~ Are You Considering Purchasing A Window Unit? ~
The struggle is real! Should you purchase and install a window ac unit, or should you repair your homes central hvac system? some people are attempting to cool a home or office that has never had central heating and air. This creates several potential challenges be the home may not have access to the space directly above the home that needs conditioning. We find this a lot in historic Victorian houses in downtown Savannah. Another problem that must be taken into consideration in this purchase is your Historic Society rules or your local Home Owners’ Association’s bylaws. Listed below are a few positive and negative reasons someone should consider while purchasing a window heating and cooling unit.
~ Bad ~ Reasons To Avoid Purchasing A Window AC Unit
~ Home Owners’ Associations ~
Most every HOA and History Society will not allow you to have a heat and air window unit installed in your window. Some will allow you to have one installed as long as it is not visible from the street. The HOA’s will typically list many different reasons for not allowing these units to stick out of your windows.
One reason is safety. If your home is in a neighborhood with little to no front yard, like downtown Savannah, someone could be standing below the unit when, by happen stance, it falls out of the window. This could potentially result in a loss of life and lengthy lawsuits. Another safety concern is the water released from this unit. If the water is collecting on the sidewalk, then there is a potential for slimy growth to form. If someone is walking by and scrolling through their news-feed rather than looking where they are walking, they could step in this slime and slip and fall. The prevention of injury for anyone is a major priority for most HOAs.
Another major reason for the prohibiting an air conditioner heater combo window unit from being installed in your home is due to the aesthetics. A large majority of people who want to have a window unit but are denied by the HOA claim that the leaders simply do not like the way it looks. Some individuals would argue that if potential home buyers that are new to neighborhood sees window units in the homes then they may assume the original systems installed in the homes are not good enough. This thought could deter the home buyers from purchasing a home in this neighborhood. Most bylaws will state something to the effect, the home has to retain its original appearance on the exterior, and since the home was not built with window units installed, they can not be installed after the fact.
~ They Are Noisy ~
This is a fact! Even the quietest window air conditioning unit is loud if you are sitting in a close proximity. The simple fact is everything that is typically stored in your indoor unit and everything stored in your outdoor unit must now be stored in one small box that is sitting just a few feet from your head. The product is heavy for what it is and it’s size, so a lot of the components must be manufactured from plastic. The simple fact is after a year of constant vibration of the compressor & fans and the UV rays from the sun, the system will begin to have a few vibration noises. This does not happen with every system, but this story is very often the truth. Just check out these window ac unit reviews.
“After a year or so, fan bearing got unbearably noisy. Lowe’s did a great job with warranty repair and unit was quiet again for the season. Now after 2nd year clean-up and turn on, fan bearing is noisy again! Can’t have a conversation with 10 feet of it.”
~ Security ~
This one is pretty self explanatory. These systems are built to fit in many different sized windows. Because of this, the manufacturers will make the units as small as possible and then install accordion looking panels on the side to expand and fill the gap left on the sides of the unit. This side panel is extremely thin, and this is what is now your security from home invasions. Obviously, where there’s a will there’s a way, and if someone really wants into your home, they will find a way. This paper thin film is just a little more inviting than having wood or glass filling the opening.
~ Requires A Window That Can Be Opened ~
As you can already imagine with the security issues being mentioned, the unit will require you to have an open window. Most would assume that every window you see on a home can be opened, but this is far from the case. More often than not, older homes have had their windows painted shut, and in some cases the windows are sealed closed permanently with nails or screws. One could argue that you could simply cut a hole in the wall, slide the unit in the hole and frame around it, and this statement is true. If that is your thought on installing a window ac unit, then you most likely are not reading this article! I will also caution anyone who just thought to themselves “that could work…that’s not a bad idea,” Yes, that is a really bad idea. Most houses are built with studs on 16″ centers which means you have roughly 16 inches to play with and you must cut right between those studs. You also must have a window ac unit that is less than 16 inches wide. If you cut a “load bearing” wall stud and do not install a header in place then you are damaging the integrity of the wall. This could cause a failure in the structure support. Do not cut a hole in your wall…PLEASE!
~ The Conditioned Air Is Limited To A Small Area ~
The title says it all… These units are designed to cool an area between 200 and 900 square feet. Once you install units larger than this, they may require installing a dedicated 220 volt circuit from your breaker panel. If you live in a flat or studio apartment then this is great, but do not shut any doors…ever! The system will require all doors to stay open in order to move air in the home. If you live in a long “ranch style” house then you will need multiple units throughout the home to ensure cooling every space. With the prices ranging but averaging around $400 – $500 per air conditioner only window unit, that price could get up pretty high if you need to purchase multiple units. (These prices do not include the mounting hardware and are not for units providing heat. Mounting hardware is typically around $30-$50 depending on the size of the window ac unit.)
~ The Operating Costs Are High ~
These units are not energy efficient. We most often judge how efficient an air conditioning system is by it’s SEER ,Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, rating. The national minimum SEER rating is 14 on heat pump air conditioners. House hold appliances will use a different way to measure their efficiency in order to get an energy star rating. They will use EER which is the ratio of the cooling capacity to the power input. The higher the EER rating, the more efficient the air conditioner. The minimum SEER rating of 14 has a typical EER of 11.5-12.0, but the energy star rating on window units is 11.2 EER. With all of this technical jargon, we are just trying to explain that an “energy star rated” window unit is less efficient than the least efficient heat pump allowed to be manufacture and installed in the nation.
~ Good ~ Reasons You Should Purchase A Window AC Unit
~ Inexpensive To Purchase ~
These items are basically disposable after a few years. If you have this type of mind set then when the unit starts to malfunction, you just dispose of the unit properly and go purchase a new one from your local hardware store. Some of the larger box stores will offer an extended warranty for an additional cost, but honestly the cost of the extended warranty is typically close to the price of another unit. If you go back with the same unit then you can also avoid having to purchase more mounting brackets. You can simply slide the existing unit out, and slide the new system in its place.
~ Ease Of Installation ~
The brackets that you purchase with the window unit are relatively simple to install, and they come with all the instructions needed. The hardest part is sticking your head out of the window if you are 2 or 3 stories off the ground! If you are afraid of heights, do not perform this part of the installation! Once the brackets are installed, you simply slide the unit in place, expand the side extensions, plug it in and press cool on. Make sure you read the operating instructions prior to starting the system. Sometimes they will slip some foam in the vents, and if you do not take it out before starting the unit, you will regret it! You will experience snow in July!
~ Removable ~
As mentioned above, installation is very simple in most applications, so you are able to remove the window ac unit during the winter to prevent any drafty air from creeping into your home. The fact that it
is easy to remove means cleaning the unit is a breeze as well! We often times will pull the unit and take it outside to clean with chemicals that would otherwise cause possible damage to your floors or walls.
Replacing or washing the filter that comes with the window ac unit on a monthly basis will help to prevent having to pull the unit out of the window for cleaning purposes. We are often asked how to clean without removing the window unit and its simple. Keep the air filter clean every month. If the filter stays clean then the most that would be needed in the cleaning process would be a simple brushing of the coil with a soft bristle wire brush.
~ Can Be Purchased At A Local Hardware Store ~
One of the best parts of the entire equation is the fact that you can purchase the window unit from your local hardware store! The most common stores around the Savannah area to carry a large variety of units are Walmart air conditioner window unit, Lowes air conditioner window unit, Home Depot ac window units, and Best Buy window air conditioning units. These are the most searched stores for the items, and they list a large selection of 5,000 BTU window unit, 10,000 BTU window unit, and 15,000 BTU window unit. These are the most common sized units that we see used in our area, but some other popular sizes are the 9,000, 12,000, and the monster 36,000 BTU window ac unit. The large ones will require the higher voltage and a special electrical outlet installed in your wall.
~ Can Usually Be Plugged Into A Wall Outlet ~
With that being said, most of your smaller units will run on 115 volts. This is the normal plug just like you would use for a vacuum cleaner. This is great because you can move the window ac unit around to different areas that are close to a regular wall outlet. One thing I must mention is to never use an extension cord if your window air conditioning unit does not reach a wall outlet. This could result in a house fire!
~ Provide Cool Air To Areas With No Access For Ductwork ~
The last point is one of the most important points of them all! A window unit has the ability to condition a space that would normally have to suffer due to constrictions on the accessibility of the space above the room needing the cool air. This mainly deals with floors between floors. If a home was build a long time ago, and the house has a second floor then the first floor can not have duct-work added to it without tearing all of the ceilings out of the downstairs room. More often than not, these ceilings are plaster and slat boards which would make it nearly impossible to match back to original. In these situations, having a window unit is great!
~ The End ~
~ In closing, we have listed a long list of reasons you should and should not ever use a window unit to cool or heat your home. The ultimate decision is up to you. We hope that we have provided you with enough information to at least get started thinking about the pros and cons to having a window ac unit installed in your home or office space. If you have any questions or recommendations then please leave a comment below or email me at Service@TriStarSavannah.com or call our office at 9122362260. One last thing, if you have a window unit that you need installed or cleaned, feel free to reach out to us! We will come install your new unit and perform a start up test…and with a little luck, you will avoid the snow in July…or April when I’m typing this post!
Have a wonderful weekend!