Central air conditioning is a system in which air is cooled at a central location. A thermostat installed inside your home lets you set the interior temperature to your personal comfort level.
Central air conditioning systems use: 1) refrigerants to cool the air in your home, and 2) fans to deliver cool air to your home’s rooms and to exhaust the warm air to the outdoors.
How Central Air Conditioning Systems Work
The refrigerant gasses used to cool the air are pumped through refrigerant lines and two different coils. One coil, called the condensing coil, is located in a unit placed outside of your home. This outdoor unit consists of a compressor, the condensing coil, the condenser fan, and a grill cabinet (which protects against contact with the fan blade), controls, and two refrigerant lines that run into the home to the evaporator coil. The compressor compresses the refrigerant gas which enables it to discharge heat out of the house, creating cool air.
The other coil, called the evaporator coil is located indoors. Compressed refrigerant is pumped from the exterior condensing coil to the interior evaporator coil, where it absorbs the heat from the air. The cooled air is then pushed through the ductwork and into the rooms of your home to lower the interior temperature. Meanwhile, the refrigerant circulates through the system back outside to the condenser coil, where the heat that was absorbed is released to the outside. At this point, the refrigerant is returned to a liquid form, continuing the cycle of the refrigerant compression and flow.
Benefits of Installing A Central Air Conditioning System
Central air conditioning is popular because of the many benefits it offers to consumers. Here are some of the most popular reasons to install a central air system:
- Better indoor comfort during hot weather – Nothing beats the efficiency of central air conditioning when it comes to cooling your home or office during those hot summer days.
- Dehumidification – Dehumidifying the air improves the indoor air quality and helps create a healthier environment by deterring the growth of mold and reducing contaminants in the home.
- Cleaner air – Your central air conditioning system circulates air through an air filter. These filters can remove microscopic airborne particles from the air you breathe.
- Quiet operation – Installing the compressor component outside results in less noise inside your home compared to a standard window unit.
- Energy efficiency – Improvements in HVAC technology has led to more energy efficiency in central air systems.
- Low maintenance – Newer models of central air conditioning systems do not require a significant amount of maintenance.
Average Cost of a New Central Air System Installation
The national average cost is about $5,400, though it can run as high as $12,000. If you need ductwork installed, the cost will be higher.
The cost of a new system for your home depends on a number of factors, as discussed below. Installing a new central air conditioning system requires the assistance of a professional HVAC technician to ensure proper installation and avoid the need for future repairs and maintenance. In other words, this is not a job for a DIY’er.
Estimating the Cost of a New Central AC System
Below are the primary factors that will affect the cost of your new system:
Like many products you buy, some units are known for their high quality. Some have a brand name that commands a higher price. Some brands’ central air systems also have a higher average system life span than others
Size of the Unit
One of the most important factors is the size of the unit you need. The larger the unit, the more it will cost to purchase and install. An HVAC professional from Presidential can perform what is called a “load calculation” to ensure you calculate the right-sized unit based on the square footage, layout, and configuration of your home.
Size of Your Home
As a general rule of thumb, every 500 or 600 square feet of space in your home requires one ton of cooling. Applying that rule of thumb, a 1,500 square foot home would need a 3-ton unit and the cost of installation is around $4,000 on average. A 2,000 square foot home would need a 4-ton unit with installation running about $4,500 on average.
These cost and size figures are only ballpark; it is important to get a quote from an experienced professional who can perform an accurate load calculation for you.
SEER stands for “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio”. A SEER rating is the ratio of the cooling output of an air conditioner over a typical cooling season, divided by the energy it consumed in Watt-Hours. It is the average calculated over a single cooling season and is figured using a constant indoor temperature and a variety of outdoor temperatures, ranging from the 60’s to the 100’s, thus simulating a typical cooling season. The higher the SEER rating, the more expensive the air conditioner will be.
Modern air conditioners have a SEER value ranging from 13 or 14 SEER as a minimum. Depending on the characteristics of your home, a unit with a SEER of more than 14 may be warranted, but it may not be worth the cost for everyone. An HVAC expert can help you make that determination based on a professional load calculation of your home.
SEER ratings can be confusing for homeowners. Units with high SEER ratings can provide both performance and monetary benefits. It may improve the resale value of your home, but the most important benefit will be the cost-efficient performance. A high-efficiency HVAC system will maximize the amount of cooling (and heating) power extracted from a single unit of energy. Higher efficiency means less energy used which can reduce your monthly energy bills. Maximizing energy efficiency is one of the best ways to save money each month. For optimum savings, a load calculation can help you identify the ideal SEER rating for your home and lifestyle.
Adding to Existing Forced Air Heat
You may be able to save a little by adding a new central air system to an existing forced-air heating system. That way, you can use your furnace blower to distribute cool air through the home. In many cases, however, you need a new heating system as well. It is most cost-effective to install a heating and air conditioning system at the same time. If you do not need to replace your central heat, you can use the existing fans and duct system for the central air system.
Contact The HVAC Professionals At Presidential For More Information
The expert HVAC technicians at Presidential Heat and Air can answer any of your questions about a central air conditioning system and which system would work best for your home. Contact Presidential Heat and Air to schedule an appointment.