Air Conditioner Longevity

I was talking with a friend the other day when she asked. How old do you think my air conditioner is? Keep in mind this was central air for the whole house. I guessed 20 years. She said “More”. “25”. “More”. “30”. “More”. “I give up”. “47 years old”.

Wow, this is unbelievable. 47 years. I guess if you keep up the maintenance they can last a long time. When I think of a noisy air conditioner, I imagine a rusty old machine with the fan making an annoying whirr. I guess this is about right. But if it’s working fine and keeping the house cool, and a new one costs over $4,000 I can see the motivation behind keeping it.

But this is when an old Air Conditioning System can disturb the outside entertainment. You are having a good conversation when “BAM” the a/c kicks on and wow, it’s noisy. You have to talk louder just to be heard.

According to the Department of Energy an air conditioner uses more than 2,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. This causes power plants to emit about 3,500 pounds of carbon dioxide and 31 pounds of sulfur dioxide.

There was a contest done by for the oldest working air conditioner. A woman won with a 49 year old ancient model.

I saw one on You Tube that was almost 50 years old. This led me to researching when modern air conditioning was actually invented. It was first invented in 1902 by Willis Carrier in Buffalo, New York.

The first air conditioners used toxic or flammable gases such as ammonia, methyl chloride, or propane that resulted in some fatal accidents. In 1928 the first non-flammable and non-toxic gas was created called Freon which is still used today, although in a more sophisticated form called HCFCs (R-22, used in most homes today) and HFCs (R-134a, used in most cars).

I started wondering how you can determine the size of the air conditioner that you need and found a handy calculator at Alpine Home Air. A 3,000 square foot 2 story home in Daytona Beach would require 4.5 tons which is about 54,000 BTU’s.
How many BTU’s are there per ton? Here you go:

1.5 ton = 18,000 BTU 2.0 ton = 24,000 BTU 2.5 ton = 30,000 BTU 3.0 ton = 36,000 BTU 3.5 ton = 42,000 BTU 4.0 ton = 48,000 BTU 5.0 ton = 60,000 BTU