How to make sure you're buying the right sized air conditioning system
Think of an air conditioner as a water pipe and your home as the drain. The water pipe’s job is to keep the sink full with the drain open and without the sink overflowing. Your air conditioner needs to be able to handle the cooling needs of your home without cooling it too fast or too slow. So, how do we calculate that?
First, let’s understand how A/C systems are measured.
Air conditioning, or refrigeration to us techies, is measured on how many British Thermal Units (BTU) it can remove every hour. For example, a one-ton unit removes 12,000 BTUs per hour, and a two-ton system removes 24,000 BTU/hr, and you can keep going up in 0.5-ton increments. Now, there are some rough estimates you can use, but they differ based on your location, so we do not recommend using them. For instance, some people say that you need one ton per 500 square feet while others say that you need one ton per 1000 square feet, so you can see how big of a difference that could make.
It would be too much to get into the exact calculation in a short article, but the other considerations include the age of the home, ceiling height, number of windows, how much shade the home gets, the quality of insulation, and the climate in your area. If you use the above example that your home was 2000 square feet, then the minimum sized A/C you would need is 2 tons, but the more windows, the higher the ceilings, the lower the quality of insulation, and the warmer the climate, the larger the A/C unit you would need.
Our recommendation, as always, is to have an experienced, licensed, and insured technician size your system correctly. They’ll provide you with a detailed report so that you’ll be comfortable making your final decision.
Why is it so important to size it properly?
Your A/C system is the biggest consumer of electricity in your home, so ensuring that it runs efficiently can save you plenty of money over the life of your system. Some people tend to think that over-sizing an A/C system will save them money because it would cool the house faster and therefore run less, but what they’re not taking into consideration is that the most expensive part of running a system is starting it up. Oversizing a system that is continuously restarting uses more energy, which ultimately costs more.
Purchasing a new A/C system is a big decision, and everyone’s budget and needs are different, so working with a reputable company will improve your chances of getting what you need at a price you can afford.
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