2021 Buyer’s Guide To Choosing The Right Air Conditioner For Your Home

Updated for 2023

Are you shopping for a new air conditioner in the Toronto area? If you’re like most homeowners, you probably don’t know where to start. There are so many options out there that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed!

May we suggest that you begin by reading this air conditioner buying guide? It gives you the facts about conventional central air conditioning and the new ductless (also known as “mini-split”) systems.

Save Up To $10,000 on Heat Pumps!Learn More

Is Ductless or Central Air Conditioner Better For Your Home?

Ductless and central air conditioners both work by alternately evaporating and compressing a refrigerant to produce cool air. However, central air consists of a large outdoor compressor unit and a single indoor air handler; it circulates cooled air via the same ducts used by your furnace.

Ductless air conditioners comprise a smaller compressor unit (usually mounted on an exterior wall) and one or more air handlers, wall-mounted in the area(s) to be cooled. They do not require ductwork.

Choosing which type of air conditioner will be better is a very personal decision, based on your home and your cooling preferences. Central air conditioning and ductless units each have areas where they shine and others where they’re not so strong.

Cooling. Take cooling, for instance. Even if you have a large home, central air conditioning can provide cooling throughout. However, many ductless air conditioners are designed to cool only 1 or 2 rooms.

Retrofitting. Central air is fine for retrofitting IF you already have a system of ductwork in place for a forced-air furnace OR you have enough space in your attic or basement to install new ducts. On the other hand, Ductless is simple to retrofit just about anywhere and is also an excellent way to install air conditioning in new additions to your house. TIP: Are you about to install central AC? Have your old ductwork cleaned and repaired first—you’ll increase efficiency and decrease airborne contaminants like dust and mould in your home.

Noise. A central air conditioner’s outdoor compressor unit can be on the noisy side. Ductless air conditioners are quieter.

Appearance. Central air conditioning is less visible in your living area. The indoor air handler is down in the basement with your furnace, and the compressor is outdoors (where you can disguise it with a fence or plantings — allow room for airflow and access for HVAC techs). Ductless AC is more obvious, although some designers integrate it cleverly into the room décor.

Cost. The cost to buy central air conditioning is usually lower. Ductless AC is more expensive to purchase, but you save on both the fast, simple installation and the ongoing energy costs to operate this system.

If you decide a central air conditioner is best for you, you’ll want to make sure you know how to landscape around your new AC unit.

What About A Heat Pump?

A heat pump is a great option when you’d like a ductless system that combines both heating and cooling. However, heat pumps lose heating efficiency when the outdoor temperature is below 4° Celsius. In our chilly Canadian climate, they are best used as an energy-saving supplement to another method of home heating, such as a gas furnace.

Read our guide on cold climate heat pumps for more information.

Is Energy Efficiency Important To You?

A central air conditioner system is less energy-efficient than a ductless air conditioner. The good news is that air conditioning technology has advanced enormously over the past decade, creating central AC that is much more energy-efficient than it was 10 or 20 years ago. Look for an Energy Star certified central system.

Ductless air conditioners are the clear winner in terms of energy efficiency, though, for 3 reasons:

  1. Efficient use of electricity
  2. Efficient circulation of cooled air
  3. No leakage, as there would be with ductwork (ductwork can leak up 30 percent of your cooled air)

Do You Want Multiple Cooling Zones?

“Zoning” your AC allows you to set different temperatures and independent cooling schedules for various areas of your house.

To zone a central air conditioner system, you will have to modify your existing ductwork — installing dampers to create different temperature zones. Ductless is usually more convenient if you’d like to zone your cooling. All you’ll need to do is connect several indoor air handlers to your outdoor compressor unit.

What Air Conditioner Brands Are Best?

We like Lennox and Carrier. These well-known brands have earned consumers’ trust for a good reason — manufactured with care in the USA, their heating and cooling products offer outstanding performance and a reliable warranty.

Lennox: As authorized Lennox dealers, we sell and install a selection of their Lennox ductless air conditioners. Choose from air condition-only and single- or multi-zone heat pumps.

Carrier: If you’re looking for a central air conditioning system, we carry Carrier models with a variety of price points, cooling capacities, and SEER ratings. There are both Carrier Ductless and Central Air conditioners.

What Size Air Conditioner Do I Need For My Home?

Correct sizing is one of the most vital steps in choosing the right central air conditioner for your home. To determine the right size, a general rule of thumb is that you will need 20 British Thermal Units (BTU) of cooling per square foot.

But there is more to the calculation than just home size … lots more. Add to the equation:

  1. Layout of your existing ductwork.
  2. Amount and quality of home insulation.
  3. Climate conditions. Let’s go into a bit more detail here. In the Greater Toronto Area, summers tend to be very hot and unpleasantly humid — so you’ll want AC that can properly dehumidify your home. The “micro-climate” of your house also makes a difference. To illustrate, a home with many west- or south-facing windows will get hotter than one with just a few windows, facing north or east.
  4. Landscaping. If you have a lot of mature trees surrounding your home, they will shelter the building from conditions such as strong sun or wind. This also affects your cooling needs.

Why You Should Buy A Maintenance Plan

With a Husky HVAC maintenance plan, you have peace of mind.

You’ll know that our expert team will inspect and tune-up your heating and cooling system every year. (No more putting it off or “forgetting.”)

Regular professional maintenance will help your system perform most efficiently, saving you money on energy.

It also means your air conditioner is much less likely to break down during one of those heavy-duty Vaughan heat waves. Our maintenance plan can even extend your AC’s working life. But don’t just take our word for it. Check out this great Google Review of our service:

Husky installed our air conditioner in 2009, and we were delighted with their services and quality work. The staff was patient and understanding to answer our questions and provided the best recommendation for our purchase.

Since then, Husky is our go-to company when we had any issues with heating and cooling. The staff who answered my calls was super helpful for scheduling a timely appointment and the technician always came on time to fix the problem to our satisfaction. I am very impressed by their technician Dave for his professionalism, expertise and superb customer care.

Raymond L.

Husky – The Reliable Source For Your New Air Conditioner

Whichever type and size of air conditioner you need, turn to Husky. You’ll get expert answers to all your AC questions.

We’re full service air conditioning professionals in Vaughan, providing sales, service, and maintenance plans.