What is a TON of Air Conditioning?

What is a TON of Air Conditioning?

When working with industry professionals to install air conditioning, it’s helpful to know certain terms used in the industry. A “ton” is one of the most important terms to know, because it is the way in which air conditioning units are measured. A ton represents the total cooling capacity that an AC system has to offer.

One ton is equivalent to how much heat is required (288,000 BTU) to melt one ton of ice over the course of 24 hours.  A ton of ice might sound like a random way to measure things, but it originated back before mechanical cooling, when ice remained an important component of refrigeration.

For reference, a 2-ton unit has a rating of 24,000 BTU per hour. In a typical residential setting, you’ll find the central heating and cooling system provides up to 5-tons of cooling. Commercial units might be smaller than this, but in most cases, they are much larger – reaching up to 1,500-ton chiller systems.

How Many Tons of AC Do You Need?

A block of ice might not give you the visual picture you need to determine how many tons of cooling power you require. A better frame of reference is to think of this general rule of thumb: one ton can typically cool a 400 to 500 square feet space. So, if you are trying to cool off a 1,600 square foot office, you’ll need at least 5 tons of air conditioning capacity.

An expert or contractor can perform a Manual J Calculation to determine the exact amount of cooling capacity a space requires. This doesn’t just take into account the size of the building. In addition, it considers the building’s capacity to retain heat, and how much air is required to cool a space. Important factors include how much sunlight exposure the building gets, insulation quality, the year the building was constructed, climate zone, and of course, square footage.

A commercial building will have much different cooling needs than a residential building. They typically have higher roofs, more foot traffic, and unique insulation. This can change calculations considerably. Some commercial buildings require more cooling than others, say for instance there are server rooms or a lot of heat-producing equipment.

Commercial HVAC – The Rule of Thumb for Sizing

The simplest way to determine how much cooling power you need is to add up all heat sources within your building, and then multiply that by the total number of 500 square-foot areas you need to cool.

Multiply this number by 12,000 BTUs. Don’t forget to add additional heat sources to this number – such as windows, workers, or kitchens.

Don’t Go Too Big or Too Small

An AC unit that is too small for your space will result in hot spots and insufficient cooling. Hence, why it might sound like the safest bet is to go with the largest AC unit you can afford – that’ll do the trick, right? Wrong.

Putting too much power to work can actually backfire, causing your system to constantly start up and shut down. This puts a lot of pressure on the system, resulting in it breaking down sooner and needing repairs more frequently. In addition, you’ll be faced with humidity issues. 

Renting Portable Spot Coolers for Commercial Cooling Needs

At Cooling Power, we offer affordable rental rates on a variety of spot coolers. That way you can get the spot cooler you need, when you need it.

Prefer to buy? We also offer spot coolers for sale.

Unsure which is the best option for your business? Contact us today and we are more than happy to help!