How do I ensure that my air conditioner is properly sized for my Orlando area home?
When it comes time to replace your existing central air conditioning system, most Orlando air conditioning and heating contractors will use your existing system size as the primary guide in selecting a replacement. If the existing system worked properly and provided proper heating and cooling levels for your home, then this may be a valid option. However, we do offer some do-it-yourself sizing calculators that range from the very basic to professional sizing software normally available only to contractors. We offer these sizing options to our customers who want to get involved in the sizing process to ensure that the proper size air conditioner is chosen for their home.
The professional software is available for your use for only $49. This fee is refunded to you if you purchase one of our air conditioning or heat pump systems within 90 days.
We would like to point out that for the greater Orlando area all utility providers recommend a heat pump over straight electric heat for improved heating efficiency. Visit our learning center to find out more about a heat pump and how it works
To work most efficiently, an air conditioner's heating and cooling capacity has to match your home's heating and cooling demands. For this sizing explanation we will assume you have selected an air conditioning system with straight electric heat, as opposed to a heat pump . An undersized system won't adequately cool your home, while an oversized one won't dehumidify properly and can make the house feel drafty in the winter.
Sizing is strongly influenced by your climate, but several factors affect the size unit required, including the amount of wall and attic insulation you have; the types and placement of windows and doors; and the orientation of your home to the sun. Examining these factors can also alert you to the possible benefits of upgrading the insulation in your home. By making your home more energy efficient, you may be able to reduce the size of the air conditioner you need.
Sizing the unit.
Air conditioning size is expressed either in tonnage or Btu per hour (Btu/h). One ton equals 12,000 Btu per hour. Why is proper sizing so important? An undersized system won't be able to cool your home properly on the hottest days and will cost more to operate because it has to run longer than a system that is sized correctly. An oversized air conditioner also consumes more energy because it requires more electricity to run a bigger unit. And an oversized air conditioner doesn't lower humidity effectively.
That's because it cools the air so quickly that it cycles off before it has a chance to circulate the proper volume of air through the system to remove the moisture that makes us uncomfortable. The result is a room that doesn't seem as cool as the temperature indicates. In fact, the room can feel clammy and damp.
Our do-it-yourself air conditioning sizing calculators are available here.
To get a general idea of what size system your home may need you can use our climate-based sizing chart to get an idea of sizing based only on your climate and square footage. We suggest that you complete a load calculation on your home or that you schedule a time for an AC4Life personal adivsor to visit your home so we can provide a free, detailed analysis of proper system sizing.
Once you have determined the sizing requirements for the cooling side of your new air conditioning system, you then need to select the proper heating element that is included with our air conditioning / electric heat systems. If you are replacing an existing electric heat system, simply locate your main breaker panel and identify the indoor heating unit breaker. Look for a number where you grasp the breaker. Various breaker sizes and the corresponding heating elements are shown below:
30 amp - 5.0kw
40 amp - 7.5 Kw
50 amp - 8.0Kw
60 amp - 10.0 Kw
80 amp - 15.0Kw
110 amp - 20.0Kw
If you are not replacing an existing electric heat system (perhaps you have a gas or oil furnace now) you can use the heating element sizing guidelines below. The average low temperatures shown below are considered to be the average low temperature you would expect to experience just about every winter, not the coldest you would ever expect to see over a 5-year period for example. Central Florida has an average low of 35 degrees but can experience temperatures in the low 20's every 6 or 7 seven years or so.
Electric Heating Element Kw by climate and tonnage
Very warm winter climates (Average low winter temperatures of 35 degrees and up)
1.5 - 3.0 ton air conditioner - Use a 10 Kw
3.5 - 5.0 ton air conditioner - Use a 15Kw
Mild winter climates (Average low winter temperatures of 25 degrees and up)
1.5 - 2.0 ton air conditioner - Use a 10 Kw
2.5 - 5.0 ton air conditioner - Use a 15-20Kw
Colder winter climates (Average low winter temperatures of 10 degrees and up)
Electric heat is not recommended in these climates
Coldest winter climates (Average low winter temperatures of 0 degrees and up)
Electric heat is not recommended
Remember, the sizing above is informational only and not is intended to replace proper sizing from either a local contractor or from our various sizing calculators