If you’re considering a new system for your home, talk first to your architect or designer. Conversations with HVAC contractors will probably follow, although you or your designer may also want to consult a specialist – a heating engineer – in the event your building project presents unusual demands.
Talk through in detail exactly what your needs are. If your budget is tight, you’ll need to identify essentials. If you can afford to think more broadly, consider the added comfort of, say, radiant floor heating. If you’re unhappy with your present system or would like to add humidification or a filtration system, get bids for those costs. In most cases, extending your existing system or adding a smaller area heater will be the least expensive option.
Via – Choosing an HVAC System
HEATING AND COOLING EQUIPMENT EFFICIENCY RATINGS
The table below shows efficiency ratings for good, better and much better heating and cooling equipment.
|Air conditioner||13 SEER||15+ SEER||Variable Speed
|Gas Furnace||78% AFUE||80% AFUE||94% Condensing Furnace|
|Heat Pump||7.4 HSPF||8.2 HSPF||Variable Speed
- SEER means Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and provides an annual measure of the efficiency of the air conditioner. Higher numbers use less energy.
- AFUE means Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. Higher numbers use less energy.
- HSPF means Heating Seasonal Performance Factor. Higher numbers use less energy.
There are 3 types of ratings that you should be aware of:
(1) Average Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) – This is the standard measurement that is used to indicate the level of efficiency of oil-fired and gas furnaces. A high rating is an indication of greater heating efficiency. For example, a 60% AFUE rating indicates that the furnace converts up to 60% of the fuel (gas or oil) to heat your home. The remaining 40% goes out the flue. Choose a furnace with an AFUE rating of not less than 78%. The most efficient furnaces are rated at 98.5%.
(2) Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) – This measurement gauges the energy efficiency of heat pumps. A higher HSPF rating indicates that your heat pump uses less energy, meaning it is more efficient to run. The most efficient heat pumps are rated at 13+. Heat pumps with a rating of 8.2 and above have Energy Stars affixed to highlight their efficiency.
(3) Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) – This is the rating used to measure the efficiency of heat pumps and air conditioners. Higher ratings indicate that the system uses less energy. Brands with the highest efficiency are rated at 30+. Air conditioners and heat pumps with a rating of 14 and above have Energy Stars affixed.
HOW DOES AN AC WORKS
- A refrigerant (a substance that can go from liquid to gas at low temperatures) runs through a closed system of metal coils.2. As warm interior air passes over these coils, the liquid refrigerant absorbs the heat (and turns into a gas) cooling the air, which is then blown back into the house through ducts.3. The heated, gaseous refrigerant goes outdoors to the compressor (the big, loud boxy thing in your back yard), where it’s pressurized into a liquid form. As it turns back to a liquid, it releases heat, which is blown off into the exterior air.
4. The newly re-cooled refrigerant is sent back into the house to start the cycle all over again.
All air conditioners work on the same principle; when you replace yours, think about capacity, efficiency, and reliability.
See illustration by Chris Philpot
TOP 10 HVAC SYSTEM BRANDS
The company gets far fewer repair calls for its A/C and heat-pump systems than most other brands in the business. They have a large lineup to choose from, and if you decide on this brand you can feel good about paying a premium, because you’re getting a whole lot of value with that purchase.
Their systems are built with more stringent quality control than most other manufacturers, and the material used in each build is of the highest quality. This means that Carrier will cost you more, but when you want something efficient that’s going to hold up, the extra price is worth the money. Another advantage to using Carrier is the wide selection the brand has to offer. You’ll find more options with this manufacturer than with most for exactly the product you need.
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Goodman is another brand on this list that isn’t quite as revered as Trane or Carrier, but all the company’s products have solid build quality and warranty programs you can count on, and they’re a real value. Goodman heating and cooling products are more affordable, and it’s hard to find a manufacturer that offers more value to its customers overall.
Trane is often billed as the “Cadillac of HVAC suppliers” and that’s because it’s one of the most reliable brands in the business. Trane is known for upholding warranties and offers a standard 10-year warranty that covers both parts and labor for that nice warm feeling of security after your new system is installed.
The company is known for being on the cutting edge side of things, and they produce highly efficient models time and time again. They come with quality warranties, and make a strong case for any homeowner.
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Out of all the top brands on this list, Lennox is the one known most for efficiency. The company fights tooth and nail to make their equipment more efficient each and every year, and that’s why you can pick up models with remarkably high SEER levels like 23.5 on the Signature XP25 system. The company can offer equipment with efficiency levels up above 98%.
York is a particularly economic brand known for its value pricing. It comes with three distinct lines of products to pick from: the Latitude, the LX, and the Affinity. The Latitude is the smaller, less efficient, and more affordable option with units right around 13 SEER. LX is a step up, with up to 14.5 SEER, and the Affinity line offers a wide range of products between 13 and 18 SEER, but it’s known for being extremely quiet and should be purchased when noise is a real concern.
Ruud is a reliable brand that offers a full lineup of heating and cooling products. The company makes products for both residential and commercial use. There’s plenty of testing and customer reviews that back up Ruud products as being long-lasting, but one thing that stands out about Ruud is that parts are readily available in most areas of the United States and Canada. This means warranty issues can be cleared up quickly and repairs generally aren’t too costly.
Amana is a solid mid-range offering that’s perfect for the homeowner looking for products in the 13 to 18 SEER range. You won’t find top-of-the-line units in the 20+ SEER range, but you won’t be expected to pay a premium for that equipment either. Amana is known for offering one of the best warranties in the business, and compressors come with a Limited Lifetime Replacement warranty that’s good for the expected operating life of the unit.
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The company stands out for its Observer Technology. This tech allows different heating and cooling components to talk to one another. When the parts talk they synchronize performance, becoming more efficient and reliable overall. That’s why Heil products can achieve up to a 97% efficiency rating and SEER figures of 19. Top Heil products come with comprehensive warranties, and it’s not out of the ordinary for a full heat coil or compressor to be replaced if it fails within the first 10 years of
Getting a good brand is important whether you’re outfitting an old home with a new system, or having the first system put in your brand new build, but it’s not everything. The best Trane, Ruud, or American Standard equipment won’t perform any better than a no-name bargain system if it’s not installed properly. That’s why you have to work hard to find a quality installer in your area, and that means you can’t skimp on installation costs.
Via – Top 10 HVAC Brands
HOW MANY YEARS IS THE WARRANTY
There are two types of warranties in the air conditioning business. There is the manufactures warranty and the air conditioning contractor’s warranty. The manufactures warranty covers the equipment and all of the parts in it. The air conditioning contractor’s warranty covers the labor costs involved in making the repairs to the equipment and any other work that was done, like sheet metal work, electrical wiring, etc. Some companies have a guarantee that stops the minute they leave your driveway. Or they will say that they’ll give you a 10-year warranty and POOF, they’re gone in 5 years.
For your own protection, INSIST on a written 100% Money Back Guarantee on the Installation Work.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN HIRING AN HVAC COMPANY
When hunting for a company to maintain your system, look for one that designs, installs, and services the type of system you have. Full service companies also tend to be up to date on the latest advances in the field. Besides checking that liability insurance and workers’ compensation policies are in force, ask for recommendations or check with neighbors, friends, and family who have used the company over several years. Find out:
- How well did the system run under the company’s care?
- Did the technicians leave the working area clean?
- How quickly did the contractor respond to emergencies?
- Were the service people punctual when you called with a problem?
A quality provider will have an emergency number that’s staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week and enough technicians to respond when the weather is awful and the calls pile up.