How To Pick The Right A/C For Your Place

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Before you get involved with an AC installation project, it's a good idea to think about exactly what type of system you'll want to have in your home or place of business. To accomplish that, you'll need to know how to pick the right one. These three tips will serve as a guide as you get started with your AC installation effort.

Understand the SEER Rating

When you look at different air conditioning units, you'll see a label that says, "Energy Guide." When dealing with AC installation requirements, the critical figure you want to check out on the label is the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, more commonly called the machine's SEER rating.

The minimum acceptable SEER number is 13, and modern systems typically go out to about 22. A higher number is better, but the highest performers tend to also be the most expensive. You'll want to find a unit that has a rating of at least 19 in order to maximize the return on your investment.


Air conditioning capacity is generally displayed in terms of either tonnage or British thermal units (BTUs). 12,000 BTUs translates to one ton of air conditioning capability per hour, and the cost to produce that output is about 3.5 kW. The standard has been in place for more than a century in the U.S., so you should have little trouble making an apples-to-apples comparison if you're comparing a new unit to an existing one.

Depending upon your preference for cool air, you can calculate that between 350 and 600 BTUs of cooling will be needed per person in a space. Every 250 square feet of empty air in a room demands 12,000 BTUs of additional output, and heating-producing equipment requires 1,200 BTUs per item.

Finding Qualified Installers

There are at least 10 major professional organizations in America that certify technicians who work on AC systems, with two of the most widely recognized being the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the United Association. A number of major manufacturers also certify technicians to work on their specific makes and models, including companies like Lennox, Carrier and Rheem. As a result of strict state and federal rules regarding the handling of coolants, licensing for technicians and contracting firms is tightly regulated, too, so you should be able to refer to your state's contractor website to find out more about a business before you hire anyone.

Contact a company like Polk Air Conditioning to learn more.