If youre looking to upgrade or replace your air conditioner, you need to find the right model for your home.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Air Conditioner

When shopping for a new air conditioner, there are many factors to consider. The best air conditioners for your home or office have the right type, capacity, and cooling power to cool down the space, while also having an appropriate energy efficiency rating to reduce your electric bills.

Type

There are several types of air conditioners that can help bring temperature-controlled comfort to your home. Each type works differently, so its important to understand the basics before making a purchase.

  • Compressor-based air conditioners (also called split compressors) use a gas compressor and refrigerant system to create and distribute cold air. These units are large, powerful, and generally more expensive.
  • Thermo-electric air conditioners (also known as heat pumps) use electricity to create and distribute cold air. Theyre smaller, quieter, and less powerful than compressor-based models but more efficient than window units.
  • Window units, which also use a refrigerant system, mount on the outside of the room. They dont provide consistent cooling because the units temperature can fluctuate based on the outdoor temperature.
  • Hybrid units combine both thermoelectric and compressor-based systems to offer the benefits of each.

Size/Capacity

The first factor to consider when buying an air conditioner is how much cooling power it needs. This will be reflected in the machines size and whether or not it includes a thermostat.

A window unit may seem like the smallest option, but these rooms still need to be cooled down. Plus, installing one usually requires extra work on the part of the installer, as they often require mounting the unit on the exterior wall.

For those looking for a more substantial cooling effect, compressor-based air conditioners are the way to go. These units can cool larger areas but might not be the best choice for a small bedroom since they tend to pump out cold air at a fairly consistent volume.

Energy Efficiency

One of the biggest advantages of air conditioners is that they can help save you money on your electric billso energy efficiency should definitely be a consideration.

To help ensure youre getting the most out of your investment, look for an Energy Star certification. These certified products automatically meet federal standards for energy efficiency, which helps them save on average 30 percent over non-certified air conditioners. Not only does this save you moneyit also reduces your homes environmental footprint.

Freon Charge

Another thing to think about is whether or not an air conditioner will run on freon. If you have a preference for a particular type of refrigerant, then make sure it appears in the product specs. Otherwise, you’ll probably get what you want out of either R-22 or R-410A.

R-22 has historically been the standard for home air conditioners. It was once considered a harmful pollutant and is now considered a relatively safe refrigerant. Its a bit flammable, however, so its not ideal for homes with children.

R-410A is a more environmentally friendly alternative to R-22. Its considerably less harmful to humans and the planet, but its still a refrigerant. Keep in mind that if you choose an air conditioner thats not compatible with R-410A, then you’ll have to switch to R-22 anyway.

Additional Features

While shopping for a new air conditioner, there are some additional features you might want to consider.

  • Built-in ventilation: This feature is common in window units but can also be found in some hybrid and thermoelectric air conditioners. It consists of a fan and vents built into the unit that blow air directly into the room, helping to remove stale air and infusing fresh air from the outside.
  • Remote control: While most air conditioners operate via remote control, some higher-end units have true remote controls. With these, the user can turn the unit on and off without accessing the diodes.
  • Digital display: A digital display gives the user a better idea of the units temperature and allows them to set a thermostat with greater precision. These displays are typically backlit, allowing the user to see them in dark corners.
  • Operating modes: Different operating modes can affect how the unit performs and how efficiently it runs. For example, a unit may have a normal mode, a sleep mode, and an energy-saver mode.
  • Timers: Timers can be useful for running an air conditioner past a guests arrival or turning it on at a specific time.
  • WiFi-enabled: While not all air conditioners are WiFi-compatible, some can connect to a smart home hub to allow control from a smartphone.