Air Conditioning System - Can I replace just my outdoor AC unit as my indoor unit is only 5 years old? 


Central air conditioning systems … is there anything better? It’s an immensely luxurious feeling to walk into your Clearwater home from a sweltering, muggy, disgustingly hot wreck of a summer day into the delicious coolness provided by your AC unit. It’s Man vs. Nature, and man has won!


Of course, the flip side is that these systems are expensive to install and require attention to maintain. A good air conditioning system will last you 12-15 years or more, with proper care and maintenance, but sometimes things go wrong unexpectedly, even if you’re careful. Or you may forget to change your air filters for a while and do irreparable damage.


If your outdoor unit, or condenser, is starting to cause problems and you fear that it’s going to die on you, you’re likely going to ask your HVAC contractor the question that inspired this article, which is, “Why can’t I just replace the outdoor unit?”


Unfortunately, it isn’t so simple. Your indoor and outdoor unit are a rated match, and it’s a tricky business trying to recreate that harmony if half of the system goes to Appliance Heaven. In many states (such as Florida), there are laws that require those matches, or a permit for the installation won’t be granted.


What do they mean by a “rated” match?

For a system to be properly matched, the indoor and outdoor AC units must have the appropriate system performance ratings. Basically, they have to handle everything the same way, working together as intended by the manufacturer and making certain of that isn’t always possible. Professional installers will advise against using different brands, even if the coils, wiring, and blower are all compatible.


You can see losses in efficiency, and a shorter total lifespan, when using air conditioning system components that aren’t essentially married to one another. Think of it as an organ transplant. Removing part of a system comes with risks, and if the new outdoor unit isn’t a good match, you’ll see the system reject that new component over time, at great financial cost.


So, can it be done?

The short answer is yes, but with caveats. Your first step: get the model number from your indoor AC unit and call your HVAC provider. They’ll be able to tell you whether a mismatched air conditioning system is even possible for you. Here in Clearwater and Florida in general, the manufacturer will have to specifically approve of the new outdoor unit as a match in order for a permit to be granted and approved.


Need help with a new air conditioning system or AC unit? Call ​ today and get the facts you need to make a smart and informed decision. 

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