Sizing an air conditioning system may seem relatively straightforward if you're not a trained HVAC technician. Since central air conditioning systems have large capacities, manufacturers rate them using tonnage. In the context of air conditioning, a ton is equivalent to 12,000 BTUs of cooling power. The most straightforward way to determine the tonnage you need is with the square footage of your house.
However, square footage seldom tells the whole story. Square footage can provide a rough estimate for structures with standard-height ceilings, but it doesn't account for countless other factors that can impact your home's cooling requirements. Instead, a qualified installer must consider these three additional factors when sizing and installing your new air conditioning system.
1. Local Humidity
You might think you need a larger system for more humid environments, but this may not be the case. In fact, the reverse may be true. Air conditioners remove humidity while they run, since moisture will condense onto the cool evaporator coils. However, more humid environments require the air conditioner to run longer to remove enough moisture.
With a large system, the air conditioner will cool your home too quickly, preventing it from removing sufficient moisture from the air. As a result, it's crucial to size your system correctly for the environment or to install an additional whole-house dehumidifier. Variable-speed systems that can run for longer at lower capacities are another option.
2. Return Ductwork Sizing
All air conditioning systems require adequate airflow over their evaporator coils to function efficiently and prevent potentially severe problems. While various issues can reduce airflow and lead to repairs, there are also some concerns when installing a new system. If you're installing a higher-efficiency or higher-power system, your current ductwork may not be suitable for your new air handler.
In these cases, you'll usually have a few options, depending on the ductwork design in your home and your budget. If you're looking to save money, your installer may be able to find a system that will work with your existing return ductwork. If not, you'll need to consider enlarging your existing returns or adding new returns elsewhere in the home.
3. Home Efficiency Issues
Unfortunately, your home may not be as efficient now as it was when your original builders installed your current air conditioning system. Ductwork can develop leaks, windows can become less efficient, and other problems can all impact your home's ability to maintain a cool and comfortable environment during the summer.
As a result, choosing a new system that is the same size as your old one may result in subpar performance. Your installer will need to consider these extra factors to recommend the ideal size, especially if you don't plan on making any improvements to your home to correct these deficiencies. Considering these problems will help ensure your new system provides sufficient cooling for your home.
Contact a company that offers home air conditioning installation services to learn more.