New air conditioning is a major investment. If you’re thinking of buying a window air conditioner, make sure you know all the facts. When you keep an open mind and look for answers to your AC questions, you might find out that a central AC system is best for your needs.
This article compares the ins and outs of both window units and central air conditioning to help you make the right choice.
How Does Central Air Conditioning Work?
Central air conditioning comprises 2 units, one indoors and the other outside. (TIP: Position your outdoor unit in the shade to help cut air conditioning costs this summer.) That’s why it is called a “split” system. Central air conditioners work to cool your entire home to the temperature you have set on your thermostat by alternately evaporating and condensing a fluid known as “refrigerant.”
The central AC cooling process starts as warm air is drawn into the system through the fan in your air handler or furnace. From there, it is cooled down by being blown across the evaporator coil. After absorbing the heat which was removed by this process, the refrigerant is pumped into the outside condenser unit. The condenser re-cools the refrigerant, expelling its heat into the outdoor air. Then the refrigerant is pumped back inside your home, and the process begins again.
Installation of central air conditioners is a complex process that may take HVAC technicians several days to complete. Central air systems require a dedicated electrical outlet ranging from 15 to 60 amps, depending on their tonnage.
How Do Window Units Work?
Window units work according to the same principles of heat removal and circulation of cooled air. They also use an evaporator coil and a condenser; however, they are enclosed in a single unit.
Installation is simple and fast. The window air conditioner is placed in one window of a room, possibly the living room or master bedroom, and connected to an electrical outlet — either standard or a more powerful unit, a dedicated 15 or 20 amp outlet. This can be an annoying task (window units are heavy and awkward!), and it also means that you will need a large enough storage space. You’re best off removing window air conditioners for the winter to prevent heat loss from around the units.
Benefits Of Window Units
Inexpensive & Quick To Install. A window air conditioner is a cheap, fast way to bring a little cool air into your room.
Somewhat Portable. Although they are bulky and far from lightweight, in theory, window air conditioners can be moved — from one room to another according to your cooling needs or to a new home.
Good For Non-Permanent Residences. If you are a renter or a student in a dorm, a window air conditioner might be the best cooling solution for your temporary home due to its low price and portability.
Why Is Central Air Conditioning Better?
Better At Cooling Your Home. Unlike a window unit that works in only one room, central air conditioning provides cooling all through your whole house. Why? Because they are more effective at circulating cooled air. As a result, you’ll avoid “hot spots” as well as areas right near the AC that are cold.
Helps With Air Quality. Central air conditioners filter the air of your home, removing airborne dust and contaminants. They also dehumidify the indoor air for a more comfortable, healthy environment in summer. Although window AC units also filter and dehumidify the air of the room where they are located, these functions are not nearly as effective. This is especially important to know if anyone in your family has asthma or respiratory allergies.
Adds Value To Your Home. Central air conditioners are much more reliable and effective at providing high-quality cooling than window air conditioning. They are also more unobtrusive — the indoor unit is usually hidden away in your home’s basement, together with your furnace. Window ACs are much more “in your face”; often, they drip or block the sunlight and view. What’s more, they tend to be a good deal noisier.
Central AC units are less obtrusive, and it’s easy enough to landscape around your central AC unit with the right tricks.