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Douglas Cooling & Heating Blog

Is a Central AC or Heat Pump Better?


If it’s time to think about replacing your old air conditioner, it might be easy to just choose the same type you’ve had in the past, simply out of familiarity. But you should definitely take the time to consider your options.

You want to do what will work best for you, and the only way to know is to do a little research. One thing to consider is whether you want a central air conditioner or a heat pump. They both offer benefits, so it’s a matter of which meets your needs. Let’s look at some details.

Central AC

Chances are, this is the type of system you already have. They’re as popular as they are because they’re very effective. And these days, there are models which are much more efficient than central air conditioners used to be.

Advances in the materials used for the coils make it possible for the refrigerant to absorb and release heat more quickly and easily. New designs of compressors and fan motors allow low-power modes, so they only run at full power when it’s absolutely necessary. So if you do choose a central air system, you will be able to get one that’s more efficient than your previous system was ten or fifteen years ago.

However, there are some situations that might be less than ideal for a central air conditioner. If you’ve previously been using window units and do not have ductwork, it would take some time, bother, and expense to get ducts installed before you could use that type of system, and in some homes, there simply isn’t space to add ductwork without it crowding your living space.

Even if you do have ductwork in your home, there’s also the question of what condition the ductwork is in. Old, deteriorating, or damaged ductwork should be repaired in order to keep your new air conditioner in good shape and to get the benefit of that efficiency. If your ductwork is in very bad shape, you might be better off replacing it entirely before you’re ready for air conditioning installation in Shelby County, AL or considering a system that doesn’t rely on it.

Heat Pumps

While they may seem new-fangled, modern heat pumps are very closely based on the original technology that was patented in 1856. They’ve definitely increased in popularity for home climate control in recent years, though, largely because they are so efficient. When trying to determine whether a heat pump or high-efficiency new central AC unit will use less energy, compare the SEER2 (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio 2) ratings which the various units have. The higher the number, the lower the energy consumption. 

The benefit that we’ve already hinted at is that a heat pump is compatible with a ductless system, sometimes called a mini split. With this, you don’t have to worry if your ducts are damaged or nonexistent.

Also, the “split” refers to the cooling power of the heat pump being divided, with cool air coming from multiple air handlers throughout your home. Multiple thermostats means various parts of your home can be different temperatures, avoiding the waste of cooling unoccupied spaces.

The other big benefit is that heat pumps are reversible. In the winter, they can draw heat from outdoors—even when it’s quite chilly—and warm your home. So if you might be in the market for a heating system as well, a heat pump could offer one-stop shopping.

If you want to find out more, we’d be delighted to chat with you about all your options.

“Your experience is what matters most!” Contact Douglas Cooling & Heating today for help with all your heating and cooling needs.

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