Helpful Information

  • HVAC Myths and Realities: Buying HVAC Online

    We get lots of questions about the legalities of buying furnaces and air conditioners online. Most of these questions start with: “The local HVAC guy said it’s illegal to …”

    The rumors range from “It’s illegal to buy central AC systems and heating systems online” to “If you buy the equipment online it voids your warranty” to “Online HVAC systems aren’t as good as what we carry locally” or “It’s inexpensive because it’s poor quality.”

    Read on or watch the video as we debunk these statements and give you the real deal on how to save on your HVAC equipment.

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  • Buy Your AC & Furnace Online and Save Thousands

    The secret is out and this video tells all on how to save thousands of dollars on your home heat and cooling equipment. The average quote from a local service installer for a new air conditioner and furnace system is $7,000 - $10,000. Shocked yet? This video will show you how to save $3,000 - $6,000 on replacing your furnace and AC system. Take two minutes to watch this and it could be worth up $6,000 in savings. Continue reading

  • SEER Ratings: Selecting the Best Air Conditioner for Energy Consumption

    SEER is the efficiency rating for heat pumps and air conditioners. Understand what it is and why it matters to you.
  • What is AFUE & Furnace Staging?

    Now that winter is coming let us help explain the difference between AFUE & Furnace Staging. What is a multi-speed motor? What is a variable speed motor? Does this all sound complicated? It really doesn't have to be. Let us break it down so it is easy to understand.

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  • Choosing the Right Air Conditioning System to Install

    Choosing the right type of air conditioning system can be overwhelming, but we're here to make it easy for you.  The most common AC system out there is a split system.  You probably have one, but don't even know it.  The split system has indoor and outdoor components working together to regulate the temperature in the living areas.  Refrigerant is compressed in the outside unit, known as a condenser or compressor, and transferred via a copper line to the inside unit, which delivers chilled air to the rooms through a duct system. HVACDirect.com has a large variety of AC systems to choose from. This video will explain the different system available at HVACDirect.com and how to make an educated purchase.  If you need more assistance, you can always call our experts at 1-800-397-1392.

  • What is a Dual Fuel HVAC Home Heating and Cooling System?

    Dual Fuel heat pump systems provide the most energy-efficient heating and cooling for regions that get hot summers and cold winters. Watch to learn more.
  • What is a Dual Fuel System?

    A dual fuel system is an electric heat pump paired with a gas furnace to assist in heating during colder months. A standard heat pump will operate at temperatures down to 35 degrees F, then will switch to auxiliary electric heat strips. This can lead to expensive electric bills if the sub-freezing temperatures persist for an extended amount of time.
  • Top 8 Mistakes When Purchasing HVAC

    Top 8 Mistakes When Purchasing HVAC

    Incorrect Sizing

    Logic would tell you that having an under sized HVAC system would be a bad thing, but bigger is not always better in the HVAC world. The absolute best way to size a system would be to have an HVAC technician perform a task called a Manual J which will consider a multitude of variables that would affect a heating or cooling system. Unfortunately, a Manual J does cost money and trying to do one your self may cost even more. You can still get a close estimate for most residential homes with an online calculator. These calculators will take into consideration at least the square footage of the space as well as your location. Some of the more sophisticated calculators will add things like insulation type, desired temperatures, or how many floors there are. There is real science and math behind these calculators and you can find out more about that here.

    Here are the problems with an undersized system; it will struggle to keep the temperature where you desire it to be, if it cannot achieve the desired temperature it will run constantly, and this will wear the system parts down quickly. This ultimately leads to a premature and costly replacement.

    Frozen Pipe

    Under sizing can be a problem in both AC units and furnaces. An under sized AC unit will mostly just result in discomfort and the aforementioned premature system failure. An undersized furnace can lead to discomfort as well or to frozen pipes in extreme cases.

    An oversized unit will turn on and off in short periods of time, known as short cycling. Short cycling can cause excess wear on parts of the system. Imagine flipping a light on and off constantly, consider how long it would last when compared to a light that is used normally.  Another issue with oversized systems would be how they heat or cool an area. For this example, I will use a furnace. If a furnace turns on and heats up the area in 10 minutes most of the heat will be in the air (that passed through the furnace) which means all the objects that do not heat up as fast as air will still be cold and will cool the room down quickly when the furnace turns off. A properly sized system will heat (or cool) for a longer period of time allowing objects to change temperature as well. Getting the right size system is important for keeping your home comfortable.

    Inadequate Efficiency

    Another common mistake when purchasing HVAC systems is selecting a unit with efficiency below what is required for where you live. That’s right! The efficiency of the unit is not just about how much you will spend running it, but it is actually illegal to install a system if the efficiency does not meet requirements.

    • Northern states can install a 13 SEER AC or higher while heat pumps are 14 SEER and 8.2 HSPF or higher.
    • Southern states must have at least 14 SEER AC or higher as well as 8.2 HSPF for heat pumps.
    • Southwestern states in addition will need 12.2 EER for systems under 45,000 Btu and 11.7 for systems over 45,000 Btu.

    Below are how the states are broken up

    Efficiency Map

    Mismatched Venting

    Furnaces can be separated into two different categories. High efficiency and low efficiency. A high efficiency furnace would be any furnace rated 90% or above and it would use a PVC venting. A low efficiency furnace is any furnace rated lower than 90% and uses metal venting. Metal venting must go up and out the roof, while PVC Venting can go up and out a side wall.

    If you currently have an 80% furnace, then it is recommended to stay at that efficiency unless you plan on having the extra PVC vent work done as well. If you currently have a 90% or higher efficiency furnace, then make sure the new furnace is over 90% as well so you can reuse the PVC vent

    Mobile Homes

    Systems in a mobile home are different than in a residential stick-built home. The reason for this is that mobile homes typically utilize a smaller duct work system. This means the furnace or air handler will need to have a different size blower to accommodate this change. If you are in a mobile home, make sure you check to that the system you are looking at is compatible with mobile home ducting.

    The reason smaller duct work is an issue is because of static pressure. This is a fancy term for how much pressure the air is pushing against the blower motor. For example, if you took a marshmallow and pushed it into a cup, easy right? That is like a regular furnace pushing air through a residential home’s ductwork. Now take the marshmallow and push it through a straw, did you do it? The straw is like the smaller ductwork and will take more force to push air through which is why you would need a blower designed for a mobile home

    Air Flow Misdirection

    It is important for you to select the air flow direction that will best fit your home. If you already have a furnace check and make sure you get the same air flow direction in the new furnace.

    There are three air flow directions. Upflow, Downflow, and Horizontal (as pictured below)

    System Configuration

    The most common type is the upflow direction. If your furnace is in a basement or on a main floor, then there is a good chance it is upflow. Downflow furnaces are very common in mobile homes but can also be found in residential homes as well. Horizontal furnaces are mostly found in crawlspace or attic applications where a vertical furnace would not be able to stand up.

    There are many furnaces that are multi positional which means they can be used in all three air flow configurations. There are also furnaces that can be used in just two directions like upflow and horizontal or downflow and horizontal. Just make sure when you select a new system it matches the air flow you currently have.

    Package or Packaged?

    A package unit usually refers to the single piece unit that sits on a roof or next to the building and connects through ductwork. A package unit is a great option for homes that do not have the space to put an indoor air handler or furnace.

    This is not to be confused with a split system that is packaged together for compatibility purposes. Split systems will have an outdoor unit and an indoor unit connected by copper refrigerant lines.

    There are quite a few differences between these two types of unit’s installation process, so it is important to check that you are getting the correct one for your application.

    Total Costs

    If you have been shopping for HVAC for any sort of time, I am sure that you have received shocking quotes for many thousands of dollars to get it done. Typically, an HVAC contractor will upsell the system they want to install quite a bit. They can do this because they have somewhat of a hold on the market, but! It does not have to be this way. You can purchase HVAC systems online and have it shipped to your house from a site like ours HVACDirect.com and it’s a great price.

    On the other end of the spectrum you may see the prices on our site and expect to get it all installed for that price. Unfortunately, that is not the case, you will still need to pay an installer to put it in for you properly. Installation costs can vary but an average cost for a furnace, air conditioner, and coil would run around $1500 while just an air conditioner or furnace would run around $750 plus material costs. This may sound like a lot, but it can save thousands compared to the bids some contractors put out.

    I’ll Do It Myself

    There are many DIY’ers out there and you may be thinking “why not put in this HVAC system myself if the install cost is so much”? It is not impossible to do yourself, but it is definitely not recommended. Many parts of the installation process take special tools that home owners do not usually have. For instance, you need tools that are used for the copper line set charging process that would cost around $800 as well as the knowledge of how to use them.

    Common mistakes like connecting the lines through the wrong means, incorrect gas line connection, improper return sizing, electrical issues, or poorly designed draining can all be costly and sometimes dangerous. Sizing ducts can definitely be an issue, if you do not get it right. There are charts that can help give you an idea of what you need like this one, but it really is best to save yourself the hassle of installing and get it done professionally. You only get 1 real mistake with gas or electricity. Many manufacturers of HVAC systems even offer a warranty if it is installed by a licensed HVAC technician which will protect you if there are any manufacturing defects.

    Recap

    • Make sure you pick the right size system for your home
    • Check the efficiency requirements of your area
    • Check your furnace venting type
    • If you are in a mobile home, verify the system is compatible
    • Select the correct airflow configuration
    • Verify that your system is a package unit or a split system
    • Get it done professionally
    • Don’t let contractors pull the wool over your eyes and buy direct

     

  • What is NFI Certificate mean

    NFI is an abbreviation for the National Fireplace Institute. The National Fireplace Institute is an accredited government entity that is responsible for testing and certifying installation and service professionals in three appliance categories- Gas Burning Appliances, Wood Burning Appliances, and Pellet Burning Appliances.

    Continue reading
  • Single Stage vs. Two Stage Condenser

    Single-Stage, Two-Stage?

    What does it mean when someone uses these terms? Well there are two things they could be talking about. One is a furnace with different stages, and the other is a compressor in an air conditioner (or heat pump). A single stage unit will have 2 settings, on… and off. This means it will run at 100% capacity when turned on until it raises or lowers the temperature to the desired amount and then shuts off. A two-stage unit will have two on settings as well as off. This means it will turn on to less than full capacity for the first stage: If this does not get it to the desired temperature it will turn on to the second stage at 100% otherwise it will turn off.

    Stages in Compressors Motors

    A two-stage compressor runs at 40% in the first stage and 100% in the second stage. This allows you to have more control over the temperature in your home which would make it more comfortable. It will also help in the cost savings department. For example, if you have a 4-ton two stage air conditioner and the first stage (40%) can handle the temperature then you are only using the electric of a 2 ton.

    Here are a few graphs demonstrating the benefit of multiple stages

    Stages in Compressor Motors

    On high end models you may see the term Variable Speed. They use this term in reference to motors, which is why you see it for both compressor motors and blower motors. Another meaning would be multi stage, for example on the Air Quest model HVA936GKA here is the breakdown

    Stage Capacity dBA
    1 25% 56
    2 50% 60
    3 69% 65
    4 88% 66
    5 100% 67

    Variable speed also means that it can run at a quieter noise level. Unfortunately, the variable speed option can only be controlled by expensive thermostats. You can use a 2 stage cooling thermostat with these variable speed condensers but you will not get the full benefits of the 5 stages they are capable of.

    For a variable speed blower motor, it functions like a Rheostat for example in model AVPTC25B14AB

    AVPTC25B14 Flow Chart

    It has a CFM range of 395 to 1105

    Stages in Furnaces

    A single stage and two stage furnaces will operate in a way that is like the single and two stage compressors. Two stage furnaces will operate at 70% capacity and then 100% capacity if the first stage does not bring up the temperature enough. This capability allows the furnace to keep the temperature closer to the desired amount.

    Gas furnaces also have a modulating option which is like variable speed but even better. It would be comparable to the gas pedal in the car, push a small amount and very little gas is used, press all the way down for full capacity, or press anywhere in between for desired amount. With the ability to keep and hold the temperature closer to the targeted amount and the furnace can save quite a bit of energy by only using the amount of gas it needs.

    This means lower energy bills!!

    Here is an example of modulating furnace temperatures

    Temperature Curve

    Two stage and single stage look very similar to the two stage and single stage compressor. Multi stage furnaces also have the benefit of lower noise levels. With a modulating furnace you would not even hear it most of the time.

    Some of the modulating furnace models need a special thermostat to work. As technology progresses furnaces and compressors will be increasingly pre-programmed for modulating or variable speed so you can use a normal thermostat.

    Costs

    The most efficient models are the variable speed and modulating. They come with the drawback of a high upfront cost, up to $1000 more than a regular single stage furnace. This can be a large pill to swallow but it is a long-term investment.

    If you plan on staying where you’re are for a long time, then a multi stage system may be right for you. Your wallet will thank you later, and so will your spouse. If you have any questions contact us here at HVACDirect.com and we will help you pick the system that is right for you and at a great price.

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