Room air conditioning is one of the best ways to beat the summer heat. For many, the comfort of the central air remains out of reach, leaving the AC window unit as the next best thing.
Today's window models are much better than what you're used to, and nothing like the massive energy eaters they once were. Modern AC window units relieve the searing temperatures, remove moisture and consume less power than ever before.
However, if you do not do your homework, it's easy to end up with the wrong machine. You could be stuck with something too big, too small, or that just does not fit where you want. Read on to find out how to avoid these pitfalls.
Know Before You Buy
Choosing an air conditioner depends on a few key factors. Here is a list of details that you should find out before buying.
- Target coverage in square feet (or square meters)
- Size and shape of your windows
- Where to direct the water from condensed water
- Location and voltage of nearby power outlets
Calculate your coverage area
First, find out How big an area is you want to cool. This could be a standard bedroom, a living room or even a studio apartment. Regardless, add up the total area your AC unit will tackle. Then use this number to select the right power and cooling capacity. The Energy Star website of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has a practical tool for doing so.
Let's say you live in a small studio apartment (700 to 1
Measure Your Windows
Typically, window-mounted AC units are just that. The body of the device sits partially inside and partially outside the windowpane. A clamp or clamp holds the air conditioner in position. This bracket also divides the inside from the outside and hot air from cool air.
Since there is no universal standard for window size, measuring the window dimensions is a must. Once you have this information, you can compare it to the specifications of a potential new machine. In this way, you will hopefully avoid any nasty surprises during installation.
Continuous or temporary use
Decide whether you want to remove your new air conditioner at the end of the summer or leave it in the window all year round. There are compromises for both approaches. With permanent equipment, you do not have to reinstall your air conditioner every year.
Even if your permanent AC mount is well insulated, it is not as draft-free as a fully closed quality window. This can be a problem if you live in a place with temperatures near freezing or below freezing in winter. If you live somewhere with mild winters, you should be fine.
A portable air conditioner is a third option. These freestanding devices cost more than their window-sibling-style siblings, but move easily from room to room as they are wheeled. You need to install an exhaust hose assembly in your window, but the hose hardware is lightweight and can be installed much more easily than the entire window air conditioning unit.
Think of condensation
One drawback of air-conditioned comfort is condensation. Similar to dehumidifiers, AC units pull moisture out of the air while they are running. The collected water has to go somewhere and normally collect in an internal drip tray. Some AC models recommend you to drill a small hole in the drainage. You can then hang a drain hose there to channel excess water wherever you want.
Electricity and Electricity
Decades ago, it was not uncommon for old air conditioners to require high voltage (240V) power outlets. Thanks to Energy Star certification, current models are much more efficient. They can be operated at 120 V, the standard voltage for American domestic appliances.
It's a good idea to check the situation in your house. An outdated AC unit may only have a 240V outlet nearby. Here's another problem you might encounter. The nearest outlet is 120V, but it shares a circuit with other power hungry devices or electronics. In either case, you may need to have an electrician repaired or add extra circuitry.
Sweat the Little Things
Features beyond size and cooling performance may seem small, but they can have a significant impact on how you use a window AC unit. Many AC units can cause unholy blows while running. Check the noise levels of the models you are considering.
Even with some air conditioners, smart functions have become noticeable. Frigidaire and GE now offer bothand portable AC units that give you control over a mobile app. GE also sells a range of connected window-mounted appliances. You can set schedules for them and synchronize settings across multiple units so that they behave like a connected cooling system.