The U.S. Department of Energy highly encourages that you replace your HVAC system every 10 or 15 years. However, if you have a high-quality and well-maintained system, your unit can last over 15 years.
If you want your air conditioner to last for a long time, it’s best to schedule professional maintenance and tune-ups at least once every six months. It’s also best to do this before the summer and winter seasons, as these are the months when your HVAC system has to work the most.
In most cases, however, you may need to replace your whole HVAC unit once it gets damaged. But when it comes to air conditioner replacements, homeowners tend to ask “Can you replace just the outside AC unit?”, probably as a means to save money from a full air conditioner replacement.
So in this article, we’re going to talk about exactly that.
Can You Just Replace The Outside Air Conditioning Unit?
- 1 Can You Just Replace The Outside Air Conditioning Unit?
- 2 Benefits Of Replacing Indoor And Outdoor Air Conditioning Units
- 3 Tips To Maintain Your Air Conditioner
- 4 Call PFO Heating & Air Conditioning For All Of Your HVAC Requirements
Let’s start by answering the question.
The simplest answer to this would be NO.
If you wish to replace the outside air conditioning unit, experts would highly recommend that you replace the indoor unit, as well. Though this means that the decision is highly up to you. However, when you replace the indoor unit alone, you will experience:
- Reduced efficiency
- Regular failures
- Increased cooling costs
Other than that, here are other reasons why you should replace both units at the same time.
Indoor And Outdoor Air Conditioner Coils Need To Match
The first reason you have to replace both units at the same time is that they need to match.
According to the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, or AHRI, the air conditioners’ outdoor units (condensers) can only work with specific indoor units (air handlers). This means that the two should match to ensure maximum efficiency.
In other words, if you replace just the outdoor unit of your air conditioner, you’ll end up with a mismatched system. What’s wrong with mismatched systems is that they can’t meet your cooling needs like matched systems would.
Mismatched systems are known to be very inefficient, which causes lots of air conditioner problems. Some issues that may occur if you have a mismatched system are reduced indoor comfort, premature system failure, and high operating costs.
The next reason is that the SEER ratings could be different.
The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio Rating or SEER rating refers to the cooling output of an air conditioner over a cooling season compared to the energy consumption per year. This rating is what determines how efficient an HVAC system is.
With that said, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has stated that HVAC systems should have at least a SEER rating of 13 to deem them efficient. However, regardless of how high an air conditioner’s SEER rating is, it will not function efficiently if you just replace the outdoor unit of your air conditioner.
To ensure optimum efficiency, the outdoor and indoor AC units should always be matched, which also means they must have the same SEER rating. If you don’t do this, then you’ll be met with a lot of problems that mismatched systems offer.
The Phaseout Of R-22
R-22 is a refrigerant commonly found in older HVAC models. These chemicals were discovered to be harmful and contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer, as reported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Energy (EPA).
For this reason, HVAC manufacturers have adapted to more eco-friendly designs and materials to preserve the environment. At the same time, the Federal energy laws now require manufacturers to use alternate refrigerants, such as R-410A as it’s safer.
In other words, if your HVAC system still uses R-22 refrigerant, it’s highly recommended to upgrade your unit so that it’s more efficient and safer. However, upgrading only the outdoor unit will make it incompatible with the indoor unit, and you will not be able to use it.
Air Conditioner Manufacturer Warranty
Every new HVAC system comes with a manufacturer’s or factory warranty. This warranty usually covers any breakdowns that the unit has due to defects or flaws. However, if you’ve made upgrades and your system is mismatched, the manufacturer may void the warranty and deny you any repairs.
Premature Cooling System Failure & HVAC Repairs
Replacing only one unit of your air conditioner can cause the whole system to run inefficiently. This leads to premature system failure and frequent HVAC repairs.
To avoid this, it’s best to replace the outdoor and indoor units at the same time.
Mismatched systems don’t usually reach ten years because they tend to overwork to compensate for their efficiency. Whereas well-maintained and matched HVAC systems can still work fine for over 10-15 years.
Benefits Of Replacing Indoor And Outdoor Air Conditioning Units
Here are some major benefits that you can get if you replace your air conditioner’s indoor and outdoor units at the same time.
- Save money on cooling costs: Regardless of the SEER rating, a mismatched system will always be inefficient. And if the system is inefficient, it has to work harder to meet your cooling leads. This increases your energy consumption and bills.
- Better home comfort: Matched air conditioners are highly efficient. They can cool your home the right way, giving you better comfort, especially on very hot days.
- HVAC warranty: The manufacturer’s warranty is valid if you have a matched system. So, if you wish to upgrade or replace your unit, don’t just replace the outdoor part; replace both to get a valid warranty, too.
Tips To Maintain Your Air Conditioner
Maintaining your cooling unit shouldn’t be so hard. Here are some great tips to prevent premature air conditioning system failure and premature AC replacement.
- Clean the HVAC air filter and replace it regularly
- Check the fan and make sure that it’s working correctly
- Install a programmable thermostat
- Ask an expert to check the condenser drain for clogs; if necessary, ask them to unclog it
- Ensure that your air conditioner system is matched
- Reduce or adjust the temperature settings of your HVAC system when you’re not using it
- Perform regular HVAC checks
- Make sure to schedule annual tune-ups right before summer
Do note that these actions will not necessarily prevent your system from failing. However, these are great measures to increase your HVAC unit’s longevity, increase its efficiency, and lower your cooling costs.
For proper HVAC maintenance and repairs, make sure to contact a qualified HVAC contractor that knows and understands every detail concerning air conditioning units’ maintenance.
In this article, we listed several reasons why it’s best to replace your air conditioner’s indoor and outdoor units. And if we sum it all up, it just means that if you only replace your outdoor unit, your system would end up mismatched and inefficient, which will cause you lots of problems.
Another thing that you should note is that even if units have the same SEER rating, they can still be a mismatched system if they came from different manufacturers.
To ensure that your HVAC system is properly matched, always hire a qualified HVAC contractor to replace your air conditioner unit.
Call PFO Heating & Air Conditioning For All Of Your HVAC Requirements
PFO Heating & Air Conditioning offers superior heating and cooling services in the Greater Princeton, NJ area.
We make sure to hire certified HVAC technicians who can provide you with excellent heating and air conditioning services, including tune-ups, repairs, installations, replacements, and more. Each technician has outstanding knowledge and experience to serve your HVAC system needs correctly.
PFO Heating & Air Conditioning guarantees to provide the most competitive heating and cooling service costs in the area. Our maintenance services ensure to improve your comfort, increase your system’s energy efficiency, and reduce your home’s heating and cooling costs.
Need your system repaired or replaced? We’ll recommend the best one for your home that fits within your budget. The best part is, all our work is backed with a guarantee to ensure your satisfaction.
If you wish to schedule a service appointment, give us a call today! We also offer free, in-home estimates. Call now!