What Is the Most Energy Efficient Air Conditioner?

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the best and most energy efficient air conditioner award in gold with black background

What Is the Most Energy Efficient Air Conditioner?

Category:General

Today, energy efficiency is a very popular topic. And, with good reason. The more energy efficient a system or appliance is, the more money that is saved. And, since our heating and cooling systems make up the largest portion of our energy bills, finding the most energy efficient air conditioner is a wise pursuit.

So what is the most efficient air conditioner? Is it a split unit? A packaged unit? A heat pump? A Trane ac unit? A Carrier ac unit? Don’t worry, we will get to that. But first, let’s go over some important information to grasp and understand.

How to Determine an Air Conditioner’s Efficiency

One way that an air conditioner’s efficiency is documented is by it’s SEER rating. The SEER rating is determined according to the indoor cooling ability of an ac unit divided by how many watts it used (energy) per hour to maintain the set temperature. While the indoor temperature during these cycles stays the same, the outdoor temperature varies from cooler temps to high, hotter temps in order to provide realistic results.

It’s important to understand that a SEER rating doesn’t necessarily mean that the ac unit performs at this number on average or at a constant rate. It’s actually the maximum rate of efficiency that the unit can perform at. Since this is the standard across the board, it is still a great way to determine an air conditioner’s efficiency and a great comparison tool for you and me.

What Are Good SEER Ratings?

Today, most air conditioner’s have a minimum SEER rating of 13-14. But, before modern air conditioners came along, many SEER ratings were under 10. So, we’ve come a long way in modern HVAC technology.

A SEER rating of 13-14 is a solid rating. Chances are that if you are upgrading your air conditioner and buying a new unit, you are definitely upgrading the efficiency of your unit. As I mentioned before, air conditioners produced 10-20 years ago had SEER ratings under 10, so your efficiency can almost double with a newer modern unit.

Now, what you’ve been waiting for! Let’s go over some of the most efficient units…

So, What are the Most Energy Efficient Air Conditioners?

Most HVAC brands produce air conditioners that have a high SEER rating (18 and above). These are typically referred to as “high efficiency” air conditioners. One source we can use to find some of the most efficient air conditioners is the list compiled by Energy Star. According to their list, the Lennox XC25 is the most energy efficient central air conditioner with a SEER rating of 26. That’s pretty impressive!

There are others on the list such as units from Bryant, Carrier, and Daikin that have impressive SEER ratings as well.

But, what if I told you that these are not the most efficient air conditioners available? The most efficient option is probably something that you haven’t even thought of. These units are on the list referenced above, but they are often overlooked.

The Most Energy Efficient Air Conditioner in the World…

The most efficient air conditioners in the world today are ductless mini splits. They have SEER ratings of up to 38 SEER!

Typical ductless mini split indoor unit (evaporator)
the most energy efficient air conditioner with outdoor unit and indoor unit in white casing and red letters
Typical ductless mini split outdoor unit (condenser)

There are numerous reasons why they are so efficient:

No Ductwork

Ductless mini split systems do not have any ductwork, hence their name. With a conventional central cooling system, more than 30% of the produced cool air can be lost during the delivery process into the home or business through the ductwork. This directly affects the efficiency of the system. With a mini split system, there is no loss of cool air because the air actually doesn’t even leave the room. The local air in the room is drawn into the evaporator unit (indoor unit), cooled, and then dispersed back into the local area or room.

Each Room’s Climate Can Be Controlled Individually

A typical mini split system’s setup contains an outdoor unit (condensing unit) and at least 1 indoor unit (evaporator unit). The evaporator unit is what takes in the warm air, cools it, and disperses it back into the room(s). Electrical wires and refrigerant lines connect these units via a small hole in the wall. The hole is usually no more than 3 inches in diameter.

Because an evaporator unit can be installed in each room, every room’s temperature can be controlled individually with it’s own thermostat. This can drastically affect the efficiency of the cooling system because only the rooms that need to be cooled are being cooled and they can be set to any temperature you desire. Central air conditioners with a zoned system can pull off a similar effect by offering different temperatures per level or floor, but not to the same degree as a mini split system.

I Hope This Answered Your Question!

Instead of having one answer and conclusion from this post, we’ve got two! Currently, the most efficient traditional central air conditioner is the Lennox XC25 with a SEER rating of 26. But, the most efficient type of air conditioner available today are ductless mini split systems. Their SEER ratings can be as high as 38!

Do you have any experience with ductless mini split systems? Would you consider one considering they have the best energy efficiency ratings?

Comment below. We’d love to hear from you!

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