Do you know which type of air conditioner you need? If you are thinking about buying an air conditioner, you will need to know more about the different types of air conditioners. There are many types available today. Each of them come with their own sets of pros and cons. Much of the decision will depend on exactly what your needs are and how much of a budget you have.
How to Find the Right Types of Air Conditioners to Fit Your Needs?
To find the right air conditioner for your needs, you will need to take a few things into consideration. How large is the space you need to cool? Aside from the length and width of the room you also need to take the ceiling height into consideration. If you have high ceilings, you might need a more powerful air conditioner
The amount of heat the unit throws off is also important. If you buy the wrong size for the space you are trying to cool, it will be working too hard and throw off heat. If you buy one that’s too large for the room, it will cool off the room but might not handle the humidity properly.
The energy efficiency of the air conditioning unit is also important. If you buy one that is not energy efficient, you will be adding more to your electric bill. Energy Star rated units use about 10 to 15% less energy than other models, and also protect the planet by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The last, and possibly most important factor, is your budget. That will decide what type of bells and whistles you get with your air conditioner. Whether or not it comes with a remote and whether it can serve as a heater or dehumidifier too.
Which is More Important, EER or SEER?
This actually depends on where in the country you live. North and South have different regulations due to the varying temperatures in those regions. Both EER and SEER measure an air conditioner’s energy efficiency, they just arrive at those numbers in various ways.
EER or Energy Efficiency Ratio is calculated by dividing the watts (electrical power) by BTU’s (British thermal units) under a set of circumstances. These conditions are usually an outdoor temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit and an indoor temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit at 50% humidity.
SEER or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio is measuring the efficiency of an air conditioner during the cooling season instead of at a set temperature. It is also estimated by dividing the watts (electrical power) by the BTU’s (British thermal units), but temperatures ranging from 65 degrees to 104 degrees instead of the 95 degrees used in the EER.
The government only requires manufacturers to use SEER ratings, but many of them still use EER. If you live in the North or Northeast, and primarily use your air conditioner when the temperature is 80 degrees or above, the EER will be more accurate for you.
If you live in the South or parts of the West, where temperatures are warmer for more of the year than in the north, the SEER rating will be more accurate for you. You can learn more about the government’s standards and test procedures for energy efficiency, by clicking here.
Different Types of Air Conditioners
It’s important to know the differences in the types of air conditioners that are available so you can pick the one that best suits your needs. Knowing a little about the pros and cons of each type should help you make your decision.
# Window Air Conditioner
This is the most common type. They are designed to cool just one room, sit inside a window sash and rest on the ledge or sill of the window. All air conditioners operate the same way but on a different scale.
This type blows cool air into the room while exhausting the hot air outside through the sides of the unit. Most of them have fan functions too, you can also buy ones with heat mode. Most air conditioners come with a timer and a remote so you can set the timer, and the room will be cool for you when you come home.
They come in all different sizes so make sure you measure your window opening before you go. Both the width and the height must be measured. You do not want to buy an air conditioner that is higher or wider than the opening of your window. Also, if you are concerned about losing your view because you only have one window in a room, there are low profile air conditioners you can buy.
Frigidaire is one of the top air conditioner manufacturers today. Here are a couple of low-cost models that will be great for a small bedroom or home office.
Best Window Air Conditioner Reviews
Frigidaire FFRA0511R1 is a 5000 BTU window air conditioner with 2 cooling, 2 fan speeds and two-way air direction for your comfort. The effortless clean antibacterial filter reduces bacteria, room odors, and airborne particles for a cleaner and healthier environment which is probably the best feature of this air conditioner.
This unit has an 11.1 energy efficiency ratio and operates with a 115V regular household outlet which makes it plug and play once you install the window kit. There is a 24 hour on/off timer, an automatic restart, the unit restores previous settings after a power outage, it also removes 0.8 pints of moisture from the air per hour. If you are looking for a cheap air conditioner that is packed with features for a small bedroom or office this unit could be for you.
This Frigidaire Model # FFRA0511U1 has all of the same features as FFRA0511U1 except it has an 11.1 energy efficiency ratio.
If the above air conditioning unit is out of stock and you still wish to have a low-cost window air conditioner for a small room you can buy this one.
# Wall Air Conditioner
This kind of unit is very similar to the window air conditioner except it sits in a sleeve in the wall instead of resting on the sill. It can be more streamlined and almost flush with the wall, depending on which unit you pick. Generally, they are much heavier and have higher cooling capacities than their window counterparts.
Unlike the window unit that exhausts air through its sides, this type exhausts air through the rear because the wall would block the exhaust if it vented through the sides. Keep in mind that you will need a contractor to install this through your wall, you might also need an electrician to put in a different outlet as these units are more powerful.
Best Through-The-Wall Air Conditioner Reviews
LG Model # LT1016CER is a 9800 BTU. It will cool an area of up to 440 square feet. This air conditioner has easy to read digital display with digital controls which makes it easy to use, a 24-hour on/off timer, an automatic restart, and an energy saver switch. You can have your room nice and cool when you arrive home or schedule the air conditioner to turn off after you leave in case you forgot.
It has 3 cooling and 3 fan speeds. Four-way air direction allows you to direct the cool air exactly where you need it to keep your room at the comfort level you like. There is a remote control so you can operate the unit without leaving your chair. It has an easy to clean the filter and a clean filter alert so there is no more guessing when the filter needs to be cleaned. It operates with a 115v household outlet.
Auto restart turns the unit back on after a power outage to the same settings it was using before the outage. It has a 10.6 energy efficiency ratio and is EnergyStar certified. It removes 3 pints of moisture from the air per hour and is protected with a gold fin anti-corrosion treatment which helps to extend the life of the unit against outside air. You will need to buy a sleeve for this unit.
# Portable Air Conditioners
This type of unit is a free standing air conditioner but needs to be vented through a window, through the ceiling or through the wall. If you are venting it through a wall or through the ceiling, you will need a contractor to help you, and it loses much of its portability. You can get a single hose or dual hose portable air conditioner.
Most portable air conditioners come with an exhaust kit to vent the unit through a window. These units are self-contained and operate the same way as window and wall air conditioners by pulling cold air into the room, removing the heat, dehumidifying the air and exhausting the hot air out through the window vent.
The convenience of these units is that they usually have wheels and can be moved from room to room depending on where you need cooling. If the rooms that need to be cooled are all on one floor, that is fine, but these units are not as portable as you might think if you need to move them up and down stairs. They are quite heavy and you will need assistance to do that. These units can also serve as a free-standing dehumidifier, fan or heater. Most of them come with the ability to dehumidify and have fan settings.
If you want one that is also a heater you will have to look specifically for that quality because they don’t all have that function. If you use it in dehumidify mode, you will have to empty the pan that is usually located on the bottom of the unit as the unit turns itself off when the pan is full. You can also get a drain hose and run it to a sink or a bucket if you intend to dehumidify more often than other modes if you don’t wish to empty the pan continually.
Not all units come with a drain hose so you might have to purchase it separately if you will be using the dehumidify function more often. You will have to check with the manufacturer of the unit to find out what size hose you need to drain the unit.
Best Portable Air Conditioner
This air conditioning unit has a white, streamlined modern design, is 10,000 BTU and is able to cool an area up to 350 square feet. The digital LED display allows for precise temperature control an the full-function remote allows you to operate the unit from across the room. It removes 68 pints of moisture from the air per day it has 3 cooling speeds and 3 fan speeds. It has a 24 -hour on/off timer and a 3M electrostatic filter.
It has an auto evaporation system which means there is no need to empty the bucket except in extremely humid conditions. It has caster wheels to easily move the unit from one room to another if necessary, a 3.3-foot exhaust hose and an easy-to-install window venting kit. The temperature is adjustable from 61 to 89 degrees Fahrenheit.
# Ductless Mini-Split System Air Conditioners
Like their central air conditioner counterpart, split system air conditioners consist of two parts. One that is outside of the house and one inside of the house. The difference is that central air conditioning requires ducts running throughout the walls to supply the air, and the outdoor unit is large and usually sits on a concrete slab.
Ductless split systems are good for people who do not have the space or finances to have ducts running through the walls. They only require a small hole to run the insulated refrigerant line to the outdoor unit.
You can cool as many or as few rooms as you like, having one unit in each room you want to be cooled. The units are quieter than the window, through the wall or portable air conditioning units and can be operated separately, cooling only the areas you need to be cooled. They can be placed on the ceiling or on the wall. They are also available with heat if heating is also a problem in your home. These units are more expensive because they contain a heat pump too.
These systems have gained popularity due to their small profiles, high energy efficiency and the convenience of being able to cool rooms separately. They also run much more quietly than the above-listed air conditioners.
# Package Terminal Air Conditioners or PTACs
Package terminal air conditioner units are similar to split system air conditioners in that there is an outdoor unit that an insulated tube of refrigerant connects to the indoor unit. These units are generally commercial grade and used in hotels, motels, hospitals, apartments and assisted living complexes. They are usually installed through an external wall above the floor and below a window. The outdoor unit is sometimes on a roof or on a concrete slab next to the foundation.
# Central Air Conditioners
Like the split system and the PTACs, central air conditioners are a two-part system. A large, outdoor unit the sits on a concrete slab next to the foundation and an indoor unit. A central air conditioning unit requires a blower, which is usually attached to a furnace. The blower is used to distribute the cold air through the vents. This means it can also be used for heating. The cycle can be reversed, and the same ducts are used for heating in the winter.
These are whole house systems. They are for people who do not mind the expense or loss of space for ducting that is required throughout the house. Central air conditioning is usually controlled by zones. If you like the entire zone to be the same comfortable temperature, then this system is for you. If you want more control room by room, then you would probably prefer a ductless split system.
As you can see, there are many factors that need to be considered before you make the decision which type of air conditioner is right for you. Window and portable air conditioners are best if you rent an apartment or a home and want to be able to take them with you when you leave. They are also good if you own your own home and do not have the financial ability to invest in a ductless mini-split air conditioner system or a central air conditioning system.
Those two systems are an investment and will increase the resale value of your home when you sell it. Some people will not buy a house without air conditioning.
One More Thing to Consider
I have a through-the-wall air conditioner in my living room. I have had the same unit for 17 years, and it’s still going strong. Proper maintenance will help to keep your new air conditioner running smoothly for a very long time.
I tried a window unit in my living room, but I have an open living room, dining room, and kitchen. The window was in a spot that would not allow it to cool off the kitchen too. We decided to use that air conditioner in another room and bought a through the wall air conditioner instead so it could be placed to be able to cool off all three rooms.
When the air conditioner was in the window, it was blowing into the regular size doorway leading to the kitchen from the hall. Changing the type and the location, allowed it to be placed where the air could flow into the kitchen from the big opening next to the dining room, cooling all three rooms at the same time.
Make sure to take placement into consideration as you are making your decision too. In the wrong place, your air conditioner might not do what you need it to do.
Here are the most important points you need to consider when deciding which type of air conditioner to buy.
- How large is space? Length, width and ceiling height. This information helps you to select the correct amount of BTU’s.
- The energy efficiency or the energy star rating of it. This helps you save on your energy bill.
- The placement of it. Which type sometimes depends on where you will put it.
- Last, but most important, your budget.
I hope this information has helped you to make a decision about the different types of air conditioners you can buy to suit your needs. If it has, you can find some here.
If you are more interested in reading about a specific type of air conditioner, you can find my article about window air conditioners by clicking here.
If you would like to learn more about when the first air conditioning system was made or how air conditioners work, click here.