small addition. This simple and efficient type of air conditioner is easy to install and very affordable. The biggest perk to using these types of air conditioning units is that your energy bill will be so much lower compared to using central air.

Browse the top rated mini split systems

Packed Units- types of air conditioning
Packed Units- types of air conditioning

5. Packaged Units

A packaged unit is a compact air conditioning system that works best for a home without a basement. If your home was built on a crawl space, there’s no indoor furnace or air handler. A packaged air conditioning unit is installed outside, so this is a great solution! Choose a model that has a compact footprint and is designed to blend with the outdoor environment. Packaged units can also be installed on a rooftop. Ductwork runs through a secure hole in the wall or roof to deliver cool, filtered air or heat to the home. You can buy packaged units with different fuel hookups: gas/electric, electric/electric, heat pump, and dual-fuel models.

Shop for Packaged Units

6. Swamp Coolers (Evaporative Air Conditioners)

Swamp coolers, also known as evaporative air conditioners, are a great choice for dry climates like Missoula, Montana. These types of air conditioning systems do not work well in the humid regions, but it’s a popular solution for midwestern states. Swamp coolers use HVAC technology to mimic the natural process of evaporation. Choosing the right size for your space is key to cooling your spaces in a cost effective way.

Considering a swamp cooler? Research these types of air conditioning units.

7. Geothermal Air Conditioning

If you’re looking to save money on the most eco friendly types of air conditioning systems, familiarize yourself with geothermal air conditioning. This relatively new HVAC solution has been around for 60 years in the US. It’s a method so promising that National Geographic published an article praising geothermal AC.

In short, geothermal HVAC avoids using fossil fuels and uses electricity minimally, just to power the fan, compressor, and pump. A geothermal system offers heat and air conditioning using an underground loop set up. Most of these systems use water instead of refrigerant.

Montana residents can get a $1,500 tax credit for installing a geothermal  system at home. Get the details here!

8. Variable Capacity Air Conditioners

Variable capacity is a feature that allows you to adjust cooling output like a dimmer switch to perfectly match your comfort needs to your energy use. Variable capacity air conditioners are the best way to control moisture in uncomfortably humid environments.

Lennox carries the best variable capacity types of air conditioning units. The XC25 and XP25 have Precise Comfort® technology. The XC20 model was named Most Efficient Energy Star Product in 2019, saving homeowners 50% on their cooling energy bills.

Discover how Lennox XC20 delivers variable capacity air conditioning, cooling residential and commercial spaces in a way that conserves energy.

9. Window Unit Air Conditioning Systems

Not the best long term solution but fine for a season, the window unit is a common choice. The upside to these types of air conditioning units is price. Basic models cost just $200-300. If you need heavy duty model for large or commercial spaces, you’re looking at closer to $800. 

The downside to is that window units leak condensation and can cause mold and water damage after prolonged use. A basic window air conditioner is not powerful enough to cool your whole house but it can lower the temperature effectively in one medium sized room. You can install this type of air conditioner yourself an it can be easily removed when the weather gets cold.

See Popular Mechanics’ Picks for 7 Best Window Mounted Air Conditioners

best types of air conditioning systems
best types of air conditioning systems

Get Help with All Types of Air Conditioning Issues!

Garden City Plumbing & Heating is the HVAC leader in Missoula Montana. We can help with any residential air conditioning installation and repair  issues. Our company also does commercial contracts, so call us to have our team of specialized technicians come out to meet you.

Still not sure what types of air conditioning systems would be best? Ask us!