Just the Right Size – Figuring Out the Tonnage For Your New Air Conditioning


If you’re in the market for a new AIR CONDITIONING SYSTEM and researching what brand or model might be the best fit for your home, it may seem like the descriptions are written in a different language. There are many unique terms and acronyms in the heating and cooling industry, and most homeowners don’t know the difference between a BTU and a SEER.

Figuring Out the Tonnage For Your New Air Conditioning

You don’t have to be an HVAC expert but it does help to know the basics as you compare your options. One area that you should know is the size of the AC you’re looking for. This is typically shown in terms of tons. In this article, we’ll explain how to figure out the right tonnage for your new unit.

What Does Tonnage Mean For Air Conditioning?

Tonnage is the unit for measuring the cooling capacity of an air conditioning system. When an AC unit is rated one ton, that means it can freeze one ton (2,000 pounds) of water in a 24-hour period. Residential air conditioners can be anywhere from one to five tons. The tonnage of a unit also relates to its BTU (British thermal units) rating, which measures how powerful the system is at pulling heat from the inside air and moving it outside.

Why The Right Size is Important

Choosing the appropriate size is one of the most important (if not the most important) tasks when installing a new air conditioning system. And that’s where understanding tonnage and your home’s requirements come in handy.

If the AC is too small, it won’t have the capacity to properly cool your home. On the other hand, if the unit is oversized, it can also cause problems such as short-cycling, improper dehumidification, decreased energy efficiency, more frequent repairs, and more. So bigger doesn’t always mean better.

Calculating AC Tonnage

So how do you know what size AC to get? Well, if you’re replacing an older unit that was professionally installed (so you know it was sized correctly) and you haven’t made any drastic changes to your home such as adding square footage, you can most likely stick with the same size. You can look at the model number tag to find the unit’s BTUs (between 18-60). Take this number and divide it by 12 to calculate your appropriate tonnage.

If you’re installing a central air conditioning system for the first time or you feel that your old unit isn’t the right size for your current home, then you’re better off letting an HVAC professional give you a recommended size.

How to Tell You Need a New Air Conditioner Installation

When the time comes to replace your air conditioner, there are some signs that you can watch out for to help determine when it’s time.

  1. Your air conditioner is more than 10 years old: As with any major appliance, if your AC unit has been faithfully running for more than a decade, it’s time to consider replacing it. The older units are not as efficient and will cost you more money in the long run due to increased electricity costs.
  2. Your AC unit is making strange noises: If you hear strange grinding, rattling, or buzzing noises coming from the air conditioner, it could be a sign that there’s something wrong with the system and it needs to be repaired or replaced.
  3. You’re noticing an increase in energy bills: If you’ve noticed a significant spike in your energy bills, it could be due to an inefficient air conditioning system. An old AC unit may need to be replaced with a more efficient model in order to reduce future energy costs.
  4. Your AC isn’t cooling properly: If your home isn’t reaching the desired temperature despite having the AC running, it’s probably time to replace the unit. A new air conditioner can help keep your home cooler and more comfortable.

When you start seeing any of these signs, it is best to contact a professional HVAC technician for advice on whether or not a new installation is necessary.

Air Conditioning Installation in The Central Valley

The good news is that you’re not on your own in figuring out the proper tonnage for a new air conditioning system. There’s a science to sizing these units, which is why it’s a good idea to let an HVAC professional make that recommendation.

For a hassle-free AC installation process, trust the team at ALL AMERICAN PLUMBING, HEATING & AIR. If you have any questions or are ready for a free estimate, call us today at (209) 710-5629.