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How To Choose Best AC For Home

The Four Best AC Systems for Homes - Use AC Sizing Chart To Match Your Needs.

Choosing the Best AC for Home requires answering a couple of questions; including the size, the number of rooms you need to cool, your budget, and your energy efficiency goals.  Once you have these items (below) determined, it’s easy to select the best home air conditioner:

1) BTUs:  How Much Cooling Capacity Do You Need?

BTUs – Or British Thermal Units, measure how much energy your air conditioner uses when removing heat from your home – BTUSs are measured in One-Hour.

The Level of BTUs in AC Units is an important measurement that will help you determine the kind of air conditioner you need for a home your size.

See this AC Sizing Chart to use your square footage and zone location to determine the proper AC for your home.

2) What is the Best Type of Air Conditioner for Your Home?

These are the most popular Air Conditioners* used in Residential Homes :

  1. Window AC – (Least Expensive – Limited to One Room)
  2. Portable AC – (Portable on wheels – Best For Multiple Room Use)
  3. Mini-Split (Ductless) AC – (Best For Apartments and Large Rooms)
  4. Central AC – (Most Expensive – Best for Large Homes or Multi-Story Homes)

*Variations of less popular air conditioning options include; Heat pumps, Smart Air Conditioners (Functions controlled by Smart Phone App), and Geo-Thermal systems.

However, this article will focus on the four best types of AC used in homes across the U.S.

There are many different types of air conditioners on the market, each with advantages and disadvantages, so let’s take a look at the top-rated air conditioners and determine what size AC you require and which type of air conditioner is best for your needs.

1)  Window Air Conditioners

Window AC units are typically the Least expensive Air Conditioners to buy but deliver the least efficiency and lowest cooling capacity. 

Homeowners with some DIY experience (and a Helper) – can install a Window Air conditioner in less than 30 minutes.

How To Install a Window Air Conditioner:


  • Window Air Conditioners: Window air conditioners are the most affordable and common type of air conditioner. They are inexpensive to buy and easy to install but can be noisy and will only cool one room at a time.
best window ac unit
Window Air Conditioner – Best Home Gear

BTU Requirements:  Window Air Conditioner Per Room Size

  • 150 to 350 square feet: 5,000 to 8,000 BTU
  • 350 to 550 square feet: 8,000 to 12,000 BTU
  • 550 to 1,050 square feet: 12,000 to 18,500 BTU
  • 1,050 to 1,600 square feet: 18,500 to 25,000 BTU


  • Low Cost
  • Best Small AC Unit
  • Easy to Install
  • Requires No Floor Space


  • Limits Use to One Room
  • Loud operation (Some Models offer a Decibel (DB) rating of 42 or under)
  • Requires Proper Window Type for Installation. (Double Hung) 

Midea – 8,000 BTU “Smart” Air Conditioner

Midea 8,000 BTU U-Shaped Smart Inverter Window Air Conditioner–Cools up to 350 Sq. Ft., Ultra Quiet with Open Window Flexibility, Works with Alexa/Google Assistant, 35% Energy Savings, Remote Control

Click below to see our Pick for the Best “Window Air Conditioner” 


2)  Portable Air Conditioners

Portable AC units are inexpensive and can easily be moved from room to room.

There are two types of portable air conditioners; Ventless and Vented. Having installed a vented AC unit in our Sunroom – With temperatures reaching over 90 degrees in the summer, I can verify they work. 

Video How To Install a Portable AC vented outdoors:


To vent a portable Air conditioner, you will need to install an AC window kit with an exhaust hose shown below:

Portable AC with Exhaust Hose Kit
Vented Portable Air Conditioner – Best Home Gear

Some Portable AC Models can also be purchased as Ventless models. However, their cooling capacity is less efficient than vented AC units, as they recycle indoor air without expelling hot air outdoors. Ventless Portable AC models like the unit shown below, require no installation.

Ventless Portable AC for Home - Best Home Gear
Ventless Portable AC Unit – Best Home Gear
  • Portable air conditioners: Portable air conditioners are an excellent option for people who don’t have the option of installing a window unit. They are more expensive than window units but also more versatile. 
  • Best RV AC Unit: A window air conditioner won’t work in an RV because RVs don’t offer typical window configurations.  We recommend a portable air conditioner for RV use but ensure it is in place during travel.  After all, portable ac units are “on wheels.
  • Best 10,000 BTU Air Conditioner:  Based on our reviews, the best 10,000 BTU AC unit to consider is a Portable AC. But remember, they are fairly loud to operate, so if you’re a light sleeper, opt for a smaller unit or even a small AC for bedroom (use).

BTU Requirements:  Portable Air Conditioner Per Room Size

  • 150 to 350 square feet: 5,000 to 8,000 BTU
  • 350 to 550 square feet: 8,000 to 12,000 BTU
  • 550 to 1,050 square feet: 12,000 to 18,500 BTU
  • 1,050 to 1,600 square feet: 18,500 to 25,000 BTU



  • More Expensive than Window AC Units
  • Prevents use of Window (For Vented Portable AC Unit only)
  • Loud like Window AC Units

Whytner – 14,000 BTU Portable AC/Dehumidifier/Fan

Whynter ARC-14S 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier and Fan for Rooms Up to 500 Square Feet, Includes Activated Carbon Filter & Storage Bag, Platinum/Black, AC Unit Only

Click below to see our Pick for the Best “Portable Air Conditioner”



3) Mini-Split Air Conditioner

The Mini-Spit or “Ductless” Air Conditioner system is another popular type of air conditioning system. Mini Splits are wall-mounted, highly efficient, and cool much larger rooms up to 1,500 square feet.

mini split ac unit image - best home gear
Mini-Split (Ductless) AC Unit – Best Home Gear

Mini/Ductless AC Systems are sleek wall-mounted units that complement most home decors and cost significantly more than Window or Portable AC units (But less than Central AC), with prices ranging from $800 for 12,000 BTUs up -$2,200 for 30,000 BTUs (Labor not Included).

The best Mini Split air conditioners include Heating and Cooling performance options and are the most energy-efficient AC to own – while still delivering up to 30,000 BTUs of cooling performance.

The best Mini Split systems usually require professional installation with refrigerant lines connected to an exterior AC condenser, wall-mounted brackets, and electrical wiring inside a home – we highly recommend hiring a licensed HVAC contractor.

mini split ductless ac condenser image - best home gear
Mini Split AC Condenser – Besthomegear.com
  • Ductless mini-splits: Ductless mini-splits are a newer type of air conditioner that is becoming increasingly popular. They are more expensive than window or portable units, but they are also more efficient, and they can be installed in any room, even if there is no window.

BTU Requirements:  Mini-Split Requirement Per Room Size

  • 150 to 250 square feet: 6,000 BTUs
  • 300 to 350 square feet:  7,000 BTUs
  • 350 to 550 square feet: 8,000 to 12,000 BTUs
  • 550 to 700 square feet: 14,000 BTUs
  • 1,000 to 1,200 square feet: 21,000 BTUs *

*Note:  Mini-Split/Ductless AC Systems can be installed in “Mulitple Zones.”  With this option, your professional can install a wall-mounted Mini-Split unit in every room required, then connect it to an appropriately sized outdoor AC condenser. 


  • Wall Mounted – Saves Floor Space
  • Quiet AC Unit to Run
  • Most Energy Efficient AC 
  • Dependable Air Temperature Control
  • Include Heat Pump for Heating Season


  • Significantly More Expensive than Window AC or Portable Units
  • Requires Professional Installation
  • Not Designed to Cool Entire Home

Senville “Leto”:  12,000 BTU “Smart” Mini-Split System

Senville LETO Series Mini Split Air Conditioner Heat Pump, 12000 BTU 110/120V, Works with Alexa, White




4)  Central Air Conditioners

Central Air Conditioners are the most expensive but practical Air Conditioning system for any home. Central AC units require an exterior AC condenser, which circulates cool air through the home via a forced air system.

A licensed HVAC Professional is required to install a Central Air Conditioning System.

Central AC Unit Image - Best Home Gear
Central Air Conditioning Installation – BestHomeGear.com
  • Central air conditioners: Central air conditioners are the most expensive type of air conditioner, but they are also the most efficient. They cool your entire home, so they are a good option for large homes or homes with multiple levels.

BTU Requirements:  Central Air Conditioning Systems 

Central Air Conditioning Systems are typically installed in significant, multi-story single-family homes.  Because of the demand for this cooling system, it is essential to know the recommended BTU Range – based on the Zone you live in and the size (SEER rating) your home requires.

Once you know the Square Footage of your home and the U.S. “ZONE” you live in, Use this AC Selection Tool to determine your House’s Air Conditioning Requirements.


  • Highly Efficient AC System
  • Quiet Operation
  • Full Distribution to all (Ducted) Rooms in Home
  • Dependable Air Temperature Control
  • Controlled by Central Thermostat


  • Significantly More Expensive than Mini Split Systems
  • Requires Professional Installation
  • Highest Cost AC System
  • Requires Outdoor Air Condenser Location
  • Requires Separate Forced Air (Furnace) System for Heating

Goodman- 2.5 Ton/36,000 BTU – 14 SEER Air Conditioner

Goodman 3 Ton 14 SEER Air Conditioner GSX140361

Click below to see our Pick for the Best “Central AC Unit”


“Once you’ve decided on the best time to buy an air conditioner, it’s time to start shopping.”

Many brands and models are available, and it is essential to compare prices and features before making a purchase.  Consider the resources and Tips below;

Best Features To Consider When Shopping for an Air Conditioner:

  • BTU rating: The BTU rating measures an air conditioner’s cooling capacity. The higher the BTU rating, the more influential the air conditioner.
  • Energy efficiency: Air conditioners are rated on a scale of 1 to 15, with 15 being the most efficient. The more efficient the air conditioner, the lower your energy bills.
  • Noise level: Air conditioners can be noisy, so choosing one quiet enough for your comfort is essential.
  • Features: Some air conditioners have additional features, such as remote controls, timers, and dehumidifiers. Consider which features are important to you before making a purchase.

With so many different air conditioners on the market, it can be difficult to choose the right one for your home. Considering your needs and budget, you can find the perfect air conditioner to keep you cool and comfortable all summer.

Additional Tips for Choosing the Best Air Conditioner for Your Home:

  • Get multiple prices from different retailers online or in big box stores.
  • The best place to buy an air conditioner (window or portable) is online.
  • Hiring a professional is the best way to install Mini-Split or Central AC System.
  • Read online reviews of different air conditioners before making a purchase.
  • Ensure the air conditioner is the right size for cooling your room or home.
  • Consider the energy efficiency of the air conditioner.
  • Choose an air conditioner with features that are important to you.

References & Further Reading

bookmark at folkd 

Kevin is the author and editor for Best Home Gear. In addition to his work in publishing, Kevin enjoys exploring the Outdoors in Michigan and Arizona, Hiking, Cycling, Fishing, Reading, and Completing Projects for Home and Garden.

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