A/C and Heating; Central System vs Heat Pumps

Most households and small commercial buildings use either a central HVAC system or a heat pump to regulate heating and cooling in their properties. Although they serve the same purpose, both systems work differently. And their advantages and disadvantages vary as well.

What Are A/C and Heating Systems?

A central A/C and heating system includes one AC, one furnace, and ductwork that connects the unit to every room in the building to distribute treated air. Meanwhile, a heat pump is similar to a mini-split AC unit because it can only cool down or heat a room in turns.

In the summer, your central A/C will work with your furnace to keep your home cool and comfortable. The air conditioner is responsible for cooling the air in your home while the furnace circulates the cooled air throughout the house using a blower fan.

During the winter, your heat pump will switch modes and work with your furnace to heat your home. The heat pump extracts heat from the outside air and uses it to warm up the air inside your home. The furnace then circulates the warmed air throughout the house using the blower fan.

Space and Aesthetic

The central system is not suitable for small houses because it needs space for the proper unit placement. In addition, both the central AC and furnace are quite large and can be aesthetically disturbing. But if you can manage a hidden space for them, you are good to go.

Heat pumps will not be very subtle indoors because there will be at least one unit mounted on the upper wall. The outdoor unit may also ruin your building’s facade, especially if several of them exist. But since one outdoor heat pump unit can connect to multiple indoor units, such a risk is unlikely.


Heat pumps don’t last as long as whole-house systems in general. For example, central ACs have around 15-20 years. A furnace usually lasts this long as well. Meanwhile, a heat pump mostly lasts for 12-15 years. This is because a heat pump has more moving parts than another HVAC system. Also, the outdoor unit of a heat pump is constantly exposed to the elements, which can shorten its lifespan.

Heat pumps are also more expensive to repair than other HVAC systems. This is because more moving parts can break down and need to be replaced. The outdoor unit is also more likely to need repairs due to its exposure to the elements.

A heat pump may not be the best option for you if you live in an area with extreme temperatures. This is because they are not as efficient in cold or hot weather. In these cases, a whole-house system would be a better option.


A central HVAC system is inarguably more expensive than having multiple heat pumps. Both the AC and furnace units are costly to buy and install. You also need ductwork installation and other adjustments. In addition, the central system consumes a lot of electricity for its operation. Even the costs to maintain, repair, remove, and replace are higher.


In the summer, both the heat pump and central AC can cool your indoor spaces as desired, regardless of the outdoor temperature. Unfortunately, a heat pump in the winter will not be as reliable as a furnace if the cold is extreme. Heat pumps work by stripping the heat from the outdoor air and sending it indoors to warm up the rooms. That being said, a heat pump might not be feasible if you live in a cold-climate region.

Don’t end up with the wrong system. It is crucial to consider many factors before installing an AC and heating system. There are too many things at stake if this decision is hastily made. Talk to a professional you can trust if you have any doubts or questions.



ECM Air Conditioning, with its headquarters located in Boynton Beach, FL, provides air conditioning services within Palm Beach County, Broward County, Martin County, and St. Lucie County. If you’re looking to have a new HVAC system installed, we’re on-call and ready to assist you. So if you’re in need of an HVAC installation, don’t hesitate to contact us today to schedule an inspection! Our HVAC installation experts will check your ductwork, measure, check wire sizes, and more before making recommendations to ensure maximum efficiency and comfort. Call us at 561-295-1763 or contact our HVAC installation team online by clicking here.


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