Forced Air vs. Central Air: What’s the Difference?

Posted On: May 05, 2017

Forced Air Vs. Central Air Systems

In the HVAC industry, you are likely to encounter lot of technical terms. You’ll hear these from your technician, from the specialist performing your installation, in a catalog—you’ll hear them everywhere!

It can be confusing if you’re unfamiliar with the terms. One of the most common confusions we encounter here at Ernst Heating & Cooling is with forced-air systems and central air conditioning.

Want to find out the difference? Read on to find out!

What Is a Forced-Air System?

You’ll most typically see folks refer to forced air as specifically a heating system, such as in a furnace. But this information, while sort of true, is also actually very confusing for your average homeowner.

This is because a forced air system is essentially any HVAC system that delivers temperature-controlled air into your home via ducts and vents.

Your furnace is certainly a forced-air system. So is your heat pump, if it is an electric heat pump that uses ducts (though mini-split ductless systems are a bit different). And so, in fact, is your central air conditioner!

Questions about your forced air system? Contact our experts today!

What’s Central Air Conditioning?

A central air conditioner utilizes a closed loop of refrigerated and cycled air to provide that crisp coolness you want when the summer season hits.

There are three parts that work to cool your home:

  • Condenser
  • Compressor
  • Evaporator coils

The condenser and compressor are both located on the outdoor unit. These, along with the evaporator coils, work in a loop that cycles refrigerant and pulls hot home air in, rejects the heat, then pulls the cooled air back through your vents.

In fact, these are the same ones that are part of your forced-air heating!

What’s the Difference Between Forced Air & Central Air?

The primary difference between forced air and central air systems, then, is that central air conditioning specifically refers to a cooling system. A central air conditioning system uses the forced-air system within your home to deliver cooled air, making use of the vents, plenums, and ducts to provide conditioned air.

The central AC system is independent of your furnace, using an outdoor unit that is not connected to the furnace at all. But, it essentially borrows the delivery system to provide cool air throughout your home.

Again, the difference is somewhat small, which is actually why the two terms get confused. In fact, many folks (even contractors!) use the two terms somewhat interchangeably.

Need service on your central air system? Contact us online today!

Central Air Conditioning Services in Madison County

For expert cooling services that help you beat back the hottest summer days, trust the certified cooling experts at Ernst Heating & Cooling! We work hard to help our clients get more than just conditioned air. We want you to understand the “how” and the “why” of your system, too!

Contact us today to learn more about our cooling services in Hamel, Edwardsville, Glen Carbon, and the surrounding areas.

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