Choosing the Right HVAC System for your Florida Home

In Choosing the right HVAC system for your Florida Home, there are a number of variables that come into play for the correct and optimal cooling and potential heating of your home.

Obviously the goal is to only install a single system that has the power and cooling capacity to maintain the level of comfort that you are looking to achieve.

Some of the Key Factors that ultimately determine your HVAC Unit size are:
  • Square Footage
  • HVAC Load
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Zoning and Thermostatic Controls
  • Air Quality and Filtration
  • Duct positions and Insultation
  • Warranty and Maintenance

It is notable to mention the Unit of BTU (British Thermal Unit). This is a unit of measure  that denotes how much energy your HVAC system is going to use to remove heat from your home within a one hour period. This is the Unit of Measure used to gauge the size of an HVAC unit. You may have heard a friend or neighbor say "I needed a 5000 BTU unit for my house.". They're refering the size of the HVAC Unit.

How do I determine a BTU?

IECC climate zone map

This is a Thermal Zone Map (As defined by the (US DoE), and based upon the information as defined from the US Department of Energy we in Florida are defined as a Zone 2 area. A Zone 2 Area is, simply put a Hot & Humid.


As denoted by the US DoE:

A hot-humid climate is defined as a region that receives more than
20 inches (50 cm) of annual precipitation and where one or both of
the following occur:
• A 67°F (19.5°C) or higher wet bulb temperature for 3,000 or more
hours during the warmest six consecutive months of the year; or
• A 73°F (23°C) or higher wet bulb temperature for 1,500 or more
hours during the warmest six consecutive months of the year.
The Building America hot-humid climate zone includes the portions
of IECC zones 1, 2, and 3 that are in the moist category (A) below
the “warm-humid” line shown on the IECC map.

That definetly fits Florida.
As such, a Zone 2 Area requires 30 to 50 BTUs per square foot to offer sufficient cooling.

A true BTU calculation will take your ceiling height and the size of your doorways and windows into consideration.

Now Determining the Needed BTUs for your Florida home is a some what easy to use formula, sorry people who don't like math:

BTU = Square Footage × 20

So to figure a basic BTU capacity for a 1, 200 square foot home the formula would read as:

1200 x 20 = 24,000

Now this is ultra basic. as we mentioned above a true BTU Calculation would also take your doors and window size into calculation as well.

However our friends over at Trane have a BTU Table for reference:

House Square Footage

BTUs Needed
100-150 5,000
150-250 6,000
250-300 7,000
300-350 8,000
350-400 9,000
400-450 10,000
450-500 12,000
500-700 14,000
700-1,000 18,000
1,000-1,200 21,000
1,200-1,400 23,000
1,400-1,500 24,000
1,500-2,000 30,000
2,000-2,500 34,000

The Table above can be found on the Trane Website.

Energy Efficiency

Being energy conscience is also a concern when purchasing a new HVAC unit, especially here in Florida. Finding the right system that cools and/or heats your home efficiently and cost-effectively is why you really should consult a Trained and Certified HVAC Technician.

However as we've discussed in other articles the SEER Rating of your Unit is really what you're going to be targeting after the BTUs.

But do keep in mind there will be environmental considerations to take into account here as well, such as basic aesthetic choices as roof color or the number of occupants in the house or apartment.

Air Quality & Filtration

Improving and maintaining Air Quality is one of the main features of any HVAC system. Good Air usually equals good health. You're going to want to choose a system that has ideal Filtration and Air Quality handling, considering our moist and hot climate of South Florida. Systems that can help manage item such as mold, mildew, humidity, and air flow are the ones to give serious weight to. 

If you or anyone in your household has lung or breathing problems, also consider looking into systems that offer or are compatible with HEPA filters, or offer germicidal lights, that help trap or eliminate airborne allergens.

Zoning & Thermostat Controls

Typically and dependent on the square footage of your home or apartment, you have a single thermostat that control the overall temperature of your space. In more recent times, zoning or zone control has offered homeowners even more efficient cooling and heating opportunities.

By Zoning or Segmenting on or off areas of your house for cooling or heating, you can save money on your electric bills, as your HVAC System will not have as high a load on it, and it will not have to work as hard to cool an area.

There are two types of HVAC zoning: Sensor based and System Based.

  • Sensor Based: This is a good option, if you're not replacing your AC system but looking to help manage the temperature in sections of your home. It can be applied to new systems as well.
  • System Based: This option lets you set specific temperatures for each individual area. You'll need to install dampners within the ductwork of the HVAC system, so it can control the airflow.

Another option for a System Based Zonal Control is installing air handler for each room. This option could get expensive.Consult with your HVAC System Technican or Consultant to see if this is a viable option for your space.

Thermostats have become increasingly more accurate over the years, and offer you far more control over controlling the temperature of your home.

Programmable Thermostats are still available, and offer you to set schedules for daily temperature changes. This can be a great choice for energy and cost saving.

Zoning Panels and Smart Thermostats also offer more flexibility in the control of your HVAC System.

Your HVAC Technician or Consultant should be able to recommend a thermostat that is idea for your needs, as well as ensure it's compatiblity with your HVAC system.

Warranty & Maintenance

Most HVAC Systems come with Warranties, especially with new System installations. Generally, your HVAC Installer or Service Technican will inform you of the Warranty, and supply you with a copy of said Warranty.

Warranty Exclusions and Terms are defined on a Manufacturer by Manufacturer basis, however they generally cover the components of core system for a range of 1 to 20 years.

Service and Labor warranties are generally provided by the HVAC Services Companies. Inquire with yours which parts labor and other items are included with your HVAC Services.

Don't let the Seller of a new home think he has the advantage on you with a newly installed system. You as the new home buyer get the benefits of that Warranty, so make sure the warranty information is in your house buying documents as well.

Usually with a new System installation you're offered a Maintenance plan, that most people turn down. It's highly advisable that you don't. That maintenance plan can save you time, money and ensure that your system is running optimally in the hot climate of Florida.

For questions on quotes, system sizes, warranties or maintenance plans, contact us at Arctic Air Home Services or call us at 941-297-0992. We're here to assist you!