Ohio Homeowners Guide: Buying an Air Conditioner for Your Home

Cooling systems and air conditioning units are an outright necessity for Cincinnati area households, given our hot summer months. Buying an air conditioner feels like a big job, as the costs are considerable and the new air conditioner you choose will have an impact on the comfort of your home for several years to come.

Central air conditioning system installation is a job for a professional heating and cooling team. Thomas & Galbraith explains the different types of air conditioners and what you need to consider when you choose your new cooling system. When you choose a new unit, trust our team for skilled cooling installation services.

Types of Air Conditioners

Many people often use air conditioners as a term for any type of cooling system. The truth is, there are many different types of units that can be installed to provide cooling for a home – an air conditioner is just one of them. When buying an air conditioner, you’ll need to consider exactly what type of cooling system you’d like to have installed in your home.

Split and Packaged Cooling Systems

Cooling systems are installed as split systems or packaged systems, which describe how the equipment is placed. Split systems have indoor and outdoor units linked by refrigerant lines. Packaged units have all components installed in a single cabinet sitting outside the home. In a split system, the cooling coil would be inside while the compressor and condenser would be outside – in a packaged unit, all this equipment is contained in one unit.

Most midwestern homes have central air conditioning systems, which can be designed using split systems or packaged units. The term central air conditioning simply states that conditioned air is distributed from one central spot in the home.

Different Cooling Units

Now let’s take a look at the different types of cooling equipment that can be used as part of an air conditioning system.

  • Central air conditioners are a split system with an outdoor condenser and an indoor unit. Typically, air conditioners are paired with furnaces to deliver the cooled air they create, as homes in Cincinnati often have furnace heating systems.

  • Heat pumps are also a split system, with an outdoor heat pump unit and an indoor air handler. These systems are able to produce heating and cooling for a home, so it is not always necessary to install another type of heating unit. Sometimes, homeowners in Cincinnati choose to also install gas furnaces to act as a backup source of heat when conditions dictate that a furnace would operate more efficiently than a heat pump. Air source heat pumps transfer heat between air, inside and outside. Geothermal heat pumps transfer heat between air and the earth or a water source. Geothermal heat pump systems have a loop system installed underground to facilitate heat transfer.

  • Ductless cooling systems are a split system that can be used to cool one or more areas of the home. Outside, an air conditioner or heat pump is installed. The outdoor unit is connected through refrigerant lines to indoor air handling units. One indoor air handling unit is installed in each area of the home that needs to receive cooling. Most ductless systems can support up to four air handlers. Ductless air conditioners offer cooling only but ductless systems that use heat pumps can heat and cool a home. These systems are also called ductless mini splits.

Choosing a New Air Conditioning System for Your Home

Buying an air conditioner is a big decision. There are many equipment options, plus seemingly endless models of each system type. Making the best choice for your home will depend on the climate, cooling load, and other factors.

Your Home’s Climate

Humidity is something we have to be concerned with here in the Cincinnati area. The air conditioning process of some system types provides some management of relative humidity in the air, while others are not well-suited for use here in our city.

Their ability to remove humidity from the air makes central air conditioners, heat pumps, and ductless systems a good choice for Cincinnati households. Some other types of cooling that rely on moisture to cool, like evaporative coolers and hydronic systems, aren’t ideal because they do not help homeowners manage airborne moisture. Removing humidity from the air makes a big impact on comfort over the summer months.

Household Factors

You should also consider the specifics of your home as you select a new air conditioning unit. These characteristics may make one unit type preferred over other cooling systems.

  • If you wish to cool your entire home, a central air conditioning unit, heat pump, or ductless system can be used. While ductless systems aren’t traditional central air conditioning systems, they can be expanded to provide cooling across the whole home.

  • If you only want to cool a limited space, like a newly finished home addition or an attic that didn’t have air conditioning before, a ductless system can be an affordable choice.

  • If your ducts are in good shape, they can be reused to support a new air conditioner or heat pump.

  • If your ducts need to be replaced or you don’t have ducts and cannot install them, you will probably want to choose a ductless cooling system.

Finding the Right Air Conditioner Size

For a new air conditioner, heat pump, or ductless system to operate efficiently in your home, the system must be sized correctly. Air conditioner sizing goes by tons, which is the amount of heat it can pull out of a space, not the weight of the unit.

Sizing an air conditioner isn’t a quick job. If you only look at the square footage of your house to size your cooling unit, you’re going to have problems after installation. Sizing depends on your home’s cooling load, which considers many attributes that affect how much heat will need to be removed from the home to cool it.

Before you buy a new cooling system, have a professional perform a cooling load calculation. This measurement will ensure you know the right equipment size for your new air conditioner, heat pump, or ductless system.

New Cooling System Efficiency Ratings

You’ll also want to consider the energy efficiency of any new air conditioner, heat pump, or ductless system. The new unit’s efficiency will impact how much it costs to run over the years, as low-efficiency units use more energy while high-efficiency units use less.

  • Cooling system energy efficiency is represented by SEER, which stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio.

  • In Ohio, 13 SEER is the minimum efficiency of any new central air conditioner or heat pump. In 2023, the minimum will increase to 14 SEER.

  • Low SEER ratings represent lower efficiency units. As the SEER rating increases, the unit’s energy efficiency also increases.

  • Today, high-efficiency cooling systems are available above 20 SEER, with maximum efficiencies of 26 SEER for AC units, 24 SEER for heat pumps, and over 30 SEER for ductless units.

Cost of New Cooling Equipment

When you buy a new cooling unit, you also pay for the installation work that is needed to set the system up in your home. The estimate you receive from your contractor includes the price of equipment and labor. New air conditioners vary in price, as does the work needed for installation as every home has different needs. Air conditioner installation can cost several thousands of dollars. The price of equipment increases with higher capacity and better energy efficiency, and the cost of installation will increase if your home needs work like duct repairs.

Financing a New Air Conditioner

HVAC contractors know that buying a new air conditioner can be quite expensive for homeowners. Most offer financing programs that can help you make this important purchase with ease. When shopping for a new air conditioner, be sure to ask your contractor about the financing options available and explore repayment terms to find a program that best suits your needs.

New Air Conditioners for Cincinnati Homes

When buying a new cooling unit, you are faced with a lot of options. Thomas & Galbraith aims to make the process easier, with our team of knowledgeable Comfort Consultants and NATE-certified installation technicians. Let’s work together to find the perfect new air conditioner for your home – contact us today to start the process.

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