When Should You Consider A Central AC Upgrade?
There are plenty of reasons why you may want to consider upgrading your home's central air conditioning system. For example, your current unit may be old, worn out, and too expensive to continue to maintain. However, there are some situations where upgrading can be worthwhile even if your current system is still (more or less) functioning to keep your home cool.
If you've been wondering whether it's time for an upgrade, this guide will help you understand some of the pros and cons of ditching your current system for a newer, more efficient model.
What Are the Benefits of Upgrading?
While the technology for air conditioning systems is improving all the time, these improvements overwhelmingly focus on efficiency. Modern air conditioning systems are far more efficient than past systems, and base-model air conditioners may now offer efficiency on par with some of the highest-end models of the past.
In particular, US regulatory agencies have increased their minimum SEER (seasonal energy efficiency rating) requirements several times over the last few decades. If you check your current air conditioning system, you may find that its SEER is below the minimum 13/14 (depending on your region) required for US installations.
In addition to higher efficiency, newer air conditioning systems offer other benefits, such as multi-stage blowers and variable-speed compressors. These improvements increase energy efficiency, so they're typically only found on high SEER models. However, multiple or variable-stage systems also improve interior comfort by eliminating hot and cold swings.
When Should You Consider Upgrading?
The simplest answer is that you should consider upgrading your central air conditioning unit when the old one fails, and it's no longer cost-effective to repair. For most homeowners, this point arrives when the compressor fails. Since the compressor is the highest-cost component in the system, it's often better to upgrade to a newer model rather than replace the old compressor.
Still, there are some situations where you may want to consider an early upgrade. For example, if your current system is too large or too small for your home. Incorrectly sized systems result in poor cooling, poor efficiency, and additional problems, such as excessive humidity. If your air conditioner is already approaching the end of its life, it may be more effective to replace it now rather than wait for failure.
Finally, it's worth considering upgrades if you've made or plan to make major changes to your home. Converting to an open floor plan, putting on a large addition, or otherwise renovating in a way that can increase your cooling load will strain your existing system. Upgrading now will help keep your home comfortable while avoiding potential failures due to an overworked air conditioner.
Contact a local air conditioning contractor to learn more.