Air Conditioning Buying Guide: Which AC Do You Need?


Is it time for new AC? If you’ve noticed your current system starting to fail, then the answer is yes.

When it comes to keeping your home cool and comfortable, picking the right AC system is super important. With so many options out there, it can be tough to know which one to choose.

The HVAC pros at Chancey & Reynolds created this guide to help you figure out what to look for when searching for your perfect AC system. We cover everything you need to know to make a smart decision that fits your needs and budget.

Image of HVAC handling units outside of a building

Types of AC Systems

When it comes to AC systems, there are several options to consider:

Central Air Conditioning

So, you know those AC systems you see in most homes and offices? The ones with a big unit that sends cool air all over the place through ducts? Yeah, that’s the centralized type. It’s pretty reliable and keeps things cool all over the place.

Ductless Mini-Split Systems

If you don’t have ductwork in your home, you might want to check out ductless mini-split systems. Basically, you have one unit outside that’s hooked up to one or more units inside. This lets you control the temperature in different parts of your house separately. Pretty cool, huh?

Window Units

These compact AC units are designed to fit into windows and provide cooling for individual rooms. They are relatively affordable and easy to install, but they may not be suitable for larger spaces.

Portable Units

Portable AC units offer flexibility as they can be moved from room to room. They typically require a window or vent for exhaust and are suitable for cooling smaller areas.

When it comes to cooling your home with an AC system, you’ve got a few options to consider. Central air conditioning is great because it can cool your entire house, but you need to install ductwork to make it work.

Ductless mini-split systems are also pretty cool because they’re energy-efficient and let you control different “zones” in your home, but they can be pricier upfront. If you’re looking for something more affordable, window units or portable units might be the way to go. They might not be as strong or efficient as central or ductless systems, but they’ll definitely get the job done.

Sizing and Cooling Capacity

When considering purchasing an air conditioning unit, it’s crucial to select the appropriate size. The aim is to ensure that it cools your space efficiently without wasting energy. If it’s too small, it won’t do the job, and if it’s too big, it’ll turn on and off too frequently, making it difficult to regulate humidity

Several things need to be considered when determining the right size. You should consider the room’s size, level of insulation, number of windows and doors, and the local climate. Although there are calculations you can perform yourself, such as Manual J, it may be best to seek the advice of a professional HVAC contractor. They can do the necessary calculations for you and ensure that you get the perfect-sized AC unit for your needs.

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is a crucial factor to consider when buying an AC system. Higher energy efficiency ratings, such as SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) or EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio), indicate better energy savings and a reduced environmental impact. The SEER rating measures cooling efficiency over an entire season, while the EER rating represents cooling efficiency under specific conditions.

Look for features like variable-speed compressors, energy-saving modes, and smart thermostats, as they contribute to improved efficiency. Variable-speed compressors adjust cooling capacity based on demand, reducing energy consumption. Energy-saving modes optimize performance while minimizing power usage. Smart thermostats allow you to control and program your AC system for maximum efficiency, even when you’re away from home.

Air Quality Features

In addition to cooling, some AC systems offer features that enhance indoor air quality. Built-in air filters help remove dust, pollen, and other airborne particles, improving the air you breathe. UV germicidal lamps can eliminate bacteria, viruses, and mold spores, creating a healthier indoor environment. Ionizers can help neutralize odors and reduce allergens, promoting cleaner air circulation.

Consider these air quality features when choosing an AC system, especially if you or your family members have allergies or respiratory sensitivities.

Installation and Maintenance

Proper installation is essential to ensure the efficiency, performance, and longevity of your AC system. It’s crucial to find qualified HVAC professionals who are experienced in installing the specific type of AC system you choose. Research local HVAC companies, read customer reviews, and ask for referrals to find reputable installers in your area.

Regular maintenance is also vital for optimal AC performance. Tasks such as regular filter cleaning or replacement, coil cleaning, and professional tune-ups help keep your AC system running smoothly. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for maintenance and consider scheduling professional maintenance annually to address any potential issues and prolong the lifespan of your system.

Cost Considerations

AC system costs include equipment price, installation charges, ongoing energy expenses, and potential incentives or rebates. While it may be tempting to opt for the cheapest option upfront, it’s essential to balance upfront costs with long-term energy savings and the potential return on investment.

Consider the energy efficiency ratings and estimated annual energy costs when comparing AC models. Energy-efficient units cost more upfront but save money in the long term by lowering energy bills. You should also search for rebates or incentives from utility companies or government programs. These can assist with the expenses of purchasing and installing an energy-efficient AC system.

Noise Levels

When choosing an AC system, think about noise levels, especially for bedrooms or quiet areas. AC units with lower decibel ratings (dB) are generally quieter. Check product specifications or ask the manufacturer or HVAC professional for information on the noise levels of different models.

User-Friendly Features

Modern AC systems often come with user-friendly features that enhance convenience and customization. Programmable thermostats allow you to set cooling schedules to match your daily routine, saving energy when you’re not at home. Remote control options enable you to adjust settings from anywhere in the room. Mobile app integration and voice control compatibility provide added convenience and control using your smartphone or smart home devices.

Consider the user-friendly features that align with your lifestyle and preferences when choosing an AC system.

Customer Reviews and Ratings

Before making a final decision, it’s helpful to research and read customer reviews and ratings for different AC models. Genuine customer feedback provides valuable insights into the performance, reliability, and satisfaction levels associated with specific brands and models. Check reviews from reliable sources like trusted HVAC websites, consumer review sites, or forums for home improvement and HVAC discussions.

Choosing the right AC system involves considering various factors, such as the type of AC system, cooling capacity, energy efficiency, air quality features, installation and maintenance requirements, cost considerations, noise levels, user-friendly features, and customer reviews. Assess your specific needs, consult professionals, and take the time to research and compare different options. By doing so, you can make an informed decision that ensures your home is comfortable, energy-efficient, and provides optimal indoor air quality for years to come.

Trust the HVAC Experts in Knoxville and Lenoir City

For over four decades, Chancey & Reynolds has earned the trust of residents and businesses in Greater Knoxville and Lenoir City as a leading provider of top-notch HVAC services. Our NATE-certified technicians are dedicated to delivering customized, long-lasting solutions that cater to the unique needs of each customer.

We offer free estimates and flexible financing options for those who qualify to ensure that our services are accessible to everyone. When it comes to dependable HVAC services, choose Chancey & Reynolds and stay cool in Knoxville!