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Everything To Know About Your Air Conditioning

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The ins-and-outs of how our house functions might run smoothly most of the time. But many important decisions go into ensuring you don’t have to worry on a daily basis, and one of those is air conditioning! 

And of course, choosing an air conditioner and understanding how your system works is all a part of being a happy homeowner!

From portable and window air conditioners to central air conditioning, there are many options available depending on your home. That means it’s important to consider a few things before you make a final decision.

Read our handy guide to learn more about how your air conditioning works and what’s best for your home. You may also want to reach out to an HVAC company that can help with all of your questions!

Man fixing external air conditioner with tools

How Does Air Conditioning Work?

Most central air conditioning units are made up of three main components that work together to cool your home. These parts are:

  •     A Compressor
  •     A Condenser Coil
  •     An Evaporator Coil

In order for an air conditioner to function effectively, the heat inside your home or office needs to be removed. To do that, your air conditioner will do the following things

1. The Evaporator Coil Absorbs Heat

To start, warm air in your home will be pulled into your vents and blown over the cold evaporator coil. The coil, which is located indoors, works to absorb the heat and cool the air. Once this is complete, a fan moves the cold air through the ducts and into your home.

The refrigerant, a necessary component in the process, absorbs the heat from the air and changes it from a liquid to a gas. The refrigerant passes along the air conditioner loop and to the compressor.

2. The Condensing Process Takes Place

In order to remove the heat from the refrigerant, the compressor decreases the volume of the gas. It does this by raising the refrigerant’s temperature and it begins the process of condensing the refrigerant.

3. The Heat is Pushed Outside

Because the refrigerant is now in the form of vapor, it moves to the air conditioner’s outside condenser and merges with the air. Through this process, the heat present in the refrigerant is removed and it is converted from a gas back into a liquid.  

4. The Cooling Process Repeats

When the refrigerant is cooled and back in liquid form, it travels back into your home and towards the evaporator. This process repeats itself until the air is cooled to the temperature set on your thermostat. Once this is complete, the air conditioner will shut off.

A room full of different types of air conditioners and fans.

Types of Air Conditioning

Central Air Conditioner

Central air conditioning is the most common type of AC in the United States where there are many trusted air conditioner brands. That’s because it can cool even the largest of homes since its reach extends to multiple rooms.

A central air conditioner functions by moving air through the supply and return ducts so that the air throughout a space is a consistent temperature. Because this type of air conditioning contains air filters, it can also work to eliminate dust and pollen and improve the air quality of your home. 

Central air conditioners are an efficient and effective option for a home. They can also assist in keeping it clutter free since you won’t require a portable or window AC option. The most important thing is that your unit is the right size for your space so that it can do its job effectively.

Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioner

For a single room or a smaller house, a ductless mini-split air conditioner can be the best option. Instead of functioning as a single unit that moves through your air ducts, it pushes cool air into one area.

This type of air conditioner requires an indoor and an outdoor unit. Fortunately, the installation process is quite simple because it’s ductless! That means you won’t require a vent system in order to make this work for your space.

When it comes to small spaces or old homes, a ductless mini-split air conditioner can be the best option because it won’t require any major HVAC repair and offers improved energy efficiency

Window Air Conditioner

When it comes to single rooms or a small apartment, a window air conditioner is an affordable cooling option. Window air conditioning units are generally simple in design and work by blowing cool air into a space from outside then pushing it back out through a window.

Unfortunately, this type of air conditioning does not have the ability to cool a large space effectively.

Portable Air Conditioner

Portable air conditioners are also designed for smaller living spaces. This type of AC works by removing warm air from the room and pushing it back out. Instead of the warm air moving through the window however, it’s connected to an exhaust fan that will carry it outside.

While portable units are not very functional for larger spaces, they are affordable and economical when it comes to cooling one area.

Person adjusting a thermostat

How To Choose an Air Conditioner

Choosing the right air conditioning installation for your home comes down to a number of different factors. Be sure to consider the following things to determine what type of AC might work for you:

Your Home’s Size

Having the right size air conditioner for your home is the key to ensuring that it functions efficiently and effectively.

It might seem like an air conditioner that’s too large will be a benefit, but because it goes through its cooling cycle too quickly, it can actually lead to excess humidity. On the flip side, an air conditioner that’s too small won’t be able to cope with those really warm days.

To do a basic measurement, you’ll want approximately 15-25 BTUs (British Thermal Unit) for every square foot of your home. Of course, there’s more to this number than meets the eye. You’ll also need to consider your home’s height, its insulation and the light that gets in.

To get a good idea of what to choose, it’s best to reach out to a trusted HVAC company that will be able to accurately determine what size will work best.  

Your Budget

One of the most important factors in choosing an air conditioner for any homeowner is how much it will cost. Much like its size, the amount that you want to spend will depend on a few things.

A central air conditioner can cost between $1200-$4500 with installation costs ranging from $1200-2200. A ductless mini-split air conditioner may set you back between $1000 and $5500 with install costs projected to be between $500 and $2000. At approximately $150-750, portable air conditioners are the most inexpensive option and they can often be easily installed by the buyer.  

To get the right air conditioning for your home at the right price, be sure to reach out to your local HVAC experts who can help you with the decision making.

Energy Efficiency

If you’ve been reading about air conditioners, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve come across something known as the SEER rating. As more customers have become interested in energy efficiency in recent years, the SEER rating has become a metric for how to evaluate air conditioners.

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating relates to how much energy a particular air conditioning unit will use over a 1-year period. While all air conditioners sold in the United States must have a minimum efficiency, some units are understandably more energy efficient than others.

It’s important to keep in mind that a higher SEER rating can help to minimize your utility costs month after month. While you may pay more upfront, the savings over time will make it worth the investment.

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How To Troubleshoot Your Air Conditioning

It’s recommended that you contact a reputable HVAC repair company if you’re dealing with broken air conditioning. However, if you’re trying to figure out the problem there are several things you can troubleshoot on your own.

Check Your Air Filter 

A dirty air filter can cause many different problems that require air conditioning repair including low airflow from vents, a water leak and higher energy bills. To fix these issues, try replacing your air filter if it’s dirty or clogged. A dirty filter will limit your air conditioner’s ability to take in air and push air out, which can lead to problems over time.

Review Your Thermostat Settings

If your air conditioner won’t turn on or you’ve noticed warm or hot air coming from your vents, it may be a thermostat issue. Check your thermostat and make sure that it’s on COOL and not HEAT. It may sound silly, but many people simply forget to change their settings when the season changes.

Check Your Circuit Breakers

In the case that your air conditioner won’t turn on, there’s a good chance that you may have tripped the breaker. To fix this issue, make a trip to your home’s electrical panel and look at your circuit breakers. Review the labels and determine if the one impacting your AC is on. If not, try and flip it. But, if it trips again, you’ll want to check with an HVAC company as this could point to bigger problems.

Check the Vents

In addition to your air filter, blockages and clogs in your air vents can lead to low airflow, a water leak, and a damaged compressor. If you’ve noticed these issues, walk through your home and ensure all your vents are in good working order. It’s even possible that objects are blocking air flow, so be sure any vents are completely clear.

Check Your Outdoor Unit

There are a number of signs around your home that may mean air conditioning maintenance is required. If you’re dealing with higher bills, warm air from vents or inadequate cooling, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with dirt. To fix the problem, gently hose your unit down with water to remove any buildup. Be sure that no foliage, branches, or grass are blocking the unit. 

HVAC contractor fixing an air conditioner

Why You Should Hire a Professional Contractor

A professional HVAC company will have the experience and accreditation to deal with all your air conditioning repair and maintenance. If an issue does arise, that’s why it’s best to leave it to the experts

Before you choose a contractor, be sure to get quotes from a few different contractors to find the right option for you. Because not working with a licensed HVAC contractor can void your warranty, be sure you know exactly who you’re hiring.

Whether dealing with installation or maintenance, the right candidate should have a good BBB rating and be able to answer all of your questions.

Let Us Help With Your Air Conditioning Installation!

If you’re in the process of air conditioning replacement or installation, there are a lot of things to know. Determining what type you want is the first step. However, it’s also important to know what size it should be, its energy efficiency and how much you want to spend. A few troubleshooting tips can also come in handy if any minor issues arise.

If you’re looking for HVAC repair or installation, be sure to reach out to SoCal Green HVAC at (866) 396-2029, who bring air conditioning expertise to everything we do!

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