You have decided that this is the year you will install an air conditioning system. The trouble is, you are not sure which one. The deciding factors may be money and/or time, as well as how much time you may need to take off from work to give the HVAC contractors access to your basement or crawl space and your property outside. If you feel you need to make your decision based on time off from work, here is a comparison of the typical times each type of air conditioning system takes from the beginning to installation completion.
Time Needed to Install a Geothermal Air Conditioning System
A geothermal system requires that a loop be constructed and buried in the ground, which means you can expect part of your yard to be dug up. A horizontal loop is often buried at about six feet down, while a vertical loop may be as deep as two hundred feet. From start to finish, the estimated time to install a geothermal system is one to three days, depending on the type of loop, depth of the loop, ground conditions, weather conditions, etc. If you select a horizontal loop, plan to ask your boss for at least two days off. You will need more time off if your contractor installs the vertical loop.
Time Needed to Install a Regular Central Air System
A regular central air system, one that uses the heating ducts already present in your home to circulate the cooled air, takes a little less time than a geothermal unit. Typically, this type of air conditioning system does not take more than a day, although weather conditions, missing parts and/or electrical wiring problems may require a few extra hours or a second day to acquire or fix. If a day is all you can take off of work, and the type of A/C system does not matter to you so long as your home is sufficiently cooled and comfortable, then you may want to install this type of system instead.
Alternative Options to Taking Time Off
There are two alternative options to taking time off if neither of the above time frames works for your schedule. The first option is that you find an HVAC contractor that is willing to install your air conditioner on the weekends. Some contractors do offer these special hours, often for an additional fee. The other option is that you provide the contractor and his or her crew access to your basement (or crawl space) and then lock the rest of your home up. This way, your air conditioner can be installed, but you do not have to be home (and take time off from work) for most or all of the installation process.