When your building lacks central air conditioning and your AC unit is not working, it’s time to invest in your home comfort and source a new system. But, purchasing a new AC system is a challenge, there are many brands, models, sizes, and other factors to understand. Choosing an energy efficient AC system that can perform to your expectations will be easier after reading this brief guide.

A Brief Primer

Before we begin, it’s important to mention that there will be “budget” AC units available for sale. But, these cheaper models fail pretty quickly and they have poor energy efficiency. So, in the medium to long-term, you will lose money on an earlier than expected replacement and higher energy bills. Involving a local heating and cooling specialist at an early stage is a great idea and they can help you to find your ideal system. Let’s take a look at seven things that you need to consider before you make a final AC system purchase.

1.   Know the Square Footage of Your Apartment

One of the measurements that you will need for a complex load calculation (more on this later) is the accurate square footage of your apartment. This will ultimately help you to get the correct AC system size to meet your needs. There is a simple formula that you can use for each square or rectangular area in your home: Length x Width = Area.

2.   Understand the Cooling Capacity

The cooling capacity of an AC system is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs). This is equally applicable to heating systems and higher numbers indicate more power. So, an AC system with more BTUs will be more powerful and capable of cooling down a larger space. The general rule is that you require 20 BTUs for every square foot of apartment space. So if you have a 180 sq. feet apartment you are going to need an AC system with 3640 BTUs or more.

3.   Sizing the AC Unit

If you have a smaller apartment, it’s tempting to purchase the most powerful AC system that you can afford. But, this is a mistake, bigger is not better in this case and you need an air conditioner that’s carefully matched to your apartment.

An oversized AC system will take up too much space, it will consume more power and it may short-cycle. This is when the system turns on and off again quickly because the home is cooled too quickly. Short-cycling will damage the components and may lower the expected lifespan of the equipment.

If you install an AC system that’s too small, it will lack the power needed to cool your home. The humidity levels will remain high because the air conditioner will not remove it and there may be mold growth and other problems. The AC system will run constantly in an attempt to cool the spaces which will overwork the equipment and drive up the energy bills.

4.   Consider the Room Layout

The layout of the rooms is important when you want to install an AC unit. If you have an apartment with very few windows, you may want a mini-split unit. If you have a lot of windows, the orientation is important for the load calculation.

5.   Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) Rating

This is a measurement of the energy efficiency of your prospective air conditioner. The higher the SEER rating the more energy efficient it will be and the minimum rating is SEER 15. If you invest in an AC system with a SEER rating of 20 or more, then it would be considered to be a high-efficiency model.

6.   Heating Seasonal Performance Function (HSPF)

The HSPF rating is a measurement of the efficiency of an AC system if it’s operating as a heat pump. The minimum rating starts at 7 but if the HSPF is above 8 it’s considered to be an efficient heat pump.

7.   Extra AC System Features

If you want an AC system that offers more than simple cooling and heating then you will be happy to learn that you can add a lot of extra features. Many modern air conditioners and heat pumps have features, such as eco mode, turbo mode, a programmable timer, self-clean mode, follow me mode, and more. These features add a lot of functionality and flexibility and they may cost less than you might imagine.

A Complex Load Calculation

We mentioned this earlier, this is an important calculation that a heating and cooling specialist can use to determine the right size of HVAC equipment for your home. There are online tools that perform this calculation for you, but they are not accurate. Why? Well, the complex load calculation includes all of the factors that we showed above. Without that data, it’s impossible to find the ideal sized HVAC equipment for your home.

3 Types of Apartment AC Systems Explained

Let’s take a look at three types of air conditioners for apartments, they are:

1.   Mini-Split

These are efficient AC units that don’t require ducts and they can heat or cool using a fraction of the energy of other AC systems. They have a sleek design with indoor and outdoor units that are fitted high on the wall.

2.   Portable AC Units

This is a portable unit mounted on wheels that you can move around your home. They can cool or heat the room, but an exhaust hose must be placed out of the window to vent the hotter air. There are two main disadvantages, first, the exhaust hose gets hot and this lowers the energy efficiency. Second, these AC units are usually loud when compared to other alternatives.

3.   Window AC Units

These are popular because they are inexpensive, easy to install, and powerful. They work as a standard air conditioner; they remove heat and humidity from the room to make it feel cooler. This is a single box unit with a built-in thermostat, condenser coil, compressor, evaporator coil, and refrigerant. They are less efficient than mini-split units, they can be noisy and they block the view from the window.

If you want to schedule a complex load calculation for your apartment, contact your local HVAC specialist today.