How to Install an Air Conditioner
Window, Room and Central AC Systems
Air conditioner installation can range from simply plugging the unit into a wall socket to complicated central air conditioner installations involving a lot of work and money.
The method you choose depends on the kind of air conditioner you choose, as well as cooling requirements, budget and the type of building the air conditioner will be installed into.
The first step is to determine what the cooling requirements are. There is quite a variety of different types of cooling systems but they fall into two basic categories, central air conditioners and room air conditioners.
Room air conditioners are designed to cool a room, not a whole house or building. These usually come as packaged units where all mechanisms are contained within one unit. These include portable air conditioners and window or casement air conditioners. Most of these can be easily installed as they simply need to be plugged into a wall socket. Bigger room air conditioners, such as a wall unit, will require more labor and a contractor for the installation. They also require their own power supply as they cannot be plugged into a wall socket. Unit air conditioners come in sizes ranging from 5000 to 30,000 BTUs and so are capable of cooling fairly large rooms (depending on climate and insulation).
One of the most important factors to consider before buying a room air conditioner is sizing. The room to be cooled must be measured to determine the cooling capacity of the unit. This is crucial because if the air conditioners cooling capacity is bigger than it needs to be it will be far less effective, as it will switch on and off continuously leaving the room cold and clammy. If you are considering a window air conditioner, measure the window to be sure that the unit you purchase is going to fit.
A central air conditioner is designed to cool an entire house, office building or other commercial building. These systems usually depend on ductwork to circulate the air throughout the building but ductless central air conditioners are also available. Central air conditioner installation is not a job to be taken lightly; it requires the help of a qualified contractor.
What you want
There are, however, things that you could do to help make the job easier and run more smoothly. Firstly, know what you want. If you have plans to extend your house in the future, be sure to tell the contractor so he can factor it in. Find out whether your house has an existing air handling system using ductwork that the air conditioner would be able to use. The contractor will need access to this system so find out how easily accessible it is. The more access there is to it the less labor-intensive, and therefore less expensive, the air conditioner installation will be. Finding out how much sun exposure your house or building gets, the total amount of window area and insulation you have, plus information on the climate will all contribute to your cooling requirements. This information will also help the contractor to give you a more accurate quote.
The second step is sizing. You need to measure the area that will be cooled by the central air conditioner so the contractor can determine what size unit to install. An area of 1000 square feet will need roughly about 12,000 BTUs to cool it effectively. In addition, how well the area is insulated will also affect the cooling capacity needed. Be sure to take high ceilings into account when you measure a room or area. As mentioned above, if the unit is too big it will leave the air cold and clammy but if it is too small it will not be sufficiently effective.