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Your Split Air Conditioning System: Why the 2 Sides Need to Match Up

Posted on July 30, 2013

What happens when only one component of your split air conditioning system starts to give you trouble? While you might assume that the solution is to simply replace the ailing component, the answer is actually more complex than that. Here’s why properly matching the indoor and outdoor units of your split system A/C is so important.

Why must the components of a split air conditioning system match?

The indoor and outdoor units of your A/C (evaporator/air handler and condenser/compressor, respectively) were designed to work together to maximize system efficiency and effectiveness. If you attempt to replace one half of your system with a component that’s not compatible with your current equipment, you’ll end up wasting energy and possibly creating the need for expensive repairs. In order to be considered a good match, your A/C condenser/compressor and evaporator/air handler must have two things in common: SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) ratings and refrigerant.

  • SEER – Some homeowners make the mistake of believing that installing a new high-SEER unit to work with a lower-efficiency unit will raise overall system efficiency. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. Because each unit varies in efficiency, the equipment will struggle against each other, raising utility bills and putting undue stress on your system. In order to run efficiently, the SEER ratings must match. This will always be the case when you buy an entire new system, rather than just trying to upgrade half your current A/C. If your current equipment has a SEER of less than 13, you won’t be able to find a newly made matching component anyway. Today’s cooling equipment is required to have a minimum SEER rating of 13, so you’ll need to upgrade your whole system.
  • Refrigerant – The replacement component also will need to use the same refrigerant formula as your existing system. This isn’t likely to happen if your air conditioner is older than three years, since most A/C units manufactured before 2010 used R-22 refrigerant, and cooling systems made since that time use a less environmentally harmful formula, R-410A. Mismatched system components can decrease system efficiency and can even lead to premature system failure.

For advice on replacing your split air conditioning system, please contact us at Comfort Systems. We serve the greater Wichita area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Wichita, Kansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about split air conditioning systems and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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