Can You Replace Just The Outside AC Unit In A Home?

Technician in a Blue Uniform Repairing The HVAC System

Georgia summers are no joke. So if your AC isn’t going 100%, it’s no wonder you’re researching AC installation in Atlanta right now.

And if your outside air conditioning unit needs to be replaced, you may be wondering “can I just replace the outside AC unit?”

While this may seem to be a cost-saving measure initially, it's not always the best idea. In this article, we'll answer the question of whether it's okay to replace just the outside AC unit or not.

Learn More: How To Choose The Right Sized Air Conditioner: A Guide For Homeowners

Can You Replace Just The Outside AC Unit?

Typically, when the outside AC unit is broken, you should aim to replace your entire air conditioning system and not just replace the outside AC unit.

That might not be what you wanted to hear, but in most scenarios, it's a much better alternative to experiencing the downsides of only replacing one part of the unit.

Here are the top reasons why the answer to “can you just replace the outside AC unit” is usually No:

1. Older Indoor Units Are Not Typically Compatible With New Outdoor Units

If your current air conditioning system is more than a decade old, it's going to be virtually impossible to find a compatible outdoor unit.

The reason why is that older air conditioners use a type of refrigerant called R22. This liquid substance cools the home air conditioning unit.

Environmental experts found that R22 is hazardous and therefore can no longer be produced or even imported into the US. New AC units use a coolant called 410A.

This is more environmentally friendly and less hazardous. But this also means that newer outdoor units won't be able to work with an older unit that uses R22.

2. Incompatible Outdoor And Indoor Units Cause Major Issues

What if you find an outdoor unit that still uses the same refrigerant as your indoor unit? Could you still replace just the outside unit in that case? Well we typically recommend that you should not.

The reason is that mismatched indoor and outdoor units that are not designed to be 100% compatible lead to several issues. For instance condenser coils from the outdoor unit that don't match the evaporator coil size of the indoor unit.

Varying SEER ratings between the indoor and outdoor units are also a problem. And another issue is having different manufacturers for the indoor and outdoor units.

The particular problems you could be left with if you use two incompatible outdoor and indoor units are:

  • System breakage
  • Excess wear and tear on your AC unit
  • Less energy efficiency resulting in higher monthly bills
  • Inefficient refrigeration meaning that your AC unit doesn't provide proper cooling for the home.

The reality is that the AHRI, the AC Heating and Refrigeration Institute, constantly tests thousands of AC units every year to see if they're properly compatible.

You can always ask your local AC contractor if it's possible that you have a compatible replacement for your outdoor unit that would still work for your indoor unit.

3. Your Warranty Might Be Voided

It might seem like you can save a bit of money by only replacing the outdoor part of your air conditioning.

However, if something were to go wrong in the future with your indoor unit, such as the reasons mentioned above, you might be out of luck. Most warranties are voided instantly if you install a non-compatible AC unit outside.

This could mean the difference of your manufacturer covering the cost of replacement or repair down the road versus you footing the entire bill.

To summarize so far, the answer to “can you replace just the outside AC unit” is: not unless you want major issues.

One Situation Where Only Replacing The Outside AC Unit Is Okay

In some rare circumstances, you might have an air conditioning unit that is relatively new, under five years old. In this case, it would still have the manufacturer warranty.

There is a possibility that the manufacturer covers the cost of just an outdoor unit replacement, since it might be possible to find one that's compatible.

In this case, the manufacturer will send you an outdoor unit that's compatible with your indoor unit. Then a professional can install it.

An HVAC expert can help you determine if this is doable. But if you want to check it on your own, you can go outside to your unit and find the model number of your AC on the side of the unit.

Search for this model number on your manufacturer's website and see if they have a compatible outdoor unit available.

Atlanta AC Installation – Indoor and Outdoor

Can you replace just the outside AC unit? We’ll tell you the straight, direct answer.

If you want to ensure that you have the best air conditioning and comfort levels in your home, contact the experts at Moncrief Air today.

So learn all the possibilities of replacement and repair for your AC units, both indoor and outdoor. That way, you save the most money while enjoying an AC unit that lasts as long as possible.