The Various Types of Central Air Conditioners Available for Large Commercial Spaces and Industrial Buildings

When it comes to cooling large buildings completely, central air conditioners are a suitable choice because they are specifically designed to cool areas requiring high cooling loads.  A central air conditioning system is similar to a typical refrigeration system in most aspects — this type of A/C system comprises a compressor, condenser, evaporator, and the thermostatic expansion valve — the only notable difference is that these components are bigger in size and have higher cooling capacities.

If you are considering installing a central air conditioning system to cool a big commercial space or industrial building, you should know that not all central air conditioners are designed to function the same way. Central air conditioners are available either as packaged units or split-system units. Here is a breakdown of how each unit operates. 

Packaged units

A packaged central air conditioner gets its name from the colloquial meaning of the word "package." In colloquial terms, "to package" means to put something in a box and then wrap it up. That's the exact same thing that happens to packaged central air conditioners — everything including the compressor, condenser, evaporator, and the thermostatic expansion valve is enclosed in a single box, which is usually placed on a concrete slab just outside the building or the roof.

A series of air supply and return ducts running from the interiors of the building through the external walls or roof section are connected to the packaged air conditioner. Packaged air conditioners are usually combined with a central heating appliance to eliminate the need to install a separate furnace for use in winter weather.

Split-system units

Unlike packaged central air conditioners, split-system units consist of two compartments — the indoor compartment and the outdoor compartment. The indoor compartment contains the evaporator while the outdoor compartment contains the condenser. That explains why the indoor cabinet is sometimes referred to as the evaporator unit, with the outdoor cabinet being called the condenser unit.

Typically, the evaporator unit also comprises the furnace or heat pump so that the air conditioner can take advantage of the ductwork used the heating system. In addition, the evaporator unit accommodates the evaporator coil and expansion valve. Aside from containing the condenser, the outdoor unit also houses the condensing coils, compressor, and condensing fan.

Now that you are aware of the different types of central air conditioners available on the market, and how each works, you are better-placed to make the right choice. Feel free to talk to a HVAC specialist that provides commercial and industrial air conditioning services if you need help making the right choice.