You might be tempted to buy your new heating or cooling equipment online, especially if it looks like you can get a steal from a virtual retailer. When you compare sticker prices you can find online with those offered by your local, certified HVAC expert, online retailers often appear to offer the best deals.
When you look past the sticker price to longer-term expenses, however, there are some real financial drawbacks associated with buying HVAC equipment online. A virtual store has less overhead than a traditional brick-and-mortar establishment. That's why its equipment may be less costly upfront. It's after the purchase that the equipment can wipe out any savings.
Homeowners who buy HVAC equipment online often face:
- Installation problems. Finding a certified HVAC expert willing to install equipment purchased online may be a problem. They don't know the origin of the equipment and therefore can't ensure its proper installation. While many contractors will decline to install it, others will charge more than normal for installation in case things go wrong.
- Warranty problems. If you do find a certified HVAC expert to perform the installation, they may not offer an installation warranty. In addition, most legitimate manufacturers don't provide warranties on their equipment bought online — only through certified dealers.
- Sizing problems. Your certified HVAC expert will perform a load calculation to properly match your equipment to your home. This is a comprehensive process performed prior to a purchase to ensure your equipment will meet your household's needs. Units too large or too small for the home can lead to early breakdowns or higher energy costs.
- Properly matched systems. Don't rely on the nominal rating of the units because they can vary by as much as 1/2 ton for cooling. Further, the rated airflow for the system is critical to its performance and can be easily overlooked. Finally, the selection of the proper comfort system for your home is a complicated engineered event that requires careful onsite evaluation and is nowhere near as simple as replacing a major kitchen appliance.
A certified HVAC expert knows the equipment, is trained in the installation, and is backed up by your new equipment's manufacturer. And when you buy from a local contractor, you're backed up by both the contractor and the manufacturer. An online purchase may be cheap upfront, but more costly in the future.
Paul Wadsworth is the President and Owner of P.K. Wadsworth Heating and Cooling. For 37 years, Paul has been providing heating and cooling services to the Greater Cleveland area. P.K. Wadsworth has been a trusted Cleveland HVAC service company for 75 years. The company understand the area's construction and local heating and air conditioning needs. Paul has an MBA from the University of Michigan and a B.S., Industrial Engineering from Purdue University. He's been President of the Cleveland Air Conditioning Contractors of America and a founding member of the local chapter. Paul was born and raised in Cleveland and has been active in the local community. He resides in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and two sons.
The opinions and statements contained in this article are for general informational purposes only and are not instructions. Only trained, licensed and experienced personnel should attempt installation/repair. The author assumes no liability for the opinions/statements made in this article. Any individual attempting a repair or installation based on this article does so at their own risk of loss.