Ducted vs. Ductless Air Conditioner: Which One Is Best for Your Home?

January 25th, 2022

Whether you’re building a new home, renovating an older home, or simply upgrading your HVAC, choosing between ducted and ductless air conditioners can be a complex process. As you know, many homes in Hawaii were built without central air.

If you’re looking to install a new air conditioning system, work with a trusted HVAC contractor to install the best system for your needs.

installing a ductless air conditioner

Before you decide between ducted and ductless units, consider several things. You’ll want to take account of the following factors:

  • The size of your entire home (or the space you wish to cool)
  • Your regional climate (including temperature and humidity)
  • Your budget

Ductless air conditioners in Hawaii have become increasingly popular for versatility and lower associated costs. Some of the best ductless air conditioners are just a fraction of the cost of conventional HVAC systems. However, they can face limitations in larger spaces, which may necessitate ductwork installation for your HVAC system. Read on to find out what’s best for you.

Central Air Conditioner Vs. Mini-Split Units

When looking at various types of air conditioners, ducted HVAC systems are the best option for large spaces. A ducted system concentrates the cooled air in the air ducts instead of relying on bigger vents throughout the whole house to disperse air. Ducted systems also increase energy efficiency and maintain ambient temperatures more steadily than ductless air conditioning systems. Larger spaces typically need to rely on ducted air conditioning because cooling open spaces like warehouses, garages, or larger homes can be too great for the capacity of ductless systems. 

More compact spaces can utilize a ductless air conditioner. The benefits of ductless ACs is that their installation process is simpler. For instance, there’s no need for air ducts, vents, or other HVAC construction projects when installing a ductless AC. Ductless AC’s also feature sleek designs, which allow them to blend seamlessly into any space. Another benefit of ductless systems is that they don’t require exhaust vents or air intakes. Therefore, ductless units are ideal for basements, attics, garages, and even enclosed porches or workshops. 

A ductless mini-split system can also offer the perfect solution for additions to your home that aren’t tied into your existing ductwork. Also, ductless units are ideal for remote locations where cooling isn’t needed as frequently as a primary home.

Further Cooling System Considerations

Air Conditioning Technology

Over the last decade, ductless mini-split systems have made numerous technological advancements. Ductless AC’s have a longer lifespan than conventional units. The technology hasn’t changed much with ducted systems, making repair and maintenance more manageable and less costly.

AC Unit Design

Some homeowners like the industrial style associated with ducted air conditioners. However, other homeowners may seek the sleek modern appearance of a mini-split. Aesthetically speaking, the lack of vents related to ductless systems can help maintain a comprehensive style throughout the entire home.

Space Requirements and Limitations

While considering your location and the size of your space, you should work with a professional HVAC specialist to decide which air conditioning unit makes the most sense for your project. If installing an extensive ductwork system will significantly alter the function of your home, it may make more sense to opt for a ductless system. However, if you’re looking to cool an ample, open space, your best option may be to install a ducted system. Both solutions work well, but the decision will remain informed by your unique area and requirements.

Call the Temperature Control Specialists

Being comfortable in your island home should be as simple as setting the thermostat where you want it and letting your AC system do the rest. Island Comfort has been providing excellent HVAC services to Oahu and Kauai, and our dedicated team of local professionals understands the unique demands on AC systems in these humid conditions.

Find out today how we can help you identify which air conditioning solution will provide you comfort year-round while reducing energy costs and saving you money.

How to Choose the Best Garage Air Conditioner

January 18th, 2022

Today more than ever, homeowners are discovering the benefits of a climate-controlled garage. They are installing air conditioners to transform their garages into home gyms, guest quarters, home offices, and other functional spaces.

When you decide to install a cooling system in your garage, there are some important considerations to take into account. Different factors, including garage size, insulation, venting, and your specific goals, will determine which systems make the most sense. 

woman buying an air conditioner (AC)

Don't Integrate Your Garage Air Conditioner into Your Central AC System

Firstly, tying ductwork into your home’s central air conditioning system can be dangerous. Moreover, if you still park cars or other vehicles in your garage, carbon monoxide fumes can infiltrate your home’s ducts, creating a health and safety hazard.

Licensed professionals can help you install an AC in your garage and ensure proper climate control without exposing your family to harmful carbon monoxide fumes.

Best Options for Garage Air Conditioners

Air conditioners are an excellent way to cool your garage space. They work by pulling cold air from the outside and pushing it through the garage. The cold air circulates around the room and eventually cools down the entire space.

 

There are a few options for either a DIY or professional installation of an air conditioner in your garage. You can purchase an air conditioner rated for use in garages, or you can buy one designed for outdoors and then install it in your garage. The first option is cheaper than the second, but it also has drawbacks such as noise and energy consumption.

 

Depending upon the size of your garage, your garage wall insulation, and whether or not you have an operable garage door, the type of air conditioner you choose will vary. An experienced HVAC technician can help you navigate cooling capacity requirements, energy star ratings, and your home’s unique set of circumstances.

Infographic showing how to choose a Garage AC

Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioner

Ductless systems, commonly referred to as mini-splits, are widely popular for keeping a garage cool. They offer an option that doesn’t require you to install new ducts. Though the units themselves present more upfront costs than a traditional unit, the upfront price tag is often offset by the costs associated with duct installation. Mini-splits also have a longer lifespan than conventional air conditioners, making them an attractive option for cooling a garage.

Mini-splits are among the most energy-efficient AC units on the market, unlike portable or window air conditioning units, which don’t have to meet any efficiency standards and can cause higher energy costs with regular use.

Portable Air Conditioner

Portable air conditioners also offer another popular alternative to a traditional air conditioning system. If you want flexibility with installation, you might want to go with a portable AC unit so that you can move it to another location or leave it out during the winter. These systems vent out of an existing garage window and are ideal for smaller spaces. Portable air conditioners also filter pet dander, dust, and other common particulates in garages.

An added benefit of air conditioning in your garage is that it can help dehumidify the space. Many people cool their garage after converting it into a flex space, not just a port for vehicle storage.

Window Air Conditioner

Window units were among the most popular garage AC units before portable and mini-split systems became available. These offer an excellent solution for living spaces that don’t need long-term cooling. An added benefit of window units is their lower costs and ease of installation. Although, window air conditioners can be noisier than other options and require an appropriately sized window for installation.

Swamp Cooler

Evaporative coolers, or swamp coolers, might seem like the most straightforward choice for your garage. Swamp coolers use evaporation to produce cool air by running outside air from a fan through a damp pad—no venting required.

As you may already know, as a Hawaiian resident, swamp coolers don’t work well in a tropical climate that typically has high humidity. Installing an evaporative cooler in your living space will likely cause it to feel muggy, the very thing you’re trying to get away from by being indoors. Hawaii’s persistently damp indoor environment often results in mildew, mold, and other contaminants that compromise your indoor air quality.

How to Determine What Size AC Unit You Need

Square footage is the primary consideration for choosing what capacity air conditioner you’ll need for your garage. Because of uniquely open layouts, garages can present unique challenges for air conditioners which typically operate in balanced loops, not wide spaces.

About BTU's

BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. This is a measurement unit that measures how much energy your air conditioner consumes to remove heat from the air inside. The higher the BTU, the more power is being used by the unit. When you buy an air conditioner, it’s essential to ensure enough BTUs. Otherwise, if your HVAC system has a weaker BTU than the needed capacity for your home, you’ll not likely be satisfied with the results.

A general rule of thumb is that a four hundred square foot garage would need an AC unit that produces 12000 BTU. A BTU represents the amount of heat it takes to raise one pound of water by 1°. Also, a BTU is the universal unit of measurement for air conditioners. A seasoned HVAC professional can help you determine the correct BTUs for the size of your garage.

Contact Us for the Best Garage Air Conditioners

Island Comfort has been providing excellent HVAC services to Oahu and Kauai. Most importantly, our dedicated team of professionals understands the unique demands on AC systems in these humid conditions.

Find out today how we can help you install air conditioning for your garage! We will go above and beyond to transform it into a more comfortable room.

AC Repairs 101: Know the Symptoms of a Bad AC Capacitor

January 11th, 2022

One of the most common reasons for an AC performing below optimal level is a bad AC capacitor. The capacitor is what charges and starts your AC’s motor. Therefore, to prevent greater damage, it is crucial for homeowners to identify the first symptoms of a bad AC capacitor. By replacing the capacitor on your AC unit, you’ll extend its lifespan and keep your house cool and comfortable through every season.

AC repairs

Most common first signs of a bad AC capacitor:

1. Vents Not Blowing Cold Air

Typically, one of the first things homeowners notice is that cold air isn’t blowing from the vents; this is one of the most apparent bad AC capacitor symptoms. Turn your cooling system on and off to see if this resolves the issue. If you continue to feel warm air from the vents, contact a licensed HVAC professional for troubleshooting your bad AC capacitor.

2. Higher Than Usual Energy Bills

As capacitors wear down, the other components of your HVAC system are required to work harder—this increases your energy bills. If your energy consumption is higher than usual, an underpowered capacitor may be at fault. Often, as capacitors wear down, energy bills slowly creep up with or without you noticing. Therefore, monitoring your energy consumption is essential to compare your statements from years past.

3. Unusual Compressor Humming Noises

When you power up your AC unit, listen for a slight humming noise from the compressor. If you hear this, your capacitor may be struggling to start your AC’s fan motor. In conjunction with a delay in turning on, this hum almost guarantees that your capacitor is heading for failure.  It’s essential to immediately switch out the capacitor before the compressor or fan is damaged. Contact a local HVAC professional before your capacitor entirely breaks down.

Infographic Explaining AC Repair

4. Older HVAC System

As a cooling system ages, it requires maintenance and repairs to maintain optimal performance and keep your home cool and comfortable. If your system is older, note that your AC works sporadically and sometimes struggles to start operating, and this could be another indicator of a faulty capacitor.

Infographic explains AC repair problems

5. Independent Shutdown

If you start to notice that your air conditioner turns off randomly and doesn’t cycle correctly, there’s a good chance that you have a damaged, deteriorating, or faulty capacitor. A healthy unit will turn off during an auto phase on your thermostat, but it shouldn’t turn itself off during regular operation.

6. Sluggish Turn On and Operation

If your unit does not turn on immediately, this likely is a symptom of a bad capacitor. Additionally, if the air conditioning typically takes several seconds to kick in once powered on, this indicates a weak capacitor. An HVAC technician will be able to tell you if your system requires a new capacitor or not.

7. AC is Inoperable

If your air conditioner isn’t turning on at all, there can be various issues. A faulty or failing capacitor is one of the best outcomes because a more significant problem could require you to replace your condenser unit entirely. A licensed service technician should run diagnostics to determine if the capacitor is the cause of this malfunction.

 

In addition to saving money by not having to replace the entire unit, you will experience less time without air conditioning which will increase your comfort and decrease the risk of mold growth while the AC is off.

Do You Have a Bad AC?

Island Comfort has been providing excellent HVAC services to Oahu and Kauai, and our dedicated team of professionals understands the unique demands on AC systems in these humid conditions. We’ll diagnose whether or not a replacement capacitor will help resolve your problem to keep your home cool and comfortable year-round.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you identify and solve any air conditioning system issues you’re experiencing!

How Often and Why Do AC Condenser Coils Need Cleaning?

January 4th, 2022

A properly maintained HVAC system can deliver years of comfortable climate control and healthy indoor air quality in Hawaii. Cleaning AC condenser coils is one of the best ways to keep your AC unit functioning properly. Many home and business owners know the basics of changing air filters and keeping vents clear. However, most of them are unfamiliar with the importance of AC coil cleaning. 

cleaning AC condenser coils

This maintenance step provides comfort year-round, avoids costly repairs, and even prevents the need to replace an entire AC unit.

Benefits of Keeping Condenser Coils Clean and Free From Grime

The AC condenser coil exchanges heat for cool air in your home and removes humidity. When dust, dirt, or other debris builds up on the air conditioning coils, it reduces your unit’s efficiency. This can cause higher energy bills, overheating, and even instances of complete breakdown.

AC coils are inside your air conditioning unit and protected from the elements. Nevertheless, they are still exposed to a buildup of dirt, dust, and pet fur that are filtered out of your indoor air. If the evaporator coils are dirty and unmaintained, it will take longer to cool air inside your home.

Infographic of how to clean AC condenser coils

Regular Air Conditioner Coil Cleaning Schedule​​

An annual coil cleaning is sufficient in most cases, but Hawaii’s humid conditions can cause some air conditioning systems to require more maintenance. It’s essential to consult with a local professional HVAC technician to develop and implement a comprehensive AC maintenance routine.

The location of your AC unit can also affect your cleaning schedule, so you should inspect your coils every couple of months to see if it’s time to get professional AC coil cleaners to give your system a tune-up.

Damage and Malfunction Caused by Dirty AC Condenser Coils

Most homeowners aren’t familiar with the issues that dirty AC coils can cause. Dirty coils can result in a shorter lifespan for your entire HVAC system. Having dirty condenser coils increases strain on other components, which goes beyond daily wear and tear if not addressed. It’s also important to note that older condensers can accumulate dirt and dust more easily than newer AC units, so you should consider replacing your condenser if it’s more than twenty years old.

Coil Fin Sensitivity and How to Avoid Damage

Coil fins are engineered for maximum efficiency and can be easily damaged if improperly cleaned. If you scrub too hard, you can damage them. Also, harsh chemical cleaners can harm their exterior coating. 

Because of their placement in your condenser, it’s best to have them professionally cleaned to avoid damaging the fins or exposing yourself to dangerous chemicals. Without professional help, there is a risk of shock and fire when cleaning AC condenser coils.

HVAC Preventative Maintenance can Save you Money

One of the best ways to avoid frustrating DIY projects, costly repairs, or the need to replace your whole AC unit is to conduct proper preventative maintenance. Professional AC coil cleaning is far more cost-effective than waiting for a malfunction that needs immediate repair. 

Routine maintenance performed by a licensed HVAC professional pays for itself when you consider your energy bill savings and the performance aspects delivered by a properly maintained unit. Additionally, clean AC coils will help keep your ducts, vents, and other components of your AC system working at peak performance in every season and climate.

Island Comfort Air Condition understands the importance of climate-controlled spaces on Kauai and Oahu. We are local specialists with experience in our region’s unique demands and tropical conditions. The humidity on the Hawaiian Islands requires an expert understanding of AC systems, and our team of dedicated professionals is here for you no matter what HVAC services you need.

Contact us today to schedule HVAC maintenance or an AC installation consultation.

AC Duct Maintenance: What Does It Cover and Why Is It Important?

December 28th, 2021

Your air conditioner ductwork plays an integral role in exactly how effective and efficient your unit is at dispersing cold air throughout your home. Many air conditioning systems rely on a series of ducts that lead to each and every room of their household in order to provide consistent cold air. Maintaining clean and operational ductwork is key to making the most out of your HVAC system in Hawaii.

AC duct that needs maintenance

Many Hawaiian homeowners consider the cooling system itself to be the catalyst for providing their living space with cold air. While the central system does produce the comfortable air itself, it requires a series of ducts in order to distribute this air. In this article, our Island Comfort HVAC specialists have considered the preconceptions that homeowners have regarding ducts, and have provided insight regarding why air duct cleaning is so important. Let’s get on it!

The Benefits of Air Duct Cleaning

As mentioned earlier, ductwork serves as the vessel in which cold indoor air is distributed throughout the home. While central system maintenance may seem like the most important kind of AC maintenance service, duct system maintenance plays a crucial role in the efficiency of your unit, ensuring good indoor air quality, optimal physical health, and effective cooling.

Adequate Air Quality

It’s important to schedule AC maintenance for a number of reasons. First and foremost, you can have your ducts cleaned and unclogged by a professional air duct cleaning service. Like filters and vents, ductwork can also build up large amounts of dust and other allergens such as dirt, pollen, pet dander, mildew and mold growth, and hair—especially in homes with pets. The culmination of dust mites and debris can lead to several issues, including unwanted musty odors and visible mold. 

The first problem clogged or dirty air conditioning ducts can cause is that they can be the ideal nesting ground for rodents and other vermin. Frankly, no one wants a rodent infestation in their home (even if Ratatouille taught us that they are great cooks). 

Another issue is the health concerns that the accumulation of these airborne particles and pollutants can cause. Inhaling these contaminants from dirty air ducts regularly can lead to shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, and even asthma. Ultimately, it’s best practice to ensure that your ducts and air filters are cleaned regularly to keep your airflow healthy and your family members safe. 

Effective Cooling

When ductwork is dirty or clogged, your HVAC system will have to work overtime to reach desired indoor temperatures. In many cases, a home won’t cool at all, and homeowners will find themselves constantly adjusting the thermostat. This will increase kilowatt usage, and result in skyrocketing electric bills. In order for your unit to perform at optimal energy efficiency, ductwork must be clear of debris to allow for proper airflow. The cost of HVAC maintenance pales in comparison to letting the problem simmer as energy bills continue to rise.

HVAC System Efficiency

Clogged ducts result in an air conditioner that has to work overtime. When this happens, a variety of issues can occur regarding the functionality of your unit. Coils can freeze, leaks can occur, blower fans can be damaged, and that’s just the beginning. In order to avoid expensive repairs, proper air conditioner maintenance is key. This will also serve to increase the lifespan of your unit, and prevent unnecessary replacement of a unit that is fully functional. However, you shouldn’t trust just any AC maintenance service with repairs. When it comes to duct cleaning companies, you deserve the best of the best.

Do You Need Air Duct Cleaning Services?

Island Comfort has been servicing the HVAC system maintenance needs of homeowners in Hawaii for years. Our fully licensed and qualified technicians are always happy to ensure the full functionality of your unit. Our goal is to provide homeowners with the comfort that they deserve and to ensure that their AC investment works for them, not the other way around. Schedule your duct cleaning today!