Woman activating air conditioner with remote control

Find a really cool air conditioner with this buyer's guide

Published 11th January 2023
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When summer is in full swing, you want your home to be a shelter from the sun, not a baking oven. A quality air conditioner can make sure you experience the first option and not the second!

But with so many different types of air conditioners on the market, it can be difficult to know which one is right for you. That's why we've written this air conditioners buying guide! We'll take you through all the different types of air conditioners and the killer features you need, as well as answering questions about installing and cleaning your new AC.

Types of air conditioners

The first step in choosing an air conditioner is deciding what type best suits your needs. There are four main types of air conditioners: Window units, portable units, central air conditioning systems, and split units.

Window units

Window units are the most common type of air conditioner, and are also the least expensive option. They’re easy to install and can be a great choice for single rooms or apartments without access to a central air conditioning system. Window units are typically mounted in an open window or wall, and provide cooling for one room at a time.

The downside to window units is that they can be loud and may not provide enough cooling power for larger spaces. It’s important to carefully measure the size of your window or wall opening before purchasing a window unit to make sure it will fit correctly.

Portable units

For those who need more flexibility, portable air conditioners can be a great option. These units can be moved from room to room as needed, making them ideal for renters or anyone else who can't make permanent changes to their home. Portable AC units are easy to install and require no permanent fixtures – just plug them in and turn them on!

Portable AC units are generally less efficient than window or central systems, but they offer convenience and flexibility. They come in a variety of sizes so you can choose one that fits your space requirements.

Central air conditioning units

Central air conditioning systems are more expensive than other types of air conditioning, but they offer whole-home cooling with one centralised unit. These systems use ducts to circulate cool air throughout your home, meaning you won’t have to worry about installing multiple windows or portable units. Central AC systems also tend to be quieter than other types of air conditioners as well, so you won’t have to worry about noise from multiple fans running at once.

It’s important to note that installing a central AC system requires professional help – these systems must be properly installed in order for them to work properly and efficiently. Before deciding on this type of air conditioner, make sure you have enough space for the necessary ductwork installation as well as access to proper insulation and ventilation.

Split units

Split units are similar to central air conditioning systems but provide greater efficiency and quieter operation. Split units use two components: an indoor evaporator unit that circulates cool air into your home, and an outdoor condenser unit that expels warm air outside. The two components are connected by refrigerant lines and electrical wiring which must be installed by a professional technician prior to use.

Split units provide more efficient cooling than traditional central AC systems due their ability to target specific areas of your home rather than cooling it all at once with one large system.

Size and capacity

Next, you’ll want to consider size and capacity when selecting an air conditioner. It’s important to choose an AC unit that is appropriately sized for the space you need to cool – too small and it won’t keep up with the demand; too big and it will waste energy and money.

As a general rule of thumb, an air conditioner should have 20 BTUs (British Thermal Units) for every square foot of space. However, this number may increase depending on factors such as insulation, number of windows, and number of people in the room. Additionally, if your space is particularly sunny or has high ceilings, you may need to add an additional 10-20% to your BTU calculations.

You’ll also want to consider the energy efficiency rating (EER) when selecting an air conditioner. The higher the EER rating, the more efficient the unit will be. An EER rating of 10 or higher is considered excellent; a rating between 8 and 10 is good; and a rating of less than 8 is considered acceptable. To save money on energy costs, look for an AC unit with a high EER rating.

Air conditioner features

Next, look for features that help you to control your air conditioner, or make it more effective at climate control. Some ones to look out for are:

Digital thermostats

These allow you to precisely control the temperature in a room, often in 0.1°C increments. There are many reasons why you'd want to tweak the temperature. The first one is making you as comfortable as possible in the room, but another is to save energy if the weather gets cooler.

Remote controls

These give you the convenience of controlling your AC unit without having to be standard right next to it. Most air conditioners remotes use IR beams to send instructions to the AC, the same as a TV remote.


Usually built into the thermostat, a timer lets you set when the air conditioner is active. This is particularly useful for going to work. Set the AC unit to be off for most of the day, only for it to turn on an hour or so before you come back, giving you a nice, cool house to return to!

Energy-saving modes

Energy-saving modes are a great way to reduce your energy costs while keeping your home cool and comfortable. These modes can be set to automatically adjust the air conditioner's temperature and fan speed in order to save energy without sacrificing comfort.

Smart home compatibility

A more advanced version of remote controls, a smart air conditioner can be controlled through an app on your phone, or even via voice assistants like the Google Assistant or Apple's Siri.

Some models can also interact with other smart home appliances through a system called If This, Then That (IFTTT). IFTTT allows you to create personalised commands, like automatically switching modes depending on humidity, or sending a notification to your smart watch when your room has reached a certain temperature.


Filters are an important feature to look for when choosing an air conditioner. They help remove allergens, dust, and other airborne particles from the air, making it cleaner and healthier. Some filters may also help reduce odours and improve air quality.

It’s important to check the filter regularly and replace it as needed – a clogged filter can reduce your AC’s efficiency and cause it to work harder than necessary. Look for filters with a high MERV rating, as these are more effective at trapping small particles.

Air conditioner FAQs

Can air conditioners heat my home?

Most air conditioners can't heat your home, since they're designed to cool the air in a home or building, but some newer models also have a "heat mode" or "reverse cycle" feature that allows them to provide heat as well. Air cons that have this ability are called heat pumps.

Heat pumps work by reversing the refrigerant flow and using the heat from the surrounding air to warm the interior. They can be a more energy-efficient way to heat a room than using a separate heating system, even in cold weather. But heat pumps need special piping to heat a whole home, and unless you home is newly built it's very unlikely it will have these special pipes.

Can I clean my air conditioner myself?

You can dust the outside of your air conditioner yourself with a duster or a cloth. However, it's recommended that you leave other maintenance tasks to a certified technician, particularly if you own a central air conditioner or a split unit.

How often do I need to get my air conditioner serviced?

It's generally recommended to have your air conditioner serviced at least once a year, preferably in winter. This will ensure that the system is in good working condition and will help to prevent any breakdowns or problems during the summer months when you need it most.

Regular preventive maintenance is key for the efficiency and prolonging the lifespan of the AC unit, allowing any potential issue to be detected and fixed before it can become a bigger issue and costlier to repair. If your air con is not working correctly, or if it's making strange noises, you should get it looked at as soon as possible.

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