What is the Most Common Residential HVAC System?

Learn about different types of residential HVAC systems including standard split systems, split hybrid HVAC systems, bundled heating & cooling systems & ductless minisplits.

What is the Most Common Residential HVAC System?

Standard split systems remain the most popular residential air conditioning system today. Split heating and cooling systems are the most common types of HVAC systems used in residential buildings. They consist of two separate components, one for heating and the other for cooling, and use a traditional thermostat to control the temperature of the entire structure. In most buildings with split systems, the heating unit is located in a basement, closet, or other indoor storage space.

The heater is powered by gas and uses an evaporator or fan to push heat through a building's ductwork. On the other hand, the cooling system is located outside and is connected to the ducts of a building through a series of tubes. It uses compressors, coils and refrigerant to create cool air, and a fan directs warm air out and away from the building. A split hybrid HVAC system has the same structure and cooling unit as a split system, but it doesn't rely solely on gas to generate heat.

While your heater can burn gas, it can also switch to electrical energy. Electric heating is often slower and less powerful than gas-powered heating, but this option gives building owners greater control over their buildings' energy consumption and can help reduce energy costs in milder climates. Bundled heating and cooling systems are less common than split systems, but their smaller size makes them more suitable for small buildings that lack additional storage space. The heating and cooling components are housed in a single unit and are usually stored on a roof, in an attic, or near the building's foundation.

Packaged HVAC systems connect to a building's supply and return lines, often through a single hole in the wall. Depending on the climate, building owners can choose to install an integrated heat pump containing evaporator coils or an integrated air conditioner with an air controller with optional thermal band elements. Both systems cost less to install than split systems and are easier to maintain.

Ductless minisplit systems

are installed in individual rooms and are common accessories in multi-family homes, office buildings, and hotel rooms.

Also known as minislit systems, these electrical units include an outdoor compressor and condenser, refrigerant, an indoor air treatment unit, a heat pump, power cables and a thermostat for each zone. Copper tubes connect indoor and outdoor components, and a compressor can be connected to up to nine indoor air handling units.

Hybrid or hybrid split systems

are similar to a split system in terms of configuration. They also work basically the same way.

Also known as ductless minisplit or minisplit systems, a ductless system has individual HVAC units in each room of the house instead of two large units as a split system. This configuration makes the system more expensive than the traditional split system, particularly in terms of installation costs. But the advantage of them is that you can better control the temperature in specific rooms. If you've ever enjoyed underfloor heating in a hotel bathroom, you're probably familiar with underfloor heating and, by extension, hydronic heating.

This air conditioning system is based on liquid to control temperature instead of air. A boiler heats the liquid (water or glycol solution) that flows through flexible pipes under floors. Hydronic heating works best under concrete floors, but it's ideal for anywhere you want warmth under your feet. As the floors heat up, so does the rest of the room.

Wouldn't it be useful to have an air conditioning supply on wheels? It turns out that this is completely possible with a portable air conditioner. These units have wheels and work like a fan by sucking in ambient air. In a portable air conditioning unit, the refrigerant cools the inner closed-circuit coil, which cools ambient air as it passes through the system, and cold air blows into the room. Durable, with a ground circuit that lasts more than 50 years and the interior components that last about 24 years.

The most common type of HVAC system is the split heating system at 26% cooling. Split HVAC units have two main systems, one dedicated to cooling your home and the other dedicated to heating your home. Usually contain an indoor unit such as an oven (found in a garage, utility closet, mezzanine garage attic or basement) and an outdoor unit such as a central air conditioner which is often found outside on a flat concrete base called an air conditioning pad. Air source heat pumps constitute the fastest-growing segment of the residential HVAC market in the country.

An electric heat pump is a more efficient option than an electric furnace if electricity is the only energy source available. The heat pump moves heat instead of generating energy from a fuel source. This process allows for more efficient performance especially at moderate temperatures. Heat pumps also work in reverse providing central air conditioning during the hottest months of the year.

A combination of furnace and heat pump is a dual-fuel hybrid heating system. When the weather is nice, the heat pump keeps your home comfortable and at the same time generates low heating bills. As the temperature approaches freezing, the gas oven provides additional heat which avoids resorting to the less efficient electrical resistance heater that normally serves as a backup heating source.

Ductless minisplits

have become more popular over the years.

This system is a type of heat pump that can provide heating and cooling all year round. Units that are wall-mounted inside your home have a built-in air controller because of its effectiveness and composition this eliminates the need for any duct network. Finally and perhaps coolest possible of all HVAC systems it is also understandably rarest geothermic means.