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Dalton Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, Electric and Fireplaces, Inc. Blog

What Tonnage Is Your New AC?


For anyone who isn’t entrenched in the HVAC industry, there are a number of terms and quite a bit of jargon that may not make much sense. There is some jargon you don’t need to know–but others that are helpful to have a basic understanding of. Tonnage is one of the latter.

Tonnage is an essential part of new air conditioning installation and AC replacement. You can always trust the Dalton technicians to successfully and reliably install your air conditioner, no matter what type of air conditioner you choose to have installed. But understanding a bit more about tonnage and how it applies to your new air conditioner can help you understand why it’s so important that you only trust the pros to service this system. Read on to learn more!

Tonnage = Cooling Power

“Tonnage” can seem like a confusing word. Many homeowners think that this refers to the weight of their air conditioner, but this isn’t the case. Tonnage is instead a measurement of how powerful an air conditioner is at cooling down the space it is installed in. Tons are units of cooling power. Therefore, if you hear an HVAC pro say that an AC system is a “two-ton” or a “five-ton” unit, they’re indicating how powerful the system is, not how much it weighs.

So what is a “ton,” in this case?

It’s 12,000 British Thermal Units (BTUs) of heat removed per hour from the space. This measurement of heat is sort of like a calorie–it’s the amount of heat needed to change the temperature of a specific amount of water by one degree Fahrenheit.

This is where many people misunderstand how an air conditioner works. It doesn’t just generate cold air from nothing, It actually pulls warm air out of your home, putting that air through a refrigerant process and expelling the rest of the hot air, in order to return chilled air into your home.

Okay, so, why are 12,000 BTUs called a “ton” though?

Because this is the amount of heat needed to melt a one-ton block of ice. So if your home utilizes a 2-ton air conditioner, that means that it removes enough heat from your home per hour to melt two tons of ice.

Your HVAC Professionals Must Determine Tonnage

The typical residential air conditioning system is between 1.5-5 tons. To find the right tonnage air conditioner to provide sufficient cooling for your space, our professionals must conduct what’s called a heating load calculation to determine what “size” air conditioner you need.

Many folks believe “the bigger the better” when it comes to their AC, but a cooling system that’s too powerful can be just as detrimental to efficiency and comfort as one that’s not powerful enough. Speak to our pros today to learn more and to schedule your installation!

At Dalton Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, Electric and Fireplaces, Inc., your comfort is our promise! To set up an appointment in the Cedar Falls area, give us a call at the number above, email or schedule an appointment online for professional AC installation in Waterloo, IA.

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