Air Conditioner Capacity: Ever Wonder Why It's Measured in Tons?You may have noticed that your two-ton air conditioner does not weigh two tons. So why, then, is it called a two-ton air conditioner? The unit of measurement refers to the air conditioner capacity. It’s measured in tons to reflect the amount of heat your air conditioner can remove from your home in an hour. 

Two tons is equal to 4,000 pounds. So why, then, does a two-ton air conditioning unit remove about 24,000 BTUs of heat from your home each hour? What are BTUs, anyway?

BTU is a British Thermal Unit. It is equal to approximately the amount of heat that is put off by burning a single kitchen match all the way. In the old days, people used ice that had been harvested from frozen rivers and lakes to cool buildings. It was then discovered that it took approximately 143 BTUs to melt one pound of ice. (143 BTUs x 2,000 pounds per ton = 286,000 BTUs per day). The formula then becomes 286,000 BTUs / 24 hours = 11,917 BTUs per hour. To simplify things, 11,917 was rounded up to 12,000. That said, one ton of air conditioner capacity is said to be able to remove approximately 12,000 BTUs of heat from your home per hour.

In order to determine the amount of capacity you should choose when replacing your air conditioner, you must first determine the square footage of the area you wish to cool. One option is to estimate one ton, or 12,000 BTUs, per 500 to 1,000 square feet of living space. A more accurate approach, however, is to use the ACCA’s Manuals J and S to determine the A/C size. By installing an air conditioner that’s too large, you will spend more money, get uneven cooling, and wear out your system much faster.

Contact us today at Mowery Heating, Cooling and Plumbing to speak to an expert for more information about HVAC issues or other questions you might have. We provide excelling HVAC and plumbing services to the Greater Indianapolis area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Brownsburg, Indiana and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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