Summer is always an anticipated season in all parts of the world. Summer entails the promise of a good vacation and time away from studies or work, or finally having the chance to tend to your summer garden and finally make use of your lawn & garden tractor and leaf mulcher. However, let’s be honest here: the scorching heat that summer brings can be pretty dreadful! Sometimes, my thoughts stray to using our heavy-duty utility sink to act as a pool with how high the temperature gets! Without a working air conditioner, summer is nothing but sweat, lightheadedness, and overheating appliances.
So, to fully enjoy the perks of summer, getting an air conditioner that can cool you down is more of a necessity rather than a luxury at this point, especially with the worsening global warming that we’re experiencing. And if you’re scouring the internet on what kind of air conditioner to look for, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, I’ll be outlining the important features that you should look out for in AC units and give you some noteworthy brands that have some of the best 15,000 – 18,000 BTU air conditioners on the market. I’ve also done a buying guide on other AC units that have 5,000 – 6,000 BTU; 8,000 – 10,000 BTU; and 12,000 – 14,000 BTU cooling power, so check those out if you find out that your room requires an AC unit with a different BTU. Not familiar with what “BTU” is? Read on to know more!
Things to consider before buying an air conditioner
There are a lot of different types of air conditioners on the market, categorized by cooling power, installation type, and size, among many others. Most people just go on and buy the most powerful AC unit that they can afford, which is a huge rookie mistake! Before you shop for an air conditioner, you should take note of the limitations of your space/area first. To be specific, you should take note of the size of your room or how spacious it is, the number (or presence) of windows, and whether you can make permanent changes in your room. All of these things are determining factors when it comes to choosing the type and power of an AC unit.
- Room size determines the needed cooling capacity or British Thermal Unit (BTU) of an AC unit.
- Each BTU level corresponds to a certain cooling capacity. Not all AC units can cool down a 400 sq.m. area—a bigger space would require higher BTU.
- Buying an AC with the wrong BTU is just a waste of money because it won’t be able to cool down your area properly, or it can be wasteful in energy. (We’ll discuss the specifics of why this happens later.)
- The available space in your room will be a determiner of what type of AC your room can accommodate.
- If your room is already crowded with a lot of appliances, buying a portable standing AC unit might be a disadvantage because it will decrease your working/floor space even more.
- Windows are an important factor when it comes to ACs’ ventilation and/or water drainage.
- A lot of ACs require windows, especially window-mounted ACs because that is where the unit will be mounted (obviously). Some portable ACs also need windows because these units have window kits that must be installed for ventilation and/or drainage systems.
- If you’re living in a rented place, it’s better to opt for a portable or window AC unit because these are temporary fixtures.
- Of course, if you’re just renting out a space, you can’t make permanent changes to the area, such as making a rectangular hole at the wall to install a through-the-wall AC unit. However, if you’re planning on purchasing an AC for your spacious home, then you’re free to get an AC unit that can be a permanent fixture such as a through-the-wall AC unit or a central AC system.
To enlighten you further, let’s discuss the types of air conditioners based on how they are installed:
Portable air conditioners
Portable air conditioners (PACs) came about because of the need for a more compact, portable, affordable, and lightweight AC unit. The release of these units was beneficial to those who couldn’t afford and accommodate large, powerful AC units on the market.
PACs are perfect for people who are living in a rented apartment or dorm because they don’t really need a big renovation to install a PAC. It is a compact, self-contained system that is usually free-standing; thus, installation can be pretty quick and easy, so one can easily move it from one space to another. All you need is a certain spot on the floor to situate a PAC on and a window for units that have window kits (a venting system that is installed at the nearest window to expel warm air outside or to another location). With this type of AC, you’ll have flexible installation options. Some models even have wheels and/or handles for better portability!
A portable AC can effectively cool and dehumidify a single room. What’s also great is that if you’re looking for an air conditioner for your RV, but you find RV roof air conditioners to be too expensive, you can use a portable RV AC unit instead. Most PAC models are multipurpose; they can operate as a fan, dehumidifier, or air conditioner. Before, the cooling capacity of PACs are limited to small rooms but nowadays, there are a lot of PACs that have high BTU/cooling capacity and are capable of operating efficiently in 800-1000 sq. ft. areas.
Alongside cooling power, PACs can also differ in terms of water/moisture drainage systems. Most standard PACs require manual removal of water; these units usually have a catch basin or container that collects the moisture, and you have to periodically empty it. Other models have gravity drain and condensate pumps, wherein a drainage hose (different from the venting system’s hose) is attached to the unit, directing the water to the other end of the hose. More advanced units, however, are already equipped with self-evaporative features that entail evaporation of moisture out of the same exhaust hose that the venting system uses. For convenience, opt for a PAC with self-evaporative features so you won’t have to manually drain the water or find another area to direct the drainage hose at.
Window air conditioners
Compared to PACs, window air conditioners are slightly more difficult to install because the whole unit must be put within the boundaries of the window. But if you compare the ease of installation of window ACs with that of through-the-wall AC units, the former is definitely easier to install than the latter.
This type of AC is popular among homes, apartments, motels, dorms, etc. because, as mentioned, it’s quite easy to install and would only require the presence of a window or two! Usually, when you buy a window AC, your purchase is inclusive of free delivery and installation, so you won’t have to worry about extra installation fees. However, having a window is not the only prerequisite for window-mounted ACs. You need to have a window that’s sturdy and big enough so that the whole unit can fit within its boundaries and make sure that it won’t give out under the weight of the AC unit.
Unlike PACs that you can situate wherever on the floor, you actually have to measure the window prior to installation. This will give you a gauge on which model can fit within the boundaries of your window. One downside of having a window AC is that it makes your window inaccessible or unusable. The unit may block the path of light, and the sealing around the unit may prevent you from being able to open/close your window. So, if you value having a window that you can freely open, or if you have indoor plants that need some sunlight, I suggest that you opt for window ACs only if you have a couple of windows available.
In terms of design, a window AC is basically one whole unit that is relatively lightweight and moderately sized (depending on the model), an appropriate size that a window frame can support. On the other hand, through-the-wall ACs are usually heavier because concrete walls can support more weight than windows. In terms of sturdiness and cooling power, most window ACs come in models that are sturdier and more powerful than PACs. Window ACs are also equipped with more advanced features than PACs because PACs are sometimes limited by the requirement of being portable.
The outer body of a window AC typically hangs out from the window, so other people add extra metal encasement outside for extra sturdiness or to ensure that the unit won’t get stolen from outside. If you’re a handyman who’s looking for some tools that you can use in making this metal support/encasement, you should check out the following: engine-driven welders, extension cords, plasma cutters, mini metal lathe machines, welding glasses/goggles, and welding gas.
Through the wall air conditioners
It’s obvious that you can’t really cut a hole through the wall to make space for an air conditioner if you’re renting a space—getting your security deposit back will be a challenge. So, if you have your own space, where you can do permanent changes without getting in trouble for it, this type of AC is the perfect choice for you.
Like window-mounted ACs, through-the-wall ACs consist of one big unit that doesn’t need extra parts/systems for ventilation or drainage like PACs do. The whole unit is installed through a rectangular hole in your wall, as the name suggests, with its vent facing outside and the fans facing inwards, blowing cold air inside. In terms of cooling power, depending on the brand, both window and through-the-wall ACs have a wide BTU range and can effectively cool small or large single rooms.
However, these two AC types differ in the specific placement of their ventilation system: window ACs have vents at the sides while through-the-wall ACs only have vents at the very back of the unit. This is why the former hangs out from the window, so its side vents can expel air properly, while the latter can fit snugly through the wall, lined up flushed with the exterior wall with no hanging parts peeking out. So, if you detest the appearance of ACs hanging out from windows, I suggest that you go for through-the-wall ACs instead.
Home appliances like refrigerators can consume quite a lot of power, especially if the unit that you have is not energy-saving. Considering the other high-wattage appliances in your home, you should be careful about choosing the right extension cord, circuit breaker, or electrical fuse. These things vary in the amount of voltage that they can handle; the amount of electrical current that they can carry depends on their wire sizes/lengths. One honest mistake can lead to appliance failure, short-circuiting, or worse, accidental fires.
To help you with this, you can read these guides before buying an extension cord or a circuit breaker: Amp Wires, Breakers & Circuits Chart (20-60 Amp Extension Cord) and Amp Wire Size Guide & Chart (70-600 Amp).
What to look for in an air conditioner
After deciding what type of AC you’re going to get, you should look for the following features as you decide on what brand or model will address your needs best.
- For a peaceful sleep and workspace, buy an AC unit with a 50-60 dB range. A decibel range of 60-80 dB can also work, since most ACs only become noisy when running at their fullest capacity.
- Air quality
- An AC unit with a good filtering performance and is equipped with a high-quality filter is the best choice for people who suffer from allergies or are sensitive to dust like elders and babies. Look for a unit that can dehumidify the air effectively and has a HEPA or antimicrobial filter that you can easily clean and/or replace
- Energy efficiency
- If you want to make sure that you’re getting an AC unit that’s cost-efficient, look for a unit that is Energy StarⓇ Qualified. This means that it is energy-efficient; the higher the star rating, the more energy-efficient it is. You’ll save a lot of money on your electrical bills if you have a highly-efficient AC unit.
- To save money and effort, find a brand that offers a long warranty and free returns to save yourself from costly repairs and the hassle of going out of your way to find an electrician that can repair your AC.
Room size of a 15,000 & 18,000 BTU unit & how much it powers
Larger spaces contain a lot of hot, humid air compared to small spaces. To cool down this area, your AC must be able to use a certain amount of energy to convert the existing hot air into cool, dehumidified air. This process entails condensing and evaporation of moisture from the air, which is where BTU comes in.
- British Thermal Units (BTU) is an international measure of energy. It describes the amount of energy that’s needed to increase the temperature of 1 lb of water by 1°F.
- 1 BTU = energy required to increase the temperature of 1 lb of water to 1°F
- Rule of thumb: 1 sq. ft. = 20 BTU/hr
Basically, air conditioners work by taking in hot air from the room, condensing it into liquid, and then evaporating the heat out of it, which is released outside through the vent/s. The cooled down liquid is left in the unit, which is then processed again to become cool air. Larger spaces would contain higher amounts of hot/warm air that needs cooling, which is why you’d need an AC with higher BTU for larger rooms. Thus, the BTU/hr of an AC unit determines its cooling capacity.
However, “ higher” doesn’t always equate to “better.” You need to choose the AC unit with the right BTU level for your space. It’s a common misunderstanding that a powerful AC unit can work anywhere as long as it can cool down your space—this is not true. If you buy a 16,000 BTU AC unit for a mere 250 sq. ft. room, you’ll only be wasting energy and hiking up your electricity bills because the AC will just undergo each cycle too quickly.
A 15,000 – 18,000 BTU AC would be the perfect choice for a room with a size of 700-1000 sq. ft. area, such as large bedrooms, living rooms, offices, and other commercial spaces. Here’s a chart from Energy Star that you can use as a guide:
Source: Energy Star
However, these factors can also affect the level of BTU that you will need:
- room’s amount of / exposure to sunlight
- increase BTU if sunny
- decrease BTU if shaded
- crowded area”
- increase BTU if crowded (each person generates body heat)
- appliance load or type
- use kitchen oven and/or stove would require an increase in BTU
To estimate the amount of BTU that you need to adjust, consult with the provider of your AC unit prior to purchasing.
Brands with the best 15,000-18,000 BTU air conditioners
The market is saturated with brands that offer quality home and commercial appliances. This makes shopping hard sometimes because you have so many options to choose from. To help you in narrowing down your search, here are some examples of the noteworthy brands that have 14,000-18,000 BTU air conditioners:
LG is a well-known brand of smart devices and home appliances, garnering high spots on various lists of top brands in different categories. They have been bringing quality products to the market ever since 1958, always sticking to their goal of improving their customers’ life quality. Indeed, their brand image, “Life’s Good,” fits them very well.
Having decades of experience in designing, manufacturing, and marketing smart appliances, LG Electronics knows how to innovate towards the betterment of the environment. LG air conditioners are smart, energy-efficient, and eco-friendly. Their ACs are Energy StarⓇ qualified, capable of saving up to 70% of energy consumption. Each unit has an amazing cooling power, filtering performance, and low-noise operation, equipped with LG’s rapid cooling technology, HEPA filters, and other smart features that other brands have not perfected yet. For ease of usage and maintenance, a lot of their AC units have WiFi control features and filter indicators.
LG Electronics offer a variety of AC units, such as portable, window-mounted, through-the-wall, split-type, and central air conditioning units. Here are some ACs with 15,000-18,000 BTU range that caught our attention:
- LG LW1516ER – 15,000 BTU Window Air Conditioner
- Cooling area of up to 800 sq. ft.
- Indoor noise: 57-61 dB
- 3 cooling & fan speeds
- 4-way air direction
- Slide-out washable filter
- Remote control & 24-hr timer
- LG LW1816ER – 18,000 BTU Window Air Conditioner
- Cooling area of up to 1000 sq. ft.
- Indoor noise: 61-65 dB
- 3 cooling & fan speeds
- 4-way air direction
- Slide-out washable filter
- Remote control & 24-hr timer
- LG LW1815HR – 18,000 BTU Window Air Conditioner & 9,000/12,000 BTU Heater
- 2-in-1: Seasonal Heating & Cooling
- Cooling area of up to 1000 sq. ft.
- 2 cooling & heating fan speeds
- Remote control
According to Euromonitor International Limited, Haier has been reigning as one of the top brands in major appliances for 12 consecutive years—an amazing feat during their 30 years of operation in the industry. They bring high-quality, reliable products to the market, such as Haier air conditioners, which are smart, energy-efficient, and user-friendly. Like LG, Haier air conditioners are Energy StarⓇ qualified, helping users save up to 63% of energy usage. What’s also amazing about some of their AC units is that they’re equipped with self-cleaning filters, which is a wonderful feature to have because it makes maintenance much easier.
Without a doubt, Frigidaire is always at the top of the list of many shoppers when they’re looking for cooling appliances. Frigidaire, since 1918, has been true to their brand name and focuses on making premium cooling appliances for their customers. However, as they developed, the company also ventured towards other home appliances; they now have various products such as refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, ovens, and air conditioners, among many others. Frigidaire is trusted by many because of the proven and tested impressive features of their air conditioning units.
Frigidaire ACs have an impressive cooling capacity and numerous smart & energy-saving features. Like the aforementioned brands, Frigidaire ACs are also Energy StarⓇ certified and have features that make AC operation much easier (clean filter alert, antibacterial washable filter, remote temperature control, etc.).
GE Appliances, a brand under Haier, offers a lot of eco-friendly, smart, and user-friendly home appliances. They have room air conditioners (through-the-wall/built-in, window, and portable ACs), kitchen appliances, water filters, refrigerators, heaters, and many more. A lot of their AC units are also Energy StarⓇ certified and are equipped with antibacterial filters. Furthermore, they have a new line of SMART GE ROOM ACs, which enables the users to create their own cooling schedule and check the unit’s energy usage! You can easily control your AC through your smartphone and get reminders when you need to clean the AC unit.
After only a few years of operation, GE air conditioners already became a favourite of most people due to their low-energy consumption, innovative smart features, and amazing filtering performance.
After a century of manufacturing home appliances, Kenmore has nearly perfected the production of energy-efficient products with only the highest quality. As proof of their hard work and great innovations, Kenmore has been awarded the Energy Star Award multiple years in a row.
Kenmore air conditioners have the low-power startup feature, enabling each unit to yield powerful results despite using the lowest energy possible. So, if you have a large room that needs rapid cooling and you want to save up on your electricity bill, Kenmore should be on your priority list. This brand offers central, wall-mounted, window-mounted, and portable air conditioners that have a wide BTU range and are equipped with antimicrobial filters and smart technology.
If high-quality, budget-friendly appliances are what you’re searching for, Arctic King can give you what you need! You can take your pick among their portable, window-mounted, and through-the-wall AC units, which are all reasonably priced and boast amazing features and good cooling capacities. It’s amazing how even their smart models are significantly more affordable than other brands, allowing users the luxury of having a smart AC unit without splurging. Also, these ACs are proven to be durable and long-lasting!
Daewoo Electronics is a company that always focuses on sustainable growth. Ever since their establishment 30 years ago, Daewoo still continuously innovates to offer only eco-friendly & energy-saving robust products to their customers. As a result of their innovations, Daewoo has made two energy classes for their air conditioning units: A Cooling and A++ Cooling. This feature allows the users to control the cooling power and energy consumption of the AC unit. Also, their AC units are equipped with the Turbo Heating-Cooling Technology, allowing the ACs to rapidly cool or heat the room within minutes. Daewoo AC units are also quiet despite the powerful cooling features, and some advanced models have smart features for easier control and maintenance.
If you’re looking for an AC unit that can beat the hot, humid air in your area, hOmeLabs AC units should be on your list. These air conditioners are well-known for having impressive dehumidifying features, rivaling the air conditioners of other reputed brands. Homelabs also take pride in how energy-saving and efficient their air conditioners are. You can take a pick from their portable and window-mounted ACs, which are all user-friendly and ergonomically designed.