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Air conditioners for condos: an overview of options

Learn about your air conditioners for condos options.

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Air conditioners for condos may have different installation rules. Photo by MSVG on Flickr.Condominiums have the same home cooling and heating needs as any house. Installing air conditioners for condos may require a different approach than installing them in a house, due to the construction of the building and the need to avoid displeasing your neighbors.

As such, there are a few things you should keep in mind before you hire a contractor to install an air conditioner into your condo.

Unless your condo was designed and built to accommodate it, installing a central HVAC system is likely to be difficult. A central unit relies on ductwork for airflow to the various vents in a home, which would require opening up the ceilings or walls of your condo for placement.

To avoid the high renovation cost of such an installation, most homeowners opt instead for window air conditioners for condos. A window unit can provide cooling for even large combination areas, such as those condos with open floor plans that contain linked living, dining and kitchen areas.

With properly sized air conditioners, each separate room requiring cooling in your condo can receive it through a well-secured window AC unit. Read more at "Wall air conditioner prices: an overview."

Ask a contractor about air conditioners for condos!

Sizing the air conditioner to fit the space needing cooling requires that you choose a unit with the appropriate BTU (British thermal unit, the amount of work needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahreneit) to match the square footage of the space. Most manufacturers offer sizing charts for their various AC units, as the necessary BTUs can change drastically as you attempt to cool larger spaces.

For a small room under 150 square feet, for example, you can get an AC unit with only 5,000 BTUs. Whereas a large space of 1,600 square feet may require a unit with 29,000 BTUs. Unfortunately, the larger the BTU capacity, the larger the air conditioner tends to be. This will often limit the possible size of the unit installed, as you'll still need to be able to fit the unit into a window opening up into the room. More on BTUs at "Air conditioner BTU calculator: What AC is right for you?" and "Air Conditioner Buyers Guide."

Another limitation when you're deciding on air conditioners for condos is the condo association rules governing such units. Some condo associations may limit the size of the units, or the locations where they can be installed.

Because many units may lower the curbside appeal of a building, many condo associations limit the placement of units to the rear of a condo only. They also may limit the size of the unit or require that a professional contractor do the installation to avoid liability or warranty issues.

You should always check your condo association's bylaws to determine what rules may be in effect governing air conditioner installations. You can generally locate a contractor in your area that can provide you with an air conditioner estimate covering the cost of installation through the listings available at Reply!

Air conditioner prices can vary widely per unit depending on capacity and manufacturer. Larger homes will be more expensive to cool, but there are plenty of high-efficiency air conditioners for condos available that should provide significant savings on cooling bills. As long as you find the unit that best fits your home, you should be able to cool a condo space as well as any house, making the unit comfortable — even at the height of summer.

Get your 4 free cooling estimates!

Photo credit: MSVG via Compfight CC.