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If you’ve lived in the West Valley area for a very long, then you already know how critical air conditioning is to stay comfortable. With average highs in the triple digits throughout the summer, this area would be uninhabitable without it. However, that doesn’t mean homeowners automatically know what they need to know about choosing a central AC for their homes. That’s why Sun City Mechanical constantly answers questions on that topic. One of the most common among them is how to go about choosing the right size central AC for homes in the area. To answer that, here’s a guide to central AC sizing that should give you the information you need.

Understanding Central AC Sizes

One of the first things you’ll need to know before you approach the task of choosing an appropriate central AC system for your West Valley home is how AC system sizing works. If you’ve purchased a window air conditioner in the past, you’re probably familiar with the term BTU. It stands for British Thermal Unit, and it’s the standard measure of cooling output for air conditioners.

You won’t find central air conditioners measured in BTUs, however. Instead, you’ll find their capacities listed in tons. That measurement, though, has nothing to do with the unit’s weight. Instead, it’s a kind of shorthand used to simplify the sizing for large, powerful central air conditioning systems. A one-ton central AC system is the equivalent of a 12,000 BTU air conditioner. Knowing this, you can readily convert the sizing information on a central air conditioning system into a more useful format.

Estimating Your Home’s Cooling Needs

To figure out how large of a central air conditioning system your home needs, you’ll need to begin by figuring out the square footage of your home. To do that, you’ll have to multiply the length and width, in feet, of each room that your air conditioner needs to keep cool. Then, add the square footage of all rooms together to arrive at a base for your AC sizing calculations.

To come up with an estimate of your home’s cooling needs, simply multiply your square footage by 25 BTUs. That’s approximately how much cooling power it takes to cool one square foot. Once you have your answer, divide it by 12,000, and that will tell you approximately how large of a central AC system, in tons, your home requires.

You should be aware, however, that central AC systems only come in half-ton increments. So, if you arrive at a tonnage that falls in between those increments, you should round up to the nearest half-ton. Take note, though, that the number you arrive at is an estimate. There are a variety of factors in your home that might affect its true cooling needs.

Factors That Influence Cooling Needs

Now that you have an estimate of your home’s base cooling needs, you can fine-tune your estimate by factoring in some specific information about your home. For example, if your home has ceilings higher than 8 feet, you’ll need to add additional cooling power to compensate. To figure out how much extra cooling power you need, you can multiply the square footage of each room with higher-than-standard ceilings by 1.25 and then re-run your sizing calculations.

High ceilings aren’t the only thing that can influence the size of the air conditioning system your home needs. There are a few other factors you’ll need to consider as well. You can use the following as a guide:

  • Add 100 BTUs for each occupant in your home
  • Add 1,000 BTUs for each exterior door of your home
  • Add 1,000 BTUs for each window of your home
  • Add 4,000 extra BTUs if your home has a large kitchen

You’ll also want to add some additional cooling power if your home doesn’t get much shade during the hottest parts of the day. The same goes for if your home has poor insulation since that can allow more heat to get inside and more cold air to escape.

Getting a Professional’s Opinion

As you may have noticed by now, figuring out what size central AC your home needs aren’t a cut-and-dry process. With so many things that can influence your home’s cooling needs, it’s difficult for a homeowner to arrive at anything more than an educated guess as to their home’s cooling needs. That’s why it’s always a good idea to seek a professional’s opinion before making any concrete buying decisions.

A professional HVAC technician will have the knowledge and experience to arrive at a far more accurate estimate of your home’s cooling needs. To guarantee that, they’ll use a process known as a Manual J calculation. It’s a standardized formula developed by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America meant to take the guesswork out of the central AC sizing process.

When performing a Manual J calculation for your home, a professional HVAC technician will take everything discussed above into account and then some. They’ll also evaluate your home’s insulation and its windows and doors to arrive at more precise estimates of their heat effects. They’ll also talk to you about how you utilize the spaces inside your home to better understand its true cooling needs. As a result, a qualified HVAC contractor will always arrive at a more reliable heat load estimate that will lead to you purchasing the perfect central AC for your home.

You should also know how important it is to get your estimate right. If you end up purchasing a central AC that’s too small for your home, it will fail to keep your home cool during the worst of West Valley’s summer heat. And if you purchase an AC that’s too large, it may cost you more to operate than necessary, and your new system will wear out faster than it should. In either case, you’ll be shortchanging both your bottom line and your home’s overall comfort.

Consult the Central AC Experts

Now that you know how much goes into the proper sizing of a residential central AC system, you should recognize that it’s not a task to take lightly. Fortunately, the experts here at Sun City Mechanical can help. We’re a family-owned and operated HVAC company that’s served homeowners in West Valley since 2003, offering high-quality HVAC installation, maintenance, and repair services. Our team of highly trained HVAC technicians has the knowledge and experience to help you choose the precise central AC your home needs, so you’ll enjoy perfect and efficient comfort in your home. We also offer comprehensive plumbing and indoor air quality services, too. Plus, we offer financing on approved credit, to help you to better afford the AC system your home requires.

So, when you need to purchase a perfectly sized central AC for your West Valley home, call Sun City Mechanical. Our skilled technicians will take care of the rest!