Nobody wants to have to deal with putting in a new central heating system in the middle of winter, but if your old heater has to go, or you’re in a new house that hasn’t had its first installation yet, then you don’t have much choice. But as long as you rely on professional HVAC service in Lansdale, PA, there’s no reason the replacement/installation shouldn’t go fast and end up delivering you the exact right heater for your needs. And a big part of doing the job right is accurately sizing the new heating system.
What “Sizing” Means for Heating Systems
When we talk about sizing your heating system, we mean finding the right sized heater to match your house and your comfort needs. But size, in this case, doesn’t mean the actual physical space the heating system takes up. Of course, you can’t have a heater that’s too physically large to fit in your home, but most residential heating systems take up about the same amount of space. The size that we’re concerned about is the size of heating power; i.e. how much heat can the system produce.
The power of a heating system is measured in tonnage. This has nothing to do with the weight of the system, but the “tons” of heat it can put out. (The reason this is called tonnage is that the measurement is based on the amount of heat necessary to melt a ton of ice.)
The Heat Load Calculation
For our technicians to determine the tonnage of a new heating system for your home, they must perform a heat load calculation. This involves taking various factors about the house that affect how much heat output is necessary for comfort without energy waste. Here are some of the factors our technicians use:
- The square footage of the house and volume of the rooms.
- The number of people in the household.
- The number of lights and heat-creating appliances.
- Insulation levels.
- Windows and their facing.
- Weather conditions.
Once our technicians have plugged in these factors, they can make the calculation and get a specific number of heat tons for the heating system.
Why Not Just Go With a Big Heating System?
People often have this misunderstanding about heating system size. “Why not err on the side of too big, rather than too small?” This may make some sense—you can’t have too much heat, you can just lower the thermostat. But you absolutely can have too much heat, and an oversized heating system will create as many problems as an undersized one. The big problem with an oversized heater is that it will rapidly shut off when the thermostat senses too early that the heater has reached its target temperature. Not only will the heater not run long enough to spread comfort evenly around the house, but the rapid start-stop cycle (called short-cycling) will waste large amounts of energy and wear the heater down so it needs more repairs and early retirement.
When you work with our technicians, they’ll ensure you have the right sized heater put in the first time.