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Bigger Isn’t Always Better: Why Size Matters for Air Conditioners

Posted on July 16, 2015 by Chris Lancaster

Too Big Air ConditionerThe old saying, “less is more” pertains to shopping for air conditioners for your home. You really can have too much of a good thing when it comes to cooling your home. Installing a system that is not properly sized for your home can render it less efficient and effective. Here are a some of the biggest problems you’ll experience if you install a cooling system that’s too big, and how you can figure out what size air conditioner you should be considering instead.

You’ll Stay Cool, But Humid

One major problem you’ll experience if you install a system that’s too big is high humidity levels throughout your home, which can cause other issues. Air conditioners are supposed to remove heat and humidity from the air in your home. If you have a system that is too large, you’ll find that it will cool your home quickly, but only remove some of the humidity. This can leave your home feeling damp and clammy. A properly sized unit will remove humidity effectively as it cools, creating a more pleasant home environment.

Bigger Unit, Bigger Costs

With a bigger sized unit, comes more costs. Not only will you have to cash out more to buy it, but to operate it as well. Too-large AC units will start and stop more often. It will do this because it only needs to run for a short time to meet the thermostat set point. All that starting and stopping means you’ll probably be repairing it more often and replacing it sooner, meaning it will have a shorter lifespan than a properly sized unit.

Related Read: Types of Air Conditioners & Which One Is Right for Your Home

Figure Out the Right Size for Your Home

First, determine the square footage of the area to be cooled using the following formulas:

  • For square and rectangular rooms, multiply the length of the area by its width

  • For a triangular area, multiply the length of the area by the width and divide by 2

Next, using the square footage and the chart below provided by Energy Star, determine the correct cooling capacity. Cooling capacity is measured in British thermal units (BTUs) per hour.

Air Conditioner Chart

Lastly, make any adjustments for the following circumstances:

  • If the home is heavily shaded, reduce capacity by 10 percent.

  • If the home is very sunny, increase capacity by 10 percent.

  • Adjust capacity based on how many people will occupy the home, as each person adds 600 BTUs.

For help figuring out which air conditioning system will be the most cost effective and efficient for your home, call the Kansas City air conditioning company you can trust, Lancaster Brothers Heating & Cooling at 913-837-2000.


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