Thinking About Adding Central AC? Read This First.
Ah, central air conditioning. It’s a wonder of the modern age that can transform any sweltering summer day into a cool, comfortable one.
If you’re thinking about installing central AC in your home, there are a few things you should know.
In this post, we’ll look at the major conveniences of central air conditioning, take a look at the process involved in installing it, and talk about why a geothermal air conditioning system might just be the answer for you.
Central air conditioning gives you the comfort of temperature control more efficiently than a window unit. A window unit can cool a single room fairly well, but if you need a few throughout the house, the energy costs can stack up fast.
Central air also provides you with improved air quality in every room. Thanks to the filter in your air conditioning system, you can stay cool and breathe cleaner air.
How much does it cost to install central heating and air conditioning?
The first step in installing a central air conditioner is for the contractor to perform a site survey. How old the house is, whether there is existing ductwork, and how big the air conditioner must be are all considered.
Installing new windows, updating insulation, and caulking and sealing any cracks can help keep the cool air in. This diminishes how hard the air conditioner has to work as well. You could do these things before or after the site survey. The site survey itself and any additional improvements can contribute to the overall cost.
Installing central air in a house with existing ductwork
If your home already has a functioning air duct system, adding central air can be fairly easy and less costly. The technicians will inspect the existing ductwork to make sure it’s sound and sealed well enough to move the air through your home efficiently.
Then, they install a split system. This consists of evaporator coils cased inside a unit usually in your attic or utility room, and a big metal box containing a condenser outside.
Essentially, the evaporator coils use refrigerant to remove warm air and humidity from inside the house and send it through the ductwork to the condenser outside. The condenser then releases this warm air outside. The remaining cool air is distributed throughout.
With geothermal air conditioning, the process is similar, except that there’s no need for an outdoor condenser. A geothermal heat pump collects the warm humid air through the ductwork and sends it to underground pipes to release the heat there.
Installing central air in a house without ducts
If your home doesn’t have existing ductwork, you’re not out of options. You could have air ducts installed for a traditional split system, or go with a ductless central air conditioning system.
A ductless system requires a compressor and condenser outside as well as several blower units inside. The process of absorbing the warm air happens on a room-by-room basis with the warm air collected and run through refrigerant tubing all the way to the outdoor condenser.
Generally, these systems are pricier than window units, and not as efficient as central AC. Installing either ductwork or ductless AC into your home would be a fairly big project to take on yourself, but straightforward for an HVAC technician.
Properly sizing a central AC system
Apart from having an efficiency-optimized air duct system and house in general, one of the most crucial elements in getting central air conditioning is properly sizing the system. It’s also obviously one of the biggest cost factors. This is definitely something you want to leave to the professionals.
Technicians will perform what is known as a Manual J calculation. This is a standard calculation set by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America. It takes into account the size of each room, how much energy is required to cool the air, and other factors, so be sure that you buy an AC unit that will work as it should.
Undersizing the air conditioning unit can lead to a home that never seems to quite reach the cool temperatures you’re looking for and a system that runs almost constantly. Oversizing can mean your air conditioner is a waste of money, space, and energy as well.
You’ll want a system that meets the Goldilocks rule of being just the right size to get the best return on your investment. Geothermal AC does this easily by performing similar load calculations and remaining the most energy-efficient option, no matter how hot it gets outside.
Installation and labor for central AC
The biggest factors in determining how long it will take to install central AC and how much it will cost are:
- The type and location of the AC unit
- Whether you need a ductwork update, total replacement, or new duct system installed
- The size of the unit
With these in mind, installing a new central AC system can take anywhere from a few days to two or more weeks.
All things considered, the total cost of installing central AC can range anywhere from $3,500 to $7,000 or more. Then you have a whole different set of expenses when it comes to heating.
Go geothermal and get central AC
If you opt for a geothermal system, you get both a heating and cooling system for the price of one. Once you have a geothermal system installed, you can use it to either heat or cool your home with the simple nudge of the thermostat.
Geothermal air conditioning is also more efficient than any other air conditioning. This is because it uses the steady temperatures underground instead of the fluctuating air temperature outside to reach the desired temperature indoors.
At Dandelion, we’ve streamlined the site survey and installation process with innovative engineering. Our geothermal system is completely installed at a fraction of the cost of traditional geothermal heating and cooling.
To learn more about why geothermal AC is your best option, read more in our article Geothermal Air Conditioning: What You Need To Know.