14 SEER vs 16 SEER – Differences Explained by an AC Tech

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Are you looking for an air conditioner to get for your home? When it comes to choosing a good air conditioner, it’s important to go for one with high energy efficiency. Air conditioner energy efficiency is in units that are rated according to SEER. In this post I’ll be comparing the differences between 14 SEER and 16 SEER units based on upfront cost as well as ongoing energy costs.

But what is SEER? Seer is simply the ratio between the cooling output of an air conditioner and the energy it uses. It stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio.

The main difference between a 14 SEER and a 16 SEER is that the latter is a 2-stage compressor air conditioner. Unlike a single-stage 14 seer, a 16 seer has two distinct compressor speeds that allow it to cool your home or office more efficiently and evenly.

These two types of air conditioners have a few differences as summarized in the table below and which can help you make an informed decision when it comes to picking a better one for your needs.

14 SEER vs 16 SEER – Comparison Chart

FEATURE14 SEER16 SEER
COMPRESSOR TYPE1ST STAGE COMPRESSOR2ND STAGE COMPRESSOR
NOISE LEVELNOISYQUIETER
CONDENSING FANSSINGLE SPEED2-SPEED CONDENSING FANS
EFFICIENCYEFFICIENT BUT NOT AS 16 SEERMORE EFFICIENT THAN 14 SEER
SIZE AND WEIGHTUSUALLY NOT AS BIGOFTEN BIGGER AND HEAVIER IN SIZE
INSTALLATION CostEASIER AND COSTS LESSJUST AS EASY
PURCHASE PRICECOSTS LESS THAN 16 SEERUSUALLY 10% OR MORE HIGHER THAN 14
REPAIR COSTSCOSTS LESSCOSTS MORE
COMFORT LEVELCOMFORTABLEBETTER AND GOOD DEHUMIDIFYING
EFFECT ON ENVIRONMENTLESS ENVIRONMENT FRIENDLYMORE ENVIRONMENT FRIEND

1.      Different Compressor types

This is one of the most distinctive features between a 14 SEER and a 16 SEER. A 14-seer air conditioner is equipped with a single-stage compressor while a 16 see compressor often has a 2-stage compressor.

In a single-stage compressor air conditioner, the air is compressed by a single-piston in the first cylinder, let’s say about 120 Psi. Then it’s transferred to the storage chamber.

 However, in a 2-stage compressor ac, there is an extra step involved. After the air is compressed in the first cylinder, it’s transferred to another smaller cylinder where its compressor further (lets at 175 psi) before being transferred to the storage chamber

The 2-stage compressor makes it possible for a 16- SEER to run on 2 distinct speeds while a 14-seer with a single-stage compressor runs on a single speed.

2.      Upfront cost

Although a 16 seer can save on energy costs in the long run, they are generally more expensive than the 14 seer. 14 seer air conditioners cost $500 to 1000 less than 16 SEER typically.

3.      Efficiency

While 14 SEER and 16 SEER are almost about the same, 2nd stage compressor air conditioners are more efficient when it comes to low-level partial cooling. Single-stage always run-on full blast regardless of how hot or cool it is. This makes them less efficient.

That said, 2-stage systems spend 80% of their time running on the lower setting which uses about 60-70 percent less energy, thereby saving costs overall.

With that in mind, should you choose to go for a 16-seer model, you should expect to save about 13 percent on energy costs each season compared to what you can spend on running the 14 SEER on electricity yearly.

There are a few factors to consider before calculating how much you can save yearly actually.

But all other factors being equal, it’s best to do some math calculations to clearly estimate the yearly running costs between the two SEERS.

How to calculate the annual electricity cost savings between 14 seer and 16 seer AC’s

1.       Let’s start by calculating the average yearly energy costs of 14-SEER and 16-SEER. In this example, we are assuming that

·         The two units are of the same size(3-ton)

·         All other factors being equal (for example same number of hours, lets 1000 hours per cooling season)

To get the annual energy cost, we’ll use this formula

[(Size of AC x 12,000) / SEER] x 1500 = number of Watt-hours used annually

So,

14-SEER: [(3x 12,000) / 14] x 1500=3,857,000 Watts/hour (to the nearest thousand)

16-SEER: [(3 x 12,000) / 16] x 1500=3,375,000 Watts/hour (to the nearest thousand)

2.       On the second step, let’s find the difference in watts/per hour between 14 SEER and 16 SEER:

3,857,000 Watts/hour-3,375,000=482,000 Watts/hour

3.       Convert the answer in step 2 to kilowatts per hour by dividing it by 1000.

So, we’ll get 482000 Watts/hour /1000=482 KW/h.

4.       Lastly, we need to find the cost by multiplying the answer by the rate of electricity. Let’s take for instance, if we are in phoenix, the average cost of electricity is $0.12.

$0.12X482=$57.84

So, a 16-SEER will save approximately 57.84 annually

As a reminder, this is just an estimate, every variable will depend on what you have and the numbers of hours you run your AC per year

4. Maintenance and repair

While 16 SEER (2-stage system) typically have a longer lifespan than the 14-SEER, they can be more expensive to repair compared to the 14-SEER.  The good part about them is that they don’t need to be replaced frequently as the single stage system 14-SEER.

5. Noise levels5. Noise levels between 14 SEER (single Stage) and 16 SEER (2-Stage)

Although both systems do run at 100% (which is the loudest running mode), the 16-SEER is quieter when it is running on the partial capacity cooling mode, a feature that is not there in the 14 SEER models.

This makes the 16-SEER the best choice if you are looking for something quieter. In air conditioning, the cheaper the air conditioner is, the louder it is. That also explains why a 16 SEER comes at an extra cost.

6. COMFORT LEVEL

If you are looking for comfortable cooling and dehumidifying, then 16 Seer AC is the way to go! A16 SEER provides better comfort than a 14 seer and here is how:

·         A second-stage compressor on the 16 SEER enables it to run on the lower / partial capacity mode. Meaning that it can run on the lower setting for a long time, providing better and ‘even’ cooling compared to a 14 SEER that runs on one high speed.

The 14 SEER (single-speed system) can cause uneven or hot spots within the cooling environment, and this can really be uncomfortable.

·         Improved humidity control: Because a 16 SEER can run for a long time on the low compressor speed, they tend to humidify the air better especially in regions with high humidity levels.

 This provides better comfort because high humidity levels can make your home feel even hotter than it actually is. Better dehumidifying helps remove moisture from your home which eventually prevents  buildup of mold and other types of pollution that can potentially lead to health issues.

7. Effect on the environment

Generally, higher seer means more environment friendly. A 16 SEER is more environmentally friendly than anything below that rating. What this means is that it doesn’t emit as much greenhouse gasses as the 14 SEER, making it a better option if you are very particular about keeping our mother planet safe.

How to make your air conditioner more efficient

Despite the ratings that come on these units, it’s up to the owner to help make their system achieve the maxim rating. This can be achieved by helping your air conditioner work efficiently. Here are a few tips to make your air conditioner more efficient

·         Replace air filters on time. These days most air conditioners come with auto reminders to tell you when the air filter is due for cleaning or replacement. If yours doesn’t haves, ensure to replace your air filter every 2-3 of months.

·         Keep debris away from the outdoor unit. Dirt and leaves can find their way to your condenser unit and block the fins which could prevent disposal of heat from the ac. You can use the leaf blower or horse to clear away the dirt.

·         Remember to hire a professional when your cooling system needs to be repaired. In addition, clean the evaporator coil at least once a year  and keep your AC’s drain channels clean to prevent clogs.

Is 16 SEER worth the extra money?

Whether SEER 16 is worth the extra money or not depends on a few factors including:

1)      How long you plan to live in that home.

2)      The cost difference between the two units. If one unit costs $800 more, you’ll have to live in that home 14 years or move to save you about the difference (57.84X14=809.76 dollars)

When to choose 14 SEER over 16 SEER?

A 14 seer can be ideal in these scenarios

·         When cost is your priority

·         When temperatures in your region are fairly mild

·         There is generally less humid in your region

·         You don’t use your air conditioner for many hours (that’s if run your system for less than 500 per cooling season)

Other SEER Guides:

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