Central Air Conditioner vs. Window Unit

Central Air Conditioner vs. Window UnitTime to update your home’s air-conditioning system? If so, you may be wondering whether window units or a central air conditioner is the best choice for you and your family. To help you decide, here’s a side-by-side comparison of these two popular options for DFW homeowners.

1. Size

Self-contained windows units come in sizes that range from 5,000 to 25,000 BTUs. Size is based on the square footage you want to cool. As a reference point, a 5,000 BTU portable window unit would efficiently cool 150 square feet.

Central air conditioners require more power — on average, 18,000 to 60,000 BTUs (1.5 to 5 tons) — because they are expected to cool larger spaces. Calculating the correct size air conditioner for your home is complex because the proper size is based on more than just total square footage.

For example, the following factors affect central air conditioner performance:

  • The number of windows in your home
  • Ceiling height
  • Insulation in the walls, floor, and attic
  • Whether your home sits over a basement, crawl space, or concrete foundation
  • Roof color and material

Choosing a window unit is fairly straightforward, calculating the proper size for a central air conditioner is better left to professionals with the proper tools and experience to guide your decisions.

2. Common Placement in Dallas Homes

Because window units are designed to fit into vertically operating windows — specifically single- and double-hung windows in small rooms — you will often find window units in apartments, small single-family residences, mobile homes, and affordable-housing and rental-housing solutions. Unlike window units, central air systems are typically seen in large homes that are either under a long-term lease or owned by the resident.

Window units are often seen as temporary, whereas central air conditioners are considered permanent fixtures, just as the bathtub is considered a permanent fixture.

3. Installation Considerations

Window units are small, come with a power supply that is compatible with standard electrical outlets, and require limited skills or tools to install quickly. On the other hand, central air conditioners must be hardwired by a licensed electrician. Professional installation is required by certified technicians like the air-conditioning system experts at Metro Express Service.

If you want a DIY air conditioner option, go with the portable window unit. If you want a cooling system that adds value to your property and cools the whole house, choose a professionally installed central air conditioner.

4. Energy Efficiency

Both window units and central air conditioners are energy efficient. It is important to discuss performance metrics with your dealer. Learn more about ratings at energystar.gov.

5. Lifetime Service & Benefits

If you plan to sell your home in the future, know that buyers expect central heat and air, and they may be willing to pass over a house without an HVAC.

Along with improved property value, central air conditioners tend to last longer than window units. As an example, TRANE systems (and parts) are guaranteed for 20 years, depending on the product purchased. In contrast, window unit warranty coverage is usually five years or less.

Central air conditioners offer more value and longer lifetime benefits compared to window units.

Ready to upgrade your A/C unit? At Metro Express Service, our experienced technicians and system support specialists are experts when it comes to helping homeowners choose the right air conditioner for their homes. We have financing options for those who qualify, and we can help you update an existing system or design a new HVAC system just for you. Call us today!

Randy Murphy

Randy Murphy has been building his knowledge of the air conditioning and heating business for several years now. He first started applying his knowledge while working for his father’s HVAC company. Later, in 1987, Randy started his own business: Metro Express Service. He has been a top 10 Trane & Amana dealer for over eight years. When it comes to heating and cooling, Randy knows the business better than anyone.
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