What Is the Difference Between Split System and Package Unit?

When it comes to investing in a new HVAC system, you can choose to go for a package unit or a split system.

The main difference is that a split system has an inside and an outside unit, while a package system contains all the components in a single outdoor unit. Package HVAC systems also save a lot of space and are easier to install, but split systems are in general more energy-efficient. 

What Is the Difference Between Split System and Package Unit?

 Package UnitSplit System
InstallationThe parts of this unit are manufactured and assembled in a factory – this minimizes the chances of the unit having defects. Package units are, in general, easier to install as the ductwork is the only additional thing that you’re going to need. The installation of a split system is usually more complicated as it has to be installed in two different spaces and, after that, charged with refrigerant
Space RequirementsA package unit has a single cabinet that contains all the elements. Such systems are usually recommended for buildings that don’t have a lot of free space. By the way, package systems can easily be installed on the roof to help save even more valuable space. A split system has an indoor and an outdoor unit. The indoor unit is the air handler that contains the evaporator coil and fan. The outdoor HVAC unit typically looks like a metal cabinet that houses the compressor and condenser.
MaintenanceEven though package HVAC systems, in general, have one unit that needs to be checked, that doesn’t mean that the unit is easily accessible (in case you decide to install the unit on the roof, for example). Moreover, roof systems are more susceptible to wear and tear.The technician would have to inspect two components which might take a bit longer. The indoor unit wouldn’t have to withstand harsh weather, so maintaining this part of the system in great condition would be relatively easy. 
Noise LevelsPackage units are considered to be quieter simply because all of their components are located outside.There is an inside component in a split system, but the truth is that a properly working unit is very quiet. The noise might become unbearable if there is something wrong with the system though.

What’s the Difference Between Cooling-Only Split and Cooling-Only Package?

The main difference between the two is the fact that a split system is split into two parts – there is an indoor and an outdoor unit.

A package HVAC unit, in its turn, has all the components housed together in a metal cabinet that is usually installed either on the roof or the building’s exterior. 

Read: Why Mini Split Fan Runs Continuously?

Is a Package Unit Cheaper Than a Split Unit?

The installation of a package HVAC unit would typically be cheaper as there is only one unit that needs to be installed and as all the components are housed together, less labor will be involved. 

Package units also usually come pre-charged with refrigerant, so you wouldn’t have to pay for that either.

With that being said, split systems are more efficient and will save you a lot of money in the long run. Moreover, these systems have a longer lifespan.

Read: Can A Mini Split Cool A Whole House?

Package Unit vs Split System Efficiency

Split systems are more energy-efficient than package units. The SEER rating of the latter range between 10 and 18, while the seasonal energy-efficiency ratio of split systems ranges from 13 to 23.

What Is Better a Split System or a Package Unit System?

  1. If you already have one of the systems installed, then stick to the unit that you have. Uninstalling and then reinstalling a different type might cost you a small fortune.
  2. If you have a large house or a home with a basement or attic, then you can go for the more energy-efficient split system. A package HVAC system would be a better option for smaller homes.

Read: How To Choose The Right Size Mini Split?

Replacing Split System with Package Unit

Switching from one system to another might be a costly decision. If you already have a split system, then you might want to simply replace some of its components or get a new split system.

Package units might be cheaper to install and they usually don’t have to go through as many repairs, but split systems are overall a lot more cost-effective. 

Read: Do Mini-Splits Use A Lot Of Electricity?

FAQs

What Is a Package Unit?

A package unit is a type of HVAC system which has all its components in one place – that’s usually a metal box located somewhere outside the building. This single unit is connected to both the return and supply ducts.

What Is a Residential Package Unit?

Package HVAC units can certainly be used as residential heating and cooling options. By the way, you’ll get to choose between quite a few forms – packaged air conditioners, heat pumps, a gas-electric unit, and a dual-fuel unit.

What Does a Package Unit Look Like?

With a package unit, all of the system components are contained within a single unit (usually, a metal box). Typically, the unit is placed outside either on the roof or the ground.

The system gets connected to the existing or newly installed ductwork via a hole in the outside wall.

Read: Do I Need A Mini Split In Every Room?

How Many Types of AC Packages Are There?

There are 4 main types of package HVAC units:

  1. A gas pack unit (includes a gas furnace and an air conditioner)
  2. A heat pump package
  3. An air conditioner package unit (you’ll usually have the option of adding heating strips)
  4. A hybrid unit (a dual-fuel package that includes both a gas furnace and a heat pump)

Advantages of Packaged Air Conditioning System

  • Saves space
  • Easy installation
  • Relatively easy maintenance
  • Affordable to purchase and install
  • Low indoor noise

Disadvantages of Packaged Air Conditioner

  • More opportunities for damage as all the components are located outside
  • Moderate energy-efficiency
  • Consumes more electricity

How Do You Duct a Package Unit?

The ducting with this single unit would be a little different. Instead of connecting the various components of the HVAC system to the ducts, you would simply have to get the ductwork attached to the package unit in one place.

What Is the Difference Between a Heat Pump and a Package Unit?

A package HVAC system has a single outdoor unit, while a regular heat pump has three main components – the outdoor unit with the condenser and compressor, the indoor unit with the evaporator coil, and the air handler.

Does a Split System Heat and Cool?

Split systems can provide both heating and cooling. In such a case, you would have to go for a combination of an air conditioner and a furnace or a heat pump with a furnace or heating strips that can be used if additional heating is required.

What Is the Difference Between a Heat Pump and a Split System?

The main difference is that heat pumps move heat instead of generating it.

What Does a Split System Air Conditioner Mean?

A split system air conditioner is one of the types of this HVAC system. Such an air con consists of two main parts – an inside air outlet unit and an outdoor compressor.