How to Figure Out What Size Air Conditioner You Need

When looking to purchase a window air conditioner for your home or apartment, you need to know the size required for the area that needs cooled.
Calculate the room size when selecting the size of air conditioner.Calculate the room size when selecting the size of air conditioner.
The size of the air conditioner depends on the number of British thermal units, or Btu, needed to cool the room sufficiently. If you purchase an air conditioner with too few Btu for a large space, it will run constantly to keep the area cool. Too large of an air conditioner to cool a small space will also result in needless costs.

Step 1

Calculate the square footage in the area the air conditioner will cool by multiplying the footage. For instance, if a room measures 10 feet wide by 12 feet long the square footage is 120 square feet, or 10 times 12, and a larger space such as 20 feet long and 22 feet wide is 440 square feet, or 20 times 22.

Step 2

Determine the location of the space. Consider issues like whether the room is located on the south side of the house, where it receives more sunlight, or on the north side, where little sun reaches the room. The more sunlight that shines through windows, the more Btu the room requires to keep it cool. A kitchen requires higher Btu than a bedroom that is shaded from the sun because of the heat from cooking.

Step 3

Estimate the number of Btu needed for the room size. For a room size of 150 to 250 square feet, you need a 7000 Btu capacity, while a large space of 1,000 to 1,200 square feet requires 21,000 Btu. Take into consideration the location of the room and subtract a shaded and well-insulated room by 10 percent Btu. By the same token, a room such as a kitchen, or a space with all day sunlight filtering through would add 10 percent Btu.

About the Author

Constance Barker, located in the hills of southern Ohio, is the owner and writer of several financial, credit report and travel websites. She started writing in 1999 for private clients and began creating website content in 2004. She gained expertise in home improvement after she and her husband built their home themselves.