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Forced Air vs. Central Air

If you own a home or are looking to buy one you may have heard the term "forced air" or "central air." If you assume that they have something to do with your heating or cooling systems, you'd be right! But, what function do they actually serve and which is a better system?

types of cooling systems

Many are under the impression that these are two completely different systems, and while that is partially true, in reality, central air is actually the cooling component of a forced air system. Let's take a look at how they work.

Forced air

A forced air system is any HVAC unit that operates by literally forcing (or pushing) temperature-controlled air (warm or cool) through a home using ducts and vents. So in reality, forced air systems can include heat pumps, furnaces and air conditioning. Central air is simply a component of a bigger forced air system.

Central air

While forced air can generate heating or cooling, central air is specific to cool air only and operates within the forced air system. The central air system uses a condenser, refrigerants and a series of coils to cool the air. Then it passes the cooled air to the forced air system, which then circulates the cooled air throughout the ducts and vents — cooling the home.

central air systems

You can find the condenser and compressor on the outside unit and the evaporator coils are in the part of the system found inside the home. By working together they not only generate cool air for the home but also keep the warm air out.

There are so many foreign terms encountered when buying a home but, it doesn't stop there! Even once you're a homeowner there are many terms you will come across as you learn more about your home and the many parts that make it up.

air conditioner systems

To make things even more confusing, terms like forced air and central air are often thrown around interchangeable by industry professionals. Understanding small differences like these will help you make more informed decisions around your current home system, while also preparing you for any decisions around future purchases. Stay cool (or, warm)!

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