Is a Furnace and AC Unit the Same? by Hot To Cold

Air Conditioning Edmonton | Is a Furnace and AC Unit the Same?

A Furnace and an Air Conditioning Unit are each a subsystem of a larger system called HVAC (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning). They have different jobs and components which function in different ways within the same overarching HVAC system. They may tie in together, but each has its own function on opposite ends of the spectrum. Their purposes are vastly different in that one heats the home, and one cools it. Some of the components overlap within the two.

A furnace heats your home during the cold by either burning fuel (whether that’s natural gas, oil, or propane), or using electricity. The heat is sent through the ducts and pushed to the vents into the rooms of the home. In Alberta it is used year-round and nearly non-stop in the harsh winters.

Main ways to power a furnace

The four main ways to power a furnace include natural gas, oil, propane, and electricity.  In Alberta, natural gas is the most popular due to cost, efficiency, and ease of access. These types of furnaces are connected to the gas supply to power the system and then distributed through the home by way of ducts and vents. An oil powered furnace works the same way in the production of heat.  However, with the ease of access to natural gas in Alberta, oil is less commonly used.

Propane gas is used similarly to natural gas in powering the furnace. Where access to the natural gas supply is limited propane is a viable option. Electric powered furnaces are less common in Alberta. Harsh winters require more demand and power to heat the home and natural gas is the most effective solution for that.  Additionally, the higher cost of electricity than gas, makes gas powered furnaces more affordable to run.

Different furnaces have varying features that affect their price points. Newer models have better technology to help with efficiency. The size of the furnace changes the price point too. Nowadays everyone is careful to reduce the environmental impact of everything and furnaces are no exception.  This also varies on each furnace. With any furnace, new or existing regular maintenance is the key to safe and efficient operation of it.

A/C cool you in the warmer months

An AC unit is the opposite as it is responsible for cooling the home by lowering the indoor temperatures during the hot seasons. Where furnace pumps heat into the home, an AC unit pumps cooled air into the home. Both use the ducts and vents in the case of a central HVAC system. Extra functions of the AC unit is that it dehumidifies the air and sends the moisture outdoors as well as purifying the indoor air. This last feature is great for anyone suffering from allergens.

There are different types of AC units available such as central, ductless mini-splits, window and portable units. Additionally, there is a single unit called a heat pump that works to combine the heating and cooling functions for the home. It utilizes a reverse operation that provides heat and cold.

Different components, but part of the HVAC system

While both a furnace and an AC unit are components of a larger HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system, they serve different functions and are primarily used at different times of the year. Many homes in Alberta now have both a furnace and an AC unit, especially in regions with significant temperature fluctuations throughout the year. This allows for effective temperature control and comfort in both cold and hot weather.

An air conditioning unit is opposite in its function compared to the heating portion of the HVAC system. Its main function is to cool the air in the indoor space and remove the excess humidity.  Of the four main types of AC systems central is the most common.  A central AC system is at it sounds.  It is combined with the furnace and runs from a more central space in the home.

The cool air is sent through the ducts and pushed to each indoor space by way of the vents. The excess humidity and harmful allergens are taken from the air before redistribution as well.

What is a mini-split A/C?

A ductless mini-split system is quite different in its function and distribution of the cooled air. This system does not use ducts or vents to cool the space. The combination of one outdoor unit and one or more indoor units makes up this entire AC system. The indoor unit is mounted on the wall in the space that needs cooling. The cool air comes right from this unit.  As you can imagine, it does not work as efficiently to cool the whole home and therefore many people install more than one indoor unit to keep cool.

The indoor and outdoor units are connected by way of refrigerant lines. A window AC system only cools the room it is in. It sits in the window, so essentially you lose the view of the outside for the most part. It can also be installed in a hole in an exterior wall. It cools and dehumidifies the room it is housed in. A portable air conditioning unit is a mobile unit and can be moved from room to room. It uses an exhaust hose that is vented outdoors through a window or some other opening.

Enjoy being inside in the hot summer months with A/C

Every AC unit uses the same process where refrigerant removes heat from the air and dispels it to the outdoors. The function of any AC unit is to make the space inside more comfortable and livable.  The system works to cool and dehumidify the indoors. This system also regularly needs maintenance and check ups to be sure it lasts a long time and does the job efficiently and effectively.

By this point you understand that furnace and the air conditioning systems are two separate entities housed in the HVAC system. They have different components but in some cases there is some overlap of components between the two. For instance, both use the thermostat, vent and duct system.  They both allow for energy efficiency to help minimize cost and environmental impact. Used in conjunction they allow for year-round comfort. Both systems need regular maintenance to prolong their life and efficiency.

Contact Us

Be sure to contact Hot To Cold Mechanical to service your furnace or your A/C system, or both! These Edmonton furnace and air conditioner experts will ensure your systems is up and running as optimally as possible, as soon as possible. Give us a call today!