Nobody wants to invest in an air conditioner and find themselves boiling on those sultry summer days. On the contrary, you don’t want to spend a fortune on high-end air conditioning system that isn’t necessary at all. So you need to do some planning and figure out the right-sized air conditioner for your interior space before you go all out. You can spend some time reading and researching to learn more about the working and find out how to choose the right air conditioner that fits your bill.
British thermal unit
First up, you need to understand the units that ACs are rated with. Typically, it is BTU or British thermal unit. While you don’t really need to understand its nature, you’ll see it on all AC products, as a way of measuring how much power they use. It’s not strictly a measure of cooling, just of energy use though. Generally, the more BTUs you have, the more powerful the unit. Therefore, the more interior space it can cool.
For example, a small single-room unit can be around 5,000-7,000 BTUs. A central AC system that cools an entire home would be somewhere 20,000 BTUs and upwards. Therefore you need to ensure you are not buying an AC that won’t solve the purpose.
When you get down to buying an AC unit, this is the criteria you’ll be using when you check out various AC models and their prices. The size is mostly irrelevant in terms of cooling.
Measure your space
Now it’s time to do some planning in advance. You need to measure the size of rooms you intend to cool. Unless you have a particularly open floor plan, you should consider a separate unit for each room unless you are going for central air conditioning system.
Here is a chart to estimate BTU needed for your specific space:
This means if you have a room measuring roughly 350-450 sq. ft., you’ll need an AC having capacity of 9,500 BTU. Choosing an AC with lower BTU will mean insufficient cooling, whereas the one with higher BTU will cost you extra with no apparent difference in cooling.
For open spaces larger than 1,400 sq ft, consider getting two units for an adequately cooling, or look out for central air conditioning system.
As we’re talking about individual AC units for the most part, the traditional units that fit into windows, or the newer stand-alone models that vent hot air out of the window via a flexible duct are a good choice.
If you are planning to go beyond three units, it’s more suitable and cost-effective to get a central air unit instead, and just cool the entire house.
To get a size for central air, you still need to figure out the square footage, but you don’t need to break it down by individual rooms. The air is being moved via the existing duct, and isn’t affected by walls or door locations (provided rooms have vents).
If you are working out a budget, keep in mind the initial cost of the purchase plus an additional cost of professional installation.