the word steps highlighted on a guide

The Complete Guide to Ductless Air Conditioner Maintenance

In other articles, we went over the importance of regular maintenance for your furnace and air conditioner. However, a traditional HVAC system is not the right solution for everyone, but maintenance is necessary for every piece of HVAC equipment. In this post, we’ll go over ductless air conditioner maintenance.

If you live in a warmer climate, you might only need a ductless AC. We want to make sure that unit lasts you as long as possible.

We’ll explain the benefits of regular maintenance, the maintenance that you can perform yourself, and the maintenance that requires professional help.

By the end of this article, we hope you are confident in your understanding of ductless air conditioner maintenance.

 

The Benefits of Regular Maintenance

As with other pieces of HVAC equipment, there are plenty of benefits to staying current on its maintenance.

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Increase System Lifespan

Every piece of machinery has an estimated lifetime. An unfortunate truth is that moving parts break down. That being said, machines that are not maintained will usually break down before those that are. It’s also not unheard of for a well-maintained piece of HVAC equipment to last longer than its estimated lifetime.

By performing regular maintenance on your equipment, you are reducing the chance that it will break down on you. This means that under normal circumstances, your equipment will need fewer repairs and will last you a long time. Barring an extreme situation, you could save a lot of money by having less than average repair or replacement costs.

Reduce Energy Bill

Regular maintenance can help you save money in more ways than just low repair costs. Equipment that is not maintained can lose efficiency. This means that it will take longer to cool your home and use more energy.

Protect Warranty

Your ductless air conditioner might have a warranty if you bought it new. Most warranties require that a professional maintain your equipment regularly. The requirement is annual professional maintenance in most cases. That’s not to say that there are not things you can do yourself and, in fact, there are forms of maintenance that we recommend you perform before calling in an HVAC professional.

 

How Often Should You Perform Maintenance?

As we mentioned before, warranties will have a recommended time frame for maintenance. In this section, we’ll go over the recommended frequency for equipment maintenance in a general sense.

DIY Maintenance

The owner’s manual for your ductless air conditioner will recommend how often you perform cleaning and maintenance. If it does not, or you do not have the manual, then there is some general advice. We recommend checking and cleaning your equipment once every month.

Professional Maintenance

Most warranties require that a professional service your equipment once a year. We agree with that advice for all equipment. With proper maintenance and care, we should only need to visit your home for your cooling and heating tune-ups. We love our customers, but we hope that our high-quality equipment and service means we that visit your home as little as possible.

 

How To Maintain Your Ductless Air Conditioner Yourself?

The DIY maintenance of HVAC equipment does the heavy lifting to expand its lifespan and reduce the need for repairs. While annual tune-ups are necessary to check the fine details and do the more intricate work, the monthly maintenance from the homeowner is the key to a healthy HVAC system.

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Here are 7 tips for ductless air conditioner maintenance that you can perform yourself with minimal equipment.

1. Turn Off Your System

This isn’t maintenance as much as general advice to follow before you work on any HVAC equipment. Working on HVAC equipment while it is still running can be dangerous to yourself as well as for the equipment. Safety first.

2. Clean the Outdoor Unit

The outdoor unit, or condenser, is a resilient piece of technology, but high levels of dirt build up can reduce airflow and efficiency. In order to cool the air inside your home, it needs to expel heat outside your home. That’s hard to do if dirt is clogging the vents or is falling inside the unit.

Remove any dirt or vegetation debris that is building up on the outside of the unit with your hands and a damp cloth or rag. Clean the grates and vents, but be careful not to damage the fins or yourself.

Follow the instructions in the owner’s manual for more specific or in-depth cleaning.

3. Clean Indoor Unit Filters

The indoor unit, or air handler, has a HEPA filter that prevents allergens and pollutants from being cycled throughout your indoor air. If dirt or pollutants build up on this filter, then it will reduce the amount of airflow your AC can produce.

In a lot of ductless air conditioners, this is a washable filter. Follow the instructions in the owner’s manual on how to clean the model you own. If you don’t have the instructions, then gently wash your filter in the sink and dry it off with a clean cloth. Do this a minimum of once a month but your filter could need to be cleaned more frequently based on the environment of you home.

If your filter is not washable or damaged, then you will need to purchase and install a replacement.

4. Check Pipes for Cracks/Leaks

If have ever taken a peak at the outdoor unit of your ductless system, you make have noticed that there is a pipe or multiple pipes attached to it. Those pipes connect the outdoor and indoor units and allow the refrigerant to carry heat from inside your house to outside.

Give those pipes a quick lookover whenever you get the chance and look for any visible cracks or leaks. Also make sure to check them if your ductless air conditioner ever stops working. A leak can prevent your system from working at all.

If you notice a crack or leak, then contact your local HVAC professionals and schedule a repair.

5. Give Your Air Conditioner Room to Breathe

Make sure that your indoor and outdoor units have nothing that could obstruct air flow. Having furniture, trash, or other large objects too close to the indoor or outdoor units could limit the amount of airflow they can receive or produce. Large objects collect dust, which the AC could suck into its indoor unit. That dust will build and will cause problems to develop as time goes on.

6. Keep Vegetation from Growing into Your Outdoor Unit

This may seem obvious, but weeds, vines, and other forms of vegetation growing into your outdoor unit are not good for your air conditioner’s health and performance. Trim back vegetation or promote its growth away from your AC unit.

7. Remove Snow or Ice Build Up

During Winter, make sure snow and ice is not building up in or around the outdoor unit. If you use a ductless heat pump, it should have a defrost mode to thaw itself. However, it may not get all the snow or ice that can reduce its performance.

Snow can still contain dirt and other debris that can be trapped in your unit when it thaws out.

Gently remove build up by hand and scoop it and any debris away from the outdoor unit.

 

What Does Professional Maintenance Look Like?

We just explained all the things you can do to perform your own ductless air conditioner maintenance. However, there’s still a lot of complex machinery inside your HVAC equipment. For that we recommend that you have a professional perform the maintenance.

If you keep your equipment well maintained yourself, then that should limit the time the HVAC professional will need to spend working on your equipment and reduce the chance of equipment failure. That means that you’ll be keeping the cost of the service to a minimum.

So, what will the HVAC professional be doing when they come to service your ductless air conditioner?

Outdoor Unit

This is what your HVAC technician will do on the outdoor compressor:

  • Clean Fins and Coils
  • Inspect Insulation on Refrigerant Lines
  • Clean Electrical Components

Indoor Unit

This is what they perform on the indoor air handler:

  • Clean Filter
  • Clean Drain Pan
    • Use Anti-Mold or Pan Tablets
    • Prevents mold growth due to water build up
  • Clean Evaporator Coil
  • Refrigerant Flow Check

Warranty Protection

Having your equipment regularly serviced is a common requirement for manufacturer and labor warranties. By having a professional service your equipment, you will have a record showing that your ductless air conditioner is up to date on its maintenance. That means that should something go wrong; your warranty should protect you for the length of the warranty's lifetime.

Annual Service Plan

Ask your local HVAC professionals if they offer an annual service plan. If they offer such a program or contract, it could reduce the cost of annual maintenance and remove the hassle of scheduling maintenance yourself. Some of these contracts offer additional bonuses like discounts on other services or on new equipment when it comes time to upgrade.

 

Who Are Advantage Heating and Air Conditioning?

We are your local HVAC Experts out of Salem, Oregon. We hope that this post gave you the information you need to maintain your ductless air conditioner. If you have other questions about HVAC systems, check out our other blogs. To learn more about who we are and how we can help you, visit our website and follow us on social media - we’re here when you need us!

Posted in AC
A street covered in snow

Should You Cover Your AC Unit in the Winter?

Come fall, many people ask, “Should I cover my AC unit in the winter?”

An air conditioner is a sizable investment, and it’s natural to want to protect your investments. You just have to make sure that the way you protect it doesn’t actually do more harm than good.

To answer the question, there are benefits to covering your AC. However, it really depends on how you are covering it and the season you are covering it for. Whether you should cover your AC unit in just the fall or for winter as well is still a topic of debate.

Where you live and how severe the weather gets should also affect your decision.

In this post, we’ll go over the reasons you should or should not cover your AC and the factors that impact that decision.

 

Why You Should Cover Your AC Unit

An AC wrapped in a blanket

There are some benefits in covering your AC unit for the winter. However, it’s likely not for the reason you think.

If you cover your AC, you’ll want to use a fabric, mounted cover, or awning just over the top of the unit. You want to keep the sides open so that the AC can breathe. If you’re not picky, you could also use something like a sheet of water treated wood. Just make sure it’s secured, so it doesn’t fly into your neighbors' yard.

It’s Not for the Weather

You don’t need to cover your AC unit to protect it from the weather. Modern units easily withstand rain and snowfall. A resilient finish coats the parts inside the condenser (the AC box that sits outside your home). It needs to get airflow to allow the rain and snowfall to evaporate and keep the unit dry.

So, you don’t need to worry about the natural elements damaging your AC unit.

Covers Can Catch Debris and Windfall

A street covered in leaves in fall

Why you would consider covering your AC is actually to stop debris from falling into your AC unit. Your AC is not tree proof. Falling tree limbs can damage the condenser. Leaves and pine needles can get stuck in your AC unit and stop it from running efficiently. This becomes an issue come spring and can cause damage to the internal parts of the condenser.

A covering over the top could also redirect excess rain or catch heavy snowfall. The weight of heavy snowfall or excessive ice buildup could damage the parts of the AC. It’s not the AC getting wet that could damage it, it’s the shearing force of the weight.

 

Why You Shouldn’t Cover Your AC Unit in Winter

As we stated earlier, there are some downsides to covering your AC if you do it incorrectly.

ACs Are Designed to Withstand Rain and Snow

Your AC is designed to withstand the natural elements. If that is your only concern, then you may not need to cover your AC unit.

Trapping Moisture Can Damage Your AC

ice building up on metal
Created with GIMP

If you cover you AC, make sure you use a breathable fabric or just something to cover the top. You will have problems if you use a heavy plastic or cover the sides.

There is likely already some form of moisture inside your AC unit. Humidity or early rain fall can cause moisture to build up in your AC. If you use a cover that does not allow your AC to breathe, then your AC might develop mold, rust, or water damage. The AC condenser has a durable finish to protect it from water, but that water needs to dry to not be a long-term issue.

You Could Encourage Animals to Nest in Your AC

If you use a watertight cover, you might overly protect your AC.

The covering could encourage rodents or other pests to nest in your AC unit for the winter. They could wreak havoc with your AC’s internal parts. Not only that, but they could also be dangerous when you try to uncover your AC in the spring.

A Full Covering Can Break Your AC

If you do use a full covering and forget to remove it before spring or summer, you can potentially damage your AC. AC units need to pull air in to function properly. If your AC unit comes on while it is still covered, it won’t be able to get the airflow it needs. This can quickly damage a unit and cause a complete breakdown.

 

Pros and Cons of Covering Your AC

Pros

  • Stops debris from falling into your AC.
  • Keeps heavy snow or ice from weighing on your AC.
  • Protects your AC from heavy falling objects.

Cons

  • Can trap moisture and cause water damage.
  • Can encourage wild animals to nest in your AC.
  • Unnecessary if you just want to protect your AC from winter weather.
  • A full covering can damage your unit.

 

How Location Affects Your AC Unit

Where you live will decide if covering your AC unit is worth it for you. Here is some guidance based on the environment that you live in.

Warm or Cold Climates

A home in arizona

If you live in a climate with mild or even warm winters, like the South-West of the United States, then you probably don’t need to worry about ice or snow weighing on your AC.

However, if you live in a region with heavy snowfall or are expecting an ice storm, then you might put something over your AC to keep that weight off of the parts inside.

Heavily Wooded Areas

a home in a heavily wooded area

You might also consider covering your AC in fall if you live in an area with lots of trees. The natural debris they drop during fall can damage your AC if it gets stuck in there.

You could also cover your AC if you expect windstorms that could cause tree limbs to drop. Your AC is water resistant, not tree resistant.

 

What To Do with Window AC Units

If you have a window AC unit, you are not likely to use it during winter. You could pull it in and put it in storage to keep it out of the elements. If you cannot for any reason, then you could look into a cover for the exterior of the unit. Just remember to give it an exposed area to breathe from.

 

Who Are Advantage Heating and Air Conditioning?

We are your local HVAC Experts out of Salem, Oregon. We hope that this post gave you the information you need to keep your furnace running. If you have other questions about HVAC systems, check out our other blogs. To learn more about who we are and how we can help you, visit our website and follow us on social media - we’re here when you need us!

Posted in AC

EPA Refrigerant Regulations and How They Affect You (2022)

Did you know that the refrigerant inside your air conditioner or heat pump can be dangerous? Don’t panic though, it’s perfectly safe when it's inside the system and doing what it's supposed to. However, if the refrigerant ever gets mishandled or leaks out of the system, that’s when it can pose a danger to your health and the surrounding environment. As with other hazardous substances, there are refrigerant regulations that dictate how it is to be handled.

That’s where the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air Act come in. Besides everything else they cover; they also create the rules that make sure your HVAC technician is handling your system with care. The Clean Air Act is a regularly updated piece of legislation that serves as a base for the EPA’s regulations.

The EPA also updates these regulations regularly. This makes sure that the regulation reflects changes in environmental science and current advancements in technology. These changes can be as small as wording changes or as large as whole guidelines being redesigned.

In this post, we’ll explain what this change was and how the Clean Air Act affects your life as the owner of an AC unit.

 

What is The Clean Air Act?

The Clean Air Act (CAA) is a set of rules and guidelines signed in 1970 to coordinate State, Federal, and Tribal government efforts to clean up pollution in the air. It also incentivizes companies to develop and use technology that reduces emissions.

Congress has updated the CAA regularly as researchers discover new pollutants, health risks, and environmental dangers.

What is Title 40?

Title 40 is a regulation related to the Clean Air Act that governs the use of refrigerant. As an AC owner, this section of the CAA will directly affect you. Refrigerants have to meet the standards set by the EPA to be used in ACs and heat pumps. It also governs the maintenance of systems that use refrigerant.

To break it down simply, Title 40 determines the model of refrigerant that goes into your AC or heat pump and how your HVAC technician has to maintain it.

Your HVAC technician has to keep your equipment above the EPA’s standard otherwise, your equipment could actually be a pollution risk in your own backyard. Obviously, that’s not ideal for your health or the wellbeing of the plants and animals in your neighborhood.

 

How Do Refrigerant Regulations Affect Maintenance?

Repairing An AC Unit

In an earlier post, we discussed how your HVAC technician cannot just top off your AC with new refrigerant. It’s not solving the problem and is negligent in terms of the impact it can have. The impact is not just the health and environmental ramifications of mishandling refrigerant. There are also severe consequences that come down from the EPA.

Practices Over the Years

If your AC unit is running low on refrigerant, it has a leak somewhere. Refrigerant does not just leave the system. In the past, a technician may have just added refrigerant to your system if you asked for a onetime top off.

Today, there are no exceptions that allow for such additions.

Title 40 says that a person operating or maintaining an AC or heat pump cannot vent refrigerant. If you have a leak, and add more refrigerant to the system, the refrigerant will eventually escape through the leak unless a technician repairs the leak. This results in that refrigerant being vented out of the system.

What that means is that your technician cannot just top off a system with low refrigerant levels. A technician must repair the leak before they add any new refrigerant to the system.

The Timeline for Repair

According to the guidelines, you have 30 days to repair a refrigerant leak once it is discovered. If you cannot get it repaired in that time, then you have to create and record a plan to get it fixed within 120 days.

The Consequences of Not Following Refrigerant Regulations

Fanned Money

So, what happens if you do just add refrigerant to a leaking AC system, or don’t get it fixed once the leak is reported?

The EPA will fine you.

There is no way to sugarcoat this. The fine can be as high as $37,500 per day. If a technician topped off the refrigerant and they did not repair the leak, they can lose their EPA certification and be fined as well.

That can have a pretty big impact on everyone involved.

 

How To Know If You Have a Refrigerant Leak

Leaky Outdoor Unit

If your AC cannot cool the air in your home, but you are still getting good air flow. You might have a refrigerant leak.

The most common cause of an HVAC system not cooling your home is airflow. You’ll want to rule that out, as it is usually a much easier fix.

First check:

  • Filter Cleanliness
  • Thermostat Settings
  • Vents and Registers are Open
  • AC Unit is Running

If all those parts are as they should be, contact your local HVAC professionals and ask for a leak check. They’ll be able to find any refrigerant leaks for you and perform the repair.

Repaired Outdoor Unit

 

How To Stay Up to Date on Refrigerant Regulations

As we stated earlier, the CAA is a living document that changes, and it gives the EPA authority to change the related regulations as needed. If you want to make sure you’re getting up-to-date information, you can check back at our Learning Center regularly.

Or, if you want to hear it straight from the horse's mouth, there is a digital library of every federal regulation.

 

Who Are Advantage Heating and Air Conditioning?

We are your local HVAC Experts out of Salem, Oregon. We hope that this post gave you the information you need to know about refrigerant and how it has to be handled. If you have other questions about HVAC systems, check out our other blogs. To learn more about who we are and how we can help you, visit our website and follow us on social media - we’re here when you need us!

6 ACs on a Blue Wall

2022 Best AC Brands (Reviewed by Pros)

There are two parts of your HVAC system that you can feel at work. Your furnace and your air conditioner. The environment of your home is a combination of a bunch of different moving parts working together. However, if your AC or furnace goes out, then you’re going to know quickly. It makes sense to want the best AC then. But what are the best AC brands?

Air conditioners have some of the widest range of manufacturers available for your HVAC system. You probably haven’t heard of brands for ductwork, but chances are you’ve seen at least one or two ads for an AC unit.

 

How We Got Our Results

In this article, we’re going to talk about some of the best AC brands on the market. We’ll take information from consumer reports, reviews from everyday people, and our own experience from what we’ve seen as HVAC professionals. We hope that by combining all three, we can give an accurate representation of the experience provided by each brand.

We’ll also recommend a brand ourselves, separate from the list. This is a brand that we trust and have had a positive relationship with for a long time.

 

Definition of Terms

Before we get into it, let’s define some terms. The keyword to know is SEER or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. While you don’t need to know the exact definition, you should probably know what it means. SEER is how energy efficient your AC unit is. The higher the number, the less energy it uses to provide cooling to your home.

The current average SEER rating for HVAC units is 14 or 15. Anything below that could cause higher energy usage and a more expensive energy bill.

 

Top 5 Best AC Brands By Consumer Report

ACs on a Wall

These are some brands that receive the best reviews from consumer reports and customers. These reviews can be read in their entirety at HVAC.com, Top Ten Reviews, and Modernize.

Each of these entries looks at a combination of technical aspects of each brand that influence efficiency, performance, and cost. We’ll also cover some added value for each brand, whether that be technology integration, a history of reliability, or anything that could have a tangible positive impact on your HVAC system.

What We Consider

 

For each system, we list the average range of costs to install the unit. This is not an exact quote and the price can fall out of this range. If you want to see what could affect the cost of an AC unit, we have an article here. We’ll also cover their SEER rating so that you know how energy-efficient the unit is. We’ll also cover the warranties offered by the brand so that you know how long repairs will be covered.

To get a baseline, we looked at brands that placed high across several consumer reviews. We then used our own experience with these brands, as well as their technicals, to narrow it down to just 3 brands of air conditioners.

American Standard

- Cost: $3,500 to $6,200 to Install
- SEER: 13 - 22
- 12-year warranty for the compressor. 10-year parts warranty
- Reliable and Low Maintenance

American Standard is a long-lasting name for HVAC machines. Their systems run along the middle of the average price range for installation. They do also offer a range of models that go from average to very good energy efficiency. Their warranty is lengthy and offers extra protection on the compressor, meaning they stand behind their product. They also have some of the lowest recorded numbers for service calls and repairs needed after installation.

Carrier

- Cost: $4,900 to $7,200
- SEER: 13 to 22
- 10-year general warranty
- Easy to work with customer service

Carrier is another well-known name in the industry. They make sophisticated systems that offer a variety of control options. They run along the high end of the middle as far as costs are concerned. The SEER ratings of their models run from average to very good. They also have well-reviewed customer service can respond quickly and professionally over the phone or email.

Trane

- Cost: $7,000 to $20,000
- SEER: 14 to 24.6
- 10-year parts warranty after registration
- Most Trusted by Lifestory Research since 2015

Trane has won the Most Trusted award by Lifestory Research every year since 2015. This has made them one of America’s most well-reviewed brands in recent history. Their units are more costly than their competitors, but they are very smart-home-friendly. Their models offer SEER ratings from average to excellent. They offer a 10-year warranty on parts but only after registration, meaning there’s a bit of extra footwork for the customer.

 

Our Pick For Best AC Brand

Now that we’ve given you the top three best AC brands by consumer reviews, who do we recommend? At Advantage, we recommend Daikin. Daikin is the largest manufacturer of HVAC equipment in the world.

Daikin

Daikin Logo

- Cost: $2,700 to $8000
- SEER: 13 to 24.5
- 12-year general parts warranty / 12 or 6-year replacement warranty for select models
- Multiple Awards and Innovative Technology
- Commitment to People

Daikin’s cost to install runs the range but doesn’t get absurdly high. The SEER rating of their models goes from average to excellent. They also offer a 12-year general parts warranty or a total replacement warranty for 12 or 6 years on select models.

They have also received multiple industry awards for quality and innovation. They are a technology leader and have innovated new systems that allow their systems to run efficiently, earning them several design awards.

Daikin’s Commitment To Us

Advantage Staff with Daikin

Daikin is committed to providing the best experience to the people they work with. That means their customers, their employees, and even us as a business partner. They take care of their employees and partners by providing excellent training and support resources.

They also honor their warranties quickly and without hesitation. Dakin also manufactures products in the United States. While other companies are outsourcing more and more, Daikin remains committed to providing locally made products.

 

Best AC Brand Versus Best AC Craftsmanship (Does Brand Truly Matter?)

Repairing An AC Unit

In our post discussing the cost of adding AC, we found that the key defining factor for the cost of the installation was the quality of the contractor who installed the system. If you noticed across our top 3 brands, they all offer similar performance in terms of energy efficiency.

All the price ranges also intersect. While the exact price can fall out of range, and cannot be determined without a visit from a sales professional, two different brands may quote you the same number. Most reputable brands will also offer a good warranty between 5 to 10 years, hopefully longer.

So if the efficiency, price, and warranty are all within a similar range across the hardware of a new AC unit, why do customers report having different experiences, costs, or failure rates based on what company they went with? That largely depends on the installer who will put the system into your home.

Installation Determines Performance

A company that employs high-quality technicians won’t just place your brand-name AC unit on a concrete slab, turn it on, and leave you with an invoice. They will consider the entire system and find a model that works with your specific needs.

This could be the difference between reducing overall energy use to spending 20% more just on the energy required for your AC unit. Yes, that’s a real statistic. Some AC units increase energy usage unnecessarily.

You may have a brand that you feel loyal to. However, the big difference maker is the quality of installer you choose.

 

Who Are Advantage Heating & Air Conditioning?

We are your local HVAC Experts out of Salem, Oregon. We hope that gave you the information you need to make an educated decision when purchasing your new Air Conditioning unit. If you have other questions about HVAC systems, check out our other blogs. To learn more about who we are and how we can help you, visit our website and follow us on social media - we’re here when you need us!

HVAC Combo

What Size of AC Unit Do I Need?

The best part of hot summer days is being able to stay out of the heat in your comfy home AC. Well, it might not be the best part for everyone, but having a cool home to come back to after a day roasting in the sun is a fantastic feeling. If you live in the Southern half of the states, this becomes a year-round necessity. To make sure your home stays cool, you need to know what size of AC unit you need.

It can be a real bummer if the inside of your home is just as hot as the world outside. It’s even worse if your AC breaks down in the middle of a hot season.

If your AC isn’t doing the trick or isn’t lasting as long as it should, it might not be the right size for your home. So what is the right size for an AC unit and how do you find it?

Well, it depends on a ton of variables which we will explain in this post.

Let’s first talk about why the right size is important and what you want to avoid.

 

Problems with Purchasing The Incorrect Size Air Conditioner

You can’t just get an air conditioner that is bigger than what you actually need. Bigger is not always better. Likewise, getting an air conditioner that is too small will not cut it. Either way, you’re looking at spending more money on energy and repairs.

Too Big

An AC Unit is Bigger Than The Unit

You might think that getting an air conditioner that is bigger than what you actually need is great. It’ll cool your house down no matter what. Sure, but probably more than you want. A lot more.

It’s going to provide too much cooling to your home, too quickly. Your thermostat won’t be able to catch up. This will cause uneven temperatures throughout your home. Not to mention that this will cost you money on the excess energy this uses.

An oversized AC unit will also short-cycle. It will turn on, blast some cold air, and turn off quicker than normal. ACs are not designed to run like this and it will damage the equipment. Meaning more frequent repairs and increasing the chances of a breakdown in summer.

Too Small

An AC Unit Too Small For Home

An AC unit that is too small is going to have problems too, but just the extreme opposite of the large unit. It’s going to be running forever. It cannot cool your home effectively because it just doesn’t have the power to cover all the space needed. This is going to be using unnecessary energy because it’ll always be on.

The constant running is also not healthy for an AC system. If a unit is too small, it’s going to wear itself down quickly. This means a severaly shortened lifespan and repairs or a total replacement well before it should be necessary.

 

What is a BTUh?

In simplest terms, the BTUh tells you the size of the AC unit. The British Thermal Unit (BTU) is the basic indicator of how much cooling power that AC units have. BTUh is British Thermal Units per hour, and that measures how much energy an AC unit uses to remove heat from your home in an hour. 12,000 BTUh is equal to a ton in terms of AC units. AC units are then sized in tons from 1 to 5, with increments for every half size.

So when you ask “what size air conditioner do I need,” you could also ask “what tonnage of air conditioner do I need?”

How Do BTUs Affect AC Unit Size?

It’s recommended that you have 20 BTUh per square foot. This rule is not set in stone and it varies a lot, but works to get a baseline estimate. This can be done by taking the square footage of your home, multiplying it by 20, then dividing it by 12,000. For example, if your home is 1,500 square feet, then this is what it will look like:

(1,500 x 20) / 12,000

That should give you an answer of 2.5 or 2.5 tons. So why do some 1,500-square-foot homes have AC units that are 2 or 3 tons? Does the formula actually matter?

 

What Things Affect the Size of Air Conditioner I Need

While knowing the square footage is essential to get a basic idea, it’s not the definitive answer. There are a bunch of factors that need to be considered.

SEER

The Seasonal Efficiency Energy Ratio plays a big impact on how your AC unit operates. More efficient ACs typically use less energy to cool your home. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the unit is. When you’re thinking about what size conditioner you need, you should also consider what SEER air conditioner you want.

Home Layout And Condition

How your home was built and laid out determines how air flows through your home. That also determines how effectively an air conditioner can cool your home. For example, it’s going to be a lot easier to cool a house with many rooms in a northern climate than an open design interior in a southern climate.

Cottage Home

  • Preexisting Ductwork
  • Quality of Insulation
  • The Number of Windows and Sun Exposure
  • Number of Household Members
  • Heat Generating Appliances
  • Local Climate
  • Interior Layout

 

How Do I Get the Right Size Air Conditioner For Sure?

Now we know what determines what size air conditioner we need. How do we actually apply that to the calculation from earlier? To find the answer, you need a load calculation of some sort.

Load Calculation

These are sometimes referred to as Manual J, Block Load, or Peak Load Calculations. There are more of these formulas out there. Those three are just some of the most common ones you’ll see. Some of them use a computer program to get a very specific answer. At Advantage, we use a computer-assisted block load calculation because we find it yields the most accurate result.

A sales professional can perform this calculation after inspecting your home. They can usually do it pretty quickly and it will give you an exact answer what size of air conditioner you need. That way, you’re not paying for an AC that will not keep your home comfortable or having to drop cash on repairs every 5 years.

Who Are Advantage Heating and Air Conditioning

We are your local HVAC Experts out of Salem, Oregon. We hope this article has given you the information you need to make an educated decision about purchasing your new AC system. If you have questions about HVAC systems, please check out our other blog posts. If you want to know who we are and how we can help, please visit our website and follow us on social media. We’ll be here when you need us.