Are You Buying an Air Conditioner? Here’s Your AC Buying Guide

Nothing’s worse than having inadequate cooling in your home during the summer. For those who live in the South, you’ll have the A/C on at least 3/4ths of the year. Buying an air conditioner is important if you want to get the most for your money.

There are a lot of choices out there when it comes to buying air conditioners. Some work best for small homes, others for single rooms, but you’ll need to determine which one fits your needs.

This guide will help you narrow down your choices and find the best A/C unit for your budget. Let’s start with the four major types of air conditioners.

1. Split Systems

Overall, these are the most prolific HVAC units in the country. The split air conditioner works with two parts: the evaporator coil inside and the condenser on the outside. These units are fairly compact, which makes them ideal for apartments and small homes.

Split systems require ventilation ducts to provide air throughout the home. These units don’t include heating capabilities, but the ducts can be connected to a furnace. This makes it a very economical category of air conditioners.

2. Heat Pumps

Using the same concept as conventional split system HVAC units, heat pumps cool the same way. The difference here is the capability to reverse the heat transfer process and convert cool air into hot air. There are also triple heat pump systems that can provide heat for your water.

Heat pumps can be a really effective solution to heating and cooling a standard home in the South and parts of the country that don’t get below 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Once you start reaching consistent temps below freezing, the standard heat pump starts to show it’s limit. Heat pumps also run very loud at full capacity, unless you’re investing in newer, more efficient models.

3. Packaged Air Conditioners

This type of air conditioner operates out of one central unit. It is installed either on the roof or outside on its own foundation. These units contain the evaporator coils, the condenser, and compressor.

If your home is too small or does not have an option to renovate for a new air conditioner, the packaged HVAC unit is a great choice. You won’t need to install a separate heat pump unit to provide heating.

4. Ductless Systems

These are the most popular air conditioner systems for new homebuyers and modern apartments. The ductless split air conditioners do everything conventional A/C units can, but without installing ventilation ducts. The way this unit is able to provide hot or cold air is via remote air-handlers.

The air-handling units are mounted on the interior walls and contain their own blowers and connections to circulate refrigerant. Each split system connects to multiple air-handlers to provide personal temperature control. This can allow homeowners to save even more money by only choosing to cool specific rooms.

Ductless systems are perfect for hose buying an air conditioner for homes that don’t have ductwork installed. Installation only requires small tubes for the refrigerant to be carried through the walls to the outside unit.

There’s a whole lot more information on the various air conditioner types and sub-types, which you can learn more about here.

Important A/C Factors

We know there’s a lot to choose from regarding brands, types, and budget. Here are some more key features and facts to consider:

Energy Stars

Don’t buy a new air conditioner that isn’t Energy Star certified. You’ll wind up paying more on your electric bill, no matter how much you’ve saved. Energy Star units work less to provide the same amount of cooling as older non-compliant units. These units also last longer and require less upkeep.

Listen First

The noise of your air conditioner is very important. Sure, most units are a little noisy, but beyond the fan, it should be quiet. Compressors that sit outside the house should not be audible. Air handlers inside should mostly comprise of the fan and actual air moving.

When you notice a loud humming from the coils, this should be a sign of possible defect or poor quality of the unit.

Location Matters

If you’re investing in a ductless unit or installing ducts for the first time, consider where you put them. Ductless air handlers need to be installed high and centered on a wall that isn’t directly across from the sun. Duct vents need to be center and against the wall so that the air can bounce and fill up the room evenly.

Check the Contractor

Installation is so vital to a properly working air conditioning system that it is almost as important as the unit itself. You can have the latest and greatest A/C unit right now but still get poor performance. Insulation can lead to energy loss, inconsistent temps, AND short life-spans.

In fact, some insulation can even corrode your unit and have you doing repairs in just a few years after installation. Only trust experienced companies like Fresh Energy for your air conditioning installations. They can remove bad insulation and put in the safest, most efficient products on the market.

Use Smart Thermostats

These cannot be overlooked. If you plan on saving money on your heating and light bills, you need a smart thermostat. Brands like Nest are able to adapt and time the usage of your A/C needs so that you’re not left fiddling with the temperature all day. It will cool your home when you’re there or arriving, save energy when you’re away, not in the room.

Check the Warranty

Consider the length of the warranties available while shopping for an air conditioner. Some companies prefer to offer extended warranties over comprehensive standard warranties. Obviously, the more generous the warranty, the more confident a manufacturer is in their units.

Buying an Air Conditioner Now

With the hot summer heat waves upon us, we know that its hard to wait for relief to come. We want to stress the importance of purchasing something while under duress. This is a major purchase, so it should be done with a clear mind and sound principles. Buying an air conditioner right now might lead to regret later.

We hope this guide has provided a little clarity on what is available to you. For more information on consumer protections, product guides, and locating services, browse our blog. We have plenty more information available to help you find the best products for your lifestyle.