If air conditioning has always been a big part of your personal comfort at home, then you are most likely familiar with through-the-wall air conditioners. And even used one. Or still using one. Well, who haven’t, anyway? You’ve seen them dotting all types of houses—an unmistakable sight of a metal box mounted in the wall of many single-family residences, duplex homes, town-homes, apartment buildings, condos, cabins, and even mobile homes across the country.
Yes, through-the-wall air conditioners are as ubiquitous as they could get. And they stood the test of time. And aesthetic taste. Through-the-wall AC systems have been a familiar fixture of American homes since the mid-70s, although we can trace the early usage farther back as early-30s; those days when it was first installed in big-city stores, banks, movie houses, and government buildings. When air conditioners finally made a splash in residential facilities, they have made such a huge impact that our modern way of life has never been the same. It changed us—both for good and bad. As renowned historian Raymond Arsenault would state in his 1985 award-winning piece titled The End of the Long Hot Summer: The Air Conditioner and Southern Culture, because of air conditioners, “one has only to walk down almost any southern street on a hot summer afternoon, listen to the whir of compressors, and look in vain for open windows or human faces,” decrying its effect on decreasing chance for human interaction. But looking at the benefits, Arsenault pointed out how this wonderful innovation gave way to so much conveniences and comfort, stating as an example a 1962 report on the effects of air conditioning systems on the lives of the families in Austin, Texas: “More than an hour's extra sleep at night during the summer for each member of the family. Daytime naps for children that stretch out three times longer. Hot meals—40 percent more nutritious—enthusiastically eaten despite soaring outdoor temperatures. A $5.80 average weekly saving on outside entertainment. Laundry time cut in half; house-cleaning time cut by one-third. Dreams of the future? Not at all.” Since then, air conditioners have gone through significant developments. They evolved in so many ways, spawning new generations of air conditioning systems. And beyond all these changes in the technology and amidst the introduction of newer air conditioning solutions, one type of system remained as robust and as effective as ever—through-the-wall air conditioners.
Mainly designed to provide temperature comfort in a single room, through-the-wall air conditioners are compact, non-ducted, and relatively small. Their capacities are normally limited to cool a room which is appropriate for its given capacity. It doesn’t matter whether the room is small, medium-sized, or big as long as the wall AC unit is properly sized or has enough capacity to handle the cooling needs of that particular space.
Simple is always a good thing. And it could not be truer than through-the-wall air conditioners. The most basic type of room air conditioning system along with window units, this system is specifically designed to enable easy installation and simple operation. Drawn from its simplicity, through-the-wall air conditioners lack the typical installation and costs baggage that are normally associated with newer types of air conditioning systems. A self-contained unit, through-the-wall AC is a standalone unit where all of its main components, such as the compressor, the condenser, the evaporator, the fan system, and the vents are housed in one single chassis and work as one integrated system designed for single-room cooling (or heating). Unlike window units with a “slide out chassis” and normally mounted in a window, through-the-wall ACs have vents that are located at the back of the unit. They are typically installed flush-mounted or recessed through a wall-frame and supported by a chassis sleeve that carries its weight. Basically, a wall opening and a bracket are required to be able to properly secure the unit. To complete the installation work, the gaps surrounding the unit must also be insulated to avoid leaking the conditioned air out of the room and the warm air entering from outside. Once mounted and sealed, the system is ready to be used.
Easy Installation, Simple Operation
Through-the-wall air conditioners do not require ductwork or any complex installation processes. It bears repeating that with this system, all that you need to do is cut an opening in the wall, install the supporting bracket or sleeve, mount and slide the unit into the sleeve, do the proper insulation, and voila, it is ready to go. Take note that cutting the hole in the exterior and installing the bracket are not that difficult to do. But again, not everyone is ready for this kind of job. If you need an assistance, you can just call an HVAC professional and let him take care of these things for you. To operate, simply plug the power cable into the electrical outlet, turn the unit on, set your desired temperature setting, and then you have it—the comfort you need; quick and easy.
Do the Right Installation
To make sure that you’ll get everything right during the installation of through-the-wall air conditioner, you will have to consider the following: • Find the right location for your through-the-wall unit. Decide on what’s the best location for the system that you’re going to install. Make sure that it is the suitable spot inside the room and near a power socket. • Bore the hole correctly. Whether you’re the one doing it or a hired HVAC professional, make sure that you are careful enough not to cut through lines of pipes, cables, or any other types of wiring or cabling systems. • Construct the right sleeve. The sleeve or bracket is an important accessory to your unit. Make sure that the sleeve is of the right size to fit into the hole, has the right dimension to accommodate the unit, and strong enough to support the air conditioner. • Insulate properly. The insulation work will have a huge impact on the performance and energy-efficiency of your system, as well as in the quality of comfort that you will get.
You Don’t Have to Break the Bank
Through-the-wall air conditioners do not cost much compared with other traditional air conditioning systems. On the average, they are priced between $150 to $500 depending on the rated capacity, type of brand, and other cost-influencing factors. Unlike the costly ducted systems, wall ACs would not force you to break the bank just to purchase one. You do not need to apply for financing either because they are so affordable that you can actually immediately buy one using cash out of your pocket. Here’s a great thing: even if you factor in the costs for accessories—like the chassis and insulation materials—and labor, the overall costs would be very minimal.
Save Space, Keep Your Window Free
One of the advantages of using through-the-wall air conditioners is you would not have to waste a good window or a really nice vista from you room just to be able to install an air conditioner. With through-the-wall AC, all you needed is a small space in the wall where the unit will be mounted. This is a good thing especially if you only have a small room and the space is really limited.
Supplement Your Home’s Central HVAC System
There are times when you will need to cool a particular room in the house but using your ducted system is not going to be an option. This has happened many times; in many situations. For instance, you could be aiming to convert a detached garage and use it as a new livable space but extending your existing ductwork, which is mainly concentrated in the main house, is just plain impossible. Or your room addition needs cooling but any modifications and reconfiguration on your central AC system would cost you a lot of money. In these kind of situations, using a wall air conditioning is the most cost-effective and easiest solution.
Choosing the Right Wall Air Conditioner, Size Matters
When it comes to choosing the right through-the-wall air conditioner for your room, it is important to understand that size matters. It’s a big deal; in a big way. Remember this when you’re about to select your unit: big size does not always mean the right size. That’s right, because when we’re talking about “size,” we’re not referring to “physical size,” which is about dimensions and proportions of an object.
In HVAC parlance, the size of a system refers to its capacity to cool a room. A ton is the measure of the amount of heat that an air conditioner can remove in a space per hour. A ton is measured in British Thermal Units or BTUs. The higher the BTU of an air conditioner, the bigger it is. One ton is equal to 12,000 BTUs per hour. So, if you have 3-ton through-the-wall air conditioner, it means that it can remove an amount of heat that is equal to 36,000 BTU per hour. But how to know the right size of an air conditioner that you need for your room? To get the right size of a unit, you also have to know the size of the room that you’re planning to cool. In other words, you can’t just pick any system right off the bat and think that it’s already a good enough system for your room. You will have to make sure that the size of the wall AC that you will be using will be proportionate to the size of the room.
The main point, basically, is you need to avoid using an oversized or undersized unit. Why? Because when you have an oversized through-the-wall air conditioner, you will be using a very high-capacity system that will be too much for a small room. In this case, here’s what happens: because the system will be able to quickly cool the small room, it will turn off after achieving that set temperature and turn on again because it needs to maintain this temperature. This process is called short-cycling. Of course, you would not notice that short-cycling is happening inside your system, but you will definitely reap the consequences of using a badly sized unit. For one, the humidity inside your room will not be completely removed. And secondly, your unit will be consuming more energy than necessary, which will only contribute to higher electricity bill.
On the other hand, if you used an undersized unit, or a system that has low cooling capacity than what is needed to cool your room, it will take time before it can adequately provide the right temperature comfort. Because the system will be forced to work doubly hard just to cool the space, it will be consuming more energy, which is one of the couple of things that you’d not like; the other one being able not to get the exact cooling comfort that you need from the system. If you will use an undersized through-the-wall air conditioner, the latter concern is not a farfetched scenario.
Let's recap: to make things right for your cooling needs, always remember that big size doesn’t always mean the right size. Nor the small-sized the cost-saving one. If you are not sure what size of through-the-wall air conditioner is right for your room, you can seek help from an HVAC contractor.
Your Best Through-the-Wall Air Conditioning Options
Looking for the right through-the-wall AC for your home? Here are some of your best through-the-wall AC options:
- LG through-the-wall air conditioners - Designed for cooling and heating, LG through-the-wall air conditioners are innovative, state-of-the-art systems that boast of high-performance, high-efficiency, and excellent features. These units are matched with stamped aluminum grille and competitive wall sleeves that are available at a standard size of 26 inches. When you purchase a unit, you will be provided with a standard, easy-to-use installation kit. You will also get a warranty of up to one-year protection for parts and labor.
- Friedrich Uni-Fit® Wall AC Series - Designed for commercial and residential use, Uni-Fit® wall air conditioners are highly efficient and versatile units that you can easily slide into your new or existing wall sleeve. The Uni-Fit systems are available with decorative trim rings that will enable you to fit it conveniently to the sleeve no matter the size, whether it is a 24 ½-inch, 26-inch, or 27-inch sleeves. For sleeve exterior grille, you can use the aluminum standard grille (for USC sleeve), replacement exterior grille, and extruded brushed aluminum grille. With regard to your installation options, you can choose flush mount or simply adjust the unit based on your preferred position. Uni-Fit models are also available in different capacities that range from 8,000 Btu/h to 13,000 Btu/h for cooling and 3,850 Btu/h to 11,200 Btu/h for heating.
- Friedrich Chill® Wall AC Series - Designed for small and large room environments, these series of “cooling-only” models are available in different capacities that range from 5450 Btu/h to 23,500 Btu/h. On the other hand, the Chill+ electric heat models are also available in varying capacities that range from 7500 Btu/h to 23,000 Btu for cooling and 3850 Btu/h to 12,000 Btu for heating.
Get the Right Through-the-Wall Air Conditioner from ComfortUp
Remember that if central air conditioning is not an option and the other type of systems are not possible, your best bet to effectively cool your room is through-the-wall air conditioners. Extremely low-cost, through-the-wall ACs can provide you the right cooling comfort, flexibility, and savings that you’re looking for.