CALL US: 813-997-3140

How to Choose the Right AC for Your Florida Home

Last Updated on April 6, 2024 by Eric

Choosing the right AC? It’s like picking the right car.

You want something that’s reliable, doesn’t drink fuel like there’s no tomorrow, and gets you from point A (hot, sticky, and uncomfortable) to point B (cool, dry, and relaxed) with minimal fuss.

And just like cars, not every AC unit is built for the same purpose. Some are like sports cars, great for quick cooling but maybe not the best for efficiency.

Others are like solid family SUVs—reliable, efficient, and can handle the whole house without breaking a sweat.

Then you have everything in between.

Now, why make such a fuss about efficiency and cost-effectiveness?

Well, here in Central Florida, your AC system is a lifeline. But keeping it running shouldn’t mean you have to cut back on other essentials.

Each and every dollar you save on your energy bill is a dollar you can spend on something fun, like a day fishing in Tampa Bay or a nice dinner in Wesley Chapel. And at Redeemed Air, we’re all about finding that sweet spot where perfect comfort meets cost savings for you.

So, as we look closer at the different types of AC installation, think about what you really need. Are you trying to cool a small ranch home or a large estate? Do you live in a newer, well-insulated house, or was your place built before better insulation was the norm?

These details matter because they’re going to help us pinpoint the perfect AC that doesn’t just blast cold air but does it so efficiently you’ll be chilling in comfort, wondering why you ever put up with anything less. In short, we’re here to make sure you get the most bang for your buck, staying cool without freezing your bank account. Let’s break things down, find you the best fit, and turn your home into the kind of cool oasis where the Florida heat is just a distant memory.

Types of Air Conditioning Systems

Central Air Conditioning

The most popular choice for whole-house cooling, central air conditioning, is practically a staple in Florida homes. It’s ideal for cooling large spaces efficiently in the humid Florida climate.

At the heart of a central AC system is a sophisticated setup that includes an outdoor compressor unit, which plays a crucial role in the refrigeration cycle, and an indoor evaporator coil usually situated within the furnace or air handler. This system operates on the principle of heat exchange—drawing warm indoor air through return ducts, cooling it over the evaporator coil, and then recirculating the cooled air back into the living spaces through a series of ducts and vents strategically placed throughout the home. It’s great for uniform cooling, but can be on the pricier side for installation and operation.

How to Choose the Right AC for Your Florida Home

This initial financial commitment is offset over time by the system’s durability, its capacity to cool large areas efficiently, and the potential to increase home resale value. Operational costs can be managed through regular maintenance, such as changing air filters and scheduling annual service check-ups, to ensure the system runs at peak efficiency.

Choosing the right central A/C system involves considerations beyond just the square footage of the home. Factors such as the layout, insulation quality, window size, and even the home’s orientation affect the cooling requirements. Professional AC installers near you can perform detailed calculations to determine the most appropriate size and configuration of the system, ensuring that it is perfectly suited to the home’s specific needs—maximizing efficiency and comfort.

Pros:

  • Efficient for large homes
  • Cools evenly throughout the house
  • Works well in high humidity

Cons:

  • High upfront cost
  • Requires ductwork, which might not be feasible in all homes

Ductless Mini-Split Systems

These systems are perfect for homes without existing ductwork or for adding air conditioning to new additions without connecting to the central system. Each unit operates independently, allowing for zoned cooling and heating.

How to Choose the Right AC for Your Florida Home

Ductless mini-split AC systems consist of an outdoor compressor/condenser unit connected to one or more indoor air-handling units, with each pair operating as a separate zone. This configuration not only simplifies installation by eliminating the need for extensive ductwork but also provides the flexibility to target specific areas for cooling or heating.

Each indoor unit can be controlled independently, allowing for personalized temperature settings in different rooms or areas. This means you can keep the bedroom cool and comfortable for sleeping without chilling the entire house, leading to enhanced comfort and energy efficiency.

Pros:

  • Flexible installation options
  • Energy-efficient, especially for smaller spaces or specific zones in your home
  • Quiet
  • No ductwork needed, excellent for retrofitting older buildings or extending comfort to newly constructed home additions

Cons:

  • Can be more expensive upfront per unit compared to central systems
  • Not as visually discreet as other options

Heat Pumps

Florida’s mild winters make heat pumps an efficient choice for both heating and cooling homes. Unlike more traditional heating systems that generate heat by burning fuel or using electric resistance, heat pumps work by transferring heat from one place to another.

During the summer, they extract heat from inside the house and release it outdoors, effectively cooling the interior. In the cooler months, they do the opposite, extracting heat from the outdoor air (even on cold days, there’s still some heat energy available) and moving it inside to warm the house.

Pros:

  • Efficient cooling and heating in one system
  • Lower operating costs compared to traditional heating methods
  • Environmentally friendly

Cons:

  • Not as effective in areas with freezing winter temperatures
  • Higher initial investment than traditional AC units

Efficiency Ratings: SEER and EER

When picking an AC unit, efficiency is key—especially in a place like Florida, where the AC is practically running year-round. More efficient units use less energy to keep your home cool. This translates to lower electricity bills for you. Over the lifetime of your AC, we’re talking about a significant chunk of change in savings.

Look for two main ratings:

  • SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio): Measures the cooling output during a typical cooling-season divided by the total electric energy input. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the unit. For Florida homes, aim for a SEER rating of at least 15.
  • EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio): Indicates the efficiency with which the system converts electricity into cooling under specific conditions. It is calculated by dividing the cooling capacity (in British Thermal Units or BTUs) by the power input (in watts) at a given time. Unlike SEER, which averages out efficiency over a season, EER gives you a snapshot of how efficient your AC unit is at a particular moment under specific temperature and humidity conditions. This rating is particularly useful for assessing how well an AC performs during the hottest days when the system is likely running at full capacity. Like SEER, higher is better.

And let’s not overlook the perks that come with high-efficiency AC units. They often feature some advanced tech—like variable speed fans and compressors. This isn’t just about innovation for the sake of it. These features enhance your comfort by keeping your home’s temperature steady and do so quietly. Plus, using less energy means you’re doing your part for the planet by cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions.

So, when you’re weighing your options for an AC unit, paying attention to SEER and EER ratings isn’t just about ticking boxes. It’s a thoughtful choice that might cost a bit more upfront but can offer real benefits down the line, like reduced energy bills, a more comfortable living environment, and a smaller carbon footprint.

Sizing It Right

Getting the size of your air conditioner right is crucial. In short, too small, and your unit will struggle to cool your home, running up your energy bill. Too large, and it will cycle on and off too frequently, wearing down the system and inefficiently managing humidity. Neither scenario is good for your comfort or your wallet.

If Your A/C is Too Small for Your House/Space

If your AC unit is too small for the area it’s supposed to cool, it’s going to be running non-stop trying to keep up. This constant operation can significantly increase your energy bills because the unit has to work overtime. Moreover, because it’s always running, it’s likely never quite achieving the cool, comfortable environment you’re after. In essence, a too-small unit is inefficient, both in terms of energy use and cooling performance.

If Your A/C is Too Large for Your House/Space

On the flip side, an AC unit that’s too large for your space isn’t any better. When an AC is too powerful for the area, it will cool the space quickly and then shut off, a process known as short-cycling. While this might sound efficient, it actually isn’t. AC units use the most energy when they start up, so frequent cycling can lead to excessive energy consumption. Moreover, because the unit isn’t running long enough, it fails to adequately remove humidity from the air, leaving your space feeling damp and clammy. This can also contribute to the wear and tear of the AC system, potentially shortening its lifespan.

Calculating the Right Size

The rule of thumb is that you need about 20 British Thermal Units (BTU) of cooling capacity for every square foot of living space. This estimation provides a basic guideline, but it’s just the starting point, especially in a place like Florida.

Additional Considerations for Florida Homes:

  • High Humidity: Florida’s humidity levels are higher than in many other parts of the country. This means your AC needs to work harder to remove moisture from the air to achieve comfortable living conditions.
  • Intense Sunlight and Heat: The high temperatures, especially during the long summer months, require a unit that can handle prolonged periods of operation without overstressing the system.
  • Room Characteristics: Florida homes are “built different”—literally. Factors such as ceiling height, window size and exposure to sunlight, insulation quality, and even the number of occupants can affect the cooling requirements of a space.

Due to these factors, the standard BTU calculation may need to be adjusted upwards to ensure your unit can effectively cool your home without being overburdened by the demands of the local climate.

Consulting with an A/C Installation Service

Given the unique considerations for homes in Florida, it’s advisable to consult with HVAC professionals before making a final decision. A professional local AC installer near you can conduct a thorough assessment of your home, considering not just the square footage, but also the architectural nuances, the home’s orientation, shading, insulation levels, and even lifestyle factors like the heat generated from cooking or electronics.

This complex approach, often referred to as a Manual J calculation, requires precise measurements and detailed knowledge about HVAC and building science. The major benefit is that it ultimately ensures that you select an AC unit that’s perfectly tailored to your home’s specific needs, ensuring efficiency, comfort, and longevity of the system.

So while the 20 BTU per square foot rule offers a good baseline, the complexities of climate, home design, and individual preferences in places like Florida make professional input invaluable in choosing the right AC unit.

How to Choose the Right AC for Your Florida Home

Further Local Considerations for Central Florida

If you live in this part of Central Florida—say, Wesley Chapel, Zephyrhills, or anywhere in the Tampa Bay vicinity—then you know all too well that the humidity can be just as challenging as the heat. And let’s not even start on the salt air for those living closer to the coastline. That sea breeze might feel nice on your skin, but it’s no friend to your AC unit.

It’s not just finding an AC unit that can bring down the temperature—they can all do that. It’s selecting a unit that can tackle that sticky, heavy air efficiently and make your home feel comfortable, not just cooler.

Dealing with Humidity

So, what’s a Floridian to do? Keep an eye out for AC units that come equipped with features specifically designed to manage humidity. Variable speed fans and built-in dehumidifiers are your best friends here. These are essential for ensuring your home doesn’t just get cool but feels cool.

Variable speed fans adjust their speed to maintain consistent airflow and temperature, which, in turn, helps in controlling humidity levels more efficiently than a standard on/off system. Built-in dehumidifiers work to pull excess moisture from the air, which is practically a must-have in our climate.

Battling the Salt Air

For those living closer to the coast, the salty air can accelerate corrosion and wear on your AC unit. It’s not just a matter of if but when the elements will start to take their toll. But don’t worry, there’s a solution for that too.

Consider AC units designed with corrosion resistance in mind. These models might come with a higher upfront cost, but they’re more durable and better suited to withstand the harsh coastal FL conditions.

Warranty and Installation

A solid warranty can be a lifesaver, offering peace of mind and protection against unexpected malfunctions or issues. It’s one of those things you might not appreciate until you need it, but boy, will you be glad to have it when the Florida heat kicks into overdrive.

And professional AC installation? Non-negotiable. Even the best AC unit won’t perform to its full potential if it’s not installed correctly. This involves more than just setting up the unit; it’s about ensuring it’s properly sized and optimized for your specific space and needs. A professional AC installer will take into account everything from your home’s layout to its insulation quality, making sure your AC is as efficient and effective as possible.

The Bottom Line

How to Choose the Right AC for Your Florida Home

In closing, finding the ideal AC system for our homes here in the heart of Florida can be quite the journey. It’s about more than just beating the heat. We’re up against a slew of challenges—taming that pesky humidity, guarding against the relentless salt air, and making sure everything’s set up perfectly from the get-go.

We encourage you to take your time with this process. Do your homework, ask plenty of questions, and seek advice from professionals who specialize in AC installation near you who know our local weather’s quirks inside and out, and can help you choose an AC solution that will confront the Central Florida climate head-on.

Stay Cool with Redeemed Air!

At Redeemed Air, excellence in air conditioning installation isn’t just what we do—it’s our commitment. We select only the best AC equipment, ensuring that every unit we install is a paragon of reliability, efficiency, and longevity. With us, your comfort throughout the year is guaranteed.

Our experienced team of HVAC technicians brings unparalleled expertise to every project. Understanding that each home and business has its unique demands, we’re here to collaborate closely with you. Together, we’ll come up with a plan that not only aligns with your financial considerations—but also perfectly matches your individual cooling needs.

Ready for the perfect blend of cool comfort and exceptional service? Reach out to Redeemed Air today to schedule a consultation. Click here to contact us—Or click here to schedule a free estimate to replace your A/C!