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HVAC Blog | National Air Warehouse

  • Choosing a New Air Conditioner Condenser

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    Over the last few weeks, we’ve been talking about getting your air conditioning system up and running for summer. That means you need to make sure that all components of your AC system are in top shape. If they’re not, you may need to repair or replace individual parts or the whole system. For owners of split systems, it is not uncommon to find that the condenser -- also known as the outside system or the outdoor unit -- has been damaged by inclement winter or spring weather. If you need to replace your condenser to get ready for summer, there are a few important things to know.

    Condenser Basics

    The condenser is an essential part of a split system air conditioner, which is why it is necessary to have it replaced if it is not working. After the refrigerant is heated in the compressor, it is transferred to the condenser, where it passes through a series of coils. As it passes through these coils, the heat from the refrigerant escapes through the fins of the condenser, and by the time it reaches the end of the coils, it is much cooler. Ultimately, the refrigerant leaves the condenser as a mist, which is turned into a gas and cooled in the evaporator coil before being blown out as cool air by the fan.

    Today, most condensers come pre-charged with a refrigerant. R-410A is the newest type of refrigerant and the one to look for when you are buying a condenser. In contrast to alkyl halide refrigerants that contain bromine or chlorine, like R-22, R-410A does not contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer. It also allows for higher seasonal energy efficiency (SEER) ratings than R-22.

    Understanding SEER Ratings

    When choosing between condensers, you are likely to encounter models that have different SEER ratings. Most commonly, you can find 14 SEER and 16 SEER models, but 18 SEER condensers are also available. The SEER rating indicates the energy efficiency of the condenser model, with a higher number indicating a higher level of efficiency. Although it may cost more upfront, choosing a system with a higher SEER rating can save you money in the long-run and reduce the degree to which the refrigerant contributes to climate change.

    Understanding Cooling Capacities

    If you are replacing your condenser, it is essential that you choose a model with a cooling capacity (tonnage) that is consistent with your indoor system. If you are unsure about what size to buy for your split system, it can be helpful to contact your retailer.

    National Air Warehouse provides a wide selection of condensers at multiple sizes, and we can help you figure out which size you need. All of our condensers come pre-charged with R-410A, and we ship to your home or office for free. Contact us today to replace your condenser before summer heats up!

  • Planning for Summer: Do You Need to Replace Your Evaporator Coil?

     

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    As temperatures heat up and spring turns to summer, you have to make sure that your air conditioner is ready for the hottest months of the year. Last week, we went through the basic steps you should take at the beginning of the season to figure out whether you need to replace your air conditioner. Another issue to consider when planning for summer is whether or not you need a new evaporator coil. There are a few reasons why you might want to replace this essential part of your unit, including malfunction and inefficiency.

    Malfunctioning Evaporator Coil

    When going through the steps to check whether your air conditioner is ready for summer, you may find that your evaporator coil isn’t working. Here are some of the scenarios that suggest malfunction:

    • When you flip the switch, the air conditioner will not turn on.
    • You feel warm air coming through the vents instead of cool air.
    • You hear unusual noises, like hissing and banging, when your air conditioner is running.
    • There are air leaks around the indoor unit.
    • The air conditioner turns itself on and off randomly.

    If you find yourself in any of these situations, it may be unsafe to run the unit, and you should turn it off until the problem has been diagnosed. A new evaporator coil may be able to resolve the issue.

    Inefficient Evaporator Coil

    Older models of evaporator coils can prevent an air conditioning unit from running with maximum energy efficiency, so investing in a replacement could pay off in energy savings in the long run. Plus, most evaporator coils are only built to last for seven to ten years, so if you’ve been using your evaporator coil for almost a decade, there is a much greater risk that your evaporator coil will malfunction at the peak of summer, when it will be much worse to have no air conditioning while you get a replacement installed. If you’re looking to improve energy efficiency anyway, spring is the ideal time to replace the evaporator coil.

    When looking for a more efficient evaporator coil, you can choose between models with different Seasonal Energy Efficiency (SEER) ratings. The most common options are SEER 14 and SEER 16 rated products. While SEER 16 rated evaporator coils provide slightly higher cooling efficiency, both can provide greater cooling efficiency than legacy models. However, when choosing a new evaporator coil, it is critical to make sure that it is the same size as your original model, or your  cooling efficiency could take a hit regardless of the SEER rating.
    If you need to replace your evaporator coil before the summer starts, National Air Warehouse offers a wide selection of models at affordable prices, entirely online. Explore our offerings to find solutions for all of your HVAC needs.

  • Spring Check-In: Is It Time to Replace Your Air Conditioner?

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    It’s finally May, which means that summer is just around the corner. That means you can start looking forward to all the things you love about summer -- backyard barbecues, garden-fresh vegetables, beach days, baseball games on TV, ice cream... But it also means that temperatures are going to start creeping up, and you need to make sure that your air conditioning system is ready for the warm weather. Spring is the best time to determine whether your air conditioner will make it through another long, hot summer, or if it is time to replace it.

    Checking Your Air Conditioner

    It is critical to check your air conditioner in the spring to make sure it is working. That way, if you need to get a replacement, you will have ample time to look into the options and find one that works for your building and your budget. When getting your air conditioner ready for its first test after winter, there are a few things to check for before turning it on. Some of these can serve as red flags, indicating that it may be time to find a replacement.

    • Outdoor unit panels. Sometimes, in the winter, the panels covering the electrical connections in the outdoor unit get misaligned or blown away by heavy winds. Severe damage or missing panels could be a sign that it’s time for a replacement. It is not safe to start the system until all panels are in place.
    • Suction line insulation. The insulation of the suction line, which is the large pipe on the outdoor unit, may also be have been damaged, by ice or small animals. It’s usually not very hard to find replacement insulation before testing the unit, but if the suction line itself is damaged, you will likely need to replace your system.
    • Debris in the outdoor coil and surrounding area. For the air conditioner to run efficiently, it is critical to remove debris from the outdoor coil, and also to clear the area around it of leaves and mulch that may have accumulated during the winter months.
    • Dust in the supply vents and return air grills. Inside the building, it is common for dust to accumulate in the supply vents and return air grills. You can usually clear away the dust with a vacuum cleaner.

    After all that is done, and it looks like everything is in place, it’s time to turn the air conditioner on. Within a few minutes, cool air should start to come out of the registers. If the air is warm, or if there is no air at all, you should turn off the unit immediately and start looking for causes of malfunction.

    If it turns out that your air conditioner isn’t ready to handle the summer season, you’re in great shape, because you still have time to replace it before the temperatures get too high. Learn more about some of the best-priced replacement options offered by Air National Warehouse.

  • Rheem Heat Pump Prices: Understanding Price Differences Between Split Systems and Packaged Units


    Rheem is a well-respected heat pump supplier, and its 14 SEER-rated heat pumps are some of the most popular on the market today. However, price differences can leave you scratching your head. What accounts for the cost discrepancies between split systems and packaged units? Consider the following cost comparisons for 14 SEER-rated Rheem heat pumps with different cooling capacities:*

    2 Ton Rheem Heat Pump:

    Split System: $1,925numbers-money-calculating-calculation

    Packaged Unit: $2,775

    2.5 Ton Rheem Heat Pump:

    Split System: $1,983

    Packaged Unit: $2,804

    3 Ton Rheem Heat Pump:

    Split System: $2,130

    Packaged Unit: $3,087

    3.5 Ton Rheem Heat Pump:

    Split System: $2,248

    Packaged Unit: $3,532

    4 Ton Rheem Heat Pump:

    Split System: $2,449

    Packaged Unit: $3,762

    5 Ton Rheem Heat Pump:

    Split System: $2,669

    Packaged Unit: $3,892

    *Figures approximated for clarity.

    At each cooling capacity level, the price for the packaged unit is considerably higher. Why does the packaged unit cost more from the same brand? Is the packaged version better, and is it worth paying more? To answer these questions, it is necessary to consider some of the aspects of packaged units and split system heat pumps.

    Installation Costs

    One of the benefits of a packaged unit is that it isn’t hard to install. Because the condenser, compressor and evaporator are all encompassed into a compact cabinet, it doesn’t take much to find an adequate location -- usually near the foundation of a building or on the roof -- and install the unit. As a result, installation costs are low.

    In contrast, a split system heat pump requires expert installation, and it is much more time-consuming and labor-intensive. That’s because the different parts of the unit must be laid out and configured in a way that maximizes energy efficiency. If the installation is performed poorly, your system will operate much less efficiently than a compact unit with the same 14 SEER efficiency rating. Therefore, despite the lower upfront cost of split systems, the installation costs are higher than for packaged units.

    Durability

    Because they are located outside, packaged units must be able to stand up to the perils of the great outdoors. For instance, the cabinet exterior must be durable enough to protect the water-sensitive components of the heat pump from rain and snow. The best packaged units also make it difficult for animals to get into the unit and build nests in the warm environment or chew through the wires. When you account for the added costs of fortifying a heat pump against the elements, it makes sense that it costs more.

    In contrast, a split system heat pump is comprised of two cabinets: an outdoor cabinet, which contains the condenser, and an indoor cabinet, which contains some of the electrical components that are more sensitive to water damage and animal abuse. Because the indoor cabinet can be placed in a basement or attic, it won’t be vulnerable to the same harsh conditions as a packaged unit, so it doesn’t need as much external protection.

    When comparing Rheem’s packaged unit and split system heat pumps that have the same 14-SEER ratings and cooling capacities, cost discrepancies can be explained by the different ways in which these systems work. Ultimately, the best choice depends on your budget and the needs of your building. For more help figuring out which is best for you, and to find the lowest-priced Rheem products on the market, contact National Air Warehouse today.

  • Choosing Between Air Conditioners with Single Stage and Two Stage Compressors

    When considering air conditioner options, the question of whether to choose a unit with a single stage or two stage compressor inevitably arises. The answer depends on a wide range of factors. In order to figure out which one works best for you, it can be helpful to have an idea of how each one works and what might make you want to choose one over the other.

    The Mechanics of Single Stage and Two Stage Compressors

    Fundamentally, the difference between single stage and two stage air compressors is the process by which the air is compressed within the air conditioning unit in order to generate the power needed for operation. In a single stage air compressor, the air is drawn into the cylinder and compressed to about 120 psi in a single piston stroke. From there, it is transferred to a storage chamber. In contrast, there is an extra step in this process for two stage compressors. After the initial compression in the first cylinder, the air is moved to a second, slightly smaller cylinder where there is another piston stroke, this one at about 175 psi. Only then is the air transferred to the storage tank, where it is ready to be used to power the air conditioning unit.

    What Does That Mean for the Air Conditioning Unit?

    Operationally, this means that a single stage air conditioner only works at one level. Any time the temperature in your building exceeds the temperature at which you set your thermostat, the air conditioner automatically runs until the set temperature has been reached. Then, it turns off until the temperature rises again.

    But with a two stage air compressor, the air conditioner can work at two speeds. When temperatures start to rise, the air conditioner runs on low speed, maintaining a mild environment. Only when conditions really start to heat up does the high level of operation kick in.

    Evaluating the Benefits and Drawbacks of Air Conditioners with Single Stage and Two Stage Air Compressors

    When making the final decision between an air conditioner with a single stage compressor and one with a two stage compressor, there are a few key factors to consider, including:

    • Efficiency. Because they can run at two different levels, air conditioners with two stage compressors operate more efficiently than single stage compressors, especially when temperatures are warm, but not blazing.
    • Upfront cost. Although choosing an air conditioner with a two stage compressor may be able to save you money in the long run by working more efficiently, upfront costs for air conditioning units with single stage compressors are typically lower.
    • Maintenance and repair. Two stage air compressors have a longer lifespan than single stage compressors, so they need to be replaced less frequently. At the same time, it is easier to conduct routine maintenance on single stage compressors, and they are less expensive to replace.

    Ultimately, the decision to choose an air conditioner with a single stage compressor or a two stage compressor depends on the needs of your building, as well as your personal preferences and budgetary constraints. Both are great options for different users.

  • How do Your Home or Business HVAC Costs Compare to Others?

    It's sometimes difficult to determine if your building's heating and cooling costs are appropriate. The costs are dependent on multiple factors, like the type of fuel used, the square footage of the business or home and the weather in the area. The average cost for heating a 1200 square foot home in Florida is very different than heating a house of the same size in North Dakota. However, knowing if your building is above or below average can impact your decisions in upgrading, replacing or improving your HVAC system. A home that has higher than average energy costs may benefit from an upgrade to the heating and cooling systems.

    The U.S. Energy Star site provides a calculator for comparing your building's energy cost to others. To use the calculator, you'll have to provide the following:

    • Zip code
    • Building Square Footage
    • Number of full-time occupants
    • Types of fuels used in the home
    • Last 12 months of utility bills

    With this information, the Energy Star calculator is able to give insight into the efficiency of the heating and cooling in a home or business location. Other everyday utility uses, like hot water, appliances and lighting are separated. Finding 12 months worth of energy bills may require some work. However, some utilities may provide a shortcut called "Green Button." This is a file that stores your utility data. It can simply be uploaded to the Energy Star calculator in place of the 12 months of utility bills. If your utility sums the last year's worth of energy costs, that is also a good shortcut.

    The Energy Star calculator will give the building a score between 1 and 10. Lower scores imply that the home or business location could benefit from an improvement in the heating and cooling system. The calculator also provides an estimate for how much money could be saved by upgrading the heating and cooling to a level 10 (the most efficient.) For those interested in the environmental impact of their building's HVAC system, the calculator also provides a sum of how much pollution is generated. An efficient home typically generates pollution similar to what one car creates. A monthly energy use graph is also generated to show the building's energy expenditure over time.

    While there is a general rule of thumb that says to replace HVAC equipment more than 10 years old, home and business owners can get more insight into their building's efficiency through tools like the Energy Star calculator. A low score implies that the system could benefit from an upgrade. A higher score may mean that minimal improvements, like improving the ducting insulation, could be appropriate to reduce energy costs.

  • Industry HVAC Trends Increase HVAC Performance

    In March 2017, Technavio published a report highlighting technology trends in the HVAC market. Building automation and remote control of HVAC systems were identified as major market trends. The report also noted that regular maintenance and incorporation of green technologies were trends. These trends are great for businesses and consumers because more efficient monitoring and maintenance are likely to reduce the cost of running an HVAC system. Here is how to capitalize on these trends.

    Purchase a smart monitoring system

    Businesses can choose from a variety of building monitoring systems. These monitoring systems often include other major building functions, like fire suppression and security. All the functions can work together for optimal efficiency.

    Homeowners can invest in a smart thermostat, like a NEST. These monitoring devices learn how the homeowners like having the heating and cooling in each portion of the house. The program balances these needs with energy saving measures to reduce home energy bills. NEST recently received an Energy Star rating in the U.S., which demonstrates that meets federal regulations for saving energy.

    Technavio adds:

    The rise in smart infrastructure projects around the globe is propelling the demand for new heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning components...

    This statement implies that HVACs will soon be joining the Internet-of-Things (IoT), smart devices controlled through the internet. HVAC components are being re-designed and optimized to work within this new system. New components, released in the near future, may work better with the IoT capability, leading to even greater cost savings.

    Complete maintenance at regular intervals

    Both homes and businesses can benefit from regular HVAC maintenance. Energy costs can be reduced by up to 40% with regular maintenance. Many homeowners and businesses owners don't take advantage of these costs savings because they wait until something is broken. While waiting till a component breaks may be simpler, it is more costly in the long-term, especially since the HVAC system may have more downtime in order to complete a major repair.

    Although many homeowners and business owners might not be surprised by the need for regular maintenance, the rise of the smart monitoring devices for HVAC systems can have huge consequences on cost. Not only do these smart monitoring devices reduce the energy bill, as they become more advanced, they could incorporate more functions. For example, a smart monitoring device could alert business owners when it was time to complete regular maintenance. By adding a smart monitoring device, HVAC systems now have the potential to add many new and practical functions.

  • Purchase a Higher SEER to Reduce Cooling Costs

    SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, is a specification that homeowners should take into account when purchasing a new air conditioner. This number, which ranges from 10 to 30 in newer units, indicates the amount of energy required to meet a specific cooling output. Higher numbers indicate greater efficiency. Homeowners with older air conditioning units may have a SEER of 6 or less, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Upgrading to a higher efficiency unit will save many homeowners money in the long term.

    What level of SEER efficiency is cost-effective for a homeowner though? Our 2.0 ton air conditioners have 14, 15 or 16 SEER ratings available. A customer that wants to purchase a Rheem air conditioner may spend up to $600 more for a SEER 16 as opposed to a SEER 14. Is it worth the extra cost? That depends on the temperature fluctuations in each homeowner's area. Let's look at some examples using the SEER Savings Calculator.

    Our first example customer lives in Phoenix, AZ. His current air conditioner has a SEER rating of 10 and he wants to upgrade. With an upgrade to a SEER 14, he will save 29% of the energy cost of his original air conditioner. However, by upgrading to a SEER 16, the same homeowner can save 38% of the energy cost of his original air conditioner. With the typical energy rates in Phoenix, Arizona, after five years, the SEER 14 will save $932 and the SEER 16 will save $1224. At this point, it doesn't seem like upgrading to the SEER 16 is worth the extra $600. However, air conditioning units are intended to last for 10 to 15 years. After 10 years, the increased cost of the SEER 16 will be offset by the savings in efficiency.

    It makes sense to upgrade to a high efficiency SEER in hot areas that require regular use of the air conditioner. No matter if the homeowner decides between the SEER 14 or the SEER 16, the reduced energy cost will offset the cost of the new air conditioning unit in about 10 years. That's also assuming that the current air conditioning unit is decent with a SEER of 10. Many people have much less efficient units, which means that upgrading saves even more money.

    Homeowners that live in cooler regions may not be as impacted by the SEER ratings. For example, in Seattle WA, there is little need for cooling except for one week a month. Upgrading from a SEER of 10 to a SEER of 14 will still save 29% of the cost, but the cost is much less. Many Seattlites spend only $65/year on cooling. Upgrading will not have such a large impact on the energy cost because the air conditioner is not used that often.

    To determine the right SEER for their needs, homeowners should evaluate how often they cool their homes. The more cooling that is required, the more it makes sense to upgrade to a high efficiency air conditioner.

  • Save Energy with an Energy Star Certified Thermostat

    Although Energy Star has been a marker for efficient televisions and other appliances for years, it has not been applied to thermostats until this year. This is interesting because setting the thermostat properly may be the biggest energy saver in a home. Commonwealth Edison estimated that 30-35% of cooling energy use could be reduced by choosing efficient thermostat set points. Consumer Reports notes that a thermostat has the most potential of any energy-saving device to save homeowners money. So, why wasn't there a certified thermostat until this year?

    Programmable thermostats have had a learning curve in recent years. Many homeowners didn't use them properly. This made it difficult to develop a standard for the thermostat itself because it was not used according to the specifications. Manufacturers have responded by making recent models more intuitive and easier to program. Based on these improvements, the U.S. Environment Protection Agency was able to issue a new standard for wifi-enabled thermostats at the end of 2016.

    The Nest thermostat was the first Energy Star certified thermostat under the new rules. Like other wifi-connected thermostats, the Nest offers the ability to access the thermostat from your smartphone. The system "learns" your preferred temperatures and starts to adapt the system for maximum efficiency. It also tracks energy usage, so homeowners can adjust preferences to save money and energy.

    The EPA estimates that using a certified thermostat, like Nest, can save homeowners up to 8% in energy costs per year. This amounts to at least a $50 savings per year. While that doesn't seem like a lot, the energy savings add up as more people embrace the Energy Star certified thermostats. If every thermostat worked as efficiently, the savings could reach 56 trillion BTU and offset 13 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions. That's the equivalent of taking 1.2 million motor vehicles off of the road. Although it may take some time to pay off the cost of a new thermostat, the increased efficiency eventually benefits home and business owners.

    As part of a heating, air conditioning and ventilation remodel or new purchase, homeowners should consider an Energy Star certified thermostat. Even using the new thermostat with old equipment will lead to savings. Combining the new thermostat with a properly sized HVAC system is even better. That 8% savings will likely increase with the purchase of an appropriate HVAC system because older equipment is sometimes the wrong size or less efficient than newer models. For those not ready to purchase a new HVAC, buying an Energy Star certified thermostat is a good step in the direction of greater efficiency and cost savings.

  • How Energy Efficient Upgrades Impact your HVAC System

    Many homeowners and business owners have added energy efficient upgrades to reduce their environmental impact. Double-paned windows and high quality insulation can decrease the amount that owners spend on heating and cooling costs. These efforts are also more environmentally friendly because energy is not lost due to leaks. However, many owners don't take into consideration the impact that these improvement have on the HVAC system of the home or business.

    Energy efficient improvements change the heat load of the house. In fact, the US Department of Energy calculated how much the heat load of a 2000 square foot house in North Carolina would change with energy efficient improvements. The hypothetical house improved the insulation in the ceiling and walls, upgraded to double-paned glass, increased the window overhangs and eliminated duct leakage by moving the ducts into the conditioned space. Before the updates, the house's heat load would have been 46,100 Btu/hr by the Manual J calculation. After the updates, it would have been only 21,300 Btu/hr. The energy efficient upgrades cut the heat load in half!

    Unfortunately, many people don't realize the impact that this heat load reduction has on the HVAC system. In the original home, a 4 - 5 ton HVAC system would have been installed. This large HVAC system would have been appropriately sized for the home. However, HVACs are sized based on the heat load. Therefore, after improvements, the proper HVAC sizing would be 2 tons. If the HVAC system is not upgraded with the rest of the house, it will not be properly sized for maximum efficiency.

    The Department of Energy evaluated how much energy savings would result if the HVAC system was upgraded with the rest of the house. With a new 2 ton HVAC system, the homeowners would save 63 percent on heating energy and 53 percent on cooling energy. If the homeowners did the rest of the upgrades but did not upgrade the HVAC system, they would save 54 percent on heating and 47 percent on cooling. It does save energy to do the other upgrades, but homeowners that match the HVAC system to the current heat load gain an extra 10 percent increase in energy efficiency.

    Long lasting HVAC systems are often not included in home and business energy efficiency upgrades. However, they should be. As the heat load of the home or business changes, the HVAC system should be matched to the needs. A right-sized HVAC system could boost the energy efficiency of the home by 10 percent.

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