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  • Writer's pictureStacy Gentry

A Homeowner's Guide to Home Cooling Options

The need for a new AC system may require some advance planning and research, especially if you aren't sure what type of unit would be best for your home. You have three main options for efficient cooling — evaporative coolers, central units, and mini-split systems. Take the time to learn about each so you can make an informed decision.

Evaporative Cooler

Evaporative coolers are often referred to as swamp coolers. They are a popular option in desert climates because they add some much needed moisture into the air in your home.

The Basics

Swamp coolers can cool a home by up to 15 degrees while using very little energy. The air is cooled with the help of damp pads inside the cooler. A fan blows air across the wet pads, resulting in cooler air. This air also contains some moisture, which raises the humidity level in an otherwise dry desert home.

The entire process requires very little energy, so swamp coolers can also be considered an energy-efficient alternative to other home cooling methods.

Special Considerations

You must live in a dry climate, as a swamp cooler will not work well during periods of high humidity. If you have a duct system, a roof-mounted down-flow cooler is an option. For homes without ducts, there are plug-in versions that are designed to cool a single room. As an added benefit, both down-flow and room units tend to be more cost effective to install than central air conditioning.

As for maintenance, the pads should be removed and cleaned annually before shutting the unit down for winter and replaced every three to five years. The water tray and drain lines also require periodic cleaning.

Central AC

A central AC unit is often celebrated as the pinnacle in home cooling. These units keep your entire home at exactly the temperature you set it to, so comfort is rarely an issue.

The Basics

Central AC systems can be stand alone, or they may be integrated into a full HVAC system that also includes a furnace. Air is drawn in to an outdoor condenser unit. The air is cooled as it passes across the coils, which contain a refrigerant. The cool air is then circulated through the home via your duct system.

Special Considerations

This option can be the most expensive, especially for an initial installation. The cost goes up if you need ductwork installed. The main benefit is the superior cooling that is provided by a central AC system.

Regular filter changes and condenser fin cleaning and repair must also be considered in the maintenance costs and efforts required to maintain the unit.

Mini-Split System

No ducts, no problem! A mini-split system is sometimes called a ductless AC. As the name implies, your home doesn't need existing ductwork to take advantage of this system.

The Basics

A mini-split system consists of two components — the exterior condenser unit and the interior air exchanger. The condenser is placed on an outside wall. An air hose is run from the condenser and into the ceiling of your home. Exchanger units are installed inside the room(s) to be cooled, near the ceiling. The air hose is then hooked up to these units. The installer only needs to drill small holes to pass the lines and electrical wiring through.

Special Considerations

You may need multiple condenser units for larger homes. Generally, mini-split systems are set up in zones, with each zone consisting of one condenser for every two room exchanger units.

The ability to cool different parts of the home to varying levels can increase individual comfort and decrease energy costs, since you won't have to cool rooms you don’t use.

Contact Ables Mechanical to learn more about your home cooling options.

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