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 air conditioning unit? You can. However, there are rebates available in some areas that reward folks for changing out their AC unit. In those situations, those folks will be required to change out their furnace with their air conditioning system at the same time.

 

How You Get Heat

 

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

Can I replace my furnace without replacing my air conditioner?

How You Get Air Conditioning

In the air conditioner season, that hot metal box is still there physically; it’s just not being heated up and no flame is on at all. Your AC units’ job is to draw the heat from inside your home and replace it with cool air. The A/C compressor starts up and runs the refrigerant through the outdoor AC condenser coil which connects to the evaporator coil near your HVAC system, inside the house. The outdoor unit is a hot coil, removing heat inside the house while the inside coil is a cold coil. The blower inside the furnace sends air past the cold evaporator coil, through the ductwork, and into the home. This is a short explanation of how your home stays cool in the summertime.

Replacing Just Your Outside AC Unit

Back to the question of replacing just your air conditioning units. Now that you know there are three individual units to your central air system — the furnace, the indoor unit evaporator coil, and the outdoor coils — 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 unit is newer than the indoor furnace, especially if you live in parts of the country where your condensing unit works twice as hard as your heating. In this case, it would make the most sense to replace your AC, bypassing furnace replacement.

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! It all depends on the type of refrigerant that your unit uses.

If you currently have a unit that has refrigerant R410a or a unit with R22, you can replace just the outside 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 occurred.

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

R22 System Issues

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 evaporator coil with the outdoor unit. Metering devices, capacity, and the copper itself will create more repairs in the future. We guarantee replacing your R22 system will save you money in the long term; the cost of this new system will pay for itself in cost-savings over time.

How Much Does It Cost To Replace An Outside AC Unit?

Many factors determine the cost of replacing air conditioners. The size of the unit, energy efficiency referred to as the SEER rating, the brand you choose, and the level of performance (single-stage or variable) will all factor into the cost of your unit. According to a recent review, the average cost of an outdoor unit in America is $4,575. However, it can certainly cost more than $7,500 to replace just the outside unit.

HVAC Rebates

Local municipalities and utility companies want you to have high-efficiency systems. Because of this, 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. Updated blower motors increase the efficiency of the entire system. You’ll see this with a higher SEER rating, which is what the rebates are trying to promote. They usually want the outdoor AC and the furnace manufacturer to be the same, while the cold evaporator 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. Keep rebates and efficiency in mind when making any decisions on replacing just the AC unit.

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

Can I Replace My Furnace Without Replacing My Air Conditioner?

Can I replace my furnace without replacing my air conditioner?

When it comes time to replace your furnace, people may think they have to replace their air conditioning unit and furnace at the same time.  To receive some of the great rebates that are out there, yes, you would need to get the whole kit and kaboodle at the same time.  But for all practical reasons, no, that isn’t necessary, and there are some benefits to doing it this way.  I’ll explain why.

While it’s always a good idea to replace the two parts of the AC at the same time, the furnace, the third part, only has one unit that needs to be replaced.

Imagine the three main parts of your central air conditioning system.  In the heating season, you have a gas flame that typically that heats up 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.

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

Back to the question “can I just replace my furnace?”  Now that you know there are three individual units, the furnace, the indoor coil, and the outdoor coil, you should know that any of those components can be changed out one at a time.  But before you change it, see if there is anything you can do to understand why your furnace may be blowing cold air.  It may still be repairable!

You may have a house where the AC system is newer than the indoor furnace.  When it comes time for that furnace to be replaced, you may not be ready to change out the AC components.  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.  Here’s a breakdown of SMUD’s Heating and Cooling Rebates for those here in Sacramento County.  They want to see a “matching” system that has a blower motor specifically designed for the other parts of the system.  They want the manufacturer of all three components to be the same.

One advantage of replacing just your furnace is the ability to save money.  Whereas an entire system will cost anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000, replacing just the heater becomes only a fraction of that.  Financing $6,000 becomes a lot easier for those looking for a break in tight times.

Another advantage of replacing the furnace is that today’s furnaces all come with ECM motors. They are more efficient to run than the older PSC style motors that use a capacitor to help regulate its voltage.  Those capacitors are also just another repair part that can fail often.  So, no more of that $300 expense every few years.

In California, all of our furnaces have low NOx standards, which reduce nitrous oxides that escape into that atmosphere causing acidic rain, smog, and other nasty side effects with our environment.  Replacing your furnace will actually doing a big favor to not only you but others around you in this world.  Check out this blog I wrote on the topic of Low NOx Furnace Requirements. You know, it’s your money and your budget.  Some companies will tell you this is not possible.  If you want an honest opinion about what you can and cannot do with your HVAC system concerns, give us a call at tel://1-916-877-1577 or contact us here.