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The 12 Different Types of Air Conditioners


Air conditioners have evolved significantly, tracing their roots from ancient Egypt to becoming indispensable in modern homes, offering comfort and respite from oppressive heat. With technological progress, the market now boasts a variety of air conditioning systems. Familiarizing yourself with these different types can empower you to make informed decisions when selecting the most suitable cooling solution for your home or office.

Here, we’ll explore the different types of aircon systems, each designed to meet specific needs and preferences.

What Are the Different Types of Air Conditioners?

Types of air conditioners

There are numerous air conditioner types, but we’ve narrowed down the list to the top 12 most common air units in the world, they are:

Window Air Conditioners 

Window air conditioners, available in various sizes, are ideal for cooling single rooms or small areas. Opting for a large window air conditioner can even cool a tiny home, especially if it’s a single-story or an open space. Widely recognized as the most common type of air conditioner, window AC units are champions at cooling smaller rooms.

Enclosed within a single unit, window air conditioners expel heat outdoors and deliver cool air indoors. It can be installed anywhere, in a window or as a wall-mounted air conditioner. Window air conditioning units feature a removable filter for regular cleaning to maintain optimal efficiency. With controls on the window AC unit and the option for a remote, window air conditioners provide convenient cooling solutions.


  • Cost-effective in both installation and initial price
  • Easy to install
  • Ideal for small to medium-sized rooms
  • Can be installed in a window or exterior wall


  • May block the view from the window
  • May require additional support for larger units
  • Less efficient compared to some other types

Split Air Conditioners

A split system, or split air conditioner, is a popular air conditioning solution composed of essential components: indoor units and outdoor units. A split system, connected by refrigerant lines, works in tandem to deliver highly efficient cooling to specific zones or rooms within a building.

The indoor unit is typically installed within the living or working space, while the outdoor unit is positioned outside. The indoor units and outdoor units collaborate seamlessly, allowing the air conditioning system to regulate temperature effectively. The refrigerant lines are the conduit for exchanging hot air from inside to outside and vice versa, contributing to the system’s efficiency.

The design of a split air conditioner provides a versatile solution, allowing users to control the climate of specific areas independently. Whether to create cool air in the bedroom at night or the living room during the day, split systems offer precise temperature control, making them a favored choice for those seeking both comfort and efficiency in their air conditioning solutions.


  • Energy-efficient
  • Operates quietly
  • Zoning capabilities for customized comfort


  • Professional installation of the indoor unit and outdoor unit is expensive
  • Requires regular maintenance for optimal performance
  • Initial cost may be higher than some other options

Central Air Conditioners

Central air conditioners are a comprehensive cooling solution designed to regulate the temperature throughout multiple rooms, entire houses, or commercial spaces. The central air conditioning system operates through a network of ducts, effectively distributing cool air to every room.

The critical components of a central air conditioner include a central unit, typically placed outside the building, and an intricate system of ducts running throughout the interior. This setup allows for consistent and even cooling in every room, making central air conditioning ideal for larger homes and commercial spaces where individual room units might be impractical.

By relying on a central AC system, homeowners and businesses can maintain a comfortable and uniform climate in the entire house. Central air conditioning systems are often equipped with programmable thermostats and advanced controls, allowing users to tailor the indoor climate to their specific preferences.


  • Provide consistent cooling throughout the entire space
  • A single thermostat can control a central air unit
  • Ideal for multi-room applications


  • High initial installation cost
  • Ductwork maintenance is essential when operating central air conditioners
  • Possible energy loss in the ducts when not maintained

Portable Air Conditioners

Portable air conditioners provide a versatile and mobile cooling solution, allowing users to enjoy the flexibility of moving the unit from one room to another. A portable air conditioner is designed with mobility in mind and often comes equipped with convenient wheels, facilitating effortless relocation throughout a living or working space.

The portable air conditioner adds a layer of convenience, especially in scenarios where permanent installation might be impractical and only temporary space cooling is needed. Whether cooling different rooms at different times of the day or addressing the needs of temporary living arrangements, portable air conditioners offer users the freedom to optimize their indoor climate based on immediate requirements.

The design of portable units typically includes an exhaust hose to expel warm air outside, and they are relatively easy to set up without the need for professional installation. Normally, the portable unit sits indoors. 


  • No professional installation is required
  • Versatile and suitable for various spaces
  • Ideal for renters or temporary living situations


  • Less efficient than some other types
  • Limited cooling capacity for larger spaces
  • Produces more noise compared to split systems

Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioners

A ductless mini-split air conditioner offers a dynamic cooling solution that resembles traditional split systems but distinguishes itself by eliminating the need for ductwork. These mini-split systems are particularly well-suited for homes lacking pre-existing duct systems or for room additions where extending ductwork might be impractical, like the garage.

Comprising indoor and outdoor units, the ductless mini-split systems are connected by a refrigerant line, facilitating the exchange of warm and cool air without requiring ducts. This feature simplifies installation and provides homeowners with a flexible and customizable approach to climate control.

The absence of ductwork in any ductless air conditioner reduces the potential for energy loss and allows for more targeted cooling in specific zones or rooms. This makes the ductless mini-splits an efficient and cost-effective solution for those seeking personalized temperature control without the constraints of ducted systems. The adaptability and efficiency of a mini-split system make them a popular choice for various home configurations.


  • Flexible to install
  • Zoning capabilities
  • Energy-efficient


  • Higher upfront cost compared to window units
  • Professional installation is recommended
  • May require more than one indoor unit for larger spaces

Hybrid Air Conditioners

Hybrid air conditioners represent an innovative and comprehensive climate control solution, seamlessly integrating both air conditioning and heating functionalities within a single system. Engineered to ensure year-round comfort, these units efficiently manage temperature variations by offering both cooling and heating capabilities.

The hybrid system typically incorporates a heat pump, which enables the unit to operate as an air conditioner during warm seasons and as a heater during colder periods. This dual-functionality streamlines the climate control process and contributes to energy efficiency by utilizing a single system for heating and cooling needs.

Designed with a focus on environmental considerations, hybrid air conditioners often incorporate advanced technologies to optimize energy consumption. Integrating smart controls and programmable thermostats allows users to tailor the system’s operation to their preferences, ensuring a comfortable indoor environment regardless of external weather conditions.

In essence, hybrid air conditioners provide a versatile and efficient solution for homeowners seeking a unified and effective approach to year-round temperature regulation. A single system’s combination of cooling and heating capabilities offers convenience, flexibility, and operational efficiency.


  • Energy-efficient heating and cooling
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Reduced need for separate heating units


  • Higher initial cost
  • A complex system requiring professional installation
  • Limited effectiveness in extreme climates

Dual Fuel Air Conditioners

Dual fuel air conditioners present a cutting-edge solution that seamlessly integrates two distinct heating sources—typically a heat pump and a furnace—within a single system. This advanced design enables users to capitalize on the benefits of both electric heating and gas backup, offering a versatile and efficient approach to climate control.

The dual fuel system automatically switches between the two heating sources based on external temperature conditions, optimizing energy efficiency. In milder weather, the heat pump is the primary heating source, utilizing electricity to extract heat from the air or ground. When temperatures drop significantly, the system seamlessly transitions to the gas furnace, harnessing its capacity to generate heat more efficiently in colder conditions.

This dynamic and adaptive approach ensures that the dual-fuel air conditioner operates at peak efficiency across various temperatures, providing homeowners with a cost-effective and environmentally conscious solution. Integrating these two heating sources within a single system reflects the evolving landscape of climate control technology, offering users a balanced and effective means of maintaining a comfortable indoor environment throughout the year.


  • Energy-efficient in varying temperatures
  • Automatic fuel source switching
  • Cost-effective heating and cooling solution


  • Higher initial cost
  • Requires regular maintenance
  • Professional installation is essential

Floor-Mounted Air Conditioner

Floor-mounted air conditioners offer a practical and visually unobtrusive cooling solution by being installed at ground level, diverging from the conventional placement of wall-mounted units. This innovative design is a space-saving alternative, particularly suitable for rooms with limited wall space or the layout necessitates a more discreet installation.

These units, positioned closer to the floor, provide efficient and even cooling without obstructing windows or consuming valuable wall space. The floor-mounted air conditioner’s placement at ground level allows for easier integration into various room configurations, making it a versatile choice for both residential and commercial settings.

Beyond their functional advantages, these air conditioners often boast modern and aesthetically pleasing designs. The lower profile and contemporary appearance contribute to a seamless blend of interior decor, providing an unassuming yet effective cooling solution that caters to practical and aesthetic considerations. Floor-mounted air conditioners exemplify a harmonious fusion of functionality and design, enhancing comfort while maintaining the visual appeal of the living or working space.


  • Suitable for rooms with limited wall space
  • Efficient cooling without obstructing windows
  • Modern and aesthetically pleasing design


  • Installation may require modifications to the floor
  • Limited placement options
  • May be less effective in larger spaces

Evaporative Coolers

Evaporative coolers, or swamp coolers, represent an innovative and efficient approach to cooling indoor spaces. These systems draw warm air through water-saturated pads, utilizing the natural evaporation process to produce a cooling effect. This distinctive cooling mechanism makes swamp coolers particularly effective in regions characterized by dry climates.

One of the primary advantages of swamp coolers lies in their efficiency. Unlike traditional air conditioning systems that rely on refrigerants and compressors, swamp coolers operate using a simpler, more environmentally friendly process. They consume less electricity, making them a cost-effective and sustainable cooling option, particularly in areas with arid climates.

While swamp coolers excel in dry conditions, their effectiveness may be limited in high-humidity environments. Despite this consideration, their energy efficiency, eco-friendliness, and ability to provide economical and natural cooling make evaporative coolers popular for those seeking a refreshing and environmentally conscious solution to beat the heat.


  • Cost-effective operation
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Effective in low humidity conditions


  • Limited effectiveness in high humidity conditions
  • Regular maintenance is crucial for optimal performance
  • Requires a constant water supply

Geothermal Air Conditioner

source: ACHR news

A geothermal HVAC system, also known as a ground-source heat pump, is an innovative and energy-efficient HVAC system that harnesses the consistent temperature of the Earth’s subsurface for climate control. Unlike traditional HVAC systems that rely on air or water as a heat exchange medium, geothermal systems utilize the relatively stable temperature of the ground to provide both heating and cooling. 

During the heating season, the geothermal system extracts hot air from the ground loop and transfers it to the building’s interior. In the cooling season, the process is reversed, and heat is transferred from the building to the ground loop to produce hot or cold air. 


  • Energy efficient 
  • Has lower greenhouse gas emissions
  • Lower operating costs in terms of utility bills
  • Long lifespan than a window air conditioning unit
  • Versatile, it can provide cooled and heated air


  • Expensive upfront cost
  • To install this AC unit, your site must be inspected for suitability
  • Extensive maintenance

Smart Air Conditioner

A smart air conditioner is an air conditioning unit equipped with technology that enables remote monitoring, control, and automation through various devices such as smartphones, tablets, or smart home systems. This type of air conditioning system offers a range of features designed to enhance convenience, energy efficiency, and overall user experience. Here are key aspects of smart air conditioners:


  • Convenient remote control
  • Offers efficient scheduling
  • Integration with smart home systems


  • Heavy reliance on connectivity
  • Potential issues with network disruptions
  • Technical challenges affecting remote control functionality

Air Source Heat Pumps

Air source heat pumps (ASHPs) are innovative and energy-efficient heating and cooling systems that extract heat from the outside air to provide warmth inside buildings. This heat pump transfers heat between the indoor and outdoor environments using a refrigerant.

In heating mode, these heat pumps extract heat from the outdoor air and release it inside, even in cold temperatures. The process is reversed in cooling mode, with heat taken from inside and released outdoors.


  • More energy-efficient than traditional heating systems, as they move heat rather than generate it
  • Can result in lower energy bills, especially in moderate climates
  • Can provide both heating in winter and cooling in summer
  • Produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions


  • Efficiency may decrease in extremely cold climates
  • While operating costs are lower, initial installation costs can be higher
  • Outdoor space is needed for the unit, and the installation may require modifications to the building

Choosing the right air conditioner depends on factors such as the size of the space, budget constraints, and specific cooling needs. While each type has advantages, understanding the disadvantages ensures a well-informed decision for maintaining a cool and comfortable indoor environment.

What is the Most Common Type of AC?

The typical traditional air conditioner is the window air conditioning unit. These units are found in countless homes and apartments due to their affordability, ease of installation, and effectiveness in cooling individual rooms.

In fact, in 2018, a study found that 60% of the air conditioners used in the Philippines are window ACs. 

What is the Most Efficient Types of Air Conditioner?

The most efficient type of air conditioner often depends on specific needs and circumstances. However, split-system air conditioners are generally considered highly efficient for residential places. They offer a good balance of energy efficiency, quiet operation, and the ability to cool specific areas or zones without the need for extensive ductwork.

In tall buildings, self-contained units top the chart as they are designed for individual spaces, providing localized and efficient cooling without the need for a complex ductwork system. The self-contained units excel in multi-story structures, offering a practical solution for individual floor or room temperature control. 

While split systems are efficient for residential applications, self-contained AC units prove advantageous in the context of tall buildings, delivering precision cooling tailored to specific areas while minimizing energy wastage associated with extensive duct systems.


Choosing the right air conditioner depends on various factors, including the space size, your budget, and your specific cooling needs. Each type of air conditioner comes with its own set of advantages and considerations.

Whether you opt for a window unit, a central system, or a portable solution, understanding the different types of air conditioners empowers you to make an informed decision to keep your living or working space comfortable throughout the year.

JP Reyes

JP has been in the aircon industry for almost as long as he has been alive. As a child JP would help his tatay fix aircon units at their junk shop in Cavite. After graduating UP in the early 2000's, JP then started his own Aircon servicing business and within 5 years had 10 shops in 8 different cities. Fast forward to today and JP brings all his experience and expertise online to give readers trustworthy advice and reviews about Air-conditioning buying, servicing, cleaning and repair in the Philippines.

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