Air Conditioner Buying Guide

A portable air conditioner offers a cost-effective way to keep your apartment cool, or even individual rooms in your home. This air conditioner buying guide outlines your options.

Air Conditioners 101

Air conditioner power output is measured in BTU/h (British thermal units per hour) or tons (12,000 BTU/h = 1 ton). A higher number means more cooling capacity. This applies to all types of units including portable air conditioners, window-mounted air conditioners and through-wall air conditioners. The right type for you depends in large part on the size of your space. You can chill a particular room or portion of your home with a portable or window air conditioner. Efficiency is the key; too much power can lead to discomfort and wasted energy, while too little means the heat wave wins.

Types of Air Conditioners


Portable Air Conditioners

Portable air conditioners come in all shapes and sizes and are an ideal solution for large rooms or small apartments up to 600 square feet. Look for a unit with capacity in the range of 8,000 to 12,000 BTU/h. You can plug it in for quick relief during the hottest days and nights, and leave it idle, stored out of sight in a closet when the heat subsides. Most portable units are equipped with wheels for ease of movement and precise positioning.

Window Air Conditioners

You know what it’s like to toss and turn through a humid summer night. A bedroom window air conditioner helps ensure that you sleep soundly, awakening well rested and refreshed. A 5,000 BTU/h. unit effectively cools a standard bedroom of up to 150 sq. ft. Most window-mounted air conditioners are designed to vent through vertical or horizontal slider windows. Look for a model with convenient digital controls and programmable settings. You should also ensure the unit has adjustable air flow, so you can direct the air wherever you want. A window-mounting kit contains the components needed to obtain a snug seal, preventing cool air from escaping outdoors and warm exterior air from entering the room.

Air Conditioner Buying Tips:

• The cooling capacity you'll need is based on your room size — roughly 20 BTU/h. for every square foot
• Portable or window-mounted units are best for single rooms or apartments
• Look for convenient features such as digital controls and programmable settings
• Energy Star qualified appliances are more efficient and save money

Air Conditioner Features

Air Conditioner Filter +

The filter traps dirt, dust and allergens and extends the life of your air conditioner. The finer the filter, the smaller the particles captured. This results in cleaner, healthier air in your home. Many portable and window air conditioners have disposable filters that you can replace every season. Central air conditioners rely on the furnace filter, which should be replaced several times a year depending on your interior (pets, etc.) and exterior (excessive dust) environments.

Control Panel +

Portable air conditioners have on-board control panels, with multiple settings to manage auto on/off, fan speed, noise level and energy usage. Some models are operated by handheld remote controls, while others can be synched up to your smartphone or tablet. Higher-end portable air conditioners typically provide more sophisticated options than basic versions. Digital LED temperature displays and backlit control pads are fairly standard and easy to read in low light.

Energy Efficiency +

An air conditioner with an Energy Star rating will be kinder to your household budget and to the environment. Such models often use eco-friendly refrigerants that help to reduce harmful emissions. Many also use less power than non-rated units. A 24-hour timer offers more savings by allowing you to program your air conditioner to turn on or off according to your schedule, and cycle down automatically when the temperature drops.

Front Panel +

Some room layouts prevent you from positioning an air conditioner in the optimal location. Look for adjustable grills or louvers on the front panel that allow you to direct airflow to the right spot, usually the middle of the room. Some manufacturers are designing front panels to be more streamlined and less obtrusive. You may be able to find a room air conditioner with a discretely coloured or customizable front panel that blends in more nicely with your home decor.

Shop Accessories & Related Products:

Air Conditioner Maintenance Tips:

  • Remove and store window-mount units or cover them during winter
  • Clean or replace your air conditioner filter regularly according to the manufacturer's specifications
  • Clean drain ports to prevent clogging and avoid water leaks
  • Always disconnect power before performing maintenance
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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