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Kilowatt Heating, Air Conditioning and Electrical Blog

Installing Air Conditioning and Figuring Out Tonnage

outdoor-condenser-units-fenceWe always recommend our customers arrange for a new air conditioning installation in Van Nuys, CA or elsewhere in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley during early spring. That way they can get a head start on the heat of summer and have the work done in a period when they can stand to be without cooling for a few hours.

However, we understand that sometimes planning doesn’t work out the way it should, or that an air conditioner that seemed to be in good shape in spring might break down abruptly during the intense summer heat. If you need an air conditioning replacement right now, you can count on our trained team to do the job right. We stand behind all our work with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Let’s Talk about Air Conditioning Tonnage

If it’s new air conditioning installation time, one of the reasons you must have trained HVAC professionals like the folks at Kilowatt is that only an expert technician knows how to size an air conditioner so it has the right tonnage for a home’s cooling needs.

Tonnage is a term people outside of the HVAC field find a bit confusing. Is it how much the air conditioner weighs? No, it’s how much cooling power an air conditioner provides. This requires a bit more explanation, but it will help you understand how ACs work and why correct sizing is essential.

An air conditioner doesn’t create cold. Cold isn’t a type of energy, it’s a lack of heat. For an air conditioner to cool down a space, it must remove heat from that space. The measurement that HVAC manufacturers use for the heat that an AC removes from the air is the British Thermal Unit (BTU). One BTU is the heat energy necessary to change the temperature of a specific volume of water by one degree Fahrenheit.

This is why you’ll see a listing of BTUs on an air conditioner: that is the amount of heat the system removes from a house per hour. And “a ton” of cooling power is equal to 12,000 BTUs per hour. The reason it’s called a ton is that this is the amount of heat necessary to melt one ton of ice. So if you have a one ton air conditioner installed in your home, each hour it draws enough heat from your home to melt a ton of ice.

Proper AC Tonnage

Sizing an air conditioner is finding the right cooling tonnage to match a home’s cooling needs; usually between 1.5 and 5 tons. Our technicians will perform a heat load calculation to determine the tonnage of your new system. This is an intricate calculation that takes into account numerous factors about your house, such as insulation, the number of windows, heat-generating appliances, etc. It’s important to get this right: an under-powered air conditioner won’t be able to keep you cool, while an over-powered air conditioner will start to short-cycle and waste money, eventually leading to an early system replacement.

Kilowatt Heating, Air Conditioning and Electrical has served Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley since 1990.

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