Need to replace your air conditioner? Has your air conditioner unit seen better days and is costing more in repairs than it is worth?  Maybe you have increased the size of your home and need a bigger unit. Perhaps you are building a new home.  Whatever the reason, if you are replacing your air conditioner unit, there are a few things you should know to make the right decision.  You should understand what size/capacity unit you need, know what SEER rating means and how that will affect cost and efficiency, and what level of maintenance costs to expect.

How Big Should A New AC Be?

So, how much capacity do you need for your home?  You can perform a crude estimate. An air conditioner unit’s capacity to cool is measured in tonnage as well as BTUs (British Thermal Units) per hour.  One ton is equal to 12,000 BTUs per hour. Here in Florida, you will generally need 1 ton for every 450 – 600 square feet of conditioned space. However, this is only an estimate.  There are many other factors to consider to accurately calculate the correct capacity. Some are how many people live in your home, number of windows, insulation, ceiling height, sunlight or natural shade, et cetera.

To make a wise investment in a new AC unit, there really is no substitute for using a reputable HVAC company that can accurately determine your needs. Keep in mind that this is just an estimate for you to use. HVAC contractors use a Manual J calculation to determine the heating and cooling loads of a home or building. They then recommend the capacity of HVAC equipment needed. It is better to buy a unit that is not too small – or too large.  The larger the unit, the higher the upfront cost. A larger than needed unit will result in higher monthly power bills than a properly sized unit. An oversized unit will not cool as evenly, and won’t get rid of humidity as well as a properly sized unit.

Also, if you have enlarged your home and are purchasing a bigger unit, make sure that the electrical service and breakers to the unit are properly sized for the new unit.

How Much Power Do I Need?

The single highest energy-consuming item in your home is likely your heating and cooling system.  New HVAC systems are much more energy efficient than they were even a decade ago. The easiest way to compare efficiency among different options is the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER).  Most modern units range from 13 to 21 SEER. The higher the SEER, the more efficient. More efficient units have a higher up-front cost, but if you plan to own your home for a while, the additional cost will be covered by lower power bills.  

Your professional HVAC contractor will be able to give you first-hand knowledge regarding the relative maintenance and repair costs they have seen with various brands and types of units.  Also, don’t forget to check the warranty. Obviously, long-term costs are also affected by how you care for your unit and regular maintenance. Things like replacing filters monthly and paying attention to strange noises early can help avoid costly repairs later.

If you want to replace your air conditioner and have questions, contact us today at 813-428-6086. Leonard’s Air has been providing quality AC repair and installation for over 10 years. 

Leave a reply