A Homeowner’s Guide to Air Conditioners: How to Pick the Right Equipment for Your Home

Let’s face it, everyone needs an air conditioner. Staying cool is essential during the summer regardless of where you live. Air conditioners also provide air filtration to keep your air quality high, which can benefit your health and reduce your risk of serious respiratory disease.

However, air conditioners aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution, and, with all the options available, choosing a system can be very stressful. How do you know what’s best for your home? What’s most efficient and cost-effective? How do you make sure it’s installed properly? (Is it getting hot in here?)

Don’t sweat it! We’re here to guide you through this decision-making process with coolness and calm. In this article, we’ll go over every step you need to take to pick the right air conditioner for you.

How to Pick the Right Air Conditioner for Your Home, Step by Step

Selecting the right air conditioner when there are so many options to choose from can be challenging. But if you follow these steps, you’ll find a model that checks off every one of your requirements and fits your home and your budget perfectly.

Identify Your Budget

If you want to find an air conditioner that’s in your budget, the very first thing to do is figure out what your budget is. How much are you willing to spend on an air conditioner? Don’t worry too much about the cost of your AC unit installation. That’s a one-time expense.

There are quite a few different types of air conditioners, and they all vary in price. Here are the most common systems:

Window Units

The average in-window air conditioner unit will cost between $150 and $300. These are a great option for someone with a lower budget.

Window units are meant to cool one room rather than the whole house, and they must be installed in a window, of course. However, AC installation for window units is fairly easy and very cheap.

There are different sizes of window units available, and many come with an accordion panel to adjust the unit to your window size.

Through-the-Wall Units

These units are a bit pricier, falling in the $400 to $750 range on average.

The only difference between this unit and a window unit is the fact that a through-the-wall unit is installed, you guessed it, through the wall. The unit comes with a sleeve that supports its weight within the wall so you don’t have to worry about placement issues or damage to your home.

If you don’t want to put a clunky unit in your window but still want to enjoy cool air on a budget, this unit could be right for you.

Portable Units

A portable air conditioner can cost anywhere from $250 to $500. This is a wider range than the others listed so far, which makes it a good choice for someone with a more flexible budget.

Portable units are used to cool only one room at a time. As the name suggests, though, the unit can be moved easily from room to room.

The main disadvantage of a portable air conditioner is that it needs proper ventilation (unless you get a ventless unit, which is much more expensive). Because it is not attached to the window, there is no outdoor unit, so you’ll have to find a way to vent the hot air.

This can be done by placing your portable unit near a window. Otherwise, consult an air conditioner technician to find the best method.

Ductless Mini Split Units

The ductless mini-split air conditioner is becoming an increasingly popular choice among homeowners. However, the price range is from $500 to $2,500, which makes this one of the most expensive options on our list.

If you don’t have extensive ductwork in your home or want a windowless option, this is a great choice. The advantage of using ductless mini-split air conditioners is the unit’s ability to link with multiple other units to cool every room.

Central Units

Central air conditioning units are the most common unit installed in homes. The average price tag is between $1,000 to $3,500; however, many homes come with one of these units already installed.

A central unit is going to need extensive ductwork, which is why it’s best to contact a professional for this type of complex AC installation.

Identify Your Space Restrictions 

The next step in this process is identifying your space restrictions. Air conditioners come in all different shapes and sizes. Also, every model has pros and cons, some of which relate to the space where they’re installed, as we briefly discussed above. Knowing exactly how much physical space you have to work with and what type of physical space you have to work with will narrow down your options.

To identify your space restrictions, you’ll need to:

  • Measure the length and width of the room
  • Multiply those numbers to get the square footage of the room

Once you have this number, you can compare it to each potential air conditioner to ensure that it is neither above nor below the capability of the unit.

You’ll also want to be sure not to choose an air conditioner that is too powerful for the room it’s in. That means matching the power level to the size of the space that needs cooling. If your air conditioner is oversized or too powerful for its space, one of the following may result:

  • High humidity in the room
  • Low energy efficiency
  • Quicker wear and tear

On the same note, don’t overestimate the ability of a smaller unit to cool a large room. You want your air conditioner to be just right!

Determine Your Needs

Now that you know your budget and what space you have available, it’s time to figure out what you need from your air conditioner.

This may seem like the obvious thing to do, but it’s vital. If you don’t identify what your air conditioner should do for you, then you may end up with the wrong unit. Here are some questions to ask yourself: 

Do You Mind More Complex Installation?

With complex installation typically comes a higher installation cost as well as more time spent on the process.

If you don’t mind spending more money in advance and aren’t in a rush to have your air conditioner installed, then a larger or more complex model may work for you. This includes the central air conditioners and ductless mini-splits. 

Do You Want to Be Energy-Efficient? 

Some models are more energy-efficient than others. First and foremost, energy efficiency eliminates energy waste and reduces your monthly bills. If your goal is to save money on your electric bills, then this is something you must consider when making your final choice.

The window and through-the-wall units tend to be the most energy-efficient, with central air conditioners being the least energy-efficient.

Is Noise a Factor? 

If you know that you want your air conditioner to be quiet and run without a peep, you’ve narrowed down your options considerably.

Central air conditioners and ductless mini-splits are the quietest. Window and through-the-wall units are tolerable, although they can still be quite loud. Portable air conditioners are the loudest—some can be as loud as a vacuum. 

Choose the Air Conditioner That Checks Each Box

Now that you have outlined all of these requirements, you can make the right choice. Use the criteria above and create your own pros and cons list to get the one type of air conditioner unit that suits all of your needs. 

Professional AC Installation by I Need The Plumber And Air Conditioning

It’s no wonder that our name comes up immediately in “best AC installation near me” searches on Google. I Need The Plumber & Air Conditioning can install either your Ductless or Central AC Unit. While we do not install Wall, Window, or Portable Units, it’s easy to hire a local handyman for the job, or DIY.

Call us and we will get the job done right! Learn more about our affordable AC unit installation costs.