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What You Need to Know About Choosing a Central Air Conditioner

August 4, 2018

Installing a new central air conditioner is an important decision because it can affect both the comfort level of your home and even the value of it.

In addition to consulting an HVAC expert, you should also learn a bit about air conditioner units on your own to help you make the best decision for your home.


Types of Air Conditioners

The most popular type of central air conditioner units is the split system. This system shares ducts with the heating system, which makes it cheaper to install. Another system you can use to cool your house is the heat pump (which sounds counterintuitive but is true). In the summer, it pumps heat from the inside your home to the outside, and vice versa in the winter. You can also opt for a packaged air conditioner unit, which contains all of the air conditioner elements (evaporator, condenser, and compressor) in a single unit. This type of unit will save space in your home and make maintenance easier.


Cost & Sizing

The cost of installing a central air conditioner unit can range from $3000 to $7000 or higher. This price is based on the unit you purchase, the cost to install the necessary ductwork, and a professional fee to do the installation. As you would probably expect, the cost of the unit you purchase depends on the size of the unit (which also depends on the size of your home). A rule of thumb is that 500 square feet in your home needs one ton of cooling to maintain a comfortable temperature.


SEER Rating

SEER stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio, which keeps track of how much energy the air conditioner requires to adequately cool a home. This ratio is calculated by dividing the cooling output of the unit by the unit’s energy consumption. If you live in an area that has very hot and humid summers, you need a unit with a minimum SEER of 15. Additionally, if you replace an older unit that is not as energy efficient, you can cut your A/C energy costs by up to a third.



A manufacturer that produces a high-quality air conditioner unit will typically offer a warranty of at least twenty years, and sometimes up to the life of the air conditioner unit. Keep in mind that the warranty most likely will not cover the cost of labor after the first year of ownership and that some parts may have different warranty terms. It may be tempting if an air conditioner salesperson offers you an extended warranty on the unit, but you should be cautious because it could indicate that the unit is of lower quality.