Buying a central air conditioner for your Phoenix home is an important investment. It’s essential to have a reliable unit able to stand up to hot summers without sending your power bill into orbit. Luckily, today’s air conditioning units are far superior to models made just a few years ago.
With a little bit of research and quick comparison shopping, you can find an affordable unit that is both powerful and energy efficient. In this article, we’ll look at some of the key aspects to keep in mind when you are shopping for a new unit.
How Does a Central Air Conditioner Work?
The primary job of an air conditioner is to pull warm air out of a home and replace it with cold, conditioned air. Most central units are mounted either on the ground outside a home or on the roof. The contractor you hire to install your unit will help determine which mounting option will work best.
There are a few key components that make a central air conditioning unit work. Each separate function operates in harmony to help ensure your home is always comfortable, even during the hot summer months in Phoenix.
Evaporator: The evaporator coils use refrigerant to remove heat and humidity from inside your home. These coils are typically made of copper, or another alloy that makes for an efficient heat exchanger.
Blower: The blower circulates air across the evaporator coils, pushing the cold air through the ducts. The cold air is evenly distributed throughout the home.
Condenser: The condenser is situated outside and serves the function of dissipating waste heat to the outdoors. Allowing excess heat to exit the system quickly helps central air conditioners run more efficiently.
Compressor: The compressor is a crucial piece when it comes to any unit. It drives the heat transfer by converting refrigerant from a gas to a liquid, then back again.
Fan: While the blower distributes the cool air, the fan sucks up the warm air and sends it through the condenser, where it is released outside as waste heat.
What Are Some Key Considerations When Buying a New Central AC Unit?
Anyone looking into purchasing a new unit will want to ensure their investment will provide reliability, affordability, and cooling power. Finding that balance means taking the following factors into consideration.
Central Air Conditioning Size
Calculating the proper size is paramount when it comes to purchasing the right unit. It needs to be substantial enough to cool your home, but should not be too big. If an air conditioner is too large, it will eat up too much energy while cycling on and off too frequently. This uses more energy and puts unneeded wear on a system.
Upgrading From an Older Unit
Don’t assume you need to buy the same size unit as the one you are replacing. It is important to remember that today’s units are much more efficient, so a smaller size might be able to perform even better while using less energy.
On the other hand, if you have added rooms or expanded your home in any way, you may have to purchase a larger central air conditioner to cool the added space adequately.
Get more out of your investment by choosing the most efficient model that will work with your budget. The standardized measure of efficiency in the United States is defined as the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating or SEER.
The SEER is assigned a numerical value to represent the efficiency of a particular model of air conditioner. The higher the number, the more efficient.
The federal government mandates that all new units must have a SEER of 14 or higher. Some manufacturers are producing units with SEER ratings as high as 25. How much you are willing to invest up-front will play a role in determining how high of a SEER you are ready to purchase.
Any new unit will provide increased efficiency, so the key should be finding the right model that works with your budget. Buying a unit based on the SEER ranking alone is usually not a very practical way to go. Keep in mind that if your existing unit is ten years old or older, a 14 SEER central air conditioner will be around 40 percent more efficient. You’ll notice the added efficiency when your power bill comes around.
You should upgrade your thermostat along with your air conditioning unit to get every bit of energy possible. Studies have shown that just updating a thermostat to a programmable version can save up to 25 percent on cooling costs and more than 30 percent on heating.
Part of the savings comes from the fact that once programmed, these thermostats will automatically adjust the temperature throughout the day.
The digital interface makes programmable thermostats easy to operate with less room for error. You can even program your thermostat to cool differently based on the day of the week.
Today, many consumers are going beyond the programmable thermostat by investing in smart thermostats. These thermostats will learn your routine and adjust accordingly. They also allow you to control the climate of your home remotely through a smartphone or tablet.
Air conditioners are like cars in that periodic maintenance is the best way to keep all the parts working properly and running in harmony. Most contractors offer regular maintenance services aimed at inspecting and addressing any preventative issues to extend the life of a unit and keep it performing optimally.
A maintenance service or tune-up will typically involve:
- Thermostat inspection
- Clean or replace air filter
- Wiring inspection
- Clean dirt buildup from blower, fan, and motor
- Clean condenser and evaporator coils
- Lubricate moving parts
- Top off Freon
- Test system and airflow
- Inspect ductwork
It’s a good idea to have a thorough tune up performed once a year to keep everything running smoothly and reliably. The relatively nominal price will protect your investment and help prevent breakdowns, which could lead to costly repairs.
Finding the Right Contractor for Installation
Hiring the right contractor will make all the difference when it is time to install a new air conditioner. There are several criteria that any contractor should meet before earning your business.
Licensing and bonding: You should never choose a contractor that is not licensed, bonded and insured. To obtain the proper licensing, contractors are required to meet a strict set of legal guidelines. These rules will vary by state, but any state will implement a rigorous licensing process.
Licensed contractors are legally required to uphold high standards of workmanship and business ethics. Here in Arizona, licensed contractors are monitored by the Registrar of Contractors. The government body not only awards licensing to contractors but also has the power to revoke licenses. AROC protects consumers by holding licensed contractors to the highest standards of excellence.
Consumers who do not feel a particular contractor performed the services as promised can file a complaint with the AROC, which may launch an investigation.
Reputation: A company’s reputation and history are important when it comes to deciding who you will invest in to install your new unit. Take a look at the contractor’s rating with the Better Business Bureau, as well as the BBB accreditation status.
Certified Technicians: Are the technicians who will perform the work on your home qualified and certified to get the job done right? The best technicians have a combination of experience and certification.
Professionalism: The company you choose should operate at the highest level of professionalism at all times. That means technicians will show up on time and provide courteous service.
Other Considerations When Buying a Central Air Conditioner
Get a Thorough Estimate: The contractor you choose should be able to back up the quote you receive with detailed calculations. You should know exactly why the contractor is recommending a particular unit size and model and should be willing to provide you with a printout detailing every aspect of the job.
Ducts: Can you install a new central air conditioner using your current ductwork, or will it need to be repaired or upgraded? Older duct systems may need to be replaced to maximize the performance of your new unit. For instance, ducts that are too small can lead to inefficient and noisy operation of the air conditioner.
If your current ducts do not need replacement, you may want to look into having the ductwork serviced. A service would involve cleaning, checking for leaks and sealing any areas where air could be escaping into unwanted areas.
Choose Precision Air and Heating
Get in touch with Precision Air and Heating if you are considering having a new central air conditioner installed. We are a fully licensed, bonded and insured company with an excellent record of providing the best customer service and affordable prices.
Call 602.Fix.MyAC (602.349.6922) today to schedule a free consultation with one of our certified and experienced technicians. Customer satisfaction is our number one goal. We also offer 24 hour emergency service.