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The air conditioner that cools a 700 square-foot apartment doesn’t have the capacity to keep up in a 1400 square-foot house. But how do you tell which units can handle your home, and which ones can’t?

For that, you’ll need to find the air tonnage of your unit. In this post, we’ll explain what that means exactly, and how you can identify it on your air conditioner:


What is Air Tonnage?

The amount of heat that your air conditioner can remove from your home is described by its air tonnage.

  • If your air conditioner has too little air tonnage, it won’t be able to cool your home on a hot, summer night in Texas.
  • If it has too much tonnage, it will short cycle (meaning that it turns on and off rapidly, which wastes energy, diminishes its ability to dehumidify the air, and damages the unit).

How much air tonnage do you need for your home? The number will directly correspond to how many square feet make up your home. A few other factors are how well-insulated your home is and how tall the ceilings are.

An AC term that you may be more familiar with is BTU (British thermal unit). One unit describes the heat that will warm a pound of water by 1°F

When it comes to air conditioners, BTUs are a handy measurement that indicates how much heat your air conditioner can cool per hour. For every 12,000 BTU/hr that your unit can cool, it has 1 ton of air tonnage. Just divide the BTUs by 12,000 to find out the tons of your AC!

  • Here’s an example: An air conditioner with a capacity of 24,000 BTU/hr is a 2 ton unit.

To break that down even further, we need to consider if your unit has enough capacity for your space. Many specific factors affect the performance of your air conditioner, meaning that there’s no “one size fits all” formula for square footage. In general, you can multiply the square footage by 20 to get the required BTU/hr, then divide it by 12,000 to get the air tonnage.

  • Let’s say you live in a 600 square-foot apartment. Multiply that by 20, and you’ll require 12,000 BTUs. When we divide the BTUs by 12,000, we end up with 1. That means you’ll need a 1 ton air conditioner. 


How to Find it

First, locate your air condenser. This is the part of your unit that’s located outside your home. Look for the label on your air conditioner. If you’re lucky, it will list the tons directly on the label. However, it may only list the BTU rating, in which case you’ll need to apply the formula that we mentioned earlier.

If you can’t see either number on the label, find the model number. You can look it up online and find out the specifications of your unit. Alternatively, call our HVAC technicians at Classic Services. We can help you identify your unit and tell you its cooling capacity. 


Need Help?

This post may have included a lot more math than you were expecting. But don’t worry: at Classic Services, we can do the work for you.

We offer AC repair in New Braunfels. Whether your old unit needs a tune-up, or you need a new one installed, we have you covered. Give us a call!