Air Conditioner Installation Features for Your New AC Unit
Summer has arrived and it is hot! That is the good news for the times you want to be outdoors to swim, fish, or go boating. It is not so good when you want to be indoors and have learned your air conditioner is failing.
If your “old friend,” the air conditioner, needs to be replaced, you must gather a lot of information quickly to make a decision before it fails. This article attempts to give you enough information to ask good questions about a new air conditioning system.
New Air Conditioner Installation Options
There are many methods of cooling air, but only a few options for residential use. The differences will help you determine which option is the best for your home.
Sizing an Air Conditioner
Both an undersized and an oversized central air conditioning system will work inefficiently and wear out prematurely. How can you get the right size? An HVAC technician should run a load calculation on your home.
He will measure square footage, wall openings (windows and doors), and insulation, among other things, to determine how much heat needs to be transferred from your home’s volume. The heat is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs). From BTUs/hour, the size is determined in tons. Expect to hear those terms as you explore your options.
Air Conditioner Efficiency Ratings
The U.S. Department of Energy developed a method of determining air conditioning energy efficiency—how much energy does it take with system A to move a given number of BTUs. This rating is called SEER or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating—pretty straightforward. How that number is determined is available online if you are interested, but the basic information is:
Pricing an Air Conditioner
An air conditioner is usually sold along with the price of installation; that’s a good thing for most of us. The quote should be pretty simple: cost of materials + cost of labor. Both size and rating will influence the cost of materials.
An added fee for handling refrigerant gas might also be separated as a line item. For most installations, the furnace and air conditioner will be replaced at the same time.
Which Type is Best?
If you are replacing a central air conditioning unit with ductwork, a central AC unit will be your best option. They serve large spaces better than a mini-split system.
If your home does not currently have ductwork, installing a mini-split ductless system should be more affordable than installing a network of ducts throughout an existing home.
If you are adding air conditioning to a small space, a recent room addition, for example, a mini-split might fit the space better than replacing/enlarging your existing central air unit.