(Article from Blue National HVAC)
Heating and cooling a mobile or manufactured home can be challenging. The space is smaller than traditional homes, so it’s easier to heat and cool, but there’s no attic or basement to house HVAC equipment, there’s less space for ductwork, and no homeowner wants a furnace or bulky AC unit taking up room in their mobile home.
Luckily, there are several HVAC options that make conditioning the air in your mobile home possible and practical, and some can even reduce your running and maintenance costs.
One of the most popular HVAC systems for manufactured homes is the ductless mini-split. These systems include a small condenser outside and a wall-mounted unit or ceiling-mounted vent inside. They take up almost no living space and are usually very energy efficient, so they’re an excellent option for smaller mobile homes.
Ductless mini-splits are relatively straightforward to install; you can have your system up and running in a day in most cases, and they don’t require any ducts in your walls. They offer the ability to customize your indoor temperature, and many systems can provide both cool and warm air. Most aren’t efficient enough to heat mobile homes in colder climates with long winters, but they’re great for areas like Central Florida.
Best of all, they’re easy to maintain. Just clean the filters, and you’ll likely only want an annual inspection to ensure it’s functioning properly. As such, a ductless mini-split will help you reduce the cost of HVAC maintenance in Florida.
Packaged AC System
A packaged AC system is made specifically for small spaces. This type of HVAC equipment is all housed outside of your mobile home. The condenser, air handler, coils, and evaporator unit are contained in a single box for convenience and maximum space savings. This makes packaged AC systems one of the most popular options for manufactured homes with smaller interiors.
Despite the name, some packaged AC systems can provide both heat and air conditioning, so they’re suitable for use in Florida, where both heat and cooling are required at different times of the year.
Installation might take a day or two, but it depends on whether you already have ductwork installed in your mobile home. These systems do require ducts, and if your mobile home isn’t fitted with them, installation can be time-consuming and expensive.
These systems will save you some money and time when it comes to HVAC maintenance as compared to a central air system and furnace. Packaged AC systems require more maintenance than ductless mini-splits but less ongoing work than more substantial equipment. Additionally, most servicing will take place outside your home when you do need maintenance, which is an added benefit.
Central Air with Heat
Some homeowners are surprised to find that manufactured homes can be fitted with central air conditioning. This is the most expensive option for homeowners and requires that you have existing ductwork in your home. If you don’t, the installation will be very costly, up to three or four times as expensive as ductless systems, in some cases.
Central air conditioners consist of a condenser unit outside and an air handler inside, so you’ll need to have some space set aside for the equipment in your home. This can be an issue for some owners of smaller mobile homes.
Additionally, since central air conditioning systems cannot provide heat — which you’ll need in most parts of Central Florida — you’ll also need a furnace. Your heating equipment will take up additional living space, so central air is the most limiting option when it comes to living space.
Central air systems need more regular maintenance than ductless systems, so they’re not ideal for limiting your ongoing maintenance costs. However, they are the most efficient cooling systems, so you’ll likely spend less on electricity to power them.
Window AC Systems
Finally, you can opt for window ACs in your mobile home. Most homeowners are familiar with these units that hang from your window. They’re by far the most affordable option, but they don’t provide heat. As such, you’ll need to couple these with a furnace or another source of heat to get through the Central Florida winter.
Window ACs are the least efficient systems for a given space, so you’ll spend more on energy to power them. However, they require no maintenance and usually aren’t even worth maintaining because they can simply be replaced for very little money if they break down.
These systems don’t take up any interior space when they’re installed. However, you will need to consider that you’ll need to remove them from the window and store them inside your manufactured home during the winter. They will take up some living space for more than half the year, and taking them out and putting them in is more inconvenient than using most other cooling options.
Which HVAC System Is Best for Your Manufactured Home?
Ultimately, you’ll need to decide which HVAC system is the best fit for your manufactured home. You should carefully consider size and space constraints, as most mobile homes have limited living space and no basement, attic, or crawlspace to house the equipment.
You’ll also need to consider ongoing maintenance costs, ease of installation, and whether the system you’re considering provides just air conditioning or both AC and heating, both of which are required throughout most of Central Florida.