You don’t need to be an HVAC expert to understand that proper ventilation is a key factor for the safe and effective operation of your window air conditioning unit. As with most things in life, location is critical, and achieving the best performance from your air conditioner is largely a matter of placement. You need to install the air conditioner in a window, but it must be the correct window in order to optimize comfort, safety, and energy efficiency.
Of course, every space is different, so what works in one building may not work in another. For this reason, you’ll need to take a few factors into consideration when selecting where to place your air conditioner. In this article, we’ll break down all of the factors you need to consider to choose the right window for your air conditioning unit.
Start By Sizing Up Your Space
Before you begin the installation process, you need to have a thorough understanding of the space you are working with. Ideally, this should be before you even purchase the air conditioning unit, as selecting the correct-sized air conditioner for your space is another critical factor in its effective operation.
You should begin by measuring the square footage of the area where the air conditioner will be used to cool. This is a simple matter of grabbing a tape measure and measuring the length, height, and width of each room, multiplying those together, and then adding it all up to determine the total area of the space. You can then select an air conditioner that is rated for a room or building of that size: AC units are rated in BTUs—British Thermal Units—and you’ll typically need around 20 BTUs per square foot.
You’re installing a window air conditioning unit, so the next step is to determine what windows are available and will actually be able to fit your air conditioning unit. Get your tape measure out again, and make sure the windows you’re considering are wide enough. It’s okay if the window is too wide; you can add support around the AC during installation. A window that opens vertically is ideal, but if the only windows available open horizontally, you can make it work.
You also need to look at the space around each window. Look for obstructions and other potential problems. The more information you can compile, the better. More specifically, here’s what to watch for:
Make Sure the Air Can Flow Freely
Once you have a good idea of what you’re working with, you can narrow down the list of potential spots where you can install your air conditioner. When you were doing your survey of the available windows, you took note of any obstructions, such as furniture, that were inside the house. It’s crucial for the air around an air conditioning unit to be able to flow freely, so you will need to choose a window where it won’t be blocked.
This may mean relocating furniture, which we understand isn’t always easy. However, if large furniture blocks the flow of air from your window air conditioning unit, not only will it reduce the overall energy efficiency of the system, but the constant airflow may also damage the furniture over time.
You will also need to ensure that there aren’t any obstructions outside of the window. A window AC unit is mounted through the open window to the outside, where it vents the waste heat that is produced from the running of the machinery. This means that if there are any trees, shrubs, or other obstructions contacting the unit, they may need to be trimmed. Otherwise, they will block the effective ventilation of the device, limiting its ability to cool the building.
Avoid Direct Sunlight on the Unit
If possible, you will also want to choose a window for your air conditioning unit that has at least some amount of shade. Direct sunlight will raise the temperature of the outdoor unit, which will force it to work harder to achieve the temperatures required for cooling. In turn, this will reduce the overall efficiency of your HVAC system, driving your energy bill up.
The ideal spot for the outdoor portion of your air conditioner is underneath the shade of a tree or another building. You want a source of shade that is far enough from the device that it won’t interfere with airflow, but close enough that it offers a good amount of shade through at least part of the day. This will prevent your AC unit from overheating and keep your energy bill manageable.
Choose a Window With an Appropriate Power Source
Of course, a window air conditioning unit is electrically powered, and it can draw a fairly large amount of energy. This means that you will need to install your AC unit at a window that has easy access to a power source. This can simply be an electrical outlet, but the outlet must be rated for the voltage that your window AC unit will draw.
A window air conditioner is likely to be the largest energy user in the entire home, using as many as 20 amps. This means that you don’t want to risk a circuit overload by plugging it into an outlet that has other appliances connected to it. Your air conditioner will need to have its own dedicated power source, without competing with anything else in the home.
Ask for Help From a Licensed HVAC Professional
Of course, you don’t need to choose the best window for your AC unit on your own. You can always seek out the help of a licensed HVAC professional, such as the ones from Entek HVAC. They will help take a lot of the guesswork out of the installation process, meaning that you can largely avoid running into major hiccups along the way.
By contacting an HVAC professional, you will be able to ask questions every step of the way, including what the best window AC unit is for your space and where the best area to install it is. Of course, they can also handle the installation itself and any maintenance requirements you may have.