Best Central Air Conditioning Units Consumer Reports

Best Central Air Conditioning Units Consumer Reports – Summer is coming and soon your home will be heating up. But the very thought of finding a new air conditioner makes you sweat. How do you know which one to buy and how it will affect your energy bill? What if your home doesn’t allow window units? Don’t worry: we’ve done the research for you.

The key to convenience and savings is finding a unit that fits your space. An air conditioner that isn’t powerful enough won’t cool your home efficiently and can increase your electric bill. A very strong one works very quickly and stops before most of the moisture is removed, leaving your place cool but moist. And all that starting and stopping can put stress on the equipment and shorten its life.

Best Central Air Conditioning Units Consumer Reports

Best Central Air Conditioning Units Consumer Reports

Energy efficiency is another factor: The energy efficiency rating (EER) is a measure of how well a cooling system performs when the outside temperature is 95 degrees. Look for air conditioners with the Energy Star label, which indicates that they are more efficient than required by government standards. However, remember that no matter how efficient your air conditioning is, if your home isn’t properly sealed and insulated you won’t get the most bang for your buck – or feel as comfortable as you should.

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With that in mind, here are some guidelines to help you find the right air conditioner for your home.

Best Central Air Conditioning Units Consumer Reports

Central Air Central air conditioning is the most popular type of refrigeration system in the United States. According to the latest data from the United States Energy Information Administration, more than 75 percent of homes with cooling systems use central air.

But New York City is one of the big outliers. The reason: According to Department of Buildings estimates, the building stock is older than that of most large American cities, with nearly three-quarters of buildings built before 1960 — before central air conditioning became popular. Retrofitting older homes with central air means installing an outdoor condenser, indoor fan and coil system, and ducting to distribute cool air. It doesn’t come cheap and requires space, a resource many New York City apartments lack.

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Best Central Air Conditioning Units Consumer Reports

Central Air Conditioners At

“It’s very difficult to retrofit a building that was built without air conditioning,” said Andrew Gerringer, managing director for new business development at Marketing Directors, a New York development, leasing and marketing firm. “Buildings that have installed it” — including several apartments at 190 Riverside Drive and a Manhattan house at 200 East 66th Street — “have done so at great expense and annoyance.”

Even if you’re willing to ditch the closet to install a central air system in your old-style apartment, your building may not allow you to install a rooftop condenser. And retrofitting a home without plumbing can be prohibitively expensive. At best — if you don’t have to run a pipe through your neighbor’s kitchen ceiling to get to your compressor — a whole-house system can cost an average of $2,650 to $15,000 to install or replace, according to , a website that tracks home improvement costs.

Best Central Air Conditioning Units Consumer Reports

Another consideration: Most central air systems lack room-by-room control. So if you want to cool the bedroom while you sleep, you need to cool the rest of your home as well. With ducts and mechanical components built into walls, floors or attics and effectively hidden, central air is the most sensible option.

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If you decide it’s right for you, read Consumer Reports’ buying guide for reliability by brand and be sure to consider the system’s Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), which measures how efficiently a central air conditioner operates throughout the seasons. is (eg energy. efficiency ratio, the higher the number, the better).

Best Central Air Conditioning Units Consumer Reports

Hire a plumber to work with you on a well-thought-out duct routing plan and make sure you insulate those ducts. Also, schedule seasonal visits by a professional to change filters, clean coils, and perform other maintenance to ensure the system is working properly.

Bottom line: If you have the duct space, central air is a quiet, convenient and design-friendly way to cool your home.

Best Central Air Conditioning Units Consumer Reports

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Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioning When central air isn’t an option, a ductless mini-split system may be your best bet. Wall-mounted and operated by remote control, these systems still require an outside compressor, but there are no bulky ducts. Refrigerant is circulated through hoses connecting the indoor and outdoor units.

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Although not as discreet as central air, ductless mini-split systems are highly efficient because each unit can be controlled separately. These systems can also provide heating. According to, the cost to furnish a 2,000-square-foot home ranges from about $1,800 to $7,000. The more wall units you need, the higher the price. As with central air, you’ll need a professional installer and schedule annual maintenance checks.

Best Central Air Conditioning Units Consumer Reports

Window Elements Inexpensive and easy to install, window elements are one of the most popular ways to cool individual rooms. According to Lowe, starting prices range from $129 for a small unit to cool a 150-square-foot room to $599 for a larger unit that cools a 1,600-square-foot room.

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To find out what size you need, measure the space you want to cool and calculate the total area. For the recommended cooling capacity (measured in British Thermal Units or BTUs per hour) for your room size, see

Best Central Air Conditioning Units Consumer Reports

Be sure to consider sun exposure and space usage. For example, if the space is heavily shaded, the Energy Star chart recommends reducing capacity by 10 percent. If more than two people regularly occupy the space, add 600 BTUs for each additional person. Increase kitchen capacity by 4,000 BTU.

Based on five summers worth of research and testing, The SweetHome, a New York Times product review site, recommends the LG LW8016ER (about $210) for most rooms between 300 and 350 square feet. Not only did it cool as efficiently and effectively as other similarly sized and priced window units The SweetHome tested, it was also quiet with low volume and a deep tone. For those willing to pay more for a quieter model, Sweethome recommends the Frigidaire Gallery FGRQ08L3T1 (around $300).

Best Central Air Conditioning Units Consumer Reports

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If your window is a horizontal sliding or window-out model, casement air conditioners like the Frigidaire FFRS0822S1 ($460) or the Kenmore 77223 ($550) are common options, according to The SweetHome. And while most people want their air conditioners to be as natural as possible, those willing to pay for something with visual appeal should consider Frederick’s refrigeration line, which starts at $600 for a window unit and goes up to $50, including Cobalt. Panels are offered in colors including blue. , deep red and pink diamonds. See Consumer Reports window air conditioner reviews for other recommended devices.

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Smart Air Conditioners If you want to control your window unit from your smartphone, most of your options are interference. “A smart device is supposed to make your life easier,” said Liam McCabe, device manager at The SweetHome. “But so far every smart air conditioner we’ve tested has done the opposite.”

Best Central Air Conditioning Units Consumer Reports

Even the best smart window air conditioner tested last summer, the Frigidaire Gallery Cool Connect FGR0844S1 (about $300), stopped responding consistently to app commands over time, he said. Mr McCabe is in the process of trying out GE Appliances’ new smart air conditioners powered by Amazon Alexa, but said he needs more testing before he can recommend them.

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According to The Wirecutter, another New York Times product review site, the Slim Nest Learning Thermostat ($245) is the best option for most people for controlling a whole-house system or central air. If you want to change the temperature without getting off the couch, you can do it from your smartphone or computer, or with your voice through Google or Amazon Echo. Nest also learns your preferred temperature and schedule when you’re at home, which can help lower energy bills.

Best Central Air Conditioning Units Consumer Reports

Built-in air conditioners Don’t want to block the view with an ugly window unit? Built-in air conditioners, also known as wall-mounted units, are mounted in a metal sleeve that passes through an opening cut in the wall.

While The Sweethome didn’t test wall units, Mr. McCabe pointed to the LG LT0816CER as a good choice. “We know that the same window version is very good and other options are either more expensive (sometimes more expensive), less energy efficient” or difficult to find commercially, he said. “You can find affordable wall pack air conditioners from Midea sold under a variety of brand names including Arctic King, Westpoint, and Comfort-Air,” he wrote in his air conditioner review. “But they’re not usually available through major retailers.”

Best Central Air Conditioning Units Consumer Reports

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Portable air conditioners These freestanding units, most professional reviewers say, should only be used as

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