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04 May 2022

Author: Jeff O'Hara

Born of one man’s need to control the humidity in a newspaper printing press in 1902, the modern HVAC industry in the US accounted for more than $17.1 billion spent in 2022. People want to be comfortable, and in a recent online survey, homeowners stated that of all the modern conveniences currently available—including TV, the internet, and smartphones—the one thing they could not live without is air conditioning.  

The HVAC business is all about comfort, which means installing equipment that can keep your family toasty on a frigid night or battle against 105° temperatures and 99% humidity. Your HVAC system must meet the challenges that your area’s climate and your home’s construction pose. For that reason, Nick’s Air Conditioning exclusively sells central HVAC products from Trane® Technologies and ductless mini-split systems from Mitsubishi Electric—a wholly-owned subsidiary of Trane®.

Why Are There So Many Options for Air Conditioning?

Every home is different, so each house’s heating and air conditioning needs will vary greatly. You and your neighbor may have the same floor plan, but if they opted for the cheaper hollow doors and single-pane windows or decided to skimp on attic or exterior wall insulation, they probably have higher energy bills than you. Their HVAC system is also constantly working harder to keep up with the demand and is more likely to have a shorter lifespan as a result.

Different air conditioner options exist for two simple reasons: cost and convenience. Central HVAC systems have been the standard since the 1960s, and they do a great job of providing whole-house comfort. 

Newer HVAC systems are much more energy efficient with greater performance, so you get the best of both worlds—a cooler home in the summer and reduced energy costs—an actual “win/win” situation. 

Older homes that have never had ductwork installed used to have to rely on window-mounted air conditioners. Window units are noisy, energy-hungry, unsightly, and just bad for the environment. Today, ductless mini-split HVAC systems can be installed in these homes using a single outdoor compressor unit to power up to eight indoor air handlers. 

What AC Options Does Nick’s AC Offer? 

As mentioned earlier, Nick’s Air Conditioning exclusively sells Trane® HVAC systems and Mitsubishi Ductless Mini-Split AC systems. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of these popular home comfort systems and discover why one may be a better option for your home than the other. 

Central HVAC Systems.

Almost every home built since the late 1960s has a central HVAC system installed, and they remain a standard installation for new home construction nearly sixty years later. Central HVAC systems use ductwork hidden in walls and attics to distribute treated air throughout the home. These systems require powerful components to handle the demand of cooling or heating an entire house, yet they still need to do so while using as little energy as possible.

In just the last ten years, heating and air conditioning technology has grown by leaps and bounds with the introduction of variable-speed AC compressors, smart thermostats, and the elimination of environmentally dangerous Freon as a refrigerant

Benefits of HVAC Systems.

  • Easy Comfort Control: HVAC systems allow you to have whole-house control over your home’s comfort from a single control panel—your thermostat. Today, you don’t even need to be at home to adjust your HVAC thermostat—with a smart thermostat; you can control the temperature, program when you want your system to run, and monitor usage from anywhere in the world. 
  • Improved Air Quality: Newer HVAC systems employ components to allow a limited amount of fresh outdoor air to displace what may be stale indoor air. High-density air filters can capture the most minute airborne irritants and stop them from circulating through your HVAC system and home. 
  • Energy Efficiency: All Trane HVAC systems are designed with energy efficiency in mind. By incorporating programmable thermostats with zoning capabilities, your HVAC system runs less frequently, attempting to chase the set temperature on the thermostat. Variable-speed compressor motors allow your HVAC system to run at lower speeds to save energy. Older HVAC systems had a “one-stage” motor that was either on or off. This new technology allows the system to adjust the compressor speed and system output to conserve power yet still perform up to expectations.
  • Humidity Control: Central HVAC systems control humidity levels and keep them consistent throughout the home. Excessive humidity isn’t just uncomfortable; it can promote the growth of mold and mildew, while too little humidity results in dry skin and respiratory discomfort. 

The Downside of HVAC Systems.

  • Initial Cost: The installation of a complete HVAC system, including new ductwork, will involve a high upfront cost, which only gets more expensive as you upsize your system, or install additional options.
  • Ongoing Maintenance: Central HVAC systems are complex machines requiring regular professional intervention to keep running at peak efficiency and performance. AC maintenance involves regularly changing air filters, checking refrigerant levels, measuring voltages at all crucial electrical connections, and much more. Many HVAC companies like Nick’s offer an annual maintenance plan to help keep AC repair costs down and ensure your family is comfortable year-round. 
  • Average Cost: $3,500 for an entry-level HVAC system in a home with pre-existing ductwork, with top-of-the-line, multi-zone systems running upwards of $15,000. 

Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pump Systems. 

Also known as ductless HVAC systems, mini-splits are heating and cooling systems that provide an individual room or zone-by-zone comfort control without requiring ductwork. 

Perfect for older homes that have never had HVAC ductwork installed and have had to rely on window units for decades, mini-splits offer efficiency, performance, and ease of installation

Mini-split systems are like central HVAC systems, utilizing indoor and outdoor units to heat and cool your home. The outdoor unit houses the compressor and condenser coil, with the indoor unit taking care of air distribution and temperature control. 

Benefits of Mini-Split HVAC Systems.

  • Zoned Heating and Cooling: One of the primary benefits of a mini-split system is its ability to provide zoned heating and cooling. Each outdoor unit can support four to eight indoor units—depending on the model—so each room can have its own air exchanger and control for precise adjustments for each space. Not only does this allow you to customize your home’s comfort levels, but it also offers the option of turning off the HVAC in an unused room to avoid wasted energy. 
  • Energy Efficiency: Mini-split HVAC systems are known for their incredibly high energy efficiency ratings. Many Mitsubishi units use Inverter Technology, which adjusts the compressor speed based on the heating or cooling demand. Inverter Technology is more efficient than a central HVAC system that frequently cycles on and off to maintain comfort levels, as it can run for more extended periods at slower speeds to maintain temperature and humidity levels. 
  • Ease of Installation: Installing a central HVAC system is a project that can take several days, especially if you’re installing new ductwork. Mini-split HVAC systems are ductless and only require a 3” round hole in an exterior wall to pass refrigerant, power, and control cables through. Installation can start first thing in the morning, and your entire house can be nice and cool in time for dinner. Eliminating the need for ductwork, mini-splits are the perfect solution for hard-to-cool older homes in the Heights and Montrose, where air leakage and poor insulation are too much of a challenge for window units or fans. 
  • Placement Flexibility: Mitsubishi mini-split systems offer flexibility in design and unit placement. Indoor air handlers are available that mount on walls, in ceiling recesses, and on floors. 

The Downside of the Mini-Splits.

  • Upfront Cost: The initial cost to purchase and install a complete, multi-zoned mini-split HVAC system can rival or surpass the price of a central HVAC system. Installing a single-zone unit with one indoor air handler isn’t a budget killer, but adding additional indoor units adds to the complexity of the installation, which also adds to the cost of the installation. 
  • Aesthetic Considerations: Regardless of how creative you get with the placement of your mini-split indoor units, they will still be visible in the living space. Some homeowners may prefer the look concealed ducts offer compared to the presence of an air handler in each room. 
  • Limited Range: Mini-split systems are typically designed to heat and cool specific zones or rooms instead of providing whole-house coverage. While mini-splits offer more precise temperature control and energy savings, there may be better choices for larger homes or spaces with extensive and complex heating and cooling needs. 

What If I Just Want What I Already Have?

That’s an easy option. If you’re currently cooling your home with a 2-ton, 24,000 BTU unit and are happy with it, we can do an even swap. As long as there haven’t been any renovations to the home, like additional rooms—or a garage converted to a man cave—that now rely on that same AC unit, it’s probably a safe bet that a new system of the same rating will work just fine.

Since most HVAC systems last between seven and fifteen years, chances are your new unit will significantly outperform the old one and still cost less to operate.

Call the Houston HVAC Installation Experts at Nick’s Air Conditioning!

Nick’s has been a family-owned and operated business in Houston since 1979, and our commitment to professional quality and customer satisfaction has never wavered in over four decades. It’s no secret that Nick’s is growing, and with our new 10,000-square-foot warehouse and the ever-expanding fleet of trucks in our yard, Nick’s Air Conditioning is more than ready to take on your next air conditioning installation.

For professional service from licensed, experienced, and thoroughly background-checked technicians that go through constant training, trust Nick’s Air Conditioning.

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