by Erika Mehlhaff
Whenever there are discussions of heating and cooling options, the terms ‘HVAC’ and ‘central air’ often get used interchangeably. This leaves many people confused and asking: “Is HVAC the same as central air?” or “What’s the difference between HVAC and air conditioning?” If you are wondering about this, read on.
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WHAT IS HVAC?
HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. As the name suggests, HVAC systems include a range of indoor climate control solutions and services. HVAC systems provide warmth to interior spaces during cold seasons and cool them during warmer seasons, while also filtering out airborne contaminants and pollutants and ensuring proper air circulation for optimal indoor air quality. Based on this, it is clear that air conditioning is just one part of HVAC systems as a whole.
WHAT IS CENTRAL AIR?
Central air conditioning is the component of an HVAC system that cools air and circulates it throughout an entire home or other building. It consists of a central unit connected to ductwork; the unit cools the air which is then circulated and distributed through the ductwork into different rooms. This further shows that central air is specifically related to cooling only, not also the heating and ventilation aspects of an HVAC system.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HVAC AND AIR CONDITIONING
Based on the defined terms, there are specific differences between HVAC and air conditioning that can be clarified more distinctly. As already noted, when it comes to scope, HVAC refers to systems that heat, ventilate, and cool spaces while air conditioning only pertains to cooling. In terms of purpose of use, HVAC is adjustable between cold and hot seasons, to provide year-round indoor comfort. HVAC refers to comprehensive systems that can include a range of components, including furnaces, heat pumps, air handlers, filters, ducting, and air conditioners themselves; central air conditioning is for whole-house cooling and is just one type of air conditioning system that HVAC systems might include. (Other types of air conditioners include everything from evaporative “swamp” coolers to window units to ductless mini split systems.)
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