One question that almost every air conditioner installation expert gets asked at least once a day: what size air conditioner do I need?
We get this question very often from customers who already have a size in mind, but need to hear an expert opinion before investing.
The answer to this varies on the type of air conditioning unit you are installing. Moreover, there are elements involved that make it impossible to develop a reliable one-size-fits-all formula. We will try to clarify the most common air conditioner questions related to sizes and their recommended uses in this article.
The first factor we have to take into account is space. The bigger the room, the more air needs to be moved. Think about that room you have in your house that everyone loves because of the beautiful view, but is just too hot to be used during summer.
The next factor is what are you trying to cool down? As an example, the average bedroom may need only 5 000 BTU per hour, while a restaurant would require much more. That difference is why it is important to judge the actual space you are trying to cool down, not just its size.
If you don’t have any idea of what sizes you need, here is a helpful calculation that will give an estimate of the air conditioner power needed for your room.
So, you need to know your square feet of living space to determine what size air conditioning unit is required. For reference, 2-ton units are usually enough for spaces up to 1200 sq ft, 2.5-ton units are enough for spaces between 1200 and 1500 sq ft, 3-ton units can handle spaces between 1500 and 2100 sq ft, and 4-ton units are reserved for larger homes or 2 story homes.
In general, for homes, 2.5-ton package units are more energy-efficient than 2-ton ac units. A 2.5-ton ac unit can cool a house of about 1500 sq ft while a 2-ton package unit is only enough to cool a house with 800-1200 sq ft.
Energy efficiency during summer is extremely important, not only for your comfort but for the environment as well. 2.5-ton ac package units are 2-ton AC unit’s upgraded versions which means they provide more cooling power than 2-ton Air Conditioners without having a dramatic impact on energy bills.
This is important to remember when considering HVAC upgrades.
Some situations call for higher tonnage, even if the conditioned space does not go over 1,200 square feet. The climate is the first thing that comes to mind. Suppliers located in hotter States always recommend a ton over the recommended unit size to offset climate difference. Hotter averages will require more tonnage to compensate and have enough headroom to keep temperatures under control. The same goes for colder areas and heating units.
Additionally, insulation is as important as unit size because it directly affects the efficiency of your HVAC unit and how long your home can retain interior temperature differences. Badly installed or leaky insulation generally means that a room or home will force a unit to perform frequent cycles. This will drastically impact your energy bills no matter if your unit has energy-saving capabilities.
Ceiling height is another factor as it drastically affects air volume to be moved per hour. We love properties with high ceilings because they give us a sense of openness and often can take more advantage of natural lighting. However, high ceilings require more power from the unit and need to be taken into account when calculating room space.
If you are conditioning certain areas, such as the kitchen or laundry room, the appliances contained there will definitely impact the efficiency of your HVAC unit. Heat-generating devices often offset your air conditioning capabilities. There are many ways to deal with this. Many families leave their kitchen and laundry rooms out by effectively insulating these areas. This makes your HVAC unit more effective and can save you a lot of money in the long run. However, if you enjoy the perks of having indoor open spaces, then the heat generated by your kitchen appliances must also enter the equation when calculating the right AC unit tonnage.
There are other factors to consider such as natural lighting, trees and hedges, shade, the number of rooms, etc. All these play a part in determining the right-size HVAC unit for your home.
Take it from us, measuring the area of each room with no consideration towards any of these factors can become inaccurate and potentially wasteful. We strongly recommend that you speak to our qualified professionals before making purchases or renovations that will affect your energy bills and comfort level for years to come.
How to easily calculate the right tonnage for your area?
Providing exhaustive directions on how to calculate the right AC unit size for your home is almost impossible given all the factors that determine your real needs. However, an approximation can be made given some general parameters in the HVAC industry.
We have to remember that for every ton in your AC unit, it means that it can move 12,000 British Thermal Units. So a 2-ton unit will move 24,000 BTUs while a 3-ton package will get you 36,000 BTUs. That´s a 50% jump in power and always sounds attractive for families living in medium-size homes. However, that upgrade might be too costly to justify. If a unit is too large for the space, it will mean that it will be working in short bursts that will consume energy every time it starts. Moreover, the installed airflow capacity might not be able to handle that much pressure, making the unit work extra hard barely making a difference.
2.5-ton package units often represent the best compromise. You get to jump from 24,000 BTUs to around 30.000 BTUs, and the upgrade allows you to use your current ductwork without a problem. Other factors to consider are usually represented by the number of rooms. Keep in mind that every room you want to be conditioned will roughly increase your AC unit size by 1 ton.
We hope this serves as general guidelines when the time comes to purchase your next air conditioning unit. However, we strongly suggest you contact one of our air condition installation experts so you have all the information you need to make the right choice.
Remember that Dr. AirCon is just a quick call away, and we are more than happy to answer all your questions and provide an unmatched level of service.