HR-032716-Carrier-Hawaii-1-BC-PICLast year’s summer generated 50 days of record-setting heat in Hawaii. While we don’t know what’s coming this summer, we do know that now is the best time to get prepared if you want to enjoy it in comfort.

By acting before the rush is on, you will have more options and chances to make better decisions and probably even save some money.

Early spring is the best time to get estimates, as most contractors are not busy. Suppliers already have summer inventories and offer a good selection of equipment. You have time to select a good contractor and get a quality installation. Get referrals from friends or call the supplier of a reputable brand for dealer referrals. At Carrier Hawaii, the staff would be happy to share a list of high-quality installers.

There are three basic types of systems: The inexpensive room air conditioner (good), the ductless split system (DLS, better), and the zoned ducted central system (best). Since zoned ducted systems are engineered and integrated in the design of the house, the focus will be on the first two types of systems.
Until 35 years ago, the room air conditioner was the system of choice. It’s still acceptable today if you’re looking to just cool one or two rooms. It’s efficient, as it only cools the room it’s installed in. Most models today are Energy-Star designated for high efficiency, and they are quieter than they were in the past.

Cooling capacity is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Unit) per hour (BTUH). For most local homes, a rough calculation is 30 BTUH x floor area of the room. Caution: Do not oversize; more is not good. For unit sizes 5,000 BTUH to 11,000 BTUH, you can install it yourself and just plug it into the standard 110-volt wall outlet. The largest 110-volt unit is 13,000 BTUH, but you may need a dedicated circuit for the higher power required. You can install it yourself or hire a handyman. Be advised, room air conditioners are noisier than other options and most awkwardly stick out of the window. Exterior flush-mounted ones are hard to find and they are not as efficient.

Ductless split-systems are a step up from the room air conditioner. Since they have two components, you can put the noisier part outside, usually on the ground. Only the quiet fan coil goes inside the home. The installation is easy, but requires an air conditioning contractor and an electrician. The installed cost is affordable but higher than a room air conditioner.
Today’s ductless split systems provide a choice of different indoor fan coil models: high-wall, in-ceiling, under-ceiling, and floor-mounted. They also offer a multiplex system with one outdoor unit that operates up to four indoor units, which prevents clutter and additional noise outdoors. This is the most popular system for fully cooled residences.

Lastly, find a reliable brand, backed by a trustworthy supplier who stands by their product with sales, service, replacement parts and contractor training. You don’t want to wait for service or replacement parts during the hot season.

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