While most Florida homes have air conditioners, at last report, the U.S. Energy Information Administration found that 10% of homes do not have central air. In these Florida homes, residents either use a portable or window air conditioner or go without. The number of homeowners going without AC is minimal, but there still are around 4% with no way to cool their home.
Most Florida homeowners have air conditioning in place. What if you’re part of the small percentage going without or relying on portable floor models or window air conditioners? How do you have central air installed when there’s no existing system or ductwork?
Ductless Mini Split Heat Pump Systems vs. Central Air
You do have options for air conditioning in your home. Central air is the most common type of air conditioning in Florida. It has three main components: an evaporator coil, a compressor, and a condenser coil. They absorb heat and remove it by turning refrigerant from its gas form to a liquid form and back. Heat is transferred to the outside of the home and the refrigerant goes back inside to release cold air as it absorbs more heat, continuing the cooling process. Cooled air travels through the home’s ducts where it’s blown by fans into the different rooms.
Some homes don’t have ducts. For those homes, there are two choices. You can have ducts installed. It’s time-consuming and costly, but it allows you to have central air installed. If that’s possible, a ductless mini split heat pump system is necessary. With this system, there are wall air handler units that are installed in different areas of the home and a condenser. The different components are connected by refrigerant lines. Heat pumps also help keep homes warmer in the winter by reversing the process used to cool the home.
There are a few things to keep in mind. With a mini split system, the air handler cools that room. It doesn’t cool the entire home. This is why each room that needs cooling requires an air handler. That can get costly. But, you’re able to control the temperature in different rooms with a mini split system. If you don’t need to cool a guest room, you don’t have to turn it on.
Is It Better to Add Ducts?
It might be worthwhile to pay the cost to have ducts added. Yes, there is the initial investment, but it helps increase the value of your home. It’s estimated that central air can add about 10% to the value of a home. If your home is worth $200,000 and you add central AC, theoretically your home’s increased value could be as much as $220,000, which is more than you’re likely to spend having the air conditioning system added.
You need to work with a professional AC installer. Older homes that lack ductwork may not have the space for ducts. Multi-level homes may need to have closet space taken up with some of the ducts, so you have to be okay with losing some square footage to the ducts running from one floor to another. If you’re lucky, there will be enough space in the walls for the ducts, so the ducts are hidden in areas that you don’t see or have to worry about.
It can take two or three days to add ducts to a home. Holes need to be cut, the ducts need to be added from the basement or crawl space to the attic. If your home is a single-level home, it won’t be as time-consuming. The cost of the ducts is something to consider. It will increase the cost to install the AC unit. By how much? It’s hard to tell without knowing square footage or layout, as those impact the cost. Many people find that the cost of adding ducts is around the same price as the central AC installation.
What if you have ducts, but they’re old and haven’t been used in years? You bought a home where an air conditioning system quit, and the former homeowners never had the money available to replace it. Have them inspected. It’s possible that with duct sealing or restoration that you can get them to like-new condition. If sections need to be replaced, that’s an option, too. That can save you a lot of money.
After having old ducts cleaned, restored, or replaced, ask if it’s worthwhile to replace the supply registers. Newer ones may have wider slits that allow more air to pass, and that can boost efficiency.
Points to Consider
No matter which method you decide to take, remember the SEER rating is important. The higher your SEER rating, the more efficient the system. This helps lower the amount you’ll pay in energy costs. Work with an AC professional to ensure you’re getting an efficient system that’s the right size. A system that’s too large or too small for your square footage will work harder, which shortens its lifespan.
How old is your electrical system? If you have older electricals, they may need updating before you can have air conditioning installed. You don’t want to overload your system and risk a fire. A technician is going to look at your system and tell you if it needs upgrading in order to meet the current codes and load.
While condensers sit outside, they can still make noise you hear inside. The location is important. You may not want it right outside your bedroom window or outside a den that’s used as a home office. Ideally, put it on a wall where there are no windows or nearer an area of the home that’s not used as much. Add bushes if you want to buffer the noise, but make sure they’re far enough away that they do not reduce the airflow.
You’ve spent your hard-earned money on ducts and an air conditioning system, why not protect it with a 10-year extended labor warranty plan? Imagine having peace of mind for a full ten years when you buy a new air conditioning system. At less than $100 per year, it’s worth it, and it’s one of the ways All Year Cooling tops the competition. You won’t worry about labor costs with this plan.
Before you sign any installation agreements, ask about rebates from the air conditioning companies or see if you qualify for a government energy grant. If you’re adding an energy-efficient air conditioning system, you may qualify for some money to help make it affordable.
Central air is ideal for cooling your Florida home, but you should talk to an expert about the best way to make it happen. If you don’t have existing ducts, they’ll need to be added. All Year Cooling’s expert technicians can come to your home, assess your home’s square footage and layout, and help you decide the best path forward for an air conditioning system. Call us to schedule a free consultation.