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Package System vs Split System Air Conditioning


Knowing something about your home’s HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system will help you understand and manage your energy costs and comfort better. In Arizona, HVAC equipment is either a package system or a split system. Both provide cool air, but they do differ slightly.


What is a Split System?


You will very commonly find a split system in the southwest. They offer the highest levels of energy efficiency and convenience for the homeowner. In a split system, the two main components of all air conditioners and heat pumps are separate. The condenser sits outdoors, and the air handler (or furnace/coil) is inside the home, either in the attic, a closet, or in your garage.


The outdoor condenser contains the compressor, a large fan, and a condensing coil. The compressor changes the pressure of the refrigerant which makes it extremely hot. As it passes through the outdoor coil, it removes the heat, and the refrigerant begins to “rain“ within the coil. This continues until it exits the outdoor unit as a liquid.


When the refrigerant enters the air handler inside your home, it flows through a metering device which lowers the pressure of the now liquid refrigerant. As the air in the home blows across the evaporator coil, the refrigerant begins to evaporate and remove the heat from the air. This works just like water evaporating from your skin cools you off on these hot summer days. A properly working system should remove the heat (cool down) the air about 20 degrees. The gaseous refrigerant then flows back to the outside unit to be compressed all over again. The larger refrigerant line coming back is cool to the touch and normally has insulation. This cool refrigerant also acts as the coolant for the compressor. (Which is really a very powerful electric motor which connects to a pump.) This is one of the reasons that a proper refrigerant charge is so critical.


What is a Package System?


A package system works just like a split system, except that all the components that make the air conditioner or heat pump work are in one unit. These are typically on the roof, depending upon how your home design.


The Advantages of Each Kind of System


The most important advantage a split system offers is that it is more energy efficient options than are available in a package system.

A package system provides these benefits:


  • A package system doesn’t take up any room in your home since all the system’s parts are outside.

  • Installation is simpler because everything is in one box.

Identifying a Package System or Split System


Just look up, if the unit is on your roof, it is more than likely a package system. (There are exceptions to every rule.) If your system is on the ground outside your home and the only connection to the home is the refrigerant lines and the wiring, you absolutely have a split system. You’re more likely to find a package system in older homes around the valley, typically installed on the roof of the home. You’re likely to find a split system inside newer homes of all kinds.


If your split or package system needs seasonal service, please contact Forrest Anderson, providing trusted HVAC services for Arizona homeowners.


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