Tips on buying a New Air Conditioner and what to consider
So it's time to get a new heating and air conditioning unit. Before making that move check out my page on getting a second opinion. Ok so you're still set on getting a new HVAC unit and you’re not sure where to start. Let me give you my two cents. More important than the brand or efficiency of the equipment is the quality of the install. The second most important decision to make is what is going to be the efficiency of the equipment. Below is a list of what to consider when getting a new system.
Start with finding out what is the capacity and location of your current equipment.
It will be anywhere from a 2-5 ton system. If you're not sure, take a picture of the data sticker on the outside condensing unit and call up any HVAC company. If you read them off your model number they should be able to tell you what you’re working with. Let's say you have a 3 ton condensing unit outside and the furnace is in the closet. This info will help the company you want to get an estimate from and would be understood by the company like this: 3 ton gas split closet ground. Take pictures of your equipment. This should help assist you in getting initial pricing over the phone.
Decide what efficiency of equipment you want.
What's more important to you, efficiency or reliability? You can’t have both. Most of my customers answer that reliability is most important and I agree. So keeping that in mind I typically recommend a 14-16 Seer A/C and a 80% furnace. Keep this in mind the main reason I recommend replacing air conditioners is when there is an unmanageable refrigerant leak. The higher efficiency air conditioners have larger condenser and evaporator coils and therefore are more likely to have refrigerant leaks. The Higher efficiency air conditioners also have more proprietary parts for example a variable speed condenser fan motor vs a standard condenser fan motor. The difference is a $600 motor that I most likely stock on the van vs a $1,600 variable speed motor that might take a week to order when it's 110 degrees outside. Also high efficiency A/C units with 2 stage compressors seem to break down way faster than standard single stage compressors. Do yourself a favor and get a less expensive 14-16 SEER A/C.
Now as far as the Furnace goes I absolutely despise high efficiency furnaces. They break down way more than a standard 80% furnace, cost more up front, and are more expensive to repair. Good luck getting that info from the salesman. We have mild winters in the greater Sacramento area so you will overall be happy with the efficiency of a standard 80% furnace and will be better off in the long run with less costly and inconvenient repairs.
Picking an HVAC Company
The most important decision you will make in this process is what company to use. Pick a company that has good reviews on Yelp. Yelp has good algorithms for filtering out FAKE reviews. As far as I can tell Yelp filters fake reviews much better than Google. So once you know what system and efficiency you want, start calling and getting bids. Don't waste your time with having salesmen come to your house. If they have fair prices they should be able to give you a price over the phone. However they will need to see the system before giving you a final estimate. Maybe you might need ducting or extra work to get the job done properly but at least you can get a base price to compare companies. So for example if you call up a
company you should be able to say “ I’m looking for a new HVAC unit. How much would it be for a 3 ton 14 Seer A/C 80% Furnace? The Furnace is in the closet and the A/C is in the backyard. If you give me an email I can send over some pictures of what I currently have and the model and serial number of the current equipment.” Then send over as many pictures as it takes to give a good Idea of space constraints and the current layout. If the company can't give you pricing this way then I wouldn't recommend doing business with them. Get at least three bids this way and then have the company you pick come out to give you a final estimate.
Do this an I'm sure you will save time and money
If you have any questions or want to set up service please call (916) 671-5542