By: Colton Deck on October 4th, 2022
How to Choose the Right HVAC System for You
So, you’re looking into getting a new HVAC system, but you’re not sure what you need. Determining which HVAC system will work for you depends on you and your home more than any HVAC unit on its own.
At Monkey Wrench Plumbing, Heating & Air, we’ve installed HVAC systems in homes across Southern California, and the one throughline of each experience is that no one install is identical. With so many factors contributing to how an HVAC installation goes, it’s safe to say there is no one right HVAC system for everyone.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- What makes a quality HVAC system
- Factors to consider when choosing an HVAC system for you
Let’s get started with what goes into making a quality HVAC system.
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right HVAC System for You
While much of what makes the best HVAC system hinges on the installation process, it also requires you to assess your needs and reflect thoughtfully on your home.
Factors to consider when choosing an HVAC system include:
The first major decision you’ll need to address is what type of comfort you need. Do you need some relief from the heat or a system more focused on keeping the house warm during harsh winters?
Ultimately, what type of comfort you’re looking for will be a main driving force in what type of system is best for you. Comfort will also factor in when it comes to the pricing since you may prioritize certain components over others.
For instance, if you live in a warmer climate, you might be more inclined to go all-in on your air conditioner unit and go with a more modest furnace or vice versa.
After you’ve assessed the type of comfort you’re looking for, determining which capacity you’ll need is a good next step. Looking at HVAC systems can be a little confusing, but taking note of a system’s capacity is a must.
Capacity refers to the HVAC system's ability to cool and heat a given space. This means that you’ll need to match your HVAC system to your home size to achieve the best results.
For instance, a two-story home’s capacity needs are vastly different than a smaller single-story home.
While you can get an idea of what type of system you might need, it’s best to have a technician come out to get a look at your home. From there, they’ll be able to make a recommendation based on what they observe.
Efficiency is intertwined with capacity. Your HVAC system of choice needs to fulfill a certain capacity to work optimally, but it also needs to be efficient enough to avoid surprise energy bills at the end of the month.
In this instance, efficiency is what it sounds like: your HVAC system’s ability to cool and heat more while consuming less energy.
There are several types of energy efficiency ratings to keep an eye on when choosing HVAC components like an air conditioner, furnace, or heat pump:
- Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE)
- Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER)
- Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF)
Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE)
Furnaces are rated by the AFUE standard. AFUE measures the amount of heat produced on the dollar for fuel. If you find a system with a high AFUE rating, then your fuel bills will be less than that of a system with a low AFUE.
AFUE ratings are measured from 0% to 100% with a higher percentage denoting a more efficient unit. Typically, a high-efficiency unit hits around 90% or higher, while a mid-range rating hovers around 80%.
Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER)
Switching to cooling, SEER is used to rate air conditioners and alternatives like heat pumps that also cool. SEER signifies the ratio of cooling over a cooling-heavy season divided by the total amount of energy used in Watt-hours.
SEER ratings for modern air conditioners start at 13 and can continue into the 20s, depending on the brand. The higher the rating, the more efficient the unit, leading to lower energy costs. Anything above a 13 will net decent performance.
Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF)
Specific to heat pumps, HSPF is used to gauge the efficiency of a unit’s heating component during a heating season. This rating resembles SEER ratings in how it is measured and how a higher rating means higher efficiency.
A high-efficiency heat pump is rated around a 9 or 10, with a minimum nationwide standard of 8.2.
After considering the efficiency of your new HVAC, its warranty should be scrutinized. Having a strong warranty that doesn’t make you jump through any hoops is a must.
While there are many 5-10 year warranties, they’re limited. Even the lifetime warranties are limited. Some warranties will cover parts but require you to pay for labor yourself. It can be a lot of runaround, so make sure you check out each unit’s warranty before going all-in.
5. Accessibility of parts
Your parts being covered by warranty is great, but what happens if it’s winter and your HVAC’s heating element requires a brand name part and can’t accept a universal alternative? You could be stuck waiting on the part for weeks while winter goes into full swing.
While most units accept universal parts, brands like Lennox do not. If you’re in Southern California this wouldn’t be a big deal since Lennox hosts a large hub nearby. But for someone in Utah, this could pose a greater inconvenience and derail day-to-day life.
Cost is a major consideration when going all in on any investment. Ultimately, cost plays a large role in determining which HVAC system is right for you.
While there are other factors to consider, the cost is the first barrier to entry you’ll have to address before looking at other considerations like capacity and efficiency.
If you can’t afford the system that is right for you, it’s best to wait until you can make the investment. While the cheapest option is the most tempting, it’s best to wait until you can go all-in on the HVAC system that will fit your home’s needs to avoid performance issues.
What Makes a Quality HVAC System
There’s no one-size-fits-all HVAC system that can be considered the best. Instead, the answer is slightly more open, but there is one factor that matters most: quality installation.
Ensuring your HVAC system is installed by a trusted technician is key to achieving the best HVAC system for your home. There are plenty of things that can go wrong during an installation that can hamper the efficiency and overall longevity of your system, but a qualified technician will avoid these pitfalls entirely.
A few issues skilled professionals will be able to avoid include:
- Incorrect sizing
- Drainage issues
- Poor exhaust
If you want the best HVAC, be sure to choose a service provider you can trust. About 95% of an HVAC’s longevity comes from the quality of the installation.
So, How Can You Choose the HVAC System for Your Home?
While there’s no one-size-fits-all HVAC system, we’ve touched on how installation plays a pivotal role in your HVAC performance, longevity, and compatibility. We also broke down how taking several factors into consideration will ensure you find the best fit for your home.
Now, you can start the process of determining which HVAC system is for you rather than trying to wade through the information and ratings by yourself.
At Monkey Wrench, we understand that everyone’s needs are different. While we invite you to visit our HVAC services page, we ultimately want you to choose the best service provider for your needs so that you can get the best HVAC system for you.
If you’re not sure how much an HVAC system costs, be sure to brush up so you can go into your consultation confidently. Check out the best smart thermostats of 2022 as well to make sure you find the right model for you. Smart thermostat rebates are also available for Los Angeles County residents.