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Understanding Tonnage in Commercial/Industrial HVAC

air-conditioning-units-sunny-roofIf you’re currently looking to install commercial or industrial HVAC equipment for your facility, you’ll immediately encounter the question of how powerful the equipment needs to be and how many units you’ll need to have installed to meet the climate requirements of the facility. In the HVAC industry, the job of determining the heating/cooling output requirements for new installations is called sizing. It doesn’t have a direct connection to the physical size of the units, but rather to their tonnage, a measure of their heating/cooling capacity. 

Understanding what tonnage is will help you grasp what goes into finding the right new HVAC installations—but you’ll absolutely need the assistance of our professionals for the job. Sizing commercial HVAC equipment is a complex task and it needs to be done accurately the first time. You can count on us for any commercial heating and commercial air conditioning installation in Toronto, ON and the Greater Toronto Area.

What Tonnage Means

Tonnage is not a measure of how much a piece of equipment weighs. Rather, it refers to the amount of heat an HVAC unit either sends into a space (heating) or moves out of it (cooling). The standard unit of heat to measure HVAC systems is the British Thermal Unit (BTU), which is the amount of heat necessary to change the temperature of a pound of water by 1°F. This is a small amount, so the BTUs used to measure the capacity of an HVAC system can get large quickly. For example, a basic window unit AC removes 500–10,000 BTUs from a space per hour. Commercial and industrial units are much more powerful, and that can mean cumbersomely large numbers.

The ton is used to make the numbers easier to handle. One ton equals 12,000 BTUs added or removed per hour. This is why the capacity of a large HVAC system is referred to as its tonnage. The average home will use a central HVAC system from 2 to 8 tons. A light commercial HVAC system is up to 25 tons. Standard commercial and industrial HVAC systems can go much higher, often in modular 50-ton units.

“But why is this unit called a ‘ton’?” you might ask. The reason is that 12,000 BTUs is the amount of heat necessary to melt one ton of ice over a 24 hour period. 

Finding the Proper Tonnage

When you hire our experts to install new HVAC systems or add on to existing ones, we’ll go through a careful process of sizing the new units to ensure they provide the right amount of heating and cooling to your facility. Any HVAC installation must find the balance between undersized and oversized. An HVAC system with too much tonnage will cause just as many problems as one that isn’t powerful enough. We will ensure you have a precise sizing of your new commercial or industrial HVAC equipment.

Advantage Airtech Commercial Ltd. is the Double “A” Name with the Triple “A” Rating. Call us for all your commercial and industrial HVAC needs in the Greater Toronto Area.

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