What Size Air Conditioner Do I Need?

Whether you’re building a new home or replacing your existing HVAC system, there is one question you’re definitely going to ask: what size air conditioner do I need? Choosing the correct air conditioner size is a balancing act. Too large, and you could face poor humidity control and excessive energy bills. Too small, and the unit might fail to provide comfortable temperatures on scorching hot days. Correct air conditioner sizing is required to enjoy an efficient, cost-effective and comfortable cooling experience.

The Importance of Sizing Your Air Conditioner Correctly

Ensuring your air conditioner provides the right cooling capacity is a matter of comfort and energy savings. Here’s why you shouldn’t merely guess the ideal air conditioning system size:

    • Humidity control: An oversized unit cools too fast, reducing humidity removal and making your home clammy. A right- sized air conditioner will regulate indoor humidity levels more successfully.
    • Even temperatures: A properly sized air conditioner distributes cool air evenly and decreases irritating temperature variations between cycles.
    • Peak day performance: Systems that don’t have enough cooling capacity struggle to achieve the target temperature on hot summer afternoons, so you need a unit large enough to keep up with cooling demand.
    • Proper cycling: Air conditioners power on and off with adequate run time during each cycle. Units that are too big for the space cycle too quickly, resulting in increased wear and tear. Then again, an undersized system runs continuously, which may cause overheating.
    • Manageable utility bills: Cycling problems caused by installing the wrong size of air conditioner result in higher energy bills. However, a unit that is the proper size will function efficiently and keep your utility bills in check.

Understanding Air Conditioner Size

Cooling capacity is measured in British thermal units (BTUs). A BTU is a standard unit of energy that indicates the amount of heat an air conditioner can remove per hour. A large percentage of room air conditioners range from 5,000 to 18,000 BTUs. Because central air conditioners are larger, they’re usually measured in tons. A one-ton system is proportionate to 12,000 BTUs. Generally, central AC systems range from 1 to 5 tons.

Sizing a Room Air Conditioner

When examining window or portable air conditioners, which size you need primarily depends on the room’s square footage. Measure the area—length x width—and match it to the appropriate BTUs:

    • A room measuring 150 to 350 square feet usually will need to have a 5,000 to 8,000 BTU air conditioner.
    • A room between 350 and 550 square feet may need an 8,000 to 12,000 BTU unit.
    • A large room or open area of 550 to 1,000 square feet may take a 12,000 to 18,000 BTU unit.

These general recommendations don’t account for factors like interior heat gain or whether or not you have any shade trees around your home to block out the sun. For a more accurate calculation, contact a cooling specialist at Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing.

Sizing a Central Air Conditioner

Figuring out the right size of central air conditioner begins with the home’s square footage, but specific sizing demands a more in-depth look. HVAC Experts rely on load calculations outlined in Manual J to determine a home’s specific cooling requirements. Here are the factors that professionals consider:

    • Square footage: How big your home is greatly affects its air conditioning requirements, with more sizeable homes generally requiring more cooling capacity.
    • Local climate: Where you live can affect your cooling preferences as well. Parts of the country with very hot, humid summers normally demand a higher cooling capacity than cooler, drier communities.
    • Interior heat gain: The heat produced inside your home is made by people, lights, electronics and appliances. Higher internal heat elevates your home’s cooling needs.
    • Insulation levels: The level of insulation in your walls, attic and floors affects how much heat gets into your living space. Well-insulated homes hold cool air more efficiently, decreasing the cooling load.
    • Air infiltration rate: This describes how much outside air enters through leaks or cracks in the exterior of your home. Homes with a high air infiltration requires more cooling to combat the warm, humid outdoor air that sneaks through the walls and into your home.
    • Home orientation and window layout: The direction your home faces affects its sun exposure, which in turn has an effect on your home’s cooling load. A single-family residence with expansive south-facing windows absorbs more heat and requires a bigger air conditioner than a north-facing condo.

Other Factors to Consider When Buying an AC

Besides knowing what size air conditioner you need, consider these additional factors when installing a new air conditioner:

    • Brand: Not all air conditioning systems are created equal. It’s vital to select a trusted brand for durability and longevity.
    • Efficiency rating: The seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) shows the total heat an air conditioner can take out per unit of electricity it consumes. Higher SEER ratings signify higher efficiency, reducing your utility bills.
    • Maintenance requirements: Regular maintenance keeps your system operating effectively. Most AC manufacturers recommend yearly tune-ups to locate and repair small problems before they turn into high-priced repairs.

Get Expert Help Sizing Your Air Conditioner From Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing

Selecting the best air conditioner size can be overwhelming. The Experts at Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing are here to help. We offer custom cooling solutions to boost home comfort, efficiency and energy savings.

From estimating your precise cooling needs to helping you understand different brands and efficiency ratings, we’re there for you at every step. For help choosing the perfect air conditioner for your home in the U.S., call 866-397-3787 today to schedule your appointment with Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing.

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