If you don’t know the different options on the market, here’s a quick guide.

4 Types of Air Conditioners

Window air conditioner unit mounted directly in a window.
A window air conditioner unit mounts right on the window. (©tanvirshafi, Adobe Stock Photos)

1. Window Air Conditioner

A window air conditioner is one complete unit mounted on the window. There is no ductwork involved; one part of the unit faces inside and the other faces outside the room.

This single unit has all the components it needs, along with a double-shaft fan motor.

Here are some of a window air conditioner’s outside components:

  • Condenser
  • Propeller coil
  • Condenser coil
  • Fan motor

Here are some of its indoor components:

  • Cooling coil
  • Fan blower
  • Capillary tube
  • Operation panel
  • Filter drier
  • Drain pan

A ‘ton’ is how much heat an AC unit can remove in one hour. A window air conditioner, on average, is 1 to 4 tons.

Woman controls mini split air conditioner with her remote control in a white room
The split air conditioner has long been a favorite due to its slim design and remote control. (DepositPhotos)

2. Split Air Conditioner

This type of AC unit is made up of two components: one indoor; the other outdoor.

The outdoor unit, of course, is installed on the outside wall of the room in which the indoor unit is located. It includes a compressor, condenser coil and the expansion coil or capillary tubing.

The indoor unit is high up on the wall and includes a cooling coil, long blower and air filter.

A split air conditioner also has a capacity between 1 and 3 tons.

Packaged air conditioner
Need a self-contained heating and cooling system? Consider packaged terminal air conditioners.

3. Packaged Air Conditioner

This type of AC unit is an all-in-one heating and cooling machine.

The system’s components lie in the outdoor unit, which is placed on a rooftop or at the foot of the building.

The outdoor unit consists of a compressor, electrical panel, thermostatic expansion valve, air filter, front panel and return air grill. I also includes the evaporator coil, evaporator fan and housing, as well as heating and humidifying components.

A packaged AC unit is between 3 and 15 tons.

Friendly American Standard HVAC technician, who is wearing a cap, smiles, holds a clipboard, and stands beside a condenser unit
Many homeowners choose a central air conditioning system that controls humidity in all rooms of the house.

4. Central Air Conditioning System

This type of AC unit has a central location, distributes air to and from various rooms via fans and ducts.

Homeowners choose central air conditioners to help regulate humidity and comfort throughout several rooms all at once.

The outdoor unit contains a condenser coil, compressor, electrical components and fan.

Read More: What Are the Best Air Conditioner Brands?

Inside the house is an evaporator coil. It also has a series of pipes, or refrigeration lines, ducts and a thermostat.

The Importance of Annual Tune-Ups

A professional bi-annual tune-up is necessary for all homeowners. It reduces the number of breakdowns of your AC, saves you money on preventable problems, and lengthens your AC’s life.

First, have the system checked before its winter use, and then get your air conditioner checked just before the hot summer months.

Your HVAC professional will lubricate and inspect all system parts for functionality. In addition, they will replace filters, clean out drain holes and check your refrigerant levels.

Editorial Contributors
Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio, TodaysHomeowner.com, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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