Ultimate Outdoor Air Conditioning Buying Guide
The outdoor air conditioner unit is an important part of your HVAC system. Containing the condenser coil, compressor, and fan, an outdoor unit releases heat absorbed from indoor air. But how do you choose an outdoor unit? It generally should match the brand and type of indoor air handler unit you have. In this buying guide, we’ll cover a few important considerations in selecting an outdoor air conditioner.
Types of Outdoor Air Conditioner Units
For a central air conditioning system, you’ll probably have one of two types of units. These are:
- Split-System Units: The outdoor cabinet includes the fan, compressor, and heat exchanger components, while the indoor cabinet has a heat exchanger and blower. It may also contain the furnace. A heat pump’s heat exchanger may be built into the indoor cabinet as well.
- Packaged Units: All major components are contained within a single unit, often placed on the roof (but sometimes near the foundation). A packaged unit can integrate a natural gas furnace or electric heating coils. It connects directly with supply and return ducts to deliver conditioned air and cycle it back through the system.
Choosing an Air Conditioner: Considerations
It’s unwise and impractical to choose just any air conditioner. For it to meet your needs and function properly, you need to think about:
- Size: Outdoor air conditioners are sized according to British Thermal Units (BTUs). The greater the square footage of your home, the more BTUs you’ll need. A one-ton AC outputs 12,000 BTUs per hour, so for a 2,000-square-foot home requiring a 3.5-ton system, you’d need a 42,000 BTU air conditioner. But the capacity you need is also affected by direct sunlight, the number of occupants, and heat-producing appliances.
- Efficiency: A high-efficiency air conditioner may cost you more upfront, but can save you money over time by using less electricity. The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER), listed on the unit’s Energy Guide® label, tells you how efficient it is. An air conditioner must be rated at least 13 SEER. Highly efficient units are rated from 15 to 17 SEER.
- Modern air conditioners also have energy-saving features like larger coils, allowing for more efficient heat transfer. Variable-speed blowers adjust to demand to reduce electricity consumption, while a fan-only switch lets you run the fan to achieve cooling without running the AC. An automatic delay fan switch lets the fan run long enough to allow residual cooling. Since a clear filter boosts efficiency, a filter indicator light to alert you that maintenance is needed helps.
- Location: Installing an outdoor air conditioner in the correct location is important. The unit should be installed where there’s enough room for proper airflow and for technicians to perform maintenance and repairs. Outdoor condenser units can be noisy, so you should pick a place where they won’t disturb neighbors or the occupants of your home.
Cost of Outdoor Air Conditioners
A central air conditioning system can cost from $3,000 to $7,000 to install. It’s usually not only the outdoor unit you need to install or replace. You need to factor in the cost of indoor air handlers, furnaces, ducts, and more as well as labor. A larger, more complex system can cost $20,000 or more.
Make sure you fully understand the terms of the manufacturer’s warranty and what is covered. Some warranties provide different coverage for the unit and certain parts. Others may only cover labor for certain types of work. Neglecting to maintain the AC or having a non-authorized individual service it can void the warranty, so it’s important to understand all the terms and conditions.
Have NexGen Install Your Next Outdoor Air Conditioner
At NexGen, we supply and install high-quality, high-efficiency air conditioners and HVAC equipment. We specialize in all leading brands. Our licensed, insured technicians will help determine the right unit for your home to provide the update you need. In addition, comprehensive warranties and maintenance plans are available. For more information, call 833-729-9735 today.