So, are you ready to purchase your first air conditioner (AC) or upgrade your older one to a new one? An AC unit can be all the difference between your home or office being an unbearable, sweltering nightmare or a cool, comfortable paradise. However, before pulling the trigger there are many factors you should consider to ensure that you get the most out of your new unit.
The main concept that needs to be grasped is that there is no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to cooling your property as each space comes with its own set of requirements so selecting the best AC for your specific needs is crucial. We’ve listed out some of the key points to evaluate prior to making your purchase decision. And while the below tips can be applied universally without restriction, if you’re looking to buy a new AC in Westchase, our team of qualified, friendly technicians are always at hand if you need any more advice on how you can beat the heat and buy the best AC for your specific needs.
Figure out your cooling requirement
Ensuring you buy an AC that meets the cooling requirement for your exact needs is vital to maximizing the lifetime of your unit as well as saving on electricity costs through better efficiency. An air conditioner’s BTU (British Thermal Unit) rating is used to determine the cooling capacity of the unit and its ability to cool a room or space. A simplified way of looking at BTU is to think of BTU in air conditioner’s as horsepower in cars. Just as a car with higher horsepower will drive faster and perform better, an air conditioner with a higher BTU rating can cool a larger space more effectively and efficiently. Conversely, an AC with a lower BTU would be more suitable for cooling a smaller space with lower cooling requirements.
If the BTU rating is too high, the unit would be less efficient because it would be consuming more energy to cool the area. It would also be switching on and off constantly resulting in more wear than normal as it tried to maintain the temperature. If the BTU rating is too low, it could struggle to cool the room while also running constantly resulting in excess wear.
In general, some of the main factors to consider when you are working out the BTU rating for your AC requirements are:
- The local climate
- Room size, dimensions, and layout
- The amount of direct sunshine on your property
- Windows in the room
- Expected average occupancy
- Availability of heat-generating appliances
You can work out an approximation of the BTU requirement for your room using online BTU calculators.
Do note however that these calculators only offer an approximation but you should always get a qualified technician to evaluate your cooling requirements before investing in an AC. And in case you’re looking for an AC in the Westchase area, click here for a free consultation
Buy the most efficient models with SEER
Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) is a measure of how efficient and green an air conditioner is. The higher the rating, the more efficient the unit is, which would help to drive down operational costs. A rating of 14 or higher is considered a good SEER, though highly efficient units can have ratings as high as 23. The United States Department of Energy has established minimum SEER ratings over the years ranging by state (North and South/South West states are the typical two groups) and in 2023 the minimum will be raised to 14 in the Northern states and 15 in the South/South Western states.
Generally, the upfront costs to purchase a highly rated model is higher the more highly rated, however, you would also enjoy long-term operational savings in electricity consumption. Generally accepted advice is to shop for an air conditioner unit with a minimum SEER of 14 – 16.
Select the appropriate AC type
Depending on your budget, your home layout, cooling requirements and more, you should purchase the type of AC that best fits your needs. There are 8 different, popular AC options: central (ducted) ACs, ductless mini-split ACs, window ACs, portable ACs, floor-mounted ACs, smart ACs, Geothermal AC systems, and hybrid/Dual fuel ACs. We will go into detail on each type of AC in a separate article (or if an article is already available link here), however, the choice of type of AC to install will be a key consideration when it comes to immediate cost (both installation and purchase) and short term cost (operational and maintenance) as each comes with its own benefits and drawbacks.
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Choose the best air conditioner brand and model for your needs
After you’ve selected the type of AC you want to install, do some research into the various popular brands and models in that AC category to settle on one that provides high-quality, efficient models while remaining within your budget. Well-known brands are usually known for a reason, they provide high-quality units that meet their customer’s needs. It can be beneficial in the long run to stretch your budget to try and accommodate the better brands or models if possible, as an AC is a long-term investment that comes with its own set of operational costs.
Furthermore, make sure to understand the warranty coverage and service requirements prior to purchasing as this will be crucial in the long-term care of your new AC unit.
Another overlooked point of consideration is the amount of sound the AC can generate, especially when it is at max load. It can become downright annoying to have a steady droning in the background or intermittent bursts of noise to distract at inopportune moments. Try to select one that has a relatively low noise level, usually less than 60 decibels.
Consulting with a qualified contractor can help in this process as they have years of experience installing and maintaining AC units and they can use their knowledge to advise on the best brand and unit to meet your needs and budget. They would also be able to advise you on the recommended maintenance schedule to keep your AC running smoothly.
While it is possible to install some AC units without professional advice or assistance, should the installation be done improperly, it could lead to cooling inefficiencies, higher energy bills, and even damage to your unit. Don’t skimp out on this stage as a professional installation could make all the difference on whether your AC provides the best possible cooling and efficiency, especially in the long run. While making the purchase decision is a key part of the process, it is meaningless if the unit is not properly installed.
Speaking to a few local contractors in your area from the outset of your buying journey can help you along at all stages, from providing you with expert opinion on the required BTU and type of AC unit to providing you with estimates based on your requirements and budgets to finally installing and maintaining your AC units. Just like the actual AC unit, you get what you pay for and what you spend on home refurbishments and repairs ultimately reflect on the quality and longevity of the work. Working with a reliable contractor can ensure the installation is compliant with local building codes and regulations and that proper equipment is used during the installation.
A DIY installation may also run the risk of not being covered by a manufacturer warranty and (depending on the brand, AC type, and model) may necessitate a professional installation to be covered by the warranty.
Should you make the (wise) decision to use a professional service, it is important you choose the right one for the job, you can find 6 Attributes of a Good HVAC company here, to help you in the selection process. Requesting quotes from multiple contractors can also help you in your selection process, as you can identify more favorable services for the best possible price when doing so.
Smart features add modern convenience to your AC
Most modern ACs come with some level of automation or smart features that will allow you to remotely control your AC, such as automating the on/off times based on your schedule to monitoring the maintenance needs of the unit, and providing you with historical stats on usage. Depending on your home setup, you may want an AC that is compatible with the rest of your smart home setup, so make it a point to make sure AC smart features would work with your smart home platform of choice. These features can just be nice to have conveniences but some also improve the overall efficiency and usage of your unit.
Taking care of it
So you’ve sprung for the perfect AC unit that covers your cooling requirements, is from a reputed brand, and was professionally installed? Great, chapter closed and now it’s just time to sit back and enjoy your sweat-free, cold (but not too cold) paradise, right? Not quite. No matter how perfect your selection and installation may be, things can always go wrong usually with the passage of time and regular wear and tear.
This is why the service plan and warranty are key steps in the purchase decision. Making sure you’re covered by an industry standard or leading warranty will ensure that a defective unit doesn’t break the bank to repair while a structured service plan will ensure to limit the wear on your unit to ensure it’s working at its optimal capacity.
We hope the guide provides you with direction when it comes to making one of the best quality-of-life purchasing decisions you can make.
Should you require any more information, or are looking to purchase a new AC in the Westchase area, Easy Breezy AC’s team of certified technicians are always ready to help. With nearly 4000 active commercial and residential customers, Easy Breezy A/C is Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties’ most trusted HVAC company for a reason! Contact us now!
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As an air conditioning technician, I am responsible for the maintenance and repair of HVAC systems. I work with various tools and equipment to troubleshoot and repair issues with AC units. My work can sometimes be challenging, but it is gratifying to help keep people comfortable in their homes and businesses!