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How to Calculate HVAC Load Capacity for Larger Homes

Posted by Howell's Heating & Air on April 17, 2017

HVAC Units for Residential PropertyCalculating load capacity for HVAC systems isn’t always as cut and dry as you might think. While overall square footage is usually the first thing people think about, it’s important that you consider total cubic feet in your HVAC load capacity calculations.

It is also imperative that homeowners take note of the fact that every home is different. Regional weather conditions, insulation, air flow, equipment make & model, and other factors, ultimately all play into how many cubic feet an HVAC system is capable of handling.

If you live in Richmond, Virginia and want an exact estimate of how many HVAC units to install in your home, contact a Howell’s technician to get a precise measurement.

How to Calculate Cubic Feet Inside a Large Home

It’s quite easy to calculate the cubic feet inside your home. The general rule of thumb is to multiply square feet by ceiling height. If you have loft space, vaulted ceilings, or particularly high ceilings, other calculations may have to come into play. But, you should be able to a rough idea of the cubic feet in your home by using this basic calculation.

updating hvac in older homesFor calculating the cubic space in a room with vaulted ceilings, calculate the space up to the point that the vaulting starts. Then, depending on the angle of the vault, multiply the square feet of the room by the height of the vaulted area, then divide this in half. Add the space in the vaulted area to the space below the vaulted area, and you should have a rough estimate of the cubic feet in a room with a vaulted ceiling.

If you live in a 5,000 square foot home and have ten foot high ceilings on all floors, your home probably has approximately 50,000 cubic feet of air space. The higher the ceiling, the more cubic feet of air your home will have.

Here is a link to a very simple volume calculator that will allow you to calculate cubic feet on a room by room basis.

Why HVAC Load Capacity Matters

If you live in a large home and are thinking about putting on an addition, one of the first things you should do is contact an HVAC company. It’s important to find out if your system can handle the extra space. If not, you may need to add capacity to your HVAC system, in addition to whatever home improvement project you’re planning.

HVAC Capacity and Home Renovations

hvac installation richmond vaIf you haven’t put consideration into HVAC capacity when planning or starting a renovation project, you’re likely to end up with some of the HVAC problems prone to occurring in larger homes. You’re also liable to end up with a surprise, big-ticket expense right at the end of the renovation project.

There is nothing worse than finding out after-the-fact, that your HVAC system needs another unit added to be able to handle the extra space. If you haven’t planned accordingly, you may find this out the hard way, because your current system is suddenly no longer capable of heating and cooling the house efficiently. Or you might start feeling cold and hot spots in various areas throughout your home.

Or your energy bills might suddenly skyrocket, because the system is overexerting itself to account for the added space. Either way, this is the sort of thing you should be planning for right at the start of any renovation project.

temperature control zones in large homesIf you’re thinking about HVAC capacity for a renovation project on a big house in Richmond, contact one of our HVAC technicians to give you a professional assessment.

The Rule of Thumb for Calculating HVAC Capacity

If you live in Richmond, VA, we’re in Zone 7 for weather and temperature. We’re lucky to live in a fairly temperate zone, so it doesn’t usually stay too hot or too cold for long periods of time. Your zone plays a huge impact on how many tons of HVAC capacity your system will need.

Very generally speaking, you can estimate a need of about 1 ton of HVAC capacity for every 400 to 800 square feet of space. However, this rough estimate can by no means be used as a definitive calculation. Every home is different. Get a professional opinion before making any decisions about your HVAC system.

HVAC Repair hanover vaIf given the option, you’ll want to have more capacity than you’ll need, rather than less. This will help your system from having to overexert itself under normal conditions and account for any loss of capacity that happens over time. The York Affinity Series Heat Pumps have Energy Star systems that range from 2 to 5 tons of capacity.

Don’t Try to Figure Out HVAC Load Capacity on Your Own

It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to figure out HVAC load capacity on your own. Do yourself a favor and seek the help of a professional. Consider getting estimates from a few reputable HVAC companies in Richmond, VA.

Contact Howell’s Heating & Air to learn more about HVAC load capacity for large homes or to get an estimate for a system’s ability to expand due to a home renovation. We're the ones to call if you need dependable HVAC services in Glen Allen, or anywhere else in the area. Contact us today! 

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