Learn How to Find the Right Size Air Conditioner for Your Home

AC installations in Milwaukee, WI

Learn How to Find the Right Size Air Conditioner for Your Home

March 10, 2023

You’ll have a lot of questions when it comes to finding the perfect air conditioner for your home. In addition to finding one from a quality brand, you’ll want to purchase an air conditioner that’s the right size for your home and needs. Understanding how the size of the AC affects your comfort helps you find one you’ll be happy with for many years to come.

Why Size Is Important

Your air conditioner will work a lot better if it’s the right size. Having one that’s too large or too small will result in a constant battle of trying to keep your home comfortable. You might even find yourself with higher energy bills.

If your air conditioner is too small, it’ll constantly be running. Even if it’s constantly running, your home still won’t feel cool enough inside. If you buy one that is too large, it will constantly turn on and off. Once the air conditioner comes on, it’ll quickly cool your home and then turn off. It’ll repeat that cycle several times throughout the day. This causes unnecessary wear and tear on the unit.

The Right Type of Air Conditioner

There are three types of air conditioners. Each type is best suited to a specific size and style of home. You need to understand how each one works before you can begin to calculate the size you need.

A split-system air conditioner is the most traditional. It includes an outdoor unit and an indoor unit. These work together to control the humidity and temperature in your home.

A ductless air conditioner has one outdoor unit and one or more interior units. Each of these indoor units is designed to cool only one room. This type of AC is ideal for a home that needs different temperatures in each room. It gives you the ability to keep one space cooler than another. The indoor units can be mounted on the wall, ceiling, or floor.

A packaged air conditioning system has only one outdoor unit. All the mechanical parts are found there. This includes the compressor, evaporator coil, and condensing coil. This type of air conditioner uses your home’s ductwork to cool each room. Packaged air conditioner systems come in either single- or two-stage systems. Which one you choose will depend on your needs and desire to have an energy-efficient unit.

Understand the Ratings for the Size You Need

Once you have selected the type of air conditioner you’ll need, you can begin researching the ratings. Air conditioners are rated according to their cooling capacity and energy efficiency. While trying to determine what size AC you need, you’ll want to become familiar with these ratings.

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) measures an air conditioner’s energy efficiency. To determine this rating, the unit’s cooling output is divided by the total energy used. This is done according to an average taken over one cooling season. A high SEER ratio reflects that less energy is used. The average SEER rating is between 14 and 16, but there are air conditioners with higher ratios.

The British Thermal Units per Hour (BTUh) measure the cooling capacity. It refers to how much energy the AC uses to cool your home within one hour. Results are given in tons or BTUh. Home air conditioners have tonnage ratings. The average 2,000-square-foot home would need a 3 to 3.5-ton unit.

The Right Size Air Conditioner

The rating is just one factor to consider. When choosing the right size air conditioner, you need to ask some important questions. You need to take a close look at your interior features. Check the quality of the ductwork as well as the quality of the windows and doors. Do you have good insulation? All of these could be allowing air to escape. If this is the case, you’ll need a larger air conditioner to compensate for it.

Next, consider the house itself. Is it in direct sunlight, or do you have plenty of shade? Do you use heat-generating appliances like the kitchen stove and clothes dryer? The air conditioner you choose will need to compensate for these items. Even the materials used in the construction of your home will make a difference. Brick is more insulating than wood. Are there any features, like a sunroom or fireplace, that would modify the interior temperature? A fireplace will allow a certain amount of cool air to escape, while a sunroom can heat up the space like a greenhouse.

The last factor to consider is how many people live in the house and your geographic climate. More heat is generated in homes with more than two people, so you’ll need a larger air conditioner that cools better in warmer areas.

Your Square Footage

While we can help you find the right size air conditioner for your home, you can get a good idea for yourself from your home’s square footage. In general, you’ll need 20 BTUs per square foot of living space. Don’t include unused spaces like your attic in your calculations. To measure the space to be cooled, multiply the length by the width of each area. Measurements can be done for individual rooms, open spaces, or the entire house.

You can adjust for certain considerations. If your rooms are heavily shaded, you can reduce the capacity by 10%. If you have a sunny house, increase it by 10%. For homes with more than two people, add 600 BTU per person. You’ll also want to increase the capacity by 4,000 BTU to compensate for the kitchen.

Request an Energy Audit

An air conditioner is a big investment. To make sure you’re spending your money on a unit that you’ll be happy with, you may want to have a Manual J calculation done through an energy audit. The Manual J calculation is a formula used to identify the HVAC capacity of a structure. There are several utility companies that will do these audits and reports free of charge. If you can’t find one that does, you can hire an energy auditor for the inspection. The Manual J calculation takes into consideration many of the characteristics we’ve already mentioned. It gives you one of the most accurate ideas of what size air conditioner you should get.

Your Air Conditioner Experts

Burkhardt Heating & AC Inc has been helping Milwaukee residents with their heating and cooling needs since 1961. We can look at your home and help you find the perfect size air conditioner for your needs. We are family-owned and operated, and our team is known for its outstanding work and expertise. We’re the service providers you can trust. Each technician is fully qualified, NATE-certified, and licensed. In addition to helping you find the perfect air conditioner for your home, we can also help with duct cleaning, ductless systems, indoor air quality, and Wi-Fi thermostats. Call Burkhardt Heating & AC Inc today for all your installation, maintenance, and repair needs.

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