Charleston Air Conditioning and Heating: Service, Repair, and Equipment Companies
This local page provides resources and information about A/C and heating service, repair, maintenance, and installers in Charleston, South Carolina and the surrounding communities in Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties. This information includes featured HVAC contractors plus a link to our handy printable grid to compare price quotes. Here you will also find sources of energy efficiency and equipment rebates, the ratio of hours of cooling and heating needed each year, HVAC schools or training and more.
About Charleston HVAC contractors
The company you choose will make a big impact on your satisfaction and purchase of a new air conditioning and heating system. Why? They determine the size and type of equipment for your situation and they control the quality of the installation. If you have not yet seen them, in the navigation menu on top of this page you will find quick tips and expanded topics on two essential topics: how to select the right HVAC contractor and how to buy a new central heating and cooling system.
Due to relationships with their equipment distributors or ownership by a manufacturer, some air conditioning and heating contractors install a limited number of equipment brands. Many independents have a brand they prefer or for which they are dealers, but they will usually order and install any brand of new equipment you prefer to buy. However, most HVAC companies will repair and maintain any brand of central heater, furnace and air conditioner you have.
In addition to heating and cooling for indoor comfort and energy savings, an increasing number of HVAC companies perform air quality work such as air filters, dehumidifiers and humidifiers, ventilation and prevention of toxic carbon monoxide (CO) gas from your furnace. However, not all of them perform energy efficiency improvements to houses or buildings, such as the addition of solar screens or radiant barriers. If the service company you contact does not perform energy conservation improvements on homes or buildings, they should be able to recommend another Charleston area company that does.
How to compare air conditioning and heating equipment price quotes
Air conditioning and heating systems are made of components or units, and these can be interchanged to yield many possible combinations of performance and efficiency. Additionally, based on the particular situation in your home or building, these components must be chosen and installed to accommodate them. For these reasons, comparing proposals, features, and prices can be confusing indeed.
To help you quickly sort through the maze of options, use our free and printer-friendly cost comparison organizer found in the navigation on the top of this page. If you get multiple price quotes, it will save you a lot of time and headaches. This grid allows you to compare the essential features “apples to apples” from contractor bids including: main components; equipment efficiency in SEER and AFUE; manufacturer’s and installer’s warranties; and equipment brand.
How the climate in Charleston and local resources affect your HVAC Needs
According to a cooling and heating map of the United States that divides the country into five zones, Charleston lies at the intersection of cooling zones 3 and 4 and in heating zone 4. These require an estimated 1402/1986 cooling hours and 2105 heating degree-days per year. For comparison purposes, the average Charleston area home would need proportionally slightly more heating than cooling. Climatic influences such as humidity of the area, proximity to the ocean can cause microclimates or other variations in this interpretation, so you need to rely on actual measurements and calculations from your local HVAC service company.
The local climate affects your heating and cooling loads and the payback period when comparing the efficiency ratings of different air conditioners, furnaces or heaters. The humid subtropical climate of Charleston typically brings mild winters and hot, humid summers. Year around, the am humidity averages 83% and the in the pm the average is 56%. The three hottest months, June through August, have highs hovering around 90°F. The three coolest months of December, January and February bring average lows just below 40°F. This type of climate has numerous days throughout the year in which you may not need to run your air conditioner or furnace based on temperature alone. However, more than heating and cooling contribute to comfort. On these temperate days, a dehumidifier, whole house air filter or fresh air ventilation could make a major improvement in indoor comfort.
Pollen, allergies and air filters in Charleston
In Charleston air filters are a necessity to many residents. Certain coastal South Carolina plants can strongly influence what type of air filter you and your A-C system need. Some notable examples include the Oak, Hickory, Pecan and Birch trees, ragweed in the fall, and other types of allergy producing wildflower pollen in the springtime. The daily pollen count and allergy forecast for the city and North Charleston can be found here.
Local utility and conservation providers
For the Charleston area and State of South Carolina, the DSIRE database lists energy efficiency rebates and incentives from ranging from rebates to loans for geothermal heat pumps. In most cases, your local A/C and heating company can coordinate all available energy conservation and rebate programs, from federal tax credits to local rebates and incentives.
The availability of certain fuels such as natural gas or heating oil can determine which HVAC equipment will give you the best combination of comfort and lower utility bills. Since natural gas is available in most Charleston neighborhoods, many consumers have chosen gas central furnaces or dual fuel heat pumps to all electric models. If natural gas prices climb faster than electricity rates, this trend might change. In situations where a heat pump makes the best choice, some of the factors that affect air source heat pumps include the average daily temperature, fluctuations in temperature, and humidity. Other local conditions such as stone outcrops located close to the surface may limit the use of ground source heat pumps. For more information on this topic, go to the top of this page and visit the heat pump page under Expanded A/C and Heating Details.
How a whole house approach includes the “envelope” in the load calculation
If you plan to get price quotes to buy a new A-C and heating system, look for contractors who will insert the heating and cooling demands of the coastal South Carolina climate along with the size and condition of your home or building “envelope” into a complex, but essential load calculation. For many reasons, a rule of thumb load calculation based only on square footage or using the same size system as the old one without verification should be avoided. This calculation requires considerable training and expertise, and is no place to attempt to cut costs or save time.
Resources for HVAC technical or vocational training in the Charleston area
If you are interested in learning more about the technical aspects of air conditioning and heating in the greater Charleston area, such as schools or courses to get training for a South Carolina HVAC license, below are some regional educational and local association links.
Technical College Of Lowcountry
921 Ribaut Rd
PO Box 1288
Beaufort, SC 29901
Phone (843) 525-8289
Fax (843) 525-8330
ASHRAE Charleston Chapter: The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.