Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing Blog

How Much Power Can an Air Conditioner Have?


Last month we wrote about how an air conditioning system can be too powerful, or oversized, for a home. An air conditioner that provides excessive tons of cooling for a home will start to short-cycle, turning itself off too early and turning back on soon after. This wastes power and causes the AC to age rapidly toward an early replacement and too many needs for AC repair in Frederick, MD in the meantime.

But whenever people hear about an oversized air conditioning system, a few start to think, “But how powerful an AC can I get? Isn’t there some sort of AC that can ‘super-cool’ my house for the hottest days?”

This is a separate issue from proper air conditioning sizing. Air conditioning systems have limits on how much they can change the temperature inside a home and have these limits for good reason.

An AC Can Change the Temperature by 20°F Maximum

How low can an AC go? It can remove enough thermal energy from the air of a house to lower the temperature by 20°F. In other words, on an 85°F day, a residential air conditioning system can cool the house down to 65°F. Which is probably too cold for most people, honestly.

This calculation doesn’t take into account several other factors that affects the temperature in a home, such as insulation keeping out excess heat, heat gain through windows or from appliances, or an AC that isn’t the right size. A home with good insulation, windows closed to block extra heat, and an accurately sized AC should have few problems maintaining the necessary comfort even during 100°F heat.

Don’t Push Lower than 20°F

To help your AC work without strain or energy waste, please don’t try to press the air conditioning to cool your house more than 20°F. If you do, the air conditioner will continue to run without stop because it’s attempting to reach a temperature setting that’s outside its capacity. In fact, we recommend you try to raise the thermostat to as warm a temperature as your household finds comfortable. The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperature, the slower heat will enter the house.

A good target to aim for is 78°F, which is the energy-saving setting the US Department of Energy recommends. If this is too warm for your household, drop back a few degrees, and then raise the setting one degree each day to help everyone get used to 78°F.

The 20°F Limit Is There for Good Reasons

To go back to the earlier question: why not make an air conditioner that can lower the temperature further? Because it’s neither energy efficient nor comfortable for an AC to blast out this much cooling. The air from the vents would need to be frigid in order to exceed the 20°F differential, and that would not only use massive amounts of electricity, it would make parts of the house too cold. Anyone near one of the vents would probably have to put on a coat!

Creating cooling and energy savings in a house takes balance. You can rely on our technicians to help you locate that balance.

Call on Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing: We pledge to exceed expectations at every turn.