What is a Package Unit?

What is a packaged unit?

A package unit is an HVAC system that has one primary unit holding all of the heating and cooling components inside, different from a split system where there’s typically both an indoor and outdoor unit.

Do you live in a city where price per square footage is costly? Or do you have a small home with little interior room to spare for major appliances?

When it comes to installing HVAC systems in locations where space is minimal, it can be tricky business. Most of the time you need to have plenty of floor space dedicated to the units that will be placed inside the home in addition to the outdoor ones. Packaged HVAC units help with this problem by streamlining this process into one primary unit –– saving you space while still delivering on your air conditioning (and/or heating) needs.

Here we will take a look at what these packaged unit systems are and how they are different from traditional “split” systems, take a look at the pros and cons of a packaged unit, and get you started finding the right system for your home or space.

HVAC Package Unit vs Split System

Traditionally, HVAC systems have had two main parts: indoor and outdoor units –– one for air intake and the other for output. That is why traditional central air systems are also called split systems.

Packaged units are different from these setups in one main way: all of the heating and cooling components are housed within one single unit, rather than being split up. Typically these units are installed outside of the home, either on the ground or the roof.

These units function in the same way that central air systems do, except that the single unit is connected to both the supply and return air ducts (in central air systems, the ducts are attached to various components in your home). The input air is processed through the compressor and coils to cool it, and is then pushed through the duct system.

Since packaged units are installed outside the home, they are a great option for those needing heating and cooling without sacrificing indoor space.

Different Types of Packaged Units

All package units are not created equally, though. There are several different types of packaged units that you might consider for your home depending on the needs you have specific to the climate in your area.

Packaged Heat Pumps

While they are optimized for heating, these systems are often used for both heating and cooling, as they contain evaporator coils and a blower in addition to the heat pump itself. This system works by reversing the refrigeration cycle of an air conditioner.

Packaged Air Conditioners

A single-box cabinet houses all the elements of an air conditioner: air handler, compressor, and coils. Some of these units are also equipped with heat strip elements, which can be helpful if you live in an area that requires primarily cooling with minimal heating.


There are also differences in the way that the units are powered. There are gas and electric packaged units that contain an electric air conditioner and gas powered furnace (natural gas or liquid propane) combined in one system so that you are prepared for different weather throughout the year and can be powered in multiple ways. There are also dual fuel systems which heat and cool through an electric heat pump (heating/cooling) and a gas furnace. This dual-fuel option is great if you live in a climate with a lot of heating needs. When configured correctly, this system can sense whether it is cheaper to heat your home with electric or gas, and will kick the right one on to do so.

Packaged Unit Benefits

There are many reasons why people choose packaged unit systems, but a couple of the biggest advantages are clear.

  • Space-Saving – As mentioned above, if you live in a place that is short on space, these units are extremely convenient, as you don’t have to worry about installing anything in the home that will take up tons of space.
  • Energy Efficient – Given the streamlined nature of the design of packaged units, they are often able to perform at high SEER ratings, which make these units attractive not only for the environment, but for your budget, too.
  • Quiet – Since all of the air processing takes place outside the home, they are a great option for those wanting to keep it down inside.

Packaged Unit Drawbacks

While these have many great features, they do have some disadvantages as well.

  • Vulnerable to Damage – The flip side of the convenience of an all-in-one system is that it can be more easily damaged by severe weather or nosy animals. While they do come equipped with durable protections for this exact reason, it is something to consider before buying.
  • Tricky Location – Sometimes, packaged units are installed on the roof of a home, which makes setup a bit trickier than more traditional units. It also makes any type of maintenance a little more difficult as well. For this reason, you see more packaged units on top of business locations than in residential ones.

Be sure to contact an HVAC professional to get advice on the best place to install your packaged unit.

Find an HVAC System That’s Right For You

Up until now, you may have thought that your only option for heating and cooling your home was a traditional central air or heating system. However, for those looking for an alternative that saves space while delivering the comfort you desire, look no further than packaged units.

Whether you go with packaged heat pumps, air conditioners, gas-electric, or dual fuel units, there are options for your particular situation. These units are great for people needing to maximize interior home space, save money on energy costs, and maintain low noise in the home.

On the other hand, packaged units do have some disadvantages, as they are more prone to being damaged due to their outdoor location, and can be tough to install on residential roofs. There are many other types of AC units to browse through if this may not be the right option for you.

Consult an HVAC professional to talk over your options before taking the plunge.

Ready to buy a packaged unit? Start and end your search at Total Home Supply, where we have many units to choose from for many different needs, preferences, and budgets. Maximize your space while staying comfortable.



Mickey Luongo

Mickey is the resident heating and air conditioning expert with over 15 years of experience in the industry.

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