Air conditioning tonnage is not a reference to the amount an air conditioner weighs. Rather, it is a measurement of the cooling power the system has. It is one way to determine how powerful the AC is at cooling down the home. Understanding this could help you to make better decisions about what to install in your home.
What Is Tonnage?
Tons are a unit of cooling power. The higher the number of tons it has, the more powerful the air conditioner is. One ton equals 12,000 BTUs of power, or more specifically, the amount of heat removed per hour from your home.
BTUs, or British Thermal Unit, is a measure of heat. It is the amount of heat needed to change the temperature of the specific area amount of water by one degree Fahrenheit. It takes 12,000 BTUs to melt a one-ton block of ice, which is why 1 ton equals 12,000 BTUs.
To better understand tonnage, then consider that an air conditioner works by removing heat from the home and cooling it instead. By measuring heat units, we can determine how powerful the air conditioning system is and how well it could cool your home.
What does this mean for your home, then? Here is an example. If your home has a two-ton air conditioner, that means it can remove enough heat from your home to melt a full two tons of ice. That’s powerful performance!
How Much Tonnage Do You Need?
Having a basic understanding of tonnage may help you better understand how important it is to choose the right size system for your home. The amount you need is based on a variety of things, including the size of your home. Most of the time, a residential air conditioning system will have been 1.5 and 5 tons.
When you call an air conditioning professional in to replace your AC system, the technician will size the AC system. It is not always beneficial to choose a larger size or more powerful air conditioner, thinking that more power is good.
In fact, if you have a five ton air conditioner but your home only needs half of that, it could mean the system is working efficiently. Units that are too large will work to cool the home very quickly, but it’s too fast. That causes the compressor to turn off quickly, and then it has to restart quickly because the home heats up again. This is called short cycling, and it can be very bad for your home’s air conditioner. This also causes the home to have difficulty maintaining humidity levels. Poor humidity control is not uncommon when the system is improperly sized.
In short, if you need a new air conditioner, it is best to work with a technician to ensure your system is sized to fit your needs.