A lot of people tend to use the terms “forced air” and “central air” interchangeably, but they’re actually two different things. In today’s post, local HVAC service company ACS Air Conditioning Systems explains the differences between these two systems.
The term “forced air” is often used to describe heating systems, in full or in part, perhaps because furnaces usually have this component. A forced air system is actually the part of an HVAC system that distributes both cool and warm air throughout the house. An air handler “forces” air through a network of air ducts and into rooms in the house. A system of vents, blowers and dampers allow the occupant of each room to control the amount of warm or cool air.
Most whole-home HVAC systems are equipped with air handlers that feed the ductwork with conditioned air. This is probably why the term “forced air system” is used to describe whole-home systems. To provide contrast, a mini-split air conditioning system has an air handler built right into the indoor unit, which isn’t designed to work with a forced air system.
It’s easy to see why “central air” is often confused with “forced air,” as they’re somewhat similar. The key difference is that the term “central air” applies to the air conditioning unit itself, while “forced air” applies to the air distribution system. A typical whole-home HVAC installation appointment may involve replacing a central air conditioning unit and connecting it to a forced air system.
A central air conditioner and a furnace can be hooked up to the same forced air system, as they’re not used at the same time. Other units such as humidifiers can also be installed on the same system. An air conditioner with a reversible cooling cycle — that is, a heat pump — can make a whole-home system much simpler to maintain, as it’s a single unit that functions as a heater and air conditioner which feeds into the same forced air system.
Call ACS Air Conditioning Systems for Your Heating and Cooling Needs