How Does Air Conditioner Tonnage Work?
When you start to research your options for a new air conditioner, you might be surprised to see a specification listed in tons. Tonnage is not the weight of the unit, but rather its output. Use this information to help guide your research.
What Is Air Conditioner Tonnage?
If you want to understand why air conditioner output is measured in tons, you have to start with heat. Air conditioning doesn’t actually add cool air to your home. Instead, it transfers heat from the inside to the outside, which is how your home gets cooler. The movement of heat is measured in British Thermal Units. Each BTU indicates the amount of power you use to raise two cups of water by a single degree in Fahrenheit. With that information, experts calculated the number of BTUs they would need to turn a ton of water into a block of ice within a day. That number is 12,000 BTUs. As such, you can expect your new air conditioner’s output to represent one ton per 12,000 BTUs. Air conditioners come in different sizes, which may look like this:
- 12,000 BTUs: 1 ton
- 24,000 BTUs: 2 tons
- 36,000 BTUs: 3 tons
- 48,000 BTUs: 4 tons
- 60,000 BTUs: 5 tons
If you’re wondering why you need to know all this, it’s because air conditioner output may be listed using either BTUs or tons. While you don’t have to do the hard work of estimating the right size yourself, it is smart to be able to use either of these measurements to do some comparison research online.
How Do I Size a New Air Conditioner?
Of course, knowing the output of a particular model of air conditioner doesn’t tell you what size you need for your home. While you might think that you can input a total square footage and zip code to get an answer, the truth is more complicated. It’s also very important for your home comfort. Buying an air conditioner that is too big can provide quick cooling, but it shuts off before extracting enough of the humidity from the air. In places like Florida, high humidity in the home is a nightmare. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a unit that’s too small is also problematic. It will run itself until it breaks trying to handle the cooling load, and you’ll end up replacing it much sooner. When you schedule professional AC installation, we use a variety of factors to estimate the right size for your home:
- Floorplan, including square footage
- Home style, especially features like high ceilings
- Cooling preferences
- Regional cooling needs
Your technician uses this information to determine the tonnage that will provide ideal cooling for the lifespan of your equipment.
Understanding how tonnage works for your air conditioner can help you make a more informed decision. For more information or to request an estimate, contact us at Airrific Air Conditioning and Heating.