When that summertime heat rolls into your home, no one can resist the urge to crank up the air conditioning. If you don’t already own an air conditioning unit, however, you’re subject to the whims of Mother Nature. Finding one to fend off the weather, however, can overwhelm even the wisest mind.
With over 87% of American households possessing air conditioning, others’ recommendations could leave you with an infinite number of options. While selecting from eight different types of AC units can seem impossible, there’s a method to determine the unit for you. Breaking down their four aspects – effectiveness, aesthetic, environmental impact, and price – can provide a holistic picture of your potential purchase.
Window Air Conditioners
Window air conditioners act as self-contained units slotted into a window. These units eject heat outside through their backside port and draw cool air indoors. Buttons on the machine itself allow for specific control over its limited range of temperatures.
Portable Air Conditioners
Portable air conditioners are mobile cooling units that stand on their own atop any form of flooring. These units utilize hoses, attached to a nearby window, to inhale air from inside and expel it outdoors and vice versa.
Floor Mounted Air Conditioners
Unlike their predecessors, floor mounted units come in pairs that act in tandem through a small hole in the wall. One unit, placed indoors, sits on the floor, while the other, left outside, sits on the ground. A wire runs in the hall between them, linking both units with one another.
Their negligible size and freedom of location make them perfect for hard-to-reach places or abnormally-shaped rooms. Consider adding one to an attic or crawlspace, where other units cannot fit.
Central Air Conditioners
Central air conditioners utilize the same split-unit system as their floor mounted counterparts, but access the ducts to do so. This method has earned them another moniker: a ducted system.
While the outdoor half is out for all to see, you can stow the indoor portion in spaces where no one else would notice. In fact, you ought to do so – that makes accessing the ductwork all the easier. Tapping into the ductwork allows for the continual refrigeration of indoor air, while evacuating any heated air outside safely.
Ductless, Mini-Split Air Conditioners
If you prefer to keep your air conditioners out of the ductwork, then this could be a viable compromise. These air conditioners function in pairs, but neither the indoor or outdoor units tap into the ducts.
Instead, they utilize a system of refrigerated tubes to conduct air in whatever direction they need to. Ensure you have the 3 in. (or 8 cm.) needed between units to accommodate the conduits before buying, though.
As these units sit high above the rest of your room, each comes with a remote control needed to control it. Better not lose (or break) it, lest you need to spend extra for a replacement.
Smart Air Conditioners
Technically speaking, these are not separate from the aforementioned units. Instead, smart air conditioners branch off of the former concepts and improve them.
Smart air conditioners refer to any window, portable, or mini-split unit with internet access. That one innovation allows connected phones to program the air conditioners – so long as they have wiFi access.
Hybrid Air Conditioners
While other systems utilize ducts and tubing to keep your home cool, hybrid units tap into another source: the furnace. By combining the gas of a furnace with an electric air-source heat pump, these air conditioners effortlessly control all temperatures.
Designed with energy efficiency in mind, hybrid air conditioners reserve fossil fuel usage for when it’s necessary. Otherwise, they tap into electrical power.
Depending on the season, the system differentiates the direction of its pumps. In summer, the heat pump extracts the heat from your home and pushes it outdoors. In winter, however, the pump reverses to pull outdoor heat inwards.
Geothermal Heating and Cooling Air Conditioners
Unlike any other air conditioner, geothermal units draw their power from the planet itself. This technology extracts energy from four to six feet underground, where temperatures remain unchanged by the weather above ground. The machine can then take the heat (or lack thereof) and distribute it around your home.
While over one million units now exist throughout the United States, the market for homeowners still struggles to find a foothold. Your house could set the trend while other residences lag behind the times.
What is the Best AC Unit for You?
The best AC unit is the one that fits your individual needs, desires, and resources. Taking your funds and square footage can narrow down the options. From there, find which unit fits the features that matter the most to you.
No matter what you choose, every AC unit accomplishes the same, central mission: keeping your house cool in every season.