Learn How to Upgrade Your Central AC

Learn About A Central AC Upgrade

Many homeowners around the country rely on central air conditioners for home comfort during the summer. After all, central ACs cool air in your home, then circulates the cooled air through a series of ducts. However, over time, central ACs wear down and homeowners must plan a central AC upgrade.

Central AC Info

Additionally, central air conditioners are often installed as "split-systems." In a split-system, the inside coil or evaporator coil is part of the furnace or air handler. Additionally, the outside unit or condensing unit rejects heat to the outside air.

Homeowners must also note that central ACs require lots of electricity. As a result, it is very important to make sure the central air conditioner in your home is energy efficient. Plus, due to the energy consumption, homeowners should ensure their home remains well insulated and sealed to minimize heat gains from outdoors.

Central AC Upgrade Info

Fortunately, homeowners possess many options when dealing with an ac upgrade. For example, options include a range of efficiencies, sizes and costs. Unlike many heating systems, central air conditioners rely on electricity, along with dehumidifying your home. However, as electricity remains an expensive fuel in many locations across the country, high-efficiency central air conditioners yield a very wise choice.

AC Ratings Info

Additionally, central air conditioners rely on efficiency ratings, which help homeowners during the buying process. During an AC upgrade, look out for the SEER or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The SEER is the energy efficiency rating. For example, a central air conditioner that operates at 15 SEER removes 15 BTU’s for each watt of electricity consumed. Conversely, a 10 SEER central air conditioner removes 10 BTU’s for each watt of electricity consumed. GreenHomes recommends central air conditioners maintain a 15 SEER efficiency rating or higher when replacing an older air conditioning system.

Another consideration during a central AC upgrade project is your home ductwork. Unfortunately, many homes contain leak and/or uninsulated ducts. However, central air conditioners rely on ducts, which connect the rooms in your home and distributes cooled air. GreenHomes recommends the ductwork be sealed and insulated in all unconditioned spaces or where condensation can occur on ductwork.

AC Sizing Info

Central air conditioner sizing does not relate to the physical size of the equipment. AC sizing relates to the amount of cooling (or heat removal) provided per hour. BTUs or British Thermal Units per hour express the size of any central air condition. Additionally, central air conditioner sizing is also expressed in “tons” of cooling. For example, a ton of cooling is equal to 12,000 BTUs/hr. Therefore, a 4-ton air conditioning system is equivalent to a 48,000 BTU/hr system (4 x 12,000 = 48,000).

As a result, the size of the central air conditioner depends on the efficiency level, the square footage of the house and the climate or location of the house. For example, a large, leaky, poorly insulated house in a hot climate requires a higher BTU/hr central air conditioner. Conversely, a smaller, tighter, well-insulated house in a cooler climate requires less BTU/hr.

GreenHomes recommends contractors perform a cooling load calculation such as ACCA Manual J. The Manual J calculation determines the cooling load of the house. Next, GreenHomes recommends applying ACCA Manual S to properly size the central air conditioner. Never rely on sizing based on the size of existing or older equipment or based on simple “rules of thumb” estimates.

Central air conditioning systems air sized much too large for the home can cool the house very quickly without adequately dehumidifying the air. The result is a home that is cool but humid and sticky. It is very important to properly size central air conditioning systems so your home is cooled and the humidity is removed from the home during hot, humid summertime conditions.

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