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Can I Just Replace the Outdoor Unit on an Older Air Conditioning System to Save Money?

New Central AC System Installation

The central air conditioner in your home is a relatively complicated system that houses several main components. One of these components, called an evaporator coil, typically sits inside your house. However, two other main components — called the compressor and the condenser coil — sit on a concrete pad outside your house. If only the compressor or condenser goes bad in your older air conditioning system, you may decide to replace this outdoor unit and keep the still-functioning evaporator. However, this mixture of newer and older AC components will likely end up just causing you more problems further down the line.

How Air Conditioners Cool Your Home

Air conditioners use a multi-step process to remove heat from the interior of your home. This process begins when heated air runs over the evaporator coil inside your home. This component contains a refrigerant gas that accepts the heat and flows outside to the compressor. Inside the compressor, the gas gets pressurized and undergoes another jump in temperature. Next, this hot, compressed gas moves to the condenser. Here, the gas loses its heat and turns into a liquid. The air conditioning cycle is completed when the liquid refrigerant flows from the condenser to the evaporator, where a fan blows cooled air into your ducts and the refrigerant evaporates back into a gas.

Your AC Components Must Match

Your air conditioner is a coordinated system that relies equally on the indoor evaporator and the outdoor compressor and condenser. Each of these components must function well to keep your home cool, and problems between the components can lead to the development of serious operating issues. HVAC experts sometimes refer to the coordinated actions of AC components as matching. Evaporators, compressors and condensers that don't match can easily malfunction, even if they don't have any internal problems.

As a rule, older AC components don't match well with new AC components. That's because older components were made with the help of outdated, relatively inefficient technology. New components are made with more advanced, efficient technology, and conflicts with older technology can lead to a range of problems, including reductions in your air conditioner's cooling power and steeply increased odds of developing a breakdown in either your older or newer system components.

Replace All of Your AC Components

The bottom line is that isolated replacement of a single component in an older air conditioning system can decrease your home's comfort level and set the stage for a second round of component replacement in the near future. You can avoid these problems by accepting the higher up-front cost of replacing your entire AC system if the compressor or condenser fails.

If you need to replace your central air conditioner, you can count on Zodiac Heating & Air Conditioning to provide you with expert advice. We offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee and 10-year parts and labor warranty on new Carrier installations, and we strive to get the job done right the first time.

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