HOW CENTRAL AC (AIR CONDITIONERS) WORK
Registers and supply ducts carry cooled air from the air conditioner to your home. It becomes warmer as it circulates through your home. It then flows back to the central AC through return channels and registers.
Air conditioning systems help in humidifying the incoming air. However, in extremely humid conditions, it will now achieve low humidity. This will also be the case if the AC system is oversized.
The best solution to this is getting a dehumidifying heat pipe which can be included as a retrofit to the system. This is a better choice compared to using the dehumidifier, because that leads to higher energy consumption.
TYPES OF CENTRAL AIR CONDITIONERS
There are two main types of central air conditioning systems: split-system unit and packaged unit.
The split-system unit is very economical if your home has a furnace. The outdoor cabinet contains the compressor and condenser, whereas the indoor cabinet contains the evaporator. The indoor cabinet has the furnace, this is where the supply duct is installed.
The packaged unit is an AC system in which the packaged central air conditioner, condenser, evaporator, and compressor are located in one cabinet. The unit is placed in a concrete slab next to your building’s foundation or placed on a section on the roof. Since it includes electric heating coils, the need for a separate furnace indoors is eliminated.
In the event that your AC system is faulty, it is best to get a professional to fix it because carbon monoxide may be produced at the furnace and circulate in your home, leading to risks. Carbon monoxide is commonly known as the ‘silent killer’.
Heating systems have a shorter useful life compared to A/C units. This is because their performance is affected by the extreme weather conditions and in some cases, blockage of the heating furnace may lead to malfunctioning.
Heating systems have different Heating Seasonal Performance Factors (HSPFs). HSPF is a term used to measure the efficiency of air source heat pumps. A system which has a lower HSPF rating will need to work harder so as to meet the expected level of comfort.
Therefore, your system can have a longer lifespan if you use a heating pump, which has a higher HSPF rating.
Some of the heating units used in homes include:
Oil-based furnaces: Although they are not expensive, these require a lot of maintenance work to keep them running and they only last a few years.
Boilers: They last slightly longer than other heating systems (1-3 years). The quality of water supplied to the boilers also determines the lifespan of the heating system.
Geothermal systems: These can last for more than 30 years, if well-maintained.
It has been found that nearly half of the HVAC systems have been installed incorrectly. Therefore, you need to choose ENERGY STAR Verified HVAC Installation.
This will offer you a guarantee of better energy savings, quality, performance, and comfort. The equipment will also have a lower risk of failure. Having a well-installed heating system offers you the guarantee of a longer useful life.
WHAT IS THE AC UNIT LIFESPAN?
Consumers and contractors have varying ideas on how long air conditioning systems should last. The average lifetime air conditioning systems is 20 years, ranging from 10-30 years.
Manufacturers also have insight on the lifespan and efficiency of the cooling systems. They also continuously support existing equipment and offer replacement parts.
Factors that determine the life span of an HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system include:
• Run-time hours per day.
• Proximity to corrosive contaminants.
• Maintenance of the equipment.
• Whether repairs or retrofits have been done.
WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN GETTING AN AC SYSTEM
The following are features you should consider when buying an AC system:
• High efficiency. The rating of central air conditioners is done according to their seasonal energy efficiency ratio, indicating the relative energy required to provide a specific cooling output. High-efficiency operation during hot seasons can be provided by systems that have a thermal expansion valve and a high-temperature rating (EER) greater than 11.6.
• A quietly-operating system.
• A variable speed air handler, in case you will install new ventilation systems.
• A fan-only switch, which can be used at night.
• A filter check light.
• An automatic-delay fan switch, which will turn off the fan some minutes after the compressor turns off.
Maintenance of your home heating and cooling systems is important and it also determines the lifespan of the systems. You will be able to detect any faults and take corrective measures in good time. You will also save on costs, improve the energy efficiency of the system and reduce pollutants.
Technological advancements also make it easier for you to know the condition of your home heating and cooling system, through the use of smart maintenance.