Air conditioning comes in many forms. There’s central air and forced air systems plus heat pumps, split systems, packaged central air conditioning, and even window air conditioners. Curious exactly what makes air conditioning “central?” Here’s what central AC means and how a central air conditioner actually works.

What is central air conditioning?

Central AC refers to a system that cools air at a central location then distributes it throughout the home with ducts and fans. Central air conditioning works on a closed loop that cycles refrigerated air.

A central air conditioner needs three important components:
  1. Compressor – a pump that’s responsible for pressurizing refrigerant.
  2. Condenser – helps transfer heat
  3. Evaporator coils – coils that receive refrigerant

The cold side of an air conditioner has an evaporator and a fan to blow air over cold coils and into the home. The hot side of the system has a compressor, condenser, and a second fan to vent warm air outside. Between the two coils is an expansion valve that regulates how much refrigerant is allowed into the evaporator. When the liquid refrigerant makes its way into the coils, the pressure drops and it expands into a gas. The compressor is responsible for pressurizing the gas to turn it back into a liquid.

With a central air conditioning system, the compressor and condenser are typically located in an outside unit.

Types of central AC

There are two basic types of central air conditioning: split-system air conditioning and packaged units.

With a split-system, an outdoor unit contains the compressor and condenser while an indoor unit contains the evaporator. The evaporator coil is located either in the indoor unit or the main supply duct. Most split-system air conditioners also have a heating system, either a furnace or a heat pump. A heat pump is an air conditioner that can essentially run in reverse to also heat the home.

If your home doesn’t have an air conditioning system yet, a split-system is the most affordable type of central air conditioning to install.

The other type of central air conditioning is the packaged system in which the evaporator, compressor, and condenser are located in the same unit that’s usually on a slab near the foundation. Packaged air conditioning systems have supply and return ducts that run through an exterior wall to the air conditioning system. Most also have a gas furnace or electric heating coils as well.

Are you considering installing new central air conditioning for your Irving or Flower Mound home? Is your existing central AC system showing signs of trouble like poor airflow or hot air? Contact Triple A Air Conditioning & Heating for all of your air conditioning needs. We proudly serve Flower Mound and Irving, Texas with reliable, affordable air conditioning service.

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