When building a custom home, you have the opportunity to have every little detail exactly to your liking. One easily overlooked detail in this process is the ability to select the perfect HVAC system for your home—and it’s far from little! Maryland and Pennsylvania often experience chilling winters and sultry summers, making a modern heating, ventilation, and cooling system a must-have. Your new HVAC system needs to be efficient, reliable, and provide consistent temperatures, balanced humidity, and proper airflow. Also be sure to consider HVAC systems outside traditional air conditioners and furnaces. Before making a decision, review the types of systems available and learn how your choice will impact the remainder of the home building process.
Popular Types of HVAC Systems
The HVAC system you choose will play a major role in your home’s comfort, your energy bills, and your maintenance responsibilities. As the different types of HVAC systems can be intimidating, let’s break down the most popular options available.
1. Standard Split Systems
Standard split systems consist of two main parts: one inside and one outside. This type of HVAC system remains the most popular for residential properties and can be configured in several ways.
Most of these systems contain a gas furnace installed inside and an air conditioner’s condensing unit installed outside. Another option is a heat pump split system. Instead of using a furnace for heating and an air conditioning for cooling, the system uses a heat pump that performs both functions.
In areas that are particularly cold, a hybrid heat system may be the best option for your custom home. This system consists of a heat pump that supplies heat in moderately cold conditions. The HVAC system automatically switches to a gas furnace for heat when the heat pump becomes ineffective or temperatures drop below zero.
- Pros: Affordable, versatile, and can be installed with little to no modifications to the home’s existing ductwork.
- Cons: New ductwork can be costly to install.
2. Ductless Split Systems
Ductless split systems, also known as mini-split systems, are known for their efficiency and ability to provide consistent temperatures. This type of HVAC system typically consists of a wall-mounted indoor unit and an outdoor compressor. Ductless systems are much more energy-efficient than other options and are far less vulnerable to air leakage or security problems.
Ductless HVAC systems offer highly-flexible solutions for newly built custom homes. Whereas traditional air conditioning and heat pump systems force cooled and heated air through ducts, ductless systems deliver air to various zones. This makes them a cost-effective alternative to electric baseboard heaters and air conditioning window units.
- Pros: Offers substantial cost savings, improves indoor air quality, are quick and easy to install, and will lower your carbon footprint.
- Cons: Do not offer the variety of options available with standard split systems.
3. Packaged Systems
Packaged HVAC systems maximize the efficiency of two machines in a single space-saving unit. While packaged systems heat and cool your home in the same manner as the stand-alone machines, the ducting for a packaged system differs. Instead of being connected to various components in your home, the ductwork is attached to the system.
Packaged HVAC systems are most popular in homes without basements as they are always installed outdoors. The type of system contains a blower to force treated air into the house and draw untreated air out. There are several types of packaged units to choose from, including a gas furnace and air conditioner, a heat pump that offers both cooling and heating, or a hybrid consisting of a heat pump and gas furnace.
- Pros: Compact size, installed outside, and all parts come pre-assembled in a single unit to ensure efficiency from the start.
- Cons: Leaving the unit outdoors leaves it vulnerable to the elements and nesting animals that destroy insulation and chew wires.
4. Geothermal HVAC Systems
Geothermal HVAC systems cool and heat your custom home with the help of temperatures deep below the earth’s surface. The ground is warmer than the outside air during the winter and cooler during the summer. A geothermal HVAC system takes advantage of this by inserting a series of small pipes into the ground. The heat can then be transferred to and from your home. Instead of creating heat, the system transfers it.
Geothermal HVAC systems are comprised of two pieces: a heat pump (inside unit) and a ground loop (underground pipes connected to the heat pump). The pipes circulate water which helps to absorb heat from the earth. It’s then returned to the heat pump where it extracts the heat from the liquid and distributes it in the form of warm air. The water is then recirculated to collect and transfer more heat from the ground.
- Pros: Much more efficient than traditional HVAC systems, resulting in less energy use and more cost savings.
- Cons: The initial cost of a geothermal HVAC system can be two to five times the cost of a traditional system.
HVAC Systems and Your New Build
When building a new home, many homeowners are not aware of the variety of HVAC systems available. Furthermore, many are not well informed about the potential value a modern HVAC system can have on their long-term energy bills and maintenance costs. While there is no one ‘best’ system, it’s important to choose one that best satisfies your unique lifestyle, budget, and climate needs.
Each home is different and requires different considerations when deciding on a furnace, air conditioning, or heat pump. For example, if you choose a furnace that is too small for your home, you may be stuck with a heating system that is constantly running to keep up. This not only affects your comfort level, but also your heating bills. In comparison, choosing a furnace that is too large for your home will result in unnecessary waste.
The ductwork throughout your new home also plays a major role in the overall efficiency of the house. Ensure that the ductwork is properly installed, as leaky ductwork can lead to a significant amount of energy loss. While adding a new HVAC system to your home, consider extra components that may make your life more comfortable. Humidifiers and dehumidifiers can be added to heating and cooling systems. With these types of systems you can control the humidity levels in your home while heating and cooling.
Learning more about the different types of HVAC systems will help ensure you make the right purchase decision. Having experienced professionals install and maintain your HVAC system is even more important. R. Brooks offers heating, cooling, and geothermal services to areas throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware. We also offer 24/7 emergency AC and heater repair services. Call today for a free estimate!