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How to Choose a New Air Conditioner - A Buying Guide for Louisville Homeowners

AC Buying Guide

The old air conditioner that keeps on cooling your Louisville home isn’t going to last forever. When the old unit stops delivering comfort for the home efficiently, the best thing you can do is install a new air conditioning system. There are several different types of air conditioners available, which can make choosing an air conditioning unit tough for homeowners – there are conventional central air conditioning units, heat pumps, and ductless air conditioners.

Once you select the type of central air conditioning system you want to have installed during your air conditioning replacement project, there are a number of other decisions you must make about the new air conditioner. You need to determine the size air conditioner that is appropriate for your home’s cooling needs and make sure your new cooling system is a precise fit as oversized units and undersized AC units are plagued with problems, from higher energy costs to increased wear and HVAC system breakdowns. The energy efficiency rating of the new unit for your home impacts your purchase budget as well as your energy savings over the years you use it to cool the entire house. A single stage unit with a minimum SEER rating will lead to more energy usage than a higher efficiency unit.

Don’t feel overwhelmed about the number of air conditioning equipment options you have! Jarboe’s Plumbing, Heating & Cooling is here to help make the air conditioning installation process easier for you. Speak with our Comfort Consultants to learn about all types of central air conditioners, and trust our NATE-certified technicians for professional installation on all central air conditioner AC unit choices. Read our homeowner’s buying guide below and discover various options for air conditioning units, along with the important details about sizing an AC unit and the air conditioner’s efficiency.

Options for a New Air Conditioning Unit

Many different HVAC units can be installed in Louisville area homes for heating and cooling. Homeowners looking for an air conditioning unit that can provide cool air throughout the entire house typically install a split system of some sort. The most common air conditioning types in this category include conventional central air conditioner units, heat pumps, as well as ductless air conditioning units.

Conventional Central Air Conditioner

The conventional central air conditioning system that most homeowners are familiar with includes an air conditioner as the outdoor unit and either in air handler or furnace as the indoor component. In homes where furnaces are installed, the air conditioning unit typically relies on the blower of the furnace to distribute cool air through the ducts. If another sort of heating system is used that is not forced air, the air conditioner can be paired with air handling equipment. These air conditioning systems are called central cooling systems because air is distributed from a centrally located piece of air conditioning machinery. Contrary to popular belief, air conditioners do not generate cooling in some way, instead they reduce the temperature of the air by extracting heat.

Heat Pump Central Air Conditioners

Heat pumps are another type of central air conditioner with indoor and outdoor unit equipment. Outside is the heat pump which is connected to the indoor air handler for air distribution. Both the conventional central air conditioner and heat pump cool homes in the same way, by transferring heat from one area to another. The big difference between these air conditioners is that a heat pump also has the ability to provide heating. The heat pump AC unit does so by switching the direction of its operation to transfer heat from the outside air to the inside air.

There are different types of heat pump HVAC equipment that can be installed in your home. An air source heat pump moves the jeat from one source of air to another, inside and outside. Geothermal HVAC systems use a heat pump that moves heat between the indoor air and the Earth. It does so through a component called the ground loop, which is buried on the property.

Ductless Air Conditioner Systems

Ductless air conditioners are also commonly known as ductless mini splits. These air conditioners are split systems like the other two AC units options, though their equipment and configuration is slightly different. They have an outdoor unit which is either an AC unit or heat pumps, and inside the air handler units are installed. Instead of using one central unit to distribute conditioned air, this type of cooling system has multiple air handlers that put conditioned air directly into living spaces. As the name suggests, this type of AC unit does not require homeowners to install ductwork. With a design that bypasses ductwork, these AC units avoid associated energy losses and indoor air quality hazards.

The Right AC Unit for You

There are a few choices when shopping for central AC systems, but most homeowners aren’t limited to only one option. In most homes, air conditioners of all types can be installed and used efficiently. To determine the right AC unit for your home, keep these points in mind:

  • In homes where ductwork is already installed and doesn’t require replacement or major repairs, a new heat pump or central air conditioner can be easily swapped for the old unit and use the existing ducts for distribution.
  • If a home does not have ductwork, ductless air conditioners are an increasingly popular choice because there is no need to install ductwork.
  • For homeowners who have recently expanded their living areas through building an addition or remodeling an unused attic or basement, the right AC unit may be a combination of two different types of air conditioners. You can upgrade your central air conditioner or heat pump for the increased cooling capacity the additional space will need and extend the ductwork, or you can install a ductless system in the new spaces that will run alongside the central air conditioner in the targeted area.

Air Conditioner Cooling Capacity

After you pick an air conditioner type for your house, you’ll need to figure out the appropriate cooling capacity for the new central AC. Don’t assume it is safe to look at your old unit to determine the size for your new system, as inappropriately-sized air conditioners are all too common in homes. The right size unit for your home is a perfect fit, not too big and not too small. An oversized unit or one that is too tiny for your space wastes energy and suffers a number of performance problems that are likely to take the unit out of service earlier than expected.

To size new units correctly, homeowners should work with qualified HVAC system professionals. A technician will determine the right cooling capacity for your air conditioner by doing a load calculation. The load calculation incorporates a number of home traits, like the home’s square footage, occupancy, construction materials, and more, then calculates how much heat will need to be removed from the living areas in an hour to keep the spaces at a comfortable temperature. Air conditioner sizing is measured in tons and 1 ton is equal to 12,000 BTUs of heat energy removed. Residential air conditioners range in size from about 1.5 tons to around 5 tons.

Central Air Conditioning System SEER Ratings

Seasonal energy efficiency rating will be another important factor you want to pay attention to as you shop for an air conditioner. You can see how energy efficient an air conditioner is by looking for its SEER rating, which stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio. The number of the SEER rating represents the total cooling output of the AC unit divided by the total energy input over a typical air conditioning season.

As you look for a unit for your home, you will see a lot about SEER ratings. In Kentucky the minimum SEER rating for a new AC unit or heat pump is 14 SEER, which is set to increase to 15 SEER in 2023. However this is just the minimum energy efficient operation and you can find air conditioners with a higher SEER rating. The most energy efficient air conditioners are around 26 SEER, 24 SEER for heat pumps, and over 30 SEER for ductless AC units. Air conditioners that are highly energy efficient use new technologies to reduce energy consumption, such as a variable speed blower and compressor.

New Air Conditioner Costs

If you need a new air conditioner, don’t just think about that unit’s price tag – think about how much it will cost you to operate over the years, too. Ongoing costs of operation can vary widely depending on the SEER rating and appropriate sizing.

Many homeowners find the higher initial cost of an air conditioner with a high SEER rating is worth the investment. These air conditioners use less energy therefore save the homeowner money on energy bills through the duration of the unit’s life. This energy savings can make up the difference in cost between a minimum efficiency unit and a high efficiency unit in just a few years.

Air Conditioner Installation in Louisville

Secure reliable cooling for your Louisville home this summer when you work with Jarboe’s Plumbing, Heating & Cooling to find the right AC unit! Call us today to learn more about cooling equipment options and to request a quote for air conditioning installation.

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