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What Are The Different Types of HVAC Units?

Choosing the right type of HVAC system for your home is important for both your comfort and your wallet. Different types of units work for different spaces; HVAC systems are not one-size-fits-all. If you’re in the market for a new HVAC unit or you’re thinking about getting an HVAC system installed in your home, you have a few things to consider before making a decision.

It’s also helpful to have a baseline knowledge of the types of heating and cooling systems if you’re looking for a new place to live. The efficiency and structure of the current system installed in a home you’re looking at will make a big difference in how much it will cost to live there, and the amount of heating and cooling power it will provide.

This article will go over the 4 main types of HVAC units and the building structures they tend to suit best.

Heating and Cooling Split Systems

When you picture an HVAC unit, this is probably the type that comes to your mind by default. It has both an indoor and outdoor component that are connected to one another by ductwork and refrigerant lines. 

They tend to contain:

  • An indoor unit with either a furnace or a heat pump. If it’s an electric furnace or a heat pump, this type of unit layout is known as an “air handler”. The indoor units that have gas furnaces tend to be referred to as simply “furnaces”. All indoor units also contain an evaporator coil and a blower motor. 
  • An outdoor unit with the condenser coil, compressor, and a fan. 
  • Ductwork.
  • Thermostat.

Pros and cons of this type of unit:


  • Energy efficient.
  • Can accommodate larger size homes.
  • Offers robust filtration options.
  • There are plenty of choices available since this is the most common type.


  • Expensive to install if your home doesn’t already have ductwork.
  • Maintenance may be more work than other types of units.
  • These units can only heat or cool an entire building at once. You can’t choose specific rooms or zones. This could mean higher utility bills depending on your home’s layout.
  • Ducts can trap dust and allergens.

Hybrid Split Systems

These units use a combination of an electricity-powered heat pump and a gas furnace to heat and cool your home. The computer within the system detects the temperature outside and chooses between heating options accordingly. Heat pumps tend to be less efficient than gas furnaces at producing heat once the outdoor temperature drops below freezing, though recent advancements in heat pump technology have narrowed the gap in efficiency.

Like a heating and cooling split system, hybrid split systems also have both an indoor and an outdoor unit. They normally consist of:

  • An outdoor unit containing a compressor.
  • An indoor unit with an air handler, furnace, and evaporator coil.
  • Ductwork.
  • Thermostat.

Pros and cons of this type of unit:


The main pro of this unit is that it can save you money on your heating bills. Hybrid systems are designed to keep your heating bills low by choosing the most efficient heating option depending on the temperature. Heat pumps are also very efficient at cooling homes in the summer (don’t let the name fool you!).


  • This type of unit is more costly to install than its non-hybrid counterparts.
  • Modern heat pumps are more efficient than older ones, partially negating the benefits of a hybrid system.

Ductless Mini-Split Systems

Not all heating and cooling systems contain ductwork! Ductless mini-splits are electricity powered and compact; they only consist of a single wall-mounted vent connected to an outdoor compressor via refrigerant lines and pipes. The vent pulls in air and circulates it through the system, heating or cooling it accordingly, and then pushes it back out into the room. Several vents can be installed throughout a building.

These types of units normally consist of:

  • An indoor vent unit containing a fan and evaporator coil.
  • An outdoor unit that houses refrigerant and a condenser.

Pros and cons of this type of unit:


  • These units are versatile; they can be used to separately control the temperature of different zones or rooms. This means you can avoid wasted energy by only heating or cooling the areas of your home that you are frequently in. They can also be an add-on to an existing central system, meaning you can heat or cool a house extension without adding onto the ductwork.
  • They’re easier and cheaper to install since they don’t have ductwork.
  • They’re very energy efficient - there is no potential for energy loss via duct leakage.


The main issue with mini-splits is that they’re not easily suited to larger, open-concept spaces. And if a unit is incorrectly sized for a space, it can end up consuming excessive energy or even break down.

Packaged Heating and Air Systems

These units contain all the components of an HVAC system together in one metal box, which is normally placed either on the roof of a building or on a single slab near the foundation. These units are often used for commercial purposes, such as in office buildings, but work well for houses too. 

These units normally contain:

  • One single unit on the roof or by the building’s foundation which contains all heating and cooling components, such as the compressor and the evaporator coil. A gas furnace or heat pump can be used for heating in this type of unit.
  • Ductwork.
  • Thermostat.

Pros and cons of this type of unit:


  • They are easier to install than most split units (besides the ductless mini split), since everything is packed in one unit.
  • They’re very quiet; you don’t hear the machinery running since it’s all outside.
  • This type of unit is good for small spaces that don’t have the room for the indoor component most split systems have.


  • They tend to have a lower efficiency rating than split systems.
  • They’re more likely to be affected by extreme weather conditions, since all their components are outdoors.

HVAC Premium: Your One-Stop Shop for All Your HVAC Needs

Once you’ve made a decision on what HVAC unit is best for your home, keep us in mind for any HVAC supplies you’ll need pre- and post-installation, such as filters or vent covers. We have the largest selection of ready-to-ship HVAC parts in the U.S., and we can get you whatever you need, when you need it.


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