Over 90% of American homes have air conditioning systems according to a 2021 report by USA Facts. However, the state of Florida is one of the highest consumers of air conditioners in the US. An astounding 86% of residences either have a central air conditioning system, window-type AC, or other cooling devices. Why such high demand for air conditioning?
Also known as the “Sunshine State”, Florida has one of the hottest and longest summers that last from May to October. The temperature can range from a steamy 80°F (26°C) to a smoldering 95°F (35°C).
But what makes the climate in Florida more insufferable is the high levels of humidity. Due to the surrounding large bodies of water such as the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, it is considered to be the second most humid state in America with 74.5% highest relative humidity, next to Alaska with 77.1%.
It is no surprise that Floridians rely so much on air conditioning to survive the intense heat and humidity. So much so that some homeowners have their AC on an entire day, a few even on consistent full blast.
How long do air conditioners last in Florida? Are there ways to prolong your AC’s lifespan whether you are in Florida or in any other state?
You are in the right place to find the answers.
What is the Average Lifespan of a Central Air Conditioning System?
Let’s face it. An air conditioner is one expensive home device and it requires an equally costly installation and maintenance. Homeowners should be obsessed with keeping their AC going for a long time and in good working condition.
Unfortunately, if you ever believed the “experts” on how long an air conditioner should last, you will be misled. Most sources say that an air conditioning unit should only last about 5 to 10 years.
But in reality, a well-maintained AC system can last up to 15 to 20 years.
Before you raise a questioning eyebrow to that, such an extended lifespan depends on four major factors.
Factors that Do NOT Affect the Lifespan of an Air Conditioners in Florida
Before we explore the four major factors that impact the lifespan of your AC, whether you are in Florida or another state, we first have to dispel any misconceptions you may have about what could affect how long will your air conditioner unit last.
If you are searching for the ultimate brand of AC system, stop looking. We hate to break it to you, but THERE IS NO SUCH THING as the best HVAC brand, be it an AC unit or a furnace.
The critical reason for this fact is that manufacturers purposely create various brands, not because they are different from one another, but to cover a wide range of target markets. But the components and methods of creation and production are almost always identical. It may sound like a scheme but AC manufacturers are only practicing a well-known business plan called the multi-branding strategy.
Now you think, “If the brand is not important, then I will just go for the most popular and best-reviewed manufacturer for long-lasting AC units.” Wrong again.
Despite what you are told, the manufacturer has little to do with the lifespan of an air conditioner.
While AC makers would try to dazzle you with colorful advertisements and witty commercials, essentially all air conditioners are identical in their core components. This is basically due to the straightforward purpose and cooling process of nearly all AC units. Commercial brands also go through standardization by energy experts and government authorities like the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER).
We definitely want to thank technology for bringing us the wonder of the modern air conditioner, otherwise, we will be stuck with its predecessor, the “ice machine.” But we also don’t want to take it too far with technological advancements.
If you pick an overcomplicated AC unit and it needs a repair, it will be too hard to find an HVAC professional to do a decent job on it. Additionally, state-of-the-art units have complex components which may be expensive and difficult to replace.
Factors That Will Your Make Your Air Conditioner Last Long (in order of importance)
Now that the factors that DO NOT contribute to the lifespan of an air conditioner are out of the way, we can dive into the actual players.
How will your air conditioner last for 15 to 20 years instead of just 5 to 10 years?
You should put primary emphasis on these four major factors when purchasing, installing and maintaining your air cooling system. Also, note that the way they are enumerated and discussed in this portion of the article is in their order of importance.
- Quality of original installation
The most crucial factor that will determine the lifespan of your home HVAC unit is how well it was originally installed. No matter how high-tech or expensive your chosen unit is, if it was poorly installed it can only last for a couple of years with lots of repairs in between.
Look for a quality HVAC professional who is trustworthy and with credible reviews and references. They may be a bit pricier than hiring a non-professional, but the end will justify the means eventually as you save yourself for future financial headaches.
Take your time and do your research. Don’t wait until the last minute to find your contractor because you will be easy prey to cunning salespeople who might lure you into buying a unit that you will later regret.
- Exposure to salt air
If you live in Florida or any other place near the coast, you already know how salty the air can be. This is bad news for your AC or any HVAC system for that matter.
Salt air is a very potent corrosive agent that can quickly disintegrate the metal parts in the AC such as the condenser coils. If these coils develop rust, their ability to transfer heat will weaken. The flakes resulting from the oxidation can cause the system to overheat if the airflow is clogged. Other vital components such as the compressor and the condenser will also suffer from overuse.
To counteract this, consult your trusted HVAC expert on how to upgrade your AC’s coating with a more protective covering that can withstand salt air. Others replace the aluminum coils with copper coils and wash the other parts of their AC with fresh water.
- How well the AC is maintained
Regardless if you have a central air conditioner, a window-type AC, or a portable one, no one can dispute the importance of regular maintenance and service of your unit.
If your AC is routinely checked by a qualified expert, they will be able to detect and fix minor issues early on to prevent them from leading to full-blown repair problems. If these AC troubles are already present, you may have been years too late with your annual checkup and upkeep.
How Often Should You Have Your AC Serviced in Florida?
While the minimum requirement for AC maintenance and service in other places is once every year, Florida is a bit of a special case.
Because of the high demand for air conditioning in the Sunshine State and the high concentration of salt air in its environment, it is best to schedule a visit from your HVAC contractor at least twice a year.
- Complexity of AC
As mentioned earlier, it is not that wise to go for the most futuristic AC design if you want a long-lasting unit. A principle that is easy to remember is KISS: “Keep it simple, silly.”
An overly complicated air conditioning system is not just more pricy up front but it would cost you even more time and effort to look for a skilled technician to deal with a more modern and complex cooling device and the specially made parts for the machine.
It is more productive and hassle-free to get a simple and reliable air conditioner.