If you are new to the world of indoor cooling, you may wonder what is SEER in an air conditioner. Many of the best air conditioners, after all, ship with SEER specifications on the packaging and advertising materials. So what is SEER, what does it mean for your AC, and should you pay attention to it? To put it plainly, SEER is a rating scale to help understand the efficiency of modern units, but keep reading to find out more.


  • SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and is also known as the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating.
  • SEER tests how well central air conditioners up to extreme temperatures during use and a high rating could result in energy savings.
  • You’ll find SEER ratings on the packaging accompanying central air conditioners as well in its advertising.

What is SEER in an AC Unit?

Let’s go over some basics, even if you already know what is an AC unit. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, and this is a different concept than learning what is SACC on an air conditioner. Instead, it’s the ratio of the cooling output of an AC model over an average cooling season and applies to many designs if you are learning what is a self-evaporating portable air conditioner. It is also called the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, so you can use it to make a decision regarding what is the most energy-efficient air conditioner temperature.

Insider Tip

A SEER rating assumes the completion of common maintenance tasks, so switch out those air filters.

You’ll find the SEER rating on the external packaging of a traditional AC, but not other types of air coolers, if you are comparing a swamp cooler against an air conditioner. Also, the SEER rating applies even if you have learned about air conditioner voltage and can help give you an estimate of the amount of electricity it will take to run your unit.

What is a Good SEER Rating?

Now for the fun part. The first thing you should know is that SEER is a maximum efficiency rating for air conditioners and not a rating during average use. Think of it as the miles per gallon in your car. You may get 30 miles per gallon on the freeway, but you’ll drastically lose efficiency when stuck in city traffic. The same goes for SEER ratings. Even with a high rating of, say, 21, it will lower depending on certain conditions.

STAT: A SEER ratio is calculated over an entire typical cooling season using a constant indoor temperature and a variety of outdoor temperatures ranging from 60 degrees to 100 plus. (source)

With that said, the higher, the better here. Anything in the 20s is considered to be an excellent, efficient unit by most experts, and the minimum rating is 13. Maybe modern high-grade AC units ship with a SEER rating of 21 or 22 like the great unit we discuss in our MrCool mini split review.

How do They Test for SEER?

AC units are put their paces to get a SEER rating. A SEER ratio is calculated over an entire summer using a constant indoor temperature and a variety of outdoor temperatures ranging from 60 degrees to 100 degrees, or even more in some cases.


So what’s the answer?

Choose an AC based on a high SEER rating, but also pay attention to other metrics like energy costs, the efficiency of air conditioners, electric energy input, the inclusion of heat pumps, and more.

Is a higher SEER rating worth it?

Higher SEER values indicate increased efficiency and reduced cost of operation while using an air conditioning unit. In other words, meeting these minimum standards is worth it for your electric bills.

What is the minimum allowable SEER rating for a federal tax credit?

To snag a tax credit from the government, make sure your AC unit boasts a minimum SEER rating of 16, no matter if the model includes heat pumps or related air conditioning accessories.

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