Top 10 Window Air Conditioners
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Window Air Conditioner Comparison
Window Air Conditioner Buying Guide
What is a Window Air Conditioner?
When looking for a window air conditioning unit there are a number of factors which will determine which is the best window air conditioner for your needs.
Where will the unit be placed? Not all windows are built to hold a window unit. The window must open easily and be able to secure the unit in place. Most window units are designed to be placed in double hung windows. There should be a way to seal leaks so the hot air is not coming into the room and the cold air going out. The sill or bottom of the window needs to be strong enough to hold the weight of the unit. Placing the unit in the center of the room will provide the most even cooling.
What square footage must be cooled? This will largely determine the size of the unit you will need or BTUs. A window unit blows air forward and cools the space. Doorways and other structures may make it difficult to cool more than one room. If you choose a unit that is too large it could cool the space too fast that the moisture is not removed leaving you with a cold and muggy room. If it is too small the room will not stay adequately cooled.
What is your budget? Air conditioners can run from $200 to over $1000 depending on the BTUs it produces, the amount of space you need cooled, and the number of features you want. Your budget and cooling needs will help you decide what is the best and most cost effective strategy for the space you need to cool.
Features to Consider
What size unit do you need? Most window air conditioning units range from 5000 to 12,500 BTUs (British Thermal Units). Typically, you want to get 20 BTUs for each square foot of space that needs to be cooled. Other considerations will include how high the ceilings are and where the unit will be placed. Blinds or light blocking curtains can save you energy and make the room easier to cool. A room that gets lots of sun and active living spaces like a living room or kitchen will be harder to cool and require higher BTUs to be effective. For example, if you want to place the unit in a kitchen, Energy Star recommends adding 4,000 BTU to the square footage number to account for the heat produced by kitchen appliances.
How loud with the unit be? The sound of a running fan may not be an issue if you are in a kitchen or living room where activity is happening and the noise blends in. If it is in a bedroom and you are a light sleeper, a noisy air conditioner could impact your ability to sleep. Location and application will determine how important the noise factor is. All window air conditioners will have some level of noise but there is a wide range of sound levels which are measured in decibels, depending on the unit you select.
What direction of air flow does the unit have? Some units just blow air straight ahead while others allow you to direct the air flow to the left and right. Depending on the room and the location of the unit you may want to redirect the air to cool the room most efficiently. A unit that offers the ability to change the air flow will be more versatile and do a better job of cooling any room.
Install the air conditioner correctly. If you do not have double hung windows you may be able to place the unit as a through the wall unit, but that would need to be customized. If the unit will be the primary source of air and will be permanent, this may be worth the added installation costs. Most window air conditioners can be personally installed. During installation ensure it is level in order for proper drainage. Water will drip from the unit and you want the drip to be outside the house or building. If it drips too close to the structure and does not drain properly, the water could get inside or cause damage to the home. It should also be placed away from other electrical devices such as electronics or lamps. Ensure it is installed in a way that the filter is easy to change.
Automation is becoming more common and many units include remote controls, control through your smart phone, or other automation that makes it easy to turn the unit on and off or control the temperature.
Window air conditioners can be a great way to cool a space. Whether you only need to cool a room, there is a room in your home that is more difficult to cool, or you have a dedicated space like a workshop that needs temperature controls in the summer. Individual window units are inexpensive and easy to install. They are cheaper to operate than a central unit and can provide comfort economically.