As we progress into summer, now is an awful time to discover that your air conditioner isn’t up to the job of keeping your home cool and comfortable anymore. However, if that is the case, we definitely recommend looking into a replacement if it’s an aging system that’s been having a lot of repair issues anyway. This is not a purchase to rush into though!
We don’t encourage making a hurried AC purchase because this usually leads to homeowners buying the biggest air conditioner they can find that matches their budget—because they don’t realize that bigger isn’t always better. You could do more harm than good to your cooling system and your cooling bills as a result. Remember, you’ll want to work with a skilled and experienced HVAC professional to install your new cooling system—this HVAC professional should be well versed on how to get the right AC tonnage for your home.
“Wait, What Is Tonnage?”
No, we aren’t talking about how much your air conditioner weighs. HVAC technicians, like any other type of service professional, have their own jargon that they use in the industry. So when you hear an HVAC pro say tonnage, what they’re referring to is the amount of cooling that an AC system provides versus the volume of space in which its being installed (though, there’s much more to it than just volume).
The cooling power of your AC system is measured in the units of heat a system removes from the air. AC systems don’t generate cold air, but rather the cooling process is a result of the removal of heat. Tonnage is essentially the amount of heat that a cooling system can draw out of a space in an hour.
This heat removal process is measured as British Thermal Units (BTUs), which is the level of heat that’s needed to change the temperature of a pound of water one degree. So one ton of AC power means your system can remove 12,000 BTUs from the property’s air per hour. Each additional ton accounts for another 12,000 BTUs
“Okay, So How Much Tonnage Do I Need?”
This is a question our technicians can answer by doing what’s called a heat load measurement in your home. There are a lot of factors that go into this calculation—and it’s not just about the square footage of your home, or the volume like we mentioned above.
We look at other things like what kind of insulation is in your home, the number of people living in your household, the number of windows and heat-producing appliances through the home, and even the number of doors and windows. You can trust that our team will find the right tonnage for your specific needs.
When Bigger Is Not Better
So when we say an air conditioner is too big for your space, what we mean is that the air conditioner has too much tonnage. You probably understand already how an AC system can have too little tonnage—it won’t be able to effectively cool the space where it’s installed.
Too much tonnage will force your air conditioner to go through a process called short cycling—when your air conditioner shuts off and turns back on rapidly. This wears down on the components of the AC system, and can eventually lead to premature system breakdown.