Is it time to choose an HVAC system for your property? Whether you’re installing a new HVAC system for a single-family home, multifamily residence or commercial property, there are plenty of factors to consider. Should you choose the wrong HVAC system, you likely will end up with a host of efficiency issues, costing you money and comfort through the lifetime of the equipment.
A variety of HVAC types are available to suit different needs and preferences. Which HVAC unit is best for you?
Choosing the best HVAC for your property is no simple undertaking, and a variety of considerations must be made. While a professional HVAC contractor can help walk you through the process, property owners should remember the following advice:
- If replacing an existing HVAC system, professionals often recommend opting for the existing system type, which will reduce infrastructure costs. For example, if the existing or previous system used ductwork, then it’s more cost-efficient to choose another duct system.
- Don’t forget to consider your local climate when choosing an HVAC system. Some types of systems, like a heat pump or split system, are the most cost-effective for warmer climate areas, while colder regions might gain more efficiency with a traditional gas furnace or even a hybrid system.
- What is your efficiency goal? Remember, an ultra-efficient geothermal system might offer the most energy efficiency, but property owners must weigh the extra cost against how long they plan to stay in the property to take advantage of the savings.
- Many property owners make the mistake of choosing an HVAC system too large for their home, but it’s vital to select the appropriately sized HVAC system. When its capacity is too big, the results will not be the increased efficiency the property owner hoped for, but instead excessive condensation leading to mold, rot and decreased comfort.
- When choosing the right size of HVAC system for your property, a professional HVAC contractor can help you calculate the load of your home. A building’s load is based not only on its square footage, but also on factors like its building construction, insulation quality, orientation to the sun, as well as the number, size and placement of rooms, windows and doors.
Types of HVAC Systems
While an assortment of options are available, each with their own features, most HVAC systems fall into the following four categories:
Split systems are just as their name implies: HVAC systems are split between two main units, one for cooling and the other for heating. This is the most common type of HVAC system.
Split HVAC systems typically consist of an air conditioner and a furnace, but a system split between a heat pump and an air handler might be the best choice in warm climate regions that don’t experience freezing temperatures.
Split HVAC systems are efficient and cost-effective compared to many other options. If you already have an existing duct system, you can easily replace the system with little or no modifications. On the other hand, forced air systems aren’t always the best choice for residents with airborne allergies as they can disperse dust and allergens throughout a home.
Hybrid systems are an advanced type of split system with improved energy efficiency thanks to its hybrid electric heater system. The systems are great in climates where property owners and residents want to control their home’s temperature during colder months.
Hybrid systems are popular HVAC choices because not only are they energy efficient, but they also have a more effective heating capacity compared to other systems. Forced air systems, however, have been known to spread dust, allergens and odors around a home. The systems also require the expense of ductwork if it’s not already in place. While hybrid systems can cost more upfront, the energy savings can add up quickly and pay off in the long term.
Ductless systems are composed of an outdoor air conditioning unit for cooling and a heat pump for both heating and cooling. These systems are available for homes that do not or cannot have ducts and conventional HVAC systems.
To accommodate the lack of ductwork in a building, a ductless system can consist of multiple units inside each room that the property owner would like to heat and cool. Known as mini-split units, these devices are mounted to walls and connect to a central compressor outside of the building.
While mini-split systems can cost more upfront, they are also easier to install than a traditional central AC system. In addition to ductless buildings, these systems are also popular choices for those who want to heat or cool one specific room, those who don’t occupy their entire home, and those who want to independently control the temperature in specific rooms of their house.
Packaged systems combine heating and cooling functions in a single unit. These HVAC systems are usually installed outdoors and are generally found in buildings without basements. In fact, packaged HVAC systems are often installed on top floors and attics.
Packaged units are more common in areas with warmer climates as their heat is electrically generated and falls short when compared to heat pumps in colder regions. Some advanced package units, however, offer more efficient heating options.
Geothermal Heat Pump Systems
An HVAC system increasing in popularity is the geothermal heat pump system, which circulates water in underground pipes, employing the Earth’s stable temperatures to heat and cool a building. When heating, a geothermal heat pump’s refrigerant absorbs heat from the ground more efficiently. While cooling, on the other hand, the heat is dumped into the ground to maintain even temperatures. The energy efficiency makes geothermal heat pumps a top choice among environmentalists.
Because geothermal heat pump systems are so energy-efficient, the cost to operate them is extremely low compared to other HVAC options, but of course, the upfront cost for equipment is significantly higher. Property owners who plan to maintain ownership or residence for longer than 10 years, however, can assuredly recoup those extra costs and save money on energy in the long run.