Five Things to Consider when Buying a New Home Air Conditioner
1. SEER Rating
The SEER rating is how efficient an air conditioner is. Think of this number like the MPG of a car — the higher the number, the more efficient, and thus the more money you can save in operating cost. Today, SEER ratings range from 13 to 20, and most people in Central Ohio can get by with a 13-16 SEER unit.
2. Tonnage of Air Conditioner
Air conditioners range in size, often referred to as “ton units.” The “ton units” of an air conditioner you need is based on the size of your home, the age of your home (which reflects how efficiently is holds or doesn’t hold temperature), and the ductwork in your house.
Home air conditioners both cool and dehumidify your house. If an air conditioner is too big, it will cool down your home quickly, but will not run long enough to properly dehumidify. Our knowledgeable staff will make sure you have the appropriately sized home air conditioner to properly cool your home quickly, but also properly dehumidify.
3. Sound Levels
The sound level of the external portion of modern home air conditioners are much quieter than those of the past. Old air conditioners can be as loud as 80db. If your system sits next to your patio outside or near a window, consider the db levels. The system should be moderately quiet and non-intrustive from 15 feet away. The quietest home air conditioner units have a db rating in the low 60s. 60db is half as loud as 70db, which is half as loud at 80db.
4. Physical Size of System
Over the past decade, air conditioner units have actually increased in size, and a new system will likely be physically larger than your older system. We think of smaller cars being more efficient, but the opposite is true for home air conditioners — larger units often have a better SEER rating. But don’t worry, we take into consideration the size of the space in your house when helping identify the best system for you.
5. Stages of Cooling: 1 or 2 Stage Air Conditioner
Out of the gate, we’ll tell you that most people in Central Ohio do not need a 2-stage home air conditioner. But there are some applications where it makes sense.
A 2-stage home air conditioner has the ability to run at a lower stage of cooling — say 50% to 70% of its maximum potential. This allows the air conditioner to run at a lower level when a lower amount of cooling is needed. These units have the ability to run at a lower level of cooling when the heat outside is at a milder level in the spring, and a higher level during the heat of summer, for example.
We generally recommend a single-stage home air conditioner for most homes in Central Ohio. Why? The climate in Central Ohio is more temperate and doesn’t require a home air conditioner with “all the bells and whistles.” In Columbus, Ohio, the temperature is above 75 degrees about 1,200 hours per year, or 14% of the year. The temperature is below 65 degrees 5,900 hours, or 67% of the year. A 2-stage home air conditioner is an extra cost that is only helpful for a small portion of the year.