In a split air conditioner, the refrigeration system is composed of two main units. The indoor unit located with the air handler contains the evaporator coil that is responsible for removing heat from your home. The outdoor unit contains the compressor and condenser coil that transfers the gained heat to the exterior air. Both units have fans, and are connected by a conduit containing the refrigeration line.
The indoor and outdoor sides of your split air conditioner generally have the same expected service life, so they are usually replaced the way they were purchased, as a single system. However, premature equipment failure or an accident resulting in the destruction of one of the units, such as storm damage to the outdoor unit, may create a situation where it might seem reasonable to replace just the damaged unit.
Whether or not this is a good idea will depend on whether a suitable match for the undamaged unit can be found. There are a number of problems that can arise if poorly matched units are used, including:
- Poor energy efficiency
- Excessive wear leading to early breakage
- Poor humidity removal
- Decreased cooling capacity
Your HVAC contractor should be able to tell you what units are suitable matches, but at minimum the two sides should be designed and engineered to use the same refrigerant and have similar energy efficiency ratings. The federal government has implemented changes in both these areas in the past decade, so finding a match for some units could be challenging. Production of the old refrigerant (R-22, sometimes called “Freon”) is being phased out because of its negative effects on the atmosphere. Newer air conditioners have been designed to run using a replacement refrigerant that’s less harmful to the environment. Environmental concerns were also part of the reasoning behind the increase of the minimum energy efficiency standards implemented in 2006. Central air conditioners manufactured since then have had to have a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rating of 13 or higher.
The difficulty in finding a suitable match for the ailing component of your A/C very likely will result in a situation where your best bet is upgrading to a new cooling system. The good news here is that upgrading will result in much greater energy efficiency and improved cooling performance.
For help with a split air conditioner or any other home comfort issues, please contact the professionals at Rinaldi’s Energy Solutions. We’ve been committed to providing quality service to residents throughout the Greater Orlando area since 1969.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Orlando, Florida and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about split air conditioners and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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