We Measure Air Conditioner Capacity in Tons–Have You Ever Wondered Why?

For those in the market for a new air conditioning unit, the use of tons to measure cooling capacity might have caused you some pause. You have likely learned that you will need to assess a certain calculation of your household in order to determine what size air conditioner will most effectively and efficiently cool your home. Bigger is not better when it comes to these systems, and knowing why cooling capacity is measured as it is and how load calculations factor in will help in determining the most cost-effective HVAC solution for your home.

Cooling capacity and ton measurements
An air conditioner’s cooling capacity describes the unit’s power, similar to how a car’s power is described in horsepower. Here, tons refer to the weight of a quantity of ice that would provide the equivalent cooling amount. This is because before modern air conditioning, homes were cooled with ice harvested from frozen freshwater lakes. One ton is equal to 12,000 Btus. Air conditioners in the Texas area generally have a cooling capacity of between one and five tons.

Knowing the right air conditioner capacity
While knowing the correct tonnage is important, in order to cost-effectively and efficiently cool your home, it is necessary to calculate your household’s specific load calculation. In addition, an HVAC contractor should use Manual S equipment selection to determine the best performing HVAC unit for the household, as one three ton HVAC system can perform significantly differently from another HVAC system of the same size.

Factors affecting capacity
The air conditioner capacity and load calculation for your home is determined by a number of factors including the age of your home, insulation levels, windows and even landscaping. Industry-standard Manual J, Manual D and Manual S calculations have been established to most accurately match HVAC systems to household specifications.

To learn more about HVAC systems, and the air conditioner capacity of your home, contact the professionals at Wood Air Conditioning & Plumbing, Inc., servicing the Mount Pleasant and Titus County areas for over 56 years. We’re always happy to help.

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