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Short #60 – How Cold Should it Get Inside?

In this short podcast, Bryan discusses the ever-controversial topic of indoor temperature in the summer.

The old “20-degree rule” has come up many times, and it's time to put it to rest. Not to be confused with the 20-degree delta T rule, the 20-degree rule basically states that the home A/C system can only maintain temperatures up to 20 degrees below the outdoor temperature. For example, if the ambient temperature is 95°F, the indoor temperature should be able to stay around 75°F.

However, that differential is not a fixed value. For example, if the outdoor temperature were to reach 105°F when the unit has 95° design conditions, the system capacity would decrease. The unit will not perform as expected, putting out fewer BTUs than it would under design conditions. Design conditions also account for latent load; that is why A/C systems in the arid Southwest USA can keep up with much hotter ambient temperatures than those in humid Florida. In Florida, we design for a higher latent load and must avoid oversizing; these conditions take away from designed equipment's sensible capacity. Correct sizing prevents short cycles and keeps humidity at bay.

As it gets colder outside, an HVAC system will also have a lower heating capacity. Heat is a function of the temperature differential; heat may enter or leave the home via conduction (through walls) or radiation (through windows), and it will attempt to reach equilibrium. The only way to get around these heat gains and losses is to check the expanded performance data and perform load calculations (Manual J) to design the ideal system. You must design the equipment to maintain a specific differential under a standard set of conditions.

Learn more about Refrigeration Technologies HERE.

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