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Here's How to Choose a New Air Conditioner in Indianapolis, IN

AC Buying Guide

If your old air conditioner is no longer meeting the cooling needs of your entire house or cooling the home efficiently, it’s time to pursue air conditioning replacement. Selecting a new air conditioning system can be a big job, as there are many types of air conditioners available, including central air conditioners, heat pumps, and even ductless air conditioning units.

Among the different cooling system equipment choices, there are numerous seasonal energy efficiency ratio levels available when you buy a new air conditioning unit. A single stage unit air conditioner with a minimum SEER rating is an affordable option for many homeowners, but selecting an air conditioning unit with a higher SEER rating will reduce energy usage along with your energy costs. An air conditioner’s efficiency is also dependent on choosing the right size unit, as oversized units or central air conditioning units that do not have a high enough cooling capacity for the home’s square footage won’t produce cool air at the energy efficiency levels you expect.

When shopping for air conditioning equipment, there are different features you can select, such as a variable speed blower or compressor. These features allow AC units to generate more energy savings and a better user experience.

With so many options for air conditioning installation, it may be difficult to select the right AC unit for your home. Williams Comfort Air provides the expert HVAC system guidance you need as you search for a new system, plus professional installation for the central air conditioner you pick. Check out our homeowner’s guide for tips on how to choose a new air conditioner. You’ll learn about the different central air conditioning system options, SEER ratings, determining the right size air conditioner, and other important factors to keep in mind when buying a central AC.

Central Air Conditioning Equipment Options

There are many different types of HVAC systems used to heat and cool homes throughout the Indianapolis area. If you are looking for central AC HVAC equipment to provide cooling throughout your house, split air conditioning systems are the most common. These systems include indoor air handler or furnace units along with an outdoor unit, which could be a conventional air conditioner or heat pump. The most popular split cooling system types include the central air conditioner, heat pump, or ductless air conditioner.

Central Air Conditioner

Central air conditioners are split systems that have AC units installed outside of the home as well as an air handler or furnace installed inside. Because furnace HVAC units are commonly used for heating, many Central Indiana homeowners have an evaporator coil attached to the central unit indoors and use the furnace’s blower to distribute air conditioning through ducts and throughout the living areas instead of installing separate air handling AC units.

Heat Pumps

This type of split system is very similar to conventional air conditioning units. The heat pump is installed outside and it connects to an indoor air handler that distributes air throughout the home. The way a heat pump system provides cooling follows the same process as a central air conditioner, too. The significant difference between the two air conditioning unit options is their functionality. A central air conditioner only provides cooling – a heat pump system also cools, but it is able to reverse its operation to provide heating in the winter. There are also different types of heat pump air conditioning systems, including air source units that move heat between indoor and outdoor air, as well as geothermal air conditioning systems that transfer heat between indoor air and the ground, which requires professional installation of a ground loop component on the property.

Ductless Air Conditioners

Also called a ductless mini split, a ductless air conditioning system is configured differently than the split air conditioning HVAC system types previously mentioned. These air conditioners are generally composed of an outdoor unit that can be linked to one or multiple indoor air handling units. The outdoor equipment can be an air conditioning unit for cooling only or a heat pump for heating and cooling through the system. The air handlers are installed throughout the living areas to deliver cool air directly into the space, so there is no need to install ductwork in the home.

A conventional central air conditioner or heat pump system distributes conditioned air from one centralized location. While ductless air conditioners distribute cooled air from various equipment in the home, these air conditioner systems can still be utilized for whole home cooling, just like a central air conditioner.

Which AC Unit Type Is Right for a Home?

In most situations, homeowners aren’t restricted to choosing just one type of AC unit, as most homes are able to accommodate air conditioning installation for multiple styles of cooling equipment. Here are a few points to think about that will help you select the right AC unit type for your family:

  • If your home currently has a duct system and it is in good shape or can be improved with minimal repair, a central air conditioner or heat pump is a popular option.
  • In homes without ducts, ductless AC unit systems are often chosen because there is no need to install ductwork.
  • If you are upgrading your air conditioning because of a recent addition to your home or new living space has been added by converting a previously unconditioned space, installing ductless air conditioners is a versatile choice. Ductless systems can be installed to cool these new areas as well as other areas that are underserved by the existing cooling unit, and the ductless AC can operate in conjunction with the current central air conditioner. If your old central air conditioner is in need of replacement, you may prefer to upgrade to a larger capacity unit and extend the ductwork into your new living areas.

Air Conditioning Unit Sizing

Once you determine which type of air conditioner you want to install in your home, you then need to determine the right cooling capacity of a new unit for your home. Don’t assume you can just look at the size of your old unit for this information, as it is all too common for an under- or oversized unit to be installed in a home, even without the homeowner’s knowledge. When the air conditioner is too big or too small for the home, it won’t operate at the efficiency rating you expect, which leads to excess energy usage, higher utility bills, increased wear and tear to the air conditioner, more repairs, and earlier air conditioning replacement.

It’s best to work with an HVAC system professional when sizing new units for any home. To determine the right cooling capacity for any new AC unit, a load calculation must be performed. The load calculation will show how much heat must be removed from the living space to cool it to a comfortable temperature, thus indicating the necessary cooling capacity of a unit fit right for the space.

AC Unit SEER Ratings

The seasonal energy efficiency rating of a new air conditioner is another important factor to consider as you shop for air conditioners. The energy efficiency rating of air conditioners and heat pumps is also referred to as the SEER rating, which stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio. SEER ratings indicate how energy efficient a unit performs and share the total amount of cooling produced by an AC unit over a typical cooling season divided by the unit’s energy consumption in watt-hours.

When you buy a new AC unit, the minimum SEER rating available to Indiana homeowners is 13 SEER; for heat pumps, it’s 14 SEER. However, the minimum will increase to 14 SEER for conventional air conditioners and 15 SEER for heat pump units starting in 2023. Of course, you can purchase a higher efficiency unit than the minimum – high efficiency air conditioners are available up to 26 SEER, heat pumps are available up to around 24 SEER, and ductless AC unit equipment can extend to around 30 SEER. The higher an air conditioner’s SEER rating, the more energy efficient the unit runs.

Cost Considerations When Choosing Central Air Conditioners

When shopping for air conditioners, many homeowners focus on the initial cost of the unit while ignoring another factor that is critical to the purchase decision: ongoing costs. While both types of cost are important to evaluate, what you spend upfront can affect what you spend in the long run.

Air conditioners with a higher SEER rating are typically more expensive to buy than minimum SEER units. However, they tend to cost less over time due to the energy efficient performance they provide. Investing in a more energy efficient air conditioner now can generate a return on investment covering the difference in purchase price over a number of years, thanks to the energy savings realized. How much you can save with a higher efficiency unit depends on the energy efficiency of your old unit, energy prices, and the SEER rating of the new air conditioner you choose.

New Air Conditioners for Indianapolis Homes

Is it time for a new air conditioner in your Indianapolis area home? If so, call Williams Comfort Air! Talk to our Comfort Consultants to explore your air conditioning options with HVAC professionals and receive a quote for the cost of air conditioner installation in your home.

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