What’s the difference between a split system and a packaged unit?

A maytag heat pumpStory by Energy Star and Thomas Elzinga

A central air conditioner or heat pump is either a split-system unit or a packaged unit. The majority of home owners have split systems in their house.

A split-system has three main components:

  • an outdoor metal cabinet which contains the condenser and compressor
  • an indoor cabinet that contains the evaporator coil
  • an air handler, in most cases is part of the furnace, that sends the cooled or heated air through the duct system

If your home already has a furnace but no air conditioner, a split-system is the most economical type to install.

A packaged system has the evaporator coil, condenser, and compressor all located in one cabinet, which usually is placed on a roof or on a concrete slab next to the house’s foundation. This type of system also is used in small commercial buildings. Air supply and return ducts come from indoors through the home’s exterior wall or roof to connect with the packaged system, which is usually located outdoors. Packaged air conditioners often include electric heating coils or a natural gas furnace. This combination of air conditioner and central heater eliminates the need for a separate furnace indoors.

It is generally easier to achieve a higher efficiency with a split system than with a packaged system. This is because split systems come with higher efficiency ratings than packaged units. However, without a well sized and operating duct system your overall heating and cooling system will be limited.

If you are interested in having a heat pump installed and would like to qualify for a CEC heat pump rebate please either visit us online, https://www.cec.coop/customer-service/energy-efficiency/residential-programs/, or give us a call for more details.