Air Conditioner Buying Guide |

Air Conditioner Buying Guide

Summer is right around the corner and temperatures are on the rise… Now is the perfect time to assess your cooling needs before the thermometer hits triple digits!

Already have an air conditioner? First, check and clean your air conditioner to ensure it’s running properly. If you haven’t bought a new air conditioner in the past 7 years, upgrading to a more energy-efficient model could save you money on your utility bill.

Need a new one? Whether you’re purchasing a window, portable or split air conditioner, you will find the choices in the market today are much more energy efficient. Before you go to the store, there are two major things you should consider before purchasing:


Getting a cooling system that‘s the wrong size is the most common mistake people make, regardless of the type. An air conditioner that is too small will never cool the space and cost you more money to run, while an air conditioner that is too large will cool the space too quickly without removing the moisture, leaving the space cold and clammy.

When figuring out the size of the air conditioner you will need, you need to fist determine the size of the space you are looking to cool. Once you have the size you can determine how many BTUs is required to cool that space. Learn how to calculate your BTUs here.


How will you be installing the air conditioner and will you be installing it yourself? Will it be through a wall or a window? This will help determine the type of air conditioner you need to purchase. If you are installing an A/C yourself, be sure that the electrical circuit to the room can handle the electrical load of the unit. Take a look at the outlets you have to determine what plug type you need. Learn more about installation and different plug types here.


Types of Air Conditioners and Common Questions

Window/Wall Air Conditioners

Will window air conditioners work in any window?

Window air conditioners are built to fit multiple windows that open vertically or horizontally. Many window air conditioners include adjustable panels, which help them expand to fit and seal openings. Be sure to measure your window first before purchasing you’re an A/C unit.

Can any window air conditioner be installed through a wall?

No; you want a window/wall slide out air conditioner that can be installed in a window or in a wall. When installing a through-the-wall air conditioner, the first thing you want to determine is how thick your wall is. Measure the distance from the inside of the home to the outside of the home including the studs, sheet rock, and whatever type of material you have on the outside of your home. All these factors come into play in selecting the proper air conditioner. Learn more here.

What is a ‘SEER’ Rating?

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, or SEER, calculates the efficiency of air conditioners. The higher the SEER rating is the greater the efficiency is. The lower the SEER rating is the more money you spend to operate it.

How much energy does a window air conditioner use?

To calculate this, divide the BTUs by the SEER rating. This gives you the watts per hour. Divide that by 1,000 to get kilowatt hours (kWh). Next, multiply the kWh by your power company rate to learn your costs per hour. For example, a 15,000 BTU air conditioner with a SEER rating of 12 and a cost of 30 cents per kWh would calculate as follows:

15,000 BTUs / SEER 12 = 1,250 W = 1.25 kWh

1.25 kWh x $0.30 = $0.375 per hour to run your window air conditioner. At 8 hours a day for 125 days of summer, your window air conditioner will have an annual running cost of $375 a year.

How often should you change/clean your air filter?

It’s best to change filters every three months. If you live in an area with a lot of dust or pollen, you may want to replace it more frequently or, at the very least, clean your filters once every 2 weeks. Clogged air filters can impair the performance of your air conditioner and increase your energy costs. Learn more about keeping your air conditioner running efficiently here.

Portable Air Conditioners

Why choose a portable air conditioner?

It is extremely easy to install, and for spaces that will not support a window/wall A/C unit, it may be your best option. Another great advantage is mobility, you can easily move it from room to room depending on where you are and which area needs attention, unlike a window unit that is installed and tends to remain in one spot.

Can I use a portable air conditioner in a room without a window?

Just like any other A/C unit, portable air conditioners need to have somewhere to release heat. The most convenient way is to use a window, but there are other solutions. You can easily install through a door using an extended portable air conditioner installation kit or vent through a ceiling using a ceiling vent kit.

Is it safe to run a portable air conditioner overnight?

Absolutely! All portable air conditioners collect condensation as they cool, but you don’t have to worry about them overflowing as the unit will shut itself off before that happens. Most portable air conditioners will do the same thing if it’s time for a new air filter.

Can I lengthen the exhaust hose on the portable air conditioner?

This is not recommended. Extending the exhaust hose will void your warranty, and if it isn’t done professionally, it could be unsafe to use.

Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioners

Why choose a ductless mini-split?

Ductless mini split systems have the benefits of a central system without the difficulty and high material/labor costs of installing ductwork. Most systems can be installed and running in a few hours. Learn more about the benefits of ductless mini-split air conditioners here.

How do I choose a ductless split air conditioner?

Like all air conditioners, you need to know how many BTUs accommodate the area you’re trying to cool. Ductless mini-splits cool a larger area for BTU capacity than portable or window air conditioners. See a BTU key here.

How do I install a ductless mini-split air conditioner?

We and the manufacturer strongly recommend professional installation and suggest that self-installation should not be attempted. HVAC training and tools are needed to complete the installation of a ductless mini split air conditioning system to comply with technical, E.P.A. and environmental requirements.


P.C. Richard & Son is your air conditioner headquarters. We have a huge selection of air conditioners at the lowest prices, guaranteed to keep you cool all summer! Still have questions? Check out our Learning Center or stop into your local P.C. Richard & Son superstore, and one of our friendly and knowledgeable sales associates can help you find an air conditioner that will best suit your needs.

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