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Guide To 10 Types Of Air Conditioners

The world has recently been facing the worst heatwaves of all times, making it almost impossible to sit for one second without an electric fan or air conditioner. While many people are resilient enough to make do with a fan, others can’t really go without an air conditioner.

According to reports prepared by the U.S Department of Energy, the general population spends more than $11 billion a year to power their air conditions. That’s a big number to be spending on cool air in one year. This might be the first time you’re 100% sure that you will be purchasing an AC for your home, office, or other spaces, or this may be the time to replace your existing system with something better – latest and efficient models.

Your AC unit asked for a large investment so you obviously want to get your money’s worth. But finding the perfect air conditioning system for your needs can be confusing and stressful, given the vast array of choices the market has to offer. Evaluating the unit’s size, space requirements, high-efficiency features, cost, qualities, and all other features of any AC unit is enough to make you have a meltdown. Well, that’s why we are here.

This guide includes a thorough discussion of all types of air conditioners, their use in various spaces as well as advantages and disadvantages of each. Let’s jump right into it.

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Considerations Before Buying An Air Conditioner

Since you will be spending quite an amount on your AC unit, it’s essential to make an informed decision. Keep these factors in mind:

  • Size of the space: Square footage is important. Estimate how much capacity you require. For instance, you can get a 20,000 BTU portable air conditioner for a 1,000 sq. ft. house. For a 4,000 sq. ft. house, you have to get a larger 60,000 BTU mini-split system.
  • If you want to cool just one of two rooms or the entire house.
  • If a ductwork system is already installed (an option is central air).
  • Your budget.

We’ll discuss all types of air conditioners and understand which one would be best suited for you. You’ll also an idea about the price range and average sizes for the varying AC units.

When determining which AC is ideal for your room/home/office, consider the energy consumption. The most powerful of the bunch, 60,000 BTU AC unit packs a punch but it also sets you back a pretty penny on your energy bills. In contrast, the weakest 5,000 BTU gives you what you pay for, i.e., don’t be surprised if you’re building up sweat in the middle of summer.

Types of Air Conditioners

Without diving in deeper about basic air conditioning principle, we know that these appliances are divided into two big groups.

  1. Stand-Alone AC units: One device bears the entire load. For example: window air conditioners, portable air conditioners, floor mounter air conditioners.
  2. Split-System AC units: Two devices collaborate to give service. For example; ceiling air conditioners, wall mounter air conditioners, central air conditioners.

Stand-Alone AC Units

Both coils are located inside one device in stand-alone AC units. These types of air conditioners are:

  • Portable and easier to install.
  • More affordable.
  • Lower capacity than split-system AC units.
  • Can be noisier as the compressor is situated inside the space.
  • An air vent is needed at all times – something that goes outside of a sliding door or a window.

Above all else, the stand-alone units are convenient.

There are five different types of stand-alone air conditioners.

1. Portable Air Conditioners

Portable air conditioners are amongst the most popular type of air conditioners, and it’s easy to see why. They don’t need to be installed in a certain room or mounted. They are super portable, always feature wheels, and are easy to maneuver.

They are pretty small too – with a capacity ranging between 5.000 to 15.000 BTU. You could get one for as low as $200 to as high as $800 with the average price being around $500.

Where it is used

Given their small size and wheel attachments, these would technically be great for every space, but they’re good for smaller homes and apartments. Offices need bigger setups.

Ease of installation

There is no hassle of installation involved. You have to “park” the portable AC unit in the room and attach the hose to a device. Then, put the other end out a window or door.

Pros:
  • The most versatile type of air conditioner.
  • Compact, portable size.
  • Affordable.
  • Air conditioning on the go.
Cons:
  • The air pipe needs to be moved along with the unit.
  • The air hose can be up to 10 feet long and 4” to 6” in diameter.
  • Won’t work if there’s no window or door nearby.
SereneLife SLPAC10 Floor Air Conditioner

Portable Electric Air Conditioner Unit - 1150W 10000 BTU Power Plug In AC Indoor Room Conditioning System w/ Cooler, Dehumidifier, Fan, Exhaust Hose, Window Seal, Wheels, Remote - SereneLife SLPAC10CHECK CURRENT PRICE

 

Don’t be fooled by the simple design of the SereneLife SLPAC10. With fairly decent HVAC metrics, this portable air conditioner gets the job done on a budget friendly price.

We especially enjoy the automatic swing mode. In simplest terms, it’s the way the AC’s wind vents move around to give the best air circulation. It’s a simple device with an amazing price to performance ratio. The 10,000 BTU capacity allows the gadget to achieve up to a dry airflow level of 290 CFM – above average, something that surprised us in this price point.

Key Features:
  • EER = 8.7
  • Average noise level – 52 to 56 dBa.
  • Dehumidification rate – 3.30 Pt/h.
  • 10,000 BTU cooling power.
  • 3 operating modes.
Pros:
  • Automatic swing mode.
  • Good EER, dehumidification, and noise control.
  • Best value.
  • Great maximum dry airflow.
  • Sleek design.
Cons:
  • No over-the-top features.

2. Window Air Conditioners

These are super popular in Europe. The entire unit is enveloped by a single shell which is then built through the wall or in a window. One part of the air conditioning system is facing indoors whereas the other is facing outdoors. There’s no need for a one device equipped with an air vent or two devices, giving the AC its unique feature.

In comparison to split-system devices, window ACs are easier to install and more affordable. Some advanced models provide heating features too. They are available for anywhere from $100 to $800.

Where it is used

This type of air conditioner is best for home uses – a single room at a time – think a studio apartment.

Ease of installation

Window air conditioners are significantly easier to install but the requirement for the wall is that it must not be thicker than 9-inches.

Pros:
  • Choices of models that provide both heating and cooling.
  • Affordable.
  • Low cost.
  • Doesn’t take up floor space.
  • Rather energy efficient.
Cons:
  • Can be a security risk if placed on the ground.
  • Direction of the residual water is hard.
  • Windows need to be of an appropriate shape to accommodate the unit.
Midea U Inverter MAW08V1QWT

Midea U Inverter Window Air Conditioner 12,000BTU, U-Shaped AC with Open Window Flexibility, Robust Installation,Extreme Quiet, 35% Energy Saving, Smart Control, Alexa, Remote, Bracket IncludedCHECK CURRENT PRICE

 

The Midea U Inverter has taken home many prizes and holds the title of “Best Window Air Conditioner for 2021” in multiple records. Evaluating from the specs, the most important bit of this air conditioner is the advanced DC inverter technology.

With a high CEER of 15.0, it uses 35% less energy alongside producing close to nose noise at all. It’s nine times quieter than these types of air conditioners. The inverter compressors, high-efficient, and super-low noise levels are the shining features. In addition, the modern design makes it look good on any windowsill.

Key Features:
  • U-shaped design.
  • Wi-Fi-enabled.
  • MideaAir Android and iOS apps available.
  • 3 capacity choices.
  • Noise level – 42 dBA.
Pros:
  • Incredibly energy efficiency.
  • Aesthetic design.
  • Quietest operation.
  • Very affordable.
  • Advanced DC inverter technology.
Cons:
  • Bigger BTU units aren’t available.
  • EER rating is lower.
Friedrich Chill Premier Smart Window Air Conditioner

Friedrich Chill Premier 6,000 BTU Smart Window Air Conditioner with Built-in WIFICHECK CURRENT PRICE

 

 

Albeit a bit pricier than some of its contemporaries, we chose this one due to the manufacturers. Friedrich has been known to make the best window air conditioners. According to experts, they’re super energy efficient at handling the refrigerant gasses which create cold air.

The Chill Premier series is available in different sizes – 5000 to 12,000 BTU. While the brand equipped this air conditioner with some top-of-the-line features, it made sure to keep the price tag within a budget friendly range. The AC can be programmed to turn off up to a day in advance to conserve energy. Plus, there’s an in-built Wi-Fi so you can operate it from your phone.

Key Features:
  • Custom scheduling.
  • Smart Home capable.
  • Adjustable thermostat.
  • Can control from anywhere.
  • 45 lbs.
Pros:
  • Conserves energy.
  • Improved level of control.
  • Many options to pick from.
  • Minimalistic design.
Cons:
  • Quite loud.

3. Wall-Mounted AC Units

Wall-mounted air conditioners cater to a niche audience. They are best for older buildings that get extremely during the summer but don’t have an external unit permit. In many of the cases, older buildings are considered to be a part of heritage.

Which is why even though a strong split-system device is what they would need, they have to settle for an AC unit that can be mounted on the wall. Once the unit is installed against a wall, two pipes release the warm air outdoors through the wall.

They’re usually bulkier in size. Plus, if you run them constantly on 100% power, the wall supporting it tends to heat up. If the AC unit comes with a built-in heater it can be expensive but does two jobs in one body. You could be spending anywhere from $300 to $1000 on these.

Where it is used

It can be used at any building where residents aren’t allowed to do anything to the outer wall.

Ease of installation

Installing window air conditioners isn’t easy and you’ll need professional help. The supported hand this type of air conditioner on the wall. In addition, two pipes must be installed through the wall that is holding the AC unit.

Pros:
  • Inexpensive.
  • Don’t block the view.
  • Better cooling capacity than window air conditioners.
Cons:
  • Don’t cool the whole house.
  • Wall unit needs maintenance.

4. Floor Mounted AC Units

Alongside portable air conditioners, floor mounted air conditioners are some of the types of air conditioners that are going obsolete. They bear some resemblance to wall-mounted air conditioners. The only difference is that while the window-mounted ones are put up against a window, the floor mounted ones, you’ve guessed it, are mounted on the floor.

Although they’re quite energy efficient, the use of this AC unit has been decreasing sharply. Given their old, relic-like designs, it’s understandable why no wise architect would incorporate these in modern 21st century houses. Expect to spend about $200 to $800 on these.

Where it is used

They may come built-in in older buildings which could be used for residential or office purposes. Decent performance in both cases.

Ease of installation

Installing a floor-mounted air conditioner is fairly simple. You simply bring the unit to the space where you wish to place it and drill out a way for the air to pass through.

Pros:
  • Portable
  • No installation charge associated
  • Can also act as a dehumidifier thanks to an in-built washable filtration system
  • Convenient to use
Cons:
  • Noisy
  • Consumes a lot of floor space
  • If you can’t connect the hose to the unit outside, you will have to clean the water tray manually every time it fills up. On average, it would be three hours

5. Spot Coolers

“Spot Coolers” feature a massive BTU capacity, mostly more than 30,000. This gives it enough power to cool down an average sized boat. There are two pipes that handle the exchange of cold and hot air.

We mention them as they’re quite unique, at least when positioning is concerned. These types of air conditioners are portable and “parked” right outside the boat. Given their size, it’s no shock that a standard spot cooler goes for anywhere between $1000 to $4000.

Where it is used

These big industrial mobile air conditioning units are for people who own boats, ships, or maybe even an airplane.

Ease of installation

One reason users love spot coolers is their ease of installation.

Pros:
  • Portable.
  • Energy efficient.
  • Come in two options – air-cooled and water-cooled.
  • Bulky size.
Cons:
  • The water-cooled model can consume large amounts of water.
  • The moisture must be properly ventilated.

Split-System AC Units

Split-system air conditioners come with two shells. The smaller, quieter shell is placed inside the house while the bigger, noisier, and quite frankly, uglier one is kept outside.

There are multiple benefits to using these types of air conditioners:

  • They have a large capacity which is why they can cool any space quicker and more efficiently.
  • No need for air vents like their stand-alone brethren.
  • They are pretty quiet (as the compressor is outside).
  • The smaller inner shell looks decent.

Right off the bat, we know the two “major” drawbacks that might discourage you from buying this:

  • Higher price.
  • Not easy to install in any case.

With that said, the split-system air conditioners are undoubtedly the better performers in cooling down the entire house.

There are actually 5 split-system air conditioners, but for understanding purposes we will consider there are 4 types. Wall mounted and floor mounted air conditioner in this section shall be counted as one. The reason is that the only difference they have from their monoblock counterparts is a quieter and stronger operation.

1. Central Air Conditioners

Over half of the houses in America use a “central air conditioning unit.” This is what you think of when the term “AC” is brought up. It’s a ducted air pipe system capable of spreading the cool air inside any space. And despite their complex installation, central air conditioning units are the easiest to operate.

There’s a high chance that this system already exists in your home. If you wish to replace your present AC unit, consider a central air conditioning option. The process uses a combination of outdoor and indoor air where the system cools it down. A unit like this could set you back $4000 to $8000. Yes, it’s pricey, but you get what you pay for.

Where to use

A central air conditioning unit is perfect for use in homes, apartments, and small offices.

Ease of installation

As mentioned before, the installation process of these types of air conditioners in itself is very bothersome. You have to call in an expert. Remember, you can’t DIY your way out of a central air conditioning installation system. The professionals will have to literally break he ceiling and penetrate walls to put the system up, making the whole thing pretty expensive. In fact, it could cost up to $10,000.

Pros:
  • Consistent temperature control throughout the year.
  • Air filtration.
  • Can opt for a heating/cooling combo.
  • Greater comfort ensured.
  • Functionality.
Cons:
  • Much more expensive.
  • Need for ductwork and duct maintenance.
  • Higher energy bills.

2. Wall Mounted Air Conditioners and Floor Mounted Air Conditioners

AC units mounted on the floor or on a wall can either be a split-system or a stand-alone one. Thus, it’s normal to have a 20,000 BTU wall-mounted split-system air conditioner working quieter than a 4,000 portable air conditioner.

One of the best parts of this type of air conditioner is that one outside AC shell can be connected to two or three units. Technically, you would have 3 units inside the side, for instance, 10,000 BTU, 15,000 BTU, and 20,000 BTU. Outdoors, there would be the larger noise generator. The combined capacity is this system would be impossible for a monoblock system to achieve. The price ranges from $400 to $3000.

Where to use

These would be a great fit for apartments and houses but no professional offices.

Ease of installation

Similar to other split-system air conditioners, these aren’t easy to install and require an engineer.

Pros:
  • Cheaper than central air conditioning systems.
  • Decent cooling capacity.
  • Energy-efficient.
Cons:
  • Depending on where you mount it up, the wall or the floor, it can consume excessive space.

3. Ceiling Type Air Conditioners

These kinds of cassette-like air conditioning units are ideal for office space. The system in installed on or suspended from the ceiling and connected to the invisible hoses across the building. The best thing about ceiling air conditioners is the power and aesthetics. Thanks to their modern design, they don’t stick out like a sore thumb wherever they’re placed.

As the airflow is linked to the central airflow, a single of these types of air conditioners can replace up to seven portable air conditioners and five window air conditioners. To align with their position, the cooling air is transmitted vertically, not horizontally.

Majority of these air conditioners are mounted up against the wall and create a pleasant “sideway breeze.” If you stand under this AC unit, you will feel a “downward breeze.” And like you’d expect, they’re pricey, with a single unit costing a maximum of $10,000.

Where to use

They’re best for office uses.

Ease of installation

Extremely complicated installation process that needs multiple hands on the project to get things done.

Pros:
  • Ensures air distribution to the entire room.
  • Don’t take up unnecessary space.
  • No noise.
  • Variable fan speed.
  • Programmable thermostat.
  • Energy efficient.
Cons:
  • Requires numerous holes to be drilled into the walls which can be costly.
  • For office or warehouse purposes, you would need multiple air conditioning units.

4. Mini-Split System Ductless Air Conditioners

Mini-split air conditioners are all the rage in the HVAC industry right now. This type of air conditioner:

  • Needs no ductwork.
  • Lower costs on installation than central air.
  • Big capacity range: 12,000 BTU – 60,000 BTU.
  • Extremely energy efficient.

Mostly, users have to check the inner shell of floor-mounter or wall-mounted air conditioners. But the split-system shells are smaller, better looking, and best of all, quiet. That’s because the part that generates the most noise in the AC, the compressor, is located in the outside of the building. A general mini-split feature 1 indoor and outdoor unit. You can choose to buy units with several rooms and bigger capacities – they come in a range of prices. These are priced at about $500 to $5000 each.

Where to use

These do a great job in cooling one room at a time, making them great for residential use.

Ease of installation

Easier than others in this section but still requires professional knowledge.

Pros:
  • Small size.
  • Energy saving.
  • No energy loss that’s usually associated with central system’s ductwork.
  • More flexibility in interior design ideas.
Cons:
  • Priciest out of the bunch.
  • Incorrectly placed units can result in short-cycling.
Senville SENA-12HF/Z

Senville SENL-12CD Mini Split Air Conditioner Heat Pump, 12000 BTU 19 SEERCHECK CURRENT PRICE

 

This is a great budget option that skims on the price but not on quality. The Senville SENA-121HF/Z is a 4-in-1 ductless air conditioner meets fan and heater and dehumidifier for under $800. Interestingly enough, you get a DIY installation kit with this one if you’d like to save on some money.

But that’s only because it’s a mini unit. With an impressive cooling-efficiency grading and a strong dehumidifier able of taking out 2.54 pints water out of the air in an hour. The powerful 418 CFM creates for a better, more efficient performance. Since the inverter compressor requires 110/120V, there’s no need to upgrade your electrical grid.

Key Features:
  • Noise level – 28 dB.
  • HSPF rating of 8.5.
  • 6 BTU options.
  • 5-year manufacturer warranty.
  • Comes with installation kit.
Pros:
  • Amazing value.
  • Inverter compressor comes with 7-year warranty.
  • Heater and dehumidifier functions.
  • Cheap.
  • SEER = 19.
Cons:
  • Not the best HSPF level.
Pioneer Air Conditioner WYS012A

Pioneer Air Conditioner WYS009A-19 Wall Mount Ductless Inverter+ Mini Split Heat Pump, 9000 BTU-110/120VCHECK CURRENT PRICE

 

Major respect for PIONEER for coming up with such a powerful split-system AC for under $1000. The SEER level of 19 wouldn’t give you an idea of the price. Apart from that, the impressive HSPC level of 9.5 and excellent 500 CFM airflow make the WYS012A an industry star.

The compressor in these machines was actually made by Toshiba, one of the most renowned manufacturers of compressors in the world, so you can be sure of the quality. However, the noise levels from the outer unit is rather high. But that doesn’t matter as long as the inside unit is quiet, which it is. You’ll also get a heater and dehumidifier with this AC.

Key Features:
  • Noise profile – 40.5/24 Db.
  • Available in various capacities.
  • Dehumidifier with 2.54 Pt/h level.
  • SEER level 19 and HSPF 10.
  • 5-year warranty on compressor.
  • Free tech support.
Pros:
  • Toshiba’s technology.
  • Incredible CFM airflow.
  • Very energy efficient.
  • Affordable.
  • Sleek design.
Cons:
  • Not smartphone compatible.
  • Somewhat loud.
MRCOOL DIY DIY-12-HP-115B 3rd Gen

MRCOOL - DIY-12-HP-115B25 DIY 12k BTU 22 SEER Ductless Heat Pump Split System 3rd Generation - Energy Star 120v (DIY-12-HP-115B)CHECK CURRENT PRICE

 

MRCOOL has managed to create a total beast of an air conditioner with this one. The SEER of 22 was enough to make us curious, and after trying it out, we were convinced it’s one of the best in this type of air conditioners. The heat efficiency is stellar.

It has a HSPF rating of 10, which effectively means that this split-system air conditioner is 15% more energy efficient than others. In addition, the invertor compressor allows production of a 533 CFM airflow – a record breaker! Considering the power, you’d expect this thing to be loud as heck. But that’s where you’ll be left surprised again as the sound doesn’t even cross the 50 dB mark!

Key Features:
  • Built-in dehumidification function.
  • 220/240V requirement.
  • 4 sizes – 12,000 BTU, 18,000 BTU, 24,000 BTU, and 36,000 BTU.
  • 5/7 warranty.
  • 49 dB of sound at the very highest.
  • Floor area – 500 square feet.
Pros:
  • High energy efficiency for SEER level (22)
  • 4 different sizes.
  • Super quiet.
  • Heater and dehumidifier.
  • Premium construction.
  • 5-year warranty on parts and 7-year on the compressor.
Cons:
  • Expensive.
  • High voltage requirement.

Bottom Line

There are many types of air conditioners made to satisfy the needs of everyone looking to beat the heat in the summer. Before you make any decision, make a checklist of every requirement so shopping gets easier. Stay breezy!

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One Comment

  1. I love how you described central AC units as very functional and dual-purpose when installed correctly. The weather in my area can get very unpredictable, so I figured I could use a system that provides both forms of temperature control if I can find one. After reading your article, I now know to ask for a central HVAC unit from any contractors that we manage to hire.

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