When you want to stay cool and comfortable in the face of an Albuquerque summer, or warm and cozy during the winter, you’re probably thinking, “The bigger the AC or furnace—the better!” While we wouldn’t fault you for thinking that, we do want to make some clarifications. You see, HVAC systems work best when they’re installed at the right size, not just at any size. Why does it work this way, and what can happen if you forgo correctly sizing your heating or cooling system? The experts at B. Carlson Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing are here to clue you in on why size matters.
We’ve continuously said that a proper heating and cooling system for your home has to be unique. It has to be sized specifically for your home and needs, and without these specifications you can end up with a lot of trouble. There are some excellent articles on the topic (and some we highly recommend), but let’s delve into exactly why this is the case.
The Problems with an Undersized HVAC System
Understanding why a system that is too small can’t keep up is simple enough. Not enough power, too much space. Your HVAC system has to be able to both heat and cool your home, and dehumidify at the same time—starting with the dehumidification. If it’s too weak to get past the first phase, it never actually gets around to heating or cooling your home, leading to a system that mostly putters and does little else. And it will putter all day trying to keep up with the home’s needs. That means it runs far too much, eating up tons of electricity, which can increase your utility bills in a hurry, while also speeding the unit along to a premature breakdown.
Oversized Is Bad as Well
And for similar reasons! The problem with an oversized unit is that it’s going to do its job too well. Or more specifically, too quickly. In the case of an AC unit that is way too large for a home, the unit will kick on, suck up some moisture, blast your home with a brief burst of cold air, and then call it a day.
This is called “short-cycling,” and it happens because the system detects that the air is cool and then the thermostat shuts the unit down. But cooling systems were developed to run over time and gradually fill your home with air, not just chill you for a moment and then go away. In this short-cycling scenario, the cool air never really permeates and your home’s temperature can’t stabilize.
Short-cycling also introduces tons of excess wear on a unit, meaning your big, beefy AC unit is actually going to last for a very brief and disappointing amount of time before needing to be replaced.
How Do I Correctly Size an HVAC System?
Proper AC unit sizing starts with the Manual J load calculation—the accepted method put forth by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America used to determine the cooling load your home needs. That’s why working with a trained specialist is so important! If you’re looking for some clear signs on your own, we recommend checking your cycle times. If the system runs at all hours, it’s probably too small. If it runs for a few minutes and kicks off, it’s probably too large. The same problem can occur with your furnace or heating system as well.
Need the assistance of a trained and certified heating and cooling specialist? Contact B. Carlson online now or call 505-225-3016 to speak with our HVAC experts in the Albuquerque, NM area!