If you spend your summers running your window AC unit and your winter trying to keep your feet from freezing with a space heater, it’s time to consider upgrading to a central air conditioner and central heating system. These central heat and air units can save you money on your electric bill and improve the climate of your house. 

Installing a central HVAC system is a complicated job, and it requires experience and expertise dealing with central air conditioner installation to do right. Installing central heating and air conditioning units also require permits from the city, must be done to a specific code, and require an EPA certification to purchase or handle refrigerants. While it may cost more to hire a professional, the job will get done much faster, and it won’t require any of your personal time. You can also rest assured that any issues with the heating system or other essential components will be covered in your maintenance plan.

Here’s what the process looks like:

Sizing the unit

The unit will need to be sized correctly to maximize energy efficiency and keep your home at a temperature that is consistent from room to room. The best method for sizing your unit is to have a manual J load calculation performed on your home. This will account for a wide variety of factors, including the climate in your area, square footage of your home, type of ductwork you have, current insulation, shade around your home, and other factors. 

However, you can also estimate your unit’s size based on the heat gain formula, which uses square footage, outside ambient temperature, and the U-value of your windows. Once you know the right size, you can choose the style that works best for you. The most common HVAC system is an AC and furnace split system. However, heat pump and air handler split systems are becoming more popular.

A ductless mini split system will offer the most flexibility and energy efficiency, but they are also the most expensive to install. These units can save you a big one on your utility bill each month. Typically, your central air conditioning and heating bill accounts for nearly half of your energy use each month. An HVAC installation professional can walk you through your options so you can make the best choice based on your budget and preferences.

Choosing the locations for the outdoor and indoor unit

An air compressor and heat pump are two loud instruments, so you’ll want to find a good convenient place for the outdoor unit where it won’t bother you when it clicks on starts running. It will need to have unrestricted airflow on top and around the unit for optimum efficiency. You’ll also need to be able to access it easily for cleaning. If possible, find a location that can provide shade without interfering with the airflow. 

Whether it’s the furnace, air handler or evaporator coil, your indoor unit should be installed in a location that is closest to the center of the home as possible. This ensures the conditioned air doesn’t have to travel as far. Common locations are a utility closet, attic, or garage. 

Ductless mini split systems require multiple air handler units, and your HVAC specialist can recommend the number you need and help you place them based on your needs. These units are wall mounted, typically about 8 to 10 feet off the floor. Optimum placing can help them blend in with your room and prevent them from looking like an eyesore. 

Inspecting the duct work

If you have a duct system in place already, you’ll want to have it inspected. Modifications are often necessary to deliver conditioned air to your house effectively. You may need to have them sealed, upsize your furnace blower, or replace existing supply registers to reduce airflow resistance. 

If you don’t have ducts, you’ll need to have them installed, unless you’re using a ductless system. They deliver warm or cool air through a refrigerant line to the air handlers, and are typically installed in the framing of the floors, walls, and ceilings. Contractors can install them with minimal significant cuts into your walls and ceiling. Often, they’ll use your closets to simplify installation. 

Leave it to the pros

A central air conditioning system can make or break your summers, and the best ones can do it without causing your utility bill to skyrocket. If you don’t have an HVAC system, or your current one isn’t cutting it, Simpson Sheet Metal can help you find the perfect air conditioning system for your home.

Our team of HVAC experts has serviced the Santa Rosa area for over 30 years, keeping homes comfortable year-round for happy customers. We offer a full variety of services, from inspection and installations to preventive care and maintenance. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help with your central heat and air units.