Air Conditioner Buying Guide

Friedrich Kuhl Air Conditioner

As summer approaches with its hot and humid weather, it is that time of year to think about air conditioners. Whether you are replacing an old unit or purchasing a new appliance, the amount of choices available can be overwhelming. Karl’s Appliance, your source for air conditioning has provided this buying guide to help make your decision easier.

Types of Room Air Conditioners

The most commonly used type of AC is a window air conditioner. Window air conditioners are normally installed with adjustable side curtains to fit almost any window. These units are available in sizes ranging from 5,000 btu all the way to 25,000 btu. BTU stands for British Thermal Units and is the standard measure of an air conditioner’s cooling ability. Window air conditioners are the preferred choice as long as the room has a double hung window that can accommodate the size of the air conditioner. Another important thing to consider when choosing a window air conditioner is the voltage of the unit. Standard household electric outlets are 115 volt, while some a/c’s, especially larger models require 230 volts. The plug for 230 volt machines is different than a standard outlet so it is important to make sure you are purchasing the correct air conditioner for your space. Common window air conditioner brands include Friedrich, Frigidaire, and Whirlpool.

A second common type of air conditioning unit is what is known as a through the wall air conditioner. Through the Wall Air Conditioners come in two parts, the chassis (the air conditioner itself), and the sleeve (the part that is built through the wall). A through the wall application is used in situations where there are no windows or where the air conditioner needed is too large for a window. They are also common in hotels and apartment buildings where space is at a premium. With a thru the wall air conditioner, a hole is cut in your wall to fit the sleeve. The air conditioner then slides into the sleeve. Through the wall air conditioners expel heat through the back of the unit as opposed to window air conditioners which breathe out the sides. This allows these machines to be built through thick walls as ventilation on the side is not necessary. The same concerns with regard to 115 volt vs 230 volt electricity apply here. Another feature that is available on through the walls is the addition of heat. This is another feature that may steer you towards going with a through the wall A/C. Common brands of thru the wall air conditioners include Friedrich, GE, and Frigidaire.

For those of you with casement or sliding windows, there are also air conditioners for you. A slider / casement air conditioner is designed to fit the narrow, tall windows of slider or casement windows. These units often come with trim panels to fill out the extra spacing. There is less of a variety of sizes available; generally the sizes range from 8,000 btu to 12,000 btu and most are 115 volt. A common brand in Slider Casement Air Conditioners is Frigidaire.

For applications where none of the above will work there is one other option. Portable Air Conditioners are available for applications where no other air conditioning will work. Portable air conditioners range in size from 8,000 btu to 20,000 btu and often include bonus features such as a dehumidifier or heat. Portable air conditioners come with a hose that must be vented to the outside to expel heat and excess moisture. Generally these hoses can fit a small space in a vertical or horizontal window. Portable air conditioners are ideal for applications such as a basement or garage, dorm room, sun room, or any where a permanent installation is not an option. Popular brands of portable A/Cs include Danby, Friedrich, and Frigidaire.

How to Choose the Right Air Conditioner for your Space

Calculating the right btu’s for your space is extremely important. If you get an a/c with too little power your room will be hot but if you get an air conditioner that is too powerful, the a/c may remove too much humidity from the room and leave it damp and clammy. A properly sized unit will remove humidity effectively as it cools. Below is a chart to help determine how many btu’s your air conditioner should need.

Area To Be Cooled (square feet) / Capacity Needed (BTUs per hour)
100 up to 150 / 5,000
150 up to 250 / 6,000
250 up to 300 / 7,000
300 up to 350 / 8,000
350 up to 400 / 9,000
400 up to 450 / 10,000
450 up to 550 / 12,000
550 up to 700 / 14,000
700 up to 1,000 / 18,000
1,000 up to 1,200 / 21,000
1,200 up to 1,400 / 23,000
1,400 up to 1,500 / 24,000
1,500 up to 2,000 / 30,000
2,000 up to 2,500 / 34,000

To calculate the square footage of your room, multiply the length of the area by the width. If the room is heavily shaded you can subtract 10% off the btu’s and if the room is very sunny increase the btu’s by 10%. This is an approximate calculation and situations can vary.

If all of this information is overwhelming, you can always stop into any of Karl’s Appliance 6 NJ appliance stores or visit our online appliance store to speak to one of our air conditioning experts.