Central Air Conditioning Units Review
Why Buy a Central Air Conditioner?
The dog days of summer are hot, humid and hard to endure if you don’t have an effective way to cool your home. Installing a central air conditioner is an excellent way to make your home comfortable during the summer months. Today’s central air conditioning units are more effective, durable and environmentally friendly than ever before.
The best AC units take advantage of your home’s existing duct work to keep all the rooms at a uniform temperature. This is a big advantage over window units or swamp coolers that produce uneven temperatures from room to room. The best central air conditioners are great at regulating airflow throughout your home. Conventional AC units can generate air currents that are uncomfortable and inconsistent.
While the initial investment in a central air conditioner can be steep, it’s well worth the money in the long run. Installing an energy efficient AC unit not only saves you money on your power bill, but also reduces your carbon footprint. The easiest way to identify an energy efficient air conditioner is by its SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) number. The higher the SEER score, the better the air conditioner is at using the electricity it draws from your home.
The best central air conditioners allow you to control your home's temperature remotely, which can also improve your unit's efficiency. Since you can adjust the temperature remotely, there is no harm done if you forget to turn off the air conditioning when you leave the house or if the weather suddenly turns colder. Most modern air conditioners also integrate well with associated products from their own manufacturers or with other programmable thermostats.
Today’s central air conditioners run quieter than ever before. Since it sits outside your home, you want a unit that will not bother you or your neighbors. AC units have a drastic range in noise levels. The best produce noise levels less than 60 decibels – comparable to the sound of conversation in a restaurant. Features that reduce noise include well-designed fan blades, insulation for the compressor and pan base, and variable speed settings for the fan.
Most air conditioner models come in several sizes. The optimal size depends on your home’s square footage and the climate where you live. Typically, the larger the unit, the more space it can cool. Buying the right size for your circumstances impacts your AC's effectiveness, so be sure to talk with your contractor about what will work best.
Most Energy Efficient Central Air Conditioners
The best central air conditioners keep your home comfortable, even on the hottest summer days, year after year using very little energy and making very little noise. All the top-rated units in our review do that, but Lennox central air conditioners offer much more. They are advanced, feature-filled air conditioners with many advantages over basic units, not the least of which is their energy efficiency ratings. These units have SEER ratings ranging between 13 and 26, making them the most efficient in our review.
Amana Corporation offers a great line of central air conditioners. Its units have SEER ratings between 14 and 24.5. They also come with coil and temperature sensors, a two-speed fan motor, and an amazing lifetime warranty. Further, they’re designed to keep you cool and comfortable no matter what the temperature or humidity is outside.
Trane central air conditioners are some of the best units you can buy. They are high-performance units that maintain comfortable temperatures, no matter what the weather is like outside. These central air conditioning systems are environmentally friendly with durable designs that can handle all types of weather conditions. And with SEER ratings as high as 22, they’re some of the most energy efficient central AC units available.
Central Air Conditioners With the Best Warranties
Goodman sells five central air conditioner models. They are all quiet enough that they won’t bother you or your neighbors, but they are not as energy efficient as some competitors. Still, they’re likely to save you on future electrical bills if you are replacing an outdated model. Each one also comes with a lifetime warranty, which is impressive in today’s central air conditioner market.
Energy efficiency is just one piece of our comparison of the best central air conditioners, but it is a very important one. The central air conditioners in American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning’s line have high SEERs, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratios, so they can help lower your energy bills now and far into the future. Since each one comes with a 12-year warranty, you can rest assured your unit will work well into the future.
Why a Professional Should Install Your Central Air Conditioner
Unless you have brazing, electrical, plumbing and framing experience, it is highly inadvisable to try to install your central air conditioner yourself. Simply put, too much can go wrong, and you may end up causing damage to your home that is very expensive to repair. You also run the risk of breaking your AC unit, possibly rendering it unusable – not to mention the risk of personal injury. There are also EPA certifications to consider because of the refrigerant used, and installation involves some rewiring and anchoring the unit to a concrete pad. All in all, this is a task you should leave to professionals. They have the training, expertise and experience needed to make sure your central air conditioner is installed correctly, safely and securely.
Of course, you need to research the best central air conditioner contractors in your area to see which ones are the most reputable. The best HVAC installers have good reputations that are reflected in online customer reviews on Google, Yelp, Citysearch and more. Don’t just go with the cheapest bid or the closest contractor. This is a major investment in your home, so spending a few extra hours and dollars is well worth it to make sure you get the best results possible.
Best Alternatives to Central Air Conditioning
If you live in a dry climate, you might want to consider a swamp cooler, which cools air by adding moisture. This is the opposite of air conditioners, which cool air by removing moisture. Swamp coolers are generally less expensive, especially since they do not require the installation of extra equipment like ducting.
However, there are a few drawbacks to swamp coolers. First, they are much less effective than central air conditioners when it comes to cooling your house, plus you need to check frequently to ensure the water supply is adequate. In addition, you also might not want a swamp cooler if someone in your family has asthma, since these devices blow microbes from the outdoors into your home. Finally, the added humidity can sometimes produce mold.
Another alternative to a central air conditioner is a heat pump. While central air conditioners only cool, a heat pump can cool in the summer and then reverse itself to heat during the winter. In the hotter months, there is basically no difference between a heat pump and an air conditioner – both cool the air inside your home, though air conditioners are known for being slightly better at cooling in climates with extreme heat. The difference shows in the cold months.
Heat pumps can’t handle extremely cold temperatures. If you live where it gets very cold, you may still have to use your furnace in the winter, which detracts from one of the main advantages of the heat pump – its ability to both heat and cool. Heat pumps are a solid alternative for milder climates, though.
Central Air Conditioners: What is a SEER Rating?
The potential SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, of each unit is defined by the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, and this number tells you how much energy is needed for cooling. For central air conditioners, the higher the SEER number, the more efficient the unit is and the better we scored it. Previous generations of air conditioners had SEER ratings of 5 or 6, but modern units have ratings into the 20s. The U.S. Department of Energy requires a minimum SEER of 13 or 14 for central air conditioners, depending on where you live. Most in our lineup far exceed that, and the highest SEER is 26. Higher SEER ratings usually come with higher price tags, so it is worth considering how long it might take to see a return on your investment in savings on your energy bill.
Shopping for a new air conditioner can be stressful, especially if yours breaks in the heat of summer. The latest models are so much more efficient than their predecessors, though, and we have found the best of the best for energy efficiency, noise control, overall design and warranties so you can have peace of mind with your purchase.