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HVAC Systems: Basics To Know Before You Buy

HVAC systems are responsible for warming indoor spaces during winter and cooling them during summer. It includes various equipment such as air conditioners, furnaces, heat pumps, and air purifiers to improve indoor air quality. Furthermore, it also includes control systems and smart thermostats to ensure that everything works together.

By continuing to read this blog, you can better understand the basics of HVAC systems. This knowledge can aid you in making a wise decision when purchasing an HVAC unit for your home or business. 

We will also explain the importance of hiring a professional to properly install the system.

What Does HVAC Stand For?

The acronym HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. It pertains to the methods that control and circulate heated and cooled air to different types of buildings, whether residential or commercial. 

Although there are several choices for HVAC systems, they all function alike, taking in outside air and using mechanical ventilation to regulate the temperature of the air.

In regulating temperature, HVAC units can also enhance air quality by utilizing air cleaners that trap tiny particles such as bacteria, spores, and viruses. 

The HVAC technician responsible for assessing your home before installation will assist you in selecting the optimal system and features for your specific needs.

What Does An HVAC System Do?

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The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers defines an HVAC system as one that takes in air, cools or heats its temperature, and distributes it into an indoor space, be it a single room or a larger structure like a house, office, or school. 

A single component of an HVAC system can perform multiple functions. For example, a heat pump may be used for both cooling and heating or separate air conditioning and furnace systems may be present in a home.

HVAC systems help circulate air to make the environment comfortable and filter the air to remove dust, particles, spores, bacteria, and viruses. Whole-home humidifiers and dehumidifiers can keep the dew point of your home at an ideal level, making it feel cooler without the need to run a cooling system.

These components can be linked to a traditional or smart thermostat connected to the internet. Depending upon the sophistication of your control system, you can use an app to program your HVAC equipment and make small adjustments to optimize the performance of each component.

Using a smart thermostat can also help you save on heating and cooling costs by regulating the temperature within a set range.

How Does An HVAC System Work?

HVAC systems are intended to circulate air and adjust the temperature of an indoor environment. Typically, these systems consist of three main components: a heating unit, a cooling unit, and a ductwork system for air movement. The ventilation that brings in fresh air is where any HVAC system begins.

Natural ventilation relies on the air entering a building through open windows, doors, or cracks and leveraging pressure differences to circulate the air. 

However, in modern airtight homes and offices, additional equipment such as fans, blowers, filters, and ducts are necessary to facilitate this process.

Air Conditioning Systems

The air conditioning unit’s fan (from companies such as Bryant and other HVAC providers) pulls the air in and blows it over the evaporator’s coils to cool down the air. These refrigerant-filled coils take the heat from the air, making it cooler. 

Afterward, the air goes into the air handler and is pushed into the ducts by a blower. As the cool air flows through the ducts, any harmful gases created during this process are discharged through the flue.

When an air conditioner takes in heat, it causes the refrigerant to turn into vapor. The refrigerant then moves to the compressor, where it gets pressurized, and then to the condenser, where it turns back into a liquid from vapor. 

While doing so, it emits heat blown out by a fan.

Heat Pumps

A heat pump operates similarly to a central air conditioner by using the principle that heat is always attracted to cold. The refrigerant absorbs heat to cool the air and then releases it outside the building. The heat pump pulls in cold air from outside and passes it over even colder refrigerant to produce warm air.

The refrigerant draws heat which heats the coils. Then, the air is blown over those heated coils and rises to the desired temperature before being blown into the home.


To heat a building with a gas furnace, an HVAC system pulls air into the ducts and directs it into the furnace. The furnace’s combustion chamber heats the heat exchanger to the desired temperature. The heated air is then pushed through the exchanger, which is then blown by the motor through the ducts and back into the house.

Oil furnaces draw oil from a reserve tank, which is filtered and turned into a mist in a chamber. The mist is then sprayed on a burner, which ignites and heats the heat exchanger. The heated air is then forced into the exchanger, heated further, and blown back into the house. 

Oil furnaces are uncommon, with only 5% of all HVAC systems using them. Gas furnaces can be adjusted to use liquid propane instead of natural gas or oil. Propane furnaces are ideal for areas with less reliable fuel sources and small spaces like mechanical closets.

You can install indoor air quality products such as air purifiers, humidifiers, or dehumidifiers to improve home comfort. These products use a conventional or smart thermostat to ensure optimal thermal comfort. With a Wi-Fi-enabled smart thermostat, you can make small daily adjustments to improve energy efficiency.

Types Of HVAC Systems

The configuration of an HVAC system depends on various factors, such as the location and age of the home, existing ductwork, and heating and cooling requirements. Therefore, there are several types of HVAC systems available. Your HVAC technician will assist you in identifying the one that best suits your needs.

Split System

A split system, also known as a forced-air system, includes one unit inside the home and another outside. The system can comprise an air conditioner and furnace, a heat pump and air handler, or a heat pump and furnace. The best configuration for your home will depend on your location. The furnace and heat pump setup is the most suitable in extremely cold climates.

Hybrid Heat Pump

The central heating system consists of an electric heat pump and a furnace. During mild weather in spring and fall, the heat pump heats the home. When the heat pump is ineffective, the furnace takes over for colder weather. This hybrid system, also called a dual-fuel system, saves money because heating the home with a heat pump costs less than using a furnace.

Ductless Mini-Split

A ductless mini-split system comprises an outdoor unit that houses the compressor and condenser and an indoor air handler placed in a room to release cool air directly to that space. These systems are ideal for small areas such as garages and workshops that do not need a traditional split system. They are not recommended for cooling entire homes. Homeowners can usually install these systems themselves without difficulty.

Ducted Mini-Split

A ducted mini-split system is a type of air conditioning system that uses smaller tubes instead of big ducts to bring cold air from an outdoor compressor and condenser unit into a room. This is a good option for homes with limited space for traditional ductwork. Compared to ductless mini-split systems, ducted mini-splits provide better air circulation.

Packaged System

A packaged system is a split system where all the units are located outside the home. This option is ideal for homes that lack space for an indoor heating unit. Even if you have sufficient space for a split system, a packaged system may still be worth considering because it operates more quietly (since all components are outside) and is less expensive to install (due to the single-unit installation).

Why You Can Trust Air Comfort Systems?

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Air Comfort Systems is one of the leading HVAC companies in the area, providing quality installations and maintenance services. Our experienced technicians have years of experience in the HVAC industry, so you can count on us to help you with all your heating and cooling needs. 

Plus, we offer a wide range of products from top brands like Bryant, so you can choose the best system for your home or business. 

Get in touch today to learn more about our services. We look forward to helping you achieve your home comfort goals.