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HVAC vs. AC: Differences and Which To Choose

You have options when it comes to controlling the temperature in your home or business. HVAC and AC systems represent the primary contenders for many property owners. But if we break down HVAC vs. AC, which system comes out on top as the best choice for you?

Each system has benefits and drawbacks. Our team at Rock Valley HVAC, Inc. can help you review the facts about these systems to determine the best way to cool the air in your home. Learn more about Rock Valley HVAC by calling us at (608) 247-4949.

HVAC vs. AC: Basic Facts

We can review the basic facts about both AC and HVAC systems to help you understand your options for keeping your home comfortable throughout the year.

Air Conditioning Systems

An AC unit can keep your home or business cool. These units cannot heat your property in the winter months—they only take warm air and make it cooler. You may use small window units to cool a single room or central air to cool your entire property.

Central AC units often use refrigerants to cool your home by allowing warm air to pass over the coils. The AC unit then blows the air through your property using a series of ducts. Generally, AC units run on electricity.

HVAC Systems

HVAC (or Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems perform more services than AC units. An HVAC system can heat and cool your home, making it a system that works to handle changes in temperature throughout the year.

HVAC systems can use different power sources, especially for central heating. Examples of power sources include:

  • Fuel oil
  • Natural gas
  • Electricity

A heat pump HVAC system can use a single unit to heat and cool your home; these systems also use ducts in most cases to carry the air. However, you can find ductless heat pump HVAC systems that attach to either the wall or ceiling.

HVAC vs. AC: Energy Efficiency

Many property owners focus on energy efficiency when it comes time to select a climate control system. The more efficient your system, the lower your energy bills stay. Both HVAC and AC units use the same method to measure efficiency, typically reporting their seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER).

You can find a SEER rating for most HVAC and AC units currently on the market. In general, HVAC and AC units have similar levels of efficiency when cooling your home until temperatures start to get very high.

AC units cool your property less efficiently if the air outside exceeds the temperature inside by more than 20 degrees. In this situation, HVAC systems often demonstrate a higher level of energy efficiency. Because AC units do not heat your property, we cannot compare them directly to HVAC units in the winter. 

However, HVAC heat pump units do have a reputation for higher energy efficiency than furnaces. Both air source heat pumps and geothermal heat pumps can reach 300% efficiency levels, making them a solid choice for warming your property.

HVAC vs. AC: Cost for a System

Both AC and HVAC systems represent a considerable investment. AC units generally have lower price tags, but you must remember that they do not come equipped with an option to heat your home in most cases. Therefore, you must factor in the cost to purchase another heating system, such as a:

  • Furnace
  • Heat pump
  • Boiler
  • Space heater
  • Stove (pellet or wood-burning)

You may already have a heating option in your home or business that you want to keep. In this case, sticking with an AC unit may save you a lot of money in the long run. However, if you want an all-in-one system, an HVAC unit might be the correct choice for you.

Compare Costs for HVAC Systems

Not all HVAC systems cost the same amount. Some systems, like models that use geothermal power, come with significantly higher price tags. When considering your heating and cooling options, you can review the costs for a:

  • Split system
  • Hybrid split system
  • Duct free (or mini-split) system

Members of our team can help you review all the choices you have for HVAC units.

HVAC vs. AC: Life Span and Reliability

Most people agree that reliability matters when you consider your heating and cooling options. Most property owners want a system they can count on for years or even decades. Generally, AC units have a reputation for lasting longer than heat pump HVAC systems.

AC units often last longer because they only operate for part of the year, while your HVAC unit runs in the summer and winter. You can prolong the life of both of these systems with regular maintenance. You may want one maintenance appointment a year for an AC unit and two for an HVAC system.

HVAC vs. AC: Air Quality

Finally, we can compare indoor air quality (IAQ) standards for AC and HVAC systems. Both of these systems can use filters to remove contaminants like:

  • Pet dander
  • Dust
  • Dirt
  • Pollen

HVAC units may also allow you to moderate humidity levels in your property, which can help some people breathe easier, especially through the summer months. Regularly changing the filters used by either system can help you improve your IAQ.

You can also set up extra filters to keep the air in your property clean and easy to breathe. For example, you can call professionals to set up an ultraviolet (UV) filter that works alongside your HVAC unit. This kind of filter destroys bacteria and viruses, which may improve your peace of mind.

HVAC Services From the Professionals

hvac vs ac

Which system comes out the winner in an HVAC vs. AC competition? AC systems have several benefits, but they aren’t the right choice for every property owner. You can consider all the factors about both systems before deciding which one fits your lifestyle best. 

If you decide on an HVAC system, our Edgerton, WI HVAC company can help you with installation, maintenance, and repairs. Get the help you want from Rock Valley HVAC, Inc. by calling (608) 247-4949.

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