Features to Look For When Buying an Air Conditioner
Air conditioners have changed a lot over the years and some do a whole lot more than just cool the air as some may think! Here is a quick list that separates the must-have features from the gimmicky bells and whistles. There are a lot of decisions to be made when buying an best air conditioner. This article is Part 1 of 2 on Air Conditioner Features and How to Buy and Air Conditioner
Chassis Type - If you're looking to buy a room unit, you should know right off the bat that there are fixed and slide-out chassis types:
- Fixed chasses are the most popular and are typically lighter and are installed and removed seasonally. They are what you think of when you think of a typical window air conditioner.
- A slide-out chassis is usually found on through-the-wall units and operate through a wall sleeve, although they, too, can be sometimes used in window applications. With a slide out-chassis is that owner is to perform maintenance or replacement of their window air conditioner more easily.
BTU Output - This is an ac's cooling capacity. Selecting the proper amount of BTU output for your space is crucial in order to ensure an air conditioner's peak performance potential is met. Too powerful a unit won't dehumidify properly and an underpowered unit will struggle to perform its job. Most units will tell you outright how much square footage they can handle, but these usually round up a 1,000 - 2,000 BTUs in the interest of ensuring profits and making sure a company brand isn't embarrassed by seeming 'underpowered.' A lot of people ask outright "What size air conditioner do I need?" Indeed, there are a lot of things to consider here, which are detailed in Part 2 of this series.
Energy Star Rating - AC units must be at least 10% more energy efficient than the minimum federal government standards to qualify for this certification. While at smaller cooling capacities (5,000 to 6,000 BTUs), this doesn't really make a huge impact in the upfront premium paid vs the ongoing operating costs, it does save you money at larger cooling capacities.
Warranty - This is one most basic must-have air conditioner features. Basic logic here is that if a manufacturer will not stand behind their product, why should you? Simply put, don't buy any air conditioner that has a lackluster warranty attached to it. The absolute bare bones minimum you should look for is a 1 year full unit warranty including parts an labor.
Adjustable or Oscillating Louvers - These can help direct the air where you want it to go or actively distribute the air more evenly throughout the room. It is important to note that almost all window air conditioners are better at directing air to one side than the other. Keep this in mind when considering the placement of the unit in your home before you make your purchase.
Variable Speed Fan - Look for an air conditioner that has at least 3 settings. Adjustable fans help control noise levels and system efficiencies.
Electronic Controls and Digital Display - Gives you greater precision in finding your comfort zone within a 1 degree range. If you have electronic controls, you should also look for a Remote Control, which is a great air conditioner feature for units placed in larger rooms.
24 hour Timer - Some units only have a 12 hour timer, which is absurd. Being able to set an air conditioner to run automatically will help it function at its peak efficiencies and operate only when you are home. In the long run this is a big money and headache saver.
Filters and Air Purifiers - Do not bother with units that have filters that are hard to remove and clean because you won't do it. A clean filter is essential for proper and efficient operation. Look for washable filters instead of replaceable ones.
- Some units can act as air purifiers and even boast ionic cleaning mechanisms. Ionizing the air can boost the performance of your filter (given that it's clean) but keep in mind that if you have a unit that uses this air purifier technology, you should vacuum or dust your space regularly to ensure optimal cleanliness.
Quiet Mode - The noise level of an ac is one of the largest factors consumers consider before buying. Units with this setting operate at a relative whisper and provide more comfort than just cooling.
Dehumidifier Functionality - Some ac's can operate as solely a dehumidifier. During the late Spring and early Fall months when keeping your home cool is not as necessary, this feature will surely provide prolonged comfort.
Heat Pump Mode - Some units can be run in reverse, effectively converting it into a heat pump. A good feature, while is not really necessary, it is nice to have if you live in an area with mild winters. This is typically available on units with larger BTU outputs.
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