Air Condition FAQ
- What is a heat pump?
A heat pump is a combined heating and air conditioning system that is used year round. In warm seasons, a heat pump functions as a conventional air conditioner, extracting heat from inside and transferring it outdoors. In colder weather, this processes reverses and the heat pump unit collects heat from outdoor air and transfers it inside the home. Although outdoor air is very cold in winter months, it still contains some heat, which the heat pump is able to extract to warm your home. If the outside heat is insufficient, a conventional electric heater supplements the outdoor heat to meet the home’s heating needs. A heat pump is much more energy efficient, producing 2-3 times more heat than the heat it uses.
- What is the difference between R-22 and R-410A refrigerants?
Refrigerants are found in an air conditioner’s coils, and used to extract heat and dehumidify indoor air. Without refrigerants, air conditioning wouldn’t be possible. R-22 refrigerants was the most commonly used in air conditioners for many years, but due to growing environmental concerns, R-22 systems are being phased out. R-410A differs in that it is chlorine-free, and is thus considered ozone-friendly. Most modern cooling systems in production now use R-410A.
- What is two-stage cooling?
In a two-stage cooling system, an air conditioner or heat pump has two levels of operation, with a high setting for hot summer days and low setting for milder spring and autumn days. The low setting is sufficient 80% of the time, meaning that a two-stage unit runs for longer periods of time, producing more even cooling. Longer cooling cycles also decrease noise level, are more energy-efficient, and allow for better humidity control. A two-stage unit can remove two times more moisture from the air as a single-stage unit. This enhances your home’s air quality, and helps prevent mold and other airborne pollutants.
- How do I select the right heating/cooling system?
There are several considerations for selecting the right home comfort system for your needs, including sizing, air quality concerns, energy efficiency and budget. To make sure your unit is properly sized, your dealer should provide a load calculation for your home. Also ask for an energy analysis in order to determine your unit’s operating costs. If you suffer from allergies, asthma or other respiratory problems, an indoor unit with an ECM motor is helpful. This system keeps air continuously circulating and filtered for about the same operation cost as a standard light bulb. Also consider your budget, making sure to factor in energy savings over time. Determine how much monthly energy savings over time will defray your initial investment, and use this calculation to determine whether your new system fits your budget. Also ask whether your dealer offers financing.
- What is involved in replacing an old system?
In addition to placing your new heating or cooling unit, your dealer will inspect several elements of your home comfort system to determine whether they need to be installed, replaced or upgraded. These items include ductwork, refrigerant piping, insulation, thermostat, electrical service and wiring, flue piing and terminations, condensate piping, slabs, chimney liners, driers, filters, grills, registers, evaporator coil and drain pans. If these items need to be repaired or are not compatible with your new unit, your dealer may repair or replace them.
- How long can I expect a new system to last?
Industry averages suggest that an air conditioner will last 10-25 years and a gas furnace can last as many as 15-20 years. However, to ensure the maximum lifespan of your new unit, it is critical that a qualified technician performs regular preventative maintenance and suggested services.
- What are the advantages of installing a ductless mini-split over a central air system?
Central air cools an entire building, which is inefficient if only one room needs to be cooled. Ductless mini-splits cool only the areas that need to be cooled, preventing energy expenditures on rooms that don’t need to be cooled.
A minimum central air unit typically has a minimum of 18,000 BTU. Ductless mini-splits use 9,000 or 12,000 BTUs.
Most 3-story homes are not zoned or require complex zoning systems, meaning that the entire home is cooled to the same temperature, expending excess energy. Ductless mini-splits contain multiple evaporators, meaning that zoning is much easier – as easy as setting a remote control.
Up to 25% of energy loss occurs in ductwork, meaning that long lengths of uninhabited ducts are energy sinks. Ductless mini-splits prevent this energy loss, and are therefore more efficient.
- What is a ductless mini-split system?
A ductless mini-split system can both heat and cool rooms. It is comprised of an indoor evaporator connected to an outdoor condenser. These systems differ from central air systems in that they are intended to cool specific rooms instead of the entire building. They are more compact, affordable, easier to install and more efficient than central air systems when only a single room requires climate control.
- Does oversizing matter?
In short, bigger isn’t better when it comes to HVAC equipment. Simply put, oversized equipment is more costly than properly sized equipment, and also leads to decreased comfort and air quality. Oversized HVAC units bring a home to its set temperature quickly, and then shut off, only to come back on a few minutes later. This is known as short-cycling, and leads to increased noise levels and uneven temperatures. Additionally, short cycling means that units don’t run long enough to dehumidify and filter a home’s air. During an air conditioners first few minutes of operation, the air conditioner cools the home’s air, but not enough moisture collects on the cold coil or in the pan for any water to actually be drained out. When the unit turns off, all of the moisture re-evaporates into the indoor air. A properly sized HVAC unit will maximize your energy efficiency, comfort and air quality. A qualified dealer can provide an accurate load calculation to correctly size your new HVAC unit.
- How does an air conditioner work?
An air conditioner blows cool air, so it seems as though it cools the air in your home. In reality, air conditioners remove the heat from indoor air, and transfer it to outdoor air. Heat is extracted from indoor air by passing it through a refrigerant coil located in the indoor unit. The heat is then carried through refrigerant lines to the outdoor unit, and the heat is released into the outdoor air. This cycle continues until the indoor temperature reaches the thermostat’s setpoint.