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Air Conditioner Buying Guide: How to Pick the Right Central AC for Your Home

Thinking about installing a central AC unit in your home? There are a few important things you should know before making your purchase and investing in air conditioner installation. Our air conditioner buying guide will walk you through all of the most important details, so you can ensure you choose the best AC unit for your home. 

When it comes to buying a new AC, air conditioner installation is also important to consider. Guaranteeing your AC is installed properly will ensure the unit is running efficiently and that you don’t face costly AC repairs down the road. To help you find the best AC installer in Edmonton, our air conditioner buying guide will also discuss what you should look for in an AC contractor.

Ready to get started? Here’s what you need to know when buying an air conditioner and how to pick the right AC for your home. 

Is it worth buying a portable air conditioner?
What should I look for when buying an air conditioner?
What maintenance does an air conditioner need?
How do I find the best air conditioner installation contractor in Edmonton?

Central AC vs. Portable AC 

You might be wondering – is it worth buying a portable air conditioner or should I invest in a central AC unit?

The truth is, it depends on your situation and your needs.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing between a central AC vs portable AC.

Portable AC

In some cases, a portable AC may be all you need – don’t let any air conditioner buying guide tell you otherwise.

To help you decide if a portable AC will work for your needs, here are some pros and cons to keep in mind.

Advantages of Portable Air Conditioners

There are several advantages to portable air conditioners. These include:

  • Cost – this option is much less expensive than buying and installing a central AC unit.
  • Portability – a portable AC can be moved from room to room. As a result, you can cool only the areas you are using.
  • Availability – portable air conditioners are easy to find. Check out your local home improvement store and there will be lots of options to choose from.
  • Ease of use – you can purchase a portable unit, get it home, and have it up and running in a matter of minutes. This is a much quicker and easier process than buying and installing a central AC system.

Disadvantages of Portable Air Conditioners

While there are many advantages to portable ACs, namely cost and convenience, there are also several disadvantages. These disadvantages are often what push people to purchase and install central air conditioning.

  • Noise – portable units are often very loud. This can be especially disturbing if you have one in your bedroom that runs during the night.
  • Size – portable ACs also take up a lot of space. Many require window installation and will therefore take up a fair bit of room in and around the window they’re connected to.
  • Ability to cool – unfortunately, a portable AC will only cool one area of your home. If you want to cool a different room, you’ll have to move the unit.
  • Inefficient – portable air conditioners are inefficient for several reasons. Most notably, however, is the fact that they draw air from within the room they’re stationed. As a result, they use energy to cool air that has already been cooled.

When to Buy a Portable AC

Still unsure of whether a portable AC is right for your home? Our air conditioner buying guide is here to help!

Here are some common circumstances in which a portable unit is likely your best option.

  • You rent your home – in this case, central air conditioner installation may not be worth it.
  • You have a small space –  if your home is small and you’ll only need a couple of portable AC units to cool it then this will be the most cost-effective option.

Central AC

Many people opt for installing central AC in their homes. But, before you commit to buying and installing a central AC unit, keep these factors in mind.

Advantages of Central Air Conditioners

There are many advantages to central air conditioner installation. These include:

  • Aesthetics – central AC units are typically installed in a location that is tucked away and out of sight. This makes for a much cleaner and tidier look in your home.
  • Home comfort – a central AC will provide the best possible environment in your home. With professional air conditioner installation, your AC will be perfectly calibrated for the environment in Edmonton, resulting in a cool and comfortable interior.
  • Quiet – new and efficient central AC units are very quiet. So quiet that you’ll barely know they’re there.
  • Efficient – purchasing and installing a central AC is much more efficient than running several portable units.
  • Effective – while a portable AC system can take up to an hour to cool a room, central AC systems can cool your whole home in a matter of minutes.
  • Ability to cool the entire house – unlike a portable AC, which will only cool one room at a time, central AC will cool your whole home.
  • Increase in the value of your home – another great aspect of central AC is that it adds value to your home. So, the money you spend purchasing and installing your new AC, you’ll see as a return when you sell your home.

Disadvantages of Central AC

For most people, the biggest drawback to central AC is the initial cost. Buying a new AC can be expensive, especially for a new, high-efficiency model. On top of that, air conditioner installation is an added cost.

When to Install a Central Air Conditioner

Central AC units are best for people who own their own homes. If you own your home, plan to live in it for several years, and enjoy the added comfort and convenience that a central AC system provides, then central air conditioner installation is your best bet.

If you’ve decided to install a central AC in your home, keep in mind that you may need to apply for permits before the job can be done. For instance, any time an air conditioning unit is wired into the electrical system, you must apply for an electrical permit. As well, if the installation of a cooling unit requires a ducting design alteration, both an HVAC permit and an electrical permit is required. However, if the air conditioning unit is a portable, plug-in type, no electrical permit is required.

Zoning bylaws may also affect your options when it comes to installing a central AC. For instance, if you need an electrical or HVAC permit to install your new system, but cannot get approved for the permit, you may not be able to install central AC in your home. 

These factors should be considered before you commit to purchasing and installing a central air conditioner.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Central AC 

Have you decided that a central AC is the right option for your home? Our air conditioner buying guide wouldn’t be complete without discussing some of the most important factors to consider when choosing an AC.

So, before you buy, keep these aspects in mind.

SEER Rating

When purchasing a new AC unit, you must consider the system’s SEER rating. The unit’s SEER rating, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, will tell you how energy efficient it is. The more efficient, the better the unit will work and the less you’ll spend on utility bills.

SEER = # BTUs of heat removed / Amount of energy required to remove heat (in watt-hours)

The higher the SEER, the more efficient the AC unit is.

Purchasing an AC system with a high SEER rating may be more expensive upfront. However, it will save you in energy costs in the long run. Not to mention, you’ll reduce your carbon footprint. 

The higher the SEER the better – so, it’s recommended that you purchase an AC unit with the highest SEER you can afford. In Edmonton, you can find AC units with SEER ratings as high as 25.

Learn more about SEER here – What does SEER stand for?

Unsure of what SEER rating you should be looking for? Our team of professional AC installers would be happy to help you determine the best AC unit for your home.

Smart Home Integration 

Do you have a smart home? If so, or if you’re considering integrating smart home capabilities, you may want to consider a central AC unit that offers smart options. For instance, many smart AC systems connect with a smart thermostat.

There are many benefits to having a smart AC unit, including:

  • Convenience – with a smart air conditioner, you can control your home’s temperature from your mobile device.
  • Energy efficiency – with the ability to monitor performance and adjust the temperature automatically, smart AC units can help optimize efficiency. As a result, you’ll use less energy and have lower utility bills.
  • Troubleshooting – many smart ACs also have built-in troubleshooting capabilities. This can help you cut down on maintenance and air conditioning repair costs.

Decibel Rating

Noise is another important factor to consider when buying an air conditioner.

Every AC unit will make some noise when it runs. However, how loud your AC is will depend on:

  • The unit (e.g. brand, model)
  • How old it is
  • What type of AC it is
  • Condition the AC is in
  • Your furnace blowers (as they are responsible for blowing the cool air through your home’s ducts)

In most cases, older ACs will be significantly louder than new air conditioners, as innovative designs have helped to reduce noise.

When shopping for a new AC, take a look at its decibel (dB) rating. This rating will tell you how loud or quiet a system will be – the lower the decibel rating, the quieter the system will be.

When comparing the decibel ratings of different systems, keep these common noise levels in mind.

  • Whisper – 30 dB
  • Common noise levels in a home – 40 dB
  • Typical conversation or background music – 60 dB
  • Portable AC or a noisy restaurant – 80 to 89 dB

*Noise levels above 85 dB can be harmful to your ears.

You can expect a quiet AC system to range from 50 to 60 decibels. Most people prefer an HVAC system with a decibel rating that is below 60 dB, noise that is equivalent to background music.

AC Maintenance Requirements 

When buying a new air conditioner, you’ll want to read an air conditioner buying guide, check out online reviews, or confide in your local Edmonton AC specialists, to ensure the brand and model you choose doesn’t have any common issues.

If you choose a reputable brand and your AC is professionally installed, you shouldn’t have any maintenance or repair requirements right off the bat. However, you should do some maintenance on your system each year. 

Regular maintenance will ensure your AC is in top working condition, extend the unit’s lifetime and help it to run at maximum efficiency. A yearly AC tune-up will inspect the following:

  • Evaporator coils
  • Refrigerant lines
  • Condenser
  • Compressor
  • Blower motor
  • Thermostat calibration
  • Air ducts
  • Filters

Before purchasing an AC unit, talk with a professional Edmonton AC installation company to determine what type of maintenance your air conditioner will require. The best Edmonton AC contractors will also offer maintenance plans to help you manage your regular maintenance and save on the costs.

When it comes to maintenance and repairs, the most important thing you can do is to find a good AC installation team. Using a trusted local AC contractor will ensure that your system is properly installed and that you don’t run into costly repairs and maintenance down the road. When your central AC is installed correctly it will work better and have fewer problems.

How to Find the Best AC Install Contractor in Edmonton

When you’re looking for a reputable air conditioning contractor to install your new AC system, be sure to do some research. 

We’ll be the first to tell you that not all AC installers are created equal. Be sure to check out reviews online and to get multiple quotes. This will help you pick the best contractor for the job!

Also, make sure to ask the right questions when getting an AC installation quote. A good AC installation contractor will be able to help you select the perfect AC unit for your home.

Above all, look for a contractor that is local, licensed and trusted by other businesses and homeowners. If you’re installing a new unit in your home and you need permits, you will be required by the city of Edmonton to hire an accredited business to do the job.

Working With ProSolutions PHAC

When shopping for a new AC, and looking into air conditioning installation companies, consider ProSolutions PHAC. 

ProSolutions is licensed and accredited in Edmonton. Our local team of professional AC installers will ensure that you choose the best AC for your home and that it’s perfectly calibrated to the local Edmonton environment. 

The team at ProSolutions PHAC will also help with securing any necessary permits that you need for your installation. We will handle any duct requirements that need to be added or modified as well. 

Please note: extra fees may apply for custom ductwork during a furnace or AC installation.

Do you have questions that weren’t answered in our air conditioner buying guide? Give us a shout – we’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about air conditioner installation, buying a new AC and more!