14 SEER vs 16 SEER: Which Is Best for My Florida Home?
May 01, 2018
When Florida homeowners are shopping for a new air conditioner, they often ask us if they should go with a 14-SEER or 16-SEER AC.
Here’s what we recommend for Florida homeowners: Go with a 16-SEER AC unit. Why? Well, even though the 16-SEER is more expensive upfront, it will save you more money in the long run due to its lower operational cost.
In this article, we’ll compare a 14-SEER to a 16-SEER unit in terms of 2 important factors:
Let’s start by looking at price…
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14 SEER vs 16 SEER: The difference in price
Price is probably the #1 thing on your mind, so let’s look at how the 2 units compare with each other in terms of cost.
As an example, let’s look at these 2 Lennox AC models:
- Lennox 14ACX 14 SEER costs $1,790 on average, just for the unit itself (not including installation)
- Lennox XC14 16 SEER costs $2,290 on average, just for the unit itself (not including installation)
As you can see, the 16-SEER model costs $500 more upfront than the 14-SEER model.
However, it’s important to remember that the higher the SEER, the more energy-efficient the air conditioner. And the more energy-efficient the AC, the lower your monthly energy bills will be.
So now we need to ask, will the monthly energy savings justify the cost of the higher SEER?
In this case, between these 2 models here in Florida, the answer is YES.
Here’s why: According to the Lennox SEER Energy Savings Calculator, you would save $500 in operational costs with a 16-SEER unit after just 5 years, which would pay back the higher cost of the unit.
And after 15 years (the maximum lifespan of an air conditioner), you’d save a total of $1,500*.
The bottom line? A 16-SEER unit will save you more money in the long run than a 14 SEER unit.
*Note: You’ll only see these savings from a higher SEER unit IF…
Your home is perfectly insulated (and most homes are not)
Your ductwork is 100% leak-proof and the correct size (Energy Star estimates that most homes lose 20–30% of the air that moves in the duct system to leaks)
You have “matched units” (i.e., both indoor and outdoor AC components are the same SEER)
14 SEER vs 16 SEER: The difference in comfort
When it comes to comfort, the difference between a 14-SEER and 16-SEER unit can vary depending on the compressor/blower technology.
- If the 16-SEER unit you’re comparing has single-stage technology, the actual comfort levels will typically be the same as a 14-SEER unit. However, you get more “cooling for your dollar” with a 16-SEER unit.
You see, the 16-SEER unit is designed to produce more cooling output given the same amount of electricity as a 14-SEER unit.
One reason a 16-SEER produces more cooling is because its indoor blower is designed to continue blowing a few minutes past the cooling cycle. This allows the AC to use some of the leftover cooling capacity that’s still inside the evaporator coil—without drawing any additional electricity.
- If the 16-SEER unit you’re comparing has 2-stage or multi-stage technology, then it will definitely provide better comfort than a 14-SEER unit (all 14-SEER units have single-stage technology).
So what exactly does “multi-speed’ and “variable-speed” technology mean in terms of comfort? Well, it means…
- More even cooling throughout your home: A multi-speed or variable-speed AC allows your AC to run longer at slower speeds, instead of running on full blast then turning off quickly like single-stage technology.
This ability to run longer at slower speeds means that a high-SEER air conditioner will deliver air to all the areas of your home—you won’t have any hot or cold spots.
- Less humidity: Since multi-speed air conditioners run longer at slower speeds, they can remove more humidity from your home’s air. Since we have high humidity levels here in Florida, higher SEER units are especially beneficial.
For more information about compressor and blower technology, read our articles:
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- Posted in:
- Air Conditioner