Before You Buy a Room Air Conditioner

An air conditioner is a very tough piece of equipment. It is engineered to withstand all sorts of abuse and keep on running. This is great in most respects, but it can lead to complacency about maintenance. Like a car, air conditioners need regular tune-ups to run properly.

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Types of Room Air Conditioners

  • Window-mounted unit – most popular and economical
  • Wall-mounted unit – requires some renovation work
  • Window/wall units allow either installation.
  • Portable air conditioners – mobile units that exhaust hot air through a connection out a window.
  • Split ductless or mini air systems are more expensive than window/wall units, but are less intrusive than a full central unit.
  • Comparing Central Air to Room Air Conditioners
  • Compare Prices of Air Conditioners
  • Compare Prices of Central Air

Best Air Conditioner Features

  • Electronic controls make the unit easy to set
  • Remote control adds convenience especially at night
  • Sleep or Energy Saver modes keep the room comfortable while saving energy costs
  • Auto-restart is a must for brown out periods. Power outages are hard on compressors, but with this feature the unit will restart after a power failure without harming the unit.
  • EnergyStar compliant and a high EER will save in energy costs.
  • Programmable or delay start settings are ideal for having the room cooled just before you return home.
  • Filter type, source and whether reusable
  • Easy install kit
  • Adjustable multi-way directional control
  • What’s a CADR Rating?

Buy Only an Air Conditioner With Approved Refrigerant

Ozone-depleting R-22 and other HCFCs refrigerants are being phased out and replaced with a more earth-friendly R410A. To protect your investment and ensure that servicing your unit in future will not be a problem, buy only air conditioners have approved R410A refrigerant.

Deciding on Capacity to Cool a Certain Coverage Area

Manufacturers usually provide recommended coverage for a given model and buying a unit that’s adequate to cool that area is very important. Under-sizing may be inadequate and oversizing for the room, you’ll be paying for a benefit you may not need or use. Measure the area before you shop. These are the recommended BTU’s for a given cooling area from Consumer Reports:

  • Small room: 5,000 – 6,000 BTU for 100-300 sq. ft.
  • Medium room: 7,000 – 8,200 BTU for 250-550 sq. ft.
  • Large room: 9,800 to 12,500 BTU’s for 350-950 sq. ft. area.

When you find the air conditioner you want, also confirm the coverage area for that cooling unit.

Energy Efficiency to Save in Electricity Costs

An EnergyStar® qualified air conditioner will save you about 30% less in energy costs over non-qualifying units. You should also consider the EER rating. Air conditioners that have been certified by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) carry an energy efficiency rating (EER). The higher the number, the less in operating costs. Therefore an air conditioner with an EER rating of 11 will cost less to operate than one with a rating of 6. Combine a high EER rating with EnergyStar and your new air conditioner will be most efficient. You may also want to take note of a CEE tier rating.

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