Window air conditioners are a great cooling option when you don't have access to central air and fans aren't providing enough comfort. Purchasing a window air conditioner is a bit more complicated than heading to the home wares store and grabbing the first one off the shelf. Choosing the right unit requires some advanced research, decisions on your cooling needs, and calling a professional in for installation assistance.
How can you ensure you have the right window air conditioner for your needs?
Check the BTUs
The output of a window air conditioner is measured in British Thermal Units, or BTUs. You don't need to understand the intricacies behind BTUs but you do need to check air conditioner packages for the number and know how to match that number to the square footage of your room.
If you have a room that is between 100 and 150 square feet, you need a window air conditioner with at least 5,000 BTUs. For every 50 square feet added to that range, add 1,000 to the minimum BTUs needed. For example, 150 to 200 square feet would need at least 6,000 BTUs. These numbers are a general guide and you should check the box to see if the unit specifies a square footage maximum. Remember that it is always better to have a unit that is too large rather than too small on the BTUs.
Choose a Louvres Type
Cold air comes out of your unit through louvres or slats in the front of the air conditioner. The slats can vary in spacing and size but also come in different types that determine how much and how far the air can travel.
Fixed louvres don't move so you are limited to the air coming straight out of the slats. The area directly in front of the air conditioner will thus become cooler than the rest of the room so fixed louvres are great if you want one area such as your bed cooled down more.
Directional louvres can be manually repositioned to aim the air either straight, to the left, or to the right. The directional louvres could come in handy in a high traffic room where the preferred cooling areas change throughout the day such as a combination office and living room.
Motorized louvres are directional louvres that move on their own. The motor moves the slats slowly but frequently while the unit is running. Motorized louvres provide the air conditioning equivalent of an oscillating fan and provide the most versatile cooling experience.
Hire a Professional Installer
How does hiring a professional installer help ensure you have the right window air conditioner for your needs? The installer also supplies the window unit so the installer can inform you of whether a unit could be too small or otherwise unsuitable for your room.
You also want to hire an HVAC installer because improperly positioned window air conditioners can cause both a safety hazard due to potentially falling out the window and water leaks due to a non-titled unit dripping condensate out of the case.