Purchasing a manufactured home in Jacksonville, Florida is a great way to experience the joys of homeownership without going through as much of the process of typical homebuying.. It’s both a popular strategy for downsizing and an easy solution for rent-weary tenants. However, it does create special concerns when it comes to your HVAC system. Not all heating and cooling units are compatible with modular homes. Moreover, different levels of insulation and different types of air distribution may create unique limitations. To help you get the level of comfort and efficiency you’re seeking, the following is everything you need to know about picking the right HVAC system for your living environment.

Central Heating and Cooling Solutions

Most new modular homes have existing HVAC ductwork for supporting central heating and cooling systems. However, some do not. There’s also the fact that a lot of older modular homes either lack HVAC ductwork or have aging ductwork that isn’t compatible with modern HVAC equipment. If you purchased your modular home used, you’ll want to start your search for the right HVAC system by first determining which options are feasible. You can contact the manufacturer of your modular home to get the answers you need. If you have the option of installing a central heating and cooling system, your modular home manufacturer can also provide important sizing information.

There are both benefits and drawbacks to using central HVAC systems in modular homes. On the positive side, central HVAC systems:

  • Have long lifespans
  • Increase the value and appeal of these properties
  • Are intuitive and easy-to-use
  • Provide both humidity regulation and air filtration

As far as drawbacks go, forced air heating and cooling systems allow for substantial amounts of energy loss. Much of the heat that a forced air heating system produces escapes during distribution. In fact, between 25 and 40 percent of the energy that a central HVAC system uses can be lost through its ductwork alone. In any building type, ducted HVAC systems can also create indoor air quality concerns. Unless this equipment is diligently maintained, accumulated lint, dirt, dander, and other debris can cause respiratory distress and eye irritation among other things.

Portable and Window Air Conditioners

If you’re working with a limited budget, you may be tempted to head over to your local home and hardware store to buy a portable AC or a window air conditioner. These units are notoriously inefficient. Using them as your primary source of indoor cooling will drive your home energy bills sky high. Worse still, the average window unit and the average portable AC aren’t capable of cooling down more than just one room at a time. These units also:

  • Take up a lot of usable indoor space
  • Rarely last for more than five to 10 years
  • Don’t regulate indoor humidity
  • Barely filter the indoor air
  • Compromise outside views
  • Create home security issues due to venting systems at windows

Even if you’re happy making the many concessions that window AC units and portable AC units entail, neither of these equipment types is capable of providing heating. After you put your low-cost cooling system in and once you’ve begun paying higher-than-average energy bills, you’ll still need to find a fixed heating solution. Portable heating units aren’t safe for nighttime use, cannot be left unattended, and cannot effectively heat entire homes.

Heat Pumps

Ducted heat pumps provide the same whole-house heating and cooling service that central HVAC systems do; however, you’ll get both of these things from a single unit. Rather than installing and maintaining a separate furnace and air conditioner, you’ll only need to have a heat pump put in. When temperatures drop and you’re ready to move from air conditioning to heating, your heat pump will seamlessly transition between the two different modes of operation.

Heat pumps use modest amounts of electricity — thus, you can have one without paying excessively high utility bills. They use a highly efficient heat transfer process that moves warm indoor air outside during the summer and warm outside air in during the winter. They work well in places like Jacksonville, Florida due to relatively moderate wintertime temperatures that give heat pumps plenty of outdoor heat to draw from. The major downside of choosing a heat pump for your manufactured home is that it’s easily the most expensive HVAC system you can invest in. That being said, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons, as the energy efficiency of a heat pump is a major draw.

Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pumps

Ductless mini-split heat pumps tend to be much more affordable than ducted heat pumps. They provide the same efficient operation, and they don’t require manufactured homes to have existing ducting. Moreover, unlike central heating and cooling systems, ductless designs don’t heat or cool homes uniformly. Rather than having a single, central thermostat, these systems have separate air handlers and thermostats in every zone or room that they service. This means that you can turn your ductless heat pump on high when you feel chilly, even if someone else in the building is using the heat pump to cool their immediate area down. These units provide the greatest level of flexibility in manufactured homes such that everyone can enjoy their ideal temperature setting.

There are also ductless air conditioners that work similarly. However, just as with portable air conditioners and window air conditioners, ductless AC systems cannot provide heating.

Considerations That Are Unique to Modular Homes

As you consider the different options in heating and cooling equipment for your manufactured home, there are several important things to be mindful of. Manufactured homes aren’t as well-insulated as traditional, stick-built buildings. In these environments, it pays to prioritize efficiency. If much of the warm or cooled air that your HVAC system produces will escape outside, you want to look for the most cost-effective form of operation.

With central heating systems, it’s also important to consider the need to vent exhaust gases. Fuel-burning furnaces constantly produce combustion gases that must be seamlessly routed outside. In buildings that aren’t well-ventilated, the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) leaks can be especially high. One of the primary selling points of modular homes is the fact that their wall joists are absolutely flush. The level of precision engineering and precision manufacturing that goes into these homes often means that newer options are incredibly airtight. This fact alone makes both ducted and ductless heat pumps a safer and more preferable choice.

Finally, there’s the all-important issue of humidity control. Nothing will fare worse for your manufactured home than consistently high levels of indoor humidity. Fixtures and features that can be easily repaired or replaced in a stick-built home will often prove far more challenging to repair in a modular one. Having an HVAC system that can reliably extract excess moisture from the indoor air is often essential for protecting these investments. Acceptable levels of indoor humidity control are never offered by portable AC units or window AC units. Central HVAC systems perform well in this area, but both ducted heat pumps and ductless heat pumps stand above them all.

Buehler Air Conditioning has been proudly serving residents of Jacksonville, Florida and the surrounding areas since 2010. We offer heating, cooling, and indoor air quality services. We also provide ductless mini-split systems, heat pumps, and HVAC zoning. If you need help finding the right HVAC system for your manufactured home, we’ve got you covered. Give us a call now to schedule an appointment.

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