Trying to decide what type of air conditioner to buy? The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Saver site and Home Cooling Infographic compares each type of AC, with things to consider before you buy:

Central Air Conditioner: Cools the building by circulating cool air through a system of ducts and registers. There are two types: the split-system unit and the packaged unit.

  • Cost: $$$
  • Life Span: 15-20 years
  • Pros: Provides the most even cooling throughout the home; More efficient than a room AC; Quiet; Convenient to operate; Out of the way
  • Cons: Installation can be expensive if you don’t already have ductwork

Room Air Conditioner: Most popular cooling system; Provides spot cooling, cooling rooms instead of entire homes/businesses. There are two types: the window unit and the portable unit.

  • Cost: $
  • Life Span: 10-15 years
  • Pros: Inexpensive way to cool select spaces
  • Cons: Not as efficient as a central AC

Ductless, Mini-Split Air Conditioner: Provides zoned cooling without the ductwork

  • Cost: $$$$
  • Life Span: 12-15 years
  • Pros: Can provide both cooling and heating; Highly efficient; Works in all climate zones; Can be an affordable alternative to installing a ducted system; Easy installation; Avoids energy loss via ductwork; Small in size; Offers more flexibility in where and how they can be installed
  • Cons: Expensive- They may cost about 30% more than central systems (not including ductwork) and about twice as much as window units.

Evaporative Cooler (aka swamp cooler): Uses evaporated water to cool outdoor air, which is then circulated throughout the house.

  • Cost: $$
  • Life Span: 15-20 years
  • Pros: Installation costs about ½ as much as a central AC; Uses about ¼ of the energy of a central AC; Cost-effective if you live in an arid climate; Cools the air and adds moisture which can improve comfort; Natural and energy efficient
  • Cons: Requires more frequent maintenance (about once a month); Should be used only in low-humidity areas

Two key elements to keep in mind when buying any one of these air conditioners are size and installation. Finding the proper size for your room or building, and getting it installed correctly will ensure your air conditioner will work as efficiently as it should. For more information on proper sizes and installation for each type of AC, click the hyperlinks above.

Action Mechanical provides installation and maintenance for all types of commercial HVAC equipment and systems. So, if you have a new AC that needs to be installed or you think your current AC needs repair, contact Action Mechanical today.