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Air Conditioning 101: The Different Types of Air Conditioners

Know the Different Types of Air Conditioners to Make the Best Air Conditioning Decision

A new air conditioning system is a very important decision for homeowners. There are many different factors to consider when making your choice and many options to choose from.

Stellar Services is experienced with the many different types of air conditioners available for your home. As your local Gainesville HVAC expert, we know the unique challenges this area’s weather presents that can affect your AC unit. We created this guide to help you make your choice, including the pros and cons of each air conditioning unit. If you need additional insight or advice, please give us a call! We would be happy to speak with you and help you determine the right air conditioning unit for your home.

Types of Air Conditioners

Window Air Conditioner

Formally known as a “unitary” air conditioning system, a window air conditioner is a self-contained air conditioning unit, which means that it is equipped with all of the necessary components such as the condenser, compressor, expansion valve, etc. Window air conditioners are commonly used for single rooms as they eject heat out of one end and emit cool air on the other.


  • Budget-Friendly –  Window air conditioning units are considerably cheaper than in-house options. They can generally be bought for less than $200 from a local provider.
  • Easy to Transport  – While these units are heavy, they are considerably easier to move around than other options. You can move this unit to wherever a window is available to place it, whenever it suits you.
  • Energy Efficient – Compared to the other options on this list, a window unit will cool a small area quickly and uses less energy to do so.


  • Only Works Well in Small Spaces – If you are looking to cool a large area, then a window unit may not be your best choice. Window units are only meant to cool rooms one at a time, not an entire house. Take note of the square footage that the unit can cool when you purchase one.
  • Safety Concern – If you live on the first floor of a building or have a window that’s easily accessible, a window AC unit can be easily compromised by a burglar. There are some things you can do to prevent a break-in, though using one is a risk nonetheless.
  • Aesthetics – If you like a room with a view, a window AC unit may not be the best choice. The unit will block out a significant portion of the window and the sunlight. Not only that, but a window AC unit is not necessarily seen as decorative or tasteful.

Through-the-Wall Air Conditioners

Through-the-wall air conditioners are very much like window air conditioners. Their purpose is to condition the air from within a chassis sleeve in a wall, but the design, cooling capacity, and weight differ from window air conditioners.


  • More Polished Appearance – Through-the-wall air conditioners are installed flush with the wall, giving them a more aesthetic appearance.
  • Higher Cooling Capacity – They have more cooling power than window air conditioning units, and can typically cool a larger area.
  • Energy Efficient – Through-the-wall air conditioning units are slightly more efficient than window air conditioning units.


  • Not Portable – Once a through-wall unit is installed, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. It cannot be easily removed or transported.
  • Difficult to Install Without Professional Help – A through-wall AC unit needs to sit inside the wall. In order to make sure it is installed correctly, you often need professional assistance, or you risk doing damage to your wall or the unit.

Portable Air Conditioners

Another example of a unitary air conditioning system is the portable air conditioner, which consists of a mobile, self-contained air conditioning unit that is freestanding on the floor. Portable air conditioners function in a similar manner to window air conditioners.


  • Small & Portable – Hence the name, portable air conditioners are easy to move from room to room.
  • No Permanent Installation – All you need to utilize a portable air conditioner is an outlet and a window to funnel out the exhaust air.


  • Noisy – Some portable air conditioners are said to be noisy and can disrupt the quiet in a home. Be careful to read the reviews of a product before purchasing one.
  • Not An Effective Cooling Solution – Portable air conditioners are not much better at cooling the air than a household fan. While they can provide some relief, it is not meant to be a long-term solution.

mini split system acDuctless Mini-Split System Air Conditioners 

Ductless mini-split systems are not self-contained but instead consist of two parts: the outdoor unit and the indoor unit. The larger outdoor unit contains the condenser, compressor, and expansion valve, while one or more indoor units, when strategically placed, blow air to the exact rooms you want to be heated or cooled.


  • Versatile – Ductless mini-split systems can be installed just about anywhere: on the wall, on the ceiling, and even on the floor using a stand-up model. All you need to use these systems is a small hole in the wall through which the insulated conduit that holds the refrigeration line can run from the outside unit to the indoor blowing systems.
  • Less Space & Less Noise –  These efficient units take up much less space and make much less noise than window units.
  • Independent Operation – These independent blowing systems can be controlled separately, and therefore, ductless mini-split system air conditioners supply quiet, convenient cooling to many spaces within your home.


  • Up-Front Cost – These units cost two to three times more than a window air conditioning unit, and if you’re looking for them to be a full house solution, it is a considerable up-front cost. You will save money long term on your energy bills, but you will have to weigh that benefit in your decision.
  • Difficult Installation – Ductless AC units require specific measurements and sizing when installed. It is recommended that you consult a professional HVAC contractor to discuss installing this type of unit.
  • Design Limitations – Ductless mini-split systems currently do not come in a variety of colors or sizes. If you are looking to add these systems to a main room of your home, this may be something to consider.

Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners

Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners, or PTACs, are similar to ductless split air conditioners, as they both use two distinct units connected by a tube of refrigerant. The outdoor unit of a PTAC combines the compressor, condenser, and condenser fan and is usually placed on the roof or a concrete slab near the foundation. The indoor unit handles the evaporative process with the fan, expansion valve, and evaporator coil. PTACs are considered commercial-grade AC models and are most often found in hotels and offices, but they can also be used in sunrooms and other residential spaces. Usually, they are installed through an external wall just above the floor and right under the window, and when combined with a natural gas furnace or set of heating coils, they can fill in for a separate furnace.

Central Air Conditioner

thermostatCentral air conditioning systems are considered the superior choice for residential spaces for several reasons. Their improved technology and efficiency render central air conditioning systems the most comfortable, best performing, and quietest air conditioning options available. Central A/C systems include two different units that are connected by refrigerant tubing. The condensing unit is the large part on the exterior of the house and holds the compressor and condensing coils and fan. The evaporating unit holds the evaporator coil and expansion valve. Every central air conditioning system needs these two components to function, but every central air conditioning system also needs to be appropriately sized for your home.

If your central AC is too large, it may short cycle, fail to dehumidify, and sacrifice efficiency. Determining the best size for your central air conditioning system requires the help of an HVAC professional, so always consult the most trusted air conditioning provider in your area in order to find a unit that is the perfect fit for you.


  • Consistent Temperature All Year Long – A central air-conditioning unit keeps your home at a consistent temperature at all times. That means your home will stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter, no matter where in your home you are.
  • Filtered Air – Central air-conditioning units use filter which takes all the air in your home and takes it through a filtering process to remove some allergens, bacteria, and other irritants from the air.
  • Programmable Thermostat – With a programmable thermostat, you have total control when it comes to the temperature in your home. There are many options for thermostats these days, and you can even choose one that will allow you to change the temperature during different times of the day to help save on energy bills.


  • High Energy Bills – Central air-conditioning units push air throughout your entire home, and that is a significant cost. According to, “In an average air-conditioned home, air conditioning consumes more than 2,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year.”
  • Duct Maintenance – Duct cleaning is an important aspect of owning a central air-conditioning unit. Mold, mildew, dust, and bacteria can build up in your ductwork without regular maintenance. It is recommended that you have your ductwork professionally cleaned at least once a year.

Discovering Your Ideal Air Conditioning System

Being familiar with your home or the area you will be conditioning is essential to selecting the best AC. To reach that level of familiarity, you should confirm the information on the following factors:

  • The amount of space that needs to be air-conditioned
  • The nature of the walls, whether external or internal
  • The total heat generated by the system
  • The energy efficiency of the system
  • The price of the system
  • Your total budget

If you’re worried about your budget for this big purchase, fear not! Stellar Services offers a variety of financing options that are tailored to you.

Choosing The Perfect Type of Air Conditioner

Now that you know more about your air conditioning options, you will be better prepared to pick an air conditioning unit for your space. At Stellar Services, we want you to be informed about what is available in the air conditioning industry, but we do not want you to be left to navigate these options alone. Therefore, we promise to work with you to choose and install the air conditioning system that meets your specific needs.

If you’re ready to install a new AC unit in your home, call Gainesville’s most trusted air conditioning company, Stellar Services. Or, contact us online to receive a quote! We’ll help you decide between all of the different types of air conditioners to choose what’s best for your home.