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What is a SEER Rating & What Does It Mean?

If the time has come to replace your air conditioner, you’ve probably been bombarded with information to consider. One of these important factors you’ve probably heard of is the “SEER” rating of your new system. What does this mean, what does it measure, and why is it so important? On our blog, we’ll explain this number in greater detail and explain how it could both help you choose the right system and convince you to purchase the wrong one if you’re not careful.

What Is a SEER Rating?

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which is essentially a measurement of an air conditioner’s energy consumption and efficiency. To put it in simple terms, the SEER rating is the ratio of the amount of air a system can output over the course of a typical cooling season divided by its energy consumption. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient an air conditioner is. Today, SEER ratings are used to push energy efficiency, and new systems are required by law to meet a minimum requirement of 14 SEER in order to be sold and installed in Florida homes. However, it’s important to remember that this value is an average, for reasons we will discuss momentarily.

Common Misconceptions

There are lots of misconceptions about what this stat can tell you. The first misconception is that the modern 14 SEER system is a “bottom of the line” system that’s the least efficient. While it’s true that this is the minimum efficiency requirement, the truth of the matter is they’re still remarkably good in terms of their consumption. In fact, if your existing air conditioner is 15 to 20 years old, odds are its SEER rating will probably be around 8 to 10, and a jump to a 14 SEER system is going to bring you massive savings on your energy bills. Sure it may not be as efficient as a 16 or 18 SEER system, but the truth is it’s still going to be a huge upgrade for your home.

Second, there’s a common myth that a higher-SEER system is always going to be better. The truth of the matter is that in most instances, this isn’t true, and in fact may wind up costing you far more out of your pocket for not a lot of difference. Modern ultra-efficient systems can have a SEER rating as high as 25, but the truth is most people don’t have the infrastructure of equipment built into their home to make the most of a system like this. These require ultra-efficient ductwork, properly-insulated refrigerant lines, and plenty of other things as well.

The truth is if you slap a 25 SEER heat pump on a system that’s rated for a 14 SEER system, the entire system’s energy efficiency is only going to improve nominally. This greatly cuts into the money you’re saving by significantly increasing the cost without proportionately increasing the savings on your energy bills.

And this brings us to a third misconception: SEER is not a guarantee of performance. As we stated earlier, a SEER rating is an average that’s based on laboratory tests in ideal conditions. This allows for performance in an extremely controlled environment. However, real-world circumstances are never the same as the ones you’ll find in a laboratory, and as a result no system is ever going to be as efficient as this test might claim. While you may have purchased a high-SEER system, you may only be seeing marginal increases in efficiency over a 14 or 16 SEER system that cost significantly less.

Why do we tell you this? Because the truth is that if you need a new air conditioner, you need to make sure that you get the right one. And for most people, the right air conditioner isn’t the one that’s got the best statistics and the highest price tag. It’s strongly advised you work with a skilled professional from a Palm Beach County air conditioning company who can advise you on their opinion for the best option for your home and they’ll give you an upfront, honest opinion that has your home’s performance and your satisfaction in mind.

Call Phoenix Air Conditioning, LLC today at (888) 660-4337 to request a service appointment for your air conditioner replacement project!