All About Central Air Conditioner In Ottawa

Back in your dad’s day purchasing a new central AC air conditioner was a simple matter.

  • The HVAC salesman would make a recommendation
  • the homeowner typically went with the best AC option based on what they could afford.

Now you have manufacturers from around the world competing for your central AC air conditioner purchase at prices that range drastically with add on features that seem so futuristic they could be right out of Star Trek!

With so many AC air conditioner options including air conditioners that also provide heat (Heat Pumps) and so many changes – comparing air conditioners let alone choosing a central AC air conditioner has never been more complicated!

Francis Plumbing Heating & Cooling makes it easier to find the right home heating and air conditioning to fit your needs and your lifestyle within a budget you can afford.

A/C Comparison Guide

Looking for a specific AC brands? There are many air conditioning brands on the market today:

What is the best air conditioners on the market?

Some of the more popular central air conditioners include:

  • Carrier
  • Tempstar
  • KeepRite
  • Bryant
  • Coleman
  • Lennox
  • Luxaire
  • Trane
  • Comfort Maker
  • Heil
  • ArcoAir
  • Rudd
  • Goodman
  • Amana
  • Ducane
  • American Standard
  • GE

There are also Split Ductless Air Conditioning Units like Fujitsu, Mitsubishi, etc.

Looking for a specific air conditioner efficiency? AC units come in different efficiencies:

  • 13 SEER AC
  • 14 SEER AC
  • 15 SEER AC
  • 16 SEER AC
  • 17-20 SEER AC
  • 21 SEER AC
  • 22 SEER AC
  • 24 SEER AC

The higher the seer – the more efficient the unit but it also means a much higher price tag and since central air conditioners are only used for a few months a year (unlike southern states where they are used year round) you wont operate the unit long enough to recover your investment if you go with the top of the line highest seer rating.

So what seer rating is best? Which seer rating qualifies for rebates? In all candor you really don’t need anything higher than 15 SEER for most homes in Ottawa but it will really depend on:

  • What features you want in your central air conditioner (quiet, efficiency, multi-zones, etc.)
  • What importance the environment plays in your personal life and objectives (carbon footprint)
  • What budget you are working with

Looking for a specific air conditioner size? AC units come in many different sizes:

  • ½ Ton AC
  • 1 Ton AC
  • 1.5 Ton AC
  • 2 Ton AC
  • 3 Ton AC
  • 4 Ton AC
  • 5 Ton AC


The size of the unit makes a huge difference to how comfortable your home is.


Get an air conditioner that is too small and it runs continuously (using too much electricity) and your house never feels comfortable on really hot days.


Get an air conditioner that is too large and the unit cycles on and off frequently. You need the air conditioner to run long enough to have time to dehumidify the air before the thermostat trips it off on temperature.  An air conditioner that is too big will cool the home too fast leaving the home feeling sticky and way too humid.

This extra humidity can cause all kinds of health problems (bronchitis, asthma and other breathing issues) in addition to structural problems as mold starts growing inside the home and window sills start rotting from water dripping.  If your windows are wet in the summer its most likely your air conditioner that isn’t fixing the problem.  The right size air conditioner will give you that perfect balance point where the house cools but not too quick so it can dehumidify.


When the central air conditioner is sized properly for your home it is comfortable all summer long, it uses the most energy efficient settings for that specific unit, and it lasts longer because it isn’t over operating or cycling on and off frequently.

Whether you need a 1/2 ton, 1 ton, 1 1/2 ton, 2 ton, 3 ton, 4 ton or 5 ton AC make sure the size fits your actual home needs. We can help you with that!

Do you have to buy a Furnace and AC at the same time?

No.  You can add a central air conditioner to almost any existing system with duct work but to get the best results it is best to buy them together. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • they will fit together with less modifications (meaning less labour costs)
  • when purchased together the furnace air flow correctly matches the required air flow for the AC so it can operate at peak efficiency.
  • The older equipment could make your newer AC under perform (less efficiencies and shorter lifespan)
  • Money savings – there are usually discounts available when you buy multiple pieces of equipment at the same time
  • Warranties all under the same manufacturer (makes warranty claims easier and less stressful)
  • High end communication equipment will only work with compatible equipment (if you want all those fancy communicating features in your new central air conditioner – your furnace has to be able to support those features for them to work)

If however you are only looking for a reliable air conditioner with out all the extra modern high efficiency features then you can add a central air conditioner or heat pump to most existing forced air heating systems.

How long do central AC units last?

Air Conditioning units purchased in the 1970’s typically lasted 20 to 30 years (just like cars purchased in the 1970’s). But today all mechanical machines are built with added computer components in order to achieve these amazing efficiencies. We also live in a time where things are designed for a shorter lifespan. The manufacturer claims these units should last 10 to 15 years but with proper installation and annual maintenance we have seen these units last much longer.  Replacing them is a matter of weighing when future efficiencies out weigh the operating costs of older less efficient equipment.

If your current air conditioner is more than 10 years old – its time to compare benefits to see if it is more cost effective to replace now (because of the cheaper operating costs of the higher efficiency AC units) or continue operating the older less efficient unit for a few more years.

If your current air conditioner seems to have problems holding a charge (meaning it has a potential leak and freezes up often) it will be more cost effective to replace the whole thing that the expensive service charge of doing a leak search, replacing a portion of the refrigerant line and refilling the system when often other parts are getting close to needing replacement.

To know if your current unit is still meeting your needs ask our technician during your next annual AC maintenance – they will be happy to review the current condition of your central air conditioner to see if it is time to consider an upgrade or if the existing unit will continue to function well for years to come.

So what is the difference between AC units / air conditioners?

Central AC Air Conditioners all do basically the same thing:

  • the refrigerant is compressed into a liquid that is very cold
  • the fan in your furnace blows air over the chilled coil and that cool air travels through the duct work
  • the expanded liquid turns into a gas that pulls heat from inside your house
  • the AC then dumps the hot air outside your home and starts the cycle again

So why are there so many models of central air conditioners? Because Ottawa homeowners want different AC features depending on budget, personal cooling and heating preferences, conveniences, noise levels, and so many other things.

So how can you compare AC air conditioners if they are all so different?

Many things make air conditioners different from each other (it applies to central AC air conditioners, split ductless air conditioners, heat pumps and heat recovery systems and most cooling and heating systems) – but here are just a few of the things that make them different (to really understand what you are buying be sure to get your Free AC Buyers Guide for complete details):

Quality of installationWARNING: Installations are NOT the same! 

This is the most common cause of problems, when customers go with the cheapest AC installers who really didn’t understand the technology they are installing and thus:

  • size the unit improperly (causing your walls inside your home to sweat dripping moisture in the summer causing mildew and mold problems compromising your health)
  • the air conditioner was never designed to operate the way it was installed (not installed to manufacturer specifications)
  • even something as simple as the patio stone they installed the air conditioner unit on wasn’t level so it put too much stress on the fan motor.

Usually when you hear of a new central air conditioner failing – the reason it failed was because of improper AC installation.

In fact some central AC air conditioners have developed a bad reputation online based ONLY on improper installations instead of on the longevity or quality of the actual central air conditioner.

Be careful when comparing AC units because this ONE area (installations) can mean the difference between effortless enjoyment of a cool home and thousands in unexpected ongoing repairs that never seem to resolve the problem.

The problem may not be with the AC unit – it may simply be in how the unit was installed that has caused catastrophic failure.

When shopping around for the best AC air conditioner go with a licensed certified expert who guarantees their work and has been in business long enough to be there when you call if there are ever problems. (Be sure to get your Free AC Guide so you can know what to look for when shopping around for a new AC air conditioner)

Efficiency levels

Efficiency is measured in SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio).

Usually the higher the air conditioners efficiency the more costly the AC unit (just like new cars). With that higher efficiency air conditioner you also get more complicated computer components that make it run at such a high efficiency (everything these days has computer chips even your central air conditioner).

This all equates to making sure your AC service technician is manufacturer certified to handle your specific AC air conditioner model and that the efficiencies actually have a reasonable payback time-line so that you will save enough to warrant the additional costs.

Some units can take longer to recoup the cost differential and in fact some air conditioners may never cover the additional charges for the higher efficiency.  The highest efficiency models are typically a waste of money in Ottawa as you will never run your air conditioner long enough for them to ever pay back the extra costs in savings.  These higher efficiency models are really designed for use in southern states like Texas where the cooling period is almost year round.

Our certified HVAC estimator is able to provide you with the numbers so you can make the best decision based on your home cooling and heating needs, the age of your home, your budget and other important factors.

Be sure to get our Free A/C Guide where you can learn about SEER and EER and how that translate to dollar savings including a supplemental document that shows how much Ottawa home owners can expect to save each year on their cooling costs.

Material quality

The quality of the materials used in the manufacturing of central air conditioners makes a difference.

Do you remember your mother’s Tupperware containers that she is still using today and yet you can’t buy a plastic container today that will last one year let alone decades.

And what about that car your Dad bought in the 70’s that ran for 30 years while newer models die in only 10 to 15 years.

It is the unfortunate truth that equipment today doesn’t last as long – this is directly related to the quality of materials used while trying to balance the costs between weight, shipping costs, efficiencies and more.

The new standard in central air conditioners lifespan is 10 to 15 years (that used to last 25+ years).

The good news in all of this is that even if they don’t last as long as the old beast air conditioner – these new ones have gotten smarter and more efficient due to computer components and manufacturing improvements that save you money in operating costs (hydro).

But there IS a difference in the materials used, so when shopping around you need to know which materials will last longer, out perform, and provide quite reliable cooling for your home.


Many warranties are not worth the paper they are written on, so you really do have to read the fine print if you want the best air conditioner you know will be covered against product failure (and the fine print is usually in a language that requires legal degrees to fully understand).

That being said you should be able to see the warranty up front if you ask and if you don’t understand something have it explained to you IN WRITING – this way you are more likely to be protected against any unexpected air conditioning expenses down the road.

In addition as more and more materials are purchased overseas it is not uncommon for AC parts to get damaged in the shipping process so the warranty can be the only thing that protects the end buyer from getting an AC air conditioner that doesn’t work as promised once installed.

Don’t expect all HVAC contractors to actually cover warranties – most simply offer the manufacturer’s warranty only and do not guaranty their actual work (the expensive labour). This means that you could be stuck paying labour charges for every AC repair (even if you get a faulty air conditioner that is being replaced by free by the manufacturer you still pay for the second installation on top of the first installation).

Our work comes with our minimum 1 year labour warranty on top of the manufacturers warranties PLUS we offer an optional extended 10 YEAR parts and labour warranty which even includes the diagnostic fee so you aren’t stuck paying unexpected additional out of pocket expenses later.

We also include our 100% Customer Satisfaction Guaranty and our $5 million dollar liability insurance so you know your home is protected.

Imagine never having to pay for an AC repair for 10 years… now that is a great warranty!

Quality and Frequency of Maintenance

Like your car the better you care for it the better it runs and the longer it lasts.  The same is true for air conditioners.

If you take care of your central AC air conditioner you have fewer headaches & you save money too.

These new air conditioners are not the same machines that were made even a few years ago – they all have computer components now to minimize the hydro-electricity that is used and to operate more effectively and efficiently. Taking care of these units through air conditioning maintenance & regular AC filter changes is vital to keep them operating both efficiently and properly.

There is nothing worse than having the AC die on the hottest day of the year – especially if you or a loved one suffers from asthma or other health issues.

Air conditioning Price Comparison

As you can see air conditioning equipment, installations and warranties vary drastically so comparing work based on price alone could end up being the homeowner’s worst nightmare.

At Francis Plumbing Heating & Cooling we provide you with a written quote upfront (no hidden surprises) which includes a detailed checklist of everything included in that quote.

Our expert estimators will also discuss all the details you need to make an informed cooling and heating decision based on the facts and what fits you best (not what you don’t need).

Regardless of who you buy from you should still have the facts – be sure to get your Free AC Buyers Guide so you know what questions to ask before you buy.

Already got a quote from someone else and want to know if what you are getting is a good deal?

Give us a call.  We will gladly review their HVAC quote with you and give you an honest assessment of what they are offering you and if we can’t beat their quote we will give you a free plumbing gift certificate and will encourage you to go ahead with the other company’s quote.

We know that may seem like a bad way to do business giving the job to the other HVAC company but our goal has always been customers’ needs first!  We actually care about our neighbours and our community and we always want what is best for our neighbors and clients regardless of who provides the service in Ottawa.

Our honesty and integrity has made us well known in Ottawa for over 80 years which is why so many Ottawa homeowners trust us to care for their heating & air conditioning needs personally.

Call today to schedule your Free Quote

Central air conditioners are currently on sale. Learn about central AC costs (central air conditioning prices) and speak to a central AC expert near me for all your central air conditioning questions and answers.

Francis Plumbing Heating & Cooling is your service experts serving the Ottawa region including Kanata, Stittsville, Manotick, Nepean, Barrhaven, Rockcliffe Park, Orleans and the surrounding Ottawa area since 1933.