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What is a Split System Air Conditioner?

By Rachel Burkot
Updated May 16, 2024
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A split system air conditioner is made up of indoor and outdoor units that work together. The indoor part is a furnace, while the outdoor unit is the air conditioner that circulates cool air within the home. The air conditioner cooperates with the furnace to produce efficient temperature control. The system takes the hot air inside the house and removes it to the outdoors, leaving cool air in its place. This air conditioning system is powered by electricity.

The parts of the system include a compressor, fan, condenser coil, evaporator coil and refrigerant. The condenser coil is installed outside and connects to the evaporator coil or coils inside different rooms in the house. The evaporator coils are individually controlled, allowing the home owners to set each room to a different temperature. Both condenser and evaporator coils are connected to the refrigerant lines.

In addition to controlling central air circulation, a split system air conditioner controls temperature, humidity, moisture, and cleanliness. In order to regulate a constant temperature, the device removes as much moisture from the air as possible. Additionally, the system filters out pollutants and other particles that make the air dirty. Efficient air conditioning systems contribute to a cleaner home environment by allowing the occupants to keep windows and doors closed, forcing bugs, pollen, and other outdoor annoyances to stay outside.

The efficiency of this type of system is measured by a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The higher this ratio, the more energy efficient the system. The SEER averages a system’s efficiency over the course of one year, and it is measured by multiplying 10,200 by the number of tons, or the cooling effect by melting 1 ton of ice in 24 hours. This number is then divided by the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER), the amount of heat necessary for raising the temperature of a pound of water by one degree divided by the watts input.

In 2005, a SEER value of 13 was adopted as the government’s base efficiency level for split system air conditioner efficiency. Many homeowners choose systems with higher SEER values, however, because of the high cost of energy. Choosing an air conditioner with a higher SEER typically yields lower monthly bills, in addition to a quieter system and more thorough moisture removal.

In most cases, split systems are also ductless, which means that they do not use ductwork to pump the air in and cool the home. They are small, easy to install and extremely energy efficient. A ductless air conditioner runs very quietly, and it is noted for removing moisture.

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Discussion Comments

By anon164026 — On Mar 30, 2011

thanks for helping me decide which type of unit to buy. A split system would be the best choice.

By anon100918 — On Aug 01, 2010

Split level aircons recycle air, but does not draw in fresh air. What disadvantages are there? Also what is the opinion about self maintenance? Is professional cleaning the only method of maintenance?

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