Why A Perfect Match Makes Sense For Air Conditioners

When it comes to updating an old air-conditioning system with a newer and more energy efficient model, you're probably wondering why you can't simply just replace part of your A/C system and pocket the savings. While mixing and matching new and old equipment seems harmless and even thrifty, there are plenty of good reasons why your home needs a perfectly-matched system.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

The average air-conditioning system is actually made up of two distinct portions that work in concert with one another to provide cooled air:

  • The indoor evaporator unit, which houses the evaporator coil and air handler
  • The outdoor condenser unit, which contains the compressor, condenser coil and exhaust fan

Copper refrigerant lines run between these two separate halves, delivering refrigerant in both its vapor and liquid states throughout the air-conditioning process. This allows the outdoor unit to be positioned several feet from the house for the best air flow and performance.

Most sources agree that the average A/C unit can last for 15 years or more, depending on the level of maintenance it receives throughout its life. However, there's no guarantee that both the evaporator and condenser unit will fail together. When half of this complete package throws in the towel, it can make for a costly and

Want to Mix It Up? Not So Fast...

So why toss a perfectly good half of an A/C system along with the bad when you can simply replace the failed indoor or outdoor halve and call it a day? As it turns out, there are plenty of downsides to doing just that:

  • The old system's capacity, performance and power requirements won't match up with the new system. This can place stress and strain on both units since one has to work much harder to keep up with the other.
  • Newer A/C systems use modern refrigerants (such as R-410a) that may be incompatible with R-22 and other older refrigerants. As these refrigerants also contain incompatible lubricants, mixing one with the other can reduce cooling effectiveness and eventually cause compressor damage.
  • Even if an older halve manages to work with its newer counterpart, you won't be open to benefit from the energy efficiency gains that a completely brand-new system offers. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, improper installation through mixing and matching A/C units can cut system efficiency by as much as 30 percent.

Replacing only half of your A/C system seems like a money-saving measure, but you'll end up spending more on energy costs and increased maintenance. You'll also face the emergency repairs and eventual prospect of replacing both units later on.

A Matched System is a Match Made in A/C Heaven

The best way to avoid the pit falls of mismatched A/C system is to purchase and install the complete package from the start. Most manufacturers sell both the indoor and outdoor units together, so it doesn't make too much sense to split them apart just to save a few bucks. Not only will you have a reliable, brand-new A/C system, you won't have to count the months, weeks or even days to an eventual failure of the old halve.

You also benefit from the increase in energy efficiency an A/C upgrade offers. Replacing your 10-year-old system with a modern, energy-saving system can save you up to 40 percent of your energy costs throughout the year.

A Special Exception

While the dangers of mixing part of an old A/C unit with a new portion, there's one notable exception or it may be safe to replace one portion of the system while leaving the other intact. If your air conditioner is less than five years old, you may be able to replace half of the system with an exact duplicate.

Keep in mind that this duplicate halve must match the old system's model number, capacity and SEER. It must also be able to use the same exact refrigerant as the old halve. This is the only way you'll be sure to achieve reliable performance without worrying about premature wear and tear or sudden breakdowns. Click here for info about finding professional help.