Get the Most Out of Your Air Conditioning
LESLIE: Maurice in South Carolina is dealing with some air conditioning issues. Tell us about the problem.MAURICE: Yeah, basically I’ve got a detached garage and it’s – I’ve got wiring connected to the house. And what’s been transpiring lately is I had two Frigidaire AC units that went out on me. You know, I figured there was something else besides the AC units because they’re a good company and I was looking at the wiring and it’s like an aluminum braided cable coming out of the garage.TOM: OK. Hmm, OK.MAURICE: And then it reduces – there’s like a little bracket and it reduces to a copper wire which is significantly smaller than the braided.TOM: Alright. And typically, when you have a garage, you’re going to have a subpanel in the garage. Is that what you’re seeing? Do you have a panel where the wiring comes in and then distributes through busbars to circuit breakers or to fuses?MAURICE: Yes, yes.TOM: OK.MAURICE: There’s a circuit breaker panel in there.TOM: OK. Alright. Well, it’s not unusual to have a braided aluminum service cable that feeds that …MAURICE: OK.TOM: … and then, from there, it would go to the bus panel and then go to individual breakers. Now, with air conditioning units, two of them, if they’re big, I’d probably want to have those on individual 20-amp circuits. To achieve a 20-amp circuit, assuming that everything is wired right up to that point, you’re going to need #12 copper wire to run. And if it’s all professionally installed and working correctly, that should have no impact on whether or not the air conditioning units fail. If the air conditioning units are failing, it might just be old age or bad luck; but if the circuits are wired correctly, then that should not affect them.MAURICE: OK, but the AC units were brand new and, actually, it’s only – they’re window units. So there’s like a hole cut out in the side of the wall and I only had one – there was only in there at a time. So it was twice, consecutively, within a year’s time that they went out.TOM: Well, you know, I’ve got to say, if they’re standalone – for a standalone building like this, window units cut through a hole in the wall is probably not your best choice. What I would think about using here is what’s called a split ductless air conditioning system. Basically, you have a small air conditioning compressor that sits outside on a pad and then you have an air handler that’s mounted on the inside of the wall and the only thing that connects the two is a refrigerant line. It’s very quiet, very efficient and you can get a lot more BTUs out of it than you could out of this wall unit that you’ve cut through a hole in the wall of the garage.MAURICE: Right. OK.TOM: And a lot more efficient.MAURICE: Yeah.TOM: Search them out online or at your heating, cooling supplier – split ductless system. That would be the way to go.MAURICE: Cool. Will do, thanks.TOM: Alright, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.