What Kind of Air Conditioner is Right for Your Home?

Selecting the right air conditioning system for your home can be a daunting process, especially when you consider the many options you have. While there are a lot of options, each type of air conditioner is typically tailored for specific environments, and many factors can affect your choice, including air conditioner size, cost, and efficiency. If you’re in the process of choosing a new air conditioner, whether for one room or your entire home, these are the four main types which are available.


1. Central Air Conditioners

Central air conditioners utilize mechanical units and ductwork to circulate air throughout your entire home. These tend to be the most commonly used air conditioners in the United States and have a life span of about 15 to 20 years. There are two type of central air conditioners: split system and packaged units.


Split System

Split systems are among the most commonly used types of air conditioners and are a type of central air conditioning. If you already have a furnace and are updating your air conditioner, a split system might be a good choice because it can share the ductwork that the furnace uses to heat your home. That means you won’t have to pay for costly additional ductwork installation.

Most split systems include three components: an outdoor metal cabinet that houses the condenser and compressor, an indoor cabinet that houses the evaporator coil, and an air handler that pushes the cool air into your home via its ductwork. Installing a split system requires the help of a qualified contractor or HVAC technician.


One benefit for the split system air conditioning is that it tends to be a quieter option. This may make the split system a good option for you if you have a family or if you work from home. No one likes a noisy air conditioner!


Packaged Units

Packaged units contain all the air conditioning parts in one smaller, more compact system, typically found outside of your home. A packaged unit may be a good option for you if you don’t like the dual design of split systems. Many packaged units also contain heat sources, making it an economical choice if you need to replace both your air conditioner and your heater.

In packaged units, the air supply and return are in your home’s ductwork which funnels cooled and heated air in and out of your home. While packaged units are more compact than split systems, it is advised that you hire a professional for installation purposes.


Because packaged units are so much smaller than split systems, they tend to be more convenient for those who have less space to install an air conditioner. Most people place their packaged air conditioner on their roofs, making it an ideal location when you have a small yard or no room for a bigger unit.


2. Ductless, mini-split systems

Ductless, mini-split systems perform generally the same way as a split system, just without the need for ductwork in your home. Whereas a split system can cool your entire home, a mini-split system is better designed for a smaller space. If you are building an addition, renovating your home, or are finishing a garage or sunroom, a mini-split might be your best choice.

The design of ductless, mini-split systems is very similar to the larger split systems. Both systems contain the condenser and compressor in units outside your home and contain the evaporator in a cabinet inside your home. However, instead of using ducts, the mini-split system uses a tube to connect the two units and their power cable. Most units are mounted at the top of a wall in the room you want to cool. Installing a ductless, mini-split system is less invasive than other systems, but it is still recommended to hire a professional HVAC company for installation. These systems have a lifespan of about 12 to 15 years.


If you care about energy efficiency, a ductless, mini-split system might be right for you. With other systems that use ducts, there is often a measurable loss of energy due to the fact the air must travel through the ductwork to reach each room. With a ductless system, you can be sure that the units you have installed in every room are working efficiently to cool each individual space.


3. Room: Window and wall units

Window and wall unit air conditioning systems are similarly designed to be convenient, individual units which work to cool the room they’re placed in. Window units are installed into a partially opened window, with a hot air exhaust system facing outside and a cool air return facing inside. These units have the capability of cooling the room in which they’re placed or a series of connected rooms that don’t have doors to block circulation. Wall units are installed into a wall, with both vents facing inward. Window units tend to be lighter weight, while wall units can have higher cooling capabilities. Window units are also portable, meaning you can move them from room-to-room, depending on your needs, or you can remove them entirely as the seasons get colder. These units have a lifespan of about 10 years.

While you might feel comfortable installing a window unit by yourself, you may need the help from a contractor when installing a wall unit, since you will likely need to cut a new hole into the drywall.


Both window and wall units are efficient and inexpensive to purchase. Some have programmable timers and varying modes of cooling which can make them even more efficient. These units might also be helpful if you live in a small home in a cooler climate.


4. Evaporative (swamp) cooler

Evaporative coolers, also known as swamp coolers, are effective air conditioning options for both indoor and outdoor spaces. As one of the oldest and simplest forms of air conditioning, these systems work by circulating air that has been pushed over a collection of water. Similar to how you feel cold when you get out of a pool, the water evaporates as the air is forced over it, resulting in a breeze of cool air.

You can purchase evaporative cooler units at most home improvement stores, or you can set up a basic one using a fan and bucket of water. Be sure to regularly clean and drain the cooler to ensure its efficiency is at top-notch performance.


These systems work best for those who live in arid climates. Contrary to the name “swamp cooler,” the evaporative cooling systems do not produce efficient results when the humidity is higher than about 60 percent. These units also use about one quarter of the energy used by traditional, central-air options.


Unsure which option is right for you?

If you’re trying to decide between options or are unclear which system would work best for your home, we can help. Contact the HVAC experts at Chas Roberts to find out why we’re trusted to install over 85% of air conditioning units in Arizona!