Buying an Air Conditioner Online: Yay or Nay?

Leah Lopez Cardenas
Updated March 31, 2022
A woman turning on an air conditioner
Photo: South_agency / E+ / Getty Images

Highlights

  • It’s usually better to buy an air conditioner from a manufacturer or licensed contractor.

  • Avoid is buying an A/C online from unauthorized auction sites or personal advertising avenues.

  • Consider the unit’s price, size, energy efficiency, and warranty when choosing a brand and model.

  • To save money, consider paying for your new air conditioner in one lump sum instead of financing.

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If you need to select a new HVAC system, your first thought might be to browse options online. But buying an AC unit is not like buying a fifteenth t-shirt to add to your collection; you must research all AC brands and models before adding any system to your cart. Plus, there are features and seller reputation to consider. Here are some common red flags to watch out for when trying to buy an air conditioner online and other purchasing methods to consider instead.

Should You Buy an Air Conditioner Online or From a Manufacturer?

When your new unit is registered, many heating and air conditioning equipment brands come with a Limited Parts Warranty. However, the warranty will no longer be available if you purchase one of these units at an unauthorized online auction site or personal listing.

This can leave you on the hook for all costs if the system malfunctions.

A/C repair and replacement costs for unauthorized systems can become very expensive if not purchased through a manufacturer because they must account for common problems associated with unknown purchases, including:

  • Questionable quality

  • Installation errors

  • Improper sizing

All of these problems can lead to poor performance and reduced system life.

Tips for Buying a Central Air Conditioner Online

If you decide to pursue buying an air conditioner online, you can do a couple of things to ensure you get the best, most efficient system.

Consider What Size Unit You Need

AC units must be the right size for your home, which can be tough to identify without the help of an experienced contractor. A certified contractor will estimate the size air conditioner you need by factoring in your home’s square footage, the number of windows, and your climate before performing a Manual J load calculation. The appropriate system size, measured in BTUs and tons, is critical for long-term performance and overall system satisfaction.

An air conditioner that is too large will cool your home too quickly, resulting in hot and cold spots and uncomfortable humidity levels. If your system is too small, it will constantly run and jack up your energy bills and put greater strain on your system. 

Beware of Auction Sites

Whether an auction site or a personal advertisement on a big online marketplace, an air conditioner, heat pump, or furnace purchased from an unauthorized online source can void your warranty. It’s better to be safe and purchase your new heating and cooling equipment through a quality heating and cooling contractor. Your HVAC system will make the biggest impact on your home comfort, so make sure you take the time to select the one that is right for your home. Your contractor can guide you through that process.

How To Choose Between Different AC Brands and Models 

A portable air conditioner in a living room
Photo: Icy Macload / Moment / Getty Images

There are several types of air conditioners, including:

  • Window mounted air conditioner

  • Wall installed air conditioner

  • Portable air conditioner

  • Ductless mini-split

  • Central air conditioner

To figure out which model is best for you, first decide how you want it to function in your home. For example, a window-mounted air conditioner is good for condos and apartments because they don’t require ductwork. 

Or maybe you want to replace an old AC that’s seen better days? Some qualities to look for when comparing air conditioner brands include the unit’s energy efficiency, price, size, and warranty. When deciding on a brand, be sure to research the brands’ company websites for more info on specific models, read online reviews, and ask friends and family members for recommendations.

Some of the most popular air conditioner brands include:

  • Frigidaire®

  • Carrier®

  • American Standard®

  • Goodman®

  • Maytag®

  • Heil®

What Are Some Ways to Save When Buying an Air Conditioning Unit Online?

If possible, buying a new air conditioner in one lump sum rather than financing is more cost-effective when considering interest rates.

You may also be able to get tax credits, utility rebates, or manufacturer rebates on the highest-efficiency air conditioners. Even if you don’t get the lowest price when you buy the AC unit itself, these incentives can help you save money in the long run. Check the Energy Star website for a list of current federal tax credits available for improving your home’s energy efficiency. You can find rebate information by checking the manufacturer’s website for the brand of air conditioner you bought.

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