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Frequently Asked Questions

If you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers!

The best ones are efficient, operating on minimal electricity to hold utility bills down. They provide steady, dependable performance year after year when properly maintained. Good systems are quiet, long-lasting and low in service needs.

Obviously, an air conditioner that’s too small won’t keep your home sufficiently cool. But what many don’t realize is that an oversized system will cycle (turn on and off) more than necessary, wasting expensive energy and possibly putting undue strain on the compressor.

A good dealer will determine the optimum size for your home by making a careful study of your cooling requirements. Window dimensions and exposure. Floor space, insulation and local climate. Heat-generating appliances. The direction your home faces. Even the amount of your home’s exterior shaded by trees.

He’ll specify the cooling capacity of the system in either Btu/h (British thermal units of heat removed per hour) or refrigeration tons (one ton being equal to 12,000 Btu/h).

Much like automobile manufacturers, today’s air conditioner manufacturers are required by law to evaluate and rate their equipment according to its energy efficiency. This rating is known in the industry as a SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the equipment.

Most new homes with central air come equipped with a standard builder’s model. However, when replacement becomes necessary, property owners can upgrade their air conditioning by specifying a more energy-efficient system.

High SEER models are generally more expensive, but can easily make up the difference by reducing your home energy bills over the long run.

The compressor is the heart of a condensing unit. On a hot day, it works long and hard. Bryant installs the highly advanced scroll compressor in every Bryant condensing unit we produce. Scroll Compressors are recognized by the industry as the leader in reliability, efficiency and quiet operation.

Other features to look for include louvered steel cabinets that protect the coils from damage and expensive repair bills.

Also, with some condensing units, the fan can be another source of bothersome noise. Bryant units have a grill design that minimizes air restriction for quieter fan operation.

Dependability. Look for a dealer you see in your community. You want one who’s close by to provide you faster, more convenient service.

He should offer a recognized name brand. And he should have a well-stocked inventory of replacement parts. You wouldn’t want to sit out a mid-summer heat wave waiting for a simple repair!

One way to be sure you’ll get good service is to contact Estes Heating and Air Conditioning at (251) 220-4744. Estes Heating and AC is knowledgeable, dependable, and as good as any you’ll find in the business. Give us a call.

Frequently Used Terms

Be in the know!


Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning

Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute is a nonprofit, voluntary organization comprised of manufacturers of air conditioning, refrigeration and heating products.  It publishes standards for testing and rating heat pumps and air conditioners in order to provide the consumer with a standardized unit of comparison between equipment of various manufacturers.

Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association

Department oEnergy is the federal agency in charge of monitoring the consumption of energy sources.

A Watt is unit of electricity.

A kilowatt is 1000 watts.

A kilowatt hour is the amount of kilowatts of electricity used in one hour of operation.

A therm is a unit of measure for natural gas.  You will find this term used on your gas bill.

A British Thermal Unit is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water (about one pint) by one degree Fahrenheit.

Btu’s per hour.

A ton is a unit of measure for the cooling capacity of an air conditioner or a heat pump.  To determine the number of tons of cooling you must take the Btu’s per hour and divide by 12,000 (Btuh/12,000). Typical sizes for single family residences are between 2 and 5 tons.   For example, a 3 ton air conditioner will remove 36,000 Btuh ( 3 X 12,000).   The actual capacity of a unit will change based on indoor and outdoor conditions.   The published rating of a unit is based on its performance at the ARI standard temperature levels: 95°F outside, 80°F inside.


Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio applies to air conditioners and heat pumps and describes the relationship between the Btuh, or cooling capacity of a unit, and the amount of electricity required to run the unit.  This ratio is based on normal annual usage.  Units with higher SEER ratings require less electricity to cool a home and are therefore more efficient.

Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency.  This rating applies to gas furnaces and is based on average usage and  includes fuel usage during on and off cycling.  The higher the AFUE rating, the less fuel a furnace or boiler will use.

The Coefficient of Performance is a ratio used in rating the heating efficiency of heat pumps.  It is determined by dividing the total heating capacity (excluding supplementary resistance heat) by the total electric input.

Sound Ratings

A decibel describes the relative loudness of a sound.

A bel is a decibel divided by 10.

Sound Rating is measured in bels.  The SR of a unit (heat pump or air conditioner) is based on tests performed at ARI standard rating conditions.   Although no energy consumption is tied to the SR, it can directly affect the consumer’s comfort (as well as that of a neighbor!).  Average sound ratings range from 7.2 to 8.2.  Lower numbers indicate quieter units.

Equipment Components

The compressor is the major component located in your outdoor unit (heat pump or air conditioner).  New units are sold with a 5 year or 10 year limited warranty form the manufacturer on this part.  When the compressor fails after the warranty has expired it usually means the replacement of the entire unit due to the high cost of the compressor alone.

The condenser is a term referring to the outdoor unit (air conditioner).  It is called the condenser because it is where the refrigerant goes from a gas to a liquid (condenses) in the refrigeration cycle.

The evaporator is the indoor coil used in air conditioning.  It is called the evaporator because it is where the refrigerant goes from a liquid to a gas (evaporates) in the refrigeration cycle.

This term refers to the components in a gas furnace in which the actual combustion takes place.  Typically the manufacturers place a 20 year limited warranty on the heat exchangers.  On the highest efficiency furnaces the heat exchangers are warranted for as long as you own your home.

The inducer fan helps send the products of combustion up the chimney or through the appropriate exhaust vent.  This component is only found on the newer generation of furnaces with efficiencies of 78% AFUE and higher.

This component replaces the traditional pilot on a gas furnace.  A hot surface ignition will “turn on” when the furnace is starting and “turns off” once the burners are lit.  Because this is only in use when the furnace is starting there is no wasted energy from continuous pilot operation.