Summertime – while the sunshine and outdoor activities are always more than welcome, the sometimes-sweltering temperatures inside our homes aren’t quite as enjoyable. Above certain temperatures, open windows and fans have little effect. It’s times like those that air conditioning is an absolute godsend. Of course, there are a wide variety of air conditioner types.

For newer condominium buildings, and the fortunate homeowners who can afford it in their houses, central air conditioning provides the entire home with cooling through a dwelling-wide system of ducting and vents. However, this certainly isn’t an option for everyone. It can be rather expensive to install, difficult to incorporate into certain homes, and if you are renting, doing so isn’t even an option. Wall units are less expensive and far easier to install, but again are not always an option – for example, if you don’t’ want to (or cannot) perform the necessary permanent alterations to the building. When budget and non-intrusiveness are key, your best choice is the window air conditioner.

A common mistake made when purchasing a window air conditioner is going to the store (online or brick and mortar), asking which is the best, and purchasing it based on that recommendation. In fact, there are many factors that you must consider before buying a window air conditioner to ensure that you have the right one for you and your home.

Size and Capacity

This is arguably the most important consideration when buying a window air conditioner. Notice that we took care to specify that by the term “size,” we are referring to cooling capacity – that is, how much air the unit can cool in a specific period. This capacity is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs): the amount of energy required to change the temperature of a pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. In the case of air conditioners, BTUs are actually BTUs per hour.

While the physical size of air conditioners does, of course, affect their cooling capacity, simply looking at this does not accurately reflect this consideration. For instance, many large older units have quite modest capacities, while amongst modern units, the difference in size between an 8,000 BTU air conditioner and a 20,000 BTU air conditioner might be just a few inches in certain dimensions. The only way to be sure of a units cooling capacity is to take careful note of their actual rating.

Once you’ve acquired this information, how do you use it? Well, we’ve provided a guide for you to follow that outlines what cooling rating range you should consider depending on the size of the space to be cooled.

150 to 350 sq ft: 5,000 to 8, 000 BTUs

550 to 1,050 sq ft: 12,000 to 18,500 BTUs

1,050 to 1,600 sq ft: 18,500- to 25,000 BTUs

While this is an excellent guide to start with, there are several factors that affect a window air conditioner’s real-world efficiency and its ability to cool a space. Taking these into consideration, you’ll be able to more accurately choose the perfect capacity air conditioner for your specific needs.

Exposure to Sunlight: If the room is heavily shaded (by trees, another building, overhangs, etc.), for the most part, kept heavily curtained or simply has a single window that receives very little sunlight, you should reduce the suggested capacity for that room size by ten percent. If the room receives a large amount of sunlight throughout the day, you should increase the suggested capacity by ten percent.

Ceiling Height: If the room has higher ceilings, heating professionals recommend that you look for an air conditioner with a capacity in the upper portion of the suggested BTU range for your room size. If the room has low ceilings, the opposite will be true.

Kitchen Cooling: Of course, the use of an oven, stove and other cooking devices considerably increases the temperature in a kitchen as compared to the rest of a home. For this reason, experts suggest increasing the capacity of an air conditioner being installed in a kitchen by as much as 4,000 BTUs over another room of similar size. You should make similar considerations for any room that will have extra heat generated internally (e.g., an office’s computer server room).

Number of Occupants: Some rooms are likely to have more than one person in them whenever they are used (e.g., a family room or dining room). If your family shares many

meals together on a daily basis or often spends the evening together in the sitting room, you should increase the capacity of that room’s air conditioner by 600 BTUs for each additional person.

Adjoining Rooms: If there is an adjoining room or rooms with permanently open doorways, you will need to add the square footage of all rooms together to determine your air conditioner’s required cooling capacity.

If you need clarification on any of these, don’t hesitate to email our experienced staff or call our Customer Service Department at 800-299-9470.

Energy Efficiency EER

As with most electrical appliances, manufacturers have in recent years made them considerably more energy efficient. This is, of course, good news for the environment, as fewer energy requirements equal using fewer resources – so you can keep cool while staying true to your goals of being an environmentally responsible individual! At the same time, this also factors heavily into a main concern for all of us – how much running the air conditioner will cost.

Without exception, you should ensure that any air conditioner you buy meets the latest Energy Star standards, which certify that the unit at hand is at least ten percent more efficient than units lacking that certification. The majority of quality air conditioners meet this certification, and any money you save initially by buying one without it will be quickly recouped through the energy saved. Once you have ensured air conditioners have this rating, you should then compare them to see which one has the highest Energy Efficiency Rating (EER). The higher the rating, the more efficient the air conditioner will be – and the more money you’ll save.

Cost

The fact of the matter is, the cost of an air conditioner will always be a factor in its purchase. However, it cannot be the only factor, as this will very likely result in purchasing a unit that does not fit your needs. The cost of a window air conditioner depends on a variety of factors – cooling capacity, features, components, accessories – and yes, even brand name. In most cases, the wisest choice is the least expensive quality air conditioner that is the right ‘size’ (capacity), has all the features you need, and will work well in the space in question. At appliance connection, we carry only quality brands and, in addition to manufacturers warranties, we offer our exclusive 30-Day Hassle-Free Return Policy – so unless there is a particular brand you prefer, you can feel confident in saving a few dollars when choosing between the units that fit your needs.

Features

Long gone are the days of window air conditioners where the only options were ON, OFF, speed 1-3 and (if you were lucky) a “fan” feature. Now, air conditioners offer a host of features designed to keep the perfect temperature, save energy and make the unit more convenient for you. Here are some of the most popular features you should consider when buying a window air conditioner.

Digital Controls and Readouts: Besides being easier to use, well-designed touchpad controls are more accurate. Being able to set an exact temperature and see in real time what the room temperature is will help to ensure maximum comfort and energy savings, as well as ensuring that the air conditioner is actually working correctly.

Variable Fan Speeds: Combined with new features such as digital panels, variable fan speed is no longer a “cold, colder, coldest” shot in the dark. Rather, you can set the temperature with a lower fan speed to save energy if the room does not need to be cooled rapidly. Also, as many newer units have far more than three fan speeds, it is possible to the exact speed necessary at the time.

Sleep/Energy Saver: This setting can either completely shut your window air conditioner off or allow it to operate at a low setting for a set period. Usually, this will be used during nighttime hours while you are asleep and don’t need quite as much cooling, and the air conditioner will “wake” on its own to ensure you are comfortable in your last hours of sleep as the temperature rises.

Venting: Depending on the temperature and humidity, optimal operation may be achieved through recirculating the room’s air, pulling outside air into the room or exhausting the room air.

Directionality: While some feel this is an outdated and unnecessary feature, in most rooms optimal cooling is achieved when the air is directed towards a certain part of the room. Therefore, after looking at your room layout (and asking one of our knowledgeable team members if you are unsure), you may want to consider a window air conditioner that can direct airflow.

Dehumidifier Mode:On some days, the measured temperature may be relatively cool, but due to high humidity, it can be equally uncomfortable as a scorching hot day. This capability will allow the air conditioner to remove the humidity from the room, thus cooling it.   

Heating: If you live in a climate that can get quite cold (or have wide temperature fluctuations) and your built-in heating is insufficient, this can be a lifesaver.

Scheduling: This allows you to set a multi-faceted schedule for your air conditioner’s operation. This can dictate how it runs throughout the day, taking into consideration changing temperatures and occupancy, or even throughout a longer period, minimizing use on days when the entire family is out most of the day.

Internet of Things: These are extremely smart features that allow you to control your window air conditioner through the Internet using your smart devices. These can include but are not limited to, controlling multiple features of your air conditioner using a manufacturer-provided app or third-party apps such as Alexa or Siri.

PORTABILITY

In many cases (especially in colder climates), window units are installed at the time of year when the temperature rises and removed as it gets colder. While window air conditioners are no longer the behemoths of yesteryear, they can still be quite substantial. If you will need to move the unit a considerable distance to and from storage, or if you live alone/will not have much help, you may want to consider a lighter model that fits your needs.

NOISE

This is an often-neglected consideration. Due to mechanical makeup, design and even certain efficiency features, window air conditioners can vary in how loud they are. This can be a make-or-break factor – for example, a too-loud air conditioner installed in a bedroom can wreak havoc on your sleep. Thankfully, most manufacturers now include a decibel rating on their air conditioners.

DRAINAGE

Unlike portable room units that need to be emptied periodically, window air conditioners have drainage tubes that carry condensation outside. However, there may still be particularities to consider here (e.g., objects outside that may be damaged by exposure to the condensed water, neighbors below in an apartment building, etc.) In the odd case that such considerations arise, there is usually an easy solution.

Taking these main considerations into account, you can now begin your search for a window air conditioner with confidence. At Appliance Connection, we carry a wide range of window air conditioners to fit every need. Here are some suggested models out of our selection of feature-rich, high-quality window air conditioners.

Money Saver

GE AEM05LX (5,200 BTU)

AEM05LX

Smart Cookie

Frigidaire FGRC1044T1 Smart Window Air Conditioner (10,000 BTU)

FGRC1044T1

Whisper Quiet

Friedrich SQ10N10C (9,600 BTU)

SQ10N10C

Green King Cooler (Ultra-Efficient High Capacity)

Impecca IWA25KS30 (25,000 BTU)

IWA25KS30

One thought on “Window Air Conditioner Buying Guide

  1. Great blog, there’s a lot of helpful information here. Thank you for sharing this information with the public. You have mentioned the features gratefully.

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