What Are Air Conditioning BTU’s?

May 6, 2021

Kansas summers can be quite warm, and that’s why it’s so important to have an air conditioner that you can count on. Using an air conditioner that’s the right size for your residence is always a smart move. This will ensure that you’ll be cool and comfortable when the temperatures rise. It also means that you won’t be wasting energy and that you’ll get the most of your AC unit.

What Are BTUs?

If you’ve been shopping around for an air conditioner, you know that they’re referred to with the term “BTUs.” BTU stands for British thermal unit, and it’s a way to measure energy. It’s been determined that one BTU can be used to heat one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. It makes sense that more BTUs would equate to more energy. When it comes to cooling your home, having more BTUs means that an air conditioner can remove more heat.

How Many BTUs Are Ideal?

In the world of AC units, it isn’t the case that bigger means better. Having too many BTUs could mean that you won’t be making the most out of your investment. First of all, a system with more BTUs is going to be more expensive than one with fewer BTUs. It’s not strategic to buy something that costs more than what would be recommended. Also, if you have an air conditioner that’s too powerful for your needs, it’s going to have to cycle on and off frequently. It will cycle on when the temperature rises, and then it will get its job done very quickly. It will be so effective that it will soon turn off again. This short-cycling process can take a toll on the unit, especially as it relates to its lifespan.

It’s not ideal to have an AC unit with too few BTUs, either. That’s because the air conditioner will be working harder to keep your house cool. Running continually can put a lot of strain on a cooling system, and besides, it might not ever be able to give you your desired temperature.

A rule of thumb is that 20 BTUs will effectively cool each square foot of living space in a home. A 500-square-foot residence would require approximately 10,000 BTUs, for example.

Describing AC Units in Tons

To make things a bit more complicated, many whole-house air conditioners are referred to by how many tons they are. This doesn’t mean ton as in weight. Rather, a 1-ton AC unit means that it has about 12,000 BTUs. A 2-ton AC unit has about 24,000 BTUs, and you can keep doing the math to figure out how much power larger air conditioners can have.

This type of terminology goes back to the days when people used ice to cool their homes. They determined that a ton of ice absorbs heat at a rate of about 12,000 BTUs an hour. A 1-ton unit can be used to cool a space that’s about 600 square feet, a 2-ton unit can be used for a residence that’s around 1,200 square feet, and so on.

Many Factors at Play

The ratios we’ve provided are just general recommendations. You also have to take into consideration several other factors, like:

  • The layout of the property
  • How much of the house is shaded
  • The type of roof a home has
  • How much insulation there is
  • How many people live in the home
  • How tall the ceilings are

It’s critical to get the math right the first time. That way, you’ll have an AC unit that you can depend on. An air conditioner that’s the right size won’t have to work too hard, nor will it have to cycle on and off too frequently. It will do its job effectively, and it should last for many years.

Reach Out to Our Team

At Mike Bryant Heating & Cooling, we’re happy to help anyone in the Olathe area with AC installation. We’re always available to answer questions, and we can provide you with specific recommendations after we assess your home. In addition to installations, we offer maintenance and repair services for both heating and cooling units. Moreover, our team provides a range of indoor air quality services. Our business was founded in 2004, and we know what it takes to keep our customers satisfied. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment.

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