There are many options when it comes to getting a new air conditioner for your home. With differences in make and quality, you also have differences in size. Spend a few minutes learning why size matters, and how you determine the right size for your home.
Answering the Question: Does Size Matter?
This age-old question has been applied to many areas of life, including the HVAC needs of your home. When you think about how the size of an AC is measured, it makes sense that bigger might be better.
However, it only makes sense until you start digging into how your system works and all that it does. If the only thing it did was spit cold air out, then bigger might always be better. However, the AC also dehumidifies your home, which takes some time.
The bigger the system, the quicker it will cool your home, at least in theory. However, if you are running shorter cycle lengths, then the system cannot remove the humidity as effectively.
You also run into an issue of how much air the AC can circulate. If your system cannot circulate the right amount of air for the size, you may end up with a frozen system. Therefore, size is very important when it comes to your air conditioning.
What Does BTU Have to Do With It?
The size of an air conditioner refers to its cooling capacity, measured in BTUs. This stands for British Thermal Unit and is the energy required to raise one pound of water by one degree.
For air conditioners, the BTU rating tells you how much cooling capacity it provides over the course of one hour. So how do you determine how many BTUs you need for your home?
First Step: Your Home’s Size
When you look at how large of an air conditioner you need, you start by looking at the size of your home. If you have the documentation, you may have the square footage measurement, but you may want to double-check it.
You measure square feet by multiplying the width by the length of a square or rectangle. Go through your home, room by room, and run this simple calculation. You want to measure every room that is served by the air conditioning system. Be sure to consider hallways and closets as you calculate your total number.
Your garage, basement, and attic should be considered as well. If these areas have a vent, you want to include those areas in your calculation a well. Also, simply closing vents does not remove those areas from your calculation being the air still circulates through them.
Second Step: Rough BTU Estimate
Once you have the size of your home, you can get a rough estimate of the BTU capacity you need. The general rule of thumb is that you need about 20 BTUs for each square foot you want to cool. Simply multiply your square footage by 20, and you get the size you may need.
For a home that is 1,500-square feet, that calculation comes out to be 30,000 BTUs for your air conditioner. However, this is just a starting point but may be adjusted by your home’s environmental factors.
Third Step: Variable Factors
The first environmental you want to consider is how many occupants you have in your home. The 20 BTU per square foot estimate accounts for two people. For every additional person, you should add an extra 600 BTUs.
Then look at the outside environment for additional variation in how much cooling capacity you may need. If your home is in constant direct sunlight, you might need to increase your capacity by 10%. However, if your home is in constant shade, you may be able to reduce your capacity by 10%.
Deciding What to Do
Working with an experienced air conditioning professional is the best way to get the right system for your home. The professional will look at all the variables and help you ensure you have an accurate square footage measurement. They will also help you explore the options in makes and quality to find the best fit for your budget.
Integrated HVAC has been serving people around Edmond with expert air conditioning and heating services since 2012. Our team is also a full-service home-needs provider, including electric, alarms, and audiovisual services. Call to schedule a consultation with one of our air conditioning experts today.