Several weeks ago, we published a blog post letting you know why it’s so important to hire a professional for your air conditioning installation. We mentioned briefly how a professional will know how to properly size an air conditioner, but do you know why this is so important?
When you’re purchasing a new air conditioner at this time of the year, it’s likely you’ll be tempted to rush, and buy the biggest system that will fit your budget, but this can actually be a big mistake. You don’t want to just assume that bigger is better—because it’s not. In fact, too large or overpowered of a system can be just as detrimental to HVAC efficiency as a system that’s too small or underpowered.
Why Size Matters
You probably know why you shouldn’t get too small of an air conditioner for your home. It will be underpowered, and won’t effectively be able to cool the space it’s installed in. But it will keep running as it tries to reach your desired temperature on the thermostat. This uses up a lot of energy, plus it causes wear and tear to accumulate faster.
When Your AC Is Overpowered
When we talk about an air conditioner that is “too big” for your living space, what we mean is that it’s overpowered.
If your cooling system is working how it’s meant to, it will go through regular cooling cycles. Your thermostat signals to the system that the home requires cooling depending on what temperature you have it set to, and then the fans and the compressor activate to start each cycle, which lasts about 15 minutes or a little longer. When the set temperature has been reached on the thermostat, then it signals the AC to turn off.
Why are we explaining all this? Well, because when your air conditioner is overpowered, these cycles are completely thrown out of whack. Since an oversized/overpowered cooling system will send out a larger capacity of cooling than a properly sized system, the thermostat will register that the home has cooled down enough and will signal the AC to shut off, even though it didn’t complete a cooling cycle. Then it will only take a few short minutes for the temperature to rise again, prompting the thermostat to signal the AC to turn back on.
This process, called short-cycling, will repeat over and over again and is bad news for your air conditioner. First off, air conditioners consume the most energy when they start up and shut down. So this continual rapid-cycling process will cause yours to work inefficiently and will cost you more than it should to operate. Short-cycling also causes the cooling system to accumulate wear and tear faster than it otherwise would, meaning you could find yourself with a replacement need in 7-10 years instead of the average lifespan of an AC system, which is 12-15 years.
Fortunately, when you reach out to a trained professional for your air conditioner installation, you don’t have to worry about this. We’ll conduct what’s called a cooling load calculation in your home to determine exactly what size your new air conditioner should be!