Air Conditioners

 
AirConditioners

Installing an air conditioner in your home will help you keep cool when the temperatures start to rise. Window, wall and portable A/C units can help offset the heat certain areas of your home experience during the summer.

 

Rooms that are on the second or third level of your home, along with rooms above a garage will benefit. Additionally, your HVAC system won’t have to work as hard to help keep your home cool.

 

Whether you choose a window, portable or built-in wall unit, air conditioners will help keep your home comfortable through the warm summer months.

 


Air conditioners must do three things to properly cool an area:
 
          • Lower air temperature
          • Remove air moisture
          • Filter the air
 
The air conditioner must also be the right size to perform all of these functions and successfully make the room cool and comfortable.
 
While there are many different types and sizes to choose from, not all air conditioners are created equal. As you shop for your new air conditioner, consider:
 
          • Where and how the air conditioner will be installed or used
          • The size of the room where you plan to install your new unit
          • What special features are most beneficial to you
          • Whether you will be installing your new air conditioner by yourself
 

Types


window Units

Window units are by far the most popular as they are easy to install and are affordable. Some models can also double as a heater. Most models can be installed in either a single- or double-hung window and typically come with accordion panels that allow for a secure fit.

 

Some models are designed to fit in sliding windows, but they require a support of some kind, such as a wooden plank or a specially designed shelf that can be attached to the exterior of your home.


Installing a window unit is an easy DIY project. Just make sure you measure the inside window dimensions before you shop. See more information in our Installing a Window Air Conditioner Project Guide.
 
Consult the BTU chart below:
 
Window BTU calculator
 
portable Units

Portable air conditioners or freestanding units can be used to cool a specific area in a home such as a bedroom. They are easy to set up and don't require permanent installation.

 

They have a standard window venting kit for the exhaust hose, and many portable units are mounted on casters so you can move them freely from room to room. They come with a large, flexible hose that is attached to a window for exhausting hot air, much like a clothes dryer is vented.


Most portable units have reservoirs that need to be emptied periodically, though some also come with optional hookups for a drainage hose. Some new models evaporate much of the moisture and exhaust it, greatly reducing the number of times you need empty the container. Portable units can be heavy and they are less efficient than newer window units.
 
When choosing a portable air conditioner, be sure to measure the room size (length x width) and match the room size with the BTUs on the chart below. Also, be sure to check electrical requirements.
 
Portable BTU calculator
 
Built-InAirConditioner

Built-in air conditioners can be installed in your wall for permanent placement and operation. Many built-in units provide both cold and hot air operation for more versatile use. They are a great solution for rooms or additions to your house that may not be connected to the central heating and air conditioning system.

 

Wall units are more expensive and they require opening a hole in an exterior wall, which means they can be placed just about anywhere. They don’t take up window space and they allow for a more airtight and secure fit.

Many window models can be installed through the wall. Just add a frame to support the unit. Smaller units can be installed by handy do-it-yourselfers. Larger wall units may require professional installation as more parts may be required for proper installation.

Airconditioners MiniSplit

If you’re considering a home remodeling project or room addition, mini-split heating and cooling systems can save the added expense of installing ducts that are necessary for most traditional HVAC systems. Mini-splits are becoming increasingly popular and are a great solution for homes without ductwork.

 

Mini-splits are ductless, multi-zone units that are extremely energy-efficient. They operate via an outdoor condenser that powers the indoor evaporating element for a comfortable, year-round temperature. Some models can double as a dehumidifier and others can be controlled with a wireless remote, enabling temperature changes with the touch of a button.


Selecting the Right Size


Size does matter when choosing an air conditioner, so it's important to get a unit with the cooling capacity to handle the room where it will be installed.
 
A unit that is too small may not be able to cool a space efficiently, while an oversized air conditioner in too small a space will cycle on and off, wasting energy and decreasing the unit's ability to adequately dehumidify the room.
 
Choosing the right BTU, or British thermal unit, for your room size while integrating all other outside factors like ceiling height, type of room insulation, climate type, sun exposure and location, will enable you to get the most energy-efficient cooling system for your home.
 
The BTU rating is a number that essentially tells you how quickly and effectively a unit can cool the room where it is located. Ratings generally range from 5,000 BTUs to more than 20,000.
 
Selecting the right air conditioner begins with making a few simple calculations. First, you’ll need to determine the size of the area where the unit will be installed. If the room is square or rectangular, simply measure the length and width of the room and multiply them to get your square footage. When cooling two adjacent areas, determine each space separately then add the totals.
 
Once you have determined the square footage of the room, consult the BTU calculator for the correct amount of BTUs needed. Tailor the unit to the room. For example, if the room is:
 
          • In a sunny location, increase BTUs by 10 percent
          • In a shady location, decrease BTUs by 10 percent
          • Occupied by more than one person, add 600 BTUs for each person
          • A kitchen, add 4,000 BTUs
 

Energy Efficiency


EnergyEfficiency

When it comes to evaluating the energy efficiency of a room air conditioner, pay careful attention to the unit’s EER and its BTU rating.

 

All new air conditioners are required to carry an EER, or energy efficiency rating, which ranges from 8 to 11.5. The rating is important because air conditioners with higher EERs yield the most savings in monthly electric bills.

 

The EER also indicates the unit’s impact on the environment. The higher the EER, the fewer the greenhouse emissions. We carry several models that are Energy Star rated.


Check the yellow Energy Guide label on new room air conditioners when you’re shopping. A rating of 10 or higher will produce the most in energy savings, though these models are likely to cost a little more.
 

Safety


Air conditioners can be heavy and awkward to handle. Make sure you have assistance when handling heavy units to avoid injuries. Also use caution when installing them on the upper levels of your home. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for safe and proper installation.
 

Electrical Requirements


There are three electrical requirements to consider before buying an air conditioner:
 
          • Electrical outlet must be within reach of line cord
          • Voltage requirements must be satisfied
          • Required number of amps must be available in the electrical circuit
 
UL requires that only 115-volt models using more than 7.5 amps be connected to a standard single outlet. Models that are 208/230 volt require one of three branch circuit power supplies. 
       
Window A/C Features Benefits
Timer/Programmable Thermostat Saves energy by cutting run times
Digital/Electronic Controls Easy to regulate temperature settings
Remote Control Enables adjustments from anywhere in the room
Quiet Operation Watch TV without having to increase volume
Variable Fan Speeds Lower settings help save money
Sleep/Energy Saving Settings Saves energy while making the room comfortable
Easy-to-Access Filters Makes regular maintenance easier

 
Electric plug requirement