5 Things to Ask When Shopping for Window and Portable A/C Units

Shopping for an A/C unit? We've got questions. These will help you make the best decision for window or portable A/C units

Take us shopping with you so you'll make the best air conditioner purchase

When you’re in the market for air conditioning units, you want to take your time in picking out an appliance. A/C units come in a wide array of sizes and styles, as well as in a large range of prices. If you’re shopping for a window or portable A/C unit to help you beat the heat during the summers, here are five things you should ask yourself while perusing the market.

1. How large of a space can the Air Conditioner effectively cool?

The most important question that you should ask when shopping for air conditioners is how much space the unit can effectively cool. Ideally, before you go air conditioner shopping, you have an idea of which room it is you’re trying to use the future appliance in. While portable A/C units are easier to install and to move around from room to room, a window air conditioner unit is usually drilled into the window pane, meaning that you won’t be moving the unit too often if you can help it.

All this being said, determine how many square feet you hope to cool with your air conditioner before you buy it and don’t go shopping without those numbers. Air conditioners come in different sizes and at different prices that are usually always based on how large the unit is and how much square footage it can effectively cool in a reasonable amount of time.

2. Is There a Warranty on the Air Conditioner?

Like with any expensive purchase, knowing the terms of the product’s warranty are essential in ensuring a longer life for the product. You never know when you might accidentally purchase a lemon, so having a warranty can be key.

Air conditioner warranties generally fall in the range of one to 15 years; however, depending on the manufacturer, that number can vary greatly. If an air conditioner doesn’t come with an included warranty, it’s worth asking whether or not you can purchase one either through the manufacturer or the store itself.

3. What Is the Life Expectancy of the Air Conditioner?

Air conditioners aren’t cheap, and when you purchase one, you should really be thinking of it as a long-term investment. For most air conditioners, the average life span falls somewhere between 12 and 15 years.

Because window air conditioners are subjected to the natural elements, seeing as they are placed outside of a home window, they can be more likely to reach their end sooner than a portable air conditioner, which exists within the interior of a home (with the exception of the air hose).

4. How Energy Efficient Is the Air Conditioner?

Air conditioner efficiency is measured by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The U.S. government now requires that all air conditioning units have a SEER rating of 13 or higher, and it’s important to note that the higher the number, the better the unit is at being energy efficient.

So what is a good SEER rating? Air conditioner units can reach a maximum of 21 to 25 SEER. The minimum SEER rating that you’ll find on new air conditioner units is 13 to 14, while older appliances may fall down to 8 or 9 SEER. Other air conditioner units can fall anywhere within this scale.

Along with being environmentally-friendly, A/C units with higher SEER ratings can help save you money in the long run by lowering your energy bill. In general, air conditioners use quite a bit of energy (especially compared to fans), so taking energy efficiency into consideration is a great move for smart shoppers.

5. Is There an Installation Fee?

If you don’t plan on installing your air conditioner yourself, you’ll want to find out if there is an installation fee for installing a window air conditioner. In addition to purchasing the air conditioning unit, you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg paying for an installation.

Some air conditioning units will come with a free install, while others will charge you for the installation. If you purchase a $150 air conditioner, you don’t want to be spending an additional $100 on installing the appliance. Be smart when it comes to finding all the hidden fees associated with the purchase of window and portable A/C units.

Armed with these questions , you'll be able to make the best decision, and you'll be better prepared the next time a heat wave hits your area!

Resources— Angie’s List, All Systems Mechanical, BGE Home