Understanding the Electrical Requirements for AC Installation

Air conditioning systems are lifesavers during San Diego’s hot summer season. However, AC units require a lot of energy to operate and won’t run properly if your home doesn’t match their energy demands. That’s why Maximum Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning is here to explain everything you need to know about electrical requirements for AC installation to help you determine whether your home matches your new unit’s needs.

Maximum Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning is East San Diego’s trusted air conditioning installation company. If you want premium heating and cooling services without the premium fees, contact Maximum Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning.

An Introduction to Electrical System Terminology

Before shopping for a new air conditioner, it’s important to understand some rudimentary electrical terms that correlate with HVAC systems. Understanding these terms will also make it easier to find an energy-efficient model.

Air conditioner manufacturers typically list three electrical measurements on their products’ packaging:

  • Wattage
  • Voltage
  • Amperes


Wattage determines how much energy an air conditioner needs to operate. It shows homeowners the unit’s power requirements and how it will affect their monthly energy payments. To put it simply, the higher the system’s wattage, the more power it needs to run.

Remember, high-wattage air conditioners will cost more to function, so keep that in mind when shopping for a new unit.


Voltage refers to how much force an electrical system uses to push energy to electronic devices. U.S. homes have two voltages:

  • 120
  • 240

Most small appliances use 120 volts since they don’t need much power. However, large fixtures like AC units require more volts and use 240. 


Amperes, also called amperage, measure the electricity running through a circuit. Large systems with higher wattage demands typically need more amperes than smaller units with low wattage requirements. If your air conditioner doesn’t have enough amperes, it will trip a circuit breaker to protect electrical wires and prevent fires.

These measurements work together to power your AC unit and keep electrical appliances running.

Electrical Requirements for Various Air Conditioning Models

An air conditioner’s energy requirements range depending on the model. Smaller, less efficient systems usually don’t require as much energy as large, powerful units. Below are some common types of air conditioners and their energy demands.

  • Central air conditioners: around 208 volts
  • Window air conditioners: around 110 volts
  • Mini-split air conditioners: around 208 volts

How Much Energy Does a Home Need to Support an Air Conditioning System?

Again, your home’s electrical requirements for AC installation depend on the air conditioner you install. That said, most homes have central air conditioners since they provide adequate cooling for large indoor spaces. However, some small residences and apartments have window units or another less demanding system since they don’t need to cool as much space.

If you want to install a traditional air conditioner in your home, it needs at least 200 amps to support the unit as well as your other electrical fixtures and appliances.

If you’re unsure whether your home has ample energy for your desired unit, you can hire a professional electrician to perform an electrical evaluation. They will evaluate your property’s electrical system and complete multiple tests to determine whether it can support your new air conditioner. If your home doesn’t meet your AC unit’s energy requirements, you can upgrade your electrical system before installing a new air conditioner.

Three Tips for Installing a New Air Conditioning System in a San Diego Home

Every San Diego homeowner wants their air conditioner to run at its highest efficiency level without adversely affecting their electrical system. Below are a few tips to ensure your air conditioner reaches its full potential:

1. Give the Unit Its Own Circuit Breaker

It’s no secret that air conditioners require a lot of energy to maintain your desired indoor climate. Dedicating a breaker to your unit will ensure it has enough power to operate optimally without negatively impacting other electrical appliances. A dedicated circuit breaker will also protect the unit from power surges, preventing multiple issues that could cause it to break down. 

2. Have an Electrician Assess Your Home’s Interior To Determine Your Unit’s Cooling Load

An air conditioner’s cooling load determines how much space it can cool efficiently. Large properties with numerous rooms require more powerful air conditioners with higher cooling loads. Installing a unit that can’t accommodate your interior will lead to poor cooling and other HVAC problems.

It’s best to hire an electrician to evaluate your interior and determine which air conditioner best suits your property. They will look at:

  • Your property’s number of rooms
  • Each room’s size
  • The property type (home, business, apartment, etc.)

An electrician’s evaluation will ensure you purchase the correct air conditioner for your property and determine whether you need to upgrade your electrical system.

3. Consider Moving Your Thermostat To Increase Unit Efficiency

The thermostat acts as your air conditioner’s brain and sends important information to it whenever you adjust your home’s temperature settings. However, improperly placed thermostats can diminish your AC unit’s efficiency and energy consumption.

Thermostats near or in direct sunlight will incorrectly judge your home’s indoor temperature and activate your unit unnecessarily. Conversely, if the thermostat is in a drafty or particularly cold room, it won’t turn on your air conditioner when the rest of your home becomes hot.

Always install your thermostat in a space that best represents your home’s indoor climate.

Contact Maximum Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning for All Your Heating and Cooling Needs in San Diego, California

If you need to know your home’s electrical requirements for AC installation, contact Maximum Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning. Our team will ensure your home supports your air conditioner while handling the installation process from start to finish. Whether you need professional AC maintenance or want to upgrade your property’s electrical system, contact Maximum Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning.

Give Maximum Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning a call at (619) 949-1379 and upgrade your home with a new AC unit today!