Best 20,000 – 24,000 BTU Air Conditioners: Portable, Window, Room

The pandemic has forced a lot of us, if not all, to work from home. For some people, remote working is easy—they have a home office fully equipped with a seamless internet connection, a work desk, plush office chair, computer or laptop, and an air conditioner that can combat the heat of summer for cool, refreshing air. However, some people cannot adjust as well; they do not have the luxury of having all these necessities to be able to work or pursue their degrees at home.

And since summer is nearly here, people are looking for ways to stay comfy as much as possible. Heat can really take a toll on people, either health-wise or via loss of concentration (happens to the best of us). If you stumbled upon this blog post to look for a cheap, cost-efficient, way to cool and heat your home, you’ve come to the right place!

air conditioning unit

Just like when you’re shopping for other things for the home, such as lawn & garden tractor, extension cords, and utility sink, you have to take into account an array of factors when you’re buying these to make sure that what you’ll get is efficient, functional, and worth the price. However, the number of factors, brands, and models on the markets can be overwhelming, especially if you’re new to this. To help narrow down your search, I’ll be outlining the important features that you must look for and list some brands that offer the best 20,000-24,000 BTU air conditioners!

What you should know before buying

Things to consider
Size of the space Limitations
  • Room size

Just like how you must always check for the correct wire gauge size of an extension cord prior to purchasing it to avoid electricity-related mishaps in your home, it’s also important to take note of your room size before you buyone. This is because the required cooling capacity depends on the size of your room.

    • They come in different BTU levels and each BTU rating corresponds to a certain cooling capacity. For every BTU rating, there is an equivalent room area/size that it can accommodate.
    • Units with low BTU/hr level cannot efficiently cool a large room.
    • A powerful model will waste energy if placed in a room that’s too small.

Read on to reach the section, “Room size of a 20,000 & 24,000 BTU unit & how much it powers,” to know more about the relationship between room size & BTU! For now, take note of your room’s size as accurately as you can!

  • Limitations of your room/space & installation type

They come in different types and sizes; there is no “one-size-fits-all.” Which is why you should carefully choose the unit that your room can accommodate. Here are some examples of how some factors of your space can limit your choice:

    • If your room has quite a lot of available floor area but you only have one window, a free-standing model might work best for you.
    • If you have more than two available windows and not much floor space, a window-mounted model will be better than a free-standing one.
    • If your window cannot handle the weight of the unit and you can’t accommodate a free-standing one, a through-the-wall model might be a perfect match for you, given that you can alter your walls to house such a unit.
Types
Portable Window
Whole house Through the wall

PORTABLE

When portable air conditioners (PACs) were first introduced, the units were mostly small in size, amazingly compact and cheap, yet powerful enough to cool down a single, small room. These were the smallest in size compared to others, with a cooling power of 2,000 BTU or 3,000 BTU, which is perfect for a small bedroom of up to 100 sq. m. However, as technology progressed, PACs expanded in size and power, all while remaining portable, of course..

Basically, this type is a compact, self-contained, free-standing system, which is perfect to use if you want something lightweight and portable. Installation of a PAC is a breeze compared to the window and through-the-wall units; all you need is an empty spot on the floor to situate the unit on, and a nearby window to install a venting system. So, if you live in a solo room and you’re looking for something cheap and convenient, I recommend these! This unit is also the best choice for people who live transiently because you can easily move the portable model from one room to another, and there is no need for tedious renovations when installing it. Some units even have wheels and handles to aid for portability, and some have advanced, smart features for ease of usage. What’s also great is that there are now mini, rechargeable ones on the market that can be powered via batteries—you can even use them in a tent or RV for extra protection against the heat!

There are now a lot of models that can cool down large areas with increased cooling power and capacity. Nowadays, you can find ones with 9,000 BTU to 21,000 BTU (or higher) cooling power in the market. Furthermore a lot of these units are multifunctional; they can function as a fan, dehumidifier, or a cooler—some units can even function as a heater, too!

Another thing that you must know prior to purchasingis that there are different drainage systems to consider. Standard ones need manual removal of water, so you need to periodically empty out the catch basin. If you’re a busybody, you might want to opt for a portable one with gravity and condensate pump instead, wherein a drainage hose is also installed, which carries the water/condensate outside either via your window or a different drainage spot. Another great alternative are ones with self-evaporative features; the water evaporates out of the same hose that the venting system uses, so there’s no need to install any additional hose for drainage.

In a nutshell, if you need one with flexible installation options and is relatively cheaper, include portable options on your list!

WINDOW

In terms of ease of installation, window models come second after portable ones. However, in terms of cooling power, sturdiness, and number of smart features, most window models surpass PACs. Cooling capacities of window units can reach up to 28,000 BTU (or more)! Also, window units don’t need that much maintenance compared to PACs because the drainage and venting systems are incorporated into one whole unit.

A window model is a popular choice in homes and rental spaces because like a PAC, it’s more of a temporary fixture rather than a permanent one. Installation is relatively easy and can be done multiple times without needing to pay a hefty amount of money for installation fees or renovation.

The window model is installed within the boundaries of your window as one big unit. However, there is no “one size fits all” for this type. Thus, you have to measure your window before purchasing to make sure that it would actually fit. Also, you should consider the number of windows that you have. If you only have one window in your room and you enjoy opening it to let some fresh air in, you should probably opt for PACs or through-the-wall options. This is because window units can make the window pretty much unusable after installation: it can block light or hinder the opening/closing of the window. But if you have multiple windows in your room or you’re not really fond of keeping your window open, then the installation of window unit won’t be a problem at all.

If you’re set on buying a window model for your place, you also have to make sure that not only is your window big enough to fit it within its boundaries, but you also need to ensure that it’s sturdy enough to handle the weight! Some people put a metal encasing called a bracket outside of the window, which supports the part that hangs out of the window. This keeps the window from collapsing under the weight by distributing the weight to a larger surface area. However, this would entail extra fees for the manufacture of bracket and its installation.

If you’re capable of making brackets on your own, you might want to check out these handy tools that can make the task so much easier: engine-driven welders, extensions cords, plasma cutters, mini metal lathe machines, welding glasses/goggles, and welding gas.

THROUGH THE WALL

If you’re looking for a model that’s sturdy and can last long and power through even the harshest heat waves, through-the-wall models should be on your list! In terms of cooling capacity range, through-the-wall and window-mounted options are comparable with each other. However, in terms of lifespan, through-the-wall ones are relatively sturdier than window-mounted ones.

A sturdier body usually entails more weight. Thus, a through-the-wall model must be accommodated by a strong, concrete wall that can withstand the weight of the unit. Among all three types, it’s pretty obvious that this is the one that requires more effort and fees when it comes to installation. This is why through-the-wall models are only preferable if you have complete jurisdiction over the place you’re staying in because you’d have to make a rectangular hole in your wall. Similar to window ones, this is also just one big unit, with no extra or separate parts for vents or drainage. Its installation also requires an accurate measurement to make sure that the sizes of the hole and the unit match up.

However, unlike window ones that might need a bracket for the part that hangs out of the window, through-the-wall models can sit lined up flushed with the exterior wall, needing no additional paraphernalia for support because their vents are located solely at the very back of the unit. This eliminates the extra cost for a bracket!

APPLIANCE SAFETY

ac unit being installed

I’m pretty sure we’re all terrified of the possibility of an electricity line or power outlet overloading or short-circuiting, especially when dealing with high-wattage appliances such as these home additions. A lot of bad things can happen with just one mistake: appliance damage, brownouts, accidental fires, etc. This is why it’s important to choose the proper size and type of electrical wires and cords. Just like ACs, these things come in different types and sizes, and they have different voltage capacities. To help you pick the right type of extension cord, here are some helpful guides: amp wires, breakers, and circuits for 20-60 amp extension cord and amp wire size for 70-600 amp.

What to look for

The next step, after deciding on which type of installation would work best for you, is to look for these noteworthy features:

  • Noise Control
    • A 50-80 dB range is what you should look for if you don’t want to get distracted by the whirring sound that units make. With this decibel range, the quiet hum won’t distract you from work or keep you awake at night.
  • Filter Type & Performance
    • These days, it’s important to always opt for antimicrobial filters like HEPA filters. These can keep the worst of your allergies away even when it’s pollinating season.
    • Filters are replaced periodically, which is why it’s important to buy one that uses a filter that’s easy to find in the market.
    • If you want to cut down on costs, you can opt for a unit that has a washable filter instead.
  • Energy efficiency
    • Find one that is Energy Star Qualified to ensure that it is energy efficient. The higher the rating, the better it is in terms of consuming the lowest energy possible while yielding powerful results.
  • Warranty
    • A long warranty is something that people usually overlook but it’s actually one of the most important things that you should look for. This will save you from costly repairs and give you the reassurance that there will be professionals on call who are willing to help and come right away to repair it.
  • Cooling Capacity/Power
    • This one’s a no-brainer. As mentioned multiple times earlier, you should pick one that has the right cooling capacity to ensure maximum efficiency and avoid wasting money and energy. To know more, read on below!

Room size of a 20,000 & 24,000 BTU unit & how much it powers

In a nutshell, this is how they work: it takes in air from the room and condenses it into a liquid to evaporate the heat out of it, and then the resulting cooled down liquid is processed again to become cool air. The heat, in the form of hot air, is released through the venting system while the cool air is blown into the room. The moisture or condensate that the AC unit accumulated from dehumidifying the air is released via the drainage system.

For this entire process to happen (condensation, evaporation, etc.), it must expend a certain amount of energy. This is where the British Thermal Unit (BTU) comes in:

  • BTU is an international measure of energy and it describes the amount of energy that’s needed to increase the temperature of 1 lb of water by 1°F.
  • 1 BTU = energy needed to increase the temperature of 1 lb of water to 1°F
  • Rule of thumb: 1 sq. ft. = 20 BTU/hr

Because it makes use of the evaporation process to make cool air, it’s important that the BTU/hr of the unit is enough to power a cycle in a certain amount of time to process the air in a room. Large areas contain more air; thus, it must be strong and quick enough to process all the air within the room at a certain time frame to effectively cool the entire room. They are labeled with a certain BTU level (in BTU/hr) and cooling capacity (in sq. ft) depending on how much hot air each unit can process.

As noted above, 1 sq. ft. would require 20 BTU/hr; therefore, larger spaces require higher BTU levels. With this information in mind, one would usually think that opting for a high BTU would work best in any situation—this is not true! You have to pick the proper BTU as per your room size, or else you’ll end up wasting money and energy.

For example, if your room is only 150 sq. ft. in size, a 6,000 BTU option unit is a much better choice than a 9,000 BTU option! The latter is made to be efficient in a 350 sq. ft. room; if placed in a much smaller room, it would just undergo each cooling cycle too quickly since it is programmed to process more air in an hour, and this results in wasting precious energy. Likewise, a 4,000 BTU option would not work in a 350 sq. ft. room because it is not programmed to accommodate an area that large. For your reference, check the chart from Energy Star below:

which size AC for a room

Source: Energy Star

Thus, a 20,000 BTU AC unit would work efficiently in an area of 1,000-1,200 sq. m., while a 24,000 BTU AC unit would work best in a room with an area of 1,400-1,500 sq. m.

However, bear in mind that some factors can influence the BTU/hr that you’d need::

  • room’s exposure to sunlight
    • sunny – ↑ BTU
    • shaded – ↓ BTU
  • crowded area – ↑ BTU (each person generates body heat)
  • appliance present/used in the area
    • use of kitchen oven and/or stove – ↑ BTU

To gauge the proper amount of adjustment that must be done, consult with the provider of your unit before purchasing one.

Brands with the best 7,000-25,000 BTU models

With the number of brands reaching thousands, browsing the multitude of options to pick the perfect one can be quite overwhelming. To help narrow down your search, here are some brands that are worth taking a closer look into:

Important brands
Homelabs Daewoo Arctic King
Kenmore GE Appliances Frigidaire
Haier LG Electronics

rooftop air conditioning units

LG Electronics

LG Electronics is a famous and trusted brand for various appliances, from smartphones and LED TVs to home appliances like refrigerators and air conditioners. Based in South Korea, LG has been continuously innovating and expanding to other parts of the world since their launch in 1958. Their solid adherence to their philosophy and brand image, “Life’s Good,” is one of their pillars towards success, always improving existing products or developing new ones to improve their consumers’ life quality.

Nowadays, LG has a lot of home appliances & air solutions that are booming in the market. LG always incorporates energy efficiency and eco-friendliness when designing smart products. Their models are powerful and Energy Star qualified, capable of lowering the energy consumption to 70% without compromising the quick cooling cycle. These also have a low-noise operation, so you won’t have to worry about them becoming distracting and noisy even if you ramp up the settings to the highest option. The amount of smart features LG products have is astounding, boasting remote and smartphone controls, auto temperature adjustments, and many more. It’s also amazing that most filters of LG products are antimicrobial and/or washable, so you can rest assured that the air you’re getting is safe to inhale and won’t trigger any allergies.

Haier

For 12 consecutive years, Haier has been reigning as one of the top brands in major appliances, as noted by Euromonitor International Limited. Their consistency in bringing high-quality, smart, user-friendly, and reliable home appliances through the years is what turned Haier into what they are now—trusted by many and highly successful.

Haier products are also Energy Star qualified and eco-friendly, saving up to 63% of your energy expenditure. Haier ones also have smart features, with some models equipped with self-cleaning filters! You can choose from a wide array of BTU available, ranging from 4,000 BTU to 30,000 BTU, so you can surely find the one that’s perfect for your room!

Frigidaire

Without a doubt, Frigidaire is one of the leading brands when it comes to cooling appliances. It isn’t surprising that people actually treat the brand name as a synonym of “air conditioner” or “refrigerator” because of how well-known and widely used Frigidaire appliances are. Ever since 1918, Frigidaire has been pioneering a lot of cooling appliances, bringing the first home refrigerator, freezer, and room air conditioner into the American market. The company ventured towards manufacturing other home appliances many years ago, and they became a favourite of their consumers, too!

As one of the most sought out brands, Frigidaire has never failed their customers in providing top-notch products. They always make sure that their products are not only powerful and smart but also energy-saving (Energy StarⓇ certified), efficient, and sturdy.

Here are some of the best-selling Frigidaire models that you might want to check out:

  • Frigidaire FFRE2533S2 25,000 BTU Window-Mounted
    • Max cooling capacity: 1,600 sq. ft.
    • 10.3 Energy Efficiency Ratio
    • Low-noise operation: 58.2 dB
    • Washable Filter (with Auto Filter Check)
    • Clean air ionizer
    • With 3 fan speeds & 8-way air directions
    • Remote control can act as a thermostat
  • Frigidaire FFRH2522R2 25,000 BTU Window-Mounted with Supplemental Heat
    • Max cooling capacity: 1,600 sq. ft.
    • 9.4 Energy Efficiency Ratio
    • Cooling function: 25,000 BTU w/ 3 fan speeds
    • Heating function: 16,000 BTU – w/ 3 heat speeds
    • Low-noise operation: 58.2 dB to 63.2 dB
    • Washable Filter (with Auto Filter Check)
    • Remote control
  • Frigidaire FFRE25L3S2 25,000 BTU Window Unit
    • Max cooling capacity: 1,600 sq. ft.
    • 10.3 Energy Efficiency Ratio
    • Low-noise operation: 58.5 dB
    • Antibacterial Mesh Filter (with Auto Filter Check)
    • Multi-Directional Air Control
    • Remote control

GE Appliances

GE Appliances is also a Haier company, which is why it’s not surprising that GE is also one of the top brands when it comes to major appliances. GE, however, is focused on designing products for homes. They offer high-quality, eco-friendly home appliances, and their Smart GE Room products are gaining a lot of attention because of how advanced the smart features of these units are. Even up until now, they’re still continuously improving these smart features to make home living easier. Furthermore, GE’s products are powerful yet energy-saving (Energy Star certified) and are equipped with antibacterial mesh filters.

A notable feature of the Smart GE Room models is that you can actually fix a schedule for your unit using your smartphone anywhere, as long as you’re connected to WiFi! So, if you want a highly convenient smart unit, make sure to check out GE Appliances.

Kenmore

Kenmore has been in the field, providing top-notch innovative home appliances, for over 100 years. Whether you’re looking for an appliance for cooking, cleaning, or cooling, Kenmore can surely provide for you. The low-power start up feature of their models became a favorite of many because it allows the units to yield powerful results, cooling rooms within a matter of minutes while using the lowest energy possible. Due to this feature, Kenmore has been awarded the Energy Star Award multiple years in a row.

This brand also competes with other leading brands when it comes to rapid cooling technology, wide BTU range, antimicrobial filters, and smart features. If you want a powerful unit that has low energy expenditure, Kenmore should definitely be on your list.

Arctic King

Arctic King stays true to their name; their models are not only of high quality, but they’re also sturdy and user-friendly. But what sets Arctic King apart from other brands is their pricing—everything’s budget-friendly! Thus, this is the perfect choice for people who are looking for an affordable option that can cool down a room efficiently. They also offer other units that boast multiple unique & smart features at a reasonable price.

If you think buying a cheap yet powerful option is too good to be true, purchase your Arctic King model, and see it for yourself! As a testament to their amazing achievements and developments, Midea (the brand that Arctic King is under) has been included in the Fortune Global 500 since 2016.

Daewoo

If you’re looking for a brand that prioritizes sustainable growth and eco-friendliness when designing and manufacturing robust home appliances, Daewoo is the perfect one for you! WINIADAEWOO Electronics America aims to minimize their impact on the environment, focusing on finding ways to keep on improving the energy efficiency of their products without compromising function and practicality.

Daewoo units have two energy classes (A Cooling and A++ Cooling) that allow users to control both the cooling power and energy consumption of each one. A lot of their products are also multifunctional, equipped with Heating-Cooling Technology. This is a great pick if you want a 2-in-1 beast that can double as a heater!

Homelabs (hOmeLabs)

Homelabs is famous for the outstanding dehumidifying capacity of their air purifiers, and dehumidifiers and more. Since humidity affects how hot an area is—the more humid it is, the hotter it gets), one that can effectively lower the humidity can cool an area more quickly than others. This feature makes Homelabs a lot more effective when it comes to combating heat in very humid areas. So, if you live in an area that has stifling heat and humidity, you should check out Homelabs!

Another noteworthy feature of these products is the air purification performance. It’s as if they combined their very best air purifier with their unit! This is a great choice for people with allergies and other respiratory problems because allergens and other microbes will get filtered out before the unit releases the air into your room.

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