If you live in a smaller home or apartment, a window or portable air conditioner may be sufficient to cool and dehumidify your home during hot summer days. However, if you live in a larger family-size home with multiple storeys, you may need a central air-conditioning system to stay cool in summer.
Our Central Air Conditioning Buying Guide explains key aspects that you need to consider when choosing a central air-conditioning system for your home.
Split or Split Ductless?
There are two types of central A/C systems: split and split ductless. A split A/C system consists of a fan-and-coil unit inside the house that carries refrigerant and cools the air inside your home, and a condenser and compressor unit that is placed outside your home. Cool air is distributed throughout the home through air ducts, the same ducts that distribute heat from your furnace in cold weather.
This type of system is not an option for older homes or homes that don’t have air ducts. In that case, you have to consider a split ductless A/C system. This system consists of a condenser and compressor unit outside your home that is connected by pipes to a blower unit or air handler inside your home. Air handlers are attached to the wall, floor or ceiling in your home. You can connect up to four air handlers to the condenser unit and set each one to a different temperature using a remote control. The more air handlers you have, the more expensive the system becomes.
What Size of Central A/C Should I Buy?
How do you determine what size of air conditioner you need? First, determine the size of the space you want to cool, in square feet. Then determine the cooling capacity you need based on the size of your space. Cooling capacity is measured in British thermal units (BTUs) per hour. For example, a space of up to 1,500 square feet needs an A/C with a cooling capacity of 24,000 BTU per hour.
Other factors you need to consider when determining the cooling capacity of your A/C are:
Amount of shade or sun there is around your home, which makes it naturally cooler or warmer. You may need to reduce or increase cooling capacity by 10 percent accordingly.
Number of people who will be using the space you want to cool. If more than two people regularly use the space you want to cool, you will need to increase cooling capacity.
How well insulated your home is. A better insulated home will need a smaller A/C system.
The climate you live in. If you live in a zone where summers are hot, you will need a larger system.
Size is the most important factor to consider when choosing a central A/C system, so make sure you hire a licensed and experienced HVAC professional to thoroughly assess your home to determine cooling capacity. An A/C system that has been properly sized for your home will work best and most efficiently.
The energy efficiency of an A/C unit is expressed as its seasonal energy efficiency rating (SEER). The higher the SEER, the more energy efficient the A/C unit is and the more money you’ll save on cooling. The minimum SEER allowed by regulators for a split central A/C system is currently 14, so shop for a system that has a minimum SEER of 15. The most energy-efficient A/C systems have variable speed compressors. With a SEER rating of 18 or higher, they are the most expensive but will pay for themselves over time in terms of energy savings.
Besides size, installation is the next most important factor when shopping for central A/C. Make sure that you hire a trusted HVAC professional to do a proper installation of your system. A properly installed system will last 15 to 20 years and increase your home’s value and your comfort level during the hot summer months.
Our Central Air Conditioning Buying Guide outlines key aspects to consider when purchasing a Central Air Conditioner for your home. Our team at TEK Climate Heating and Air Conditioning will be happy to provide you with specific information for your home!