What Size Air Conditioner Do I Need for My Florida Home?

July 28, 2017

Wondering what size AC you need for your Florida home?

You’ve come to the right place. But unfortunately, since the size you need depends on the specifics of your home, we can’t tell you exactly what size you need right off the bat.

In fact, if you need a new AC, you should have a professional perform a Manual J Load Calculation to determine what size air conditioner you need.

So what does a technician look at in this calculation? A lot. And we’ll go into those factors a little later on. 

But first, let’s explain exactly what we mean by AC “size”...

Tons & BTUs: How AC size is measured

When we talk about AC size, we’re generally not talking about the actual physical dimensions of the unit, but rather its cooling capacity, or how much heat it can remove from the air.

Air conditioner size is measured in tons or BTUs (British Thermal Units). 1 ton is equal to 12,000 BTUs.

Residential air conditioners generally range in size from 1–5 tons in half-ton increments (1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, etc.). 1 ton is the smallest size; 5 tons is the largest.

So now that you know how AC size is measured, now it’s important to know why it’s important.

Why AC size matters for your Florida home

When you buy a new pair of pants, you probably don’t want a pair that’s too big, or they’ll fall off your waist. And you wouldn’t buy a pair that’s too small, because you wouldn’t be able to fit in them.

The same basic principle applies to AC size. You want an air conditioner that’s the right size for your home, or else you’ll run into problems.

If your AC is too small, it will run constantly but won’t ever cool your home to your desired temperature.

On the other hand, if your AC is too big, it will short cycle. Short cycling is when an AC cools a home very quickly, and then shuts off. While that sounds like a good thing, it’s actually very bad and causes problems like:

  • Higher energy bills: Your AC is more energy efficient when it runs for longer periods of time (think of a car getting better gas mileage when it’s running longer).
  • Uneven cooling in your home: Since the AC’s fan doesn’t run long enough, air can’t circulate as well throughout your home, which means you’ll have hot and cold spots in your house.
  • Shorter AC lifespan: Short cycling wars out AC parts quickly, which could severely shorten the lifespan of your AC. 

So now that you know about AC size, we’ll cover what goes into a Manual J Load Calculation...

Manual J Load Calculation: Finding the right AC size for your home

Like we mentioned in the very beginning, a professional needs to visit your home and perform a Manual J Load Calculation. This calculation takes many factors into account, including:

  • Square footage of your home
  • Layout of your home
  • Type of roof
  • Height of ceilings
  • Size and location of rooms
  • # of windows
  • How shaded your roof and walls are
  • The quality of your home’s insulation
  • Condition and quality of ductwork
  • And MUCH more

A Manual J Load Calculation is rather complex, but a certified HVAC technician will have the right software and tools to perform the calculation.

Beware of techs who take a shortcut

Be wary of any tech who simply uses square-footage as a gauge to determine what size AC you need. “Rule-of-thumb” estimates are inaccurate, and if you buy a new AC based on one, it means you could be stuck with an AC that’s too big or small for your home.

Want a reliable and honest expert’s help?

Contact Red Cap Air to schedule an appointment for an AC size estimate. We’ll send one of our trustworthy techs to your home to perform a Manual J Load Calculation and help you find the right AC for your Florida home.


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