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Find Out More About Air Conditioners
High Quality Products and Installation Since 1981
Why do they call it “Air Conditioning”? I get that if you’re going to the gym for workouts, the process is considered conditioning your body, or for that matter if you want your hair to be nicer, you condition it! But, Air Conditioning? One can do research for this kind of esoteric question and go a bit nuts trying to find an answer (I know this and I qualify) but there are some thoughts that make the title of air conditioner a bit more plausible. First, because the air in the air-conditioning procedure goes through a number of processes (unlike a furnace which singularly heats the air, period). The air is passed through a series of coils, compressed and to a certain degree and de-humidified in the process. The other more historically based reason for the name goes back to an ancient patent taken out by a textile plant owner for a machine that “conditioned the air” by introducing water vapor. The requirement for the machine was to help keep the air cooler for workers in the textile industry factories. Historical mention of “man-made” air cooling dates back to ancient Egypt where writings and illustrations exist of reeds being soaked in water and then attached to window frames in order to take advantage of the cooling provided by evaporation. In the twentieth century, the advent of refrigeration mechanical technology combined with the chemical discovery of refrigerants like Freon, has allowed truly effective air conditioning made available to the masses. Nothing like a “strange history lesson” to get things started!?
Air conditioning systems
Regardless of how air conditioners got their odd name, Canada Furnace is the BC Lower Mainland’s choice for Sales, Service and Repair of these machines that are often heavily relied upon in the warm summer months. Canada Furnace has access to rainbows of air conditioner model but in recent years we’ve found the two best manufactures for the kind of quality, reliability and value that best represent our highly customer service oriented culture come from American Standard air conditioning and Lennox air conditioning. Air conditioning systems (or an air conditioning package) come in a variety of sizes and capabilities based primarily upon capacity which of course relates to the size of area which requires cooling. High efficiency air conditioning is the order of the day in the early 21st century and it’s become quite difficult to even purchase air conditioning heating systems that don’t qualify as such. For our purposes, the residential air conditioning cooling (or home air conditioning) we reference going forward will be of the high efficiency type.
Air conditioning service is a very important topic because of the seasonal nature of their usage. As an air conditioning unit just sits throughout the winter months taking all sorts of abuse the season can apply to it and is then expected to be switched on and run perfectly is often a recipe for disappointment. As a “car guy” I find a similar comparison to storing an old car for the winter without any service and expecting to just jump in and go with the nice weather – it’s not that simple. A properly manufactured cover for the outside air conditioning unit all by itself is a very worthwhile investment. Otherwise it is recommended to have a professional HVAC technician provide you with a full preventative maintenance (PM) service to your air conditioning system to ensure trouble free air conditioner operation. Nobody needs or wants air conditioning problems.
Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio
As a consumer, air conditioning comparisons are recommended. Two important factors to look out for are SEER numbers (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) which are not unlike the fuel economy numbers provided with new cars and provide evidence as to how much energy the unit will consume – the higher the SEER number, the more efficient the hvac air conditioning. The other published number to consider is the noise level (or quietness) of the ac air conditioning as represented in good old fashioned decibels. In this case, the lower the number, the quieter the unit. Noise is not only important for the consumers benefit but can also be a factor for tight space applications (where other dwellings are very close by) and can in fact be a bylaw issue in the case of Strata properties and other noise oriented legislators. Once you’ve done some homework as to air conditioning review, there are other factors to consider. If you live in a home with forced air heating and your ductwork is up to standard, the job of an air conditioning install is pretty straightforward. Once the best location of the outside unit has been established (which contains the compressor and coils) tying the air conditioning installation into the homes existing system is a fairly straight forward affair that doesn’t generally require a lot of labour. In the vast majority of cases, air conditioning installation cost is not particularly a significant portion of the overall outlay.
For those homes which are heated by boilers and hot water heat (Hydronic heating) a recent advent called “split system air conditioning” (sometimes also called mini splits) allows for the availability of central air conditioning performance without the need for ductwork. Small individual units are placed in the required rooms within the house and refrigerant lines run from them to the central outside units, providing the necessary cooling. These systems have the advantage of allowing for zone cooling and are starting to become more popular in the marketplace where traditional residential air conditionings don’t apply.
Heat pump technology
What about heat pumps? Sometimes called air conditioning furnaces or air conditioning heater, heat pumps are a worthwhile consideration if air conditioning heating is on your radar or you are seriously planning to buy air conditioning anyway. Heat pumps are effectively the same as air conditioners with the added feature of being able to run in reverse. How’s that you say? Through the magic of modern day refrigeration, an air conditioner in fact pulls the heat out of the inside air, compresses and cools it and then essentially blows the cooled air back inside and disposes of the heat to the outside. A heat pump just reverses the process and pulls whatever heat is available in the outside air, compresses it and this time blows the warmer air into the home. This obviously doesn’t work too well when outside temperatures reach the last degree or two above freezing and at that point a conventional furnace must take over to provide heat. As we happen to live in a fairly mild climate (a fact that we all like to gloat about to folks who live anywhere else in the country) the use and effectiveness of a heat pump can provide significant energy efficiency and an overall reduction of energy consumption. That doesn’t mean that heat pump technology makes sense for everyone and it’s always best to consider the extra costs involved and whether the potential savings make the move worthwhile.
What about air conditioning contractors? We’d love it if you call Canada Furnace but we’re realistic enough to know that we can’t serve everybody all of the time and to that end we recommend that a bit more homework be done when looking for a contractor. Ensure that they are correctly and properly licensed, have a solid BBB rating and have at least enough years in business to have accomplished a solid track record of good work. Canada Furnace covers all of that off in spades, but that’s up to you – just sayin!
Find Out More Heat Pumps
It wasn’t that long ago where saying Heat Pump was describing some exotic newfangled home heating (or was it cooling) device from the future. The proliferation of the home heat pump into the marketplace and ultimately residences all over North America has changed that outlook to many people. Having said that, there is still a large percentage of the home owning population that don’t really know what a heat pump is, what it does or exactly and how it does it. It’s frequently proclaimed that nothing is free, but in the case of the heat pump, that isn’t exactly the case. In simple terms, think of the heat pump as a central air conditioning unit that runs both forwards and backwards. When used in “air conditioning” or cooling mode, a heat pump works exactly as does a central A/C unit. The refrigerant within the system is pulls the heat from the air inside of the home, expels the excess heat to the outdoors through a series of coils inside the unit. The now cooled air is blown through the homes ductwork, significantly lowering the temperature as desired by the resident using the thermostat. When the temperature outside drops to the point where the system is required to heat the home and the unit is switched to heating mode, a reversing switch inside of the heat pump, causes the process to go in the other direction. Any latent heat which can be scavenged from the outside air is compressed and blown into the inside of the home through the ducting to increase the ambient temperature inside. It should be noted that there is obviously little to no heat in the atmosphere when the outside temperature reaches freezing (0 degrees C or 32 degrees F). At this stage the heat pump shuts down and a regular or high efficiency forced air furnace compliments the system and continues to heat the home uninterrupted while the temperatures outdoor remain near or below freezing. Heat pumps used in conjunction with heating furnaces are referred to as “hybrid” systems and are hugely popular in the BC lower mainland. You may hear the terms heat pump air conditioning or heat pump furnaces, which generally relate to what the system is providing at any given time. Back to the hybrid system and our part of the world for a moment. The greater Vancouver area has one of the better climates anywhere to get the most out of heat pump units. As our winters are generally mild and the temperatures are often above the freezing mark, heat pump operation in the winter months can be significant and while the heat pump is warming the home, there is no gas energy being utilized by the furnace. In other words, the only energy being used to warm the home while in heat pump warming mode is the electricity used to operate the heat pump itself. Heat pumps have been referred to colloquially sometimes as an air conditioner furnace. An often used example of heat pump operation is that of the home refrigerator. If you feel behind a home fridge when it is running, you will detect heat. That heat has been “pulled” from the air inside of the fridge, which is of course, cold inside. Heat pumps have been called an air conditioner furnace by some in the industry and heat pump air conditioner by others.
Heat pump packages available
Since 1984, Canada Furnace has been at the forefront of HVAC technology and we’ve been working with heat pumps since the beginning of their market availability. Today, we are now in the realm of the high efficiency heat pump. Due to the proliferation of heat pump manufacturers now in the game, Canada Furnace has made a wide number of different heat pump packages available. There are numerous heat pump comparisons available and like most mechanical systems there are good features and not so good features/omissions from every brand. Having said all of that, the American Standard heat pump and the Lennox heat pump for a variety of treasons remain the two biggest selling brands for Canada Furnace at this time.
(SEER) is a calculation
The following examples of a new heat pump illustrate the Canada Furnace lineup that is presently our most popular. Please note the listed SEER number. Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is a calculation which determines the actual energy efficiency of a given heat pump model. The higher the SEER number, the greater the units efficiency. The decibel rating relates to how quiet a residential heat pump is. In that case, the lower the number the quieter the unit. Who makes the best heat pumps? Thanks to very strong competition, that pretty much boils down to some expert opinions. It should be noted that Lennox presently manufactures the quietest heat pump available, based upon laboratory tests.
Lennox 13 SEER heat pump = 76 decibels
American Standard 16 SEER heat pump = 71 decibels
Lennox 17.7 SEER heat pump = 62 decibels
These are just some examples of what we consider to be amongst the group of best heat pump currently offered.
Do you want a heat pump? Do you need a heat pump? The second question might be the one requiring initial consideration.
Central air conditioning
First of all, it should be established that heat pumps in this particular vernacular are designed to be used in homes which are heated by a forced air system. If for example your home is heated with a boiler (hydronic heat) this really isn’t your conversation. Secondly, if you have a perfectly serviceable forced air furnace heating system, including central air conditioning, spending additional money to replace the A/C unit, just for the heat pump cooling effect, would tend to be more of a luxury than a necessity at least while the existing system remains serviceable.
A heat pump is an air conditioner
If your present heating system is getting near the end of its useful life (whether or not it includes central A/C) and repair costs are no longer making sense, it might be time to consider replacing the furnace with a high efficiency model and adding a heat pump to the mix. Or, you have a central air conditioning unit that has pretty much given up the ghost and are considering its replacement. In either of these cases (and others) the efficiency gains by adding a heat pump to create a hybrid heating/cooling system can make a lot of sense. While the additional cost of the heat pump is definitely part of the initial consideration, taking the energy cost savings into account, the heat pump equation must always be considered over the long run. In the case of replacing an old A/C unit with a heat pump, it’s almost a no brainer. A heat pump is an air conditioner, and by replacing a dedicated A/C unit with one, you gain the heating advantages and efficiencies associated with that as a bonus.
Solution to poor air flow
Another benefit of utilizing a heat pump, particularly in an older home or a building with a “less than perfect” ductwork arrangement has to do with more even heating. As some homes have poor air flow in certain areas/rooms, it becomes noticeable that there are cooler areas and hot spots within the home, particularly in colder weather. Heat pump operation warms the home over a much greater period of time than does a conventional furnace. In doing so, the heat within the home tends to even out much more uniformly, reducing the uneven heating. As the heat rise takes place more slowly, the overall effect is much more comfortable than the typical furnace cycle which causes fairly quick heat up, then a cool down and then a heat up again – over and over. Canada Furnace also includes a new thermostat with every heat pump package. The new thermostat allows for the fan to operate continuously at a very low speed whether or not there is any heating or cooling taking place by the equipment. This continuous air flow also contributes to a more even heating effect and over time actually saves on energy, as it adds to more efficient heating.
Our field experience
Canada furnace offers a wide variety of heat pump systems. We do this because at the end of the day, every home has different requirements and each system will have some degree of customization required – some less than others of course. Before it becomes time for a heat pump install however, one should consider the process. For the sake of argument, let’s say that your family has decided that you should at the very least investigate what some heat pump contractors have to say on the subject. I’m of course going to urge you to ensure that Canada Furnace is the first heat pump installer you contact – if I didn’t, this could be my last writing job – but enough about my problems! Seriously, I can only speak for Canada Furnace, so here’s how it will “go down” when you give us a call. As with any major new HVAC equipment consideration, the entire process for us is consultation based. Our “comfort consultants” all have field experience and know the business from both the business/sales side and the installation/repair side – and they all still carry tools which they still get to use regularly – what I’m trying to ay here is that they really know their stuff! After they arrive at your home for the appointment and introductions have been made, the first order of business is a very thorough inspection of the entire current heating/cooling system (meticulite in fact). Once that has been completed, it will be time to sit down with you to determine all of your priorities and wishes for the final outcome. Working hand in hand, our consultant will guide you to a decision that covers off all the bases from budgetary concerns through to any special requirements or additional features that may be possible/plausible. In fact, it may end up that heat pump heating isn’t the most effective answer for your application. Most of the time that won’t be the case, but the point is that the overall strategy for all involved is to have your homes comfort level improved in the most effective (and cost effective) manner possible. We truly mean that! You will likely want to look at a variety of heat pump costs or compare heat pumps on an apples to apples basis or even a heat pump review analysis, our representative will have all of the information at his/her fingertips. Heat pump heating systems certainly maintain some complexity and Canada Furnace wants to make certain that you are comfortable within the conversation.
We will walk you through the operation of the equipment
So, all of the needs and wishes have been reached involving your new system and the heat pump unit (or maybe it’s just buy heat pump only) – either way, what’s next? A schedule for installing heat pump is arranged and the Canada Furnace team will assemble the entire package of parts and equipment in the staging area of our distribution centre which is then tracked to the heat pump installation team for your project. Our teams always show up on time (unless there’s a huge lineup at Tim Horton’s) and have an aversion to wasting time on the job as well. After shutting off the natural gas and any necessary localized electricity, they will carefully disassemble and remove your old system, fabricate any necessary ductwork or connections as needed and put the new equipment in place. Once everything is hooked up and has been tested to ensure completely correct operation, the team will remove all of the old equipment and clean up the area to a state where you shouldn’t be able to tell that they’ve ever been on site. At that point, the senior installer will walk you through the operation of the equipment along with tips for more effective functioning along the way and will not leave until everyone is satisfied and comfortable with how it all works. If any issues come up, call Canada Furnace right away and we’ll be back out PDQ to correct the problem – as to this last statement, be assured that it almost never happens – thankfully!