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How to Pick the Right Air Conditioner for Your Home


Imagine it’s now July 2017.  It’s a Tuesday.  It’s also the first day of the year when the outside temperature breaks 100 degrees. Is there anything quite so wonderful as walking from that hellacious day into your home where it is cool and comfortable?

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On that day, your home’s air conditioning system is either going to deliver on your expectations and make you happy, or it’s going to fail miserably. So, how can you pick the right air conditioner today to make sure you are prepared for “that” day in July?


As an air conditioning service that has been serving Camden County since 1948, we know all too well they come in all shapes, sizes, and types: central, high-velocity, room AC, window AC, heat pump, ductless, geothermal, etc. We are going to focus on “central” air conditioners. These are the types found in most homes in this area. They consist of an outdoor unit, called a “condenser,” and an indoor component called a “coil.” The coil and condenser are connected by two copper tubes called a “line set.” The air conditioning system is turned “on and off” by your home’s thermostat. The air is pushed through a system of ductwork by a fan (typically inside of your furnace/heater).


When deciding on the perfect air conditioner, the first step is to determine to correct “size” air conditioner for your home. Air conditioner sizes are determined by a MANUAL J calculation. A MANUAL J takes into account a home’s size, building materials, insulation in walls and attics, leakage rates, windows, doors, ductwork, orientation, and location. Results are given in BTU’s, with an average home (1600sqft – 3400 sq. ft.) needing between 20,000 and 40,000 BTU’s.


Good news: we now know how many BTU’s we need to cool our home. Bad news: central air conditioners are not sold by the BTU, they are sold by the “TON.” One ton of air conditioning is equivalent to 12,000 BTU’s.  So, a “3 TON” air conditioner should generate 36,000 BTU’s. Unfortunately, just like your car was advertised to get “30MPG” and never did: your “3TON” air conditioner will not produce exactly 36,000 BTU.


So, your home needs 36,000 BTU, or 3TONs, to effectively cool the home on “that” day in July but a 3TON air conditioner does not produce 36,000 BTU’s. This is where a MANUAL S becomes necessary. A MANUAL S is where you, or your trusted air conditioning professional, compares the demands of your home with the supply of cooling that a specific air conditioner is able to supply.

Just like one car manufacturer may make several different lines of cars (3-series, 5-series, 7-series, etc.) different air conditioner manufacturers make different lines of air conditioners, which can be viewed in the same way as cars. Depending on which specific air conditioner (3-series, 5, 7) you are “looking at” then the actual BTU’s supplied will vary.

While a Manual J is a good starting point for selecting the right air conditioner for your home, a Manual S is also required to assure that you will be able to survive “that” day in July. To learn more about choosing the correct air conditioner for your home or the air conditioning repair and installation services we offer to homeowners in Burlington County, NJ, and the surrounding communities, please give us a call.