Home Air Conditioning Buying Guide

When your air conditioning unit blows its final puff of cool air, you are left wondering how to go about buying a new one. Should you buy the same HVAC unit you had before? Or should you go with something else? There are several factors to consider when buying a new air conditioning unit, including the unit’s SEER rating, size, brand and warranty, and its BTUs. We’ve put together a general buying guide to help with your research for a new A/C unit.

SEER Rating

Instead of looking at simply the power of an air conditioner or its BTUs, the majority of homeowners today are interested in a different key factor when purchasing an air conditioner: its efficiency rating.  Certainly, you want to find a heating and air conditioning product that can produce enough cool air to do the job.  However, the highest consideration among consumers polled almost always comes down to SEER Rating.  

The SEER rating is a number attached to a new HVAC system after it is manufactured, and it measures efficiency.  By paying attention to it you can buy a unit that can both save you money and produce enough cool air to bring your inside temperature to a comfortable level.

If you make the SEER Rating a top priority, along with the unit’s overall cost, you can keep the purchase of a new A/C system from costing you a lot, initially out of pocket and over time.  The lowest SEER rating that can be installed by today’s legal standards is a 13, and the higher the rating number, the more efficiently your new system will operate.  

Size

When you compare a system’s outside unit side by side with other models, usually the larger the frame or overall size of the compressor unit, the more efficient it will operate.  The reason is simple: a longer turning radius inside a larger frame means fewer revolutions.  Fewer revolutions means less electricity to operate the machinery.  Hence, larger units usually tell a consumer he or she is getting a more cost-efficient product.

Cost-to-Quality

The other important consideration is the ratio of cost to quality factor.  Some brands take pride in their superior build and longevity and stand behind their products with a warranty.  Look through the warranty and see what, and when, it will provide coverage should anything happen to your unit.  Also, be sure to read numerous consumer reports about the performance of at least five or six air conditioning brands.  Some of the names that have stood the test of time include Trane, Lennox, Whirlpool, Carrier, and Amana.  However, there might be savings advantages to looking into some lesser-known brands.  Again, research is always the key.

BTUs

Another factor many buyers consider are the unit’s BTUs. BTU is an acronym that stands for British Thermal Unit, which is a method of measuring thermal, or heat, energy.  A general rule of thumb for warmer climated areas, such as Florida, is that you need 30 to 35 BTUs for every square foot inside your home.  Therefore, a house with 1900 square feet would need a unit with at least 57,000 to 66,500 BTUs.

 

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