What is SEER Rating? How To Choose the Proper SEER For AC

SEER Rating is the cooling efficiency rating for AC/heat pump. Typically, it is the most important factor homeowners need to know before any purchase. The frequently asked question is that “the more the better?” In this article, we will show your the recipe to get your proper and customized SEER. Let’s do it.

Before you get the right SEER, you need to know the below 5 listed factors:

  • Size(1.5-5 ton)
  • Using Hours Per Year
  • Power Rate
  • Normally Life Span
  • How long do you want to live in this house

and then let’s do an easy calculation (100% not rocket science)

Let’s say that you get the 3 ton 10 SEER AC/heat pump, the BTU (British Thermal Unit) for 3 ton is 36k. 36k/10 SEER=3.6Kwh per hour (you can directly look up the power consumption directly in the below table)

Power Consumption Table

Note: The unit is Kwh per hour.
1.5 Ton1.381.
2 Ton1.851.711.61.411.26
3 Ton2.772.572.42.121.89
4 Ton3.73.423.22.822.52
5 Ton4.

If you use AC for 2400 hours per year, then it will consume 3.6k*2400=8640 Kwh per year. Let’s say that the power rate for your area is $0.15 per Kwh, then the annual cost is 0.15*8640=$1296 .

For comparison, we choose a 3 ton 15 SEER AC/heat pump to do same calculation as follows:

36/15*2400*0.15=$864 (annual cost)

So you can save $1296-$864=$432 per year for cooling if using 15 SEER AC/heat pump instead.

Let’s assume the cost of the 10 SEER AC/heat pump is $3500 and the 15 SEER one is $6500.

$6500-$3500=$3000     $3000/$432=7 years

That means you can get your extra initial cost back after the 7 years, the average life span for recent AC units is about 10-12 years(the quality of unit is not as it used to be).

Note: When calculating the total savings for heat pump, you need add heating savings at the same time. Here is the guide for heating calculating (update soon).


The conclusion is obvious. If you own a bigger house (size), put up with the higher power rate, live in a wild hot area or don’t plan to sell your house in a couple of years, you should choose a high SEER AC/heat pump and vice versa. Of course, the best method to get the right SEER is calculating by the above formula.

You can refer to the below table if don’t want to do the complicated calculation. The data is based on 3 ton AC in the mild climate area. The default power rate is $0.15 per Kw.

Size in TonSEERMoney Back TimeNote
3135-8 years
3148-9 years
3159-11 years
316-1811-14 yearsrisky for parts repair
318+14+ yearsrisky for parts repair

Here is required standard SEER for each state, the picture is from kobiecomplete.com


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