AC Unit Square Footage: How Much Space Do 1-5 Ton AC Cool?

How big should your central AC or mini split system be to adequately cool your home on the hottest days?

You will need between 15 and 25 BTUs of AC capacity per square foot of space you want to cool based on your climate.

You will find all the details below including charts for:

  • How many square feet ACs from 1 ton to 5 tons cool
  • What size AC you need for 1,000 to 3,000 square foot home

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How Much Space Do 1-5 Ton ACs Cool?

This AC Size per Square Foot Table was created for moderate climates. If you live in the North, then a smaller central AC, mini split or even a room unit will be sufficient.

In very warm climates, a larger AC is required to keep the home cooled and effectively dehumidified too.

How many square feet does a 1 – 5 ton air conditioner cool?

AC Unit Capacity (Ton)Cooling Capacity Square Feet
1 Ton450 - 600 sq ft
1.5 Ton650 - 825 sq ft
2 Ton850 - 1,000 sq ft
2.5 Ton1,100 - 1,300 sq ft
3 Ton1,400 - 1,600 sq ft
3.5 Ton1,650 - 1,800 sq ft
4 Ton1,850 - 2,100 sq ft
5 Ton2,400 - 3,000 sq ft

* Based on average home in a moderate climate

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How many square feet does a 3 ton air conditioner cool?

The Table gives the answer. Find 3 Ton in the left column labeled AC Unit Capacity. Scan to the right, and you’ll see that a 3 ton AC can cool 1,400 to 1,600 square feet in most homes.

A 1.5 ton AC covers how many square feet?

Again, using the chart above, locate 1.5 Ton in the left column to find the answer. A 1.5 ton central AC, mini split or even a large window unit will effectively cool and dehumidify up to 825 square feet.

AC Sizing Tip: It is crucial that you get the right size/capacity air conditioning system for your home.

A certified HVAC technician should do a load calculation based on a long list of factors – home size, insulation value, windows and types, climate, etc. – to precisely determine the AC tonnage of air conditioning needed to keep your home comfortable on the hottest, most humid days.

Info Tip: The Table also works for a heat pump, since heat pumps provide air conditioning as well as heating. In summer, their refrigerant gathers heat indoors and dumps it outside. The system works in the opposite way in winter, collecting heat outdoors, and releasing it in your home.

What Size AC Do I Need for 1000 to 3000 Square Foot House?

That’s a key question – How big should my air conditioner be?

As a rule, central and mini split air conditioners can serve about 450 to 600 square foot per ton of air conditioning based on your climate and load calculation factors related to your home such as insulation value, quality of the windows, etc.

This Table gives very close estimates for square foot per ton of cooling.

what size ac unit do i need for 1,000 – 3,000 sq ft house

Square Feet (sq ft)AC Unit Size (Ton)
1,000 sq ft2 Ton
1,200 sq ft2.5 Ton
1,300 sq ft2.5 Ton
1,400 sq ft3 Ton
1,500 sq ft3 Ton
1,600 sq ft3 Ton
1,700 sq ft3.5 Ton
1,800 sq ft3.5 Ton
2,000 sq ft4 Ton
2,400 sq ft4.5 Ton
2,500 sq ft5 Ton
3,000 sq ft5 Ton

* Based on average home in a moderate climate

What is the 2 ton AC unit square footage?

To find the answer using the chart, locate 2 Ton in the right column labeled AC Unit Size (Ton). Look to the left, and you’ll see that a 2 ton air conditioner cools around 1,000 square feet.

What is the square footage for 2.5 ton AC unit?

Here’s how to find the answer. Locate 2.5 Ton on the table, and you’ll see that a 2.5 ton central AC or mini split heat pump has the cooling capacity for 1,200 to 1,300 square feet.

What size AC do I need for a 2,000 square foot house?

First, find 2000 sq. ft. in the left column. In the right column, you will find the answer. A 4 ton AC is the right choice for most 2000 square foot houses.


Here are common questions related to the topic of AC square footage per AC tonnage or BTU.

How many square feet per ton of AC?

Each ton of AC is designed to cool between 450 and 600 square feet.

  • If you live in a northern, cool climate, you need 1 ton of AC per about 600 square feet.
  • In moderate climates, 1 ton for around 500-550 square feet is appropriate.
  • In warm climates, expect 1 ton of AC to cool about 450 square feet.

Tip: See the Table above labeled How many square feet does 1-5 ton air conditioner cool? It shows square feet per ton of AC from 1 ton to 5 tons with most half-tons too.

What about a 2 ton heat pump square footage?

In Cool Mode, a heat pump will air condition the same number of square feet as an AC. Using either Chart above, you can see that the 2 ton heat pump square footage is up to 1000.

What size heat pump do I need for a 2500 square foot house?

The answer is a 5 ton AC. Most homes from about 2500 to 3000 square feet require a 5 ton air conditioner. The Tables above both verify that answer.

Is it better to oversize or undersize an AC?

The right size AC is always best, and that’s why your HVAC technician should do a load calculation.

However, if you had to choose one or the other, it is better to undersize the AC. Sure, it will take longer for the cooler temperature to be reached, but most ACs will maintain it once it is achieved.

An oversized AC will cycle on and off frequently. This has three negative effects. It will waste energy. Short cycling causes mechanical damage. And fast on/off cycles do not remove as much humidity. The result will be a cool and clammy house.

Written by

Rene has worked 10 years in the HVAC field and now is the Senior Comfort Specialist for PICKHVAC. He holds an HVAC associate degree and EPA & R-410A Certifications.

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