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The Complete Guide To Central Air Conditioners

Central air conditioning unit sitting in the backyard next to green plants.

Canada may be famous for its brutal winters, but as everyone who lives in the St. Catharine’s and Niagara area knows, our summers can also be sweltering and humid. A central air conditioner can help you stay cool and keep your home comfortable even when the weather outside is hot and muggy.

What Is a Central Air Conditioner

A central air conditioner is one of the most popular choices in Canada. They help you beat the heat because these units can distribute cool air throughout your entire home via your air duct system, unlike a ductless air conditioner. These units are called central air conditioners because the cool air originates from a single central unit. 

Though each style and manufacturer is a little bit different, every central A/C unit has a few standard parts. These include the:

  • External condenser
  • Evaporator Coil (which sits on top of your furnace)
  • Pipes and refrigeration lines (which connect the external components to the evaporator coil inside the unit)

Your central A/C unit acts as an extension of your existing furnace system and relies on its filtration system to clean the cool air that it circulates throughout your home.

How a Central Air Conditioner Works

Your central air conditioner system works by consulting with your thermostat (to determine your current temperature preferences) and then drawing warm air into the ducts using a motorized fan. While this is happening, refrigerant is pumped in from the external compressor coil on your furnace, which causes the air being drawn in to cool.

This cool air is then returned to your home via your air duct system using the furnace blower. The now-warm refrigerant is sent to the external condenser, where it can release its heat. The entire cycle repeats until your thermostat tells the unit that your home has reached the specified temperature. Should the temperature rise above what you have specified, the unit will turn on again.

Central Air Conditioners Types & Sizes

Air conditioners come in 2 types, as well as a variety of “sizes”, which don’t actually refer to how physically large the unit is but instead refer to its capacity to cool.  Air conditioning sizes are measured in tonnage, as well as in British Thermal Units or BTUs per hour. These range from 1 to 5-ton air conditioners, which use 12,000 and 60,000 BTU, respectively. 

Sizing also depends on how big your home is, which is measured in square footage. Smaller homes won’t need as much cooling power as larger ones, so units larger than necessary simply waste energy without providing any additional benefits over units that are appropriately sized for your space.

Central air conditioning units also come in 2 types: packaged central air conditioners and split central air conditioners.

Packaged Air Conditioning

Packaged A/C units combine the condenser, coils, compressor, and evaporator into one unit, which is then installed outside your home. Warm air is directed to the outdoor unit where it is cooled before it is sent back inside to be circulated throughout your home.

Split Central Air Conditioning

The more traditional and popular of the 2 main types, split central air conditioners separate the components of the air conditioner between the evaporator core (located inside), and the compressor unit (located outside). This style uses refrigerant piping in the evaporator coil to cool air that is drawn into the unit via the compressor.

A cold air return vent in a home's duct system.

Why a Central Air Conditioner?

A central air conditioner is beneficial for a couple of main reasons. 

  • Central air conditioning units are integrated into your furnace system, so they can distribute cool air using your existing duct system instead of requiring a separate distribution system. 
  • Air quality is typically better than other cooling options, such as window air conditioners, because this system can rely on your furnace filters to clean the air.
  • Central air containers can also be used to reduce humidity levels, unlike other styles of units.
  • Central air conditioners are also typically quieter than other styles of air conditioners
  • These units are economical, requiring less energy to run than some other air conditioner types.

Beat the Heat

Installing a central air conditioner can make your springs and summers significantly more comfortable. Central air conditioning units are quite efficient, economical, and quiet. These and many other reasons make them a popular choice among residents in St. Catharine’s and Niagara. The home comfort experts at Mr. Furnace can help you determine which unit style and size is best for your home.

If cooling in your home is on your to-do list, getting an in-home consultation on what can work best for your situation is your first step towards addressing any concerns. Our team can also point you in the right direction so you can get the best unit to suit your family’s cooling needs.

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