System Components

The heart of your air conditioner is the compressor, which pumps the refrigerant through your system. Your indoor unit has an evaporator coil which captures the heat with the refrigerant and it is piped outdoors to your condensing unit. Once outdoors the heated refrigerant flows through your condensing coil which releases the heat by blowing outdoor air across the coil cooling the refrigerant which then flows back indoors providing you the cooling needed. The cooled refrigerant flows through the evaporator coil and air is passed over the coil by a blower motor that is in your indoor unit. This air then enters you’re your duct system and is dispersed through your home or building. This process is the same in a split system or package unit.

Critical Factors for Proper Cooling

The most important factor is that your system be sized properly. Making sure that you have taken in all factors including climate, building material, sun exposure, occupant level, machinery, appliances or any other unusual factors in determining the load on the structure is very important. The best process is doing a room by room calculation so that you determine exactly what must happen for your indoor comfort in each space.

Just as important as sizing, the installation of the system is critical to proper performance and efficiency. Proper duct sizing, refrigerant piping and charging of the system must be installed per manufacturer’s recommendations or your system will not operate properly. Most airflow issues can be solved by simply making sure that your supply and return plenums are sized and installed properly.

Finally, proper maintenance of the system will ensure that all components are working properly and that your coils, both evaporator and condensing, are clean from debris so that your refrigerant will react properly and remove the heat that is required.

Equipment Types

There are many different types of units to accommodate the conditions regarding available install space, capacity issues and environmental factors. What is typical for the Northeast will not work in the Southwest. For simplicity sake there are three basic system types that will work in 95% of all conditions, these are package units, split systems, and ductless units.

Package unit

This is sometimes called a self-contained unit where all parts and components of a heating and cooling system are all in one unit. This type of unit is used in commercial applications where units are typically on a roof. Residences sometimes use this type of system where space indoors is of short supply.

Split system

This system consists of two separate units connected by piping and wiring. A typical split system will have a condensing unit (outdoor unit) and a furnace or air handler (indoor unit). The indoor unit usually has a heating and cooling section.


This system is typically used in small spaces where cooling and heating is needed just for a particular spot. Basements, attics or small offices are great for this system.

There are many other systems available but as stated earlier these descriptions will help you understand 95% of all applications.

System Types

System type usually indicates what type of fuel is used for heating either gas, oil, electric, and heat pump or geothermal. 95% of cooling systems will use refrigerant, but other cooling methods are sometimes used. System types can be identified by:

1. A/C with electric heat.

2. A/C with gas heat.

3. A/C with oil heat.

4. Heat pump with either gas or electric as back-up heat source.

5. Geothermal where groundwater is used for heating and cooling.

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