What Size Air Conditioner Do I Need?

When it comes to air conditioners, size does matter. Many people often think bigger is better, but this is not true when it comes to AC units. An improperly sized air conditioner can cause higher than normal utility bills, shortened equipment life, poor humidity control, and annoying hot and cold spots through the house.

Air conditioners are designed to achieve three things when they operate properly:

  • Remove heat from your home so that the temperature remains comfortable.
  • Remove humidity from the air to give you the crisp feeling of comfort, which is especially important during our humid summers in Georgia.
  • Mix the air throughout your home, ensuring even temperatures from room to room.

An air conditioner that is too small will have trouble removing enough heat from your home to keep it comfortable. Some symptoms of an undersized air conditioner are:

  • It doesn’t maintain a 20 degree Fahrenheit difference between the temperature inside your home and the temperature outside.
  • Your unit runs virtually non-stop even on mild summer days.

These symptoms can also be caused by other repairable issues with your air conditioner, so call a professional to identify the true nature of your particular situation.

Oversized air conditioners tend to be a widespread problem. The core issue with an oversized unit is the short amount of time it runs. An air conditioner should typically run for around 15 minutes or longer each time it cycles on. This time frame enables the unit to mix the air well throughout the house and also effectively remove humidity. An oversized air conditioner tends to cycle on for very short periods of time — typically 5 minutes or less — which leaves humidity in the air and produces hot and cold spots throughout your home.

More extreme symptoms including water dripping from vents, clammy and uncomfortable indoor air, needing to always set the thermostat lower and lower, and premature equipment failure are also indications that a unit may be oversized.

To properly size an air conditioner, homeowners should have a computerized load calculation completed. This scientific approach calculates how much heat is entering your home through windows, walls, doors, and ceilings and determines what size unit will be needed to remove that heat.

Avoid rules of thumbs that are found on the internet that suggest a specific number of BTU’s (a traditional unit of energy) per square foot. These measurements are often inaccurate for our modern-day homes. Today’s homes are complex with high ceilings, various insulating materials in walls, floors, and ceilings, and new technology in windows and doors which render most rules-of-thumb obsolete. In fact, permit offices in Georgia will only accept approved computerized load calculations when installing an air conditioner.

You deserve to be comfortable in you own home. If you’re considering replacing or upgrading your air conditioner unit, contact our residential team today. We can perform a load calculation, recommend the best size and brand for your home and budget and perform the installation as well. 

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