Central Air Conditioning Buying Guide

We know your story:  You’ve spent one too many summer’s sweltering in the heat.  You’re tired of your friends giving you grief about your blast furnace of a house and mocking you by sending YouTube video links of how to make an $8 air conditioner out of a foam ice chest, bailing wire and your grandma’s old box fan.

We know that converting your home to a central air conditioning system isn’t cheap and that getting the most value for your hard earned money is a priority.  In this blog, we will focus on the ins and outs purchasing your first air conditioning system, things to consider when buying, and common mistakes to avoid.  

6 things to consider before you invest in air conditioning

What’s first?  There are a few things you will need to know before you can ask for a price estimate.  Here are 6 questions you should ask yourself before you buy an air conditioning system:

Does your home already have a forced-air furnace and ductwork?

If not, central air conditioning may be out of your budget.  You may consider a whole-house evaporative cooler or a ductless-mini-split system which can typically be installed in retrofit applications for much less than central air conditioning.

Is the existing ductwork in your home large enough to support air conditioning?

More air needs to be moved during air conditioning than heating because of the nature of removing latent heat (moisture) from the air.  Less airflow over a cooling coil will actually pull more latent heat (moisture) out of the air and less sensible heat.  This can cause the cooling equipment to “ice-up” and cause potential damage to your home or the equipment itself.  Some older homes with original ductwork and only a gas or electric furnace will not have large enough ductwork to handle the addition of air conditioning.  If you still want central air conditioning, you will need to replace at least some if not all your ductwork.  Again, this can be a costly expense and you may consider another more cost-sensitive approach to cooling.  

Another ductwork consideration for older homes: Is the existing ductwork tin/metal?

Tin and metal ductwork may rust-out over the years with air conditioning. Cold air holds less moisture than warm air resulting in condensation, this condensation will collect at the bottom of the metal ducting and result in rust.

Does your home have enough electrical service and space for an additional 240vac circuit?

If not, you may need an electrical panel upgrade prior to the installation of central air conditioning.

Is there available space for your outdoor unit and does your home have an attic or crawl space underfloor?

The installation of refrigerant tubing to a new evaporative coil at your air handler will also positively impact the cost of the installation.

Most importantly, considering the length of time you plan on living in your home and making sure you have available funding for your project

are the two most important considerations.  We often recommend to our clients that they purchase the most efficient system they can afford that will experience a return on investment while they own the home.  It really doesn’t make too much sense to purchase the most efficient system on the market if you never experience the cost-benefit of its long-term installation.  In other words, don’t buy the most expensive system if you plan on selling or moving locations in the near future.

Hiring professional HVAC technicians

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Hiring the right person or company to install your central air conditioning system is crucial!  Only call and schedule an estimate visit with a licensed HVAC C-20 contractor in California.  This is for your protection.  There are lots of people who think they can do the job, but you don’t want to be on the purchasing end of a system that could be a potential health and safety hazard.  

Also, most manufacturers will only warranty equipment that is installed by a qualified air conditioning technician.  A large portion of the final product cost is the manufacturer’s warranty.  Forfeiting this would be a huge mistake!  

Lastley, ensure the contractor knows what you want, not what he or she thinks you want.  Listen to the contractor’s comments and recommendations, of course. Then, make your choices.  What energy efficiency equipment are they recommending?  What are the savings and payback if you go with the higher efficiency equipment?  Are there rebates available from your local utility provider?  What brand equipment does the contractor use and what’s included in the warranty?  Remember, you are the customer, get what you want.   Be sure to review the proposal and make certain it covers all aspects of the job including required building permits from the county, city, or state.  You’ll be glad you took the time to do all this research when you have a nice, comfortable, cool home on one of those hot August nights.

We proudly install these brands of air conditioners.

Air-Conditioning units from York, Rheem, Payne, Daikin and Mitsubishi:

  • Energy Star Rated
  • Industry Leading Warranty and Quality

California energy rebate programs

Air conditioners, furnaces and water heaters have improved considerably in the past few decades. When it’s time to replace yours, look for a high-efficiency model to save energy and money over the long run.  The state of California and utility companies offer rebates and financial assistance.  Make sure you check with your local Utility to find out details.

State Of California Programs:  California offers many energy efficiency programs.  Take a look at there website to see details.

Home Upgrade:  Home Upgrade is a statewide program that offers up to $6,500 in rebates when you make energy-saving home improvements. It takes a comprehensive approach and looks at all the systems in your home to determine what upgrades will most effectively reduce energy usage while providing you with a comfortable living environment.