What is the best air conditioner for Rochester’s climate?

Looking for information about buying a new air conditioning system? Not sure if it makes sense to replace or repair your air conditioner? Call us today for a free consultation and estimate. We will recommend the best A/C solution for your home near Rochester, and help you make an informed decision.

When you start looking at estimates and information online, there will be a lot of different information about what SEER rating or A/C brand to buy. The thing is though, what makes sense in one region of the US doesn’t necessarily make sense in another. After reviewing your home and your needs, we will make the process as easy as possible by making the best recommendation for you. We are also here to answer all of your questions along the way. Below, you will find some important information specifically about air conditioners in Rochester, and some common terms / features.

New air conditioners from York.

York, under the parent company of Johnson Controls, is by far the best A/C supplier available in Rochester. They allow us to offer some of the best warranties in the business, a phenomenal product (still built in the U.S.A.), and provide us with parts for air conditioners well beyond 30 years old.

We offer the full range of York air conditioners, and will help you decide which air conditioner is best for you.

York Air Conditioning >

Air Conditioner Models

Most Common in Rochester: YCD

York YCD

  • Ozone friendly R-410A refrigerant
  • 1 stage compressor
  • Quiet direct drive fan
  • Warranty: 10 yr. compressor, 10 yr. parts
  • 30% energy savings (vs. 10 SEER)

York YCG

  • Ozone friendly R-410A refrigerant
  • 1 stage compressor
  • Quiet direct drive fan
  • Warranty: 10 yr. compressor, 10 yr. parts
  • 41% energy savings (vs. 10 SEER)

York YXT

  • Ozone friendly R-410A refrigerant
  • 2 stage compressor
  • Quiet direct drive fan
  • Warranty: lifetime compressor, 10 yr. parts
  • 47% energy savings (vs. 10 SEER)

Common questions, terms, and information about air conditioners.

Click / tap on the boxes below to expand.

What is SEER? Does a high SEER A/C pay for itself?

What does SEER mean when you are looking at air conditioners? Is more really better, does a high SEER unit pay for itself? Why do HVAC companies push high SEER air conditioners, and is the massive price worth it?


The first thing you need to know is that the SEER rating of an air conditioner is only achieved if it is correctly installed and commissioned! The installation quality makes all the difference with an A/C system, even more so than with a furnace. The second thing to know is that what makes sense in one region of the US for SEER ratings does not make it worth it in another region (like Rochester) where we use air conditioners significantly less than somewhere like Nevada.

SEER – Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. Basically, a SEER rating is an average rating for how efficient an air conditioner is in terms of electricity usage. Think of it like the MPG rating on the window sticker when buying a car. You may experience more or less than what it is rated at depending on a lot of conditions, it is simply an average / guideline.

Regulations – Older units are typically 10 SEER or less and decrease in efficiency over their lifespan. We use 10 SEER as a benchmark to display how much you are honestly going to save with more efficient units. Today, in the Rochester region, regulations require all new air conditioners to carry a minimum 13 SEER rating.

Do high SEER air conditioners pay for themselves? – The simple answer is that it depends on the region. In a region like Rochester, they typically DO NOT.

The reason is fairly simple. The benefit of jumping from an old 6-10 SEER system to a modern 13-14 SEER system is massive, and easily the most affordable option to install. Moving up from these to a 17, 19, or 20+ SEER air conditioner raises installation cost by thousands of dollars to gain single digit benefits per month. In the Rochester region specifically, you will likely never reach the break even point before replacing the unit. They also have a much higher break down rate, which will eliminate any possible savings.

Here is how it breaks down:

Going from a 10 SEER AC to a 14 SEER York air conditioner will be over a 30% jump in efficiency (30% drop in electricity use), and is the least expensive option to install. As a bonus, this type of system will also have the least amount of complex components and the least amount of breakdowns / repairs over time.

A 17 SEER system vs. a 14 SEER air conditioner will save you between 14% and 18% on electricity, but cost roughly $1,000 more to install. Based on the cost of electricity and average time using an A/C in Rochester, this jump would take between 15 and 20 years to pay the difference in savings, assuming no break downs!

A 19 SEER AC vs. a 14 SEER system would gain a 23%-26% advantage in efficiency, but cost $1,500 – $2,000 more to install. This would take 20+ years in Rochester to reach a break even point. Again, this is assuming no breakdowns!

What is the difference between a 1 stage, 2 stage, and variable air conditioner?

Air conditioner stages refer to the operation of the A/C compressor (the big unit outside), which just means how much cooling power is being provided.

1 Stage Air Conditioner – This just means that the air conditioner is on or off, there is no in-between, it’s that simple!

2 Stage Air Conditioner – This means that there is basically a low power mode and high power mode for the air conditioner. The idea is to save on power usage and marginally increase comfort in the home. The comfort is not really felt with this though, because in most 2 story Rochester homes we need to push as much cold air to the different floors as possible, and cold air tends to sink.

Variable Air Conditioner – These are by far the most expensive air conditioners available, and the most efficient. Unfortunately, like with the 2 stage models, the benefit in the Rochester region just isn’t there as far as pay off vs. break even. You would also be hard pressed to find a difference in perceived comfort in our experience.

Which air conditioner is best in Rochester then?

Due to the amount of cooling needed and the short period of the year that we use air conditioners in Rochester, the 1 stage 14-14.5 SEER air conditioners make the most sense to install. Anything beyond a 1 stage A/C system is a way for a commissioned sales person to earn a bit more money in our opinion. We earn basically the same regardless of which unit you decide you would like. The higher SEER units (designed for regions where A/C is used around the clock for the majority of the year) just do not pay for themselves in this region, and it is a similar story with stages.

It is also worth noting that the more complex 2 stage and variable air conditioners typically have a much higher breakdown rate, and can cost a lot more to maintain over their lifespans.

Is R-22 Freon illegal? Can I not use my air conditioner? What is R410a refrigerant?

There is a TON of misinformation being put out there by dishonest or uneducated sales people about freon at the moment. We have been hearing it more and more from customers. We want to set the record straight about how some people are being scammed into replacing their air conditioners unnecessarily.

If you read nothing else, just know that it is not illegal to continue using an older air conditioner that uses R-22 Freon refrigerant!

Refrigerant – This is the stuff that allows an air conditioner to cool your home, that’s the simple answer. Over the years there have been different versions, such as Freon (R-22) and Puron (R410A). Any new air conditioner is required by federal law to utilize R-410a refrigerant, which is the latest and most environmentally friendly refrigerant being used. R-22 Freon is the older refrigerant that was used in air conditioners for decades.

This is where the sales scam comes in…

R-22 and the sales SCAM – New federal regulations have banned the production of any new R-22 refrigerant, and new air conditioners must utilize R-410a Puron. Current stock of R-22 is allowed to be sold and used for maintenance / repairs of existing R-22 air conditioning units. R-22 AIR CONDITIONERS ARE NOT ILLEGAL TO SERVICE OR USE! 

Unfortunately, we hear nearly every day now that dishonest sales people from other companies are telling people that they MUST replace their air conditioner immediately because it is R-22 and illegal to use… even if all they need is a new furnace or a simple repair on their existing air conditioner. This is not true! Do not fall for this. If this is what a sales person is telling you, they are likely not working for a company that you should be doing business with.

If you have any questions at all about this information, or have heard something different from another contractor, please do not hesitate to give us a call. We are happy to explain these regulations and the truth about this information.

What is a ‘split system’ air conditioner?

Unlike your furnace, an air conditioner as actually made up of two key components. That’s why most air conditioning systems in Rochester are called ‘split system’ air conditioners.

Outdoor condenser – This is the part of the system that most people refer to as “the air conditioner”. It is the big piece of equipment that sits outside of your home, and is responsible for removing heat from the refrigerant.

Indoor evaporator coil – This is a component that is installed on top of the furnace. Refrigerant is pumped through the indoor coil, and air is moved across it using the blower from the furnace to remove heat and humidity from the air in your home.

At Mendon Heating and Cooling, you will notice a 13 SEER outdoor unit recommended in our 14-14.5 SEER air conditioning packages. The reason for this is that we pair these units with very high efficiency indoor coils, which raises the system rating to 14-14.5 SEER, depending on the specific models / sizes.

14 SEER A/Cs make sense in Rochester.

In the Rochester, NY region, we do not use our air conditioners as heavily as in other climate zones. Based on average use, electricity prices, and air conditioner installation prices, we believe a 13-14 SEER air conditioner makes the most sense.

The math shows that the vast majority of people in this region simply will never reach a point where a 17, 19, or 20 SEER unit will “pay for itself” as sales people will promise.

For detailed information, please see the drop downs in the FAQ section above.

Years to Return Difference in Price from Savings over 14 SEER System

A/C Installation quality.

Selecting an air conditioner is just part of the equation. Efficiencies and ratings mean nothing without proper installation by a qualified and experienced technician.

At Mendon Heating and Cooling, we take the time to do things right. Anyone installing your air conditioner will have over 10 years of experience in the HVAC trade. This is not something that comes from a classroom or self titled university. To learn more about this, please see the link below.

Learn more >

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