High Velocity Air Conditioning Guide: The Pros & Cons
Has the time come to update or finally add air conditioning to your home? If you have a house, you have a lot of options to choose from. One that you may not be familiar with is high velocity air conditioning.
What is high velocity air conditioning, and should you consider it as one of your options?
High velocity air conditioners function much like more traditional HVAC systems. Depending on where you live, you would have a heat pump or compressor located outside that creates and sends either hot or cold air into the house through ducts. It’s then vented into individual rooms.
Keep reading, and I’ll provide you with all the information you need to make a wise choice.
A Guide to High Velocity Air Conditioning
In order to make an educated decision about high velocity air conditioning, you first need to understand how it works.
How High Velocity Air Conditioning Works
High velocity systems use a method known as aspiration to cool your home. You’ve likely heard aspiration used with regards to how we breathe. Here’s the HVAC definition.
“Air is discharged at a high velocity from our outlets and creates a vacuum, and the air is then pulled [back]into the [system] and creates a blend of conditioned air.”
If you have a traditional central air systemor forced air heating, you will have big metal ducts throughout your house.If you have an unfinished basement, you’ve seen them hanging from the ceiling.
High velocity ductwork is something much different. It’smade from round, flexible mini ducts that feed to vents that are less than half the size of traditional, rectangular floor or ceiling vents.
Even better than their smaller size, they are much more efficient. According to Energy Star traditional residential ductwork loses between 20 to 30% of the air that moves through them two leaks, holes, and bad connections.
That means the typical household could be losing nearly a third of their conditioned air, whether warm or cold.
Based on this alone, high velocity air conditioners are already more efficient than their counterparts.
Hot or cool air is pushed throughout the ducks from your compressor to a high velocity air handler with much more pressure than a traditional HVAC system. Thanks to this higher pressure, once the air exits the vents in a room it circulates much quicker, cooling the room temperature quicker.
One additional benefit of this is the system doesn’t need to stay on as long which means you’re paying less on your energy bill.
Can High Velocity AC Be Used in Any Type of Home?
As with any type of HVAC, adding your choice of system to a new build is preferable. However, it’s also very easy to retrofit a system into your existing home—even if you don’t already have a traditional airconditioning unit installed.
Retrofitting is easy, primarily because of the small diameter tubing. Added to this, it’s extremely flexible, so it isn’t too difficult to fit between existing studs or ceiling rafters. They can even be snaked inside walls.
Soyou’re not looking at a significant renovation in order to install them.
If you don’t have existing central airconditioning, the process of installing a high velocity AC takes less work than a traditional AC, where 8-inch deep HVAC ducts need to be installed as well.
High Velocity Air Conditioning Pros and Cons
So, is a high velocity air conditioner the right choice for you? Let’s see.
When high velocity AC is a good choice…
|High Velocity Pros||Only choice for some older homes|
|Faster heat up and cool down times|
|Cheaper choice for new construction|
|Cheaper to run during heating season|
- Only choice for some older homes. I’ve already mentioned some of the benefits of high velocity AC when it comes to the installation process. To expand on that, if you live in a much older home that doesn’t have space for traditional ductwork, then in terms of central air, high velocity is your only choice.
- Cheaper choice for new construction. For new construction, it’s cheaper to install high velocity than it is to install a traditional system along with the necessary ductwork.
- Faster heat up and cool down times. By now, I’m sure you realize the benefits of adjusting your thermostat when you’re not home or when you’re asleep. However, one of the downsides of this can be the amount of time it takes for your home to reach your desired temperatures again.
This is not an issue with high velocity air conditioning since room temperature adjusts very quickly.
- Cheaper to run during the heating season.During the heating months, you can adjust your temperatures higher without worrying about significantly increased costs. This is due to the fact thatthe system heats a room much quicker than a traditional unit—it ultimately runs for less time.
- Smaller vents.The smaller tubing means you no longer need large supply and return vents. There are many options for small, round outlets that can be painted or stained to match your decor.
When high velocity AC may not be the right choice…
|High Velocity Cons||Unexpected installation costs|
While the above may make it seem as though going the high velocity route is a no-brainer, there are some drawbacks.
- Unexpected installation costs. While it’s true that it’s typically less expensive to install a high velocity system in an older home without ductwork or in a new build, retrofitting some homes may be problematic.
Installation estimates are based on what an installer can see—no one is making holes in walls are ripping them down to see what’s behind them. So be prepared for an open estimate that allows for surprises.
- Blasting air. Remember, it’s called high velocity. If you hate the feeling of hot or cold air blasting on you when you’re close to a vent with your current system, things are much worse with high velocity.
- Noise. While some of the newer high velocity technology does muffle some of the noise,again, the force of the airflow means more noise than you would get with the gentle flow of a traditional system.
High Velocity AC vs. Window Air Conditioners
A window air conditioner will cost less to install than a high velocity system. That’s about the only advantage.
Window air conditioners can be unsightly, block your view, and they’re noisy. And since they are location-based it’s unlikely a single window air conditioner will cool every corner of your home even if it’s rated for your square footage.
High Velocity AC vs. Mini Split
Another alternative for those who don’t have ductwork is a mini split. While high velocity air conditioning does require tubing in place of ductwork, mini split systems only require a connection or conduit from the outdoor unit to the indoor unit.
From that aspect alone they are easier to install than a high velocity system.
However, the advantage of the high velocity system is that air is dispersed throughout the home through its tubing. In contrast, a mini split is better when you have zones that you want to cool. To cool multiple rooms you need to install multiple indoor units.
So what are the benefits of a high velocity HVAC system?
- Only choice for older homes
- Cheaper choice for new construction
- Faster heat up and cool down times
- Cheaper to run during heating season
- Smaller vents
Of course, there are times when this type of system will not be the right choice, so hopefully, this article has given you enough information to be able to make an educated decision.
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