HVAC Hacks: Tips for Novices and New Homeowners

Terms To Know When Shopping For A New Central Air Conditioner

When you decide to have a central air conditioner installed — or to replace your current central air conditioner — you'll need to shop around. You'll want to call and talk with a few different HVAC companies before choosing someone to install your new air conditioner. But you'll also want to look over and consider a variety of air conditioner models. Understanding the following terms should help you learn more about each model you're considering and ultimately choose the air conditioner that is right for your home.

BTU: BTU is a unit used to indicate the cooling capacity of an air conditioner. The abbreviation stands for "British Thermal Units." Essentially, an air conditioner with a higher BTU rating is able to cool a home more than one with a lower BTU rating. The larger your home, the more BTU you'll need out of your air conditioner.

Coil: More formally known as the evaporator coil, this is the indoor component of your air conditioner. It's the part of the AC system that houses the refrigerant. Air blows over it and is cooled.

Condenser: This is the outdoor component of your air conditioner. It discharges the heat removed from your home's air into the outdoors. The condenser is usually installed on a concrete pad, so if you are installing AC for the first time, pouring that concrete pad is something to discuss with your HVAC contractor.

Whole-House Fan: This is the fan that blows the cold air into your ducts. If you have furnace heating, you already have a whole-house fan. Your AC can be installed in a way that allows it to use the same one.

Main Plenum: This is the main duct that connects to your whole-house fan, which connects to the rest of your AC system. It may need to be moved or expanded in order to accommodate a new air conditioner.

Packaged Unit: This is a big appliance that contains both a furnace and an air conditioner. Packaged units are usually used for commercial buildings, but sometimes also in larger homes. If you need a new furnace along with a new AC, this may be something to consider.

SEER: SEER stands for seasonal energy-efficiency ratio. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the air conditioner. You want the AC unit with the highest SEER that you can afford.

If you come across any other less-familiar terms when comparing AC units, don't hesitate to ask your HVAC contractor for a definition. For more information, contact an air conditioning service near you.