These days, it is impossible to talk about a living space without mentioning the air conditioning. The demand for window air conditioning is at an all-time high, and people can’t get enough of these appliances, especially the Americans.
Their demand for energy for ACs is more than the rest of the world combined. More of this demand for this has to do with climate change and the fact that weather patterns can fluctuate wildly. There is, therefore, need for appliances that can help to at least stabilize indoor air.
87% of American households use ACs. Window air conditioners take a large chunk of the portion due to various reasons.
One of this is the price. Window air conditioners are known for their affordable price. This makes them ideal options for people who cannot afford the central air conditioning systems or are not looking to invest heavily in air conditioning.
Ease of installation is another factor that continues to push window AC’s sales. While different types of window ACs require different levels of complexities, the overall installation process is fairly simple.
However, as air conditioners are required to move air over the coils so the moisture can condense, they need fans to achieve this. These fans produce noise. Finding the right AC that is at acceptable noise levels, therefore, becomes a hassle.
Power in BTUs
Shopping for a window air conditioner might prove to be a challenging endeavor, especially if proper research is not taken to ascertain which kind of unit might be appropriate for the house.
The popular notion of ‘the bigger, the better’ falls flat when it comes to air conditioners. Going for mere cosmetic rather than the unit’s ability to keep temperatures at proper levels without fail will lead to disappointment.
The BTU power of a window unit is one of the main factors you can never downplay. Knowing how many BTUs (British Thermal Units) of heat energy would be required to keep the room at desired temperature levels could prove an invaluable skill.
But how do BTUs influence the decisions I make when shopping for a window air conditioner you ask?
For starters, 1 BTU is the amount of energy required to raise a pound of water 1 Fahrenheit at sea level. For comparison, a lighted matchstick produces 1 BTU of energy. While it may look as though it should mean that much, this metric is in fact very important as it helps us determine what we are going to get with different units.
Most units produce BTUs of ranges from somewhere around 5000 to over 30,000.
Mounting the wrong window AC might lead to faster-than-normal wear and tear. When the produced energy is less than what is needed to reach the set temperature and humidity, it means the appliance will run endlessly since the set temperature will never be reached.
When the energy is too much, the unit will continuously cycle on an off since it achieves the set temperature too quickly and this may overwhelm the compressor.
The efficiency of a particular window air conditioner also plays a major part in determining the BTU value that would work effectively on your space. A ratio of AC cooling capacity to its wattage is used to measure the efficiency. It is popularly known as Energy Efficiency Ratio, or simply EER.
If for example, a window unit has spits 8000BTUs of energy while drawing about 800W of power, it would translate to an EER of 10 (i.e 8000/800). An EER rating of 11 and above is considered good.
When the efficiency is low, you will need to look for a model with more BTUs ( about 10% more) than one recommended for your space. This also applies to spaces that are not well insulated.
Also, when space is under shade or has very limited sunlight exposure, you might want to consider looking for 10% less BTUs so you can conserve energy and keep the bills lower.
Sturdiness and reliability
Window ACs are not the most disposable appliances out there. Therefore you’ll need to find a unit that lasts for a long time so it can save you such stress. You will also need to look for appliances that are sturdy enough to withstand extreme conditions.
Over the years, some firms have managed to win over the consumers by providing quality reliable window units, and have therefore become household names.
We don’t necessarily mean you have to follow the heard. We do, however, feel that reading and listening to verified customer review or buying guides from trustworthy websites can be of great help while looking for a window unit for your house. This is because these customers have experience using the units and have the first-hand experience with the unit and have an informed idea of how and why it would or would not work.
Some of the most recognizable brands when it comes to window units include Frigidaire, Kenmore, LG, Haire, Toshiba, CE.
- Frigidaire is a household name when it comes to air conditioning. You’ll barely miss it in online stores and retailers such as Best Buys and Amazon. It has earned itself a huge following due to its innovative and convenient solutions when it comes to air control. This has led to it earning numerous awards among them being the Editors’ Choice Awards it received from the USAToday-owned Reviewed.com Awards.
Most of its appliances target low-income consumers and range from 5,000 to 28,000BTUs. Its window mounted 10,000BTU FFRA1022R1 model is one such example with a coverage area of over 450 sq.ft that goes for less than $400.
- LG has also carved out a marker for itself when it comes to air conditioning as its units are best-sellers in most stores. The LG star window AC goes for only about 200 dollars but is able to cover over 260sq.ft at a capacity of 6000BTU. This has earned it an Amazon Choice recognition which is a badge given to units that are highly rated, well priced and are available to ship immediately.
- Toshiba takes innovation a little step further to ensure convenience by making smartphone and Alexa compatible units. This, combined with their sleek and touch control configurations, makes their units appeal to contemporary users.
These firms not only deliver in terms of producing quality products but are known for their excellent after-sale services. Haire, for example, is known for their support in terms of parts and services. One can schedule for service at any time of the day, 7 days of the week by filling out convenient forms that only requires a model number and serial number.
If you don’t already have a space heater in your home, some window air conditioners can help with that. Its true heating and cooling used to be separate jobs, but technology has caught up with them, and a result is a unit that much smaller and is more affordable.
Reversible window air conditioners can be very good options in places where there are extremes in both winter and summer. In such areas, the unit would act as a central heating unit during winter and a cooling device during the summer.
These units are able to reverse the flow of the refrigerant turning it into both a condenser and an evaporator at the same time. This is achieved by the use of a special heat pump that uses a reversing 4-way heat valve.
These reversible (or combined) units are common in domestic properties due to their range of benefits which include:
- The ability to maintain a persistent temperature during both the summer and winter without needing an extra appliance.
- Saving in terms of purchase and operation costs of a separate heater. These can be used in other areas to improve the quality of their lifestyle. Heat pumps are also known to use less power (as much as a third) to heat than conventional heaters.
- Due to their ability to combine heating and cooling functions more efficiently, they are a less environmental impact.
- The noise that would have otherwise come from multiple sources can now be efficiently managed through clever use of ducts and motors. This ensures your summers and winters are always peaceful and quiet throughout the year.
Reversible air conditioners, as discussed earlier, use heat pumps. These devices are not fail-proof. In fact, they are known to have huge setbacks in temperatures below 25 degrees Farenheight and would require a resistance heater’s help.
Ease of Installation
When looking for any window AC, the installation has to be in the cards. Improper installation can ruin your experience even with the most advanced or highest rated unit out there.
Overall, most window units have simple and straight-forward installation processes. However, the type and brand of the unit can determine the ease of the process and cost of the equipment required.
Split window air conditioners are known to be pricier in terms of installation and equipment. If you have never worked with a split air conditioner, you’ll probably require an expert to help you with this. They would cost from $500 to as much as $2500 depending on the complexity of the installation.
In order to avoid frustrations, ensure you are sure of the following;
The ideal location for a window unit is one that is mounted in a central window on the wall. This is because the airflow is best is these scenarios. A window placed at the corner will have a difficult time keeping the whole room at the required temperatures and would in some cases require a fan to supplement it.
Also, unless you are staying in a multi-story building, it would be best to ensure the appliances is accessible from both inside and outside due to the required periodic maintenance and cleaning.
While windows can be made to work with smaller appliances by making the opening smaller, the same is not possible in cases where the appliance is bigger than the window.
Ensure you are aware of the exact dimensions of your window to avoid the pain of having to cut the adjoining walls to fit the unit.
For best experiences, your unit should be smaller than the opening by a few inches. This will allow you to put a slide out carriage that will ease the process of removing and cleaning the appliance.
If a proper power supply is not available near the window you need the unit to be installed, you’ll require some wiring. Most units require you use a socket that should be solely dedicated for use with the window unit because they draw quite an amount of energy from the source.
This is because plugging a window air conditioner in series with other appliances might blow fuses or activate the circuit breakers. Not everyone is good with wiring. Hiring a professional to do this costs money and this is probably not what you want at the moment.
You will want to ensure the window unit will withstand against burglary once installed. Sliding windows are the most affected. While you can do the securing yourself by making sure you add a couple of nails on the sliding track to ensure no movement, you might have to hire private contractors if the process might run you into problems.
All these extra costs can be avoided if you have security in mind while shopping for a window AC.
The operating noise of the window air conditioner has to be a top priority consideration especially if you are easily woken by motor noise. Constantly being woken by appliance noise could turn your nights to nightmares.
A lot can be done to reduce the noise produced by these units, but choosing one that is much tolerable in terms of noise production can the first step in the right direction. Compare different sound levels and find the right one for you before you settle on any one particular model.
Most high-end units let you choose from different cooling speeds. This can be quite useful because it allows you to set the appliance to the lowest settings and this greatly reduces the noise produced.
Digital timers and thermostats can greatly supplement this by ensuring that the air conditioner runs only when it is required to.
Friedrich brand of air conditioners overall receives the best reviews in terms of having some of the quietest window air conditioners. They, however, set you back some few bucks if you are willing to make the sacrifice. Proper installation is however required for them to work properly.
To ensure that your desired noise level is maintained, you will have to ensure the air conditioner is installed correctly. Gaskets and loose side panels are major sources of rattling noises that may render high quality, quiet unit useless.
Make sure all mounting parts are tightened. Gaps should be filled with foam before running the appliance.
Also, ensure you carry out maintenance regularly to get rid of the dirt that might clog fan blades and airways and this could wear out the bearings early. Rattling glass panes should be fitted with putty to prevent movement.
Window air conditioners are made to use much less energy compared to central units. You can still, however, keep the bill further down by using the right unit.
Different brands are battling it out in terms of how their appliances use less energy to regulate indoor temperature. This has resulted in innovations that have led to significant improvement in energy savings to as much as 10 percent.
These innovations include smart features such as digital thermostats and timers that ensure the appliances runs only when it needs to and thereby saving energy whenever they can. Others are directional airflow vents that enable one to change the direction of airflow both horizontally and vertically. These, coupled with other features such as oscillating capabilities, ensures optimal conditions are reached quickly which in turns saves energy.
Calculating the AC load.
It is also a good idea to know basic energy calculations in order to predict the possible monthly cost of operating a particular window AC before buying it.
Two things to keep in mind here; the EER rating and the ton capacity (1 ton equal 12000BTU/hr or 3.517 kW of power). If the appliance was 3-star rated, which would translate to an EER of 2.7, then for a 12000BTU capacity appliance, the cooling capacity would be;
1*3.517/2.7 = 1.376kWh
Window ACs are not very energy efficient so if you take for example a unit to be 70% efficient, then the amount of energy needed per hour would be ;
70/100 * 1.376 = 0.963 units.
Now, you only need to multiply with your local charge per unit so you can get the hourly cost of running your preferred window air conditioner.
Features and Accessories
Various models have different features and accessories that are meant to make our lives easy while using them.
Smart Home Compatible appliances
With smart homes getting popular by the day, there are ever increasing opportunities for manufacturers to get into by providing devices that can communicate and with other appliances in the house.
Smart home compatible ACs can be very efficient in ensuring the ACs are running at optimal conditions and only when they need be.
For example, when window air conditioners capable of communicating with say Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, they can be set to preheat or precool houses before we arrive at home. They can also get data from remote servers about the weather and adjust accordingly.
Fan speed can be a great help when you need to adjust your appliance to suit different levels of heat or cold. Most low-end window ACs have only two fan settings, the low and the high. These can be used to reduce fans’ speed when the desired temperatures have been achieved.
High-end appliances have additional medium and auto fan settings to enable more precise control over the indoor air. The auto fans setting adjusts itself according to the difference between the indoor temperature and the thermostat settings.
Air Directional Control
This consists of different mechanism a window conditioner employs to direct the airflow to a particular direction. Not everyone wants to have air blowing past their face when the AC is running. A special set of blades tilts in a different direction to enable the user to change the direction of the air from up to down on any side (left or right).
To make your shopping easy, it is better to have the aforementioned concepts well thought out. This will help you know what type of window air conditioner your lifestyle allows you to have. While scouring through hundreds of reviews might be a good idea, it might be tiring and not as comprehensive as a guide like this one.
Window units from known brands such as LG, Toshiba, Frigidaire, CE, Haier, among others are well-rounded appliances and have options for almost any situation.
These ACs are however not meant for entire houses or for those that need to constantly relocate the appliances. In those cases, central air conditioners and portable ACs respectively would suit such situations better.
Maintenance of these appliances can go a long way in maximizing the lifespan of these units and this could greatly save both running and replacement costs. Filters should be cleaned and vacuumed and cabinets wiped to prevent mold growth. When the unit is not in use, especially for those that are only used during the summer, it should be stored for until it is required again. This will ensure that it lasts longer.