Air Conditioning Buyer’s Guide
Helpful Hints & Reviews for Consumers
When it comes to air conditioning, there is no denying you can’t live without it in certain cities across America. Temperatures regularly go over 100 degrees in Las Vegas, Palm Springs, Phoenix, and most of the central valley in California. Although there are central air conditioning units produced by Carrier, Bryant, Trane, etc., we will focus our attention and reviews to the room size air conditioners that fit into windows.
The National Association of Home Builders says that the average air conditioner will last you roughly 10 years. Over the last decade prices have dropped about 50% on all AC units for homes and technology has made them quieter, smaller, lighter, and safer to run. We’ve all slept in a hotel room with an air conditioner that runs all night and is so loud it’s hard to sleep. Many of the home air conditioners you can buy are now extremely quiet, but many are still rather noisy and can be a nuisance. The other good news, is that all the newer models have great energy efficiency ratios (EER) that will save on your energy bills.
Buying an air conditioner with an Energy Star rating is the way to go if you want to help conserve energy while staying cool. One thing to keep in mind is that some AC units don’t run well when “brownouts” occur. A “brownout” is when your local utility company reduces voltage at peak hours of the day to conserve energy usage and this can directly effect an air conditioning unit.
Choose the Right Size AC Unit
The key to choosing the correct air conditioner for your house is to know the exact square footage of the area or room it will be placed in. Experts say if you choose an air conditioner meant for a 700 square foot room and put it in a 400 square foot area you will not get efficient use from it. Make sure you have the measurements of any room you want to put an air conditioner into and then talk with a qualified sales rep at your local department store to get the best model.
Installing the heavier units can be a bit tricky, so look for larger air conditioning units that have “slide-out” chassis. These units allow you to secure the chassis to the window and wall and then just slide in the AC unit (some weigh as much as 92 lbs). Try placing the air conditioner in a window that is central to the room for maximum efficiency (when more than one window exists).
Many of the current models have digital displays and remote controls which can be very useful. Consumer Reports makes a good point in their latest issue on AC units in that you need to be able to read the digital display and see the controls even in a dark bedroom.
Search Reviews Online
The Internet has made it very efficient to find reviews of air conditioners online. Sears carries a lot for Kenmore products, while Amazon.com, Lowes.com, HomeDepot, and Target.com also have customer feedback to help guide your decision. The most comprehensive study we came across was done by Consumer Reports of course and they broke the different models down by BTU and room size or square feet. CR rated the air conditioners on comfort, indoor noise, ease of use, air direction, price, BTU, and EER. As usual Consumer Reports may rate one model higher than another, but the one with the lower overall score may get their “best buy” award because it’s a better value. In any event, we have tried to break down the best air conditioners based on square footage and noise levels.
The top air conditioner manufacturers are GE, LG, Frigidaire, Sharp, Haier, Whirlpool, Kenmore, Goldstar, Samsung and Panasonic. In many reviews we found the GE air conditioners got the best rank, but they were also the most expensive. In several situations, the air conditioner that gets recommended to customers the most are those that rate high in many categories and are mid-range in price. RECOMMENDED – We suggest shopping online at Amazon.com since they carry all the leading brands and usually have the lowest prices on the Internet.