HVAC vs Air Conditioning: What’s the Difference?

September 10, 2021
HVAC vs Air Conditioning: What’s the Difference?

What is an HVAC System?

HVAC is an acronym for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. This system is built into homes and offices in order to provide you with conditioned air throughout the different seasons. The latest models utilize fresh air from the outside of the home. That air flows through the HVAC system and becomes heated or cooled. Your furnace will also remove things like dust, dander, mold spores and odors from the air before it hits the rest of your home. This is done by a filter in your HVAC.

Parts of an HVAC System

Air Return
Your air return is where ventilation begins as air is sucked in and then passed through the main system.

Filter
A filter will remove particulates from your indoor air so it is much healthier and safe to breathe.

Ductwork
Your ductwork allows warm or cool air to be transferred through the rest of your home. It’s ideal to have your ducts cleaned every two to five years to promote healthy air.

Blower Motor
This motor will help to push air through your entire HVAC system so air can be heated or cooled and then pushed back into the home (or office).

What is the Difference between HVAC and Air Conditioning?

While air conditioning is part of the explanation of HVAC, air conditioning refers to the process of cooling air inside of your home. Window units can be installed in the home to provide more comfortable indoor air during the hot summer months, but there are larger units that can be attached to your HVAC system and furnace in order to provide conditioned air to your entire home. HVAC systems will also provide a home or office with heated air in the cold months. The air conditioning unit will usually be switched off during these months. Your typical HVAC company like American Service Company will service both HVAC systems (ductwork, furnace, etc.) and air conditioning units.

What is a Heat Pump?

Your HVAC system includes central heating as a way to warm your home or office, and air conditioning can be used as part of your HVAC system to provide cool air. A heat pump is a commonly used item that provides both cool air in the summer and warm air in the winter (and everything in between). If you have a split heat pump, an evaporator coil will be installed inside of the home with a separate unit outdoors. If you have a single unit, that will remain outside only.

The cooling method utilizes the process of putting heat in contact with a cooler and lower pressure environment. Refrigerant is inside of the unit and will be pumped through a device that’s located near the coil that’s inside of your home. This functions as an evaporator unit. As air from inside of your home or office blows across these coils, energy from heat is then absorbed by the refrigerant. The refrigerant heats up, and it will evaporate into a gas. This gas passes through a compressor to become pressurized, and the hot and pressurized refrigerant will pass through your heat pump to your outdoor coil. A fan inside of that outdoor unit passes air from outside through the unit. Refrigerant becomes liquid again, and it is transferred back inside of the home. An expansion valve will decrease pressure and cool everything down. The process repeats itself as the heat pump runs. The cool air that is produced will be distributed through the home by way of your ductwork system.

When you’re producing heat from a heat pump, the process is essentially the same as the cooling process. This time, the refrigerant flow reverses so that the source of heat will become the air outside. Energy from heat is then released inside of the home to heat your indoor air. The coil on the outside of the home functions as an evaporator, and the indoor coil is the condenser.

The Furnace Component

Natural gas is a commonly used source of heat for homes. Fuel is burned in order to create the heat needed to bring the indoor temperature to something more comfortable. You’ll usually find a furnace installed in a basement or crawl space. There are a number of working parts that contribute to how efficiently your home can heat and cool your indoor air. Annual inspections and maintenance from a professional like American Service Company can ensure that your system is working properly. This service will also catch small issues when they occur so they can be repaired quickly. If these issues are left unaddressed, they can turn into more complex issues that can often be catastrophic for your furnace or HVAC system.

You can contact American Service Company for more information if you are in need of HVAC or air conditioning installation services. We can also provide annual inspections and maintenance to keep your system in tip top shape. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out at your convenience.