HVAC Basics | Types of Residential HVAC System for homes

HVAC Basics

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. The HVAC system will provide heating and cooling to all your residential and commercial buildings. You will see HVAC systems anywhere whether it is single-family homes or any submarine where they are providing the means for environmental comfort and relief.

HVAC without any doubt is becoming more and more popular in new structure systems, these systems use fresh air from the outdoors in order to provide high indoor air quality. The V in HVAC is for ventilation, and it is the process that replaces or exchanges air within that space. Ventilation provides a much better quality of air indoors and it also helps in the removal of moisture, smoke, odors, heat, dust, airborne bacteria, carbon dioxide, as well as other harmful gases. HVAC also aids in temperature control and oxygen replenishment.

HVAC Basics

Well, HVAC is not just used to warm or cool any space, but it also helps in improving indoor air quality to provide comfort for everyone that is present in that area whether it be a commercial area or any residential building.

The source of taking some fresh air from the outside or from within the home is called ventilation, and it happens in two different ways. Natural ventilation is present in many of our homes, and it belongs to the way air typically moves in and out through windows, doors, vents, and other openings that are there in your house. This exchange of air is very essential in order to replace oxygen, and in order to remove odors, carbon dioxide, and excessive moisture from the surroundings.

Whereas mechanical ventilation uses a mechanical system that is actually the V in HVAC which helps in moving air in and out. In these modern times, homes are constructed in such a way that they are far more tightly sealed so ventilation is becoming a progressively more important component in home HVAC systems. Once the outer air is brought in, it is drawn into an air handling unit where the actual work begins. Here, air is drawn through filters for the purpose of removing dirt, dust, allergens, and other particles.

The next important reason is comfort. This Air will be either sent to heat or sent to be cooled and have additional humidity removed during this process. After the air is cleaned, fresh, and reaches a comfortable temperature, it is directed into your home. For central systems, which means moving through a network of ducts and registers to different rooms. For other systems, this usually means being directed right into space.

How Does an HVAC System Work?

The three most important functions of an HVAC system are correlated, particularly when they are providing adequate indoor air quality and thermal comfort to the people living in that space. We all know that the heating and air conditioning system is considered as one of the most convoluted and extensive systems that are there in your homes, but if it stops working due to any reason, you will get to know as soon as the damage happens.

There are nine parts to your HVAC system that you should be familiar with as they all parts combine to let your HVAC system work in the best possible way, these parts are

  • Air return: It is the part of your system that will mark the starting point of the ventilation cycle.
  • Filter: The second part of the air return in which the air is passed through
  • Exhaust outlets: It is where the exhaust created by the heating system is expelled
  • Ducts: these are the channels in which the heated or cooled air passes.
  • Electrical elements: a bit trickier part, but problems start from here first.
  • Outdoor unit: The outdoor unit houses the fan which provides airflow. 
  • Compressor: it is responsible for converting refrigerant from a gas to liquid and sending it to the coils. 
  • Coils: Another part of the outdoor unit, coils cool the air as it passes through with a little help from the refrigerant.
  • Blower: The blower draws in warm air through the main section of the unit. 

The Role of an HVAC System in a Home

Your HVAC system is your air condition, heating, and ventilation that is combined into a single system. Its major role in your home is to keep it as comfortable as possible, also it regulates the air quality in your living spaces.

HVAC and Air Conditioning

The major role of your HVAC system is to keep your house cool during the hotter months, such as the peak of summers. Always remember that the way your HVAC system cools your home is related to the different ways a number of AC units cool your home. The most common way in which an HVAC system cools your home is through a central air conditioning system, which is frequently used in conjunction with forced air systems for heating. Also, splits and ductless forms of cooling are some really good choices, particularly if you want to ease future air conditioner repair and maintenance hassles all the time.

HVAC and Heating

Same as cooling services your HVAC system can also provide and establish a warmer environment for all your residential buildings and homes during the colder seasons of the year.  As stated earlier, the most common way your system heats your home is because of a forced-air system. This process uses a furnace to heat the air, which is then again dispersed through the whole house through the same ductwork that cool air passes through on its way to the in-room vents.

HVAC and Ventilation

Lastly, your whole HVAC system is also responsible for keeping your entire home well-ventilated. Especially, it helps in maintaining indoor air quality. Dusty air and humid environments from cold and hot temperatures individually will ultimately weaken, which will result in poor air quality for your entire residential building or home. The ventilating part of your HVAC system tends to control moisture levels, remove unwanted and musty smells, and keep air from deteriorating as time passes by.

Basic components of an HVAC system

The basic components of an HVAC system that delivers conditioned air to satisfy the thermal comfort of space and residents and to achieve better indoor air quality are listed below:

  • Mixed-air plenum and outdoor air control
  • Air filter
  • Supply fan
  • Exhaust or relief fans and an air outlet
  • Outdoor air intake
  • Ducts
  • Terminal devices
  • Return air system
  • Heating and cooling coils
  • Self-contained heating or cooling unit
  • Cooling tower
  • Boiler Control
  • Water chiller
  • Humidification and dehumidification equipment

How does the HVAC system work in the home?

There are some HVAC systems that help in cooling with a unit which is called a condenser or conventional air conditioning unit. Whereas other systems help in cooling with the use of a device that is the heat pump. No doubt that they both function likewise as they suck the warm air from inside your home and then move it outside. This is the process that actually lowers the indoor temperature, and it works this way. Always remember that air conditioning does not blow cool air inside rather it takes the warmer air away.

The major difference that you may observe between a heat pump and a condenser is that a heat pump is also involved in the heating of your home. Whenever you need to warm up the air inside your home a heat pump works in a reverse process, pulling warmer air from the outside and moving it inside the house. Whereas a condenser performs the cooling process only, which means that if you have one condenser you will need to have a furnace for heating purposes.

However, many landlords now a days are choosing for what is referred to as a dual system, which means that they have furnaces and heat pumps both as a single unit. You can also have a furnace without a heat pump but having an AC in this case would be conventional.

Types of Residential HVAC system for homes

There are four main types of HVAC systems. These are split systems, hybrid systems, duct-free systems, and packaged heating and air systems. Each of these types of HVAC units has its own advantages and disadvantages so having some proper knowledge about these types can help you decide which suits you the best.

Learn about HVAC system costs based upon your requirements.

Heating and Cooling Split Systems

Heating and Cooling Split Systems are considered as the most common types of HVAC systems. This system is basically split into two main units, one is there for heating purposes and other one is for cooling purposes. These systems are significant because they consist of both indoor and outdoor units, which are easily distinguishable.

This type of HVAC unit has a cooling system outside, which tends to use refrigerant, compressors, and coils in order to cool air, and a fan to blow the hot air outside. These are typically the large AC units that are placed outside your homes, which function during the whole summer season.

These heating and cooling split systems also consist of a heater, that is typically located in a basement or other storage space, which normally uses the gas to warm the entire house. This is scattered with the help of either a fan, or evaporator in order to distribute the air. This system also uses a conventional thermostat in order to manage the temperature and is able to keep most houses at your desired temperature.

Hybrid Split System

This type is similar to the split systems, but with some major differences. These systems are highly in demand because of their ability to diminish energy costs through their electric hybrid heating system, and this is the major factor that makes it different from split systems. It also has the ability to switch between gas power, which is more quick and more complete, to electric, which is more efficient and quieter, and it allows landlords to decide how they want to heat their home.

This type is mostly used in more mild climates that are capable of taking advantage of this during months where it isn’t too cold, and electric heat will do just fine. This system tends to use old-style ducts, as well as thermostats and provides all the advantages of a split system, but with the added facility to save energy as well as utility bills.

Duct Free (Mini-Split)

This type of HVAC unit provides independent control to each room of the house. These units are typically fitted on walls and are usually attached to an outdoor compressor. Although this installation process is somehow expensive, they are a lot easier to install. These types of HVAC units are also useful for service businesses such as hotels or venues, allowing tenants to control individual temperatures and conditions. 

Another major advantage is energy conservation, as it saves the energy from all those rooms that are not using its facility to get warm. That is why people leaving or downsizing can consider installing these systems, as they keep the rooms warm and the rooms they do not use from sapping energy.

Packaged Heating and Air

This system contains a heating and air unit that is stored within the house. It is usually kept in the roof space or top floor storage space, and it helps in cooling as well as heating a house. Its small size makes it useful for smaller spaces or houses, and it allows it to be placed within the home if an exterior is not an option.

These types of HVAC systems are considered efficient and maintenance is easier. They are generally used in warmer climates since the heating system is not as powerful as cooling options.


Now you are a little better prepared to decide which is perfect for your house. The Split system is the most generally used, but hybrids are on the rise due to their energy efficiency. Mini-split systems are perfect for picky families or the service industry, and packaged heating is perfect for small places, or warm climates. Each of the types of HVAC units has advantages and disadvantages and to better help navigate them you can consult an HVAC expert at Alturas Contractors for any of your HVAC concerns.

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