Different types of residential air conditioning systems

If you are a new homeowner, you might assume all air cooling systems are the same. On the contrary, there are several options. If you are considering a unit for your home, or are merely curious, here are the different types of residential air conditioning systems.

Split Vs. Packaged System

It is best to first understand the two categories in which air conditioning systems fall under: split or packaged systems. Split systems are the most common type of air conditioner, made up of an indoor and outdoor unit. The outdoor unit contains the condenser coil, which releases heat, and the compressor, which pumps coolant between the two coils. The indoor unit includes the evaporator coil and removes heat and moisture from the air.

The packaged system has the evaporator, condenser, and compressor all in one unit. Under these two categories, there are four types of air conditioning:


The most popular type of air conditioner is the room unit, usually recognized as a window unit or a portable air conditioner. A packaged system, room air conditioners provide direct cooling to chosen spaces. Window units often offer a quick, easy, and affordable solution to conditioning needs as they require very little installation and can be purchased and used within an hour.


The best example of a split system is a central air conditioning system. Central A/C, as it is commonly called, circulates cool air throughout a home using a system of ducts and registers. Central air is popular because it proves quiet and convenient, providing cooling throughout the home as opposed to a select space.


Like central air, there are mini-split systems that do not have ductwork. Ductless cooling systems have an outdoor compressor and condenser with one or more indoor units in separate rooms that cool that room only. The main advantages of ductless systems are that they can be installed without tearing up walls to install ductwork and they allow the flow of cold air to be controlled independently in each room.


Also known as swamp coolers, evaporative systems cool outdoor air using evaporated water to circulate throughout the house. Since air conditioners create a cooler environment by reducing the amount of moisture in the air, evaporative options are really only suitable for areas with low humidity. They are especially good if you live in an arid climate as they can add moisture to the air while cooling, improving overall comfort in the heat.

If you are ready to cool your home, Contact Service First Heating and Cooling to weigh out your options.