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Air Conditioners (Window & Room)

If the hot weather and humidity is getting to you, maybe it’s time to consider buying a room air conditioner—or getting your existing A/C unit running properly. An effectively working portable, wall-mounted, or window-mounted air conditioner can change your life.

Wall-mounted air conditioner cools a single room. Photo: Whirlpool

Whereas central A/C is great for cooling an entire house, a room air conditioner is a sensible solution where central A/C isn’t available, in an apartment, or in situations where you only want to cool a room or two.

The obvious advantage of cooling individual rooms instead of the whole house is that you can trim your energy costs by cooling only the rooms that you wish to occupy. For more about the differences between central and room air conditioners, see Choosing Central or Room AC.

How a Room Air Conditioner Works

Diagram of Window Air Conditioner Parts

Like central air conditioners, room air conditioners use refrigeration technology to pull the heat and moisture from room air. A blower pulls the room air through a filter and sends it past a chilled condenser to cool and dehumidify it, and then return the air to the room. During this process, warm air is expelled outdoors.

So it can blow unwanted heat directly outdoors, a room air conditioner mounts in a window or in the wall. A portable air conditioner, which can be rolled around in a room, usually has a flexible duct that connects it to a window so warm air can be blown outdoors.

For more about how room air conditioners work, see How a Room Air Conditioner Works.

How to Buy Window and Room Air Conditioners

Many types and models of room A/C units are available. Choosing one that is sized appropriately for your room, affordable, efficient, and easy to install is key. For a complete discussion of what to look for in a new window or room air conditioner, see How to Buy Window and Room Air Conditioners.

install window ac unit

Installing a window air conditioner is a relatively easy DIY task.

How to Install a Window Air Conditioner

Most manufacturers of window air conditioner units design their products for easy do-it-yourself installation. Models typically have mounting kits that are flexible enough to adapt to various window opening sizes. Attachment is generally just a matter of driving in a few screws. For more about installation techniques, see How to Install a Window Air Conditioner.

Window and Room Air Conditioner Repairs

If you have a window, wall, or portable air conditioner but it doesn’t turn on or does a poor job of cooling, try to fix it before you invest in a new unit. For do-it-yourself tips on how to get the unit working, see Window and Room Air Conditioner Repairs.

About Don Vandervort
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Don Vandervort developed his expertise more than 30 years ago as Building Editor for both Sunset Books and Home Magazine. He has written more than 30 home improvement books and countless magazine articles. He appeared regularly on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert. Don founded HomeTips in 1996.

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