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HVAC Packaged Unit vs. Split System: Differences, Benefits, & How to Choose

Packaged central air system

HVAC, which stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning, is the system that most homeowners use to keep your home comfortable throughout the year.

There are two different types of systems, each of which have their own set of benefits. The main differences between them are configuration and performance. However, ultimately, they do the same thing, which is cooling and heating your home.

The packaged unit is an all-in-one system that is great for places without crawlspaces, whereas the split system has separate components for those with more indoor space. Depending on the type of home you have, either one will be the right choice for you.

To determine which option is best for your home, read this article. While you are reading, remember that your local team of Petro Home Service experts offers consultations to help you find out which option is right for you.

What is an HVAC Packaged Unit?

diagram of packaged HVAC

Does your home not have a crawlspace or a basement? You may want to consider an HVAC packaged unit.

The packaged HVAC unit houses all parts of the system in one metal cabinet. The evaporator coil, condenser, and compressor are all housed together to save space from being used inside.

Often, the cabinet is either placed on a home or building’s ceiling, or on a cement slab outside the home.

Specially-made ductwork connects the outdoor cabinet to all the rooms in the home. Though the cabinet is outdoors, the actual functions of a packaged central air system are controlled indoors.

Some packaged central air systems will also include a natural gas furnace or electric heating coils as well.

In short, a packaged HVAC unit comprises everything involved in a central air system in one unit placed outside the home. Homes with little indoor space to house these systems - or those lacking in underground spaces - will have a packaged unit.

What is an HVAC Split System?

diagram of split HVAC systems

An HVAC split system is for homes that have space for large indoor cabinets.

The split system model holds the condenser and compressor in an outdoor cabinet. Another indoor cabinet will hold the evaporator coil, and an air handler sends the cool air through the duct system. A line set - a copper tube that connects both the indoor and outdoor components - moves cold air to the house.

Benefits of Each Type of HVAC

Both the packaged and split HVAC systems have their own benefits. Depending on the type of home you have, you can enjoy one of two sets of benefits.

HVAC Packaged Unit

  • Efficiency - Packaged units are assembled in factories, which typically means they are more efficient than split systems.
  • Easy Installation - As packaged units are only one single unit, they are easier and more versatile to install. This also results in less expensive installation costs and a smaller footprint on your property.
  • Less Invasive - Because the package system is in one all-inclusive unit, there is no need for additional refrigerant lines.
  • SEER – This is an acronym that stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which in this unit ranges from 13 to 18, and is considered a good rating.
  • Quiet - As the entire system is located outside, you experience no noise inside your home.

HVAC Split System

Split HVAC system
  • More Efficient - The SEER rating for split systems is typically 25 or above, which is much better than package systems.
  • Customizable - Because there are two components to a split system, placement is more flexible than a large HVAC packaged unit.
  • Lower Maintenance - For ductless mini-split systems, the maintenance costs are much lower than any other central air system.
  • Value-adding - The energy efficiency of HVAC split systems is so high it has the potential to add resale value to your home.

Considerations for Each Type of HVAC

As stated above, the two different systems come with their own set of considerations.

HVAC Packaged Unit

  • Roofs - If the condenser half of your system is located on your roof, a bad installation can lead to leaks and other issues.
  • Weather and animal damage - As one part of the system is located outdoors, your entire system is susceptible to weather and animal damage. Many people have found that animals will find a way inside of packaged units for shelter.
  • Lifespan - Packaged systems are prone to rust and, therefore, typically have a shorter lifespan.

HVAC Split System

  • Done right - A badly-installed HVAC split system can greatly reduce its efficiency and effectiveness in your home.
  • Labor intensive - Higher labor costs can make split systems more expensive to install.
  • Leaks - There are more moving parts in an HVAC split system, so there are more opportunities for inefficiencies. Cracks, crevices, and bad ductwork are just a few of the host of problems that can happen with split systems.

How to Choose the Right System

Choosing the right type of central air and heating HVAC system is based on a number of factors.

Do you have one of these models already? - If so, stay with the type of model you have. To uninstall and reinstall a different type of HVAC system can be so costly. You’ll lose out on many cost-saving benefits.

How large or small is your home? - This is an important consideration.

For smaller homes, the packaged unit will be best. That’s because all components of the packaged system are located outside. With a smaller amount of storage space for HVAC components, you’ll be better off with a package system.

For larger homes, or those with a basement or crawlspace, a split system will be best. That’s because you have extra space to house components in your home.

For whatever system you need, Petro Home Services has your back - guaranteed

At Petro Home Services, we understand HVAC systems in and out. That means that whatever type, size, or configuration of home you have, we can and will find a solution.

From design and configuration to installation and maintenance, the expert technicians at Petro Home Services can ensure you have the right solution for your HVAC system needs the first time. Contact us today for a consultation on the best way to keep your home comfortable and energy-efficient with an HVAC system.

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