When you’re looking to buy a new air conditioner, where do you even start from? Obviously, you need to do some research. You need to establish which are the elements you should look for in an AC. These can vary according to elements that have to do specifically with you and the space you’re trying to ventilate.
The required capacity of an AC
In order to determine the capacity you require, you need to measure the room in which you want to install the AC. It’s usually considered that you need 20 Btu/hr for every square foot.
The Btu or British Thermal Unit is the measurement unit for an AC’s cooling capacity. The higher the Btu, the more powerful the AC is and the larger the area it can cool effectively. The usual range is between 5,000 and 24,000 Btu/hr.
Here are a few tips that might help you choose the right capacity: if your home is shaded, reduce the Btu capacity by 10%; if your home receives full sun, increase it by 10%; if more than two people use the room, add 600 Btu/ person; if you’re installing the AC in the kitchen, add 4,000 Btu.
The type of AC
There are two main types of AC units. The first one is the window AC also known as a single unit. This one is the cheaper version and is easy to install. It vents hot air through a hose and it can be moved from room to room. Portability can be a big plus in some cases.
However, this type presents a few disadvantages such as the fact that it may pose a security risk since it requires you to leave a window open for the hose. You can solve this problem by opting to make a hole in the wall, although this pretty much contradicts the whole portable characteristic. In addition, the type is not as effective as split unit models and can also be quite heavy and difficult to maneuver.
The second type is the split model. This one is quieter than window units and offers better air distribution. It’s also more secure and more powerful. A split AC is composed of two units. One is the compressor unit which is installed outside and the other is the interior unit.
There are three different types of compressors. The reciprocating type is suitable for small to medium units and is quite bulky and noisy. The rotary type is compact and less noisy and the scroll type is the quietest of all as well as the most efficient.
The cons of split units include the fact that split models are more expensive and require to be permanently mounted on the outside wall by a professional.
In addition to these to main types, there’s also a third category including mini spit or ductless units. These are a sort of hybrids between a window unit and a central AC. They have a small condenser that goes outside and is connected to an evaporator high on a wall. The good thing about them is that you can have multiple units in various zones of the house. However, the disadvantage is that thee units are expensive to buy and install.
Accessories/ extra features
Before buying an air conditioner, you also need to pay attention to a few of the smaller details. For example, there are three main different types of filter an AC can have. There’s the electrostatic type which clears dust particles and is good for those with allergies, the ionisation filter which clears dust and germs and the anti-fungal kind which removes bacteria. Choose the one that you think is best for you and those using the AC.
In addition to the filters, some AC units can also come with a dehumidifier as well as a number of other accessories or features. Another example is the night mode which allows you to go to sleep with the AC on without fearing any health risks. Some AC units also have timers which can be useful in some cases and, of course, remote controls.
AC pros and cons
Now that you have a better idea is what to look for in an AC, perhaps it would also be useful to know a few general pros and cons related to these units. First of all, AC units can protect against heat-related illness and death. This is a no-brainer actually.
In addition, it’s well known that an AC can help those with allergies and asthma. The air is not only cool but also filtered and cleaner than that coming through an open window. There are also special filters you can use in these cases.
But as practical and ok as an AC might be, it’s also linked to a few cons. One would be that it can cause breathing problems which seems like a paradox since it’s supposed to clear the air from dust and bacteria. Actually, an AC unit can be a big source of germs, mold and fungus if the filters are not cleaned regularly or if the unit is not installed properly. So while it can definitely help with health-related problems, there are certain parameters that need to be respected.
AC units can also cause the sick building syndrome. The symptoms include dizziness, dry throat, itchy eyes and nausea.
While an AC can definitely help, it’s not the only way in which you can cool and ventilate a space. A few alternatives you can try include using a fan and, if this isn’t good enough, you can also place a shallow bowl filled with ice in front of it.
Another idea is to spray your drapes with cold water and to use them to cover the window’s opening. They’ll let in a nice cool breeze and they’ll keep the air inside cool and breathable.
If you’ve decided not to use an AC, then you should learn how to use your windows right. Keep them closed when the sun is up and open them at night to let the cool air in.
There’s also the option to use a DIY AC. You need to be really careful with this option and to look for designs that can suit your space.