What Is the Difference Between HVAC and AC?

Our Experts Answer This and Other FAQs!

Mark Twain once wrote, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’Tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

It’s a great quote and one that often makes us think of our customers and their confusion with the terms “HVAC” and “AC.” After all, unless you’re an expert in the area of heating and cooling, these terms can be quite confusing. In fact, the same can be said for plumbing terms, too! Our master plumbers in Rochester, MN, are often questioned about certain confusing terms when they make service calls. So, don’t fret—because you are in good company. The world of HVAC and plumbing can be puzzling if you’re not familiar with all of the intricacies—but that’s why you have us!

OK, so the question remains: What is the difference between HVAC and AC or do they mean the same thing?

Let us explain.

While the two terms are often used interchangeably, HVAC refers to everything in one comfort package (heating, cooling and ventilation) and AC is simply the unit used to cool your space.

Here are some additional FAQs (frequently asked questions) we hear:

1. What does ventilation mean?
This is another great question. When we discuss ventilation, we are referring to the process of improving your indoor air quality. This typically involves the exchange of air to the outside as well as the circulation of air within your home. It also includes removing moisture from the air (dehumidification) and adding moisture to the air (humidification).

2. Are there different types of HVAC systems?
Yes. There are four different types:

  • Heating and Cooling Split Systems
    This is the most common type of HVAC system and is simply a system that is split between two main units—heating and the cooling. It includes one outdoor and one indoor unit.
  • Duct-Free Systems (Mini-Splits)
    These systems are compact, powerful and ideal for older homes or new additions without ductwork. They are easily mounted on the wall or ceiling and provide cost-effective heating and cooling for individual spaces.
  • Hybrid Heat Pump/Split System
    These are perfect for year-round comfort. In the summer, a heat pump works just like an air conditioner, keeping your house cool. But in the winter, the cycle is reversed and it provides heat to your entire home.
  • Packaged Heat and Air
    A packaged HVAC system is a contained heating and cooling unit that is usually stored somewhere within the house, such as the attic or a second floor storage space. This system does double duty to cool and heat your home.

3. What type of system is right for my home?
This is a tough one to answer. The right system for your home will depend on many things, including your square footage, whether or not you have ductwork and the climate. (Here in Rochester, our summers are hot and humid and our winters are bitter cold.) Of course, the best way to determine the right system is to have one of Tonna’s experts visit your home for a full evaluation. Our certified techs can make recommendations and explain exactly what you need.

We Service All Things HVAC!

When you have questions about your HVAC system or need repairs, replacement or maintenance, the experts at Tonna are only a phone call away. From knowing what type of HVAC system works best for your home to providing you with the best plumbing contractor in Rochester, MN, we’ve always got you covered!