Sunday, December 4, 2016

What Does "Ton" Mean for Air Conditioning?

You've called out an HVAC company for an AC or heating repair, but at some point realize that the best thing to do is buy new equipment. As you look at the different types of systems you can buy, you may come across 2-ton systems, 5-ton systems, and so forth. How do you know what is right for you?

Most homeowners are familiar with the phrase "ton" when it comes to AC's but don't know much about it and this causes some confusion when it comes to getting quotes on new systems etc. When dealing with residential HVAC (HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) systems, they come in sizes from 1-Ton to 5-Ton with the average being 3.5 tons.

So what is a ton? Does this mean the system weighs 3 tons? That would be 6,000 lbs. No, what Ton basically means is the cooling capacity of the system. Its equal to the amount of heat required to melt one ton of ice in a 24 hr period. So, a one-ton AC is rated at 12,000 BTU per hour. Still a bit confusing isn't it?

So lets do it this way, 1-ton can cool a house of about 600-900 sqft out here in Texas. A 2-ton can do 900-1200, a 3-ton can do 1500-1800, a 4-ton can do 2100-2400 and a 5-ton can do 2400-3000. What about the sizes in between you may ask? They would be 2.5 ton, 3.5 ton. There is no 4.5 ton however.

If your house has a current 3.5 ton system and you are changing your system, you most likely are not going to move up to a 4 and for sure aren't going down to a 3.

95% of homes that replace their systems just exchange it with the same size. Why? Because not much has really changed. Your insulation had certain R-factors back when it was built and all that. And so you might have more heat loss now but not really enough to justify going up to a 4. Also, the house had to be designed by engineers and they did a good job when they made your house and had to get it passed by the city inspector too. That's most cases.

In the case where you feel your system has never kept up, then you might go up a half ton, etc. But biggest is not better. You can't go from a 2-ton to a 5-ton thinking this is better. If you did, your system would run too short, humidity would be brutal in your house, and the system would have many many hard starts which would hurt it. 

So what should you do when you are buying and sizing for replacement? Rule of thumb? Just get the new system the same size or .5 ton bigger. Call your local HVAC company for quotes.

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