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 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.
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.
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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.
$: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.