The compressor is the most important part of the air conditioner. It also happens to be the most expensive. When your AC isn’t working, and the culprit is a faulty compressor, the first thing that pops in your mind is, “Should I replace it or buy a new AC?”. A straightforward answer to this question is not quite possible.
However, our guide will help make the decision simple. The right choice always depends on the situation and your ability to shell out money. So, should you replace the compressor or the whole unit? Let’s see what’s the right choice for you.
What Choices Do You Really Have?
Very few of us are actually aware that the choices at our disposal are not just two. It’s not a fight or flight kind of situation. You actually have 4 choices when the AC compressor conks out.
- Replace just the compressor.
- Replace the entire outside unit or the condensing unit.
- Replace the condensing unit along with the evaporator coil.
- Buy a new AC.
Guide To Decide Whether To Replace Compressor Or Whole Unit
- Age Of Air Conditioner – If your air conditioner is anywhere between 15-20 years old, it is best to buy a new one. The reason being that getting its spare parts will be very difficult because of technological obsolescence. Also, the technology since then has evolved and become better and more energy efficient. So your purchase decision will quickly be set off with the savings in the electricity bill.
- Take Second Opinion Before Accepting Compressor Is Actually Dead – As customers, we believe that the contractor will always give us the most feasible and viable solution. The fact remains that there are many rip-offs who want to make easy money. Hence, even if there is some life left in the compressor and in some extreme cases when the fault does not even lie in the compressor, they will advise you to replace it or buy a new AC. Why do they do that? Simply to earn more in the form of commissions and additional installation charges. So, don’t jump the gun.Ask a reputed HVAC company for their opinion after a complete inspection of the AC unit. If you are not sold on the technician’s verdict, you can ask his senior or the field supervisor to confirm or negate the findings. Ideally, this should not cost you anything extra.
- Figure Out The Warranty Terms & Conditions – It would be sheer good luck to find out that the compressor is still under warranty. If that is the case, you do not have to pay for a new compressor. You just pay the labor cost, and the company replaces the AC compressor free of charge. A technician from your regular HVAC company will be able to tell you whether the compressor is still covered under warranty.
- Compare The Cost Of Replacing Compressor and Cost Of New AC – Sometimes it is not just the compressor that needs to be replaced. As mentioned in the section above, you may have to replace the entire condensing unit or the condensing unit along with the evaporator coil. Whatever be the case, you need to take into account the total costs involved in this replacement along with labor cost and installation charges. Compare the same with the price of a new AC and its installation. Consider the price difference to see what suits your pocket the best. If the difference is not much, it is wise to buy a new air conditioner.
What We Suggest
1. Replace your air conditioners compressor only if one or more of the following terms are met –
- The compressor is still under warranty such that you only need to pay for the labor cost.
- No other major components of your AC have already failed or are likely to fail in the near future.
- The inside unit was replaced recently.
- Budget is tight, and you can’t be extravagant.
2. Buy a new air conditioner only if one or more of these terms are met –
- Your AC is really old (more than 15 years).
- More than one component is at risk of failure or has failed already.
- Money is not an issue.
Is It Advisable To Replace Only The Outdoor Unit?
Your air conditioner consists of two main units – the indoor unit (evaporator unit) and the outdoor unit (condensing unit). These two units are a match made in heaven and supplement each other. Since they are two parts of a matched system replacing one but not the other can cause some serious problems. These could be –
- No Warranty – Mismatched systems can cause problems. Therefore, the manufacturer may exercise the right of not extending a warranty if you replace the condenser unit but not the evaporator unit.
- Premature Failure – Mismatched units can cause uncalled for pressure on one or both the units. This can cause premature failure of either or both the units.
- Decrease In Efficiency – The new unit is bound to be more efficient than the older unit. It will feel like tying an old car to a racing car. Hence, efficiency is bound to decrease for sure.
So What Should You Really Do?
Times are changing. Economies are again rising after the recession. The paying capacity of the masses is becoming better. Therefore, purchase and repair decisions are becoming easier to answer. They are even willing to pay extra to get an extended warranty. In all this, what you really want as a customer is honest opinions and good service.
To replace the compressor or whole unit is indeed a confusing decision. Hopefully, what we have discussed above will make the task a little easier. Remember to always ask for a second opinion for Air Conditioner Problems And Solutions and always make an informed decision. It is not necessary that the more expensive option is always the right option. Money is hard earned, spend it wisely.
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs
If your AC is nearly 10 years old, the clear choice is to replace the entire system. If your system is new and the warranty is still intact, but the compressor has failed, it is indicative of an AC defect. For such systems, it’s time to approach the manufacturer for system replacement. This should not cost you a single penny.
Ideally, you should replace the complete air conditioning system and not just the outdoor unit, as it can raise compatibility issues. Nonetheless, if your system is still under warranty, you can ask the manufacturer for only an outdoor unit replacement with the exact specifications as the existing one.
Condenser troubles and compressor malfunctions are more often than not related. Consequently, replacing the condenser is a good idea when the compressor fails.
The likelihood of complete compressor breakdown while the system is under warranty is minuscule. So, if you are told your new compressor is out for good. Seek a second opinion, for there is a chance the problem has been misdiagnosed. Whether you replace it or repair it depends on the extent of the problem and also what the HVAC technician suggests.
AC compressors are expensive. Usually, you will face the issue of a dead compressor only when the AC is old. In such a system, it is more cost-effective to upgrade to a new AC than to invest in a new compressor because very soon, the rest of the older unit will go belly up, and then you will be back to square one.