Can I still install a SEER 13 unit now?

Livable Buildings: Designing for Comfort

There are three key questions to ask when considering installing a 13 SEER unit.

  1. Which region you are in?
  2. When was the 13 SEER system built?
  3. Was it a heat pump or straight AC?

You can still install a 13 SEER unit anywhere in the U.S. if it was manufactured before Jan. 1, 2015.  If you are in the North region, as specified by the Department of Energy (DOE), you can continue to install 13 SEER AC systems even if they were manufactured after that date, and there is not yet a date for phasing out those units in the North. However, all heat pump systems built after Jan. 1, 2015 must be at least 14 SEER.

If you are in the South or Southwest DOE regions, you can only install 13 SEER units (AC or heat pumps) built before Jan. 1, 2015, and you can continue to do this until the 18-month grace period is over on June 30, 2016.  After that date, everything in those regions must be 14 SEER irrespective of when it was built.  Also, the Southwest has an EER minimum in addition to the SEER minimum, so if you are in that region you will need to watch for the EER rating as well.  It is not clear how the availability of 13 SEER units built before Jan. 1, 2015, will play out, but there are certainly some in the channel for the 2015 cooling season.  It is likely that this availability will drop significantly as we move closer to the June 30, 2016, date when they can no longer be used (except in the North).

We understand these regulations are confusing.  There are many other articles on this site that might provide more background on this topic (maps, definitions, etc.).  You can also use the site’s key word search navigation to find additional information.

Revised on January 23, 2015


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8 thoughts on “Can I still install a SEER 13 unit now?

    I have a Home warranty contract. My HVAC stopped working, they propose to replace my 10 SEER TRANE TWRO12 with a 13 SEER PAYNE: PH13NB30000 /PH4MNA03000 or they would pay a buy-out of $1500.00 if I want to purchase and install a different unit on my own. Neither of these options are acceptable. I could not purchase and install a system for $1500.
    I quickly realized that the 13 SEERS PAYNE product has low consumer ratings and no longer meets the 14 SEER federal minimum standards. I suspect that they purchased surplus inventory of these and want to pass they on to unsuspecting consumers. I have read reviews on the PAYNE product, it is a low budget unit that is used in mild climate and part time vacation cottage use settings. And, the performance and efficiency are not reliable in this model 13 PAYNE.

    Their service provider estimated the cost of a comparable unit would be approximately $5400 and that the PAYNE is not a quality product.
    I do not want problems down the road. The overall ratings for the PAYNE are poor. I do not want an inferior unit with potential problems. My existing 1994 unit has had no repair in over 20 years. I live in Middle Peninsula, Virginia and have cold/freezing winters and hot humid summers. Do you have any suggestions? Your comment is appreciated as they do not want to resolve the claim with an efficient unit.

    Thank you.

    • Hi Ella – The policies on this site do not allow us to comment on individual brands or service providers. On the question of 13 SEER, there are some of those units that were build before 1/1/15 which can still be sold and installed. They are a little less efficient than the new 14 SEER minimum efficiency but should still be more efficient than the 10 SEER you have now. In any case, we recommend you insure that any new system you get is sized properly for your home. If anything has changed in the past 20 years (new windows, insulation, etc) you might want to have a contractor check this before deciding how much cooling capacity you need – but the capacity should probably be close to that of your current system in order for it to keep up on extreme days and not cycle too much on the more moderate days.

      We also recommend getting some quotes from two or three different contractors offering various brands before deciding. Some contractors specialize in certain brands so you might need to talk to a few of them to get more information.

      Hope this heps. Good luck!

  2. Where does the regulatory authority to require system matching come from? Do you need to match systems in states where they haven’t adopted specific building code regulations as they have in say Florida? How does the 2009 IECC figure in to the matching requirements?

    • Hi Mike,

      Currently the Department of energy (DOE) issues the rules for minimum efficiency requirements for appliances. DOE is required to do this by congress through the Energy policy and conservation act (1975). The federal unitary air conditioning and heat pump minimum efficiency levels apply to all states, including states like Florida, where possibly specific building code regulations may not have been adopted yet. These levels are required for all air conditioning installations including those going into existing buildings and not just for new buildings. The IECC energy codes do not replace the Federal minimums, the IECC codes are for new buildings and are suggested as guidelines for states and local governments to consider for adoption.

      The following links to the AHRI Directory lists approved system combinations.

    • Hi Dave,
      If you are just changing the outdoor unit, then the SEER (and EER in the South West) of the outdoor unit is sufficient. If you are changing the whole system, then you need to also check that the indoor coil is a matched combination in AHRI directory.
      Also note that an outdoor unit SEER and EER rating is being determined by the efficiency of the lowest matched coil rating in the AHRI directory. Thus an air conditioner that has a matched combination rating of less than 14SEER can only be installed in the North.

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