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Air Conditioner Comparison Guide

What does “Ton” Mean?

Ton is the capacity of a cooling unit. Your home dictates the size required. You can be 1⁄2 ton bigger without causing any issues to performance or life span.

There are a few ways for calculating ac sizing. The most accurate being a heat gain (manual J). Ballpark/rule of thumb calculations can be achieved via counting the vents and/or internal square footage.

1 Ton of cooling can remove 12,000 btu/hr
Cool up to 700 sq. ft. on a traditional modern home.

Air conditioning requires 3-4 supply and at least 1 16” return run per ton of cooling.

What does “SEER” Mean?

S.E.E.R stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio/rating. Simply put, it is a scale, like MPG on a car. It’s the maximum potential efficiency the unit can achieve. This is not guaranteed but potential performance.

In today's market, units range from 13 - 26 seer ratings.

In our region (Southern Alberta) 13, 14.5 and 16 seer are popular choices. 13 accounting for the most common choice.

Higher the SEER rating...
  • higher the purchase price
  • less electricity used
  • quieter the unit
  • more self-protection technology
  • typically a bigger unit
Facts to consider
  • Maintaining 20-21 degrees normally means 500 hours of run time over 4 months of summer in our region. (Ontario 3000 hours).
  • We only pay approx. 5 cents per kwh (Ontario 18 cents)
  • Based on these stats. A 16-seer unit saves us approx. $2.50 a month or $10 a year! There are other reasons for purchasing a 16-seer unit but utility savings isn’t top of the list.

14.5 SEER Confusion Explained

Alberta building code 9.36 states that any home built after Nov 1st 2016 must install a 14.5 seer unit or higher!

This is a building code and not an electrical code. Air conditioner installations require a city electrical inspection (insurance and home resale purposes).

Key Components To Your Air Conditioner

Evaporator Coil - the part of an air conditioner system that absorbs the heat from the air in your house. It is located above the furnace.

Cased Coil for AC

Cased Coil (Recommended)

  • Designed to match your/any furnace
  • Guarantees max airflow. (helps achieve seer rating)
  • Achieves max performance out of furnace and air conditioner
  • Easier to access for inspection and proper cleaning
  • Insulated cabinet so more cooling / less noise
  • More expensive then uncased coils but better
Un-Cased Coil for AC

Un-Cased Coil (Not recommended)

  • Installed in ductwork above furnace
  • Can not access to clean properly
  • Possible air flow loss
  • No insulation around the coil
  • Overall not recommended by us

Aluminum Coil for AC

Aluminum Coil (Recommended)

  • Avoids corrosion (*formicary)
  • Lasts longer
  • All manufacturers make them
  • NEW Industry standard
Copper Coil for AC

Copper Coil (Not recommended)

  • Leaks within 3-5 years (*formicary corrosion)
  • Major issues. Class action lawsuits
  • 3rd party manufacturers still make them
  • Some local contractors still using them
  • OLD Industry standard (cheaper)

*Formicary corrosion​ is caused by a chemical reaction requiring three parts: oxygen, water, and an organic acid. If any of the three parts are removed there can't be any further ​formicary corrosion. Formicary corrosion only occurs in copper based alloys.

thermostatic expansion valve for AC

TXV (thermostatic expansion valve)

  • Supplies optimum amount of refrigerant no matter the weather situation
  • Achieves max performance
  • Increases SEER rating
  • Can be 3rd party bolt-on or installed from factory (factory option better)
  • Costs more
Piston (fixed orifice) for AC

Piston (fixed orifice)

  • Supplies only one quantity of refrigerant
  • Not ideal but okay
  • Less moving parts
  • Doesn’t achieve max performance out of equipment
  • Keeps upfront costs down

Condenser Unit

The Condenser unit is the outside unit where heat from inside the home gets removed. The hot air gets expelled out the top or side of the unit. Air flow is crucial to its performance.

Condenser Unit for AC

High Quality Units will have:

  • Have heavy duty louvered shrouds and hail protection
  • Spine fin condensers not micro channel!
  • Long lasting powder coated paint
  • Self-diagnostic hardware components
  • Unique DuraTuffTM non-corrosive base pan
  • Quality/efficient fans
  • Scroll compressors (not rotary or reciprocating)
Condenser Unit Self diagnostic hardware components
Condenser Unit High/low pressure switches
Condenser Unit efficient fan

AC Condenser Pad

Condenser Pad

  • Okay when ground is level, and landscaping completed. (homes older than 3 years)
  • Unit can be manipulated and moved around a little
  • Unit sits in the snow
  • Can become uneven overtime affecting longevity and performance - (heavy clay concentrated areas)

AC Condenser Bracket

Condenser Brackets (Recommended)

  • A must with uneven ground or newer home as the ground is settling
  • Solid application
  • Up out of the snow
  • No vibrations or sound when installed by professionals
  • Not always possible. Need 18 inches of concrete foundation

AC Condenser Optional Slim Units

Optional Slim Units

  • Very quiet
  • Small footprint
  • No height restrictions above unit
  • Designed for townhomes, condos, infills and side by sides
  • Cost more than traditional units.

AC Slim Ducting

Slim Ducting

  • Hides ugly line set and electrical conduit
  • When long exterior runs required
  • Used for interior applications too - when exposed pipes are necessary
  • Cleaner, nicer looking install
  • $150 per 10-20 feet

AC Site Glass

Refrigerant Site Glass

  • Makes the invisible VISIBLE. Quality assurance device
  • Proves we did a great job installing your AC - transparency
  • Blue is good / Pink is bad
  • Proper vacuum achieved and no moisture or contaminants in the system
  • Preventative maintenance tool to show a proper charge
  • $18 part but invaluable to homeowner

Quality Installation

Quality of installation varies from contractor to contractor and installer to installer. Not all contractors are equal.

Installation is more important than the brand of the unit, though that is important too. But not as important as the installer.

The equipment will only perform as well as it is installed!

We recommend the 4 key items for the BEST installation no matter what company or brands you go with

  • Aluminum Cased evaporator coil installed
  • Brackets installed with vibration foam underneath the condensing units
  • Thermal Thimble installed
  • Refrigerant level site glass installed

What Makes a Good AC Installation

An AC Unit on Brackets

How to Insure Your Air Conditioning System is Installed Correctly - Saving You Money in the Long Run.

read More About AC Installation Guide