Why is Buying a New Air Conditioner So Complicated?

There are enough things that are complicated in the world today, but with all the advancements that society has made why is buying a new air conditioner such a complicated task? Never fear, as we’re here to make everything as simple as possible.


Part of what makes buying a new AC unit so complex is the industry terminology. There are many specialized terms and acronyms that aren’t really used anywhere else, so let’s clear those up first.

BTU – British Thermal Units. This is a scientific term that is a measure of how much cooling power the unit provides.

Chiller – This is the device that removes the heat from the coolant (likely water) that your unit uses.

Coil – This is the device that performs the actual heat transfer.

Condenser – This is an aspect of the refrigeration system that removes heat.

Heat Pump – The heat pump is a piece of equipment that moves heat in the opposite direction it would usually travel. It takes heat out of your air and pumps it to the outside of your house.

SEER – Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. This is a measure of how energy efficient your AC unit is. The higher the number, the more efficient the unit.


Another aspect of AC units that can be confusing is figuring out how much power you need. The cooling ability of an AC unit is measured in BTU. Generally, you’ll want 5,000 BTU for spaces up to 150 square feet, and then 1,000 more BTU for every additional 100 square feet. By following this guideline, you can make sure to hit the Goldilocks zone of temperature control (not more power than you need, but also not so little that you don’t notice the difference.)

Additionally, figuring out if you even need a new unit can be confusing. If you aren’t getting any cool air, have poor airflow, issues with your thermostat, moisture in places that should be dry, or strange smells or odors, then it is likely time for a new AC unit.

Finally, you need to know how you’re going to get your new AC unit to your location and have it installed. There are many different options, and the seller will certainly be able to help with delivery and finding someone to do the installation.


AC Units can get very expensive. They can also be confusing, as it’s not a purchase you make every day, so how is a savvy consumer supposed to know what to pay? The average prices for units are listed below. Use this chart to make sure the deal you’re getting is actually a deal!