Investing in a new central air conditioning system is a big decision. You want to buy a new AC unit that will hold up for the long haul and run efficiently. Today, the process can be a little overwhelming for the average consumer. After all, you’ve got to figure out how tonnage, SEER ratings and the square footage of your home factor into the equation.
Then comes calling contractors to get a quote and trying to determine which will provide you with the best AC for the most reasonable price. The key to making sure you get the most for your money is getting a good grasp of the basics.
Split vs. Package AC System
There are two types of residential central air conditioning systems, package units, and split systems. A package system is installed on the roof as one component. A split system mounts on the ground, with the condenser coil outside of the home and the evaporator coil inside.
To get an idea of which type you’ll need, take a look at your existing system. If your AC is on the roof, you have a package system. If it’s on the ground, you have a split. Replacing your AC unit with the type already in your home will likely save you money and make the job easier.
For example, switching from a package to a split system may require paying for new ductwork throughout your home.
If You Don’t Already Have a Central AC
If you are installing a central air conditioning unit from scratch, you’ll have to decide whether a split or package will work best for you. The installation costs are the same for both so you won’t have to factor that into the decision.
If you don’t have a lot of space in your backyard and don’t like the thought of an air conditioner taking up prime real estate, a roof-mounted package system might be just the option for you. On the other hand, if you have a good spot picked out on the ground, you might just want to go with the split system.
Another consideration is security. Your air conditioning unit contains parts that thieves may try to get ahold of, such as copper. Having a roof-mounted package unit will make it much harder for crooks to access your AC unit.
Get a General Idea of What Size Unit You’ll Need
Central air conditioners are sized based on the tonnage. Determining how many tons your AC unit should depend on the square footage of your home. Below, you’ll find a basic breakdown to help you get a rough idea about what size AC unit you would need.
Square Footage Tonnage/Size 600-800sf 1.5 Tons 800-1,000sf 2 Tons 1,000-1,200sf 2.5 Tons 1,200-1,400sf 3 Tons 1,500-1,700sf 3.5 Tons 1,800-2,000sf 4 Tons 2,100-2,500sf 5 Tons
Finding the Right Contractor
The most important part of having an air conditioner installed is finding the right contractor to get the job done. Make sure the company you choose is licensed, bonded and insured with an excellent rating from the Better Business Bureau.
All parts and labor should be under warranty. Get a detailed estimate with everything in writing. You don’t want to end up getting hit with mystery charges and end up paying hundreds of dollars more than you anticipated.
Some companies are now allowing customers to buy the air conditioning unit and installation online. These businesses allow consumers to find the unit they want and pay up front as easily as checking out with any other online retailer. If you’ve done your research, buying the unit online will save you a lot of time and the hassle of dealing with pushy salespeople.
Erik Bryan is the owner of newACunit.com. The company offers consumers a way to buy a new air conditioner with installation online. Licensed and bonded contractors perform all the work.