Home Air Conditioner Buying Guide

Do you need to keep you home cool this summer? Whether you want an air conditioner for your bedroom or are looking for something for the office, this guide can help you find an air conditioner that will work in your space. Read on for expert tips to help you choose the best air conditioner for your needs.

Types of Air Conditioners

Window Air Conditioners

Window air conditioners are designed to easily cool a single room. They are pretty easy to install and typically offer more cooling power than portable units. These are good options if you want to cool just a single room, rather than the whole house.

Portable Air Conditioners

A portable air conditioner lets you conveniently cool an individual room. These units are relatively easy to install and can supplement larger systems. Many homeowners associations do not allow installation of window units. A portable air conditioner is an easy, versatile alternative to a window unit in these situations. They are also a great option to help cool rentals or in other cases where a permanent unit cannot be installed. Although a portable unit does not require complex installation, it must be vented through a window. The setup is relatively easy and the unit can be moved from one room to another with minimal effort.

Mini-Split Systems

Similar to central air conditioners, mini-split systems have a split design but without the use of an elaborate system of ducts. These air conditioners are a popular alternative to central air conditioners. These systems tend to cost less than central air conditioner systems but more than window units. They are harder and more costly to install than window air conditioners. In addition, a licensed HVAC professional must install these systems. The split system has one or more units inside the home and one unit outside of the home. The indoor unit is known as the evaporator and the outdoor unit is the condenser. Small lines of refrigerant run from the indoor units to the outdoor unit. The indoor units can be either ceiling or wall- mounted. These systems can be used to cool one zone. They can also be used to cool multiple zones by using multiple, independent indoor units to one condenser.

Pay Attention to

One of the most important factors to pay attention to when choosing an air conditioner is its cooling capacity. This is measured in BTUs. The BTU rating is essentially a number that tells you how quickly and effectively a unit can cool a room. Ratings generally range from 5,000 BTUs to more than 20,000. It is important to choose the right BTU for your room size to get the most energy-efficient cooling system for your home. A unit with too few BTUs will not be able to cool a large space efficiently. It will constantly run. An oversized air conditioner will cycle on and off frequently. This will waste energy and decrease the unit's ability to dehumidify the room. For portable air conditioners, a 200 square foot area will need an 8,000 BTU air conditioner. For a window unit, the same size room would only require approximately 5500 BTUs. Split systems can cool up to 1200 square feet or more, depending upon the model. Some of the factors that affect BTU requirements are:

Sun Exposure

If your room or space is sunny during the day, you will need approximately 10 percent more BTUs. On the other hand, if your room is shaded for most of the day, you can decrease your BTU rating by 10 percent.

Ceiling Height

If your ceilings are higher than eight feet, you will need a higher BTU rating.


If the room that you intend to intall the air conditioner in is insulated well, you can typically get away with a slightly lower BTU rating.

Area Climate

A very warm climate will require a higher BTU rating.


If you are installing your window air conditioner in a kitchen, increase the BTU rating by 4,000.

Top Brands and Product Lines

Quirky plus GE Aros Smart Window Air Conditioner

This smart window unit allows you to automatically maintain the perfect temperature and maximize savings for your home. This high-tech air conditioner can be controlled from anywhere by an app available on almost any mobile device.

Friedrich Chill 10,000 BTU Window Air Conditioner

You can enjoy nice cool air while minimizing your impact on the environment with this unit. Part of Friedrich's Chill line, this air conditioner can quietly cool spaces up to 450 square feet. The automated air-sweep louvers cool the room notably faster than similar models. It was designed for light commercial and household cooling. The compact design helps you conserve valuable space.

LG LP1415SHR 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

LG's portable unit offers both cooling and heating. It features an easy-to-use LCD control panel. You can easily alternate between cooling and heating to maintain the perfect temperature in the room. The handy remote control makes it easy to turn the power on and off from clear across the room. This unit features a dehumidifier that quickly and efficiently reduces moisture in the air. This helps increase the comfort level of the room.

DuctlessAire 22,000 BTU 2-Ton Mini Split System

This ductless air conditioner and heat pump system is a quiet, high-efficiency, low-cost cooling solution. It can also be used to provide heating, as well. This energy efficient system is the ideal solution for open room applications such as offices, classrooms, sunrooms, home theaters and above-garage apartments.

Whether you're looking for a window unit or a mini-split system, referring to this buying guide will ensure that you find exactly what you're looking for.