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Sierra Pacific Home & Comfort, Inc. Blog

How to Size a New Air Conditioner

air-conditioning-replacementSo you’ve decided to install a new air conditioner. Congratulations! Of course, that probably means you’re in a bit of a rush to find something new. But we really have to discourage you from rushing into this decision. There are just too many factors to consider.

Among the first things you need to determine is the power levels of your new AC. Indeed, it’s possibly the most important aspect of any new air conditioner.

Too Big Is as Bad as Too Small

You likely know not to install an underpowered Sacramento air conditioner in your home. It will run and run all day: driving up your utility bills without ever really getting the home cool.

But most people don’t know that an oversized air conditioner can be just as bad. If the AC cools the home too quickly, it will turn on and off again over and over throughout the day, a process known as short cycling. Because air conditioners use more power starting up and shutting down than they do simply running, they can waste a lot of energy, as well as increase wear and tear on individual components.

You see, air conditioner capacity is measured in “tonnage,” and yours has to be the right amount. No, this doesn’t have anything to do with how much your air conditioner weighs. What it means is the amount of cooling an air conditioner provides for a space.

How Air Conditioning Power Is Measured

A cooling system’s power is measured in the units of heat that the system removes from the air inside your hom. That is, your air conditioner doesn’t “create cold air” from nothing; it removes the heated air from your home and puts the air through a refrigerant process in order to return cooled air to your home.

And tonnage is the amount of heat that your air conditioner can draw from a house over an hour time period. This heat removal is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs), which is the amount of heat needed to change the temperature of a pot of water by one degree. So one ton of air conditioning power means that the system removes 12,000 BTUs from a building’s air per hour. Each additional hour is another 12,000 BTUs.

To determine what tonnage of air conditioning is needed in your home, our technicians do what’s called a “heat load calculation,” looking at a number of factors, which we’ll describe further below.

The “Goldilocks” Rule

A properly sized air conditioner follows what we call the Goldilocks Rule: neither oversized nor undersized, but just right. Your technician will make the determination with the above-mentioned heat load calculation, by measuring the square footage of your home and factors such as insulation, the number of windows and doors, how high the ceilings are in the space, and sunlight exposure. This ensures that your new system is as efficient as it can be, saving you money and helping cut down on wear and tear.

For quality air conditioning services and more, call “The Guys in the Big Red Trucks” here at Sierra Pacific Home & Comfort, Inc. today!

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