The months of July and August may only represent 1/6th of an entire year but try surviving this period without air conditioning and they turn into the longest, most torturous months of the year. What was a nurturing Sun throughout the Spring now beats mercilessly on homes, turning our shelter into swelter.
First and foremost, it is important to point out air conditioning has everything to do with electricity and vice versa. Even an antiquated fan blowing across the top of a block of ice requires electrical energy. Electricity does not create the refrigeration effect (other processes accomplish this) but it drives the motors that power the cooling equipment that does. Without electricity, there is no AC as we now know it.
As an example of how integral the two are to one another, consider as the summer wears on and the AC demand increases, strained electrical grids are stretched to maximum capacity. These fragile grids begin to teeter at the breaking point threatening rolling brown and black outs which ultimately put a ‘freeze’ on life as we know it (at least for a night or two). And still our demand for cooler indoor climes is ever increasing.
What Types of Air Conditioning Can You Choose? No Sweat!
Choices come down to six basic methods: window units, portable, ductless systems, central air, Geothermal and Hybrid AC. So many important decisions go into the mix when choosing which system is best for your needs and not all are driven by budgetary concerns. Efficiency and environmental friendliness are a few of today’s criteria we need to keep in mind. Energy consumption by air conditioning equipment will be your household’s largest annual footprint on the grid so informed decisions are paramount.
Here is a quick review of each air conditioning method.
While window units provide a quick and economical way to cool us down, they pose a greater risk of overloading existing home circuits. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in a study dated 2012, roughly 1200 home fires are caused by window units annually. Although tripped circuit breakers may be a summertime annoyance, the constant resetting of circuit breakers could ultimately damage the breaker. To compound matters, how is a homeowner to know if they have installed two or more window units on the same circuit? The solution is to have dedicated, 20-amp, arc fault protected circuits installed in your home solely for the seasonal use of window units by a qualified, licensed electrical contractor like Lippolis Electric.
Portable Air Conditioners
In their design concept, portable AC units are similar to their window cousins except they are free-standing (not suitable for small, tight quarters), portable, cool themselves with already conditioned air (window units use the outside air for cooling) producing great energy efficiency and require venting through a nearby window. Hoses accompany the units with plexiglass inserts to replace the removed pane of glass.
Gaining in popularity for their efficiency are the ductless split systems that utilize an exterior condenser with an indoor wall mounted blower connected by both refrigerant lines and electrical conductors. In upgraded systems, one condenser can manage multiple blowers, each with its own thermostatic control built into the blower. Heat pumps can also be installed making these year-round favorites.
Once the luxury of a privileged few, central air has become the mainstay in both existing and new housing construction. Consisting of a pad-mounted exterior condenser, an air exchanger/handler, ductwork to dispense the air throughout, a thermostat, and an occasional condensate pump, central air can be comprised on one zone for an entire home (usually ranch style) or multiple systems utilized for larger dwellings.
Geothermal Air Conditioning
With sustainability a growing concern in our warming planet, geothermal extraction of naturally occurring temperatures from the Earth have become increasingly popular over the past 25 years. Coils or ‘loops’ installed 4 to 6 feet deep, either horizontally or vertically (to save space), and up to 400 feet of PVC tubing provide warmth in the winter and reversal of the process during the summer removes the heat leaving cooler temps to be circulated through the house.
A less known method is hybrid systems which make use of a ‘dual fuel’ process where alternation between natural gas and electricity provides savings and efficiency for the user year-round. A heat pump extracts heat from a room leaving refreshing cool air behind then like geothermal systems, reverses itself to provide heat during the winter months.
Like any other system made up of assorted moving parts, maintenance to ensure reliability is an annual necessity. Homeowners can keep maintenance fees down by regularly changing air filters, keeping bushes and growth away from condensers and acknowledging when underperforming systems require professional care.
Anyone can purchase and install a window unit then pray the circuit holds but quality, long-lasting air-conditioning installations require knowledgeable technicians, qualified in the field of expertise and licensed by governing bodies to ensure competency in the interest of the consumer’s protection. Call a Lippolis Electric technician today to help determine the best method of staying cool this summer for you and your family. Let us help you take the difficulty out of decision making this summer.
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Lippolis Electric, Inc. | 538 Route 22, Pawling, NY 12564 | 845-855-1426 | lippoliselectric.com