The 6 best HVAC systems for the home, standard heat pump and split system with air controller. The standard heat pump and air handle split system is another popular option. Boiler with radiant heating system %26 AC. Electric oven and AC Split system.
Your account payment could not be processed or you have canceled your account with us. We don't recognize that login yet. Have you forgotten your username or password? The cost of owning a car over time Listen to the Talking Cars podcast How to sleep well at night The best cleaning products for cooking 26% of cleaning products Find the right size humidifier The best and worst Internet providers for the home Early spring is a good time to think about replacing the central air conditioner or installing a completely new system. It can be a huge expense, so you'll want to do it right.
If you're buying a new central air conditioner for the first time in a long time (most air conditioning units last at least a decade), you'll find that current models save more energy, meaning that it costs less to operate and, at the same time, they keep you cool and comfortable. Ductless air conditioners are also more common and affordable than they were a decade ago. These can be a great option if you're adapting a permanent air conditioning system to a house (or a section of the house) that doesn't yet have ducts. Here's a little more about the differences between ducted and unducted ACs.
Centralized air conditioning: A true central air conditioning system uses ducts to distribute cold air throughout the house. In a “split” system, the most common design, the refrigerant circulates between an inner coil and an outer condenser with compressor of the same brand (see the illustration below). The refrigerant cools the air and dehumidifies it in the process; a fan circulates the air through ducts throughout the house. A thermostat maintains the temperature in the setting you select.
Split ductless systems Split ductless systems have an external condenser and compressor, and one to four or more indoor fan units, called air controllers, mounted high on the wall, that distribute air. The inner and outer sections are connected by a thin duct that houses the power cable, refrigerant tubes and a condensate drain. The duct goes through an approximately 3-inch hole hidden behind each air controller. Each air controller cools the room in which it is installed and the temperature is adjusted with a remote control.
While technically not central air, they are much quieter and more efficient than window or portable air conditioners, and can be an easier and cheaper option to install than a true central air system. You can also consider a heat pump with an air source instead of a system that only works with air conditioning. Heat pumps can provide heating and cooling. In cooling mode, they work exactly like air conditioners.
And when it gets colder, they're the most energy efficient home heating system. They have been common in warm parts of the U.S. UU. For decades, but now there are plenty of air-source heat pumps that can meet most or all of a home's heating needs, even in cold climates.
You can also use a heat pump in combination with an existing or complementary heating system. An installer can configure it so that the heat pump works most of the time, but then, when the outside temperature drops below a certain threshold and the heat pump becomes less practical, another system, such as a gas oven, is activated. A general rule of thumb for that threshold is about 20°F, but the limit can be a little warmer or much colder, depending on the system. Some so-called ductless air conditioners are actually heat pumps.
Because heat pumps are so energy efficient, some state governments offer tax incentives or even direct cash rebates to homeowners who install air-source heat pumps, sometimes making them the most economical option for home heating and cooling. Read our heat pump buying guide for more information. To provide cooling throughout the house, an air conditioner transfers heat from the inside of the house to the outside. If you are installing an air conditioning system from scratch, your contractor must calculate the size of the refrigeration equipment you need using recognized methods, such as those found in the Residential Load Calculation Manual, also known as Manual J, from Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA).
In addition, it is advisable to ensure that the ducts are sealed and insulated. Otherwise, air can escape and waste between 20 and 30 percent of the energy used to operate the system. Sealing your ducts will keep you cooler in summer and warmer in winter. It's important to choose the right air conditioning capacity for the size of your home.
A unit that is too small will struggle to keep your home comfortable. Buying an oversized unit will cost you more and (unless it's a model with a variable-speed compressor) it will turn on and off more often than it should, stressing out components and having difficulty controlling the humidity in your home. If you are going to replace your central air conditioner, you should check if you really need a system of the same size as your previous unit or if you can reduce it a little. Any changes you've made to improve the energy efficiency of your home, such as updating windows or adding insulation, can reduce your cooling needs.
On the other hand, if you've added rooms, you may need more cooling. Noise According to our reader survey, quiet operation is the feature that best indicates the owner's overall satisfaction with their air conditioner. Manufacturers publish the noise levels of their products, at a variety of outdoor temperatures and fan speeds, measured in decibels. A lower rating is better, especially if the air conditioner will be installed near a bedroom window.
Central air conditioning systems need regular maintenance for optimal performance. When negotiating the installation, it's worth negotiating a service plan that combines periodic inspections with discounts on repairs and a labor guarantee on the full price. The prices of such a service can vary widely. You can also handle some of the maintenance on your own.
Remove debris and dirt from the condenser coils and check for blockages in the drain pipe. Follow the air conditioner manufacturer's recommendations for changing the filter and the filter manufacturer's recommendations for how often you should change it. In general, the thicker the disposable filter, the less often it will need to be changed. The HVAC filters we tested last between three and 12 months.
Setting your smart or programmable thermostat to the correct temperature can reduce your cooling costs by approximately 10 percent. The right temperature depends on your comfort level, but start by setting it to 78°F and experiment until you find the sweet spot. You'll save about 3 percent on your utility bill for every degree you raise the set temperature for central air, according to the Department of Energy. And keep in mind that using a box or ceiling fan, which is cheap to operate, can make you feel a temperature between 3°F and 4°F colder.
The compressor needs adequate airflow to work properly, so be sure to maintain at least 2 to 3 feet of space between the unit and any plant or structure. And there should also be 5 feet of free space between the top of the unit and any trees that are above. You'll also want to make sure there's enough space for you or a technician to access the unit and repair it. In addition, local building codes may govern how close an outdoor compressor can be to a neighbor's window or property boundary.
Whether you're replacing an old air conditioner or installing one for the first time, the most important thing is finding a reliable contractor to install and repair the air conditioning system. Look for references from neighbors, family members, or business associates. It's wise to get quotes from at least three contractors. Contractors who bid for your facility must show you the verification of the bond and insurance, in addition to the required contractor licenses.
Check with your local Better Business Bureau and consumer affairs office for complaint records. It's an advantage if technicians are certified by a commercial organization, such as North American Technician Excellence or HVAC Excellence, to repair residential heating and cooling equipment. These and similar programs evaluate the technician's knowledge of specific types of equipment and their appropriate service methods. Contractors who make an offer for their work must calculate the required cooling capacity using a recognized method, such as that found in the ACCA Residential Load Calculation Manual, also called Manual J.
An additional reference for evaluating pipeline needs is Manual D. The calculations produce a detailed room-by-room analysis of cooling needs. Ask for a printed copy of all calculations and assumptions, including the design of the pipeline. Beware of a contractor who bases their estimates solely on the size of the house or on vague general rules.
Any email addresses you provide will be used only to send this story. Hybrid HVAC systems are reliable and efficient, but they are generally the most complex forced-air HVAC systems to design and install. After completing the HVAC installation, it's in your best interest to protect your investment by scheduling annual maintenance with the HVAC contractor of your choice. Depending on whether you need to install a new HVAC system or simply replace any of the units for heating or cooling, you'll need to know the basic components that can make up an HVAC unit.