Central Air Conditioning System

Buy the right central air conditioning system with help from this specialist, unbiased guide. This article includes preparing for cost, selecting size, inspecting guarantees, and more.

If you’re thinking about setting up or replacing a central air conditioner, you’re most likely aware that this is among the most significant home improvements you can make in terms of convenience. On a hot, humid summer day, few facilities add to lifestyle more than central air conditioning.
Air conditioning is likewise one of the most costly improvements you’re most likely to make, so it’ses a good idea to do your homework and choose carefully.

Types of Central Air Conditioners

This post has to do with whole-house cooling, not single-room units or heat pumps. Unlike window, portable, or in-the-wall single space air conditioners, a central air conditioning conditioner disperses conditioned air throughout your home. If you’re not exactly sure whether to purchase individual space a/c or a central air conditioner, see the short article Picking Central or Space Air Conditioning, which compares the two. For information on single-room air conditioning system, please see How to Purchase a Window or Space Air conditioning system.central-air-conditioning-system

As shown in the diagram, a central air conditioning system consists of a condenser unit, an air-handling system with a blower (such as a forced-air heater) and an evaporator coil, and a system of ductwork for exchanging room air with cooled air.
The condenser usually sits outdoors, and the air handler with the evaporator is normally located in the basement, attic, or garage. The ductwork is routed through the basement or attic and walls throughout your house.
The a/c uses refrigeration innovation to cool the air. (For more about how this works, see How a Central Air Conditioner Works.).
A heat pump is associated with an air conditioner. It is essentially a central air conditioning conditioner that can be reversed in winter season to heat up a house. If you want to understand more, see Heat Pumps Purchasing Guide.

A/C Sizing & Cost

If you have actually decided that a main Air Conditioning unit is right for your home, it’s time to dig deeper into the size and kind of system, in addition to its energy performance, features, warranty, and more. These problems are gone over below. For additional assistance, see:

  • Sizing a Central air conditioning Conditioner.
  • How Much Does A/c Cost?

Central AC Energy Efficiency

Since of today’s high cost of energy, a/c unit are very costly to operate, and they consume more than their share of our precious energy resources. Due to the fact that of this, when selecting an air conditioner, the name of the game is efficiency– that is, an ac system’s capability to transform energy (electrical energy) into cooling in the most cost-effective way. You desire optimal cooling for minimum dollars.
One note about changing an aging system: Make sure to replace both the outdoor condensing system and the indoor evaporator. If you just change the condensing system, possible gains of a higher-efficiency unit may be lost.

The SEER Rating


To lower squandered energy, the United States Department of Energy developed minimum effectiveness standards for a/c unit. Every AC unit is offered an effectiveness ranking, called a SEER– short for Seasonal Energy Effectiveness Ranking. The SEER is noted on the yellow Energy Guide ® label posted on each unit. It’s essential to look at these ratings. The greater the number the more effective the system and the less it will cost to offer cooling.
During the past years, the minimum SEER rating needed of brand-new systems has continued to rise. Though old ac system may have a SEER as low as 6, designs produced after January, 2006, need to have a SEER of at least 13. The most effective designs have SEER rankings of 15 to 17. So you comprehend the relative scale, a SEER of 13 is 30% more efficient than a SEER of 10.

Energy-Saving Features

To accomplish especially high SEER rankings, air conditioning system might have any number of energy-saving functions. Look for:

  • Big coils for more efficient heat transfer.
  • A high temperature score( EER) greater than 11.6 and a thermal expansion valve. When the weather is hottest, this means high-efficiency operation.
  • A variable-speed blower to decrease electrical power intake, tailoring the usage to the requirement.
  • A fan-only switch. This permits you to shut off the cooling however leave the fan running to circulate air for more natural, affordable cooling.
  • An automatic delay fan switch, which keeps the fan on long enough to use recurring cool air that remains after the compressor shuts off.
  • A filter indication light that lets you understand when the filter requires altering. This improves effectiveness by making sure proper upkeep.

Other Features


Many high-efficiency items combine numerous of these features and include some of their own. Case in point: The York Stellar Ultra includes two compressors that operate in tandem when high cooling capacity is needed. The rest of the time, just one of the compressors runs. These, combined with a variable-speed motor, achieve a SEER rating of 16.7.
Programmable thermostats likewise assist by offering accurate control. For more about these, see Thermostats Purchasing Guide.

What About Ultra-High Efficiency?

Do you need an ultra-high-efficiency a/c unit? Not necessarily. Obviously, for the sake of the environment– from energy usage to greenhouse-gas emissions– the greater the efficiency the better. But, in terms of dollars, the savings compared with the premium you will pay might not pencil out for you, especially if you live in a climate that needs little cooling during the year or if your home isn’t firmly insulated. On the other hand, where an air conditioner should run frequently during the year, an extremely effective model will spend for itself in energy cost savings over a period of years.

Central AC Warranties

Cooling guarantees are essential to guaranteeing that A/C systems will last for many years. Before acquiring central air conditioning, ask for– and read– its service warranty and make certain you comprehend the terms and constraints. Air conditioning service warranties can vary significantly from one producer to another. A guarantee might cover most of the system under one set of terms or offer differing protection on various parts of the ac system.

For example, Whirlpool covers all parts of the mechanical and refrigeration systems (except the air filter) for five years, consisting of labor. Provider covers the air-conditioning system and authorized labor for repair work or replacement for one year. With Carrier, the refrigeration parts, including the compressor, condenser, evaporator, connecting tubing, and refrigeration charge– consisting of labor for repair or replacement– are covered for years two through five under a prolonged service warranty.

With numerous makers, parts may be covered, however the labor for replacing such parts as the motor, solenoid, communicates, switches, and fans may not be covered by guarantee. Check out the small print.

And then there is the “Minimal Lifetime Guarantee.” Amana, for example, provides this and will cover the compressor of a high-efficiency air conditioning unit or heat pump for as long as you own your home.

The bottom line with central air warranties is to read them carefully and comprehend what they do and do not cover.

Be recommended that a service warranty will be void if the a/c unit is dealt with by a non-authorized service person and that it does not cover basic maintenance, cleaning, or damage that is brought on by disregarding maintenance.

Understanding AC Refrigerants

Refrigerants used in a lot of air-conditioning systems manufactured until just recently can be extremely destructive to the Earth’s ozone layer. Devices that contains and operates using these refrigerants is being phased out globally. When purchasing brand-new cooling system, make certain to buy a present item that utilizes refrigerants that do less damage to the environment.
How do refrigerants pass from AC equipment to the atmosphere? All refrigerant gasses are included in an air conditioning system’s sealed system. The problem is that an aging sealed system might establish leaks and permit the refrigerant to leave. The release of these gasses likewise happens during servicing.

AC Refrigerants Being Phased Out

In 1987, an international arrangement started an around the world phase-out of ozone-depleting CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), ultimately stopping production of AC equipment that uses them in 1996. These were replaced by hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). R-22 (likewise known as HCFC-22 or, more commonly “Freon”) has actually been the favored refrigerant for domestic air-conditioning and heat pump systems. This is less harmful to the Earth’s ozone layer, however still is an ozone-destroying greenhouse gas and, during its manufacture, produces HFC-23, which contributes considerably to international warming.
This is a problem, so the manufacture and import of R-22 A/C equipment was phased out by the EPA in 2010 under the Clean Air Act. The maker of the refrigerant R-22 was decreased by 75%, will be additional minimized by 90% in 2015, and will be come by 2020. As a result, R-22 is becoming increasingly expensive.
If you need to have R-22 charged in existing equipment, make certain to obtain an estimate first and find out whether the quote consists of maintenance, which generally costs about $115. Do not be surprised if the gas costs $100 per pound or more. This price is only going to increase. (Devices usually only needs to be charged if it’s leaking– most importantly, get the leak fixed!).

Alternatives to R-22 Refrigerant

Today, producers of residential air conditioning systems offer Air Conditioner equipment that uses ozone-friendly refrigerants. For servicing existing devices, R-22 is still available and will continue to be offered for Ten Years or more.
The EPA has reviewed a variety of substitutes for R-22. You can see these on these alternatives to R-22 on the EPA site.
A popular replacement for R-22 is R-410A, a mix of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). It is produced and offered under different trade names, consisting of Puron ®, Forane ® 410A, GENETRON AZ-20 ®, and SUVA 410A. It does not deplete the ozone layer but, like R-22, its producer does add to worldwide warming. R-407C, another acceptable replacement for R-22, is used in some European property air conditioners.


Last updated on September 16th, 2019

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