What Size Air Conditioner Do I Need?

Whether you’re building a new home or updating your existing HVAC system, there is one question you’re bound to ask: what size air conditioner do I need? Buying the right AC size is a balancing act. Too large, and you could face poor humidity control and exorbitant energy bills. Too small, and the unit might fail to provide comfortable temperatures on scorching hot days. Proper 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 cost savings. Here’s why you shouldn’t merely guess the ideal AC size:

  • Humidity control: An oversized unit cools too rapidly, preventing humidity removal and leaving your home clammy. A properly sized air conditioner will control indoor humidity levels more effectively.
  • Even temperatures: A properly sized air conditioner circulates cool air evenly and minimizes irritating temperature fluctuations between cycles.
  • Peak day performance: An undersized system will struggle to reach the target temperature on hot summer afternoons, so you need a unit large enough to keep up with cooling demand.
  • Proper cycling: Air conditioners start up and turn back off with sufficient run time during each cycle. Units that are larger than you need cycle too quickly, resulting in increased wear and tear. Conversely, an undersized system runs continuously, which may cause the unit to become overheated.
  • Manageable utility bills: Cycling problems caused by installing the wrong size of air conditioner cause higher electricity bills. However, a unit that is the correct size will operate efficiently and keep your utility bills in check.

Understanding Air Conditioner Size

Cooling capacity is calculated in British thermal units (BTUs). A BTU is a standard unit of energy that conveys the amount of heat an air conditioner can remove per hour. Most room air conditioners range from 5,000 to 18,000 BTUs. Because central air conditioners are more powerful, they’re typically measured in tons. A one-ton system is equivalent to 12,000 BTUs. Most central air conditioning models range from 1 to 5 tons.

Sizing a Room Air Conditioner

For window or portable air conditioners, sizing 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 might need a 5,000 to 8,000 BTU air conditioner.
  • A room measuring between 350 and 550 square feet could need an 8,000 to 12,000 BTU unit.
  • A large room or open area of 550 to 1,000 square feet may require a 12,000 to 18,000 BTU unit.

These general guidelines don’t take into account factors like interior heat gain or sun exposure. For a more precise calculation, seek expert advice from Levy & Son Service Experts.

Sizing a Central Air Conditioner

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

  • Square footage: How big your home is substantially affects its cooling requirements, with larger homes generally requiring more cooling capacity.
  • Local climate: Where you live impacts your cooling needs as well. Parts of the country with extremely hot, humid summers naturally demand a higher cooling capacity than cooler, drier areas.
  • Interior heat gain: The heat created inside your home can come from people, lights, electronics and appliances. More internal heat increases your home’s cooling requirements.
  • Insulation levels: The quantity of insulation in your walls, attic and floors influences how much heat gets into your home. Well-insulated homes retain cool air more effectively, reducing the cooling load.
  • Air infiltration rate: This refers to how much outside air penetrates through leaks or cracks in the building envelope. Homes with a higher air infiltration requires more cooling to counteract the warm, humid outdoor air that seeps into the home.
  • Home orientation and window layout: The direction your home faces determines its sun exposure, which in turn has an effect on your home’s cooling load. A single-family home 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 ACs are created equal. It’s crucial to choose a reputable brand for reliability and longevity.
  • Efficiency rating: The seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) shows how much heat an air conditioner can take out per unit of electricity it consumes. Higher SEER ratings signify greater efficiency, lowering your utility bills.
  • Maintenance requirements: Regular maintenance keeps your system running efficiently. Most AC manufacturers recommend yearly tune-ups to find and fix small problems before they turn into pricey repairs.

Get Expert Help Sizing Your Air Conditioner From Levy & Son Service Experts

Finding a suitable air conditioner size can be overwhelming. The Experts at Levy & Son Service Experts are here to help. We offer custom cooling solutions to boost home comfort, efficiency and energy savings.

From calculating your exact cooling specifications to helping you navigate different brands and efficiency ratings, we’re with you at every step. For help picking out the perfect air conditioner for your home in Dallas, call 469-250-0932 today to schedule your appointment with Levy & Son Service Experts.

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