In its simplest definition, an air conditioner is any machine that helps to cool down a room by changing the temperature of the air. More specifically, an air conditioner is a machine that treats air through a refrigeration cycle. Typically, the warm air is treated in an enclosed or mostly enclosed area. The air conditioner removes the warm air and replaces it with cooled air.
There are four common types of residential air conditioners that you can choose from.
This is the most common type of air conditioners found in homes across North America. In fact, all of the below systems technically fall into the split systems category. Split systems work with two components. Inside the unit, also called a house, an evaporator coil is used to remove the heat and moisture from the air. Outside of the house, a metal case contains another part called the condenser coil, which is used to release the heat, and the compressor, which is in charge of pumping refrigerant between the two coils.
This type of system works best in a home with a central furnace. This is because both can share the ductwork that already exists in the home. The indoor component of the air conditioner uses the network of ducts and a blower to help circulate the cold air throughout your home. If you already have existing ductwork in your home, this is the most economical solution to add AC to your home.
During the hot summer months, heat pumps work by pumping the hot summer air out of your home and releasing it outside. During the winter months, heat pumps work by taking in the heat from outside and pushing it inside to warm your home. Due to their multi-use factor, heat pumps can be used effectively for both heating and cooling in mild climates.
If you live in a cooler climate where the temperature is below freezing for a long time (as it is in most of Canada), consider opting for a specialized type of heat pump. These are called ground-source or geothermal heat pumps and work by pulling heat from the ground as opposed to the air. They will cost you roughly 40% more, however they will save you energy in the long run.
Packaged Central Air Conditioners
These units combine the evaporator, compressor and condenser into a single unit. Packaged Central Air Conditioners are installed either on your home’s roof or on a concrete slab near the foundation. Ducts are run through the exterior wall or through the roof, which draws air from outside the house and returns cooled air indoors.
Ductless Mini-Split Systems
This is a good option if your home does not have existing ductwork. Similar to a basic split system, the ductless mini-split combines both an outdoor compressor and a condenser that has one or more indoor air-handling units. These units have a blower attached and are mounted high up on a wall in each room that needs cooling. Tubing is used to connect indoor and outdoor units to circulate refrigerant between them.
In terms of cost, you can expect to pay up to 30% more as compared to ducted central air conditioning systems. This is due to the fact that you need a separate unit for each room in your home you want to cool, which means an additional cost for every room that gets too hot. A ductless mini-split unit is a good choice if you’re only looking to cool one or two rooms.
There are a number of things that can go wrong with your air conditioner that causes it to need repairs. Here are the most common repairs and their approximate associated costs.
A service call will depend on your plan and what company you use. Fees can also change depending on the time of the year. HVAC professionals are very busy during hot summer months and their services will come at a premium. Roughly, you can expect to pay $100 to $230 just for a visit, not including additional costs such as parts.