The indoor evaporator and outdoor condenser units that make up your central AC system are designed to work as a team. So when one half of this dynamic duo goes down, it's usually best to replace both units with a newer and more reliable set.
However, many homeowners believe they can save money by replacing only the unit that's given up the ghost. The initial savings may be attractive, but there are five good reasons why replacing the indoor and outdoor units at the same time is the smart choice.
1. It's Simply More Energy Efficient
The latest central AC systems offer impressive energy efficiency, but those gains can easily disappear when half of that new system is saddled with the older half of your existing AC system. Older AC systems tend to have a lower seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rating (which could be 8 SEER or less for systems built before 1991) than their newer counterparts (which offer 13 SEER or above). Pairing an older unit with a newer one could rob the newer half of its projected energy efficiency, resulting in higher energy consumption and higher utility bills throughout the summer months.
According to the US Department of Energy, completely replacing your current AC system with a newer, more energy-efficient model can reduce your cooling costs by up to 40 percent.
2. Mixed Systems Aren't as Reliable
Today's central AC systems are designed to live a relatively long life. A brand-new AC system can offer anywhere from 12 to 15 years of reliable service with proper maintenance and upkeep. However, this average lifespan can be cut short when you mix old AC equipment with a newer unit.
For starters, the inefficiencies of the older system can place additional wear and tear on your newer equipment, possibly shortening the lifespan of the newer unit. For this reason, mixed AC systems are more prone to sudden breakdowns and expensive cooling problems than matched AC units.
Don't forget that if one half of your AC system was 10 years old at the time of its replacement, the other half will be the same age. This means that you'll find yourself once again mixing and matching AC equipment within 2 to 5 years. Instead of going through the same issue a few years down the road, you're usually better off replacing both units with a matching set.
3. You'll Benefit from the New Features
Many of today's air-conditioning systems come with technological advancements that make living with your new AC system much easier. These features include two-stage compressors, variable speed blower fan motors and evaporator/condenser coil designs that promote greater operating efficiency. There's a good chance that your older AC system might not have these features available.
4. A Mixed System Might Cost More in the Long Run
If you think you're getting savings from a half-done AC replacement, think again. The increased stress of a mixed AC system and its increased energy consumption could make such an AC system expensive over a long period.
Although HomeAdvisor reports that the average cost of a typical AC system repair is approximately $316, those costs could double or even triple when you're dealing with a mismatched system. Combine that with the increasing frequency of repairs, and whatever cost savings derived from a half-replaced system could be wiped out by frequent and necessary repairs.
5. Mixing and Matching Could Void Your Warranty
In some cases, replacing only half of your current central AC system could severely limit or even void your warranty. Many warranties feature clauses and other language that allow manufacturers to void warranties on HVAC equipment that's not being used as intended. Using the indoor half of a new system with an older outdoor half (or vice versa) could end up voiding both warranties or at least make it significantly harder to make a warranty claim.
To get your new AC installed, contact a company like Allied Mechanical & Electrical, Inc.