What You Need to Know About Central Air Conditioning Systems
Maui is a wonderful place, but its tropical climate necessitates home and commercial air conditioning. If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering whether or not to have an AC installed in your home or office. Gone are the days when cooling systems are considered luxuries. In Wailuku, for instance, more homes are having air conditioners installed, and one of the common choices of residents is the central air conditioning system.
Central air conditioners deliver cool air through a system of ducts, which transport cooled air from the AC to the rooms of your home via vents. Return ducts then suck indoor air and return it to your air conditioner where it is cooled again. The cycle then repeats.
Central air conditioners come in two types.
Air conditioners have three basic parts: the condenser, compressor, and evaporator. In a split-system AC, the condenser and compressor are housed in an outdoor metal cabinet, while the evaporator is housed in an indoor cabinet. In the case of a split-system HVAC, the indoor cabinet also houses the furnace or heat pump. If you have a furnace but you want to install an air conditioning system, then we recommend the split-system unit because it is low cost.
Packaged Central AC
Packaged air conditioners have their three main parts in one cabinet. They come as rooftop units or outdoor units, and they’re for homeowners who don’t have enough indoor space to house an air handler. Small commercial establishments also opt for this type of air conditioning system. It usually includes a furnace or heating coils, so you won’t have to install an indoor furnace.
Either type has advantages and disadvantages, and the right choice eventually boils down to your needs and preferences. But here at Pacific Air Conditioning, we help clients choose the right AC. You don’t want to have an HVAC system installed in your home without assessing and computing your cooling (and heating) needs first.
Efficiency is the big word!
When it comes to efficiency, a central air conditioner beats your regular room AC any time of the day. Efficiency is becoming a huge word anywhere nowadays, and most of our clients take efficiency seriously in their purchasing decisions. Consider the following reasons:
1. You consume less electricity for the same amount of cooling.
2. You lower your carbon footprint and help curb the greenhouse effect.
Modern air conditioners are much more efficient than those made 40 years ago. Compare today’s AC’s with those made before 1980, and you’ll see that new models consume around 40% less energy to cool a room to the same temperature. You may be surprised to see that new units consume 20-40% less energy. That’s one good reason to replace your AC when it has been around for more than a decade, especially when it’s becoming troublesome.
The seasonal energy efficient ratio or SEER tells you how efficient a unit is. Your old unit probably has a SEER rating of 6 or lower. An efficient unit with Energy Star and EnergyGuide labels has about 15% higher efficiency than today’s average models.
Another factor that seriously affects air conditioning efficiency is AC size. A unit that’s too small will go into overdrive on hot days just to keep your home cool. On the other hand, an AC too big will not only cool your home but also raise its humidity.
Watch out for the AC fan!
Central air systems can be tricky. If you’re running one at home, see if the fan shuts off when the compressor does. If not, put the fan setting on auto mode. This way, the fan stops at the same time as the compressor does. If it keeps running when the desired temperature is reached, it makes your air conditioner eat up more energy than necessary.
Other factors that affect efficiency are:
– unit location
– home insulation
Do you need new ductwork?
If there’s one thing that makes installation of central air conditioning on Maui daunting is the ductwork. Installing ducts in your home or commercial establishment takes about a few days, depending on the size of your house or building and the number of rooms. On the other hand, if you need to replace an old HVAC system, you may have to replace the ductwork. The whole process, including replacing the ducts, takes about a week for an average home.
Replacement of Components versus Complete Replacement
I don’t recommend a complete replacement of your cooling and heating system unless it’s extremely old and all its parts have deteriorated. In many cases, old systems may have a few parts that need replacement. For instance, you probably just need to replace the outdoor compressor with a new and efficient model. Any good central air conditioner in Hawaii that is well maintained can last for up to 15 years. We’ve seen models that withstood 20 years of continuous use. Besides, manufacturers continue to support older models by keeping replacement parts handy.
Nonetheless, consult our AC technicians in Wailuku before making your own decision. The only way to determine whether you need to replace your entire system or just some of it is to do a thorough inspection.
A properly installed central AC works without problems and stays efficient for several years with regular maintenance. Some problems begin with the installation. A poorly installed system can perform just as bad as an old or inefficient system. That’s why you need to do the following when having a cooling system installed:
1. Allow sufficient space for an air conditioner system, including its ducts. Make sure you have enough space to easily access the evaporator coil, ducts, or furnace (if you want a heating system included).
2. Install ducts of appropriate size for your home or establishment.
3. Install ducts in air-conditioned spaces indoors.
4. Make sure ducts are well sealed.
5. Insulate the attic.
6. Set up the appropriate number of supply and return air registers.
7. Set up the condenser where it will not bother you or your neighbors with its noise.
8. Choose a location with enough space for your condensing unit. Remove objects that may block airflow.
9. Place the thermostat away from windows, supply registers, and heat-generating appliances.
10. Once the system is set up, check if the AC has the specified refrigerant charge and airflow rate.
Dehumidifying Your Home
If you have the right air conditioner, you probably don’t need a dehumidifier because your AC strips your indoor air of moisture. The problem with Hawaii when it comes to air conditioning is the state’s humidity. Maui, for instance, is known for its warm and humid climate, so cooling and dehumidifying homes and offices are tricky. Humid homes promote the growth of mold and proliferation of pests, so it makes sense to keep your indoor air moisture under control. One problem with dehumidifiers is they consume additional energy. That’s why we sometimes recommend a dehumidifying heat pipe, which can be fitted to your central air conditioning system on Maui. Of course, the wisest option is to choose the air conditioner that’s appropriately sized for your house or building.
Do you want a central air conditioning system installed in your home or commercial building on Maui? Call us at 808-244-0161 to schedule a free consultation.