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Types of Air Conditioners

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You’re probably already familiar with central air conditioners, which are used to cool most single-family homes in our area. But there are many other types of air conditioners! Different air conditioners provide cooling in different ways and range from the commonplace, like a window air conditioner, to the obscure (ever heard of a swamp cooler?).

Central Air Conditioners

Central air conditioners consist of two major components: the outdoor condenser unit and the indoor evaporator unit. Widely considered the most effective type of cooling system, central air conditioners are not only quiet and energy efficient, but a well installed and maintained central air conditioner will also keep your home more comfortable thanks to the addition of dehumidification.

For a central air conditioner to work properly, it must be carefully sized, installed, and maintained. An air conditioner that is too large will not be able to provide dehumidification and will short cycle, costing efficiency and contributing to a shorter lifespan overall.

Michael Bonsby Heating & Air Conditioning offers complete air conditioner services in Gaithersburg »

Ductless Air Conditioners

Also known as split systems or PTAC (packaged terminal air conditioner) systems, ductless air conditioners are more commonly seen in hotels and apartments than homes. Ductless air conditioners also have an outdoor condenser and an indoor evaporator, but the difference, as the name suggests, is that they don’t require ducts. Instead, a fan located on the indoor unit blows cool air directly into the space.

A somewhat newer update to ductless air conditioner technology is the mini-split, which can be mounted on the wall and provide spot cooling to areas of your home that might not be connected to ducts, such as a new addition or recently finished attic or basement.

Window Air Conditioners

One member of a class of cooling systems called “unitary systems,” window air conditioners are self-contained systems that can be simply installed in an open window (or a hole in the wall, though this is usually not the best idea). All of the necessary refrigeration components are housed within the single window AC unit, which blows cool air into your home and exhausts warm air out the back.

Portable Air Conditioners

Also considered unitary systems, portable air conditioners are mobile, self-contained AC units that sit directly on the floor and blow cool air into a room while exhausting warm air through a discharge hose that leads outside. Noisier and less efficient than most other cooling systems, portable AC units typically only cool spaces of about 500 square feet. That said, they are useful in rooms that, even with a central air conditioner, don’t get enough cooling.

Evaporative (Swamp) Coolers

Primarily seen in dry climates, evaporative coolers direct hot, dry air through wet pads, causing the water to evaporate and cooling the air moving into the home or building. Swamp coolers have two important advantages over more typical air conditioners. For one, they use a constant stream of fresh air, ensuring a steady supply of clean air instead of stale indoor air. Swamp coolers also use less electricity than a standard AC, which contributes to their very short payback period.

Good luck finding a swamp cooler around here though—they add humidity to the air, instead of removing it!

Michael Bonsby Heating & Air Conditioning provides air conditioner service in Gaithersburg, Maryland and throughout the MD/DC area. For air conditioner installation, repair, replacement, or inspection, call us today!

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