Today we’re going to take a look at the basics of a HVAC system—knowing these fundamentals is important when you start to take a look at buying or installing a new one for your business. Let’s begin!
What is an HVAC system? HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. These are the basic functions of an HVAC system. At its core, an HVAC system is intended to control the environmental conditions inside your workplace or residence. Heating and cooling—these two sides of the same coin are how an HVAC system controls the temperature of a space, aided by the movement and distribution of airflow within the area.
Not all types of HVAC systems work the same way. Some are faster than others while others serve larger environments. In short, some HVAC systems are more effective than others in certain situations.
Heating and Air Conditioning Split System
It’s called a split system because there is an outdoor unit containing the condenser and compressor, and an indoor unit containing the evaporator coil and blower. A split-system central air conditioning is the most popular type of heating and air conditioning. The indoor unit is often connected to a furnace or heat pump.
If there is a furnace but no air conditioner, a split-system is the most efficient and cheapest to install.
HVAC split systems will typically have:
- An outdoor unit that houses the condenser coil, compressor, electrical components, and a fan.
- Refrigerant that circulates to and from the indoor and outdoor unit via a series of pipes (refrigerant lines).
- An evaporator coil that usually sits above the furnace inside the home.
- A blower that sends warm air over the cold evaporator coil, which absorbs heat from the air.
- Ducts that carry air throughout your building.
- A thermostat that controls the systems and sets your desired temperature.
- The occasional optional accessories for quality indoor air, such as air scrubbers, purifiers, humidifiers, UV lamps, and so on.
Hybrid Heat Pump System
In a hybrid heating and cooling system, a heat pump is used in conjunction with a furnace that burns natural gas, propane, or fuel oil. Heat pumps are air conditioners that can also work in reverse to efficiently heat a space—one device that efficiently heats and cools.
The problem is that when temperatures dip below 40 degrees, the heat pump isn’t very efficient. That’s when the furnace kicks on to do the heating.
On all but the coldest of nights, a heat pump can take heat out of the air outside and transport it into a space. In the summer, it functions just like an air conditioner, so you can get year-round coverage from one product.
A typical hybrid heat split system will have:
- A heat pump that heats and cools the refrigerant.
- A furnace, plus the evaporator coil for conversion of the refrigerant and circulation of air.
- Ductwork to channel the air around the building.
- The thermostat for adjusting and controlling the system.
- Optional accessories for improved indoor air quality.
Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pump
A duct-free HVAC system provides a solution for spaces where conventional ducted systems aren’t compatible. They can also be great compliments to existing ducted types of HVAC systems.
Ductless mini-split units are installed directly into the zones of the building that need heating and cooling. You can have as many as four indoor air handling units (four zones or rooms) for each outdoor unit.
Ductless mini-split systems will have the following:
- The heat pump unit outdoors that contains the usual compressor, condenser, and fan.
- A fan coil that is compact.
- Wires and tubing for the refrigerant (only requires a 3-inch hole), connecting the outdoor unit to the fan coil.
- The thermostat (aka control panel).
- Optional accessories to clean the air and make it more pleasant before its distribution through the house.
Packaged Heating & Air Conditioning System
A packaged HVAC system contains the compressor, condenser, and evaporator all in one unit, often located on a roof or near the foundation.
It is a good solution for buildings without adequate space for all the separate components of split systems. They are sometimes used in small commercial buildings and often include electric coils or a furnace for heating.
Packaged HVAC systems include:
- The air conditioner/heat pump together with the evaporator/fan coil in one unit.
- Thermostat/control interface for a complete control of the system.
- Optional air quality improvers. Things like the air purifiers, cleaners, ventilators or UV lamps, which are geared towards making the air extra clean before it circulates your home or office.
When looking to buy an HVAC system, it is important to consider certain factors to ensure you select the most appropriate one. These factors include:
- The age and size of your home.
- The number of rooms you want to air-condition.
- Local climate.
- Utility costs at the local and regional level.
- The type of system that meets your custom needs best.
An HVAC system is a vital component of the overall livability of your building—maximizing its efficiency will not only ensure comfort of the inhabitants of the space, but also help take care of the environment. When in doubt, it’s best to consult with a certified HVAC engineer to determine what kind of system would best suit your needs. We at Level One HVAC are here to help! Give us a call at (248) 486-6500 if you’d like to know more. If you don’t have time to call, you can fill in our online contact form and someone from our staff will be in touch with you shortly.