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Installing Central AC in an Old House? Here’s What You Need to Know

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Installing an air conditioner for the first time in an older home can be a bit overwhelming. That's why we've compiled some valuable information to help you understand the crucial details of central AC installation.

You'll need to consider what size unit your home requires, whether an air duct system will need to be installed along with the unit, and how much the total cost of the installation will be. Continue reading for more information on what you need to know to install central AC in your home successfully.

Size Really Does Matter

“selectright”When it comes to buying a new AC unit for your home, size does indeed matter. But how can you tell what size unit would be best for your home? The first thing you should know about AC unit sizes is that AC systems are measured in tons- no, not the weight. The "ton" in AC unit measurement is the name for the measure of a units ability to cool.

Residential AC units range from 1.5 ton to 5-ton units. If for any reason, your home requires more than a 5-ton cooling unit, you'll have to install two smaller units. For example, if a 6-ton unit is required, two 3 ton units would need to work in tandem to make it up.

So how do you measure what size AC unit your home needs? There are a few formulas that can be used to calculate the best tonnage based on square footage. The simplest one is as follows:

Sq Ft of home x 30 / 12000 + 1

In areas prone to higher temperatures, you may want to add 0 instead of 1, to size up on your unit. Installing an improperly sized unit can lead to your unit short cycling if it’s too big, not cooling your home sufficiently if it’s too small, and in all cases, run up your electric bill.

Ductwork Doesn’t Need to be a Dealbreaker!

“noducts”Don't want to spend the money or effort to install a whole new duct system into your home? Good news- you don't have to! If your home doesn't have a duct system, you may want to consider ductless mini-split air conditioning. In a mini-split system, multiple fan coil cooling units can be connected to a single unit outside, through refrigerant lines.

While mini-split systems are a bit pricey, costing as much as 30% more than a traditional unit, they can save you thousands of dollars on duct installation. In the long run, mini-split systems can also save you money by cooling your home more efficiently, since with no ducts you won’t be losing 25-30% of your cool air to your attic or crawl spaces.

It Costs Less Than You Think!

“averagecost”That's right! Installing a new AC unit in your home can cost as little as $3,500 to $4,000, including the unit itself and installation.

The final price of the installation will, of course, depend on the type of unit you decide to install, whether or not your ducts also need to be replaced, and the company you hire.

One final thing to keep in mind about installing central AC is that you don't want to sacrifice quality to save money.