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Four Tips for Buying a New Air Conditioner

Your air conditioner is arguably the most important appliance in your home, as you rely on it to keep you cool, comfortable, and even healthy when the outdoor temperatures and humidity rise. Therefore, when your system breaks down or needs to be replaced, choosing the right model to replace it is a huge decision. So where do you begin? How do you know which unit is right for your home and your needs? Many homeowners know very little about air conditioning technology, and we understand that. So to help, here are four tips for purchasing a new air conditioning unit.

Know the SEER Value

One of the most important numbers pertaining to air conditioners is the SEER value, or the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which is a rating given to indicate a particularly air conditioning unit’s efficiency. Naturally, you’d think the higher a SEER rating, the better, if it pertains to efficiency, right? Not even close. For starters, you have to understand how SEER ratings are given. An air conditioning unit is put through a laboratory test when it is brand new in order to obtain a SEER value. Think of it like an MPG rating on a car—are you really going to get the full highway efficiency rating all of the time? No, probably not.

And this is huge for homeowners, because units with a high SEER value are usually two things: expensive and unreliable. An extremely efficient system may cut down your electric bill, but you’ll be doing a lot of additional maintenance on them. That will add a lot to the cost of ownership for one of these units, which is already going to cost you a lot more out of pocket.

For this reason, we usually recommend no more than a 14 to 16 SEER rating for those who want a good blend of durability and efficiency at an affordable price.

Get the Right Size

A giant air conditioner will surely cool your home quickly, meaning your system has to run less and will last longer while using less electricity, right? Not exactly.

Much like SEER ratings, the size of your air conditioner needs to be a good balance as well, and this will depend largely on what it is you want your unit to do. Do you have a multi-zoned home, such as a house with a different air conditioner for upstairs and downstairs? If so, you’ll likely want to use a smaller unit than one large one, and you’ll still maintain maximum comfort and efficiency.

Using too large of an air conditioner can have serious problems with your home. An air conditioner that puts too much air into your vents can cause pressure to build up in your ducts, causing damage, bursting, and a number of other serious problems. A unit that’s too large may also turn on and off frequently, which dramatically increases the amount of wear and tear on a system, leading to that expensive investment needing to be replaced again far sooner.

Find a Fair Price

When looking for a new air conditioner, you’ll probably see a wide range of shapes and sizes as well as prices, depending on the model. However, there’s a little secret you should probably know: many of the major name brands are actually the same company, and the guts of your machine might even be exactly the same from one brand to the next. In fact, even today, Carrier, Heil, Day & Night, Payne, and Bryant are all made by the same company: United Technologies. If you’re comparing two similar units from these companies, it really doesn’t matter which one you get—they’re probably identical. If the price between two similar units is significantly different, look into what makes it so, as there may be a feature missing or included that you are unaware of.

The price for a new air conditioner will also depend heavily on several factors, including whether or not you also replace the furnace at the same time, buy a new thermostat, and more, plus you’ll need to have the system installed by a quality, experienced contractor as well as the taxes on your purchase.

Use an Experienced Contractor

Speaking of contractors, it might surprise you to learn there are quite a few scam artists and out there who would rather make a quick buck and take off than try to earn a living as an honest business. These scammers will often offer you a high-quality air conditioner and installation at a really low price, in fact far below what you’ll receive in quotes from other more reputable businesses. This price might seem too good to be true, and it usually is: they provide you with a sub-par product, install it poorly, and then vanish without a trace with your money, only to have your system break down on you again, and you can’t find them at all when you need a repair for their shoddy work.

Whenever you’re looking for a major work, such as an air conditioner installation, be sure to get a written quote from several companies, and always make sure to ask about any licenses or certifications, as well as a physical business address for each contractor (many scammers will simply work out of the back of a truck and not actually pay to have a normal business location). Finally, the internet is your friend when it comes to a company’s reputation. If a particular contractor has few reviews, or lots of poor reviews, particularly recently, avoid them at all costs.

If you’re looking for a high-quality, experienced air conditioning contractor to help you with your home system, call the Palm Beach air conditioning experts at Phoenix Air Conditioning, LLC now at (888) 660-4337 to obtain a free quote or to schedule a replacement service!
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