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AC Lifespan: How Long Do Air Conditioners Really Last in Southern California?

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Air conditioning is an essential part of surviving Southern California’s scorching summers. When it’s time to replace your air conditioner, it’s necessary to ask, “How long do AC units last?” Big-ticket items like cooling systems are a long-term investment for any homeowner, and no one wants an HVAC unit that will have an expensive mid-summer breakdown. 

A few different factors play into the life expectancy of your air conditioning system. The type of air conditioner you have is a significant factor to consider, along with the brand. Other factors include how often you use it and whether or not it has a regular maintenance schedule. Taking good care of your AC unit will lengthen its average life expectancy. The two major types of AC systems are window units and central air units.

How Long Do Window AC Units Last?

Window air conditioning units can last anywhere from five to fifteen years, and a good unit will last ten to fifteen years and up to twenty with regular maintenance. It’s hard to guarantee the lifespan of any appliance, but you can get a general idea from customer reviews. Steer clear of units that break down easily and require regular repair. 

It’s tempting to save money on a cheaper unit, but in the end, the unit will cost you more. Constant repairs and surprise energy bills stack up and drain you dry. Spending a little more, in the beginning, can save you money in the long run. 

Location, size, and maintenance also factor into the lifespan of a window unit. Place the unit in a shaded window or one that doesn’t receive full sun all day. This way, the AC unit doesn’t have to work against the heat of the sun’s rays as it cools your home. 

It’s also essential to get a unit big enough to cool your space. If it’s too small, the unit will burn out trying to keep up with too much square footage. Taking proper care of your new air conditioner will also elongate your unit’s lifespan. Changing air filters and scheduling regular maintenance from an HVAC technician l will help it last long past the warranty. 

How Long Does a Central Air Conditioner Last?

Unlike window AC units, central AC is a permanent installation in a home. It’s pricier, but it cools more of the house and lasts longer than a temporary unit. Quality air conditioning units last between ten and fifteen years, and a central AC unit can last up to twenty years or more with regular maintenance. When considering how long AC units last, don’t forget to factor in the warranty—this should cover repair costs and parts that will elongate the unit’s life expectancy.

The Role of an AC Compressor

When determining how long an AC will last, it’s essential to consider what percentage of the year your AC unit is actively running. The compressor, or the heart of your air conditioning unit, is the component responsible for converting power into energy. Without a functioning compressor, your home won’t have a cool airflow.

As long as the compressor is working, wear and tear occurs in your AC unit. Logically, if the compressor in your existing system is working hard to cool your home for the majority of the year, it won’t last as long as a system that’s only in use for a few warmer months each year.

This same rule applies to households with thermostats set for 77 degrees in the summer versus those set at 70 degrees. The lower your thermostat is set for, the more your compressor will have to run, and the shorter your AC lifespan will be. 

3 factors that contribute to the life expectancy of your ac unit infographic

Adjusting the temperature of your indoor air temperature will save your compressor, and you’ll enjoy a lower utility bill. Reduce energy waste and maintain your desired home temperate from your electronic device with a smart thermostat.

Phasing out Freon (R-22 Refrigerant)

To protect our ozone layer, the EPA banned production of R-22 refrigerant in January of 2010. R22, also known as Freon, is no longer manufactured and cannot be used in new air conditioning systems. Instead, new systems require a chlorine-free alternative known as R-410A refrigerant. Homeowners should replace older air conditioners to keep up with modern EPA standards. Be sure to contact your trusted HVAC technician to perform services involving refrigerants to avoid the illegal and damaging release of toxic substances.

Opt for Professional Installation

As with a window unit, it’s tempting to save money on the front end by buying a cheaper unit. Cheaper tends to mean less energy efficient, and it will cost you more in electric bills down the road. AC installation is also a significant factor in a unit’s life expectancy. Choose an HVAC service you trust to ensure the correct installation of a new unit. An inexperienced AC installer might make mistakes that reduce a unit’s lifespan. 

Other things to consider are the size of the unit and the climate you live in. With size, too big is just as bad as too small. A new AC that’s too small for your home will burn out trying to cool the ample space. With a unit that’s too big, the short cooling cycles create wear and tear on its parts. Also, consider the climate you live in. A unit suited for hot and humid air isn’t necessarily the best for hot and dry air. Contact Home Comfort to inquire about the best type of AC unit for your geographical area.

Extend Your AC Unit's Average Lifespan

The best way to keep your air conditioner running as long as possible is by scheduling proper AC maintenance throughout the year. A well-cared-for air conditioning unit will continue to cool you through the summer heat for many years to come. At Home Comfort USA, our priority is keeping your HVAC system working as long and efficiently as possible.

Contact us today to receive fast, convenient same-day AC tune-ups and the best energy-efficient HVAC equipment. And if you’re still wondering, “How long do air conditioners last?” our HVAC techs will be happy to answer all your questions.

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