Let’s face it, we are obsessed with size. With televisions it’s screen size, with homes it’s square footage – and when it comes to properly sizing an air conditioner for your home, it’s essential to keep in mind how many tons of cooling capacity it can provide.
Most people think of a “ton” in terms of weight – 2,000 pounds. But when it comes to air conditioning, one ton equals 12,000 British Thermal Units per hour (BTUh). Doing the math, a 5-ton residential air conditioner actually has the capacity to remove 60,000 BTUs of heat from your home every hour.
Air conditioners are available in different “sizes,” which help your Carrier HVAC contractor best match a new AC unit to the cooling needs of your home. Available cooling capacities for residential applications typically start at 1.5 tons (18,000 BTUh), and increase in size by half-ton increments (1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, etc.) up to a maximum of 5 tons (60,000 BTUh).
Properly sizing an air conditioner to match your home's cooling capacity is important because an undersized AC system will run constantly, struggle to keep you cool and result in high utility bills. An oversized unit will “short cycle” – cool your home quickly then turn back off – which can result in higher humidity or unnecessary wear and tear on your system.
Determining whether you need a smaller 1.5-ton unit, a medium-sized 3-ton model or a larger 5-ton system is best left to the experts, because properly sizing an air conditioning system to your home goes by more than just square footage. Climate, landscape, number of stories, number of windows, R-value of insulation and much more are taken into account.
So, if your central air conditioning seems to struggle in the heat of summer, there may not actually be a mechanical problem with the system, it could be a sizing issue. And the best way to find out is to call your local Carrier HVAC contractor.