Residential Room Air Conditioners

Residential Room Air Conditioners

Residential Room Air Conditioners

A room air conditioner is any type of air conditioner meant for cooling a single room. They can be found almost anywhere: hotels, offices, apartments, houses, and just about any type of building. There are several different types, each with its own benefits and detriments when considering a particular application.

For commercial applications, such as hotels and many offices, Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners (PTAC’s) are commonly used. These are the type units found in a typical hotel room, allowing occupants of each room to set the unit to their comfort. They generally range from 7000 to 19000 BTU cooling capacity.

A variation on this theme is the mini-split, a smaller PTAC type unit also meant for a more permanent type installation. They require a small hole in the wall to connect the components inside with those outside, and professional installation is generally recommended. These may be found in offices and homes.

The most popular types for residential applications include portable, window, and through-wall air conditioners. This article addresses some considerations when choosing a room air conditioner for residential use.

Portable air conditioners are unique in that the entire unit is located inside the room to be cooled. They are simple to install, requiring only an electrical outlet and a place to ventilate to somewhere outside the room. This can be done through a window or the ceiling, neither of which requires permanent alteration to the building. They can also be vented through a dryer-type vent, which requires a small hole in the wall.

Units designed for residential use typically range from 5000 to 14000BTU cooling power, and virtually all run on a standard 115v household circuit. They do take up a small amount of floor space, and since the ventilation hose should not be more than 10′ long, (typically units come with a 5′ hose), they must be near the ventilation point, be it a window or other.

They are excellent for small offices or residential rooms up to about 450 square feet, especially when supplementing central air. Portable air conditioner are heavy but have casters. so they are easy to move from room to room, or to storage for times when they are not needed. Many models offer a heating option for year round use.

Window air conditioners obviously have a window mounting system designed to allow a sliding window to close tightly to the case. They take advantage of existing window framing for support. Their intake vents are designed for sitting in a narrow window, so the louvers are on the sides and top. If used in a through wall, part of the air intake may be blocked due to the thickness of the wall, so this is not recommended if the wall is too thick.

Through-wall air conditioners have a sleeve, or removable case, which is mounted through a hole in the wall cut to its size, and this is therefore a more permanent installation. This makes through-wall units less attractive if the user is renting. A trim kit slides over the sleeve to seal it and give a more finished look around the unit. Installing a through-wall unit may require some framing work to ensure adequate support, depending on the wall structure and location. The unit itself slides into the sleeve.

Window and through wall types of room air conditioner have been around a lot longer than portable units. They are often more efficient, but not always so, and one should look for Energy Star rating (portable air conditioner are not qualified by Energy Star). Many manufacturers offer window models with more power, up to about 25,000btu (2 tons), so they can be used for larger rooms than portable or wall models. Many window and wall models require a 230v supply.

Neither of these types take up floor space, but they are visible from outside, so some apartment complexes and homeowners associations restrict their use. One will want to be sure about this before buying. They are heavy and harder to move than portable air conditioners. Window and through-wall air conditioners also can be found with a heat function for year-round comfort. There are two types of heat, electric (strip) heat, and heat pumps. Heat pumps are more powerful and efficient and are recommended when the unit is the sole source of heat.

Each of these three types of room air conditioner can transform a room dramatically. Choosing the right type for a given application will minimize any negative impact, and emphasize the comfort it provides. has many models to choose from, all of which ship free- a significant savings considering that most portable, window, and through-wall units weigh anywhere from 65 to over 100 pounds. We can assist buyers work through the process of determining which type is best: just drop us a line or give us a call, we’ll be glad to help!

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