Oftentimes, you will see an AC unit’s capacity rated in tons. This has nothing to do with the system’s weight when used in this context. Air conditioners are generally rated from 1 to 5 tons (although some range up to 6, 7, or 8 tons), with 1 ton being equal to 12,000 British Thermal Units, or BTUs, per hour. A 5-ton AC unit will therefore have a capacity of roughly 60,000 BTUs/hr (5 x 12,000). But what does this mean as far as cooling your home?

How Much Can a 5-Ton AC Unit Cool?

Sizing Your AC

Properly sizing your system requires considering various factors. The square footage of your home is one (although exposure to direct sunlight, ceiling height, and number/size of windows and doors can impact the AC you choose). Another is climate. The United States is divided up into 5 climate zones, which impact cooling requirements. For example, you’ll need more cooling capacity in warmer southern regions and less in cooler, northern sections or in higher elevations.

A 5-ton AC unit will cool a larger space if there’s less heating to overcome. Use the following guideline to determine square footage based on your climate zone:

  • Zone 1: 2,401 to 3,000 square feet
  • Zone 2: 2,501 to 3,100 square feet
  • Zone 3: 2,601 to 3,200 square feet
  • Zone 4: 2,751 to 3,300 square feet
  • Zone 5: 2,701 to 3,300 square feet

For heating, you’ll need 30 to 35 BTUs per square foot in Zone 1, 35 to 40 BTUs per square foot in Zone 2, 40 to 45 BTUs per square foot in Zone 3, 45 to 50 BTUs per square foot in Zone 4, and 50 to 60 BTUs per square foot in Zone 5.

Don’t Oversize Your AC

It’s important not to install an air conditioner that’s larger than recommended for your home. It will cool the space too quickly, causing the system to short cycle. This means it will turn on and off too frequently. Not running long enough at a time doesn’t allow the system to remove enough humidity for the air to feel comfortable. Frequent cycling also strains an air conditioner, causing components to wear out. You’ll end up paying more in utility costs for repairs and possibly premature replacement.

As mentioned before, there are factors other than square footage. The number of BTUs per square foot needed can vary depending on your home’s construction. Generally, you can get away with a slightly smaller system if your home is well-insulated and has newer windows. However, if there’s a greater concentration of windows, or the windows are larger than standard, and your home is less insulated, greater air and heat loss means you’ll require a higher capacity system.

Over the Moon’s AC Professionals Can Help with Sizing

Wisconsin customers can trust Over the Moon for help with installing a new air conditioner or when AC replacement is the best option over repair. Our work is covered by a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee and a lifetime warranty, while we provide same-day service whenever possible. You can count on us to determine the right-sized AC system as well, whether this is a 5-ton AC unit or other sizes. Schedule your service appointment online or give us a call at 262-218-2842 to speak directly with a customer service representative.