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Things To Know When Purchasing An Air Conditioner


BRANDS We’re often asked what the best brand of air conditioner is, and the answer is that there isn’t one anymore, and while there certainly are some air conditioner brands that are outright garbage, they’re nearly all built to the same standards. There are about 30 brands of air conditioners available to the North American market, and while that sounds like a lot of different manufacturers to choose from, know that those 30 brands are being produced by about 5 corporations, using components almost exclusively from about 5 component manufacturers, making all 30 of those brands nearly identical in construction. Very seriously, the two biggest differences between those 30 brands of air conditioners is the colour of paint used and the name on the side of the unit; it’s not uncommon for a piece of equipment to come with two or more “name badges” (essentially the brand name label), and the installer is to affix the appropriate badge for the brand of equipment sold. The “Big Three” AC manufacturers serving the North American market, the ones with the greatest brand recognition, are Carrier, Trane, and Lennox, and they earned their reputation of being the best products by actually doing so for 50 some odd years, but have been merely coasting on that reputation since the 90’s. These days, Carrier, Trane, and Lennox air conditioners are built to the same (and in some cases arguable lesser) standards as their lesser-known competitors’ air conditioning equipment, though they still price their equipment as a superior product; when one buys these brands the additional cast is for nothing more than the name, and no longer the superior quality that was once justifiably associated with that name. We prefer Goodman / Amana brand air conditioners for their reliability and competitive price.

SIZING (also called “cooling capacity”, or tonnage, or tons (a ton being equal to 12,000 BTUH)) Bigger is not better when it comes to air conditioning, and “over-sizing” of air conditioning systems is a chronic problem in the Calgary area. Over-sizing of an AC system will lead to a higher purchase/installation costs, higher operating costs, larger equipment, less effective cooling, minimal humidity control, frequent repairs, and a shorter equipment life span. This is why when the unit breaks down you’ll need to get someone in that are certified like this Air Conditioning Repair Durham firm. A smaller air conditioner will remove heat from the home less rapidly, and as counter-intuitive as that sounds, it’s actually a good thing as it allows the air conditioner the opportunity to remove humidity from the home as well. This is quite useful, as humid air feels warmer than dry air, as humid air limits the human body’s ability to self-regulate it’s temperature by sweating. Removing humidity from the air allows the occupants to set the thermostat higher then they normally would while still being equally comfortable, which in turn saves electricity by causing the air conditioner to operate less frequently. The sizing of most air conditioning systems in the Calgary area is done by merely dividing the square footage (above grade only, the basement is usually not included in this calculation) by 600, with the resulting number being the required tons of cooling capacity, and that figure is usually rounded up to the nearest capacity available. This is a flawed method, and results in oversized air conditioners. Items such as the volume of the home, size and grade of the home’s windows, and how much and which portions of the home are exposed to direct sunlight also play a major role is the correct sizing of an AC system.

EFFICIENCY We frequently receive calls from homeowners wanting a “high efficiency air conditioner”, as they don’t want it to cost a lot to run, and while this seems sensible, it isn’t. SEER, standing for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, is the scale by which air conditioning systems are measured. The SEER gives an average efficiency over an entire cooling season. In Canada the lowest permitted air conditioner SEER is 13, and frankly there is no real value in upgrading to a higher efficiency. Due our limited cooling season, air conditioners in and around Calgary don’t run often and long enough to create large savings through efficiency upgrades, and as such it’s very uncommon for those efficiency savings to add up to the cost of purchasing the higher efficiency AC in the first place. Consider that in the Calgary area climate each SEER point above the base SEER rating of 13 will save you about $5 per year in energy savings, and usually costs about an additional $150 per SEER point to purchase the more efficient units, whereas in Texas each SEER point will save about $100 per year and would pay for itself halfway through it’s second season. In a true cooling climate high efficiency air conditioners save a lot of money, but up in our area it simply costs more than it saves.

SOUND LEVELS Many of our clients are concerned about how loud the air conditioner will be. Rest assured, even the base-grade AC equipment currently being produced is quieter that the top-of-the-line- air conditioning systems from 25 years ago. Most air conditioning units sound levels fall between 65-80 decibels, with 70-75 decibels being by far the most common. 65-70 decibels is about the volume of a normal conversation, 70-75 decibels is about the volume of a vacuum cleaner, and 80 decibels is about the volume of a telephone dial tone. For the most part, when an AC is noticeably loud, it’s due to being installed out of level, did not have it’s refrigerant gas charge properly balanced during installation, or is old dated technology; poor installation can add as much as 20 decibels to the volume emitted by an air conditioner, taking a relatively quiet unit from the volume of a conversation to the volume of a very loud highway (a level at which prolonged exposure may cause hearing loss). There are a couple tactics which can often be employed to dampen the sound produced by an air conditioning system. An optional acoustically insulating shroud can be installed over the compressor of most air conditioners, which will muffle the compressor’s volume. Also, planting hedges and shrubs around (make sure to leave at least 12” free space around the air conditioner to allow for it’s air flow) the air conditioner will muffle all sound emitted by the unit.

INSTALLATION Proper installation practices are crucial to keeping an air conditioner efficient, effective, quiet, and consistent reliable long-term. Sadly, it’s more common than not in the Calgary area for air conditioning systems to be poorly installed, leading to those systems being chronically problematic for the owner. I know people who have had air conditioning installation sydney and said they were amazing. Find a good company to install it for you otherwise you’ll end up paying more money out in the future. Items such as deburring (removing the “lip” formed on the inside of copper refrigeration tubing when it’s cut), flowing nitrogen through the copper tubing as it’s being brazed (essentially a cross between soldering and welding), repeatedly purging the system with nitrogen prior to adding the refrigerant gasses when the installation in performed in the rain or other wet conditions, and using a micron gauge (instrument which measures vacuum pressure) are essential in keeping an air conditioner efficient, effective, quiet, and consistently reliable long-term. Asking questions such as “How many microns do your installers vacuum the system to?”, “What refrigerant charging method do your installers use?” is a great way to weed out the companies who are merely going through the motions of installing an air conditioning system without truly understanding the subtitles of how the system works, and what item which appear trivial are in fact crucial. If the representative can’t answer those questions with confidence, don’t expect their installers to perform the installation with any more competency. This is why shopping around for the right installation business is critical, if it’s not installed correctly this can cause more work than needed. You could have a look into, http://www.gohomeheating.com/ID/Twin-Falls.php, who have many positive reviews featured on their website and on recognised review pages.

Jamison Furnace Ltd.


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