Yes, most people don’t realize that you can in fact add an air conditioner or heat pump to an existing furnace without having to replace the whole system. You do not have to replace the furnace in order to add the AC or heat pump, however sometimes it can be a good idea to replace the furnace as well.
If your furnace is twelve years or older you may also consider replacing it as well. The increase in energy efficiency can save you money on your energy bills and new features like variable speed blower motors provide greater levels of comfort. You can also save on installation costs by replacing both units at the same time.
Most of the time an existing furnace system can add an air conditioner or heat pump without any major problems or difficulties. In order to add an outdoor unit to a furnace system an indoor coil must be installed to the system as well as refrigerant, electrical and condensate lines.
Some furnace systems are what is known as “AC ready.” This means that the line set has already been prepared as well as most of the other requirements. If your system is AC ready this can cut down on the cost of installing a new air conditioner or heat pump.
Keep in mind, if you do not already have a furnace then you cannot add an air conditioner or heat pump. A heat pump and air conditioner do not replace the furnace they simply partners with the furnace and join the team. Therefore, you must already have an existing furnace system in order to add an AC or heat pump.
The biggest difference between an air conditioner and a heat pump is a heat pump can be used for both heating and cooling and an air conditioner can only be used for cooling. In a heat pump system, the heat pump and furnace are the heating units and the heat pump is also the cooling unit. In an air conditioner system, the furnace is the heating unit and the AC is the cooling unit.