How Long Should An AC Run After Reaching The Right Temperature?

Figuring out how your air conditioner works can be challenging, especially if you're unfamiliar with how HVAC systems work.

Fortunately, there's an easy way to check - the air conditioning cycle.

An air conditioning cycle indicates how long it takes your AC to cool your home to the temperature you set on the thermostat.

So, you might ask, "how long should an AC run after reaching temperature?" The answer has a lot to do with your AC's running cycle.

If you're unsure about how long your AC should run once it's hit the target temperature, keep reading for a closer look.

So, How Long Should an AC Run After Reaching the Desired Temperature?

Once the air conditioner reaches the temperature set on the thermostat, it will run for a while longer before switching off.

It's never more than 15 to 20 minutes. Of course, the unit will be on, but the compressor will not be running.

Sometimes your AC could have short or long cycles, and this could point to issues in your air conditioning unit.

Air conditioner with blue ribbons flying over the air stream produced by the fan

Air Conditioner Cycles and What They Mean

There are three cycles on your AC to diagnose its condition. Here's what they mean.

  • Long cycles: Your AC may run longer than usual due to low refrigerant or dirty filters, but it can also happen on particularly hot days.
  • Short cycles: If your AC keeps shutting off after less than 10 minutes, it could be caused by leaking compressor or thermostat errors. It's best to call a professional when this happens.
  • Perfect cycles: Ideally, your AC should cycle three or four times an hour, with each cycle lasting 15-20 minutes, although more energy-efficient systems may run longer

Factors That Affect Your AC Unit's Running Cycle

Several factors can influence your AC unit's running cycle.

Addressing these factors is key to optimizing your AC's performance, ensuring efficient cooling, and maintaining your desired temperature. Here are a few:

1. Thermostat Configuration

Your thermostat setting significantly impacts your AC unit's running cycle.

A big difference between the indoor and outdoor set temperatures may cause your AC to run constantly.

For instance, setting your thermostat at 65 degrees when it's 100 degrees outside can strain your AC unit.

2. AC Size

An AC unit that's too small for your home will struggle to meet your cooling needs, leading to continuous running and inefficient cooling cycles.

Ensure your home's AC unit is the right size to optimize cooling performance.

3. Air Leakage

Leaks in your ductwork or around windows and doors can let the conditioned air escape, forcing your AC unit to work harder and run more frequently.

4. Extreme Heat

On exceptionally hot days, it's natural for your AC unit to run more often to maintain the set temperature.

5. Uncleaned Coil

Dirty cooling coils can hinder your AC unit's ability to remove heat from your home, causing it to run longer cycles.

6. AC Condition

As AC units age, their efficiency in cooling decreases, resulting in longer cycles and higher energy bills.

Be sure to read: How Much Does Air Conditioning Cost To Run?

How Many Hours Can An AC Run?

Generally, an AC can run for 24 hours a day without any significant problems.

Air conditioners are designed to handle extended use, and some surveys even suggest that an AC unit can run non-stop for an entire week without issue.

However, this continuous use may lead to higher electric bills, especially if the AC is not energy-efficient.

While an AC can run for many hours, it's essential to ensure it's not overworking and to have regular maintenance to avoid wear and tear.

Hand with remote control directed on air conditioner. Home air conditioning concept

How Is An AC Able To Run Long?

Your air conditioner is running when the compressor is running.

Moreover, the compressor goes OFF when the needed temperature is reached. The cooling cycle starts again when the room gets warmer.

In mild weather, the compressor will run up to 80% of the time.

However, hotter days will make the compressor run the entire time the AC is on. The condenser unit houses the compressor.

How Often Should Your AC Cycle Throughout the Day?

On average, an AC unit should go through about three to four cooling cycles per hour, with each cycle lasting about 15 to 20 minutes.

During extremely hot days, it's normal for an AC to cycle more frequently or even run non-stop to keep your home cool.

How Long Does It Take for an AC to Lower the Temperature by 1 Degree?

As a rule of thumb, it usually takes around one hour per degree to reach the temperature you've set on your thermostat.

In a standard three-bedroom house, it typically takes approximately three hours.

How Long Should My AC Run on a 100-Degree Day?

On those scorching 100-degree days, your AC should operate between 12 and 16 hours.

If you notice that your AC is constantly running without achieving the desired cooling effect, it might be time to call a professional for an inspection.

Why Is My AC Still Running Even After the Set Temperature Has Been Reached?

There are several reasons why your AC might run continuously without shutting off after reaching the set temperature. Let's explore some of the possible causes:

Faulty Thermostat

A common reason your AC might run constantly without shutting off is a faulty thermostat.

If the thermostat isn't accurately reading the room temperature, it could cause the AC to run longer than necessary.

Ensure the thermostat is set correctly and working properly to avoid this issue.

Below is a helpful video on how to troubleshoot a faulty thermostat.

Oversized AC Unit

If your AC is too large for the space it's cooling, it might cause the system to run continuously.

Oversized units can cool the space quickly, but they may struggle to remove humidity effectively.

As a result, the AC keeps running after the set temperature is reached, trying to remove the excess moisture.

Dirty or Clogged Filters

Dirty or clogged filters can cause your AC to work harder than it should.

This not only leads to increased energy consumption but can also cause the AC to run continuously as it struggles to reach the desired temperature.

Replacing or cleaning your filters regularly can help prevent this issue.

Related article: Can You Run An AC Without A Filter?

What Mistakes To Avoid When Setting A Thermostat

Avoiding mistakes when setting your thermostat is crucial for saving energy costs and extending the lifespan of your air conditioning system.

My LUX Pro Thermostat Says Wait - Why? What To Do?

Here are some common errors to steer clear of:

  1. Avoid extreme temperatures: Don't set your thermostat too high or too low to prevent straining your AC and causing short cycles.
  2. Steer clear of rapid changes: Frequent adjustments can cause your AC to cycle on and off more than necessary, leading to inefficient 10 to 15-minute cycles.
  3. Place thermostat properly: Keep your thermostat away from heat sources to prevent your AC from working harder and disrupting the set temperature.
  4. Use programmable features: Schedule your thermostat to avoid running your AC 24 hours a day and save energy.
  5. Don't turn off the AC entirely: Turning off your AC when leaving can make it work harder later; instead, use the thermostat's setback feature for stable temperatures.
  6. Maintain your AC: Regularly clean filters and schedule professional maintenance to keep your AC efficient, even on 100-degree days.

You might also like: How Long Do Batteries Last In A Thermostat?

Wrapping Up

Understanding the nuances of your AC's running cycle is essential for ensuring optimal performance and energy efficiency.

Several factors can influence the ideal run time for your air conditioner, including the age and size of your AC unit, the room size, the outside temperature, and more.

By staying informed about these critical points, you can not only make more educated decisions about your home's cooling system but also save on energy costs.

We hope this article has been helpful in providing you with insights into your AC's running cycle.

We'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences. If you have any additional questions or insights, please don't hesitate to leave a comment below.

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White Air Conditioner Blowing Cold Air On Brick Wall In Living Room, How Long Should An AC Run After Reaching The Right Temperature

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