How do I Choose the Best HVAC Products?

J. Beam

HVAC, or heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning, refers to those mechanical systems and products within a home or business that achieve heating and cooling. HVAC products include furnaces and air conditioners, as well as the ducts that guide air flow, the vents that inhale and expel air into the mechanical systems, and the filters that catch small air particles as the air passes through. Choosing the best HVAC products involves a combination of performance preference, budget, and consumer research.

HVAC product choices will often depend on the budget for the project.
HVAC product choices will often depend on the budget for the project.

Obviously the easiest way to choose HVAC products is to ask any HVAC company what they recommend. The downside of this method is that you would get almost as many answers as companies you contact. Many heating and air conditioning contractors sell specific brand name products and may only deal in one or two brands. This is where consumer research comes in. By researching brands using resources like Consumer Reports, retailer websites, and consumer forums, you can get an idea of each brand’s mechanical reliability, performance efficiency, and warranty information.

A high-efficiency gas furnace may cost more than a standard furnace but deliver utility bill savings over the long run.
A high-efficiency gas furnace may cost more than a standard furnace but deliver utility bill savings over the long run.

Choosing HVAC products, whether from well-known manufacturers or not, will depend largely on your available budget. Cost will vary with each manufacturer and changes with the size and performance capabilities of each product. For instance, a high-efficiency gas furnace will cost more than a lower efficiency version. Though you may shell out more money up front, energy-efficient HVAC products have long-term money saving potential. Compare your options based on initial cost, as well as long-term operating and performance costs.

Long-term performance is another object of consideration with HVAC products. For instance, are parts readily available for the brand you choose and are you limited as to which technicians or companies are qualified to work on them? Make sure to not limit yourself to a single company for future maintenance and repair. Make sure you have reasonable options if the dealer you purchase your product from should be out of business in five years. You can typically avoid this problem if you deal with a company that has a substantial business history or purchase brands that several companies are licensed to deal.

When replacing a furnace or air conditioning unit, make sure that your salesperson makes a thorough observation of your home or business’s existing system, the square footage, and current configuration of ductwork and vents. HVAC products are manufactured with different specifications for different environments. You don’t want to purchase a unit too small for the space or conversely, one that is unnecessarily large. A good company will give a proper evaluation of your heating and cooling needs, as well as assess whether you need additional components like a humidifier or air purifier in conjunction with your new system.

When you have chosen an HVAC product that is suitable for your structure and budget, be sure to ask about the required routine maintenance such as cleaning, changing filters, and seasonal tune-ups. Make sure you know which filters are best and follow the recommended maintenance schedule to get the most life and best performance out of your system. Also make sure to not perform any maintenance that would subsequently void the product’s warranty.

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