Some homes don’t have a working air conditioner installed, and during hot summer months the warm temperatures can become unbearable.
If your home is not equipped with an AC system, you have several options available depending on the size, location, and build of your home.
Here, we explore the possibilities of adding an air conditioning system to an existing furnace as a way of getting the best of both worlds for your home or business.
Can I Add an AC Unit to My Existing Setup?
If your home does not currently have a cooling unit, it is possible to add one onto your existing air handling system. However, your existing unit must be a furnace.
If you have a boiler, a radiant heater, or a space heater, this option will not be possible. These systems are not equipped with ductwork or a way to move air around your home, and therefore cannot support an air cooling system.
However, if your current form of heating is supplied by a furnace, adding an AC can be a great alternative to purchasing an entirely new system.
Advantages to Adding AC to an Existing Furnace
If you already have a furnace installed in your home for heating purposes but you lack a cooling mechanism, adding an AC unit to your existing system is a cost-effective solution.
In order to cool down your entire home, supplementary fans and window units will not suffice. You will need a powerful, far-reaching setup that feeds cool air into every room.
With a furnace, you are already set up to provide airflow throughout your entire home. You can utilize the existing fan and duct infrastructure for cold air by adding a few components to your existing furnace.
Steps to Retrofit AC to Your Furnace
The process of adding an AC to a furnace is simple enough—it should cost around $3,500–$4,000 for parts and labor and take no more than a few days.
If you’re worried about your budget, some states actually offer rebates and financial aid if you install energy efficient units.
Here is more detailed information on what to expect when you’re retrofitting an air conditioner to an older furnace:
- You’ll need to add an evaporator coil to your furnace. This device is responsible for creating the cool air.
- An outdoor condensing unit will need to be added to your system.This unit contains a compressor, fan and heat exchanger—all necessary components for a properly operating AC.
- You will have to add a conduit to connect your indoor and outdoor units and supply refrigerant to your system.
- Double check to see if you have an electrical capacity capable of handling an additional 230 volts. If you don’t have this, a circuit breaker upgrade may be necessary.
- You will want to purchase and install an updated thermostat that offers controls for both heating and cooling.
- A PVC condensate drain line will be necessary to drain any liquid formed during the air cooling process from condensation.
Before you get too deep into your retrofitting project, there are a couple of things to look out for. You will need to install an evaporator coil on your furnace, which range in size from 2–2.5 feet tall. Take a look at your furnace and make sure you have enough space on the top or side for this installation.
Another thing to be wary of is the size of your current ductwork. Cold air is heavier than warm air and is more difficult to move. It is possible that the ducts used for your heating unit are too small to efficiently handle the pressure of an AC.
If this is the case, there are a few things you can do before giving your ductwork a complete makeover:
- Increase the furnace blower or add a booster fan to increase airflow
- Seal your ducts to cut down on leaks and offset some of the efficiency lost from the small size of the ducts
- Add returns to help recirculate more air
This is not an issue the average homeowner would be able to diagnose, however our certified technicians at Pro HVAC Service will easily be able to determine if you need larger ducts and will guide you through your next steps to adding an air conditioner to your furnace.
If your current setup will not support an add-on AC unit there are other ways to cool down your home. If a lack of ductwork is holding you back, Energy Star summarizes how ductless systems can work for you. Two popular options are:
Install a Mini Split System
If you don’t have ductwork or are looking to cool off a single room or small apartment, you can look into a split system. Mini split systems are small units that can be mounted just about anywhere and provide cool air without any ductwork.
With costs anywhere from $1,300–$4,500, these units are quick to install and run more efficiently than central AC when used properly.
Install a Packaged System
Packaged systems are typically installed on rooftops and contain the evaporation coil, condenser, compressor, and an electric heating coil or natural gas furnace all within one cabinet. This is a space-conscious option as all of the components are together in one place, and out of the way on your roof.
If you don’t have a furnace within your home already, this is an excellent option. The install is cheaper than that of a typical split system and the units typically cost $1,500–$6,000.
Ready to Retrofit AC to Your Furnace? Give Us a Call Today for Free, No-Obligation Quotes!
If you’re ready to cool off this summer, Pro HVAC Service can help connect you with HVAC contractors in your area. A furnace properly retrofitted with an AC system can make all the difference, and our contractors will work with you to find the best solution for your home.