Repairing storm damage to the air conditioner

3 Air Conditioning Options For Smaller Homes And Apartments

by Ivan Prescott

If you live in a smaller house or apartment, finding an air conditioning system that can keep you comfortable through the brutal summer months can be challenging. While conventional, ducted central air systems provided unrivalled cooling power, their bulky ducts and vents can take up an unacceptable amount of space in compact quarters.

Fortunately, individuals and families who live in smaller homes have a range of compact, efficient air conditioning alternatives to choose from. If you need a new air conditioning system for your home, but don't have space to spare for a full-blown ducted system, keep the following options in mind:

Portable Air Conditioners

Also known as 'stand-alone' air conditioners, these small, convenient cooling systems are ideal for small living spaces in urban areas. These inexpensive units have very low running costs and energy usage, but still provide more than enough cooling power to keep a room comfortable. Although they can only cool a single room at a time, their portability allows you to move them from room to room as needed.

If you opt for a portable air conditioner, bear in mind that they can only function in rooms with window access. The waste heat created by these systems is vented outdoors through attached tubes, which must be directed through a window to prevent the heat from being recirculated back into your room. 

Window-Mounted Air Conditioners

Like portable air conditioners, window-mounted air conditioners are small, self-contained units that do not rely on ducts or refrigerant conduits. They can be installed in any room with a suitably sized window, and generally provide significantly more cooling power than portable air conditioning units. They also do not take up any floor space, unlike portable air conditioners, helping you maximise your available living space.

If you need to cool a room that does not have a suitable window, some window-mounted air conditioners can also be installed in a dedicated gap created in your home's exterior wall. These 'through-the-wall' air conditioners are an excellent choice for windowless rooms, but they are more expensive than conventional window units, and may not be a viable option if you live in rented accommodation.

The downside of choosing a window-mounted air conditioner is having to sacrifice one of your windows to accommodate the unit. If you need to cool a room that only has one or two small windows, installing a window-mounted unit can reduce natural light levels, and block out any picturesque views your room previously enjoyed.

Mini-Split Air Conditioners

If you need a system that can cool multiple rooms in your home without taking up too much space, a ductless, mini-split air conditioning system can be an excellent solution. Consisting of an outdoor condenser unit attached to multiple indoor evaporator units, these systems can cool multiple rooms in your home without relying on bulky air ducts. They can also be used in windowless rooms.

These unique systems use refrigerant gases, which are chilled within the outdoor condenser unit. These cooled liquids are then funnelled through narrow, space-saving conduits to the indoor units, which then cool the air that passes through them. During cooler weather, this process can also work in reverse, so your mini-split system can also serve as an effective heating system.

Mini-split systems are more expensive than portable and window mounted units, and installing the refrigerant conduits in your walls can be disruptive. However, these systems are highly efficient and take up very little useable space. If you need a multi-room cooling solution, a mini-split system is usually much cheaper to run than several portable or window-mounted units. For more information, contact an air conditioning service.