You have a wide variety of air conditioners (ACs) from which to choose if you are planning an installation. Below are some of the varieties in the market today.
A split AC (central AC) has two main parts. The inside unit (evaporator) absorbs heat inside the house. The outside unit (condenser) dispels the heat into the atmosphere. Refrigerant lines connect the outside and inside units. Duct lines supply cool air to different rooms and channel warm air back to the AC for further cooling.
A ductless AC (mini-split AC) operates roughly the same as a split AC — the main difference is how they circulate the cold air. While the central AC pumps cold air through air ducts, the ductless system has mini-units within each room you need it to cool. Each mini-unit cools the warm air it receives, extracts heat from the air, and blows the cool air into the room. The same unit dispels heat and moisture outside the house. Thus, the ductless system doesn't need duct systems.
Hybrid Cooling and Heating
A hybrid cooling and heating system (dual-fuel system) can heat or cool your house depending on the needed function. A hybrid system can operate either on electricity or combustion fuel (gas). On the one hand, a hybrid system can cool your house just like other ACs — by pooling heat from the indoor air and dumping it outside. On the other hand, the system can heat your house by burning fuel.
A heat pump can heat and cool your house just like the hybrid heating and cooling systems. The main difference between the two is that a heat pump doesn't need external heat sources. Instead, a heat pump relies on the difference in temperature between indoor air and the air, ground, or water outside the house.
During the hot season, the heat pump extracts air inside the house and dumps it outside. During the cold season, the heat pump extracts heat from the air, water, or earth outside the house and uses it to heat indoor air.
A packaged AC doesn't have different units sitting inside and outside the unit. Rather, all the major components (think air handler, coil, filter, and compressor) sit in one unit. The package sits outside the house — either on the roof or to the side of the house. The packaged unit draws in warm air from the house, cleans and cools the air, and then pumps the cool air into the house via ducts.
Visit an HVAC contractor near you to learn more.