There are several technical definitions for a “ton” related to a central air conditioner.

But you probably just want to know what it means related to buying a central air conditioner. If so, read on!

This quick article will give you:

  • A simple definition of “ton”/size of the AC
  • How to find the tonnage your AC needs
  • Why it matters (and it really does matter)

What a “ton” means in simple terms

Simply a “ton” is a measurement (between 1 to 5) of an air conditioner’s ability to remove heat from your home. This is called its “cooling capacity.” But most people just refer to it as the “size” of the air conditioner.

The more cooling your home needs, the bigger the size air conditioner you need. 5 is the largest size; 1 is the smallest size.

But finding the exact size your home needs isn’t simple.

“How do I know what size central air conditioner I need?”

Some contractors will give you a rule of thumb like “1 ton per 500 sq./ft. of the home.”

While this is fine as an estimate, the actual size you need depends on several factors like:

  • Direction your home faces (north, south, east, or west)
  • Number, size, and direction of windows in your home
  • Ceiling height
  • Amount and type of insulation in your walls and attic
  • Roof type
  • Home’s square footage
  • Number of levels in the home
  • Much, much more

Basically, it’s an algorithm that considers all the above factors and tells you what size you need.

No guessing involved!

To see how complex this calculation is (and to understand why you’d want a professional’s help) here is a heat load calculator showing all the information needed to find the size you need.

Yeah, it’s overwhelming.

So why is finding the right size so important anyway? We’ll explain.

Why installing the right air conditioner size matters?

First off, the size will affect the central air conditioner’s price. You don’t want to pay extra for an extra ton you don’t need.

Second, choosing the wrong size negatively affects:

  • Your comfort level
  • Your energy bills
  • The air conditioner’s lifespan

Here’s how.

If the air conditioner is too small...
It will struggle to cool your home to a comfortable level, and it will run longer (increasing energy bills) as a result. This also shortens the life of the AC.

If the air conditioner is too large...
It will cool the home too quickly, causing it to start and stop more often. This increases your energy bills and decreases the lifespan of the AC (think of it like constantly turning your car on and off).

Finally, because an overly large AC runs for such a short time to cool the home, it does not have time to properly pull humidity out of your home. More humidity makes you feel warmer than the actual temperature in your home.

Call a Georgia air conditioner installer people trust

Need to find the right size for your new central air conditioner? If you live in the metro Atlanta area, Ragsdale can help!

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Ragsdale Heating, Plumbing and Air has been serving Dallas, Powder Springs, Acworth, Douglasville, Rockmart, and the metro Atlanta area for over 20 years. Contact us online for more information on how we can help you.

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