Broan - Heating and Cooling Systems

Cooling Equipment

Cooling Equipment

You can expect a central air conditioner to last, on average, 16 years. Here's what you need to know about purchasing a new air conditioning system:

Invest in a good install. The quality of the installation is critical to the performance of your HVAC system. Hire a certified contractor who is going to address your ductwork and other home needs in addition to new equipment. A quality installation will cost more upfront, but it will save you in service and problems in the long run.

Choose R-410A. Older air conditioners and heat pumps use a refrigerant called R-22. In 2010, the new refrigerant standard became R-410A - a more environmentally friendly refrigerant because it does not deplete the ozone. If you currently have an R-22 system, choosing a new one with R-410A refrigerant may mean some extra costs to replace the line set and indoor coil, but you won't have to worry about dwindling refrigerant supplies down the road and will be getting the maximum long-term efficiency out of your new system.

Choose the highest SEER you can afford. Today, Broan air conditioners can reach up to 20 SEER. Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is a measurement of the efficiency of your cooling system over the course of a season. The higher the SEER, the higher the efficiency. Before 2006, most systems were rated 8 to 10 SEER. In 2006, the minimum efficiency became 13 SEER. Today, air conditioners such as the Broan iQ Drive® system can be as high as 20 SEER. To put it in context, a 16-SEER system is 60% more efficient than a 10-SEER system, and a system up to 20 SEER is 100% more efficient than a 10-SEER system.

Think about a heat pump. A heat pump works just like an air conditioner, cooling your home in the summer. But in the fall and early spring, it can also provide cost-effective electric heat. Many homeowners choose a split-system heat pump instead of a air conditioner, and then pair that heat pump with a gas furnace. A dual-fuel system like this can dramatically reduce your utility bills because you heat with electricity when the weather is mild and with gas when the temperatures get colder - so you are always using the most cost-effective fuel source to heat your home. If you have a packaged system (the entire system sits outside the home), there are also dual-fuel options that combine heat pump and gas heat technology.

Replace the indoor component, too. A typical split-system air conditioner has two components - the outdoor section and the indoor section as described below. Some contractors may try to reduce costs by replacing only the outdoor section. But in order for your system to achieve the efficiency you're paying for, you need to have a matched system that includes a new indoor coil. Reusing old indoor components can reduce the performance of your air conditioner. It may also void the manufacturer's warranty because it is not a complete system.

Know your current system. A "split system" is an outdoor section and an indoor section. This is the most common type of system. In the central United States and Canada, the indoor section is the coil box that sits on top of your furnace. (Many homeowners think this is part of the furnace when it is actually the indoor section to the air conditioner.) Cool air is distributed throughout the home by the furnace blower. In very hot southern regions, the indoor section is typically an electric furnace or an air handler. This product has the blower and coil inside one cabinet.

If you do not have an indoor section, you may have a "packaged" air conditioner or heat pump. Packaged units are not common and only found in select regions. The packaged system contains the blower and coil components all within the outdoor section and may even provide heat from natural gas or an electric strip.

Don't forget comfort. Many higher-efficiency air conditioners include features that will improve your home's comfort. Two-stage systems reduce hot and cold spots by running at both a high and low stage, so they are quieter and provide a better mix of air throughout the home. Swept-wing fan blades and compressor sound blankets will reduce noise. Variable-speed or modulating air conditioners will ramp up to full speed through several levels, providing the quietest performance and best mix of air.

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