When it’s time for a new or replacement AC unit for your South Florida home, how do you pick the best one? Several criteria have to be considered as there are different types of air conditioners and a lot of factors that you have to carefully weigh.
The Types of Air Conditioners
There are four main types of air conditioners.
Window-Unit AC: A window unit fits in a window. There are U-shaped models where the condenser is on one side of the window and the condenser is on the other, which makes them whisper quiet. Again, they‘re only for one room. This can be a reasonable option if you rent and your landlord won’t fix the building’s AC system.
In-Room (Portable) AC: This unit is on wheels and has one or two hoses that go to your window. The interior unit has a compressor and condenser, while hoses draw air from outside and blow out the hot air. They use a lot of energy usually and can be noisy. They are only good for one room. If you rent and your landlord won’t fix the AC system and won’t allow you to install an AC in a window, this is the best option.
Mini Split AC: A mini split ductless system doesn’t require ducts. There’s a wall-mounted air conditioner inside on your wall. The inverter is outside. They’re connected by tubes that go through the wall. Again, they only tend to cool one room.
Central AC: South Floridians are most likely to have a central AC system. With this AC system, you have ducts in your home that connect all of the rooms in the home. Coolant moves around the system drawing hot air outside to release it or cooling off as the coolant converts from gas to liquid or liquid to gas in a cycle. Fans inside push the cool air into the ducts that go to each room. You have a cool home that’s controlled through your thermostat.
For the most efficient system that also cools your home effectively, a central AC system is best. Again, you have several options. The most important factor to keep in mind is that the higher the SEER2 rating, the more efficient and cost-effective the AC system is.
How Do You Choose the Best AC Unit for South Florida Homes?
So how do you choose the best AC unit for your home in South Florida? These are the factors to keep in mind.
Your Home’s Square Footage and Layout
If you purchase a central AC system that cools more square footage than you have, your system will cool the rooms quickly, but it’s going to be turning on and off faster than it should. This will cause components to wear out quickly. It drives up your energy bills as the electrical switches and relays are turning on and off, on and off more often.
An undersized system may cost less to purchase, but it also is a bad idea. It will run constantly to get the rooms down to the right temperature. As the system never cycles, your electricity bills skyrocket and it’s running constantly and will break down quickly. You’re unlikely to get 10 or more years of life from an undersized system.
A professional Florida AC installer will measure your home’s square footage, calculate the amount of sun that comes in from windows, how many people live in the home, and what insulation you have. All of this determines the best system size. These guidelines can help you understand the size that is most likely to be best for your home.
- 18,000 BTUs/1.5 tons – 600 to 900 square feet
- 24,000 BTUs/2 tons – 901 to 1,200 square feet
- 30,000 BTUs/2.5 tons – 1,201 to 1,500 square feet
- 36,000 BTUs/3 tons – 1,501 to 1,800 square feet
- 42,000 BTUs/3.5 tons – 1,801 to 2,100 square feet
- 48,000 BTUs/4 tons – 2,101 to 2,400 square feet
- 60,000 BTUs/5 tons – 2,401 to 3,000 square feet
Florida homes use AC a lot to stay cool. Because of this, it’s normal to need a new AC system every 10 years, 15 if you take very good care of it. When you’re shopping for a new AC, you want a system that has a favorable warranty. Most manufacturer warranties are only going to cover the cost of replacement parts. Labor costs are up to you to pay for. Look for a favorable warranty. Here are some of the warranties on the best central AC brands as found on their websites.
- Daikin – 10-year or 12-year limited warranty on parts (Registration is required within 60 days of installation)
- Goodman – 5-year limited warranty on parts (10-year limited replacement warranty on defective parts of workmanship) and limited lifetime compressor warranty
- Rheem – 5 or 10-year limited warranty on parts and limited lifetime on major components
- Ruud – 5-year limited parts warranty
- Trane – Base limited parts warranty for 5 years that increases to 10 years if you register within 60 days of installation
- York – 10-year warranty on the compressor and parts, 5-year warranty on labor
With any AC manufacturer, the warranty applies to failed parts caused by poor craftsmanship. If you install an AC system on your own or use your system incorrectly, it can void the warranty.
Another thing to consider is whether it’s worth purchasing a 10-year extended labor warranty from All Year Cooling. It does cost more, but you don’t have to worry about sudden, unexpected repair bills. All new AC systems come with a warranty. If your compressor stops working, a manufacturer parts warranty covers the cost of the compressor, but it doesn’t cover the labor.
The cost of a new AC system in Florida can be high. You’ll save money if you already have ductwork that’s in good shape. If your AC system also includes heat, it will increase in cost. If your ducts need cleaning, restoring, or replacing, prices go up from there. Estimates put them at anywhere from $3,500 to $12,000.
If you have extra cash, a central AC with a high SEER2 rating will cost more, but you also save more cash on your monthly AC bills. Over time, your system will pay for itself.
All Year Cooling can help you afford the central air conditioner that best meets your needs. Ask us about coupon deals, FPL rebates, and special savings if you purchase your air conditioner in the off-season. We’re experts in South Florida AC systems and can help you get financing through one of our financing partners or our in-house financing program. It’s more important that you stay cool in this oppressive heat and humidity.