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A Guide to Choosing a Central Air Conditioning Unit for Your Home

If you are looking for an air conditioning for your home, you likely know that there are two main types of air conditioners that you can choose from – window or central air conditioning. The type of air conditioner that we are going to discuss here is central air conditioning. Don’t forget to read: 7 Common Air Conditioning Mistakes to Avoid.

Central air conditioning eliminates the need for placing air conditioners in your windows by having a unit which circulates the air through your home. There are two main types of central air conditioning from which you can choose.

Types of Central Air Conditioning

Conventional Units – Conventional central air systems work by drawing the humid, hot air into the return ductwork, then dehumidifying the air before sending it back into the home. This newly dehumidified and cooled air makes the home a lot more comfortable.

These types of units are able to be split, which means there’s a compressor/condenser unit outside of the home and the evaporator unit’s inside, generally mounted on the air handler or furnace. Units also can be packaged, in which the evaporator and compressor are placed in a single outside unit.

If you’re planning to put central air into an existing home, the conventional system will be able to use the established ducts of the home if your heat’s forced air. If there isn’t any ductwork in your home, you’ll have to install it in your basement, crawlspace, or attic. This is going to make it a lot more expensive and make the installation impossibly expensive sometimes.

Ductless Units – If a conventional unit is not feasible due to cost, a homeowner might consider one of the ductless units, also called mini-split systems. This works using an outside compressor which serves the individual units containing a blower fan and evaporator. These are generally placed on the room’s exterior wall’s top half.

These units tend to be large, but they are also out of the way. These are also often more pricy than the conventional units, but they don’t require costly ductwork installation. They are quieter than window units. They don’t block the view from a window and they also can heat the house.

Selecting Your Central Air Conditioning

Once you have chosen your type of unit which is best for you, you’ll need to figure out what efficiency level and size you are going to need for staying in your budget and serving your needs. Here are a few things to consider when choosing your unit.

Size – Purchase one that is too large and you are going to have a cold and damp house, and the unit will constantly go through cycles. If you have a unit that is too small, it’s going to have a hard time keeping up and it might freeze.

There are a lot of things that you have to consider when you are looking for the right size of air conditioner – your home’s size, how tall your home is, your insulation, your windows’ quality and number, how much shade your home receives, and how much direct sun your home receives. This is all known as a cooling load analysis.

Efficiency – The low efficiency units made today are the same as the high-efficiency units made about a decade ago. Since energy prices are skyrocketing, you want to replace your old unit. It may be that you’re saving 30-50% on your cooling costs, reducing the environmental footprint of your home.

The central air units have a number known as the SEER, known as the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. When this number is high, the unit’s very efficient. You want a unit that has a number of at least 13.

Features that Save Energy

To get a high SEER rating, there are different features that air conditioners will have. To get the highest possible rating, look for the following:

  • Large Coils – The large coils give a heat transfer that is more efficient
  • Higher Temperature Rating – Having an EER of more than 11.6 and a thermal expansion valve is going to help well for a high-efficiency operation will help during extremely hot weather.
  • Variable Speed Blower – This helps with reducing electricity consumption, since it tailors usage to need.
  • Fan-only Switch – Having this will let you turn off cooling but keeps your fan running to use the residual cooler air remaining once the compressor has turned off.
  • Filter Indicator – This light will tell you when your filter has to be changed. This will boost its efficiency by making sure that it’s properly maintained.
  • Filter – If there’s someone in your house with asthma or allergies, the quality of the air is important. Look for a unit that has an MERV that is high. The standard rating is 8, but higher numbers are better for air quality.
  • Noise – When you’re concerned about noise, look for units that have scroll compressors. The scroll units provide you with a cooler and quieter home.
  • Price – You are going to pay a large amount if you get central air. Prices range from $3,500 to $7,000 based on different factors. These factors include your home’s size, what the home needs, and your model’s efficiency. If you’re in need of ductwork installation, the price can go to up to $8,000 to $10,000 and higher.

The best way to choose the central air unit that is right for you is to consult with a contractor and see what they suggest. A SOS HVAC technician will go over your home’s information such as its size and what is already in your home, such as ductwork.

Let your SOS technician know what you are looking for and what your budget is, and then ask us to suggest one that is going to work based on your needs. Keep in mind that the air conditioning units that have higher SEER ratings might be more expensive up front, but they are also going to help you save money in energy costs in the long run.

Think about your needs and your options, and then choose the central air that is right for you and your family.


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SOS Air Conditioning is the best. We needed a new AC unit on a rental property and one year later our primary residence needed a new AC system. Both times we got several quotes and SOS was the most reasonable both times. Additionally, he uses Rheem which is better equipment than the other companies that were bidding. SOS is easy to work with, friendly, honest and they do great work for the best price around!- Janet Bresky