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Air Conditioning Basics

Posted on The Cooler Blog April 30, 2012 by Terry Jones

Here at All Year Cooling, we stop at nothing to help our customers with their A/C related needs. With this comes the ability to explain their Air Conditioning System, how it works, what elements function for what purposes etc.

Based on this we have put together the following top 5 questions asked, to help you make an educated decision on your new A/C System or Service:

1. What is a SEER Rating?

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The higher the SEER rating, the greater energy efficiency the unit offers. SEER is measured as the seasonal Btu output of cooling divided by the seasonal watt-hours used. The government sets the minimum SEER at 13, while a unit must be rated at least 14 SEER to be considered an Energy Star product & potentially qualify for an FPL Rebate.

In short, the higher the SEER Rating, the lower your monthly power bill.

EXAMPLE: 10 SEER A/C System

  • 10 is a very common rating for older units in the 1990’s, when energy was relatively inexpensive
  • Produces about 10 BTU/hr of cooling, per watt of electricity

EXAMPLE: 16 SEER A/C System

  • 16 is very common for newer, high-efficiency units
  • Produces about 16 BTU/hr of cooling per watt of electricity

This increased efficiency has become more and more important as electricity rates continue to rise.

2. What is an Air Conditioning System’s Tonnage?

The air-conditioner tonnage determines an A/C unit’s cooling capacity. Figuring out the tonnage will help you understand the unit size you’ll need for your home.

3. What is the difference between R-410A and R-22? 

In accordance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), newly manufactured air conditioning systems will not contain R-22 refrigerant. This went into effect on January 1, 2010. R-22 will continue to be produced for use in existing units, but production will be phased out over the next several years. In accordance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), newly manufactured air conditioning systems will not contain R-22 refrigerant. This went into effect on January 1, 2010. R-22 will continue to be produced for use in existing units, but production will be phased out over the next several years.

R-22 is considered an HCFC and is harmful to the ozone layer. Ozone-friendly refrigerants are now used in units manufactured after January 1, 2010. R-410A is the most common replacement and is found in most new units. R-410A has several names including Puron and Genetron AZ20.

While R-410A is used in most new systems, it may not be used in existing systems designed to use R-22 refrigerant. Design specifications to handle the increased pressure and cooling capacity of R-410A are required.

4. What is a “Split System” A/C?

Split system air conditioners consist of an outdoor unit and an indoor unit. The outdoor unit consists of a compressor/condenser, while the indoor unit consists of an air handler/evaporator coil. This is the most common residential air conditioning system.

Matching the two units may reduce energy consumption and save on energy costs. All Year Cooling’s air conditioning experts will help you match indoor and outdoor units for optimal performance and energy efficiency.

5. How often should I change my filter? 

How often you change your filter depends on the type of filter, the room conditions and how much you use your air conditioning system. Disposable filters should be replaced every month. Some washable filters should be cleaned every month depending on usage.

CleanEffects, available with most Trane units, features an innovative filtration system that requires its filters to be cleaned every three to nine months. Make sure that you keep up with filter changing and cleaning. Failing to do so may result in reduced efficiency and cooling capacity.

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