Choosing the right air conditioner can be a challenge because there are many products available in the market today. You have to research different brands, cooling capacities, energy star ratings, performance reviews, and other such factors before you make your decision. The entire process can be a bit daunting so most people just settle for the first product that they find with good ratings, and call it a day.
Most end up regretting their hasty purchase when the energy bills start to flow in. If you want to choose a good air conditioner, you should spend some time on research or ask for assistance from a professional. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to help you choose an air conditioner that’s perfectly suited for your requirements.
What Factors Do you Need to Consider?
Before you shop for air conditioners, make sure you have a list of factors to consider. These factors will help you understand if the appliance is suitable for your needs. Here’s a list of factors you should take into account:
• Consider the Noise – Many people don’t consider the air conditioning unit’s potential for causing noise. Most modern ACs are quieter and more comfortable, but they still make some noise and that can disturb light sleepers. If that’s a concern for you, you should check how much noise the air conditioning unit generates. You should also consider the different types of air conditioners carefully if you’re particularly sensitive to noise.
• Look for Intelligent Cooling Options – Modern air conditioning units come with smart cooling options. You can interconnect different air conditioning systems in your home, access the unit remotely through your mobile phone, set timers to automatically switch the AC unit off or on, etc. This will help you conserve energy and get the most out your unit. For example, you might be able to remotely switch your AC off if you forget to before you left your home.
• Consider the Warranty – All household appliances require maintenance and can develop problems. Air conditioners are no exception to this rule and can develop problems, which is why you should consider the warranty carefully. You can check the manufacturer’s website for all warranty information or ask the retailer for advice. They’ll list the brands with the best warranties and customer service available.
• The Filter Position Matters – The filter collects dust and debris over time. This can block the air flow and compromise the quality of air in your home. Fortunately, it’s very easy to clean filters as you just need to remove them and brush the accumulated dust away. Unfortunately, some air conditioning units don’t have easily accessible filters so you need to call in professionals to clean them every time. Before you purchase an AC, be sure to check you can clean it well.
• Where you Intend to Install – Most window and split units will blow cooled air in one particular direction so it’s important to consider where you intend to install the unit. Window ACs can only be installed in windows so you need to consider the location of the window and determine if the unit will blow air to the center of the room. If you intend to install a split unit, you need to consider it’s placement on the wall before you make the purchase.
• Budget – Your budget is the ultimate deciding factor and will help you narrow down the list of products. Make sure you set a firm budget in advance before you search for air conditioning products online or in stores.
Determine the Size of the Unit You Will Need
The next step is to determine the size of the unit you will need for your room. If you purchase a unit that’s too big, your room will cool unevenly, the AC will consume more power, and the compressor will cycle too often. If your AC unit is too small, the compressor will have to struggle to maintain the set temperature and will remain switched on for a long time. That would also lead to increased utility bills.
So how do you determine what size you need for your room? You can ask an experienced retailer or call a professional to assess your property and offer recommendations. However, if you want to determine the capacity you need yourself, you should look at the points mentioned below:
• The Size of the Room ¬– Every square foot of your room requires 20BTUs or British Thermal Units. If your room is 300sq feet, you’ll need an air conditioning unit that provides at least 6,000 BTUs. You can measure the room area by multiplying the length and width of the space. This will help you establish a baseline but there are other factors you need to consider as well.
• The Number of Windows and Doors – The number and size of your doors and windows is also an important factor in this calculation. Doors and windows are leak points. They let the conditioned air out and bring the hot air in. No matter how well they’re sealed, some of the air will slip past them. You also need to factor in just how much light seeps into the room through those doors and windows. If your room is very bright and sunny, you need to increase the estimated BTU amount by 10%. To follow the previous example, you’ll need an air conditioning unit of at least 6,600BTUs for bright and sunny rooms. You can lower the BTU amount by the same percentage if the room is dark and shaded.
• The Height of the Ceiling – You would also have to consider the height of the ceiling when you shop for an AC unit. If you have tall ceilings, the air conditioner will have to cool a larger area. You need unit of slightly higher capacity.
• Where You Intend to Place the Unit – Your air conditioning unit should direct air towards the center of the room for maximum effectiveness. If you’re forced to place the unit in a corner and away from the center of the room, you might need to invest in ACs with higher cooling capacities. We recommend that you add a fan in order to circulate the air comfortably throughout the room.
• Number of People – People generate body heat and that increases the temperature of the room just by breathing out warm air. If a room is usually occupied by 2 to 3 people, you should increase the BTUs count by 600 units per person. In the example mentioned above, you need increase the BTU count to 7,200 units if you add another person to the room.
• Kitchen – the kitchen environment is very warm and your air conditioning unit will need to work more to maintain a comfortable temperature. The AC should compensate for the heat emitted by kitchen appliances like stoves, ovens, refrigerators, etc. We recommend that you increase the BTU account by 4,000 in if you intend to install an air conditioning unit in your kitchen.
How to Choose the Right Model?
It can be tempting to save money and purchase a small window air conditioning unit. Unfortunately, that can have consequences in the long run because you have to deal with higher energy bills and a short unit lifespan. You can enjoy lower ownership costs by paying a little more money up front. There are a number of options available to you in the market so you don’t have to spend more than you can to get a good unit that fits your requirements perfectly.
1. Window Air Conditioners
Window air conditioners are ideal for smaller rooms and offices. They’re available in different sizes and capacities as well. Here’s a small introduction to your options:
• Small Window Units – Small window units are the most affordable air conditioners available in the market. They’re light-weight, discreet, and usually don’t make much noise. They don’t consume as much energy so the cost of ownership is low as well. However, smaller units can only effectively cool around 100 to 300 sq feet of space easily. They’re not ideal for bigger rooms as they provide only 5,000 to 6,500BTUs/hr and that’s insufficient for larger rooms.
• Medium Sized Window Units – Medium sized window units can easily cool rooms ranging from 250sq feet to 400sq feet in size. These appliances provide 7,000 to 8,200BTUs/hr and are slightly more expensive compared to the smaller units. They also consume more electricity and are more difficult to install. These units are bigger in size and heavier than small air conditioners.
• Large Air Conditioning Units – Larger air conditioning units provide 9,800 to 12,500 BTUs/hr and can easily cool around 350sq feet to 650sq feet of space. Unfortunately, they’re also the most expensive air conditioning units in this category. They’re also very heavy and bulky, which is why most people hesitate to install them in their homes. The weight and bulk can make installation and repairs difficult and expensive. These units also compromise the overall aesthetics and beauty of your home.
2. Portable Air Conditioners
If your home’s architecture or building regulations prevent you from installing regular air conditioners, portable air conditioners will be a great option for you. However, before you invest in these appliances, pay attention to their performance and effectiveness. Here are some things you need to know about portable air conditioners:
• They provide cooling within the range of 5,000 to 15,500 BTUs. That’s enough to cool a good sized room or office easily.
• Unfortunately, portable units don’t perform as well as regular air conditioning systems. You will need a unit of higher capacity and BTUs rating to cool the required amount of space.
• Portable units aren’t as energy efficient and will consume more electricity. You will have to spend more money on them in the long run.
• These units are also noisier that traditional window units, which can be a big disadvantage to light sleepers.
• Portable air conditioning units are quite big and visible so they stand out like a sore thumb on your room. They’re also very heavy and difficult to move around.
As you can see, portable units aren’t very portable or affordable. However, they’re a good option if you intend to move regularly or can’t install other air conditioning systems in your home.
3. Split Ductless Air Conditioners
Split units are a great way to condition the air in a small number of rooms at the same time. You don’t need to install a separate duct systems or invest in a central air conditioning. These units deliver a reliable performance and are easy to maintain as well. You will have to invest in a professional installation, but split units are generally considered to be a better alternative to the two air conditioning systems mentioned above. Here are some of the biggest advantages of split units:
• They’re excellent at cooling and will maintain a comfortable temperature in two or more rooms. This depends largely on the capacity of the compressor unit. Smaller units can only cool smaller rooms.
• They’re quieter than window or portable air conditioners because the compressor unit is separate and located away from the room. You’ll only hear the faint noise of the fan blowing and air circulating through the system and the room. This unit is ideal for light sleepers who can’t bear the excess noise of window air conditioning units.
• They require a higher initial investment. Most units cost more than $1,000 and you need to spend some money on a professional installation as well. However, they do consume less energy so you will save money in the long run. Split units are also more durable and come with better warranties.
• While split units will cool a couple of rooms easily, they won’t cool the entire house. If you need air conditioning in a large space, you should consider investing in central units.
If you have room in your budget and want something that will deliver a reliable performance, split units are your best bet.
Special Features in Modern Air Conditioning Units
Modern air conditioning systems provide a number of features and settings that can help you save money on electricity bills and keep the internal environment comfortable. Before you purchase the system, consider these features carefully:
• Controls – Most modern air conditioning systems come with on-appliance and remote controls. These controls help you adjust how the air conditioning system works. Poor quality controls can be a constant annoyance and hamper your user experience. Make sure all buttons are easy to use and all controls work as you expect them to.
• Direction of Air Flow – The conditioned air should reach the center of the room and circulate around to ensure all areas of the space are cool and comfortable. Check the controls to see how the unit manages air flow. Most air conditioning units allow you to control the direction and speed of the air flow and that has an impact level of cooling.
• Energy Saving Features – Air conditioning units provide energy saving features like timers, automatic shut offs, scheduled operation, etc. These features will help you keep your indoor environment comfortable without consuming too much energy.
• Dehumidifying – Some air conditioners also have dehumidifying capabilities and can remove excess moisture from your room. You won’t have to invest in a separate dehumidifier to maintain a comfortable environment in your home.
• Ventilation Without Cooling – This feature ensures your room doesn’t feel stale. The air conditioner can take the stale air from the room and circulate fresh air from outside. This improves the overall quality of the indoor air.
The Brands Available in the Market
There are several brands available in the market and most of them have a large product range as well. Here’s a brief introduction to all of these brands:
• Friedrich – This brand manufactures high quality window air conditioners that deliver a reliable performance. These air conditioners are a little more expensive compared to the products available today, but they’re all Energy Star certified,
• Frigidaire –They have air conditioners ranging from 5,000BTUs to 25,000BTUs so you will definitely find something that suits your requirements. These air conditioning units generally have a good reputation.
• GE – GE is a well-known and well-established brand with a wide range of products. They also sell air conditioning units with 5,000BTUs to 25,000BTUs and all their products are energy star certified.
• Haier – Haier has some highly rated and popular air conditioning products in the market. They offer units that provide 5,000BTUs to 24,000BTUs and all their products are also Energy Star rated.
• LG – LG manufactures a number of high quality household appliances and has a large collection as well. The units provide BTUs ranging from 5,000 to 25,000 as well.
Taking all these factors into consideration might seem like a lot of work, but you will have a great air conditioning system in your home as a result.
A good place to start is our free quote tool. It’s here you can see your options and decide what you think works best for you!