Heating and air is not purchased as a system like a car. Heating and air conditioning is an on site assembled system. If car manufacturers simply made all the parts, put them in a box, and ship them to the local dealer to install, the quality control of workmanship would not be available.  This is the problem we have in the HVAC industry.  Let’s look at a comparison of package unit vs split system HVAC.

Package Unit

Advantage:  The complete heating and cooling unit is assembled in a factory in a controlled environment. The charge of the refrigerant and the balance of motors are all installed in a controlled environment.  This can ensure that the unit when installed will operate at its most efficient state.  Only a duct system would have to be installed on site.

Disadvantage:  All of the electronics controls and electrical motors are located outside in a harsh environment.  If rain or snow gets into the unit it can cause many problems.  The unit is also exposed to greater access by animals.  Animals will find the warmest spot in the winter and that is inside the unit.  The may chew on wires and destroy the insulation.  Many package units will rust sooner that split systems due to the exposure to the elements.  We find packages unit do not last as long as split systems in Birmingham, Alabama.

Split System

Advantage: Components can be inside an attic or basement especially the electronic control pieces that are very sensitive to water.  Split systems come in more configuration such as up flow, down flow or horizontal to easy the application needed.  This allow greater customization of a project to achieve better results.  Split systems are higher in efficiency than package units.  Some split systems can be as high as 25 SEER while a package unit is from 13 -15 SEER typically.

Disadvantage:  The installation is critical to system performance.  We often say the most important day in the life of a system is the day it is installed.  Poor installation will greatly reduce efficiency and the life of an AC.  It is dependent on the installation technicians to arrange the components correctly.  Match components based on the manufacturers design and then to properly adjust refrigerant levels to perform properly.  Most split outdoor units come overcharged to account for a refrigerant lineset of 15 feet.  If the distance between the indoor unit and outdoor unit is more or less the installation technician will have to adjust the charge.

Which is best? You now can decide!