Are you looking to upgrade your air conditioner this summer? As the new season rolls around, many homeowners are contemplating whether they need a newer, stronger AC system. With the advances in technology, modern AC units are more efficient than their older counterparts. If your aging air conditioner requires a replacement, you’ll quickly realize the benefits of your investment as the cold, fresh air starts flowing into your home.
Nowadays, there are many different air conditioning units available on the market. This can make upgrading an AC unit slightly more complex, due to the numerous technical specifications that you must learn. Ultimately, you want to ensure that the new AC unit is energy efficient and has a long lifespan. At the same time, you also want the system to meet your home’s needs and budget.
How can you make sure your purchase checks all the boxes? This following guide describes the key components to help you upgrade your AC unit:
1. Type of AC Units
First, you’ll need to consider which type of cooling system you will upgrade to. Among the most popular choices are the central AC system and the ductless unit. Other common options include a window AC unit, a heat pump, or a portable air conditioner.
Central AC Units
The central air conditioning system is the most common way to cool a home. This system cools all the rooms in your home and is often the most cost-effective solution in the long run. For central AC units, you can choose either a split system or a packaged unit.
The split AC unit distributes air through ductwork, and the cool air is circulated by your home’s furnace blower. On the other hand, a packaged central air conditioner has both the condenser and the evaporator located in the same unit, which is typically installed outside. With this unit, warm air is pumped from the home to the air conditioner, where it is cooled and returned to the home.
Ductless AC Units
A ductless AC system does not use the home’s ductwork to distribute cool air. This is the ideal system if you live in an older home, which may not have the ductwork necessary for a modern central AC unit. These units are either mounted on the ceiling, the floor, or the wall. The systems will cool the rooms in which they are installed.
Other AC Units
Some of these air conditioners are also available as heat pumps, which are units that function as both air conditioners and heaters. They can be used for both cooling and heating as required throughout the year. This HVAC equipment is excellent in milder climates.
You can also choose a portable air conditioner, which can be moved from room to room. This system uses a window vent kit to discharge the heat. The unit is best used to cool a single room. Alternatively, you can install a window air conditioner that fits into a window frame in your home. This type of unit takes air from inside the home, cools it, and blows the air back into the indoors.
2. Cooling Needs
When upgrading your AC unit, a key decision is determining the strength of its cooling capabilities. Due to the improvements in energy efficiency, it isn’t a good idea to determine your cooling power needs based on your old AC system. Instead, you need to factor in the number of windows in your home, along with the house’s layout and size. Other factors include the amount of shade your home gets, the location of registers, and the room orientation.
Purchasing an oversized unit may lead to unpleasantly strong, cold blasts of air, resulting in a humid home. You may also experience short-cycling equipment that starts and stops frequently, increasing your need for air conditioner repair services. Similarly, purchasing an undersized unit has its own set of issues. Your home will not cool properly, and you will waste energy. The AC unit will also run constantly, which lowers its lifespan.
Choosing a suitable cooling capacity for your AC unit is important because it will save you money. You save on the purchase by getting only what you need. Plus, you save money on installation and maintenance costs. To determine which air conditioner you should upgrade to, contact an HVAC technician for more insights.
3. Energy-Efficiency Rating
Modern air conditioners are designed to be more efficient than older models. As a result, you’ll almost always benefit from greater energy efficiency when upgrading your AC unit. However, it is still useful to understand energy efficiency ratings to ensure you save on your utility bills.
Essentially, the higher the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), the greater your energy savings will be. All new AC units require a minimum 13 SEER rating, but you can see ratings go as high as 25.
4. Component Compatibility
When your central air conditioner is on its last legs, it can be tempting to replace only the outside condensing unit to save money. However, keep in mind this outdoor part connects to an indoor air-handling unit. The indoor and outdoor parts together make up the entire AC unit. If you only replace the outside unit, you risk having incompatible cooling efficiency ratings and refrigerant. As a result, the new part might not work.
Replacing certain parts of your AC system might be suitable in some scenarios, but there are also many instances where this leads to serious compatibility issues. Upgrading the entire AC system removes this risk, as well as increase the lifespan of the condenser and air-handling unit.
5. AC Filters
Finally, air filters play a significant role in the efficiency of your AC unit, and there are many different options to consider. Most importantly, determine whether your new unit comes with disposable filters that you’ll need to replace periodically or permanent filters that will need to be cleaned regularly. For the latter option, make sure you clean the air filters in your AC properly to ensure fresher, smoother airflow.