Many people, homeowners and business owners alike, prefer central air conditioners to window units even if the former is much more expensive and much more taxing to install. There are obvious reasons, such as efficiency and even temperatures. If your home has several rooms that need cooling, then you should consider the best central air conditioners on Maui. When we say the best, we mean the most energy-efficient unit with the right features.
Why should you take our advice seriously?
That’s a fair question. First, Pacific Air Conditioning has been around for more than 10 years. That means we’ve seen so many brands of air conditioners in so many homes and buildings, so we know the most reliable brands. We have compared the performance and efficiency among different models. Second, we also do our research. We’re affiliated with AHRI and NATE, and part of our recommendations is based on Energy Star and Energy Saver, two government agencies that tell us the energy efficiency of appliances, including air conditioners.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Central AC on Maui
- Efficiency rating
- Unit size
- Unit cost
- Installation cost
New models are more efficient.
Manufacturers are constantly making new models that are improvements to the past ones. One of the key improvements is efficiency. Generally, new air conditioners use less electricity to generate the same amount of cooling than their old counterparts. On the other hand, new models vary in efficiency, too, and the most efficient models are expected to be the most expensive.
So, the less electricity an AC model consumes the higher its SEER rating. SEER means the seasonal energy efficiency ratio, which is the ratio of the cooling output within a cooling season to the energy input in the same period. Your old air conditioner was probably rated 8 or 9 SEER. Today’s models have a rating of at least 13.
But don’t buy the model with the highest SEER rating just yet. Shop around. Compare the price of the unit with the energy savings, in the long run, to see if it’s worth your money.
The average SEER rating of today’s air conditioners is 16. We’ve seen nearly a hundred of models being sold in the market today, and about 2 in every 5 models have ratings below 16. And so far, Amana, American Standard, Lennox XC25, and Trane have models with at least 22 SEER, making them the brands with the highest SEER in the market.
Regardless of how efficient your unit is, you still to do regular maintenance as Energy Star recommends. Maintenance tasks include replacing filters and tuning up your system to keep it working at its most efficient.
Cooling Cycles and Noise.
Some people are worried that a central cooling system is noisier than a split system or window AC. They were in the past. The noise that you would hear comes from the fans or the fan motor. Today’s models, however, have improved designs that reduce noise production.
You can check the loudness of the noise generated by the outdoor unit. Any noise around 70 decibels should be tolerable. American Standard brand is the least noisy among the top brands, generating only 69.9 decibels of noise, while Frigidaire generates about 72.9 decibels of sound.
Bigger isn’t always better.
The best central air conditioners on Maui come in different sizes. I always tell clients to choose based on the size of their home. We can help you calculate your cooling needs to avoid ending up with anything too small or too big for your house.
If your AC is too small, it will run longer than necessary and will fail to cool your home sufficiently on a blazing day.
If it’s too big, it will cool your home faster than it can dehumidify it. This is bad both for your unit and your health. The faster cooling cycle means the system turns on and off more frequently throughout the day. This causes faster wear. Meaning, you may have to deal with repairs or replacement sooner. Also, when your cooling system can’t effectively dehumidify your house, your air feels stuffy, and mold growth is inevitable.
If you need help with choosing the right unit, we have trained HVAC technicians on Maui who can help you calculate your cooling needs so that you can narrow down your choices to a few models of the ideal size.
Every air conditioner comes with a conditional warranty, so you should register your unit within the prescribed number of days to be eligible for the full term coverage. Unregistered units may still have warranties of around 5 years.
Once you have registered your unit, you are entitled to a warranty of 10 years or more. Brands like Amana, Coleman, Goodman, and Trane offer warranties of at least 12 years.
The challenge that comes right after the purchase is installation. Portable and window units are easy to set up, but a central AC requires you to have experience in wiring, plumbing, and refrigeration. Unless you’re a professional HVAC installer, you cannot do this on your own. A central cooling system is expensive, and you shouldn’t attempt to set it up if you have no experience.
You can look up contractors in your area. Pay attention to what customers are saying about their service. Look for honest reviews, and don’t ignore what your friends and associates say about a certain contractor.
The mistake is to choose the contractor with the lowest bid. Just because someone offers the cheapest service doesn’t mean you’re getting the right service from them. Cheap installation may indeed prove to be cheap once problems due to substandard work arise too soon in the future.
Another mistake is to choose the contractor closest to where you live. Why not? The dude closest to you can’t flake on you because you live two cities away. Maybe not. But still, that doesn’t mean they’ll provide the best service.
What would I look for if I were looking for central AC installers on Maui?
I would look for a NATE-certified technician because I’m sure that person knows how to calculate your cooling and heating needs, knows how to install any type of air conditioner in any type of home or building, and knows how to do maintenance.
Thermostats for Central Air Conditioners
Unlike room air conditioners, central air conditioning systems don’t come with built-in thermostats, so you have to choose one for your system upon installation of new equipment or replacement of an old one. We recommend programmable thermostats because they allow scheduled cooling, and some versions come with state-of-the-art features like smartphone control and automatic cooling cycles. Two of the most recommended brands are Nest and ecobee.
Let’s talk a bit about the cost.
The cost of having a central air conditioning system ranges from $2,000 to $6,000, depending on the brand, the SEER rating, the size of your house, and the installation cost. The overall cost can climb up if you don’t have preexisting ductwork, if you want a multi-zone system, or if you need a new furnace. You may shop around Maui to get the best quotes.
Central vs Window Air Conditioner
This is a common question that people ask us. The quick answer is, it depends. Your budget and home layout will determine which one is good for you.
The cost is the primary reason people don’t choose central air conditioning at first. Everyone wants an affordable alternative. A window AC typically costs somewhere around $200. That’s way cheaper than the cheapest central AC. Installation is also quicker and less expensive. Maintenance is, of course, much easier.
However, if you want to cool your entire house, a central air conditioner is the better option. By better, we mean more convenient and more efficient. Keeping multiple window air conditioners for several rooms becomes cumbersome in the long run.
Even cooling is an issue for the window AC because it doesn’t distribute cool air consistently within a room. You will notice that one corner is chillier than the rest. So while this type of cooling is good for small spaces like a single room or studio apartments, it can’t suffice a big house with several rooms. Moreover, central air conditioners distribute cool air evenly throughout the house.
A central AC is also preferable in Maui, where it’s summer all year round and people tend to use air conditioning during the day. Some areas with milder or cooler climate can do with window units.
How does a central air conditioner work?
A common misconception is that it moves air from outdoors to indoors. It doesn’t. Instead, it pulls indoor air into the evaporator. The evaporator coil absorbs the heat from the passing air and a fan blows cooled air back into your home. The heat absorbed by the coil heats up the refrigerant inside. The heated refrigerant travels to the outdoor pipes. In the outdoor unit, the condenser fan blows heat away from the coil. The refrigerant then loses heat as it travels back into the indoor unit, and the cycle repeats.
Best Brand Overall
There are several efficient central air conditioner models with the longest warranties, but one that stands out among the rest is Amana AVXC20. Its SEER rating is 24.5, taking it to the top tier in terms of efficiency. The only model that has a higher efficiency is Lennox’s top-end unit.
Add Amana AVXC20’s lifetime warranty, and you can never go wrong with this model. Lifetime warranty saves you money down the road. For example, if after several years of use, its compressor fails, the warranty covers its replacement; meaning, you won’t have to spend for a new compressor, which is one of the most expensive parts of a central air conditioner.
Not all Amana units come with a lifetime warranty. Only models with a SEER rating of at least 16 have a lifetime compressor coverage, for instance. Those with lower SEER ratings carry a 10-year warranty, which isn’t a bad thing.
Value for Your Money
If you’re looking for efficient models that aren’t the most expensive, you’re looking for Goodman. Its top-end units come with lifetime compressor warranties. Its GSX models only have a 10-year warranty, though, just like the low-end models of its competitors. You can avail of the lifetime warranty if you’re the owner of the unit and you still own the home where the unit is installed. Most parts are covered for 10 years, which is still better coverage than the coverage of other brands. What sets Goodman apart from its rivals is its onboard diagnostics, which notifies you if something is broken in the system.
However, if efficiency is a deciding factor for you, then note that Goodman’s most efficient central air conditioner comes to a SEER rating of 18, much lower than Amana’s and Lennox’s most efficient units. But that lower efficiency comes with a lower price, too. So while you’re not getting the most efficient system, you’re getting the least expensive among the reliable brands in the market.
Lennox has the most efficient model with a SEER rating of 26, unrivaled by its competitors. Note that most efficient models have a rating of around 20 SEER. If you’re low on budget, you may check out Lennox models with ratings as low as 13 SEER. Nine out of eleven Lennox units have the Energy Star logo.
What makes Lennox’s top-end models more energy efficient is their variable speed compressors, although Lennox also makes central air conditioners with two-stage compressors. Compressors that run at varying speeds are better at controlling the temperature in your home and are more energy-efficient.
The company’s central AC models can also withstand harsh weather, making them more durable than their rivals. Moreover, Lennox makes the quietest air conditioners in the market, some making only 59 decibels of noise.
The downside is the warranty. Unlike Amana, Lennox’s flagship models only have a 10-year warranty, which is significantly shorter. Its replacement parts are also more expensive than those of the other brands.
Nevertheless, the best central air conditioner on Maui is the one that’s best suited to your needs.
Final Advice: Keeping cooled air in
The challenge for homeowners is to reduce air leaks at home. Cooled air leaking outdoors and warm air leaking indoors make your air conditioning system work harder and in return raise your cooling bill. Places like Maui where temperatures are well above the 80s in the daytime, sometimes reaching the 90s, it’s best to keep the windows and doors shut when the AC is on. It’s also a great idea to check that your home is well insulated and sealed. You don’t want to pay for cooled air leaking outdoors.
There are a lot of things that we can talk about when it comes to central air conditioners. Call us at 808-244-0161 to schedule a free consultation. We will calculate your cooling needs and recommend the ideal AC models for you.