Toll-Free Customer Support 24/7

Search Site
BBB A Rating Seal

HVAC

  • Choosing a New Air Conditioner Condenser

    screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-3-34-03-pm

    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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • A Checklist for Heat Load Calculations

    To have an HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system run at optimal efficiency, homeowners and business owners need to know the heat load of the building. This metric, measured in tonnage, determines which size of HVAC system to purchase. Selecting the right size system is important for efficiency. For example, over-sized systems don't properly de-humidify the air during the summer. Under-sized systems may not be able to effectively heat or cool a building. Homeowners and business owners want the right size to have efficient heating and cooling.

    The most common way to determine the heat load of a building is a Manual J calculation. A licensed HVAC contractor can complete this calculation for a fee. However, there are some online Manual J calculators that allow home and business owners to complete their own calculations. The key piece is not the calculation, however, but the inputs. Owners must know many details about the building in order to complete a Manual J calculation. The checklist below contains the inputs required to do a Manual J heat load calculation.

    Materials for Walls, Ceiling and Floors

    A heat load calculation takes into account the insulation properties of the house. For this reason, it's not enough to know that a home is “brick.” Homes with brick walls also may or may not have insulation. The insulation can be various types. The same principle applies to ceilings and floors. A building plan or an HVAC contractor may be required to find out this information.

    Window Type

    The insulating properties of windows can also vary, depending on whether the window is single or double paned. Even the frame type (usually metal, wood or vinyl) has an impact on the heat load calculation.

    Door Type

    Surprisingly, there are differences in insulation properties between wood doors. In fact, there are multiple types of wooden doors in the heat load calculation. The insulation depends on whether the door is hollow or solid. Metal doors also have drastically different heat properties.

    Ceiling and Window Height

    The ceiling height helps to determine how much air needs to be warmed or cooled. Window height also has an impact on the heat load calculation.

    Length x Width x Height of Walls, Windows and Doors

    This information helps determine the size of the home or business and how much air needs to flow through the building for proper heating and cooling.

    Orientation of the Building

    The orientation of the front door and windows can be north, south, east or west. Southern exposure tends to be warmer in the northern hemisphere, since the sun hits that surface year-round.

    With this checklist, home and business owners can begin to complete a heat load calculation. There are online resources available to assist. However, it's important to note whether the calculation assumes the house is a “block” or it asks for the inputs for “room-by-room.” Block calculations are simpler to complete, but they don't tell owners how much heating and cooling is required for each room. To properly size ductwork and maximize efficiency, a room-by-room heat load calculation is preferred.

  • Use a Heat Pump for Air Conditioning and Heating

    One way to think of a heat pump is as a reversible air conditioner, which means that one device can provide both heating and cooling. Heat pumps capture heat from the outdoors and compress it. The compressed heated air is then pumped around the home or business. The heat pump doesn't actually generate heat. The principle by which heat pumps work is the same as air conditioners. However, air conditioners cycle the opposite way, expelling heat to the outdoors, instead of drawing it in. While heat pumps are typically reversible and can function as air conditioners, not all air conditioners can be reversed to function as heat pumps.

    Although heat pumps have the advantage of both cooling and heating, their functionality is limited to a moderate climate. An example of an appropriate climate for a heat pump only system would be Washington, DC. As an air conditioner, a heat pump can provide cooling air during hot temperatures. When temperatures drop below freezing though, it becomes harder for a heat pump to work as a heater. Since it functions by drawing heat from the air, it struggles to draw heat from freezing air. One solution is to add electric resistance coils to the heat pump. These coils function as a furnace and provide heat when it's too cold to draw warmth from outdoor air.

    Above freezing temperatures, heat pumps can be up to 40% more efficient than gas furnaces. Heating air requires a great deal of energy. Gas furnaces physically heat the air with a flame. However, heat pumps transition the warmth outdoors into the indoors (though compressing the air can be energy intensive). Heat pumps are more efficient than furnaces until additional electrical resistance coils need to be used to heat the air, which usually occurs around freezing temperature. At this point, the electrical or gas resistance coils are not as efficient as a gas furnace.

    If a heat pump promises to meet your heating and cooling needs, there are a few options to consider. Heat pumps come in a variety of sizes, measured in tonnage. To properly size a heat pump, home and business owners should complete a heat load calculation. This calculation takes insulation, square footage and climate factors into account and then recommends a tonnage. Heat pumps are usually electric, but some resistance coils can be gas-powered, depending on your preferences. SEER, or seasonal energy efficiency rating, is another way to determine the best heat pump for a home or business. Higher ratings translate to a more efficient heat pump. With these options in mind, it's easy to select the appropriate heat pump for your home or business.

  • Do I need an air handler?

    Sometimes the number of components that make up an HVAC (heat, ventilation and air conditioning) system can seem overwhelming. Part of the reason is that HVAC systems are extremely flexible. You can pick only the components you need to heat and cool your business or home as efficiently as possible. In some cases, this involves buying an air handler.

    An air handler has a simple task, to take in air and send it around the home or business. Air handlers often include blowers, heating and cooling systems and filters. It handles much of the “ventilation” port of the HVAC system. Air handlers are commonly used in conjunction with air conditioners. The evaporator coil in the air handler can remove additional heat before sending the air throughout the house.

    Am I in the right climate for an air handler?

    An electric split system for air conditioning in a warm climate, like Florida, will benefit from an air handler. Working in tandem with the air conditioner, the air handler keeps the air cold and blowing.

    However, air handlers can also be beneficial in slightly cooler climates. They can contain both heating and cooling elements. The cooling element would be the evaporator coil, which removes excess heat from the air. Heating elements, like electric heating strips, can also be included in an air handler. In this case, the air handler adds additional heat to the air before blowing it around the home or business.

    While beneficial in cooler climates, air handlers are not as commonly found in cold truly climates, like Minnesota. A gas or electric furnace is commonly used in place instead. Pairing a heat pump with an air handler is typically not sufficient to warm a home or business in a climate that repeatedly drops below zero. A gas or electric furnace is a more effective way to heat the location.

    How do I select an air handler?

    If you live in a warm climate, where the combination of an air handler and air conditioner or heat pump provides sufficient heating and cooling, it's time to look at air handlers. The first step is to do a load calculation, which determines how much heating or cooling is required for the home or business. A Manual J calculation is standard and the most accurate, but rules of thumb can also be applied. The resulting number is the tonnage size of the HVAC system that you ought to purchase for the best efficiency.

    The next item to evaluate is what type of refrigerant the air handler uses. The most common types are R-22 and R410-A. Newer HVAC systems typically use the R-410A refrigerant, which is generally accepted as the more environmentally friendly and efficient refrigerant.

    Air handlers can also be sold with heating elements. This may or may not be necessary in your climate. If your home does not already have heat pump, the heating elements may be a good choice to warm the air in your home when it gets a bit chillier. The heating elements can also work in tandem with a heat pump for greater efficiency. It depends on the system you select for your climate.

    If you need any help determining if your home or business would benefit from an air handler, you can check with an expert or call National Air Warehouse at (888) 997-5160 for assistance.

  • HVAC Sizing: Why do a load calculation?

    A whole new vocabulary greets those who want to purchase a new HVAC system. Instead of seeing the normal housing “square feet” metric, people are likely to see measurements in “tons.” These are not the same tons that semi-trucks are hauling on the freeway. It's a measurement of the cooling rate, and it's about equal to 12,000 Btu/hr. To properly size an HVAC system, the buyer needs to determine how the home or office building loses and maintains heat.

    Since HVAC may seem like a complicated new world, new HVAC buyers might be tempted to use a 'rule of thumb' to determine the size of their HVAC system. These “rules” can be as simple as holding up a cut-out to the home. The hole that the house fits within is labeled with a ton amount. Other people will recommend a certain number of tons per square foot. This method is slightly better because it takes into account the weather conditions for the local area. However, there are disadvantages to using a rule of thumb.

    Using a 'rule of thumb' is like going to the store and picking out a shirt in your size without trying it on. If you are usually a medium, it's a good bet that a medium shirt will fit you. But, in some stores, a medium can be too tight to fit around your chest or so loose that the shirtsleeves go down to your elbows. Without accounting for the unique contours of your body by trying it on, it's possible that you can buy the wrong size. An improperly sized HVAC system is like an ill-fitting shirt; it does the job, but it doesn't do it as well as it could. For example, an over-sized HVAC system doesn't de-humidify the air as efficiently during the summer.

    The secret to purchasing the right size of HVAC system is to take more factors into account. Like the unique contours of your body, your home or business has unique characteristics. For a building, the unique characteristics are the materials used for the construction. Are the walls made of brick or siding? What type of insulation was used? How many vents are in the floor? The doors are made of what type of material? These characteristics (and others, such as your location) are used in a Manual J load calculation, an industry standard method to determine the HVAC size for a home or office building.

    With the internet, it is possible to do a Manual J load calculation yourself. There are many sites dedicated to the task. However, they do assume that you have the basic information about the materials used in the construction of the building. Many homeowners don't know what type of siding or insulation they have (or where to find it). If you don't know what ceiling type you have in your home, it's probably worth asking a professional to complete a calculation (according to Manual J or another method). A trained technician can quickly assess the location.

    An HVAC is a long-term investment, often heating and cooling a location for decades. Isn't it worth it to get the right size for maximum efficiency?

  • Gas or Electric Heat: A Cost Comparison

    One of the first decisions a homeowner or business owner has to make, regarding an HVAC (heat, ventilation, air conditioning) system, is whether to purchase an electric or gas heater. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages. The up-front costs and long-term costs are one area that people typically examine.

    Up-Front Costs

    These are the costs associated with the initial installation of the heating component of the HVAC system. The first item to look at is whether the home or business has access to electricity and natural gas. Many homes and businesses have both electricity and natural gas lines already running to the house. However, some locations do not have access to natural gas. In this case, running a gas line to the location could be an additional upfront cost. Each home or business is unique and different costs may be taken into consideration for each one.

    The cost of the heater itself is also included in the up-front costs. If you are buying this as a single component, it's often called a furnace. At National Air Warehouse, the electric furnaces start around $700 and the gas furnaces start around $900.

    Looking at just the up-front costs, the electric furnace seems to be cheaper. However, most HVAC systems are meant to be used for years. The long-term costs look at how expensive it is to run each type of furnace for years to come.

    Long-Term Costs

    The costs associated with the furnace in the long term are: maintenance and the cost of the electricity/natural gas. When it comes to maintenance, the electric heaters are typically cheaper to maintain. One of the reasons is that electric furnaces typically outlast gas furnaces. An electric furnace can last for 20-30 years with regular maintenance. Gas furnaces, in comparison, typically have slightly shorter lifespans of 10-20 years.

    People commonly say that the cost of natural gas is lower than that of electricity. This is true in many locations, but it does depend on the location of the home or business. Electricity is cheaper in some cities than others. To truly determine the long-term impact of paying for electricity or gas, a homeowner or business owner can calculate the energy use. The amount of electricity used is typically tabulated as kilowatt-hours (kWh) and the amount of natural gas is often tabulated as therms. A homeowner could directly compare the costs by converting kWh to therms (1 kWh = 0.034 therms). Less money spent per therm will save the homeowner or business owner in the long-term.

    Making a smart decision regarding electric or gas furnaces may require a bit of thought, but there are many resources out there to help home and business owners decide between the two.

  • More Misconceptions about your HVAC System

    Air Conditioner Air Conditioner

    Many people are uninformed about their HVAC system and therefore they believe a lot of misconceptions about HVAC systems. Being informed about your system is a must and this information should steer you clear of any misconceptions you might hear about your HVAC system.

    One myth has to do with when to do maintenance. Something a lot of people believe or think they believe is that you only need to check your HVAC system when you think something is wrong. This is incorrect. Preventative care is necessary and checking your HVAC on a regular basis is a must. This will save you money in the long run as it will lower the amount of maintenance you do. It is also important to keep air ducts clean and service your system every so often.

    A popular myth encourages homeowners to leave appliances and computers running when not in use with the belief that it uses less energy than shutting down and restarting. Yes, there’s a small power surge when these appliances turn back on, but it’s a small surge that equals very little run-time power. When you leave these things on, all you’re actually doing is wasting energy.

    Many people think that when you close off your vents, you’ll reduce the amount of air that’s being pushed throughout your home, but in reality, (if you have a modern HVAC system), the pressure load will be balanced throughout your rooms. If you block a vent, you can throw your HVAC system out of balance and actually make it work harder.

    In blistering heat or bitter cold, you want fast relief. To many homeowners, this translates to turning the thermostat higher or lower than usual in an effort to bring the temperature to a comfortable level more quickly. The system is either on or off, and it doesn’t vary speed or temperature according to the thermostat set point. Cranking the thermostat ensures that the HVAC system runs longer, but it won’t change the speed of results.

    Many also think that using the system in short bursts is a way to save energy and money. Actually, it takes about 2-4 minutes for you system to get going. In this time the system uses more energy. After it has some time to get going it will use less energy so using it for longer intervals is recommended provided your house is at an optimal temperature.

    Using his information will help you save money and keep your system running smoothly.

Items 1 to 10 of 27 total

Page:
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3

Back to top