What Size AC Unit Do I Need for My Home?

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Choosing the Right Size Air Conditioner for Your Home

Welcome, Florida homeowners! We know that air conditioning is a necessity and that having the right size unit in your home can make all the difference - not only to keep you comfortable but also to help save money on utility bills.

Today we're going to look at how to properly size an air conditioning unit for your home. From understanding BTUs and square foot coverage to dealing with unique layouts, we'll break down exactly what you need to know about picking out an air conditioning unit for your specific space. Let's get started!

How Are Air Conditioners Measured?

Central air conditioners are typically measured in size by tons. You could have a 1-ton, 1.5-ton, 2-ton, 2.5-ton, 3-ton unit, etc. (It isn’t very clear, we know, but those are not how much they weigh.) You may also occasionally see units measured in BTUs; one thing to keep in mind is that 1 ton is the same as 12,000 BTUs.

Factors to Consider

What size central AC you need is dependent on several factors, including:

  • The size of your home
  • Your local climate and weather conditions
  • The insulation in your house
  • Ceiling height
  • Sun exposure
  • The quality (or presence) of ductwork
  • The materials your home is made of
  • Lifestyle and people in the home

For example, you might need more cooling power to fill rooms with tall ceilings, and if your home isn’t very energy efficient, that will come into play, as well.

Different Kinds of AC Systems

There are a few different types of air conditioning systems, each with its own advantages and use cases.

  • Split-system air conditioners are a great and popular choice; they have outdoor and indoor units and carry cool air through the home’s ductwork.
  • Packaged units are another popular option as they can be more efficient than split systems and are easy to maintain. They also make sense if you don’t have suitable indoor space to house a second unit; everything is outside the home.
  • Ductless mini-splits give you the freedom of cooling just certain rooms and don’t require any ductwork, making them especially popular with people who own older homes. They also serve you well if your lifestyle is such that you need different temperatures in different parts of the house (for instance, if you have an occupied mother-in-law suite).

What Size Is Right for Me?

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, there are some general guidelines on home size, climate, and A/C size.

In the warmest regions of the US, homes up to 1,000 square feet would benefit from a 1.5-ton system. If you live in a colder region, and therefore don’t require as much cooling power, a 1.5-ton unit may work for a home that is a little larger, like 1,200 square feet.

Add a half ton for every additional 200 – 400 square feet (towards the lower end if you live in a hot climate, and towards the higher end if you live in a colder spot). So, if you’re in Florida, consider a 2-ton system for a 1,200-square-foot house, a 2.5-ton unit for a 1,400-square-foot abode, a 3-ton unit for a 1,600-square-foot-house, etc.

Remember, only a certified HVAC technician will know precisely what kind of A/C setup works best with any space, big or small.

What Size Breaker Do I Need for My AC Unit?

After you’ve identified the right system for your home, the next step is to assess whether your current electrical breaker can handle that system, or whether you need to upgrade it.

Consulting with a qualified, licensed electrician is the best way to assess whether your breaker is adequate, especially if electrical work is outside your DIY toolbelt. After all, the last thing you want is to cause a serious issue with your home.

For most smaller units, though, you would be safe with a 20-amp breaker. If you’ve chosen a larger system for your home, your electrician might recommend installing a breaker rated to 50, 60, or 70 amps. AC systems in homes that are quite large may require 100 amps or more.

Choose the Right Unit with Help from the Pros

Need help identifying the right air conditioning system for your home? Patrick’s Heating & Air Conditioning has proudly served residents of central Florida for more than two decades. Just fill out this form or give us a call at (352) 329-3740.

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