Updating Your HVAC Unit

4 Tips to Consider When Installing a Ducted Air Conditioning System in a New Home

New constructions offer homeowners limitless options for central air conditioning installation. Unlike old buildings that can limit your choice of systems, a new construction allows you to design a ducted system that will meet your cooling needs. Ducted ACs are popular choices due to their ability to cool the entire house using a central unit. You can design zones and control the temperatures in the various rooms. However, to achieve efficiency and reliability from your AC, consider the following tips during the planning stage.

Calculate Cooling Loads for the Rooms

Before investing in a ducted air conditioning system, you need to calculate the cooling loads for the rooms in your house. The various indoor spaces may have varying cooling needs due to factors such as solar orientation, insulation, the number and size of windows, and the presence of heat-generating appliances. For example, rooms facing the afternoon sun may experience high solar gain during the day, which may increase their cooling load. Insulated spaces have a lower cooling demand than uninsulated spaces. Similarly, the kitchen gets warmer when cooking, and this can affect its cooling requirements.

Determining the cooling loads of the various rooms in your house helps you to size your AC unit correctly. If your AC cannot handle the load in your home, you may experience uneven cooling and inefficiency. A poorly sized air conditioner may also experience frequent breakdowns.

Design Ductwork Correctly

Ducts act as the medium for transporting air to and from the central cooling system. Their design plays a critical role in determining the efficiency of the entire air conditioning system. Poorly designed ductwork may cause air leaks, warm spots, and inadequate cooling. Therefore, when designing the ducts, consider the following issues:

  • Ductwork sizing: Size ductwork depending on your home's cooling load and your air conditioner's cooling capacity.
  • Installation path: Choose the best installation path for your ducts. Do not pass ductwork through sharp bends, as they can impede airflow and cause premature damage to the ducts.
  • The number of return vents: Air conditioning systems use return vents to pull air back into the AC and balance air pressure. Design adequate return vents throughout the ductwork.

Duct design needs may vary from one room to another. For example, rooms with a higher cooling load may require bigger ducts than spaces with a low cooling load. Therefore, use the load information above to choose the right ductwork size for each room in your home.

Consider Your Choice of Equipment

Your choice of cooling equipment can ultimately determine the performance and efficiency of the system. Current energy regulations require all residential air conditioning systems to have a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of at least 14. The SEER rating measures an AC's cooling performance, and it can be as high as 22. Therefore, when choosing your equipment, go for a higher SEER rating of at least 20 to achieve maximum efficiency. 

Besides investing in an efficient air conditioner, consider these features that may maximize indoor comfort:

  • Built-in humidity sensors and dehumidification features
  • High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters
  • Zoning capabilities

Modern air conditioners have smart features that enable real-time monitoring. You can use the data to identify system inefficiencies and lower your annual cooling costs.

Choose the Best Installation Location

Ducted air conditioners have indoor and outdoor units. The indoor unit is installed out of sight, usually in the ceiling or under the floor. The outdoor unit can be installed outside your home on the roof or ground outside your home. When choosing an installation location, find a central space to reduce duct runs. 

If you install the system on one end of the house, the rooms on the other end may not get enough cool air. By the time the air travels to the furthest room, it may already be warm. However, if you don't have a viable central space for the installation, seal and insulate the ducts to prevent heat gain.

Adding a ducted air conditioning system to your home requires careful planning. Work with your AC installation services right from the design stage to potentially maximize system performance.