Louisville Homeowner Guide to Buying an Air Conditioner

AC Buying Guide

With hot temperature days here to stay in the Louisville area, cooling and reliable air conditioning systems are more important than ever. If you’re faced with buying an air conditioner this summer, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all the options you must consider. A new air conditioning system is a big investment, and you want to make sure the new cooling unit you select is right for your home and budget.

Jarboe’s Plumbing, Heating & Cooling helps take the mystery and confusion out of the air conditioning installation process. Read our guide to buying a new air conditioner and learn the options you have, the features to look for, and how financing can help you with this important purchase.

Your Air Conditioning Equipment Options

There are many different types of cooling systems, even though they’re all often lumped in under the term “air conditioner.” The truth of the matter is, air conditioners are just one type of cooling equipment and others are available.

Before we talk about your equipment options, let’s first go over the types of equipment configurations that can be installed in your home.

  • Split system cooling utilizes indoor and outdoor equipment, with these units connected via refrigerant lines running between them. The system is “split” between the indoors and exterior of your home.
  • Packaged HVAC units contain all equipment within one unit, which is installed outdoors. There are no indoor units.

Most homes in the Midwest have central cooling and heating, which provides conditioned air to the entire home from one central location at the indoor unit. Room air conditioners are another option that can be installed to provide cooling in specific areas only.

Types of Cooling Equipment

When buying a new cooling unit, air conditioners aren’t your only option. For whole home cooling, your options include:

  • Central air conditioners: A central air conditioner is a split system that uses an outdoor air conditioner condenser and an indoor unit. Typically, air conditioners are paired with furnaces as the indoor unit in Louisville, but they can also be used with an indoor air handling unit. These systems use ductwork to direct cool air to different areas of the home. Air conditioners are a cooling-only HVAC system.
  • Central heat pumps: Heat pumps are also a split system. An outdoor heat pump unit is installed, connected to an indoor air handler. Because heat pumps can offer both heating and cooling, it is not necessary to install additional heating equipment. However, some Louisville homeowners choose to install a gas furnace as well, which provides a backup heating method to be used when temperatures fall extremely low, forcing the heat pump to lose efficiency. Heat pumps are able to act as both heating and cooling units because they transfer heat between the indoor and outdoor air. This process is reversed depending on the season.
  • Ductless units: Also called ductless mini splits, ductless systems are a type of split system that uses room air handling units connected to an outdoor air handler or heat pump. The air handlers send cooling directly into the room where they are installed. Ductless systems can be set up using one or multiple air handlers, therefore they can be used for cooling just one space in the home or expanded to be used as a whole home cooling system. As the name suggests, the do not use ductwork and can be added to homes without existing ductwork for whole home cooling. When a heat pump unit is used in a ductless system, the system can also deliver heating to the home.

Selecting the Right Air Conditioner for Your Home

When buying an air conditioner, heat pump, or ductless system, you need to consider what is right for your home. Climate is an important factor, characteristics of your home will impact installation, and sizing is critical.

Climate and Cooling Equipment

Humidity can be a challenge in Louisville area homes over the summer months. Some types of cooling systems help remove humidity, while others rely on moisture for cooling. In Louisville, central air conditioners, heat pumps, and ductless systems are good choices as their air conditioning process removes some moisture from the air. Other cooling systems like evaporative coolers need moisture, making them only suitable for use in dry areas of the country.

Home Details

When you buy an air conditioner, you also pay for installation to have the new unit set up in your home. Certain characteristics about your home can make installation simpler, or more complicated, affecting the cost of installation.

  • If you need to cool the entire home, a central cooling system is typically the best choice. A ductless system can be configured to provide whole home cooling, or use central air conditioners or heat pumps.
  • When only one area requires cooling, like a new room addition, a ductless system provides a permanent cooling solution that can work independently of an existing central cooling system.
  • For homes with existing ductwork, it can be more affordable to install a new central air conditioner or heat pump.
  • If your home doesn’t have ducts or the ducts are damaged and need to be replaced, a ductless cooling system may be a better choice for whole home cooling.

Correctly Sizing Your New Air Conditioner

When it comes to air conditioner sizing, it’s not the physical size of the unit we are talking about. Sizing refers to the unit’s capacity to remove heat, or how much heat it can remove. You’ll hear it referred to as tons, which doesn’t mean weight, it means tons of heat removed in BTUs (British thermal units).

Sizing your new cooling unit is very important when buying an air conditioner. It’s critical your air conditioner be the right fit for your home, because if it is too large or small, it won’t cool your home correctly. Units that are too big or too small waste energy and deliver subpar comfort. To ensure your new cooling unit is the correct size for your home, have your contractor perform Manual J cooling load calculations to determine the exact sizing necessary to efficiently cool your home.

Energy Efficiency Ratings

The energy efficiency ratings of new air conditioners vary. The efficiency of a unit is something you need to consider when buying an air conditioner, as it will affect the costs of operation over the years.

  • SEER is used to display energy efficiency in air conditioners. It stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio.
  • The minimum SEER allowed for new central air conditioners and heat pumps in Kentucky is 14 SEER.
  • As SEER ratings increase, energy efficiency goes up. 14 SEER is the lowest energy efficiency model you can get in Louisville.
  • SEER ratings go up and there are many high efficiency units on the market, with SEER ratings in the mid 20s for heat pumps and air conditioners, and over 30 SEER for some ductless systems.

The Cost of Air Conditioner Installation

Air conditioner installation isn’t a cheap project. It can cost several thousands of dollars to install a new air conditioner, and the price varies based on the type of unit you select and the installation work that is necessary to set the new unit up to operate in your home.

Financing Your AC Purchase

Many HVAC contractors offer financing programs to help homeowners with the purchase of new air conditioners, heat pumps, and ductless systems. There are low interest rates and flexible repayment options that will help you buy your new unit now and pay it off over time. If you’re worried about the cost of a new air conditioner, be sure to talk about financing options with your contractor.

New Air Conditioners for Louisville Homes

Jarboe’s Plumbing, Heating & Cooling helps Louisville homeowners breeze through the air conditioner buying process. Our Comfort Consultants introduce various equipment types and models, helping you understand the features and qualities so you can select the best new unit for your home. Our NATE-certified installation team places your new air conditioner into service with your 100% satisfaction guaranteed. Request an estimate for air conditioning installation today!

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