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Air Conditioning & Heating

Air Conditioning & Heating Systems

Air-Conditioning

From service and repair to installing an new Air Conditioning system, there is a ton of information out there on A/C.  First step is finding a trusted contractor and that is where FairBids.Com comes in.

First and foremost you need to understand that It’s not just the brand of equipment, it’s the installing contractor that makes all the difference! You can purchases the most expensive unit on the planet but if it’s installed wrong if the company who installed it is out of business in the coming years you may be in for heartache especially if you were overcharged for what you got!

Check out these AC / Heat related topics!

Curious the differences in which Brand to choose from? This is the place to start.

Prices to install systems can depend greatly on a number of factors. 1st No two homes are similar. So how do you know what’s a Fair Price!  Let’s look a what some of your neighbors have been paying

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Unit Sizing

AC systems are rated by Tonnage or “Tons” The rule of thumb is for every 500 sq/ft you need one ton of AC/Heating capacity.  There is a lot that goes into it and you should always consider having a ACCA (Air conditioning Contractors of America) approved Heat Load Calculation or “Manual J” done to determine the exact size your home needs. We screen all of our HomePros for this capability.

Higher tonnage is not always a better thing when it comes to AC systems. Choosing lower tonnage system have proven to be quite a disappointment to a homeowners. Systems that are too large “super cool” the area causing the thermostat to shut off quickly by not taking out enough humidity. The environment still has not had time to cool off thus it starts heating up the space again causing the entire system to turn off and on repeatedly throughout the day.

Systems that are too small will tend to run a lot longer and may never get the home to the desired comfort level. Properly sized systems will keep up with the demands of the home while not using too much electricity.

If you have too large of a system, it won’t run long enough to keep up with the humidity. In order to handle both temperature and humidity efficiently, an HVAC system should run for around 30 minutes at a time. If your system is staying on too long or shutting off after only around 10 minutes, you are not getting efficient performance.

A little simple math can help determine the size system you need.

Another rule of thumb is 20 BTUs per square foot. So, a 1000 square foot room would need 20,000 BTUs to cool or warm it efficiently. The region in which you leave as well as attic insulation and/or thermal barriers all play a large part in this as well as:

  • Color of the roof
  • Construction materials used when the house was built
  • Exterior doors, Types and Quantities
  • Foundation type
  • Insulation type and R-values
  • Landscaping that affects things like Shading, Sunshine or Constant Breeze)
  • Size of the house in square footage
  • Type of roof (Wood, Stone, Tile Etc)
  • What temperature you want to maintain to be comfortable
  • Where area or exact location where you live
  • Which direction the house is facing
  • Windows (type, ((wood, aluminum, vinyl)) location, and quantity)

The short answer is you really should use Licensed Contractor to do a Heat Load Calculation to determine the proper size of HVAC equipment needed.  Don’t just let the contractor tell you they are doing the heat load calculation. If it is really done you will receive a multi page document with all of your calculated date on it.  The heat load calculation is used to calculate the proper size of heating and cooling equipment for your home requires use of an procedure such as ACCA/ANSI Manual J. Using short-cuts or rules-of-thumb typically results in equipment that is incorrectly sized for your home. Visit ENERGY STAR Heating and Cooling for more information.

As of 2017 SEER ratings range from 14 – 25. It’s important to note that “True” SEER ratings always depend on what Furnace is being installed with the A/C Condenser. For example in some situations you can take a 14 SEER condenser and with certain sizes and configurations you can get 16 SEER out of the system!

What are SEER and EER Ratings?

SEER stands for “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio” SEER indicates the relative amount of energy needed to provide a specific cooling output. Many older systems have SEER ratings of 10 or less. As of 2017 14 SEER was the minimum standard for Air Conditioning in the U.S.

 


Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), is most commonly used to measure the efficiency of a central air conditioner. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the system. SEER measures how efficiently a cooling system will operate over an entire season. In technical terms, SEER is a measure of equipment the total cooling of a central air conditioner or heat pump (in Btu) during the normal cooling season as compared to the total electric energy input (in watt-hours) consumed during the same period.

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) is a measure of how efficiently a cooling system will operate when the outdoor temperature is at a specific level (95oF). The higher the EER, the more efficient the system. In technical terms, EER is the steady-state rate of heat energy removal (i.e. cooling capacity) by the product measured in Btuh divided by the steady-state rate of energy input to the product measured in watts. This ratio is expressed in Btuh/watt.

 

This section copied from Energy Star

Typical Brands of Commonly Installed AC Systems

Installing an Air Conditioning System

Installing an Air Conditioning or (HVAC) system involves determining whether the unit is going to be roof-mounted, a split system, or Mini Split system.

Roof-Mounted HVAC (Package Unit)

Roof-mounted systems are both heating and cooling all in one unit (packaged in one piece). The heater portion can be driven by Natural Gas, Propane, or Electric Only (Heat Pump)

Package units are typically roof mounted however some municipalities allow for them to be placed on the ground. Roof mounted systems can be harder to install and typically always require a crane to get the old unit off (if one) and to place the new unit on. This always adds cost to your install.

Important Notes: Condensation line drainage is of key importance. The last thing you want is a constant flow of water on your roof from your AC system. Your contractor should always insure the condensation drain flows off the roof and away from the home.

Central Split HVAC System

Split systems are generally more efficient because the heat exchanger can be put in a shadier or cooler location instead of on the roof in full sunlight. All that is needed for the heat exchanger is a concrete platform in the right spot.

Installing a split system may involve making modifications to the house itself for the necessary lines to be run. The heat exchangers are also more prone to picking up debris and must be cleaned on a regular basis. While they come with protective screens over the fan, care must still be taken to ensure that nothing gets in, especially in a home with children.

Further Considerations

Further considerations include the following:

Single stage, Two Stage or multistage (variable)?

  • Single stage Air Conditioning Systems have one stage, they basically have an on/off switch, when on they are on they pull 100% of the power regardless of what the temperature is. These tend to pull more electricity than 2 and multistage condensers. However single stage systems are much more efficient today than they were 10 or more years ago. 
    • Pros: 
      1. Typically lower install costs.
      2. Most likely an upgrade to your current system 
    • Cons: 
      1. Generally louder than multistage systems.
      2. Generally use more electricity.
      3. Longevity may be less in some cases.
      4. Will most likely not work with most zoning systems
  • Two Stage Air Conditioning Systems – Have the ability to “Switch” between stages. This gives the Air Conditioning Systems some wiggle room as to how much electricity to use. When it’s warm enough outside to run but not warm enough to warrant using all its horsepower. A 2-Stage condenser can use the “Lower” stage to get the job done without using all the electricity.
    • Pros:
      1. More efficient than single stage systems
      2. Normally can have better longevity.
      3. Many brands also bost better decibel ratings which is music to your ears.
    • Cons:
      1. Typically have higher install costs then single stage equipment
      2. Not as quiet as variable stage systems.
      3. Will most likely not work well with most zoning systems.  
  • Variable Speed Air Conditioning Systems – These systems are considered to be the best of the best. Having the ability to fluctuate up to 66 stages or more these systems are the wave of the future. Providing the most precise control and comfort available, a variable speed system truly sets the bar high for Air Conditioning and most people experience a new way of enjoying their home. Variable speed systems are constantly adjusting to keep the Electricity usage at a minimum while maintaining comfort.
    • Pros:
      1. When installed properly these will be the quietest most efficient systems available.
      2. Great for pairing with zoning systems for most homes
      3. These units tend to have better longevity when installed correctly
      4. Truly one of the only ways to improve the comfort of your home / office with an AC system.
      5. (see Zoned Air Conditioning Systems Below)
    • Cons:
      1. Typically A lot higher cost for installing one of these systems.  Typically costs can range between $13,000 – $24,000 when installed correctly (Please note these cost ranges include Furnace, Coil, AC Condenser, all permits and fees)
  • Zoned Air Conditioning Systems– Zoned systems monitor areas of your house and only heat or cool the ones that need it. Automated or Manual Dampers which are placed in the ducting close off areas of the house to divert the airflow only to certain rooms and only when needed.
  • Humidity control — This is a must-have in very dry or humid climates. Remember humidifiers or dehumidifiers do not work when the system is not on, so you may want to see about a separate humidifying system.
  • Filtration systems — A second-stage filter is sometimes inserted & used to remove particulates such as pets, smoking or cooking, as well as other odors, gases, and VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Typically this is know as IAQ ( Indoor Air Quality) A HEPA filter may also available to remove spores, pollens, bacteria and lung-damaging particles.