End of Season Sale - Save up to 15% off new AC units with 10 year parts & labor warranty included!

How long should your Southern Florida central AC system last? It’s a guessing game. Carrier is an expert in AC systems, and their range is 15 to 20 years if the homeowner takes expert care of it through filter changes, duct cleanings, coil cleanings, pressure tests, and professional inspections and maintenance. Not everyone understands all that goes into a cleaning. Things that can reduce the lifespan of your central AC system are:

  • Air quality (salt water can corrode outdoor components)
  • How cool you set the thermostat (more use means shorter life)
  • Maintenance habits
  • Quality of the installation
  • The area’s climate, such as high humidity and Southern Florida’s year-round warmth

Because Southern Florida is hot, humid, and salty breezes are possible, it’s not surprising if you only get 10 years from your system. If you get more, that’s great. You do need to know when it’s better to pay for a new central AC system over another costly repair.

Understanding AC Efficiency and What You Gain From a New System

On January 1, 2023, AC efficiency standards changed. While SEER ratings had been the norm, the Department of Energy’s shift to SEER2 took place. SEER stands for “seasonal energy efficiency ratio” and is a measure of heat removed from an air-conditioned room or home during the normal cooling system. The new change tested more factors to get a more exact rating.

Before the switch, the required SEER rating for Southern Florida was 15. It shifted to 14.3 with SEER2 for systems below 45,000 BTU or 13.8 for systems that are 45,000 BTU or higher. Companies manufacturing and installing new central AC systems shifted to the new rating to ensure the highest possible standard of energy efficiency.

What does this mean for you? Take a look at how much you can save with a new central AC system. 

Let’s say your system is older and is 14 SEER. You purchase a new AC with a SEER2 rating of 18. Your current AC is expected to consume about $1,300 per year in electricity, while the new SEER2 AC would use about $930. You’re saving over $300 per year. 

If you went for the lowest possible SEER2 rating of 14.3, you’d still save almost $100. Over time, that savings builds up and before long, the system has paid for itself.

Repair vs. Replacement: When Is Replacement Better?

How do you know when to repair vs. when to replace? Many AC experts believe the 50% rule is a good starting point. If your repairs are 50% or more of what a new system would cost, pay for the new system. 

If you learn the compressor is shot, a new AC compressor ranges in price from as little as $800 to as much as $2,800. It depends on your AC’s age, model, and manufacturer. If a new system would cost you $5,000 while the repair is $2,800, you need to consider the new installation. 

It’s not always that easy. Your system is only six years old, so you expect you can have several more years from it. The new compressor is expected to last for another five years and nothing else is wrong with your AC system, the repair might be worthwhile for now. You can address the replacement decision if another issue appears.  

Another consideration is that there may still be coverage by a manufacturer warranty. This isn’t always the case if you purchased the home after the system was installed and didn’t transfer the warranty. Typically, homeowners have to transfer the warranty within a set period of time, often within 30 days of the closing. It’s worth asking anyway to see if there is warranty coverage. 

The Pros and Cons of Repairs:

  • Repairs are cheaper.
  • Repairs typically take less time than a new installation.
  • Repairs extend the life of your new system.
  • There’s no guarantee more repairs won’t pop up days or weeks from now.
  • It’s not a long-term solution.
  • You won’t always improve efficiency with a repair.

The Pros and Cons of Replacement:

  • You save a lot of money on energy bills.
  • You can get money back through tax incentives and instant rebates.
  • You gain warranty coverage.
  • Newer systems offer environment protections that help lower your home’s carbon footprint.
  • It takes longer to install a new system.
  • The cost of a new system is much higher.

Questions You Need to Ask Yourself

What questions should you ask yourself to determine if it’s better to fix or replace? Go through this list and use your answers to determine when it’s better to repair or replace your system.

How old is your current central AC system?

If your system is over 10 years old, it may be a good time to replace it and enjoy the energy savings. When your system is less than 10 years old, it might be fine making the repairs, but ask your AC technician for guidance. Your technician can look over everything and see if anything else looks like it’s about to fail.

Another risk of an older system is the damage to the environment. If you’re still using a system with freon and there’s a leak, the clean up costs can be higher than you’re ready to pay.

Is it cooling your home effectively?

If you have rooms that are warmer than they used to be, a duct cleaning might help, but your system may have underlying issues that are about to lead to costly repairs.

Are your electricity bills increasing?

Have you noticed your electricity bills keep increasing without any explanation? It can be a sign of impending or current issues with your AC or loss of cool air from inadequate insulation or weatherstripping.

How often are you paying for repairs?

Are you paying for repairs again and again? If the repair bills are adding up, it’s better to replace your system and start saving money. If your current central AC system has cost you $1,500 in repairs in the past month, that’s $1,500 you could have put towards a new, more efficient system.

What’s your budget?

How much money do you have to invest in a new system? Don’t let this keep you from looking into an AC installation. All Year Cooling offers a range of financing options that can make it easy to afford a new system. FPL provides instant rebates on new central AC installations for all current customers. Plus, there are tax incentives from the federal government that help reduce your yearly tax burden when you file your taxes.

Work With a Southern Florida AC Installation Expert

Seek professional advice. Online guides and calculators are great, but a lot goes into determining the efficiency of a central AC system. All Year Cooling has been installing and maintaining central AC systems for decades. Our team are experts in the latest HVAC technology and work with all budgets. 

We know that the expense of a new central AC system can be distressing when you lack the necessary savings. We’re honest and will tell you when you’re spending more in repairs than you would on a new system. With many financing options, a new AC may not be as hard on your finances as you initially thought.

All Year Cooling