If you’ve ever looked into installing a new cooling system in your home, you’ve probably heard the term “cooling capacity” used to describe different units. So what is air conditioner cooling capacity and how can you use it to find the perfect unit for your home?

What does air conditioner cooling capacity mean?

The cooling capacity of an air conditioner describes how powerful the unit is. If you were to compare an air conditioner to a car, cooling capacity would be akin to a unit’s “horsepower.”

Cooling capacity is measured in British thermal units (Btu’s) or (more commonly) tons, where one ton is equal to 12,000 Btu. Most air conditioners that you’ll find in St. Louis area homes have a cooling capacity of between 1 and 5 tons.

Choosing the right air conditioner cooling capacity

It’s extremely important to have an air conditioner with a cooling capacity that matches the specifications of your home. If your unit doesn’t have enough cooling capacity, it won’t have the power to adequately cool your home. If your unit has too much cooling capacity, it will create large temperature swings in your home and won’t adequately dehumidify your air. Either case will also lead to inefficiencies and wasted energy.

Factors that affect the required cooling capacity for your home

As a general rule of thumb, a home requires 1 ton of cooling for every 1,000 square feet. However, many other factors affect the actual cooling capacity needed for your home. They include:

  • The age of your home. New homes are built a lot tighter than they used to be, which allows them to maintain indoor temperatures easier. The older your home is, the more cooling capacity you’ll require.
  • Insulation levels. A well-insulated home does a good job at containing cool air and keeping warm air out. If your home has a lot of insulation, it won’t require as much cooling capacity (and vice versa).
  • Windows. Windows are entry points for sunlight and heat, which raise the temperature of your home. The more windows you have, especially if they are in direct sunlight, the more cooling capacity you’ll need.
  • Landscaping. Trees and other plants can provide shade for your home, which eases the load on your air conditioner. The more shade that’s available, the less cooling capacity you’ll need.

If you have any questions about air conditioner cooling capacity, or if you’d like a cooling system serviced or installed in your home, contact Jerry Kelly Heating & Air Conditioning, your St. Louis area heating and cooling company.

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