The local news media has recently been reporting about an untrustworthy AC company rated so poorly that they received an “F” rating by the Better Business Bureau. In one instance, the customer called to schedule an appointment with the company who had replaced two air handlers and two outdoor condensers on his air conditioning. The customer said, “Within two hours of installation the second-floor unit stopped working. The technician had failed to protect certain low-wattage wires, which caused a short. Ever since then there has been loud banging and thumping when the system is operating. It also has been leaking refrigerant. A blower was replaced, but this did not resolve the problem.”
After scheduling an appointment (he thought) the customer took the day off work and waited at home without technicians ever arriving and without any follow up phone calls. When he called the next day he was treated like it was his first time calling the company. This is unfortunately a very common example of all the disorganized and unprofessional AC companies in the Orlando area. Though you may think you’ve gotten lucky with a quick and easy air conditioning installation, the true test comes afterward, when time reveals whether it was a proper install or unskilled job that results in expensive repair bills.
Here are some tips in choosing the right company:
- Ask the contractor for references. Find out if other customers were satisfied.
- Ask the contractor about his or her license. If a license is required in your area, ask for the license number.
- Ask the contractor for proof of insurance.
- Ask the contractor if he or she is a member in good standing with the BBB
- Ask the contractor if a permit is required and if he will pull it.
- Ask if the contractor’s technicians are NATE certification. NATE-certified technicians have proven their knowledge of modern HVAC systems.
See our blog post How to Ensure Quality Residential HVAC Installation for more in-depth checklist to ensure you get the best service from your AC company.
If you have been shopping for something to cool off your house, you will have noticed that there is a great deal of difference in air conditioning prices. While any air conditioner is going to be moderately expensive, not all of the low cost or all of the very high cost air conditioners are cost effective over the long run. Low cost air conditioners tend to be very poor quality and may not stand up with continued use, resulting in high maintenance and repair bills. Low cost or very cheap air conditioning prices tend to be found on the discount or store type brands, some which have very low energy efficiency ratings. Basically the lower the energy efficiency rating, the less effective the unit is in producing cold air with regards to how much power it requires. Even a very low cost air conditioning unit with a low energy rating will quickly result in much higher monthly power or electricity bills, easily costing you hundreds of additional dollars over the summer months. So, in the case of low cost, air conditioning prices are only telling a small amount of the total story.
Very expensive air conditioning prices are typically associated with the top of the line, highly energy efficient units. If you live in a warm climate where you use this type of cooling system over several months, it may be well worth your while to invest in the more expensive model. If, however, you live in a moderate climate where you only use the system for a month or two over the summer, it may take several years of use before you make up the difference in the price of saving on the energy bill. In this case it is important to do some additional calculation about your energy saving and the air conditioning prices to see if the ac installation will actually save you money. Keep in mind that new innovations in energy efficiency, “green products” and even alternative sources of energy and therefore what is a highly efficient and energy saving system today may be outdated in just a few short years.
Another consideration with regards to air conditioning prices is the type of model you are buying. Window units are often the least expensive, however they are usually only effective in smaller spaces. Portable units can be moved from room to room and may allow you to purchase one or two units and move them throughout the house as needed. Wall mounted units do require some installation and are permanent fixtures of a room or space. Conventional systems are the most expensive, but they do provide air conditioning throughout the entire physical structure, as long as there is a heating vent in the area. Carefully considering what you want and how much you plan to use your air conditioner will help determine what are reasonable air conditioning prices for your home or office.
Did the contractor review the load calculation for your home with you?
- To install the right size unit, contractors need to know the home’s heating and cooling requirements, based on a variety of factors (e.g., ventilation needs, size of the home, type of windows, insulation amounts, etc.). Determining heating/ cooling loads based on the building’s square footage is inaccurate and inadequate. Also, basing replacement equipment on the size of the original system could lead to problems since the original equipment size may have been incorrect.
Did the contractor review the manufacturers’ performance data with you to demonstrate why the unit you’re buying is the right size?
- The load calculation (from Question 1) guides proper equipment selection. A unit that is too big (oversized) may have a higher upfront cost, raise your utility costs, remove less humidity, and fail more quickly.
Did the contractor present proof that the system will deliver the specified efficiency based on AHRI certification?
- Equipment which has not been tested by an independent organization or is not designed to work together may not deliver the promised high efficiency performance.
Did the contractor review the condition of your duct system with you?
- Leaky ducts can cause health problems and waste energy. Also, if the ducts are too small they will cause the HVAC system to use more energy and/or deliver less comfort. Small ducts may also lead to early equipment failure.
Will the contractor ensure the unit is safe electrically?
- The fuses, wiring, and circuit breakers must be correct for the unit being installed. Sometimes new equipment has different requirements than the system being replaced.
Will the contractor test the thermostat?
- The contractor needs to ensure that the unit operates properly in all modes and that the thermostat is fully compatible with the new equipment.
If ducts are new or are to be repaired, did the contractor state how they will measure the duct leakage after the repairs?
- The contractor needs to test to be sure the warm and cool air you are paying for is entering your home and not escaping into unconditioned spaces. This is especially important when ducts are located in the attic or crawlspace.
Will the contractor test the amount of air and/or water flow (for hydronic applications) going into each room?
- The contractor needs to measure the amount of conditioned air and/or water (for hydronic applications) flowing into each room to ensure that each room receives the appropriate amount.
Will the contractor provide a copy of the installation checklist with a record of all measurements taken during installation?
- These benchmark measurements will be used by future technicians to ensure that the equipment continues to perform as it should.
Will the contractor provide a copy of the owner’s manuals, manufacturer’s warranty, and their warranty?
- These documents provide valuable information for warranties, future maintenance, or repairs. You should know what the manufacturer and the installing company will do in the event of a problem.
Will the contractor provide a copy of the recommended maintenance requirements for the new equipment?
- If a maintenance program is offered, it should inform you of the components inspected, time frames for inspection, and other factors involved. These requirements are explained in the national standard for residential HVAC maintenance (ANSI/ACCA 4 Maintenance of Residential HVAC Systems).
The Carrier Corporation is one of the leaders in the industry of heating, refrigeration and air conditioning systems. Carrier air conditioning units have been sold in the United States since they were first designed in 1902, and are now available in close to 200 different countries across the world. With the main headquarters located in Farmington, Connecticut, Carrier air conditioning, heating and refrigeration businesses employ over 45,000 employees worldwide and is constantly expanding and increasing their market and services offered.
Carrier Corporation has several different divisions include the retail and commercial sectors that sell Carrier air conditioning, heating and refrigeration products and services. In addition there is a commercial HVAC building and industrial division, refrigeration and food service division, transportation refrigeration division and a passenger comfort division that focuses on climate control for marine vessels, busses and recreational vehicles. These different divisions all strive to increase the efficiency and power saving features of their products as well as promote environmental awareness and options for recycling and innovations in different heating and cooling systems.
One of these innovative cooling and heating systems that uses Carrier air conditioning technology is the hybrid heat dual fuel system. These systems, both heating and Carrier air conditioning systems, are able to sense the temperature and heating or cooling needs and adjust the type of fuel they are using to help minimize fuel bills. The systems are set to run off the lowest cost energy source when heating and cooling requirements are low or moderate, but when the temperature becomes very cold or very hot the system automatically switches to the most efficient fuel source under these conditions. In essence the system only uses the most expensive fuel when there is a need for immediate heat or cold, switching back to the less expensive system for the average operation of the heating or cooling unit.
All Carrier air conditioning products come rated with a SEER number. The SEER rating (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) that is indicated with each unit allows homeowners to select the most energy efficient product for their home cooling needs. The higher the SEER number the more efficient the air conditioner is operating. The United States government regulatory agency requires a SEER number of 13 for all new products on the market. Carrier air conditioning units typically range from 13 all the way up to 21, which provides a significant reduction in the amount of energy needed to produce the same amount of cooling as a lower SEER rated air conditioner would. Talking to a professional that is familiar with Carrier air conditioning units and products will help determine which air conditioning unit best meets the needs for your home cooling requirements.