There are 3 fundamental types of air conditioning and heating systems that are commonly used :
1. "Split System"
Approximately 90% of the homes in the US use this configuration. “Split” simply means that your equipment is split into two main components: indoor and outdoor. The outdoor section is variously referred to as a condenser, condensing unit, or simply the outdoor unit. The indoor section is also called an air handler, (all electric), furnace, (typically gas or oil), or, simply the indoor unit. If you have an air conditioner unit outside your home and an indoor unit (typically in a closet, garage space, or attic with ducting attached to it), then you have split system.
2. "Package Unit"
These systems are used primarily on mobile or modular homes or older homes on a crawl space with the ductwork beneath the floor. Occasionally package units are installed on residential flat roofs with exposed ductwork. The easiest way to determine if you have a package type system (or self-contained as they are sometimes called) is to look outside at your air conditioner.
Package units are generally large and will always have 2 large, square or round ducts connected directly to them. If you notice this, then you have a package unit. Package systems are identified on our site under “package unit” or “mobile home” selection links in blue navigation bar at the top of every page.
* Sometimes, in rare instances, the air conditioning package unit will reside outside with a separate, ducted heating unit inside, but this is very unusual and changes nothing for our purposes of determining system type.
3. Ductless "mini split"
These are not referred to as central air conditioners and are normally used in single-room applications such as porch enclosures, bonus rooms, music studios, etc.
This is technically a split system with a wall hung indoor unit connected to an outdoor section via refrigerant lines routed through a 3 inch hole in the wall. Multiple ductless type systems can be purchased to provide whole-house cooling where ductwork is costly, impossible, or prohibitive.
Air Conditioning Sizing Calculator
Air Conditioning Square Footage Range
by Climate Zone
600 - 950 sf
600 - 1000 sf
700 - 1050 sf
700 - 1100 sf
951 - 1250 sf
1001 - 1300 sf
1051 - 1350 sf
1101 - 1400 sf
1201 - 1500 sf
1251 - 1550 sf
1301 - 1600 sf
1351 - 1600 sf
1401 - 1650 sf
1501 - 1800 sf
1501 - 1850 sf
1601 - 1900 sf
1601 - 2000 sf
1651 - 2100 sf
1801 - 2100 sf
1851 - 2150 sf
1901 - 2200 sf
2001 - 2250 sf
2101 - 2300 sf
2101 - 2400 sf
2151 - 2500 sf
2201 - 2600 sf
2251 - 2700 sf
2301 - 2700 sf
2401 - 3000 sf
2501 - 3100 sf
2601 - 3200 sf
2751 - 3300 sf
2701 - 3300 sf
Choosing a heating and air conditioning brand can be confusing, but a little information goes a long way in making the right choice. Not all brands are right for every person, every time. Price, configuration, and capabilities must factor into the decision. We polled our personal advisors and warranty fulfillment techs and came up with some facts (and opinions) about the various brands we carry that may help you decide:
Ruud / Rheem
Ships from: Southeast and Mid West
In business since: 1950's
Limitations: Pricey in some categories but many heat pump models offer excellent value
Warranty Fulfillment: Average
Pricing points: Mid to upper end
Value: Very good
Name recognition: Well known
Availability: Very good
We have offered the brand for over 7 years and have experienced a very low warranty failure rate on the entire product line. We feel Ruud is a very good value (especially when you are considering a heat pump) and quality is top rated by the leading consumer reporting agency for 7 years in a row. Product offerings are extensive and wide ranging.
Ruud has been about average in terms of warranty part fulfillment. Most customers know either the Ruud or Rheem brand, sister companies with identical product offerings.
Ships from: Southeast
In business since: 1984
Quality: About average
Limitations: Limited offerings in mobile home equipment
Warranty Fulfillment: Average
Pricing points: Lower end
Name recognition: Well known
Availability: Mostly very good
We have offered the Goodman brand for over 9 years and have experienced about average warranty failure rates. We feel Goodman is a good value and quality is about mid pack. Product offerings are extensive and wide ranging, much better than most
Goodman has been about average in terms of warranty part fulfillment. Many customers know the brand.
$500 Tax Credit Qualified Systems
Rebate and Tax Credit
Imagine enjoying comfort like you've never experienced before….allergen filtration…dramatic energy savings…and a federal tax credit of up to $500. You can have that and more with a new high efficiency heat pump air conditioning system.
But you must act now because this credit will expire at the end of this year.
Many of our gas heat systems meet or exceed the energy efficiency specifications of the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star Program thanks in part to advanced technology.
Our systems range in capacity and consist of cooling-only, gas heat, and two-to-eight room multi-zone systems. Some of these same systems qualify for $1,500 in tax credits as energy-efficient home improvements under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Click the link below to view all Gas Furnaces that qualify for the 10% federal tax credit.
And, because our systems help you reduce your energy consumption in your home, you are doing your part to leave less of a footprint on the environment, all while saving money on your energy bill.
Local Utility Rebate Finder
Call our Personal Advisors with your city and utility company name and we will provide you with any local, state, federal, and utility rebates or incentives that may be available in your area. Only from AC4life. Just call toll-free 1-866-862-8922
It's a fact that surprises many people. The air quality inside your home is often worse than the air quality outside. We offer cooling and heating system air filtration options that use a sophisticated multi-part filter system to remove contaminants such as allergens, viruses, and bacteria from the air as they circulate within a room. Or, choose from highly effective media air cleaners that help remove particles from the air measuring just 1/24,000 of an inch. These media filters start at just $139 and help to trap dust, pollens, mites, and other particles that plague allergy sufferers. As a result you enjoy pristine air 24/7.
Generalaire media filter
The GENERALAire Media Filter is designed for use in a centrally ducted forced air system. This filter will permanently install directly beneath your indoor air handler or furnace within the return air stream. The pleated Opti-Fiber Media filter efficiently traps particles as small as 1 micron (1/24,000th of an inch in diameter) so cleaned air is recirculated into the environment. More
The Aprilaire 5000 Electronic Air Cleaner traps particles entering the air cleaner through an intensified electric field that are then collected on special grounded micro-fiber media. The leading consumer advocacy group has stated that it is the most efficient whole house air cleaner they have ever tested, two years in a row. More
The Startech Zebra-14 UV Light is our "Best Buy" option when it comes to killing molds, bacteria, viruses and germs in your central air conditioner. This flexible and inexpensive system mounts easily and can connect to a low voltage transformer or simply be plugged in. More
Blue Tube UV (model TUV-BTER) is designed as a simple way to prevent the growth of molds, bacteria, viruses, and slime in your air conditioner. In the Bluetube UV unique package is everything you need. The unit mounts magnetically! Just connect to the low voltage transformer and install the UV light where needed. More
Use the lower of the two numbers if your home is well insulated and the higher number if it is older or poorly insulated. (Hint: Use the larger of the two numbers above if you're unsure of your home's insulation)
Simply multiply the appropriate factor above by your home's total heated square footage to arrive at your approximate required heating capacity. For example, if you live in the yellow zone, your home is well insulated, and you have 1900 heated square feet, the equation will look like this:
1900 square feet X 40heating factor (from the chart above) 76,000 Btu required to heat your home
Then, to calculate the output on a given gas furnace, multiply it's efficiency rating by it's listed input rating to determine the actual Btu output of heat. For example, if a furnace has a listed input rating of 90,000 Btu's and an efficiency rating of 80%, it will produce
90,000 Btu input X .80 efficiency 72,000 Btu actual output
If the same 90,000 Btu furnace has an efficiency rating of 93% it will produce: 90,000 Btu input X .93 efficiency 83,700 Btu actual output
For this example, using an 80% efficient furnace, the 1900 square foot home above would require a 90,000 Btu input furnace that produces 72,000 Btu's of heating, which is close enough to the 76,000 Btu's required using the climate heating factor.
Most furnaces are offered in 15,000-20,000 btu increments so you just need to get close in terms of sizing. If the furnace you selected is more than 10% below your heating requirement, we suggest you go up to the next size. A little under sizing or over sizing is fine, just don't over size by more than about 20% of your heating requirement, or short cycling can occur which wastes energy and reduces your comfort
If you're still unsure which system size is right for you, please e-mail us or call our toll free number at 1-866-862-8922. An experienced design technician will be happy to assist you. Your home's construction quality and insulation is unique and can greatly affect furnace sizing, so this information is intended to provide a general guideline but should not be the only consideration when selecting a furnace for your home.
Variables such as your insulation, type and number of windows, number of stories, construction type, etc. will greatly affect the required Btu's per square for both heating and cooling. A general rule of thumb is that if your home is well insulated with newer style windows, you can select the smaller size system that falls within your total square footage.
If your home is two story it will place less of a load on the system in the downstairs area as the second floor acts as additional insulation. If your home is not well insulated, has older style windows, and/or a larger than average number of windows, you will want to select the larger system which falls within your square footage range. The less insulated and more windows within the environment, the more likely you will experience greater air and heat loss. (back to top)
Contact Us for More Info
If you're still unsure which system size is right for you, or if you're having difficulty downloading the Air Conditioner Size Calculator, please e-mail us or call our toll free number at 1-866-862-8922. An experienced design technician will be happy to assist you.
The variable speed advantage
A variable speed furnace blower provides a higher level of performance than a standard blower in that it features a high efficiency Electronically Commutated Motor (ECM) by General Electric.
This feature is important because full air delivery is only needed a small portion of the time. During lower demand times this motor reduces its speed, providing up to 4 times better humidity control in the cooling mode (when installed as part of an air conditioning system), better air distribution throughout your home, and greatly reduced operating costs.
Another important feature of a variable speed furnace is the reduction of what is referred to as "cold blow," or the cold blast of air upon heating startup. "Cold blow" results from cold air that develops in the duct system while the heat is in an off-cycle. When the furnace heater fan cycles on, this cold air is moved very quickly into your home resulting in an uncomfortable draft.
Variable speed furnaces virtually eliminate cold blow with a "soft start," or a gradual increase in fan speed over the initial 3 to 4 minutes of the on-cycle. This cold air is combined with preheated air from the furnace blower and is delivered at a slower velocity until it reaches full operating temperature. The result? Improved heating comfort and a dramatic reduction of the uncomfortable drafts associated with standard furnaces.
Better air distribution will provide a marked improvement in those areas of your home where air delivery has been a problem, such as the rooms farthest from the furnace.
In fact, a variable speed blower is so efficient that the low constant fan setting costs about the same to operate as an ordinary 75-watt household light bulb.
You and your family will appreciate the whisper-quiet operation of a variable speed furnace. The motor is among the quietest ever made and in fact, when combined with the generously applied foil-faced insulation, these are among the quietest furnaces available at any price.
The lower constant fan speed setting allows for greater removal of impurities by your furnaces' air filter. Click here to learn more about air filtration options.
Two stage - Why less is more
A two-stage furnace gas valve feature is like having two furnaces in one. When the weather is at its coldest, the furnace operates at 100% capacity in the high-stage mode. But most of the time the furnace operates at just 70% of its rated capacity in the low-stage mode, conserving energy . The two-stage gas valve runs quietly on low stage 90% of the time, producing just 25% of the normal high-fire sound while significantly reducing energy consumption.
A two-stage gas furnace saves energy and keeps your home at just the right temperature. On most days a two-stage furnace operates in its energy saving low-heat stage, delivering steady and gentle heating comfort. On the coldest days, when you need more heat, the furnace automatically switches to the “high-heat” stage to deliver maximum heating comfort. With two stages of heating, the temperature of your home stays at the comfort level you select – regardless of the outdoor conditions.
An integrated control board directs the function of the two-stage gas valve and furnace blower, efficiently maintaining the temperature of your home at the desired level. The two-stage gas valve automatically controls the flow of gas to the burner, providing “low heat” and “high heat” as needed for maximum energy efficiency.
Gas or Electric?
I currently have gas heat but because of the recent increases in gas rates would it be advisable to switch to electricity?
There is an understandable interest in finding an alternative among the millions of homeowners who presently use gas to heat their home. CNN recently reported that the price of heating a home with gas will rise by an average of 58% this winter. This is on top of large increases over the last several winters as well. This increase means that the average fuel bill will rise by over $500.00 this winter and most people simply cannot afford or don't wish to pay these huge increases.
What's the solution? Many people are turning to electric heat or heat pumps for relief. But is this always the right solution? The answer is yes and no. Heat pumps are much more efficient than straight electric heat and will cost less to operate But a heat pump is also an air conditioner so your total cost to buy and install will be higher if you have or desire heating only. The bright side is that if you install an electric furnace you will be about halfway to central air conditioning if you decide to add it later because your electric furnace and ductwork will already be in place. Simply add the proper outdoor heat pump section for a complete central air conditioning and heating system.
Electric heat is the least efficient way to heat your home if your local utility rates are about average for the country. Most homeowners are paying between .09 and .12 cents per kilowatt-hour of electric consumption. The formula for determining the cost of operation per hour for an example 10Kw electric heating element is as follows:
Determine the cost per kilowatt hour from your utility. We'll assume you pay .10 cents per kilowatt hour of electric consumption.(The actual kilowatt hour rate is posted on your utility bill)
Determine the kilowatts per hour of consumption of the heating element. In this case a 10Kw heating element consumes 10 kilowatts per hour. We know that each kilowatt hour of consumption costs .10 cents and we are using 10 units per hour so it follows that:
10 units of power consumed at .10 cents per unit = $1.00 per hour.
If you are considering or have a 15 kw heating element the formula is:
15 units of power consumed at .10 cents per unit = $1.50 per hour.
As you can see, electric heat is not exactly inexpensive to operate. However, in some areas of the country rates as low as .035 cents per kilowatt hour (3 and one half cents) are not uncommon. Let review our operating costs using this considerably lower utility rate for the two heating elements above.
10Kw heating element
10 units of power consumed at .035 cents per unit = 0.35 cents per hour
15Kw heating element
15 units of power consumed at .035 cents per unit = 0.52 cents per hour
As you can see, the total cost to operate these heating elements has been reduced from $1.00 per hour and $1.50 per hour, to .35 cents per hour and .52 cents per hour, respectively. The lower rate represents a 2/3 reduction in operating costs compared to the higher and more common rate of .10 cents per kilowatt hour.
In conclusion, before changing from gas heat to straight electric heat, do the math. Call your local utility or consult your power bill to determine your actual cost per kilowatt hour. Use the formula above to calculate your cost per hour of operation. This will help you make an informed decision and may prevent even higher heating costs from striking your home.
Determine your existing air conditioning system size
What differentiates us from other air conditioning and heating providers is our commitment to providing user-friendly online pricing and educational tools to our customers. So whether you are looking to replace your existing system, install a new one, or simply shop prices and features from the comfort of your home, we have a full range of solutions for you.
If you are considering replacing an existing system and just want to research prices and options on your own, you can shop our online store. The very first thing you will need to determine is what size system is required. Air conditioning and heat pump system capacities are offered in what is referred to as "tonnage". You will see 1.5 through 5.0 "ton" systems listed on our site.
If your existing system is properly sized for your home, you can shop using the sizing of your existing system. The best way to determine what you have now is to look at the outdoor unit. There is a plate or sticker attached to it, usually toward the bottom where a set of copper pipes connects to the unit. The size (tonnage) is never listed on the unit but the model number will usually tell what size is in place now. The tonnage, or capacity of the system is coded in the model number. Somewhere within the model number, look for the following numbers: 18, 24, 30, 36, 42, 48, or 60
If you can't read the model number due to wear on the plate, there are several other options. Call your existing service company to see if they have a record of the size. If there is no record of the size, then try asking a neighbor who has a home very similar to yours if they know what size system they have.
If you are unable to determine your system size, call us and we can have a personal advisor stop by and provide you with a free written estimate. You can then shop all of the options available from our online store, including air filtration, system features, and various levels of efficiency that best fit you lifestyle and needs
How to select the right contractor to install your new system
Your heating and air conditioning systems are what make your home a habitable place to live, until something goes wrong that is. If you’re wondering if you can save hundreds or even thousands by purchasing direct and taking a more hands-on approach in the selection process – the answer is definitely YES, and you’ve come to the right place.
Our customer’s number in the tens of thousands who have saved big, and now you can too. When buying direct you’ll need a qualified air conditioning contractor to pick up the labor where you leave off.
Your equipment manufacturer requires that the system be started-up and checked by a licensed contractor even if you complete some or most of the work yourself. Federal EPA regulations also require a certification to handle refrigerant and to start-up any split air conditioning system containing refrigerant. Some simple tips in searching out that qualified contractor will make the process easier and more efficient.
The heating and air conditioning industry is rapidly adjusting to the fact that you can now log on to the web and shop a huge selection of equipment quickly and efficiently. A few contractors you speak with may not offer installation-only services. If not, keep looking as there are plenty that will. Keep this in mind when talking to your contractor.
We live in a much more efficient shopping environment than ever before. Just be persistent - show them how this can work in their favor and you can both walk away happy.
One of the advantages of buying direct is complete transparency with respect to equipment and labor pricing. The industry is loath to separately reveal the material and labor portions of their pricing and this is a great way for you to get a handle on both – and receive fair, open pricing on both the equipment and the labor. Once the labor time is indentified it is easier for you to gauge the pricing fairness for a set number of hours.
Be fair with them as well. Their pricing includes not just the direct labor costs, but also the cost of overhead, insurance, tools, vehicles, training, taxes, etc. A fair daily labor rate for 2 persons to properly install your system is between $800 and $1500, depending on the time of year, your market, and other factors. Many replacement systems can be installed in one day. Ductwork and tight installations will increase the time and cost.
Finding a Qualified Heating and Air Conditioning Contractor
Begin with people you know . Perhaps you know an electrician, plumber or other tradesperson that you can contact and ask for a referral. Heating and air conditioning contractors are more likely to say yes to your installation-only request if they know who they're talking to. Focus on what's in it for them using this thought:
“ Mr. or Ms. Contractor: I contacted a source of mine who was able to get me a significant discount on exactly the heating and air conditioning equipment I need. The equipment will be shipped directly to the jobsite. The good news is that I want you to install, service and maintain my equipment for me. I'd like to discuss an annual service agreement on the equipment to keep it in top notch shape and I'd like to contract with you for not only the installation but the required annual maintenance as well.
This can be a win-win for us both and I'll continue to refer out your services every chance I get. Please quote me a fair price for the necessary labor to install my equipment including everything you think is required, including the drain lines, condenser pads, electrical wiring, etc. I was also told that you can become the preferred installer for any other jobs of this nature in our area if that appeals to you."
If you are blissfully happy with your contractor, please let us know and we will add them to our preferred contractor list for whatever area they service. This list is being compiled and is expected to be available to our customers in the coming months.
Ask about a one year labor warranty as part of the agreement. They will add in a residual amount to cover their risk, but in the end it is worth it to you.
Contact the local air conditioning and heating wholesale supply house. Ask them if they can refer someone to you who they know is reliable and honest. The counter person deals with service techs and installers all day and will definitely know a few people he or she can refer you to, all you have to do is ask. Tell them you are looking for someone who is competent and honest to install, service and maintain your new system.
Leverage your status with your employer's heating and air conditioning service company . Call this company and tell them your employer's name and ask them for a quote. If they don't offer the type of service you need, ask them to refer you to someone they know who does. Ask them to phone ahead for you so the referral is expecting your call. Of course, check with the boss and make sure it's okay ahead of time. Your employers' service company is more likely to help than strangers would be.
Network through friends and neighbors . Ask your neighbors, coworkers, or friends to refer you to someone with whom they have a pre-existing relationship. Ask them to phone ahead so the referral is expecting your call. Always let them know what's in it for them, such as air conditioning service agreements and referrals.
Your local trade schools often have students supervised by a licensed contractor/professor. They may be anxious for the hands-on experience and you'll get a very fair price. Just make sure they are comfortable installing your selection.
Browse the free local publications found in grocery stores , such as The Pennysaver, Treasure Chest, etc. Many times there are service-only companies who are interested in installation and labor, not equipment sales. These smaller companies are usually hungrier and more responsive. Always be sure to check for valid licenses and BBB records to filter out the less reliable contractors.
Finally, always check the following before hiring any contractor:
Make sure the contractor, electrician or plumber you are considering is registered and licensed as required by your local state law. Most states require that contractors obtain licensing and registration to perform work. Registration doesn't necessarily guarantee performance, but it does mean the contractor must obtain liability insurance and a surety bond that can protect you if they don't live up to their promises
For information, log-on to your states' contractor registration web site to ensure their license is valid, and to determine how long the contractor has been in business and whether there have been any complaints against them.
Ask for and obtain a copy of their liability insurance policy limits. Contractors are required to carry certain minimum limits of liability in case one of their employees is injured on your property. If their insurance has lapsed, you could become responsible for the costs of the employee's injuries.
Insist on a permit if your local municipality requires it. Normally, an inspection is scheduled by a local official to ensure that the completed job meets certain minimum standards. This provides some degree of protection against a defective installation and ensures that it complies with municipal code requirements.
We prefer to deal with companies who can certify that all employees who visit your home are thoroughly background checked for criminal and drug violations. If they don't know who's working for them, how can you expect to? Play it safe and insist on background check verifications!
Some final thoughts to remember:
· Ask for references
Always get 2 bids for the job if possible
· Always obtain a written contract that contains all important aspects of the job
· Be cautious in dealing with a contractor who asks for a large down payment. They don't need a down payment because you already paid for the equipment
Pay the contractor upon completion of the job, and pay only for the portion of the job that has been completed ·
Avoid making final payment until you have received a lien release