Can I Replace the Outside Air Conditioner without Changing My Furnace?

can I replace my AC without the furnace?

When it’s time to replace your air conditioner, many people ask ‘can I replace my AC without the furnace?’

Can I replace just my AC?  There are rebates available in some areas that reward folks for changing out their AC.  In those situations, they’ll have to change out their furnace with their air conditioning system at the same time.

How You Get Heat

Imagine the three main parts of your central air conditioning system.  In the heating season, you have a gas flame that typically that heats a metal box. Inside that same unit is a blower motor that sends air across the hot metal box, which emits warm air into your rooms. And that’s how you get heat.

How You Get Air Conditioning

In the air conditioning season, that firebox is still there physically; it’s just not being heated up.  No flame is on at all.  But you will notice the outdoor AC kick on.  That outdoor AC coil connects to another coil near your HVAC system, inside the house.  The outdoor unit is the hot coil, which is removing heat front the house while the indoor coil is the cold coil.  The blower inside the furnace we just talked about sends air past the cold coil and on to the rest of your house.  And that’s how you get air conditioning.

Replacing Just Your Air Conditioner Unit

So back to the question of replacing just your air conditioner unit.  Now that you know there are three individual units to your central air system — the furnace, the indoor coil, and the outdoor coil — you should know that any one of those components can be changed out, one at a time. You may have a house where the AC system is newer than the indoor furnace. 

Can I Replace the Outdoor AC Without the Furnace?

There are some situations where you can even get away with just changing the outdoor unit for a fraction of the cost of a whole new system!  If you currently have a system that has refrigerant R410a or a system that has R22, you can replace just the outdoor unit with a similar one.  For R22 units, check out Coleman’s EVCON 407c units that come empty of refrigerant but are ready to be charged with 407c, which is an excellent replacement for R22.  Technically you could add R22 to it, but that refrigerant type is quite a bit more expensive and less environmentally friendly if a future leak in the system occurred.

Likewise, R410a systems allow you to replace just the outdoor AC unit with an R410a outdoor unit.

R22 System Issues

However, if you’re having issues with your R22 system and you want to upgrade it to an R410a system, I’d highly recommend you change the indoor cold coil with the outdoor AC unit.  Metering devices, capacity, and the copper itself will create more repairs in the future.  I guarantee it.

HVAC Rebates

When it comes time to replace that old air conditioner, you may not be ready to change out the furnace.  That’s fine.  Just remember, if you’re looking for rebates through your local utility company, they may want you to replace all three components.  They want to see a “matching” system that has a blower motor designed explicitly for the other parts of the system.  More up to date blower motors increase the efficiency of the entire system, which is what the rebates are trying to promote.  They usually want the manufacturer of the outdoor AC and the furnace to be the same, while the cold coil has some flexibility there.

Yes, You Can

I hope this has helped you understand that you absolutely can replace just your air conditioner without replacing your AC system. 

Thanks so much for stopping by, and we’ll see you on the blog next time.

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