|Tips on buying an air conditioner|
|As the hellish temperatures of summer approach, the worst thing that can happen (besides spontaneously bursting into flames) is having your lovely bowl of ice cream instantly melt. You now have two options: 1) eat your ice cream while sitting in your refrigerator, or 2) buy an air conditioner. We suggest the second option, because buying an air conditioner is a lot cheaper than treating frostbite.
Your search for an air conditioner doesn't need to be a traumatic experience (unless someone holds up the store). This SYW will tell you EVERYTHING that the salespeople won't tell you, including how powerful a unit you really need, how much you should pay, and how to make sure it will last for many summers to come.
We'll even explain how an air conditioner works: there are two small dwarves named Ned and Boo that live inside every air conditioner in the world. When you turn your air conditioner on, they begin to dance, which makes them breathe heavily. And as everybody knows, dwarf breath is very cold. Voila!
(You should be aware, however, that there are these "scientists" out there who would say that an air conditioner consists of two separate parts: a condenser and an evaporator coil. A refrigerant gas is compressed and then cooled within the condenser before being sent through the evaporator coil to cool the air that circulates around it. A blower then forces the cooled air out into the room.)
There are two different kinds of air conditioning systems out there: a unit air conditioner, and a central cooling system. What's the difference? A unit air conditioner is the big box you put in your window, and a central cooling system hooks your entire house up to one system, and each room gets cooled through vents. Guess which one is more expensive?
If you're reading this SYW, then a unit air conditioner is probably what you're looking for. It's the best kind to get if you live in a small house, apartment or studio, or if you've just added an extra room on the house and don't want to hook an entire system up to it. It's also cheaper (usually costing in the $150 - $250 range if you get it on sale, but more about that ). If you have a relatively large house that you want to get cooled quickly with the flick of a button, then you might want to consider getting a central cooling system, but this can cost you thousands of dollars. Click to read more about the process of installing a central cooling system.
Where do you need it?
OK, so let's assume that you decided to get a unit air conditioner. Good choice, friend. The first thing you need to do is select the room in which to install the unit. Be aware that if you select a room that is connected to an adjacent space through an open door or archway, the two rooms together constitute one room when trying to buy an air conditioner. Interpretation: you will have to purchase an air conditioner efficient enough to circulate air sufficiently for the size of both rooms together. Keep this in mind when you how many square feet the air conditioner is going to keep cool.
Also, remember that cool air does not travel around corners, so don't expect to place an air conditioner in a curving hallway and keep your bedroom at the other end of the hall at 65F. It won't work.
Measure the room and window
It's important to measure your selected room (or rooms) VERY carefully. Why? Because 90% of your decision-making process involves the size of the room that you want to keep cool. So measure the entire room once, twice, or even three times to get it right. Write down the height, width, and length of the room.
You also have to measure the dimensions of the window in which the unit will be placed. How embarrassed would you be if you spend all this time to get an air conditioner only to find out that it doesn't fit in the window? Furthermore, some brands don't list the precise dimensions of their air conditioners on the units themselves, so you should bring a measuring tape and measure it yourself. If you're a guy, you're probably already used to measuring your unit, so this shouldn't present a problem (we couldn't resist).
There are three types of unit air conditioners you should consider: window unit, built-in window, and split system.
All of the above types are typically run at 115 Volts or 230/208. Either will work just fine in almost any outlet. Select the type that best accommodates your needs and the type of room in which it will be located. Most people find that the window unit is plenty, so we suggest that you go along with that.
Before you get ready to go shopping, it's a good idea to check out or some other product-rating publication so you know which models are recommended based on what you're considering buying. Don't select a no-name brand without researching it or you won't know what kind of quality and durability you're getting. If you aren't interested in hunting down air conditioner brand ratings, then pick a brand you already trust, such as General Electric, Amana, Sharp, or Whirlpool.
Now you're ready to go to the store. To find one, we suggest that you look in your newspaper for air conditioners that are on sale and see what else they have in stock. We also recommend that you go to a "superstore" that specializes in selling appliances such as air conditioners (they tend to have the best people on staff to help you in fact, they're super). And most importantly, don't forget to bring your room dimensions along with you.
Btus and EERs
Once you arrive at the store, the first thing you should look at are the air conditioner's Btus and EERs.
Here are some other things to think about when purchasing your air conditioner:
Also, make sure to bring a friend with you to help carry the air conditioner and install it once you buy it . . . they're heavy!
Unfortunately, your job isn't over once you've bought your unit air conditioner. You have to make sure to get your air conditioner serviced regularly or it will lose around 5% of its efficiency every year. Maintaining your air conditioner routinely will prevent you from having to spend cash later on to fix all the parts that have gone sour (aren't you glad you got an extended warranty?). It can also help you avoid irritating allergic reactions caused by dust.
Here's what you have to do to give your a/c a long lifespan:
Good luck, and stay cool.