Air conditioners are not created equal. They vary in effectiveness, cost and energy efficiency. Two air conditioning options are a window air conditioner and a whole house air conditioner. However, it may be difficult to choose one that’s right for you. Here are pros and cons of each unit to help you decide!
First, what is a window air conditioner and a whole house air conditioner?
Window Air Conditioner
A window air conditioner is a box-shaped apparatus that’s placed in an open, double-hung window. It generally only cools the room in which it’s installed. A window air conditioner consists of an interior thermostat, an evaporator, a condenser and a fan.
Whole House Air Conditioner
A whole house air conditioner has a condenser that’s installed in your yard or on your roof. It uses ducts to cool all rooms in your house. It consists of pipes that transport coolant from the condenser to the air handler.
Window Air Conditioner – Pros and Cons
• Pro – Great for Homes Lacking Ductwork.
A window air conditioner is ideal for homes lacking ductwork, homes for which installation of whole house air conditioning is prohibitively expensive or homes whose structure prevents installation of a central AC.
• Con – It Takes Up the Whole Window.
A window air conditioner will take up your entire window. You’ll have an obstructed view, and less light will come in. This could be particularly problematic if you’re in a small apartment and that’s your only window.
• Pro – Easy Installation.
Installation of a window unit is a fairly easy DIY project. One of the main reasons is because they don’t require ductwork. Window air conditioners are usually heavy, so make sure to have someone help you install it.
• Con – Doesn’t Filter Outdoor Air.
A window air conditioner isn’t as efficient at screening outdoor air as a central system. All window air conditioners are outfitted with filters, and newer units have better filtration. Still, their filtration doesn’t compare to that of central AC, which does a much better job of controlling allergens.
• Pro – Great for Apartments.
Window units make sense for small apartments, because they only cool a limited area. Since they’re portable, you can take them with you whenever you move to a new apartment. Another advantage to this is you won’t have to buy a new one each time you relocate.
• Con – Limited Cooling Zone.
Window air conditioners only cool the room that they’re in. Another drawback is that they aren’t good at circulating air throughout a room. The farther away from it you are, the less you’ll be able to feel cold air.
• Pro – Some Units Cool and Heat.
Some window air conditioners have both cooling and heating capabilities. In the summer, hot indoor air is passed over cold condenser coils, which reduce its temperature. This air is then carried via refrigerant lines to the hot outdoor evaporator coils and dispelled outdoors, resulting in cooler air in your home.
This process reverses in cold weather. The refrigerant flow goes in the opposite direction, and the indoor cold condenser coil is turned into a hot evaporator coil. The cold winter air passes over these hot coils, and it becomes warm.
• Con – Noisy.
Many window air conditioners are noisier than central air conditioners. Unlike whole house ACs, a window air conditioner is noisy because its fan and compressor — its loudest parts — are housed in the same unit. Before you buy one, check the decibel rating on its spec sheet to make sure its sound will be tolerable.
Whole House Air Conditioner – Pros and Cons
• Pro – Cools a Large Area.
A whole house air conditioner cools the entire house. This results in a consistent, cool temperature throughout your home without hot spots. It can also be easily controlled with a thermostat.
• Con – More Expensive Energy Bills.
A central air conditioner uses more energy to cool a larger space than a window unit, and it taps into your furnace’s components to circulate air, as well.
• Pro – Automated.
You don’t have to physically turn a whole house air conditioner on and off. You can just program it, and it will do the rest.
• Con – More Contaminant Buildup.
Mold, mildew and fungus are much more likely to develop in the ductwork of a whole house air conditioner than in a window unit. This can compromise your home’s air quality, especially if the AC’s air filter hasn’t been cleaned for a while.
• Pro – Filtered Air.
A whole house air conditioner pulls hot air from your house and sends it through a filter before drawing cool air back in. Its air filter removes allergens, dirt, bacteria and toxins that contaminate indoor air and trigger allergies. New whole house air conditioners are also equipped with dehumidifiers.
• Con – Needs Ductwork.
If your home already has ductwork, it will be easy to hook it up to your air conditioning unit. However, if you don’t, your house will need a huge overhaul requiring floors and walls to be broken open.
• Pro – Quiet.
A whole house air conditioner is much quieter than a window air conditioner. It typically makes the whooshing sound of air blowing or the quiet click of the thermostat.
Need help figuring out which type of air conditioner is best for your home? Call the professionals at Progressive Air Systems, and we’ll help you choose a system that suits your home, budget and lifestyle!