What Size Air Conditioner Do I Need?

Whether you’re building a new home or upgrading your existing air conditioning system, there is one question you're bound to ask: what size air conditioner do I need? Buying the right air conditioner size is a balancing act. Too large, and you could encounter poor humidity control and significant energy expenses. Too small, and the unit might fail to maintain comfortable temperatures on scorching hot days. Appropriate air conditioner sizing is crucial 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 cost savings. Here’s why you shouldn’t simply guess the correct air conditioner size:

  • Humidity control: An oversized unit cools too rapidly, hindering humidity removal and making your home clammy. A right sized air conditioner will regulate indoor humidity levels more effectively.
  • Even temperatures: A well-suited air conditioner disseminates cool air evenly and decreases unpleasant temperature changes between cycles.
  • Peak day performance: Systems that don't have enough cooling capacity struggle to get your home to the target temperature on hot summer afternoons, so you need a unit big enough to keep up with cooling demand.
  • Proper cycling: Air conditioners start up and turn back off with adequate run time during each cycle. Units that are larger than you need cycle too quickly, causing40 additional wear and tear. On the other hand, an undersized system runs continuously, which may cause the unit to become overheated.
  • Manageable utility bills: Cycling issues caused by installing the wrong size of air conditioner lead to higher electricity bills. However, a unit that is the recommended size will work 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 shows the amount of heat an air conditioner can remove every hour. A large percentage of room air conditioners range from 5,000 to 18,000 BTUs. Because central air conditioners are larger, they’re typically measured in tons. A one-ton system is proportionate to 12,000 BTUs. Most central AC units range from 1 to 5 tons.

Sizing a Room Air Conditioner

When considering window or portable air conditioners, sizing mainly 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 require a 5,000 to 8,000 BTU air conditioner.
  • A room between 350 and 550 square feet should need an 8,000 to 12,000 BTU unit.
  • A spacious room or open area of 550 to 1,000 square feet may take a 12,000 to 18,000 BTU unit.

These general guidelines don’t account for factors like interior heat gain or how much sun streams in through the windows of the room. For a more accurate calculation, seek expert advice from BW/Cook Service Experts.

Sizing a Central Air Conditioner

Determining the perfect size of central air conditioner begins with the home’s square footage, but specific sizing requires a more in-depth look. HVAC professionals rely on load calculations explained in Manual J to determine a home’s particular cooling requirements. Here are the considerations that come into play:

  • Square footage: The size of your home significantly affects its air conditioning requirements, with more sizeable homes generally requiring more cooling capacity.
  • Local climate: Where you live can affect your cooling requirements as well. States with extremely hot, humid summers naturally demand a higher cooling capacity than cooler, drier areas.
  • Interior heat gain: The heat released inside your home is made by people, lights, electronics and appliances. Additional internal heat raises your home’s cooling requirements.
  • Insulation levels: The amount 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, reducing the cooling load.
  • Air infiltration rate: This refers to how much outside air gets in through leaks or cracks in the exterior of your home. Homes with a high air infiltration requires more cooling to neutralize the warm, humid outdoor air that seeps into the home.
  • Home orientation and window layout: The direction your home faces influences its sun exposure, which in turn has an effect on your home’s cooling load. A single-family residence with sprawling south-facing windows absorbs more heat and requires a larger 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 cooling systems are created equal. It’s vital121 to buy a trusted brand for reliability and longevity.
  • Efficiency rating: The seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) shows the total heat an air conditioner can eliminate per unit of electricity it consumes. Higher SEER ratings represent greater efficiency, lowering your utility bills.
  • Maintenance requirements: Regular maintenance keeps your system running correctly. Most AC makers encourage yearly tune-ups to locate and repair small problems before they turn into high-priced repairs.

Get Expert Help Sizing Your Air Conditioner from BW/Cook Service Experts

Choosing139 the right air conditioner size can be stressful. The Experts at BW/Cook Service Experts are here to assist with all your cooling and heating needs. We provide custom cooling remedies to optimize home comfort, efficiency and energy savings.

From establishing your precise cooling needs to helping you navigate different brands and efficiency ratings, we’re at your side at every step. For help selecting the perfect air conditioner for your home in Elkhart, call 574-218-6404 today to schedule your appointment with BW/Cook Service Experts.

chat now widget box