A typical home cooling system is called a split system because part of the equipment is indoors, and part is located outside. The outside equipment is the air conditioner
, and contrary to popular belief, the air conditioner does not cool air! It compresses refrigerant which rids the refrigerant of heat absorbed from the inside air. The chilled refrigerant is then send inside via small pipes to either a furnace
or air handler
(also called a fan coil).
You might not have known that you needed your furnace even in the summer time. This is because the fan in a furnace is used to circulate air through your entire home via ductwork regardless of the season. As the air cycles, it blows through what is called an evaporator coil
. When air conditioning is on, the evaporator coils contain the chilled refrigerant which cools and dehumidifies the passing air. The cooled and dehumidified air is then sent into the rest of the house.
Many Florida homes use what is called a heat pump
instead of a furnace, due to our mild climate. A heat pump is basically an air conditioner that can heat the refrigerant in addition to chilling it. So in the winter, everything happens the same, except heated refrigerant is sent inside instead of chilled refrigerant. When using a heat pump, the inside unit housing the fan is called a fan coil or air handler.
An air conditioner is electric powered as is the fan inside, which means that cooling hits the electric bill entirely. Cooling efficiency is measured using a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). A higher SEER rating means higher efficiency and lower utility bills. Manufacturers are continually improving the efficiency of units without sacrificing performance. From twin cylinder technology to variable speen fans, to UV lamps for evaporator coil efficiency.
Split System Diagram
This image displays how a split system works. The air conditioner is on the right with piping for the refrigerant travelling inside to the coils.
As mentioned above, Florida air conditioning systems are often using a heat pump due to a our mild climate. A heat pump setup identical.