Wall-mounted air conditioning: 4 things to keep in mind

Larger wall-mounted AC units that feature an outdoor component can offer greater cooling capacity than traditional wall- or window-mounted air conditioners. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Ed H. of Portland, Ore.)

Larger wall-mounted AC units that feature an outdoor component can offer greater cooling capacity than traditional wall- or window-mounted air conditioners. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Ed H. of Portland, Ore.)

If your home lacks central air conditioning, a wall-mounted air conditioner is an effective way to keep a room or section of the house cool. Consider these four items when purchasing a wall-mounted air conditioner for your hose.

1. The size of the hole in the wall

If you’re thinking about using a wall-mounted AC unit instead of installing a central air system, keep in mind the size of the hole in the wall where the unit will go. If you are replacing an existing wall unit, it might be easiest to measure the existing opening and buy a unit that fits those dimensions. If plan on buying a larger or smaller model, you’ll need to modify the size of hole to fit the new unit.

2. Cooling capacity

Most wall-mounted air conditioners don’t have enough cooling output to cool an entire house, but they may be able to cool a few larger rooms or areas. Larger wall-mounted units that feature both an inside and outside units can provide greater cooling capacity, but may require more complex installation.

An AC unit’s cooling capacity is expressed in British thermal units or BTUs. The higher the number of BTUs an AC features, the greater its cooling capacity. However, simply buying the largest BTU unit is not always the best option. An oversized wall-mounted AC unit may end up being too expensive in terms of energy costs.

3. Weather stripping

To get the most effective use from your air conditioner, you will want to seal any gaps between the unit with weather stripping, which will help prevent cool inside air from escaping or hot outside air from entering.

4. Cold weather

While it's possible to simply remove the wall-mounted unit when it's not needed, it's unwise to do so. The weather stripping for installing the unit will work to keep cold air from entering the room and maintain the temperature inside. Cool air can enter and warm air can escape through the air conditioner's vents, so ask the retailer how to weather-strip these during the winter.

The back end of a wall unit, the condenser, is always exposed on the other side of the wall. Ask for tips on how to protect it during non-summer months. Some retailers may suggest using a canvas or vinyl cover, depending on the type of climate you live in. With a cover, you can prevent the unit from being damaged by winter conditions.


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When this member had his rooftop A/C installed, he needed to retrofit the ducting to meet code. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member James M. of Clovis, Calif.)
When this member had his rooftop A/C installed, he needed to retrofit the ducting to meet code. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member James M. of Clovis, Calif.)

Central and window-mounted air conditioners aren't the only choices for cooling; roof-mounted units are becoming popular for homes and businesses. But what benefits does installing an air conditioner on the roof really offer?

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