What does an air conditioner do?
The purpose of an air conditioning unit, or an AC unit, is to cool your home or space.
Central air conditioners provide whole-house air conditioning in buildings that have ductwork. This guide is about central air conditioners.
Ductless, mini-split air conditioners are used to cool a home or building without ductwork. [Read more about ductless, mini split systems here.]
PTACs are Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners. These AC units are installed near windows and are best air conditioners for single rooms or small spaces. [Read more about PTACs here.]
How does an air conditioner work?
An AC works by using two coils. The cold coil includes an evaporator and a fan. The hot coil has a compressor, a condenser, and a fan. In between the two coils is an expansion valve, which regulates the liquid refrigerant as it moves back and forth.
How to Choose an Air Conditioner for Your Home:
To find the best air conditioner for your house or for your office, you’ll need to figure out the square footage of your home or space. (Don’t forget to look up! Add a few square feet to high-ceilinged rooms.)
Next, calculate how many BTUs you need to cool your space. A BTU is a unit of energy, also known as a British Thermal Unit (click here for our What is BTU? blog post). One square foot of space requires approximately 25 BTUs to cool. To figure out the number of BTUs your home needs, multiply square feet by 25.
Example: If your house is 1,200 square feet, multiply 1,200 x 25 to get 30,000 BTUs.
Now that you know the number of BTUs you need to cool your home, you can figure out the correct tonnage for your air conditioner:
To decide tonnage for your air conditioning unit
Start with the total number of BTUs you need. Then divide the total number of BTUs by 12,000 to figure out the right tonnage for your AC unit.
In our example, that’s 30,000 BTUs divided by 12,000 (30,000 ÷ 12,000), or 2.5. For this home, the correct HVAC size would be a 2.5 ton unit.
(Click here to learn more about why tonnage matters)
How to choose the best SEER for your AC
What is SEER?
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. Every air conditioner has a SEER level. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the AC unit. Air conditioners with higher SEER levels usually cost more, but in a warm climate, they can save money over time.
Why not just buy the cheapest SEER AC unit?
Lower SEER levels often mean less-expensive air conditioning units. That’s fine in cool places, where the AC won’t get as much use. But in warm or hot places, where the AC is running a lot, a lower-efficiency, lower SEER unit will cost more to run.
Why not just buy the highest efficiency SEER level unit?
Higher SEER levels often mean more-expensive units. In a warm or hot climate where the AC will run a lot, high-efficiency makes sense. But in a cool or cold climate, where the AC won’t get as much use, it will take a long time (over a decade!) before the unit’s efficiency saves you money.
What SEER rating is right for me?
The answer to how to decide what SEER you need depends on the climate where you live. If you live in a warm climate, you will need a higher level. If you live in a cool climate, you will need a lower SEER level.
Air conditioners sold in Northern states must be at least 13 SEER. Air conditioners sold in Southern states must be at least 14 SEER, since they are run longer during the year.
Beyond that number, though, it is up to a homeowner to decide what SEER is best for their home or business. The decision is based on how much you want to spend now, since higher SEER units cost more, and how much you will run it, since lower-SEER units cost slightly more to run.
Click here for our blog post on how to determine the best SEER level for your AC.
At Factory Furnace Outlet, we are committed to providing you with the best air conditioning unit for your needs, at the best price possible. We can help you choose an AC. Please contact us!
Note: before making a purchase, check with your qualified installer to figure out which HVAC unit is best for your home or space.
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