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How Long Should an AC Stay Off Between Cycles? [2021] Service Emperor

AC Thermometer

There’s nothing better than cooling off in a room with great air conditioning on extremely hot days in Georgia. If the air conditioner runs continuously, you might initially appreciate the comfort its cool air brings. However, air conditioners that cycle or turn on too often usually indicate a problem.

Understanding how long your air conditioner should run will increase your comfort indoors and prevent the system from producing excess stress that will cause a premature breakdown. This article will explore how long an AC unit should run and the factors that contribute to its cycling frequency.

What Is an Air Conditioner Cycle?

An AC cycle refers to how long the unit runs to cool your home. It’s normal for the air conditioning system to turn on and off, especially during the sweltering summer months. Whenever the system is running, it’s on a cycle.

The thermostat plays a significant role in air conditioning cycle time. Suppose there is a drastic difference between the set temperature on the thermostat and the actual indoor temperature. In that case, the cooling cycle will last longer to match the temperature indoors to the set one.

Conversely, a higher thermostat setting will result in a shorter cooling period. The equipment will stay off between cycles longer.

Short Cycles

A properly operating air conditioner will not turn on too frequently. If an air conditioner turns on less than ten minutes from its previous cycle, the system is short cycling.

Short cycling is a serious issue because it forces the compressor unit to run continuously and turn on several times within an hour. A frequent AC compressor cycle will produce excess stress on the component, resulting in irreparable damage to the equipment and the system as a whole.

Short cycling may occur due to several issues, like:

  • A faulty thermostat
  • Dirty filters
  • Dirty coils
  • Frozen coils
  • Clogged air filter
  • A faulty low pressure control switch

Long Cycles

Short cycling isn’t the only issue your system could have. An air conditioner with long cycles runs for a long time and rarely stops between cycles. It usually indicates several problems with the system, such as:

  • Clogged air filter
  • Improper cooling system sizing
  • Low refrigerant or a refrigerant leak

An unbearably hot day could also cause air conditioners to have long cycles because more heat and humidity are entering the property than the cooling units can address. As a result, utility bills will skyrocket.

Ideal Cycle Times for an Air Conditioner Unit

So, if the system shouldn’t have long or short cycles, how long should an air conditioner run? Ideally, air conditioning systems should cycle for 15 to 20 minutes. Instead of frequently turning on or running continuously, the air conditioner will turn on two or three times an hour.

A high temperature inside or outside your house will increase cycling times.

Factors Contributing to the Cycle Times of an Air Conditioning System

Below are more details for air conditioning issues that often lead to the system’s frequent turning on and off.

AC Unit and Room Size

The air conditioner size should accommodate the size of the property it’s cooling. If the system is too small for a large room, the equipment will have to work harder to reach and maintain the temperature on the thermostat.

However, the system will short cycle if the unit is too big for a smaller room. The AC turn-on time will be quicker because it won’t take long to reach the thermostat temperature, resulting in short cycling.

Leaking Refrigerant

Your air conditioner’s refrigerant levels affect its functionality. Low refrigerant causes overheating, which leads to short cycling. A lack of refrigerant also prevents the system from properly cooling the house.

Outside Temperature

It can get scorching hot in Georgia. When temperatures are highest, the air conditioner will run more often to keep indoors feeling cool. On cooler days, the AC won’t have to work as hard.

Thermostat Placement and Setting

Many people don’t realize that the location of their thermostats contributes to long and short cycling times. Ideally, an HVAC technician should install the equipment in a central location within the home. Otherwise, the thermostat can get false readings that trigger it to turn on.

For instance, a thermostat near the kitchen can cause the device to read warmth from the stove as the heat from outside. The cooling system will run more often, leading to uncomfortable temperatures and prematurely worn down parts.

Maintaining your home’s HVAC system is essential for its functionality without putting additional stress on its components. However, it’s best to leave AC system maintenance to the professionals at Service Emperor.

Based in Savannah, GA, and serving Pooler and other surrounding areas, Service Emperor is the community’s go-to source for superior HVAC services. With over 15 years of experience, these technicians are masters of residential and commercial HVAC and refrigeration. If your AC unit is long or short cycling, be sure to contact Service Emperor today at 912-231-5430 for assistance.

 

Tersh Blissett

Tersh Blissett

CEO of Service Emperor and part-time HVAC Guru

Connect With Tersh on LinkedIn

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