The “System” in AC System?

What makes up the “system” in AC System?

I was digging through the crates and found this article I originally wrote 12-years ago in early 2012. I decided to dust it off and repost it as the concepts all hold true today. There’s a reason it’s called an AC system, HVAC system, or air conditioning & heating system. A complete AC system consists of many dozens of components and processes. The AC unit itself is just one of those components.

This article will inform & empower every homeowner in making the best choice when choosing a new AC system. Perhaps more importantly, in making the best choice of who to hire to assure you get the best AC system!


many colored ropes tied together to show a system for ac system aricle


New AC System Only $5,995

I laugh when I see ads like, “New A/C & Heating System for $5,995,” (or some other arbitrary low number). If truthful, this ad would say, “$5,995 today, and thousands more in repairs, discomfort, and regret for the next 10-years.”

In the industry we call companies who run ads like this, “box changers” (or in private, “hacks”). That’s because the A/C condenser outside and furnace or air handler in your attic are only boxes full of parts. The boxes are only one or two parts of what makes up a complete AC system. In fact, the AC unit & air handler are arguably the least important “component” of a full AC system.

The condenser and air handler are also the least expensive parts of your new AC system. What you’re paying an HVAC contractor for when you install a new AC system is what we do & know. The AC unit and the air handler are commodities. Anyone with a hand truck could wheel a new condenser into your backyard. The same way anyone with a little muscle could shove an air handler into your attic. In fact, I’d argue the guy that charges you $6k to do so is ripping you off!

He or she is not telling you the reason they charge thousands less than the good contractors. The reason is, you’re paying much less for much less. Even worse, the shortcuts they’re about to take are going to wind up costing you more – much more!


The “Best” Isn’t Best Anymore

Top of the line, ultra-efficient, variable speed units with smart wi-fi thermostats, and all the bells & whistles are garbage! Well, they’re garbage when installed poorly and many corners are cut to get the price down.

Even the best AC units will cause you many problems and cost you money when corners are cut. In fact, many of the best units will cause you more problems and cost more money than “entry level” machines – when installed poorly. The unfortunate part is you’ll only find out when it’s too late. Us good contractors already know the issues cutting corners will cause, you pay us for that knowledge and not cutting corners!


The Shortlist of Problems & Expenses Caused by Improper Installation

  • Poor performance. Uncomfortable occupants.
  • Frequent equipment failures.
  • Not achieving the rated efficiency.
  • Poor airflow.
  • Hot rooms / drafty rooms.
  • Significantly reduced equipment life.
  • Manufacturer warranty denial.
  • Condensate leaks (property damage).


A Complete AC System

  • AC condenser or Heat Pump condenser.
  • Furnace & evaporative coil or Air Handler.
  • Proper size return air plenum.
  • Proper size supply air plenum (without “end taps”).
  • Air distribution boxes as needed.
  • Properly designed duct system.
  • Properly sealed duct system.
  • Refrigerant lines are proper diameter & length including all bends & fittings.
  • Refrigerant line set flushed properly.
  • Nitrogen flowing during brazing process.
  • System pulled & held in a vacuum for proper time.
  • Correct metering device used & installed correctly as required.
  • Properly designed & balanced air registers.
  • Proper size & design of all return air boxes, grills, and fittings.
  • Filtration & purification systems designed & installed for maximum performance (not just an “upsell).
  • Correct gauge low voltage wiring, correct number of conductors, and add-a-wire. *

*Most homeowners aren’t aware (and many undertrained AC installers aren’t either ) that installers can & do limit a new AC system performance & efficiency simply by incorrectly wiring the controls. We see this regularly on one very popular brand that functions in both heating & cooling when configured like this. However, the new AC system loses significant performance & efficiency from day 1.

  • Not just “a thermostat” the right thermostat, properly configured for maximum performance and efficiency.
  • A properly configured and installed primary condensate drain system (often done incorrectly).
  • A properly configured and installed secondary condensate drain system (often done incorrectly). Should include the correct overflow safety sensor – often the wrong type is used because it’s “cheaper & easier”.
  • Properly sized and installed drain pan depending on type of system (often done incorrectly).
  • Properly positioned and most importantly, the correct type of air handler support system. While this sounds basic it’s done wrong more often than done right and will cost you money without even knowing it.
  • Many more components & procedures make a complete AC system. A good contractor will take much longer to complete an install, using the best materials as opposed to a “box changer”.


ac company van funny


Procedures, Practices, and Policies, Oh My!

Earlier I said the least expensive portion of a new AC system was the unit itself. You’re probably wondering what costs more than the equipment. The answer is highly trained skilled labor. Who would you rather install the most important & most expensive mechanical system in your home? The journeyman level, experienced, trade-school graduate, who continually receives factory-certified training, or the underpaid, low guy on the totem pole?

Who do you think they send when you buy a $10,000 AC system for $5,995? How much do you think he knows? More importantly, how much do you think he cares?

You don’t know what you don’t know!

The fact of the matter is, 99% of homeowners wouldn’t have a clue what shortcuts were being done. Even if you were standing right over the installer, how would you know if he or she was shortcutting?

The reason other companies are charging $10k and another company is charging $6k for “the same unit,” is one’s doing it better! You won’t be replacing it in 8-10 years when it’s done right. You won’t be complaining on Facebook, calling an attorney, or filing complaints when it’s done right. Your home will be more comfortable and your AC bill lower when it’s done right.


Low Prices from Big Companies

I’m not mentioning names, you’ll have to research for yourself, but this is something you should know. Many if not most of the largest AC companies in Phoenix are now owned by large private equity groups. This started in 2019 and shows no sign of stopping (we’re not selling by the way!). The families that once owned these companies are gone and no longer operate the business. More than a few of these large AC companies are actually owned by one even larger private equity company.

The reason that’s important is, the way PE firms work is buying companies and flipping them in about 5 years, earning dividends for their shareholders. They structure these sales as “asset sales” so they are not responsible for warranties after the company changes hands. This could mean your warranty is worthless leaving you with very little recourse in a few years.


Too Good to Be True?

PE firms are also flooding the market with these type of “low bidder” quotes … knowing they won’t be accountable after they sell again in a few years. Recently we found a company who not only was the “low bidder” amongst 5 companies – they were offering a 20-year parts and labor warranty for that price. Readers … if it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true! The manufacturers themselves don’t offer a warranty like that. The longest 3rd party warranty you can buy on an AC system is 10-years. The company offering that was purchased by a PE firm (not even in Arizona) back in 2020, the owner’s are long gone, and that company will likely either be sold or split into pieces within a few years.

It may look attractive now to “save thousands” on a new AC system, but again, if it sounds too good to be true … !



Put the Right System in Your Castle

Your home is your castle and you’ve invested six to seven figures into it making it that. You deserve it to be efficient, comfortable, and durable.

Making sure your AC System is properly installed is easy. All you must do is choose the right installer, which means avoiding the “too good to be true” ads. It’s also less expensive and a much better investment. Not to mention it sure beats the aggravation of fighting with the “box changers” when you’re uncomfortable. Assuming they are still in business when it starts breaking down constantly as only profitable businesses have longevity.

Stay comfy my friends!



about the author rich morgan

Author: Rich Morgan, CEO Magic Touch Mechanical & The Fire Place



Magic Touch Mechanical

942 West 1st Avenue
Mesa, AZ 85210
United States (US)
Phone: 4808558789

Fire & Air since 1997!