Selecting the Best AC and Heating Systems

Selecting which brand of comfort system is usually at the top of the list when people make this very important decision. Unfortunately, that is probably the least important part of the equation to ensure that your system will provide you and your family with years of trouble-free and efficient comfort. So how do you find the best AC and heating systems?

Photo of attic HVAC ducts

Qualify Your Needs

All of today’s equipment manufacturers rate their equipment by the ton, there are 12,000 BTUs per 1 ton of cooling. As an example, a 3-ton system would have a nominal size of 36,000 BTUs. The most important aspect of your comfort system is ensuring it is sized properly. A system that is oversized will satisfy cooling requirements much too quickly without removing adequate humidity. Your home will feel cool but clammy, you may have problems such as bread molding quickly, clothing becoming musty, and most importantly, the problems that moisture can cause to the structure of your home.

There is only one way to determine the proper size system your home will need. A heat gain calculation based on ACCA’s Manual J. Old rules of thumb such as one ton per X number of square feet is just not accurate.

Qualify the Equipment that You Are Considering

Most brands are very similar in construction. In fact, a lot of brands use the same components such as fan motors, compressors, and electronics. Your choice here should be focused on efficiency, features, and the benefit compared to their cost.

Qualify the Warranty for Each Comfort System

This is probably the area where you will find the most difference between brands. You will also find that most brands have different warranties in their product line. Of course, the top-of-the-line equipment is usually the one with the best warranty. This is another area where the benefit should be compared to the cost. Air conditioning repair costs can add up and peace of mind can be hard to put a price on.

Finally the Installation of Your New Comfort System

This is actually the single most important factor that will determine the reliability, efficiency, and longevity of your new comfort system. When looking for the best A/C and heating systems, it is important that your contractor ensures that your duct system is adequate for your new system.

Today’s more efficient systems have very different airflow requirements than systems 10, 15, and 20 years ago. Installation details should be outlined clearly to ensure items such as refrigerant lines, electrical supply wires, and breakers are correctly sized.

Finally, good practices should be followed during the installation itself. The refrigerant lines should be purged with nitrogen during field brazing, and the system should be evacuated using an accurate micron gauge to ensure a leak-free, clean, dry refrigerant circuit. Any of these steps that are skipped, or not done properly can have dramatically adverse repercussions on the lifespan of your system.

Related: 4 Things to Look for in Your New Home’s HVAC System