Everything You Need to Know When Choosing Your New Air Conditioner
When deciding which type of air conditioning system to install in your home, there are many factors to consider. The size of your home, whether or not you have existing ductwork, upfront cost, and long term energy efficiency are the most common variables, but what about the units themselves? What makes one air conditioner better than another and which is right for you? Our air conditioning unit comparison guide is here to help.
At Oliver Heating & Cooling we have worked with just about every single type of air conditioner. We offer a variety of air conditioning brands and models to suit each households’ unique needs. Our team of HVAC experts is here to help you understand the differences between cooling systems and the technology that makes them operate. If you live in the Delaware Valley or at the Jersey Shore, contact us today for a free estimate for your air conditioner replacement installation.
Types of Air Conditioning Units
There are 4 main types of “whole home” air conditioning units. Window air conditioners and portable air conditioners are not included in this guide. Most newer homes have a central air or heat pump system installed during construction. They utilize ductwork throughout the home to distribute cool air. Geothermal cooling also requires ductwork while ductless mini-split systems do not.
Designed to provide consistent cooling throughout a home’s multiple rooms, central air conditioning has been the most popular system since the 1950s. They utilize ductwork and a series of registers that distribute the air, and wall or ceiling mounted return vents that draw the warmer air back into the system. There are a few different versions of a central air conditioning unit, each with its own way of handling the cooling output. They can come with single stage, dual stage, or variable speed (inverter) compressors which we break down below.
Operating similarly to a central air system, heat pumps are actually capable of providing air conditioning and heating. By combining a year-round temperature control solution into a single system, homeowners can enjoy a more efficient way to keep their homes comfortable. Heat pumps are generally quieter than central air conditioners and do not require the use of fossil fuels to produce heat. They also regulate humidity very well because they are constantly transferring air in and out of your home.
Ductless Mini-Split Systems
For flexibility in temperature adjustment across different zones in the home, a ductless mini split system is a great choice. As the name suggests, they do not rely on ductwork, rather the placement of wall-mounted blowers in the areas of your home that you desire air conditioning. Ductless systems are great for adding supplemental cooling and retrofitting older homes or smaller properties that don’t have room for ductwork. They are like heat pumps where they offer heating and air conditioning capabilities.
Growing in popularity but still not as straight forward to install as other cooling systems, geothermal systems extract the consistent heat energy from under the earth and transfer it into your home. A coil is installed beneath your property where water will circulate and then pass through a geothermal heat pump that controls your indoor comfort. It is a very sustainable, energy-efficient air conditioning option that will last longer than most other systems when properly maintained.
What is the SEER Rating?
When choosing the right air conditioner for your needs, one term you’ll often see is the SEER rating or seasonal energy efficiency ratio. Your unit’s SEER rating is a measure of your air conditioner’s cooling output divided by energy consumption. Newer central air conditioners have a SEER ranging from 13 to 25. A higher SEER number means over the life of the unit, its operating cost will be lower. The unit’s motor, compressor, and other factors help determine the rating. Air conditioners installed before 2006 are typically 10 SEER or lower.
The Impact of Air Conditioning Compressors
Energy-efficient cooling is typically one of the primary factors to consider when installing a new air conditioner. Your unit’s ability to operate efficiently is primarily affected by the type of compressor system that controls the cooling output of the system. There are three main types of compressors that you will come across when comparing air conditioner units.
Single Stage Air Conditioner
The most commonly found air conditioning compressor type has been around for decades. Single stage compressors turn on when the indoor temperature rises above the temperature setting on your thermostat. Once your target temperature is reached, the system turns off. This cycle will repeat regularly throughout the day resulting in fluctuating indoor temperatures. Operating at 100% capacity when on, single stage air conditioners are the least efficient option available. The upfront cost of a single stage system is fairly low while the operating cost is high.
Dual Stage Air Conditioner
Operating similarly to a single stage compressor, a dual or two stage compressor operates at two speeds. They turn on when your target temperature is exceeded but the cycle can run longer and at a lower speed, thus saving energy. These longer cycles result in more consistent indoor temperatures. In extreme heat, it will operate at 100% capacity, but the lower setting is usually around 65% capacity and can meet your demands the majority of the time. A dual stage system is in the middle ground of initial price and operating cost.
Variable Speed (Inverter) Air Conditioner
The most efficient compressor is inverter driven. The inverter actively regulates the amount of power sent to the compressor, resulting in a very consistent indoor temperature. These variable speed air conditioners can operate as low as 25%-30% capacity for very long cycles that are very energy efficient. By constantly circulating cool air throughout your ducts, the inverter system operates quietly and gives you much more control over your indoor comfort. Because of the technology used they are more costly upfront but will typically last longer and can save you a lot on your energy bill.
Protect Your Investment
A new air conditioner is one of the more expensive purchases a homeowner can make. Every system the team at Oliver installs is backed by a 10 to 12-year warranty. We offer varying labor warranties depending on the system that is purchased. We also offer affordable HVAC maintenance plans that are designed to give you peace of mind. You’ll receive an annual inspection, priority service, two-year parts and labor warranties on all repairs, and more.
Trust the Air Conditioning Replacement Experts at Oliver
If your air conditioner is on the fritz, at the end of its life, or you simply want to install a more energy-efficient cooling system, Oliver is here to help. We have been providing reliable air conditioning services in the Delaware Valley and at the Jersey Shore for over 50 years. Our NATE-certified technicians can install a brand new air conditioner that will keep you and your family cool for years to come. We understand that choosing an air conditioner can be a daunting task that’s why we’re always available to answer any questions you may have when comparing air conditioning units. Schedule an appointment to discuss your cooling needs today.