IMPORTANT FEATURES OF TOP-RATED HVAC SYSTEMS, PART I
HVAC units can last a decade or more. As a result, consumers are not frequently in the market to purchase an A/C system. This leads to overall knowledge being spotty. Below we share some of the most important features to consider.
Energy Efficiency Rating
Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) measures how much electricity a unit needs to maintain inside temperature at 80 degrees while it is 95 degrees outside. The minimum rating is 13 SEER but efficient high SEER models range to 26.
Operating Sound Level
Regarding sound, the measurement standard is decibels, sometimes represented as db or dbA. The models we usually recommend range from the high 50's to mid 70's. To provide real life equivalence of these sound levels, per research from Yale University, a refrigerator rates at 55 db, normal conversation is between 60 to 70 db, and a vacuum cleaner is 75 db.
The price of an HVAC unit ranges from the low to high four digits. Ductless systems keep labor and installation costs lower and are suitable for smaller spaces. However larger spaces may need ductwork, which leads to duct cleaning and maintenance in the future. Add installation labor and total investment climbs from the mid four digits to low five digits.
Some advanced features, such as a smart programmable thermostat, might cost more upfront but ultimately save on operating costs and extend air conditioning systems’ useful life. Zone control is another cost saving option. For example, in a two-floor house that had sleeping areas upstairs and living areas on the lower level, different temperatures could be programmed based upon typical usage at various times of day. HEPA filters reduce the proliferation of allergens and therefore might be recommended for individuals with certain health issues.
The minimum warranty to consider is 10 years. Be mindful that an improper installation could void the manufacturer's warranty. Be sure to check the installer's licensing, certification, references and business affiliations.
A crucial consideration is the unit's cooling adequacy given the size and environment of the space. Cooling capacity is measured in "tons" or "BTUs" (British thermal units). One ton is equivalent to 12,000 BTUs. A typical guideline might be as follows:
1.5 tons is suggested for homes 900 to 1,100 square feet. For homes ranging from 1,200 to 1,400 square feet, 2 tons would be more appropriate. From 2,100 to 2,500 square feet, 3 tons would be recommended. Larger homes from 4,000 to 5,000 square feet would be best served with a 5-ton unit. You need not memorize these ranges as a competent installer will measure your space carefully, assess your needs, and recommend the best system from your HVAC options.
For quick reference, we visited the websites for Lennox, Carrier, Amana, Trane, and Rheem, five leading brands featured at Acosta Home & Air Pro. We tabulated three data points summarized at each site. While representative, we do encourage you to explore links since the metrics across sites sometimes differed in degrees (or volume) and other times differed in kind (or type).
Highest SEER - XC25 (26 Seer)
Most Ratings - 13ACX (6,188)
Highest Rating - XC25 @ 4.7; 591 of 700 rated a 5
Highest SEER - 24NA6 (26)
Most Ratings - 24ACC6 (247)
Highest Rating - 24APB6 @ 4.9; 31 of 33 rated a 5
Highest SEER - AVXC20 (24.5)
Most Ratings - ASX16 (2,587)
Highest Rating - ASXC18 @ 4.8; 116 of 136 rated a 5
Highest SEER - XV20i (22)
Most Quiet - XV18 @ 57 dBA
Best Value - XR14
Highest SEER - RA20 (20.5)
Most Quiet - RA20 @ 68
Lowest Price - RA13
Acosta Home & Air Pro is Your HVAC Contractor in NYC and Westchester!
In our continued exploration of this topic, we review other important factors - installation, maintenance and operation of your HVAC unit. We will also provide links and reviews for other favored brands such as Goodman, Ruud, Maytag, Payne and Arcoaire, among others. For systems installed by Acosta Home & Air Pro, we provide operating instructions and favored customer pricing for maintenance. Visit our showroom in Mamaroneck at 525 N. Barry Avenue or call us at 914.875.3266 to begin discussing your HVAC installation project.