Window and Wall Air Conditioner Buyer’s Guide
Soaring summer temperatures can cause stifling, warm and stuffy homes. Fans help but aren’t enough to cool and reduce indoor humidity. Instead of sweltering while trying to sleep or simply going about your day, consider installing wall or window air conditioners to keep your home cool this summer.
Differences between wall and window air conditioners
The typical window air conditioner fits a space created when a double-hung window is opened. Available in various sizes, the unit mounts between the top of the open window and the windowsill. Extendable sides extract from the unit to help provide a tight fit and create a barrier between the outdoor and indoor space.
A wall air conditioner is designed to fit into a wall space. Like a window unit, wall air conditioner sizes vary but must correspond in size with the “sleeve” that’s positioned inside the wall to protect the unit. It doesn’t have extendable sides like a window unit — foam insulation strips can be used if there’s a small gap between the unit and sleeve or sleeve and wall opening. Wall air conditioners vent through the back only, while window units vent through the back and the sides.
Air conditioner features
There are many air conditioner features, models and manufacturers to choose from, including both wall and window units made by Frigidaire, LG, Kenmore, Keystone, Hanover, Sharp and others. When shopping for air conditioning units, consider the following:
- Size or BTUs
- Energy efficiency
- Type of controls
- Adjustability of fans and vents
- Noise level
BTUs, or British thermal units, measure an air conditioner’s cooling capacity. To determine the size needed to cool a room or rooms in your home, first determine the square footage of the space to be cooled. In general, a room measuring 150 to 250 square feet needs an air conditioner with a 6,000 BTU capacity. A room with 400 to 550 square feet needs between 10,000 and 12,000 BTU capacity. For cooling a room or rooms with more than 1,000 square feet, you’ll need at least 21,000 BTU.
According to energystar.gov, ENERGY STAR qualified room air conditioners use at least 10 percent less energy than standard models. On average, this can mean a savings of about $50 over the lifetime of the unit.
There’s a large selection of ENERGY STAR qualified window and wall air conditioners to choose from. The Keystone KSTAW10A unit, shown above, is an ENERGY STAR qualified 10,000 BTU window unit. It cools up to 450 square feet and features an energy-saver mode, auto-restart and a sleep mode. Kenmore’s 12,000 BTU wall air conditioner, shown at right, also is ENERGY STAR qualified and cools rooms up to 640 square feet.
Adjustability and noise
Look for window and wall air conditioners that allow you to adjust the airflow direction as well as control the fan speed. A unit with a quiet mode is a smart choice if you’re going to be running the air conditioner in a bedroom. The Frigidaire FRA086HT1 ENERGY STAR qualified wall air conditioner is an 8,000 BTU, 115 volt unit that cools rooms measuring up to 350 square feet. It also has four-way directional air control and three fan speeds.