“My quote for 4 ton 18 SEER unit is $760 higher than for 4 ton 16 SEER unit. Which one should I choose?”
To make a financially viable decision here, we have to calculate the 16 SEER vs 18 SEER energy savings. We will show you exactly how to calculate that. To simplify the math, we created a 16 SEER vs 18 SEER savings calculator and calculated 1-year, 10-year, and 20-year savings for 1-8 ton mini splits (results in the chart below).
The key information we need here is that an 18 SEER unit is 12.5% more energy efficient than a 16 SEER unit.
To illustrate what is the difference between 16 SEER and 18 SEER units, let’s look at the example from the question above:
- 1st quote: 4 ton 16 SEER unit costs $6,420 (with installation and labor).
- 2nd quote: 4 ton 18 SEER unit costs $7,180 (with installation and labor).
Can this $760 upfront cost difference be justified by the energy savings in the next 20 years? We can answer this by using the SEER rating to calculate the annual running costs for both units like this:
- 4 ton 16 SEER unit has an average running wattage of 3,000W. That means it will use 3 kWh per hour and 3,000 kWh per year (1,000 running hours). At $0.15/kWh electricity rates, that’s $450 per year, $4,500 in 10 years, and $9,000 in 20 years in electricity costs.
- 4 ton 18 SEER unit has an average running wattage of 2,667W. That means it will use 2.667 kWh per hour and 2,667 kWh per year (1,000 running hours). At $0.15/kWh electricity rates, that’s $400.00 per year, $4,000 in 10 years, and $8,000 in 20 years in electricity costs.
We can see that by opting for 18 SEER unit over 16 SEER unit, we are saving $50.00 per year ($450 – $400 = $50.00). That is $500 energy savings in 10 years, and $1,000 savings in 20 years.
From this, we can see that the $1,000 20-year energy savings are higher than the initial upfront cost difference of $780. Under these conditions, we should opt for an 18 SEER unit. On the other hand, if the cost difference would be, say, $1,300, it would be more financially viable to opt for a 16 SEER unit (since the energy savings don’t justify the cost difference).
Now, these calculations can be quite complex and lengthy. To help you with energy savings calculations, we have created a simple-to-use 16 SEER vs 18 SEER saving calculator (insert tonnage, electricity rates; get 1-year, 10-year, and 20-year energy savings).
Below the calculator, you will also find a calculated 16 SEER vs 18 SEER energy savings chart for 1-8 ton AC units. Here is the online calculator:
16 SEER Vs 18 SEER Savings Calculator
To illustrate how easy it is to use this calculator, let’s solve this example:
You are deciding between 3 ton 16 SEER and 3 ton 18 SEER mini split. Electricity rates in your area are $0.17/kWh. To calculate energy savings, just slide the 1st AC tonnage slider to ‘3’ and the 2nd electricity rates slider to ‘0.17’, and you get the result:
By opting for 18 SEER instead of 16 SEER mini split, you are saving $42.50 per year. That is $425 in savings in the next 10 years, and $850 in energy savings in the next 20 years.
Now, if the 18 SEER unit is only $500 more expensive than the 16 SEER unit, the 20-year energy savings will cover this, and you should opt for the 18 SEER unit. If, on the other hand, the 18 SEER unit is, say, $1,200 more expensive than a 16 SEER unit, the 20-year savings won’t pay that back, and you should opt for the 16 SEER unit.
Here is the full calculated chart (based on 1,000 running hours per year and $0.15/kWh electricity prices) for 1-8 ton AC units:
16 SEER Vs 18 SEER Chart For Mini Splits
|Unit Size (Tonnage):||1-Year Savings ($):||10-Year Savings ($):||20-Year Savings ($):|
|1 Ton||$12.50 Savings Per Year||$125.00 Per 10 Years||$250.00 Per 10 Years|
|1.5 Ton||$18.75 Savings Per Year||$187.50 Per 10 Years||$375.00 Per 10 Years|
|2 Ton||$25.00 Savings Per Year||$250.00 Per 10 Years||$500.00 Per 10 Years|
|2.5 Ton||$31.25 Savings Per Year||$312.50 Per 10 Years||$625.00 Per 10 Years|
|3 Ton||$37.50 Savings Per Year||$375.00 Per 10 Years||$750.00 Per 10 Years|
|3.5 Ton||$43.75 Savings Per Year||$437.50 Per 10 Years||$875.00 Per 10 Years|
|4 Ton||$50.00 Savings Per Year||$500.00 Per 10 Years||$1,000.00 Per 10 Years|
|5 Ton||$62.50 Savings Per Year||$625.00 Per 10 Years||$1,250.00 Per 20 Years|
|6 Ton||$75.00 Savings Per Year||$750.00 Per 10 Years||$1,500.00 Per 20 Years|
|7 Ton||$87.50 Savings Per Year||$875.00 Per 10 Years||$1,750.00 Per 20 Years|
|8 Ton||$100.00 Savings Per Year||$1,000.00 Per 10 Years||$2,000.00 Per 20 Years|
From the chart, you can see that the 16 SEER vs 18 SEER energy savings range from:
- $12.50 to $100 per year.
- $125 to $1,000 in 10 years.
- $250 to $2,000 in 20 years.
Now, you are well equipped to calculate the 16 SEER vs 18 SEER energy savings yourself, and choose a financially more viable option. If you need our help with the calculators, you can always use the comment section below, give us some numbers, and we can do a bit of math for you.