What is HVAC System? (The Basics & What HVAC Stand For)

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Are you wondering how HVAC units can benefit you when you install it at your home or office? So many people invest in these systems but are not fully knowledgeable about its types and functions. In this article, we will share with you everything you need to know about what is HVAC system and how you can maximize its usage.

Our in-depth explanations of its types and comparisons will further help you in deciding which one to get to address your needs effectively. You can also modify your purchase according to your opted space, size, and budget. But first, let us define the function of HVAC systems!

What Is An HVAC System?

An HVAC system is a multi-purpose equipment that is utilized to move air from indoor and outdoor places with heating and cooling functions. To simply define it, these systems are responsible for regulating your room temperature, be it in freezing winter seasons or scorching summer ones.

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. This wonderful system efficiently brings you a comfortable indoor environment through thermal control. Scientifically, it involves thermodynamics, heat transfer, and fluid mechanics.

On a daily basis, you will notice these large air conditioner boxes that are usually placed on top of significant buildings, apartments, and offices. This is because HVAC systems are essential for industrial constructions that require large spaces and complex ventilation systems.

HVAC systems are also crucial in establishments given the health regulations they have to follow through to ensure safe environments with proper ventilation. The humidity and temperature of these spaces should be kept at standard rates, especially with big industrial spaces to keep the people inhabiting it safe, healthy, and comfortable.

How does HVAC Work?

An HVAC system usually works by combined systems like AC systems and central heating. These systems may be placed in different areas of your home or office space to function separately. Here’s a simple explanation of the process:

First, ventilation will occur wherein fresh air will be outsourced from outside of your home to enter inside. There are two ways to achieve this. Natural ventilation is most common wherein the air just comes through windows, doors, and other open spaces within your home.

In HVAC, the process of moving air in and out becomes faster and more efficient through its mechanical system. As the air goes in, the air handling unit works by filtering dust, allergens, and dirt. Then, the air is sent to be heated or cooled to achieve the best comfort with the appropriate temperature.

Finally, the cleaner air is transported into your home and equally balances the temperature within the whole area. This whole process is continuously repeated to ensure a properly ventilated area.

HVAC System Components

If you’ve ever struggled to understand technicians and their complicated terms, we’re here to help you out. Here are the basic components and functions to give you a better understanding of the HVAC systems:

  • Thermostat – This part of the HVAC system is responsible for triggering the machine to start its cooling and heating functions. It’s essential since it will allow you to program the temperature that you prefer.
  • Furnace – It serves to heat the air that goes within your system. The heating is achieved depending on your system but it usually works through the combustion of coal, oil, or natural gas.
  • Evaporator Coil – On the other hand, evaporator coils work to cool the air in your HVAC system. It can usually be found on top or side of the furnace.
  • Heat Exchanger – The purpose of this part is to receive the cold air and have it heated. After it’s heated, it can now be brought back into your home, which is very helpful during the winter season.
  • Condensing Unit – This contains refrigerant gas that is cooled when the heat is being transformed. You can usually find these outside houses to connect the evaporator coil.
  • Refrigerant Lines – These are essential to carry and support the refrigerant in between the condensing unit and evaporator coil.
  • Ducts and Vents – These are pathways that are important to connect the air into various parts of the room to properly ventilate each with the right temperature

What is the difference between HVAC and Air Conditioning?

These two systems are often mixed up together due to their function. However, it has different purposes. An HVAC system has complete functions in cooling, heating, and ventilating your house. On the other hand, air conditioning units can only achieve cooling.

Make sure that you are not interchanging the two terms so that your technician won’t be confused about which system you are aiming for in your space.

HVAC System Types

Different spaces require different types of HVAC systems. You should first analyze your options before investing in one to ensure that its pros and cons are suited for your space. Here are four different types:

Heating and Cooling Split Systems

This type of HVAC system is usually the most common in households to simply provide heating and cooling functions. The central unit is split into two to separate the system. One for heating and the other is for cooling. These systems are ideal since it includes both indoor and outdoor units to be easily spotted.

It also contains compressors, refrigerants, and a fan to get rid of hot summer air. The heating function is also great as well and is commonly placed in basements. It utilizes a typical thermostat to balance the temperature that you prefer. It can also come with air purifiers and humidifiers to further improve the air quality of your home.

Heating and cooling split systems are ideal for you if you have a generally good location with no extreme environmental factors to be considered.

Hybrid Split System

Hybrid split system types can be compared to heating and cooling split systems but have more advanced functions. Hybrids are becoming more popular in the market, given the perks of its cost-saving energy. The electric hybrid heating system highlights its capacity to switch between power and gas.

This ability is practical since it’s quicker and quieter compared to other types of HVAC systems. Homeowners like you will definitely love this type if you prefer electric and more complete features. It’s also ideal for people who reside in places with mild climates.

Why? You can maximize this hybrid split system by opting for electric heat when the weather is not too cold, making you save more with bills. It also utilizes traditional thermostats and ducts, which can also be found on the usual split system. The distinct features, however, are notable since you can save energy and lessen your costs.

Duct-Free (Mini-Split) System

Duct-free or also known as a mini-split system is a distinct unit that falls under bigger costs and more commonly used in large buildings and establishments. These HVAC units consist of separate units per room to serve more control and independent function on specific spaces.

Duct-free systems can be seen in walls and are mounted to outdoor compressors. It benefits the inhabitants of big spaces since it effectively gives them the freedom to control their preferred temperature independently.

This type of HVAC system is ideal for newly constructed spaces for easier installation. Businesses who offer services such as hotels can also benefit from duct-free systems since their customers will appreciate the individual temperatures they can control.

However, the installation process is costly, given its complicated connections. If you are to note its cons, you should also remember that these systems will require you consistent cleaning and maintenance to make sure you’re maximizing its full function.

Moreover, it promotes full energy-saving features as you can control the energy you generate for each room or space without wasting excess energy. The high price can easily be worth it if your space requires this type of service.

Packaged Heating and Air System

The packaged heating and air system is the most niche type among the other types. It is a system that also includes heating and cooling functions and is usually placed on top floors or attics of houses or establishments. It is generally smaller and more compact so you can easily store it in smaller spaces as well.

This type of HVAC system is very easy to use and not high maintenance. However, these types are usually used in warmer climates because its heating system is not as strong as the other types. Its heating function is sourced electrically and also cost-effective.

Now that you’re knowledgeable about the types of HVAC and, hopefully, which one is ideal for your space, let us now tackle if you’re up for an HVAC package unit or a split system.

HVAC Package Unit Vs. Split System

With your improved understanding of “what is HVAC system,” let us further explore the things you should consider when you get one for your home. Once you purchase your HVAC system, it’s not like your other machines or tools which already arrive as assembled.

HVAC systems work differently. Your two choices are HVAC Package Unit and the Split system. Package HVAC Units are combined multiple units, which includes a heater and air conditioner to pull off into a single unit. Meanwhile, split systems have separate systems in their unit, which means that the air conditioner and heater are divided into two places.

These two options have similar functions in heating and cooling but have their own differences that you should consider. Here are its detailed pros and cons:

Package HVAC Unit Pros

One of the best perks of package HVAC units is that each part of its system has been carefully created and assembled in a factory. You can expect that its quality is good, given the proper processes included in its manufacture. There are lower chances of damage, malfunctions, and low-quality items used.
Therefore, it has the advantage to work more effectively. It also has an easy installation process wherein you will only need to make time for the ductwork. It’s also low-maintenance since it’s usually placed outside of your home.

Package HVAC Unit Cons

There are also lows on this type of HVAC. One of them is that it may experience harsh weather situations, especially since it’s installed outside. If you are located in locations that have extreme weather conditions, there are higher chances for it to have rust and undergo other environmental damages.

Split System Pros

Split system units are very beneficial since they can be installed in your basement or attic without being exposed to outdoor elements and weather conditions. You can count on it for a longer lifespan with its indoor perks.

Its advantages also include an easy to use control panel, which provides you better access and control. When you are presented with more control over your unit, you are more likely to save energy and expenses. Split systems are also more stylish and quieter compared to package HVAC units.

Split System Cons

One of its disadvantages is its complicated installation process. Most of the time, split systems are poorly installed due to different reasons. First, most companies are not very experienced with this type of installation, so it may go wrong. They are also more complicated due to its structure as split units.
It will be helpful to get experienced companies so you can assure that your split system is properly installed. You can’t also have it installed by yourself, so there may be more expenses on your end.

That’s it. It’s up to you to consider which one fits you best in terms of its pros and cons. Choose wisely! Up next, we’ll discuss your ideal budget with the usual costs of getting an HVAC system.

How much does HVAC System cost?

For the real deal-breaker, it can be very hard to find the right HVAC system for you with a certain budget. To make the decision-making process easier for you, we’ve rounded up the ideal expenses that you can expect in getting one.

Although these prices may vary according to the model and brand you’re getting, these can help you prepare for your next best home investment!

Installation Costs

New system installations of an HVAC System are estimated to cost around $4,820 up to $9,350. Don’t worry, though! This already includes a central air conditioner, gas furnace, and ductwork. Of course, this will still depend on the company you’re going to hire and their additional services.

You should also consider your house size, time of the workers’ labor, and other labor expenses. For example, adding upgrades to your installation will also cost you more, so it’s best to ask estimates before considering them.

Some estimated prices you can take note of for the additional ones are ductworks range around $2000-$3,000. On the other hand, humidifiers, air cleaners, or zoning systems may cost you form $2000 up to $4000. It also usually takes 3-5 days for workers to complete the installation.

Inspect and canvass items as well as services accordingly, so you will know which ones are worth your money.

Maintenance Costs

Once you’ve settled in with your chosen HVAC system, it’s also essential to consider the expenses you will have to maintain it properly. The estimated cost of regular checking and maintenance is around $150 up to $425, depending on the type of your HVAC system.

These maintenance services are ideal for getting while they’re on discounts or yearly promos so you can save more. You should also choose companies that offer waived services fees and loyalty promos.

Operating Costs

This aspect can be hard to estimate, given that it will purely depend on how much and how long you use your HVAC system. The energy-saving features of your HVAC system also play a big part in this, so we highly suggest getting specifically cost-effective units.

You can also lower your costs by simply making sure that your home is well-insulated and airtight. Why? It gives you the benefit of producing less energy and lowering your utility bills in the long run. Doing so can lengthen your HVAC system’s lifespan as well.


Getting your own HVAC system can be the most life-changing decision you can create for you and your family, given the comfort and health benefits it will provide. Now that you already know the answer to “what is HVAC system,” it will be easier for you to choose the ideal size, unit, and type.

It’s best to balance out the different pros and cons of each type and consider your lifestyle when you start to invest in HVAC systems. While most of these units are more expensive, you will discover that it is very beneficial for you. You should also consider the costs so that you can afford its installation, maintenance, and operating expenses.

That’s it! Based on this article, are you now ready to get your brand new HVAC system? What are your favorite tips that you learned here? We’d love to hear from you in the comment section below!

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