What’s the Difference Between HVAC and AC?

In the air conditioning industry, the term HVAC is often used instead of AC. HVAC refers to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, whereas AC simply refers to air conditioning. AC is generally used when referring to systems that are designed to cool the air in your home. Window units and central AC are standard systems that are widely used. HVAC can include heat pumps and gas furnaces as well as air conditioning units. This means HVAC deals with both heating and cooling.

Companies will use the terms interchangeably because many AC repair services deal with both heating and cooling solutions. HVAC also covers ventilation and ductwork.

Air Conditioners

There are two basic air conditioner types that are widely used: window units and central AC. Window units tend to cool single rooms and are less powerful than central AC. Central AC can cool an entire house and be designed to regulate the cooled air in different ways. Air conditioners can be used in conjunction with furnaces to maintain heat in winter and cooling in summer.

Heat Pumps

A full HVAC system will include central heating. One of the most common central heating solutions in the heat pump. Heat pumps provide both heating and cooling. These units can come as a packaged or split unit. If it’s a split system, the evaporator coil is usually positioned inside the house, and the rest of the unit is outside. A packaged heat pump comes all in one and is kept outside.


Many HVAC systems use natural gas furnaces to heat homes. These burn fuel in order to create heat. Generally, these are installed in out-of-the-way places such as basements and crawl spaces. Furnaces are more common in areas where the climate is colder.

If you have questions regarding AC or HVAC systems, contact General Heating & Air Conditioning in Monrovia, CA, today. We can install, repair, and tune-up heating and cooling systems. We also address ductwork issues and offer indoor air quality solutions.