A new air conditioner is a great investment for many Floridians, but there are things to be aware of. One trap that many buyers fall into is thinking that a larger unit will be more effective.
Why Bigger Air Conditioning Units Don’t Always Work Better
“Too much of a good thing” is real, and your air conditioner is one place it shows up!
In the 1970s and 1980s, many contractors were in the habit of installing Florida air conditioners that were much bigger than needed. To understand what’s behind it and make sure you are getting a good deal, a little background is necessary.
The cooling power of air conditioning units is tallied up according to tons of refrigeration.
A ton of refrigeration is a fun traditional unit. It refers to the cooling power of one ton (2,000 pounds) of ordinary ice melting throughout 24 hours. Your average residential air conditioner is rated one to five tons of refrigeration total.
Here’s where the confusion comes in: For decades, industry standards said that a central AC should have one ton of refrigeration for every 400 square feet.
For a long time, that made plenty of sense. With the advent of Energy Star standards in the 1990s and the huge improvements in energy efficiency that have come since, it no longer holds true.
In the last ten years alone, energy efficiency for new air conditioning models has improved 10%, 20%, or even more by vendor. Today’s units are capable of packing much more cooling into a smaller space.
In general, compact units are also more economical.
Although the most advanced efficiency features do add to the price tag, total cost of ownership is lower. Plus, you’ll usually deal with fewer HVAC maintenance issues. Over time, you’ll get your investment back, and then some.
And one of the biggest determinants of when that will happen is – you guessed it – unit size. Almost every time, you should select the smallest HVAC unit that satisfies your needs.
Finding the Best Air Conditioner is Easy with Professional Help
If you have some warmer spots in the house, increasing the total capacity of your AC won’t help. The unit will cycle on and off more frequently and cost more.
Luckily, you don’t have to “guesstimate” your needs. A professional heat load calculation, also known as a Manual J, will do the trick.
It takes into account:
- The size, shape, and position of your home.
- The level of insulation and current air flow.
- Climate, room temperature, and window area.
- Home occupancy and comfort preferences.
Once this is done, you can get a complete, written report that will help you figure out unit size. Obviously, any worthwhile HVAC expert will be willing to walk you through the process and provide personalized advice based on your result.
To get help selecting the new air conditioner that’s right for you, just contact East Coast Heating & Air Conditioning.