What is a Window Air Conditioner?
A window air conditioner is an air conditioning device that is fitted into a window opening inside a room and used to cool or heat the air in that room. They are most commonly found installed in single or multiple rooms in large homes and hotels, allowing each room with such a device to be cooled or heated individually according to its occupant’s wishes.
Window air conditioners are stand-alone air conditioning devices; they are not part of a distributed central air conditioning system that runs throughout a building. While these devices provide maximum flexibility for controlling the air temperature in rooms individually, if an air conditioning solution is needed for a large number of rooms, for power consumption reasons it is usually less expensive in the long run to have a central air conditioning system installed in a building.
Window air conditioners are very similar to wall air conditioners, the primary difference being that the former is fitted into a window opening while the latter is fitted into a wall opening. The two types of air conditioner together are often referred to as room air conditioners.
Room air conditioners come in two varieties: unitary systems and PTAC (Packaged Terminal Air Conditioning) systems. In unitary systems, the more common of the two, interior air is cooled as a fan blows it over the evaporator. On the exterior the air is heated as a second fan blows it over the condenser. By this process heat is drawn from the room and discharged to the surrounding environment.
PTAC systems are also known as wall split air conditioning systems or ductless systems. These systems have two separate units: an evaporative unit on the interior and a condensing unit on the exterior, with tubing passing through a wall and connecting them.
Window air conditioners are not difficult to install. Some of them are fitted into a window opening with special brackets that must be attached to the window frame. Other designs feature extendable edges that slide outwards until they touch the edges of the window opening and hold the air conditioner in place.
Choosing a Window Air Conditioner by BTU
Window air conditioner models come in different sizes with different power consumptions. Which model is right for you depends on the size of the room or space that you want to apply the air conditioning to. You need to measure the square area of that space and use the result to calculate how large and powerful a window air conditioner you need to buy.
To do this, simply multiply the length times the width of the room or space you want to cool. Then, multiply the resulting figure by 25 BTU. This allows for ample air conditioning, whether it is a rainy, moist day or a hot, humid day. So if we have a room that’s twelve feet in width and fifteen feet in length, we perform the calculation: 12×15=180 square feet. Then we multiply the 180 sq. ft. by the 25 BTU and we identify the approximate BTU air conditioner we should buy: 180×25=4500 BTU. So we have determined that a cooling capacity of around 4500 BTU is needed from our window air conditioner.
You may wonder whether a smaller, cheaper air conditioner will suffice or whether a larger, more powerful unit might do a better job.
An air conditioner with a significantly lower BTU will need to be run continuously in order to adequately cool the space. This will increase your electric bill and cost you more money in the long term.
An air conditioner with a significantly higher BTU might be overkill. To dispute the misconception that bigger is better, an air conditioner that is too large will cool a space more quickly, but this may impede the reason for operating the air conditioner in the first place. You see, along with cooling the air in a space, an air conditioner also extracts the moisture from the air (humidity) in that space that makes people feel hot and sticky. Although the air may be cooler, if the device doesn’t run for a longer period of time than was necessary for it to cool the space (which would be more expensive in terms of energy bills because), the moisture will not be extracted from the air properly and there will still be an element of humidity in the space.
Your best bet is to get a window air conditioner that conforms relatively closely to the BTU requirements of the room or space you want to cool. Read this article to learn more about window air conditioner energy usage or this one to learn about how window air conditioners can save you money on your energy bills.
Best Window Air Conditioner Reviews
Frigidaire FRA086AT7 8,000 BTU Window Air Conditioner Review
This is one of the best window air conditioners that you can buy. 8,000 BTU of cooling power makes sure that your room stays just as cool as you want it. If your room is 350 square feet and under this unit will work great. It looks quite stylish and modern and does an effective job of cooling medium sized rooms.
This specific unit is very quiet, even when running at high speed. This is an Energy Star unit that conserves power as it’s running, saving you much more than older units. The design is compact but easy to install with the installation kit. It comes with an ionizer and antibacterial filter.
It also comes with a temperature sensing remote, so no matter where you are in the room you can get an accurate reading of the actual temperature and run the unit accordingly. 3 cooling speeds and 3 fan speeds makes adjustments for comfort easy.
- 115-volt window air conditioner with 8,000 BTU of power
- Dehumidifier feature removes 1.7 pints of water per hour from up to 350 square feet of space
- Ionizer feature removes dust, impurities, and pollen for allergy sufferers
- Auto cool mode automatically adjusts as the temp changes
- Energy Star rating ensures that you save money on your energy bill
- Tilt out mesh filter with antibacterial action
Pros: Medium to large rooms will get the most benefit from this Frigidaire FRA086AT7 window air conditioner. It saves a lot of money with the Energy Star rating and does a great job with cooling rooms. The dehumidifier feature works great and removes a lot of excess moisture from the air.
This unit comes with a 1 year full coverage and 5 year AC compressor replacement warranty. Next, the digital display is easy to read and understand. It only weighs about 50 lbs, which will make installation a breeze.Your room will stay cool and crisp and you can use the timer button to adjust room temperature and save money so it isn’t running 24/7. After 250 hours of use this unit automatically tells you to clean the filter.
It has a 6 foot long cord so you don’t even need an extension cord to use it. It’s a very modern design and will look great in any window. Overall the 8,000 BTU of power is plenty for a medium sized room. Many people have found they have power to spare with this unit. This unit has a lot of five star ratings on Amazon because it’s just that good.
The temperature sensing remote is a real plus and gives very accurate readings of the true temperature of a room. Overall this is a great window air conditioner for the price and will give you many years of trouble free service. Frigidaire is a brand name with many years of producing quality products and is a name you can put your trust in.
Cons: This unit could be a little cheaper, but with the Energy Star rating, you’ll save a lot over the cost of running an older unit and be able to recoup the costs. A 500 foot room is just too big for this air conditioner, so you’d have to find a Frigidaire in a bigger BTU for a room of that size.
Sunpentown WA-6011S 6000 BTU Window Air Conditioner Review
Listed at $184.99, this is one of the most economical choices you can make. With 6,000 BTU of power, you can be sure that your room will stay cool all summer long. The estimated yearly cost of running this unit is only $45, which is cheaper than most other models. The Energy Star rating really helps to save on operating costs. Temperature ranges from 62-86 Fahrenheit are possible with this unit. It has 3 fan speeds and a washable filter that makes maintenance incredibly easy.
The installation kit makes putting this window air conditioner to use very easy. It will work for most every window out there. As far as cooling performance goes, this is a top of the line air conditioner. It will do the job of cooling the room to an exact temperature at an affordable cost.
This is not a cheaply built machine. It seems to stand up to even the most grueling conditions. People who want an Energy Star compliant machine that’s also cheap to buy will find a great deal in the Sunpentown WA-6011S 6000 BTU window air conditioner. Sunpentown has proven themselves as a quality air conditioner manufacturer in recent years. Quality products at a price everyone can afford.
- A True Energy Star Compliant Air Conditioner – Save Money On Operating Costs
- 6,000 BTU Of Power – All The Power You Need
- Operating Cost Of Only $45 Per Year
- Great Quality Plastic Flexible Window Extensions For A Perfect Fit
This window air conditioner is truly a good buy for the money. In a matter of minutes, a medium sized room can go from hot to well chilled. You can’t really ask for more as far as getting a good bang for your buck.
This machine is well constructed and will give you years of trouble free use. It will cool rooms to within 1 or 2 degrees of the set temperature, making for a window air conditioner that’s high performance and cheap enough for everyone’s budget.
This unit has 1,000 more BTUs of power than other units that cost more! Buying this will be a purchase you can be proud of. Not only will it last through hot and humid seasons, it makes perfect sense to own one! Great cooling capacity and it’s cheap to operate. These are a few of the main reasons many people are choosing this air conditioner over the competition. 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com.
LG LWHD7000HR 7,000 BTU Window Air Conditioner Review
If you need both a heater and an air conditioner in one window unit, the LG LWHD7000HR Heat/Cool window air conditioner will be perfect. LG has always produced quality products, and this one is something you can really appreciate. With a plasma heat exchanger strip, you can be sure that this will do an adequate job of heating an area.
7,000 BTU is plenty of power for a medium sized room. It has an energy saving feature that automatically turns the unit off when the desired temperature is reached. After that point, it checks every three minutes for temperature changes.
The total cost of operating this unit is much less than you might expect. Most homeowners don’t notice much of a difference in their utility costs from operating it. It comes with a remote control for easy temperature and fan speed adjustments. Total weight of the unit is a surprisingly light 69 pounds. It comes with 4 way air deflection that allows you complete control over the air flow in the room.
The best part about this unit is the use of great technology. Most other window air conditioners don’t come with a heater feature, so that really makes the value you get with this machine top notch. It’s an Energy Star device that will also help you save money over the cost of older units.
- Energy Star Compliant For Energy Saving Performance
- Auto Restart Feature
- 4 Way Air Deflection For Complete Air Flow Control
- Heats AND Cools Medium Sized Rooms
- Additional Energy Saving Features
- Remote Control
Pros: As far as cooling performance goes, this LG LWHD7000HR is one of the best window air conditioners out there. LG really did a good job with the design and performance of this heater/air conditioner. One thing to remember is that you need to install it correctly. It will work well in nearly every application you have for it. As long as the room is medium sized, you shouldn’t have any problems keeping the area cool or warm.
This unit was built to exacting specifications direct from the LG company. You can put your trust in LG, as they have an outstanding line of quality air conditioners to choose from.
Cons: It’s a little more expensive than other window air conditioners out there, but it comes with a heat feature, so it’s actually worth the extra cost and some people found the directions a little confusing.
How to Install a Window Air Conditioner
Window air conditioners are often bought for use in people’s home living rooms or bedrooms and are usually not difficult to install. Before you begin, you should arrange for a friend or family member to be present to assist you with the installation. Window air conditioners are large and heavy objects that can sometimes be difficult for one person to hold in place; you don’t want your expensive new appliance falling out of the window opening and smashing on the ground outside.
The following are general instructions just to give you the main idea of how to install a window air conditioner. Always thoroughly read the installation guide section of the instruction manual provided with your device in case of any model-specific requirements. If for any reason you do not have an instruction manual available for your device, you may be able to view a copy on its manufacturer’s website.
Some of these devices are fitted into a window opening with special brackets that need to be attached to the window frame. Others use extendable edges that slide outwards until they grip the sides of the window opening and hold the air conditioner in place.
If you’re dealing with a window air conditioner that uses special brackets, you will need to attach those to the window opening before doing anything with the air conditioner. If screws are needed for this, they will almost certainly be included with the brackets in the packaging, sometimes along with a small screwdriver.
If your window air conditioner uses extensions that slide out of the device to make it fit the window frame, then these will either be already integrated into the device or you will need to manually assemble and attach them to it yourself before you install the air conditioner. As with those devices that utilize holding brackets, any screws and other equipment needed to attach the slide out extensions should be included in the packaging.
When you’re ready to proceed, raise the window’s lower pane and have your helper place the device on the windowsill. Fit the device onto the holding brackets or slide out the extensions to fill the empty window space on either side, whichever is applicable (some models utilize both of these positioning methods). Lower the upper window pane onto the air conditioner to hold it in place. Most models will require you to secure the upper window pane in this position to prevent any movement.
Most window air conditioners will tip very slightly to the outside to allow them to drain condensation, but some units are not designed to do this. Set your device up in the window opening exactly as directed in the instruction manual and it will be immediately clear which of the two you have. Never try to force a tipping unit to lie straight or a straight lying unit to tip.
At this point, you’re ready to plug in the air conditioner and turn it on. These devices can use a lot of energy, however, so keep that in mind when connecting it to a circuit. If the circuit in question powers other high energy appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, dryers or vacuum cleaners, consider plugging the air conditioner in elsewhere.
Window Air Conditioner Maintenance Guide
Window air conditioners are very useful appliances but are also intricate devices that require maintenance in order to continuously operate at maximum efficiency. Follow these simple tips to keep your window air conditioner properly maintained.
1) Start out by unplugging your device and removing it from its mounting frame within the window opening. Now take it outside and gently remove the access covers on the front and/or back.
2) Slowly vacuum out the condenser coils with a soft brush attachment. You can also hose off the coils from the inside out but you must take great care not to get the electronics or the motor wet. It’s probably more advisable to clean the coils with a watering can or a shower attachment or something that allows you more control of the water flow than a hose. Do not get those electronics or that motor wet!
3) Now check the condenser coil for bent cooling fins. You should use a coil fin comb to straighten the bent fins. The trick is to find a comb with a tooth count that matches the “fins per inch” of the condenser coil. Carefully draw the comb across the bent coil fins to straighten them out.
4) Examine the foam air filter for any signs of damage. If it is ripped or damaged, replace it. If it is dirty, wash it with dish soap and water, leave it until completely dry and then replace it.
5) Finally, reattach the front and/or back covers of the device, place it back in its mounting frame within the window opening and plug it back in.
Perform the above process at least twice a year to keep your window air conditioner running at its best. This not only ensures the smooth operation of the device but also maintains maximum possible energy efficiency and saves you money.
Window Air Conditioner Energy Usage Explained
There are two metrics used to rate the energy efficiency of central air conditioners: the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) and the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The unit for both metrics is BTU/W•h.
EER is the cooling capacity of the unit (in BTU/h) at an outdoor temperature of 95°F divided by the current power draw of the unit in watts.
SEER is the total cooling output (in BTU) over the cooling season divided by the total electrical power input (in watt-hours) over the cooling season. With typical home air conditioners, EER is equivalent to about 0.875 SEER, but this ratio varies somewhat between different air conditioner models.
Air conditioning systems can be classified as being of one of two types: central air conditioning and room air conditioning. Window air conditioners fall into the room air conditioning category. Central air conditioners’ energy efficiency is rated by both EER and SEER, while window air conditioners’ and other room air conditioners’ energy efficiency is rated only by EER.
As we’re concerned with window air conditioners here, we’ll look at how to judge the energy efficiency of a window air conditioner by its EER.
Window and other room air conditioners that draw at least 10% less energy than the U.S. federal standard are awarded something called an “Energy Star” label. Energy Star is a government scheme to identify and highlight energy efficient consumer products that allow people to save money on utility bills for their homes and workplaces. When shopping for a window air conditioner, look for a model with an Energy Star label and an EER of 10.7 or more.
Read this article to learn how to choose a window air conditioner by its BTU.
As a side note, if you find yourself shopping for a central air conditioning solution instead of a window or other room air conditioner, understand that the purpose of the SEER rating which applies only to central air conditioners is to allow consumers to compare the seasonal efficiency of central air conditioning systems rather than their peak efficiency. Look for a central air conditioner with the Energy Star award label, a SEER of at least 14.5, and an EER of at least 12.
How Window Air Conditioners Can Save You Money on Your Energy Bills
According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the electricity used to power home air conditioning accounts for almost 5% of all the electricity produced in the United States. All air conditioners use a lot of energy and so will cost money in the long term; that is unavoidable. You can, however, save money by selecting the most energy efficient air conditioning solution available that will meet your requirements.
Air conditioning systems can be classified as being of one of two general types: central air conditioning and room air conditioning. The former refers to a network of air ducts and fans that run throughout the structure of a building and treat the air in all or most of its rooms. The latter refers to stand-alone devices usually installed in wall or window openings or placed in corners or on tables within a room that treat the surrounding air in that room. Window air conditioners obviously fall into the room air conditioning category.
Although central air conditioning works more efficiently than any window air conditioner, homes and workplaces equipped with one or a few window-mounted air conditioners have been proven to use significantly less energy for cooling, and therefore cost significantly less in utility bills, than if they were equipped with central air conditioning systems.
The main reason for this is that a home or small to medium sized workplace does not need every room on its premises to be air conditioned, just those rooms that are frequently occupied. A central air conditioning system expends energy treating the air in every room in a building that has ducts and vents connected to it, even empty rooms and areas such as attics and basements that are almost always unoccupied. When you go with window air conditioners, you can place them only in the room or rooms that you want to keep cool because you know they’ll be in frequent use.
Another factor is that since window air conditioners are noisy, people are far more likely to remember to turn them off when they are finished in a room than they are to remember to turn off a silent running central air conditioning system when a building is at an adequate temperature.
A central air conditioning system only becomes more energy efficient and cost effective than the use of window air conditioners when employed in large buildings with many rooms and many occupants like a hotel or a large facility. In such an environment the cost of having window air conditioners running in every occupied room would be greater than the running cost of a central air conditioning system.
If you’re looking to implement an air conditioning solution for your home or another small building, you can save a lot of money on your energy bills by strategically placing window air conditioners in the room or rooms that are most often in use or in a centralised area from where the treated air can easily flow through to adjacent rooms.
Also, make sure you clean the filter of the window air conditioner at least twice a year to maintain maximum energy efficiency by the device.
- 1 What is a Window Air Conditioner?
- 2 Choosing a Window Air Conditioner by BTU
- 3 Best Window Air Conditioner Reviews
- 4 Frigidaire FRA086AT7 8,000 BTU Window Air Conditioner Review
- 5 Sunpentown WA-6011S 6000 BTU Window Air Conditioner Review
- 6 LG LWHD7000HR 7,000 BTU Window Air Conditioner Review
- 7 How to Install a Window Air Conditioner
- 8 Window Air Conditioner Maintenance Guide
- 9 Window Air Conditioner Energy Usage Explained
- 10 How Window Air Conditioners Can Save You Money on Your Energy Bills