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Different Types Of Air Conditioners – Which One Best for You?

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that American homeowners spend as much as $11 billion dollars annually to use their air conditioners. That figure is staggering and speaks volumes about our serious need for reliable comfort. If it’s time to replace your AC system, you might find the range of options overwhelming, considering that you want an effective system that also offers cost-efficiency.

Your AC unit is one of the biggest investments you can make for your home. It will also become a huge part of your budget. You want an AC unit that is not only cost-effective but also affordable. But how exactly can you determine which unit is best for your home? You should consider certain factors, such as the unit size, unit cost, your home requirements, quality of the unit, high-efficiency, and other important features. If you are still confused, here are some things you need to understand about air conditioners so you can make an informed decision.

Know the Different Types of Air Conditioners

In general, you have a choice among six types of air conditioners. Knowing the features of each type will help you choose the best unit for your home.

Central Air Conditioners

A central AC is a type of air conditioner with a condenser, compressor, and evaporator in one unit. It is often installed on the roof or a solid concrete slab close to the foundation. Ducts are installed to allow the unit to pull warm air indoors to force it outside and to distribute cooled air indoors. A central AC may also be installed with a natural gas furnace or heating coils to provide heat during colder months.

Ductless Mini-Split AC

This air conditioner is one of the best options for buildings that do not have a ductwork system. Ductless mini-split systems consist of two major components: the indoor condenser and the outdoor compressor. Depending on the structure’s size and layout, there may be multiple indoor air handlers in one unit. Ductless systems are usually installed on walls with blowers that distribute air. A tube connects the indoor unit with the outdoor unit. This tube also circulates the coolant between these units.

With a ductless mini-split, an indoor unit may be installed in each room. This air handler will function independently of other air handlers, allowing each room to have different temperature settings. Ductless systems are compact and do not require tearing down a portion of the wall or ceiling. They are costlier but are far more energy-efficient if you intend to cool the entire house.

Window Type 

Window type units are very common, often used to cool single rooms. A window type unit has all of its components in one housing, including its thermostat gauge. A slot or hole is made through a wall or window, and the unit is installed there.

Portable Units

A portable unit is a type of air conditioner that is similar to a window-type system. However, it is generally lighter and does not require installation because it is freestanding and self-contained. This allows it to be moved from one area of the house to another and may be used as long as there is a power outlet to connect to and a window or wall slot through which a funnel hose may be attached to eliminate exhaust air.

Hybrid Type Air Conditioner

A hybrid type of AC unit can use both electricity and fuel, making it a great money-saving AC. During the hot months, the heat pump pulls heat from home and pushes it outdoors. During cold months, the system pulls heat from the environment outside and distributes it indoors.

Geothermal Cooling and Heating

This is one of the newer types of air conditioner units. It extracts heat from the ground and distributes it throughout the home. A hole is dug into the ground through which a geothermal coil is passed. During winter, the unit extracts heat from the ground. During summer, it extracts heat from the house and pushes it into the ground. This is one of the most sustainable and energy-efficient AC types, and quite long-lasting.

My Trusted Contractor works with local contractors who provide topnotch services in Indiana and Kentucky. We provide complete services in Indianapolis, IN, Jeffersonville, IN, Fort Wayne, IN, Lexington, KY, and Louisville, KY. You can easily find a trusted contractor locally next time you have and HVAC project.

Finding the Best AC Type for Your Home

Knowing the different types of air conditioners available is a good way to identify which type meets your comfort needs. In general, you should take into consideration the following: budget, size, SEER rating, features, and warranties.

Budget

$: If you want to save on cost, your cheapest option would be a portable AC or a window-type AC. Both types can cool a single room. However, they are also the least effective for large areas or multiple rooms.

$$: The next choice is a ductless system. It is a cost-effective option that allows you to cool multiple rooms or zones. It only becomes more expensive if you require heating and/or cooling for the whole house.

$$$: A more expensive option is a central AC system. It has a longer lifespan compared to the window and portable systems and considerably more effective.

$$$$: The option with the highest price tag is the geothermal unit. It requires serious investment, but it can last for ages.

Size of Indoor Space

Before choosing the type of air conditioner for your home, consider its square footage first, or at least the room/space you want to cool. For an AC unit to be effective, it has to have the capacity to cool your home. In general, a central air conditioner’s capacity would range from 1.5 tons to 5 tons for most homes.

A house with a 1,600 sq.ft. The area will typically need an air conditioning unit with a capacity of 3 tons. This is categorized as a light commercial HVAC system. If your home needs a 3-ton capacity AC to cool it, you will have to install several units to keep your indoor environment comfortable.

SEER Rating

A SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating indicates how energy-efficient an air conditioner unit is. When comparing central AC units, make sure to check the SEER rating of each product. Central air conditioners typically have a SEER rating of 13 to 24. If you live in an area that experiences high temperatures, choose a type of air conditioner with a minimum SEER rating of 15. If you happen to have an older AC system with a SEER rating of 10, consider upgrading to a unit with at least SEER 15 to manage your power costs.

Warranties

The most trusted HVAC manufacturers build their products to ensure that they last for about 20 years or even longer. When looking at the product’s warranty, do not just look for the one with the longest coverage. Check if the warranty offers coverage for labor and/or parts. For example, some warranties may cover certain parts or components but only for a limited period. When it comes to warranties, make sure you have a clear idea about what comes with the product you want to buy.

Features

Energy-saving features are a modern invention. With more consumers looking to save on the cost of energy, manufacturers have designed AC units with better features in terms of function and efficiency. When checking out the best features, here are the ones to consider:

Variable speed motor – maximizes airflow efficiency, allowing the AC unit to run at several different speeds based on the system’s current needs.

Automatic fan delay switch – allows the indoor air handler to run within a limited time after a cooling cycle. This ensures that any cool air in the system is used and distributed into the living spaces. 

Thermal expansion valves – increases refrigerant flow when you require more cooling. Conversely, the valve will restrict refrigerant flow if a higher temperature is desired. This feature helps lower your energy costs without sacrificing home comfort.

Two-stage cooling provides your AC system more flexibility to adjust to your home’s current comfort demands. There are two settings in this feature – high and low. The high setting keeps indoor temperatures at a comfortable level during hot months while the low setting consumes less energy during cooler months. This feature not only helps control your temperature settings but also helps reduce monthly energy costs.

Unit Protection

All HVAC systems are built to last, but they can only do so much without help from you. Whether you have a small window-type unit or a central AC system, you likely put some serious investment into it. To protect your AC unit (and your investment), here are important steps you need to take:

-Purchase the best unit you can afford for the space you have.

-Have a professional technician install the AC system.

-Schedule regular maintenance to keep the unit in top shape.

To ensure that you get the best services for your AC unit, hire a trusted local HVAC contractor who operates in your area.

How We Can Help

Our Marietta air conditioning contractors are specialists in different types of air conditioning systems. We prioritize your home comfort and ensure that we work with your requirements and budget in mind. We are partners with the best HVAC companies in the region, so you are assured that we offer the highest service quality for all your HVAC needs.

To Repair Or Replace Your HVAC System?

If you are experiencing HVAC issues, it typically comes down to either you are not able to cool your home properly, or you are not able to heat it properly. In either scenario, you must decide if it makes more sense to repair your HVAC system or replace it with a new one. In general, people would prefer to repair their current system. However, sometimes the sensible thing to do is to replace an old HVAC system with a brand new one.

We are going to take a brief look at common HVAC problems by our team of experts. First, we will explore issues with furnaces, heat pumps, and air conditioners that are repairable. Then we will examine times when the best course of action is the replacement of your HVAC system.

The following are some common heat pump/furnace and air conditioner issues that are typically repairable.

If your air conditioner isn’t cooling your home – perhaps there is no cold air coming from your registers or the system will not turn on – many times we find the cause to be one of the following:

  • Blown fuse – when the fuse connected to your thermostat goes bad, simply replace the blown a fuse with a new one.
  • Blown transformer – typically, this is caused by a bad contactor in the outside unit, which is resolved by replacing both the bad transformer and contactor. If the issue is not the result of a bad contactor, there may be a wiring issue that needs to be addressed.
  • Failed capacitor – In general, outdoor units have two capacitors, a start and a run capacitor. Eventually, both will fail, and when either fails, you will not have air conditioning. An HVAC professional will be able to safely and properly replace them, and you will be back to cooling your home.
  • Low levels of refrigerant – This issue may or may not be repairable. For example, if there is a leak at the valve, tightening the valve can sometimes stop the leak. Or, brazing the refrigerant line set could repair the leak and then the system would be recharged with refrigerant.
  • Clogged condensate line – A blocked condensate line will cause water to pool up, and this will trip the system’s float switch (called the wet switch on systems we install). The system will automatically shut off until the drain line is unclogged, and the water is cleaned up.

Next, we will look at some repairable furnace or electric heat pump issues when you are having a problem heating your home.

  • Equipment improperly calibrated – During installation, all furnaces must be properly calibrated. If this is not done, your furnace can burn high amounts of gas. Although the furnace may not quit, homeowners will feel the pain in high gas bills. Many times, an improperly calibrated furnace will overheat, and you will need a professional to recalibrate it for you.
  • Dead blower capacitor – Furnace fans have a capacitor that turns them on, which eventually fail and must be replaced.
  • Dead starting components – If you use an electric heat pump to heat your home, then your systems use the same capacitors for both heating and air conditioning. Because they are used for both, they will go bad after a while and must be switched out.
  • Inducer draft motor – This is the component that clears gas leftover after a run cycle from your heat exchanger. The motor can get dirty or burn out. A safety switch will automatically turn off your furnace when the motor gets too dirty. In either case, the component can be replaced.
  • Cracked heat exchanger – Although your furnace will not generally stop, this is a very dangerous situation to be in. Having cracks in your heat exchanger can allow gases to escape, perhaps even directly into your living space. While repairing a cracked heat exchanger is not something we do, it is possible at times to replace this component without having to replace the entire furnace. Sometimes, a cracked heat exchanger will cause the furnace flame to roll out, tripping the safety switch and shutting off the furnace. In most cases, you will not realize you have this issue until a combustion safety test is performed.

The HVAC issues listed above can typically be repaired. However, the best way to reduce the need for repairs is through proper and routine maintenance.

What does this mean for the homeowner? Our service agreements at PV include two inspections each year – one just before the cooling season and another just before the heating season. We do our level best to inspect every possible problem area and advise you of any potential issues before they materialize.

DIY maintenance would include changing or cleaning your system’s air filters according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Our service agreements include air filter replacement.

Next, we will discuss when it is time to replace your HVAC system.

  • R-22 refrigerant leak – R-22 refrigerant was used in older systems prior to 2010. If your old AC or heat pump uses R-22 and has a leak, it doesn’t make sense to replace the coil, fix the leak, or fill your system again with new R-22 as this is a very expensive and obsolete product. Also, if your system is that old, it is likely to just leak again.
  • AC Compression failure – repairs on a compressor that is out of warranty are typically so costly that replacement is typically the best option.
  • Age-related replacement – If you need to replace either the furnace or AC because it is reaching the end of useful life, it might be a good idea to replace both at the same time since both are the same age and will soon need replacement. This will allow you to save on the cost of labor.
  • Recurring breakdowns – At some point, repairing frequent breakdowns and the cost associated with these repairs make replacement the best option. Also, reliability becomes a factor.
  • Energy conservation – old HVAC systems are not energy efficient and, therefore, not environmentally friendly making replacement a good option.

Welcome to Polar Express HVAC!

Polar Express provides heating and air conditioning services, repairs and installations to commercial and residential properties.

Established in 2014, we proudly service all brands, makes and models. Our services, which include replacing and repairing air conditioning systems, heat pumps and furnaces, are dependable and affordable.

Our goal is to impress customers with our attention to details, skills and results. We have 15 years of experience in the HVAC industry and we continue to provide the most timely, professional and complete services to those in Cobb, Cherokee and Paulding counties, as well as Atlanta and the surrounding areas.