If you’re looking for a new room air conditioner, you might find it more difficult than you’d anticipated. There are so many different models from which to choose and so many factors to consider when comparing labels that you can become overwhelmed. With prices for room air conditioners, also called window units, ranging from under $200 to over $1000, knowing what to look for can ensure that you get the quality and capacity you need without spending more than you have to.
The first thing you’ll need to consider is the window into which your new air conditioner will be mounted. The best window will be the most central one in the room, as this will allow for more even distribution of the cool air. If you have to mount the unit in a window located at a corner, be sure to look for models that will easily let you direct airflow. Once you’ve selected a window, make sure to get accurate measurements of the window opening. While gaps can be closed if you choose a model smaller than the window opening, buying a unit that is bigger than your available space will result in lost time and the hassle of a return.
Once you know what size unit will work for your window, you’ll need to determine how powerful it needs to be. As a general rule, you want a unit that provides 20 BTUs of cooling for each square foot of living area in the room. If you live someplace that gets extremely hot, you might want a little more power. Likewise, if you live someplace with milder summers, you could get away with less power.
In addition to knowing how much cooling power you need, you also should understand how much dehumidification you’ll require. If you live in a very humid climate, make sure to look for a unit that offers top-notch dehumidification. If you live in a place that is very dry, you don’t need to pay more for excellent dehumidification. Many window units rely on the internal fan to control humidity. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding the best fan setting for your level of humidity to improve cooling and energy efficiency.
Not all window units are whisper quiet. If noise is a concern, such as in a bedroom, make sure your research includes noise ratings for any models you consider.
All air conditioners rely on filters to help remove dust and other particles from the air. Make sure that the filter is in a location that you can readily access, as cleaning or replacing the filter regularly is key to keeping your unit working its best. A clean filter also improves energy efficiency. If the filter is permanent, make sure you understand what the cleaning requirements are.
Once you’ve narrowed your search parameters based on your needs, there are convenience features to consider. You can choose from models with knob controls or digital ones. There are now “smart” models that can be controlled with your smartphone or even connected to other units in your home.
Most window units are easy enough to install to be simple DIY projects. Just make sure that the unit sits perfectly level in its window to keep the internal drain from leaking and to help keep the other internal parts steady and stable. If you choose a unit that is smaller than the window opening, make sure to properly seal any gaps between the unit and the window casing.
Once you get your new unit installed, there are a couple of things in addition to properly directing the airflow and keeping the filter clean that you can do to improve energy efficiency and cooling power. Make sure you don’t have any heat-generating items (like a TV or lamp) too close to the unit, as the thermostat could pick up this heat, causing the unit to run overtime. Having a fan of some sort (standing fan, ceiling fan, etc.) can help distribute the cool air more evenly in larger rooms.
A room air conditioner can be a great adjunct to your central AC system or a perfect solution when whole-house central air isn’t necessary.
Interested in the best rated portable air conditioners? Do your research online before buying the very first brand or model you lay your eyes on.