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Central Air Conditioning Buying Guide

Whether your existing unit is on its last leg or you've never had one installed in your home in the first place, buying a central air conditioner is a major undertaking. Knowing how to buy a central air conditioner is crucial because it's easy to overlook important things. This is a major investment, so it's important to select the right home cooling solution the first time. Browsing central air conditioner reviews and checking out central air conditioner prices are just a few pieces of the puzzle. More than anything, you need to work with the right HVAC contractor.

How to Buy A Central Air Conditioner: Considerations to Make

When it comes to many purchases, you can easily use the Internet to compare and contrast different options. Selecting the right central air conditioning system isn't that simple, though. Many factors must be weighed when determining the correct home cooling solution, so what works for one home may not work for the next. It's still worth it to browse central air conditioner reviews, but you should take the following points into consideration above everything else:

  • Ductwork - The presence - or lack thereof - of ductwork plays a major role in the overall expense of having central air conditioning installed. Central air conditioners prices rise dramatically when ducts need to be installed. Even if your home has ducts, they may not be the right size or in the right locations to be compatible with a central air conditioning system. One option is to try a split-ductless system instead, but that's only practical if you just need to cool a few areas of your home. In addition to ensuring that the ducts are the right size and in the right places, they should be inspected for leaks and other problems. Prior to installation, the ducts should be insulated and sealed to ensure optimal functionality.
  • Cooling Capacity - The cooling capacity, or size, of central air conditioners is measured in British thermal units per hour, or BTUs per hour. It's sometimes reflected in tons, with one ton equaling 12,000 BTUs. Be wary of any contractor who immediately recommends a specific cooling capacity. For optimal results, a thorough load calculation should be performed. The contractor should use a reliable source, like Manual J by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, or ACCA, to arrive at the appropriate capacity. This step is a critical part of knowing how to buy a central air conditioner. If the cooling capacity is too low, your home won't get cool enough. If it's too high, your home will be cold, the air will be clammy and efficiency will suffer.
  • Efficiency - These days, everyone is concerned about energy efficiency. Looking for low central air conditioner unit prices is smart, but it won't matter if you end up with an inefficient unit. The easiest way to determine the energy efficiency of an air conditioner is by checking the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which is also known as a SEER rating. You can't effectively know how to buy central air conditioners without keeping SEER ratings in mind. The higher the rating, the better the efficiency. By law, all central air conditioners must have ratings of 13 or higher.
  • Style - In terms of style, you have a few options. If your home doesn't have ducts and you just need to cool a few rooms, a split-ductless system may be the best option. Most people still opt for split systems, which consist of an outdoor unit and an indoor unit that is usually attached to the furnace. If you'd like to roll your home heating and cooling into one and you live in an area that experiences mild winters, a heat pump system may be the best solution. Central air conditioner unit prices vary considerably for all of these options, so make sure to study up on the subject before making a decision.

Choosing a Contractor

As important as selecting the right central air conditioner is, choosing a contractor is crucial as well. The right contractor will be able to present you with options that suit your lifestyle and your budget. Central air conditioner prices run the gamut, and installation rates do too. If you'd like to get the most bang for your buck, it pays to take care while hiring a heating and cooling professional.

Finding the most affordable central air conditioners prices is helpful, but working with an experienced contractor is even more important. When your system is installed by highly skilled, NATE-certified technicians, you can rest assured that it will function effectively and efficiently. As an added bonus, the right HVAC company will be able to perform tune-ups that will keep your equipment in excellent shape for a long time to come.