What Size HVAC Do I Need? Part 2: Larger vs. Smaller

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This is part two of a three-part series on finding the right size HVAC system for your needs. Read part one here

In part one of our series, we talked about six factors to consider when choosing the right size HVAC for your home. Today, we’ll compare large and small systems and show you the benefits of both.

Larger is Not Always Better

A common misconception is that a larger HVAC system is always better. In fact, the larger the system, the more money you’ll spend on heating and cooling. There are a few reasons people tend to lean towards the “larger is better” mentality. First, their previous HVAC installer said so. Unfortunately, many installers will give you false information specifically to get you to buy the larger system. Your system should be just enough to cool and heat your home, not overdo it. The real reason many installers will give you a larger system is that it will require more maintenance and repairs down the road, leading to more money for their company. It’s a shady, but a common practice.

Larger Systems Require More Energy

As your system starts up, it will pull the most amperage (current) from your home as indicated by the LRA (Locked Rotor Amperage) on the sticker/manufacturer tag on the system. Afterwards, the system will use a continuous flow of significantly less (sometimes up to 75% less) amperage. For example, a system could start up and use 145A for a brief period of time, until the system gets going, then drop down to about 30A continuously. Now imagine the energy usage and strain on your system when it cools the house in a matter of minutes, just to find that it needs to kick on again in about 45 minutes because of the heat/cold outside or poor insulation. Now it has to start up again and pull that 145A current.

Smaller Systems – The Risks and Benefits

A smaller system can take a bit longer to heat or cool your home, but the installer should know if the system has the capabilities to properly regulate your home’s temperature. One problem many find with the smaller systems is that they can be loud when working at their highest capacity, so let your installer know if you prefer a quieter system. Some of the benefits of smaller systems include:

  • Greater energy efficiency: because the system will run at a constant current for longer periods of time.
  • Saves you money: when the system runs at a constant current, it doesn’t have to use extra energy to keep restarting.
  • Low installation costs: the smaller the system, the less expensive to install.
  • Easy to maintain.

The problem with deciding on a smaller system is that you may just go too small. If it’s too small, as you might guess, it can’t properly heat and cool your home because it doesn’t have the power to do so.

The best size system you can get is one that is tailored to your home’s specifications. A properly-sized system is much more efficient and comfortable than any smaller or larger system can ever do.

Stay tuned for part three of this guide on choosing the right size HVAC system for your home! We’ll focus on how you can find an honest HVAC contractor to perfectly size your system and install it.

About the author

This three-part series is written by guest blogger, Ryan Gavin, an associate of Comfort Pro, an HVAC installation company in Reading, PA. Ryan writes on varying topics from how to stay the most comfortable in your home, to technical requirements for HVAC systems.

About us

“The CRT Tipster” is an HVAC tips and news blog owned by Controlled Release Technologies, Inc. We are a chemical manufacturing company based in Shelby, N.C., and have been creating independently-certified, green products for HVAC maintenance since 1986. Read more atcleanac.com. Got a question? Contact us toll free at 1-800-766-9057.

1 comments on “What Size HVAC Do I Need? Part 2: Larger vs. Smaller”

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