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Air Conditioner Installation: Packaged System Vs Split System

Updated on November 5, 2014
Rheem Split System
Rheem Split System

Split System

A split AC system consists of 3 primary components. A condenser and compressor are housed in a cabinet unit that typically sits on an exterior slab. An evaporator coil is located in an interior cabinet, usually in the attic or inside a closet. An indoor air handler is usually provided by the furnace or a heat pump to push the conditioned air along the ductwork.

Pros

  • Ease of Layout - Split air conditioning systems easily accommodate custom layout design configurations; they can utilize down-flow, up-flow or horizontal flow, as needed.
  • Optimum Energy Efficiency - There's a very wide SEER ratings range (13-25) that allows a greater opportunity to own an optimally energy-efficient air conditioning system.

Cons

  • Higher Installation Cost - Split Air Conditioner System installation is more labor intense because it requires both interior and exterior work.

Important Note:It's usually the most budget-friendly option if there's already a heating system in place and you're installing a new ac unit or replacing one that's inefficient.

  • Refrigerant - Unlike the Central AC Package Systems, the Split AC Systems can't be charged until all of the lines have been connected. Read more.

Goodman Package Unit
Goodman Package Unit

Packaged System

The entire air conditioning package is assembled at the factory and arrives in a single cabinet unit that's ready to install on the exterior of the home. It can be situated on a concrete slab at a selected point along the building's foundation, or it can be placed on the roof.

The package includes a condenser, a compressor and an evaporator coil. Some include electric heating coils or a natural gas furnace, completely eliminating the need for an indoor heat source.

The interior duct work connects to the Packaged Air Conditioning System through an exterior wall.

Pros

  • Simplicity of Design - All of the components are in one cabinet. All that's needed is the interior ductwork.
  • Refrigerant - The Package System arrives fully charged. It's set to run on factory settings for peak efficiency.
  • Installation Cost - This type of air conditioner installation is generally less costly because it's less labor intensive.
  • Space Saving - This is a great choice when there's a lack of indoor space for components. Mobile homes and homes that have only a crawl space, for instance.

Cons

  • Exposure to Environment - All of the operating controls and electrical elements are located outdoors. If moisture gets into the system, it can create a number of issues. For instance, rusting can occur much faster.
  • Damage From Animals - The operation of the unit produces heat that attracts wildlife seeking a warm place to nest. Animals can chew through the insulation and wiring. This is most apt to be a potential problem in snowy, rainy climates.
  • Less Efficient - The Packaged AC Systems show far less efficiency; the units typically have a SEER rating in the range of 13-15.

Professional AC Installation Of Package And Split Systems Is The Key To Efficiency

Most newer homes are designed with the Split AC System, primarily because it's more cost-efficient to operate.

Charging the coolant lines on a Split System should only be done by professional air conditioner installers who will perform a leak test and create the right amount of vacuum in relation to the amount of refrigerant for optimum cooling efficiency.

Experienced ac installation technicians know how to properly set up the components of a Package System. Although the system comes pre-charged with refrigerant, the level probably has to be calibrated for optimum performance. Most units arrive with a surplus charge that's just right for 15' of coolant line but has to be adjusted for any other lengths. This requires expertise!

After comparing a package vs split system, the next step is calling on the right air conditioning installation technicians to save on installation time and costs. Professional installation is the key to savings that will continue in the form of peak energy efficiency and fewer repairs over the system's extended lifetime.

© 2014 Len Stupak

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