Replacing Only the Outdoor AC Unit: What You Need To Know

Professional worker replacing outdoor AC unit

Replacing the HVAC system of your home every 10 to 15 years is recommended by the US Department of Energy. However, depending on your HVAC system’s quality and maintenance schedule, your cooling system may last well over 15 years. Scheduling professional HVAC maintenance and tune-ups at least once every six months can help extend the lifespan of your heater or air conditioner. 

It is advisable to do this before the summer and winter seasons. Note that you may need to replace your entire HVAC system sometimes. When it comes to air conditioning units, a common question experts receive among homeowners is, “Can you replace just the outside AC unit?”. Here’s some more information on this topic.

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Is It Possible to Just Replace the Outside Air Conditioning Unit?

HVAC experts caution against it, recommending that when replacing the outside AC unit, also upgrading your indoor unit can deliver optimal performance. Not replacing both units simultaneously can lead to reduced efficiency, frequent breakdowns, and increased cooling costs. 

Replacing indoor and outdoor units can help avoid potential complications and ensure efficiency. Here are more reasons why replacing both at the same time can bring out the best performance.

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Matching Indoor and Outdoor Air Conditioner Coils

HVAC technician looking at AC evaporator coil

The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) stresses the significance of ensuring compatibility between outdoor AC units and their corresponding indoor units (air handlers) for optimal efficiency. This underscores the need for the outdoor unit to be specifically paired with the indoor unit to ensure seamless operation. 

When you choose only to replace the outdoor AC unit, it can result in a mismatched system that may not adequately meet your cooling needs. This mismatch can lead to various problems, such as decreased indoor comfort, potential premature system failure, and higher operating costs due to inefficiency.

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SEER Ratings

SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is crucial for evaluating air conditioner performance. It measures the cooling output over a typical season compared to the annual energy consumption, offering a valuable benchmark for assessing HVAC system efficiency. The minimum SEER standard in the United States, established by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), currently sits at 13.

Higher SEER ratings directly translate to increased efficiency, bringing lower operational costs and a reduced environmental impact throughout the system’s lifespan. However, maximizing efficiency requires synergy between an AC system’s indoor and outdoor units. Replacing only the outdoor unit without ensuring compatibility with the existing indoor unit creates a SEER mismatch, leading to compromised performance and potential issues.

Such mismatched systems often exhibit diminished cooling capacity, increased energy consumption, and a higher susceptibility to mechanical failures. Considering the SEER rating remains paramount when upgrading any HVAC system component to ensure optimal efficiency and avoid unintended consequences.

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Phasing Out R-22 Refrigerant

HVAC innovation is making strides towards sustainability, driven by the global push for eco-friendly solutions. Older systems often rely on R-22 refrigerant, which can harm the ozone layer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Recognizing this environmental threat prompted the industry to transition to safer, more environmentally friendly refrigerants like R-410A in new units.

For homeowners using older units requiring the R-22 systems, upgrading brings double the benefit: improved efficiency and environmental responsibility. Choosing a modern system with compatible indoor and outdoor units ensures optimal performance, avoids potential mismatched system issues, and aligns your home with contemporary green values. It’s a technological upgrade and a step towards a more sustainable future.

AC Unit Manufacturer Warranty

Investing in a new HVAC system guarantees a manufacturer’s warranty, protecting against breakdowns due to factory-installed defects or imperfections. However, if there’s a mismatch between the outdoor and indoor units, this warranty may not be honored, or warranty repairs may be denied by the manufacturer or dealer.

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Cooling System Durability and Maintenance

Professional worker cleaning ceiling indoor AC unit

A properly maintained and matched HVAC system can provide reliable service for over a decade. However, a system with mismatched units may strain to compensate for inefficiencies, significantly shortening its lifespan. Replacing only one unit can disrupt the system’s balance, leading to a premature decline in performance and requiring frequent repairs. To avoid such issues, replacing both the outdoor and indoor units simultaneously is recommended, ensuring system efficiency and durability.

What are the Benefits of Replacing Indoor and Outdoor Air Conditioning Units?

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  1. Cost Savings on Cooling: Regardless of the SEER rating, an improperly matched system can operate inefficiently, leading to higher energy consumption and increased cooling expenses over time.
  2. Enhanced Home Comfort: A properly matched AC unit is more efficient, ensuring effective cooling and improved overall comfort in your home.
  3. HVAC Warranty Coverage: It’s crucial to note that the manufacturer’s warranty only applies when the indoor and outdoor AC units are properly matched. By replacing both units simultaneously, you ensure the validity of the warranty for your new AC system. 

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AC Unit Maintenance Tips

To support a longer lifespan of your air conditioning system and avoid premature replacement, follow these maintenance tips:

  1. Clean and replace the HVAC air filter regularly.
  2. Ensure the fan is working properly.
  3. Install a programmable thermostat for efficient temperature control.
  4. Have a certified professional inspect the condensate drain and clear any clogs as needed.
  5. Ensure proper matching of your AC system components.
  6. Reduce HVAC system operation when not in use by adjusting temperature settings.
  7. Conduct routine checks on your HVAC system.
  8. Schedule an annual AC unit tune-up in the spring, just before summer.

While these measures may not guarantee system failure prevention, they are likely to extend the life of your HVAC unit, improve efficiency, and reduce cooling expenses. Whether it’s installation, repair, or general queries, contact our team of experts for help. Our experienced technicians have ample expertise in air conditioning unit maintenance.

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These are several reasons why replacing your outdoor and indoor AC units simultaneously is recommended. It’s important to understand that units from different manufacturers are deemed mismatched, even if they share the same SEER rating. To ensure proper matching of your HVAC system, it’s advisable to seek the services of a qualified HVAC contractor to replace both your outdoor and indoor units.

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Call Wilcox Energy For Your HVAC Requirements

Wilcox Energy offers top-notch heating and cooling services in Westbrook, Connecticut, and the neighboring areas. Our certified experts are highly skilled and capable of delivering exceptional HVAC tune-ups, repairs, installations, and replacements. Each technician is equipped to service your HVAC system properly.

Wilcox Energy offers the most competitive heating and cooling service rates in the area. Our maintenance services can improve energy efficiency, enhance comfort, and reduce home heating and cooling expenses. For your HVAC repair or system replacement needs, reach out to us for expert recommendations tailored to your home and budget. All our work is backed by a satisfaction guarantee. To schedule a service appointment or complimentary in-home estimates, contact Wilcox Energy today.

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