Finding the correct type of air conditioner for your home can be one daunting task. The right choice depends on several technical factors as well as your personal preference. Therefore, you need to be vigilant while deciding, to enjoy the full potential of the air conditioning system you buy. Not only is this important to maintain a comfortable environment during summer & winter, but also because air conditioning can also affect your mood and health.
There are several types of air conditioners to choose from. There is no definitive correct answer here. It all boils down to what your needs are.
One of them is a through-the-wall air conditioner, which is often confused or overlaps with a window air conditioner. Let’s begin the guide by clarifying the difference and determining if they are the right choice for your home.
- What Is a Through-the-Wall Air Conditioner?
- Differences Between Window Air Conditioners and Through-the-Wall Air Conditioners
- The Similarities Between Through-the-Wall and Window Air Conditioners
- How Does a Through-the-Wall Air Conditioner Work?
- Features of Through-the-Wall Air Conditioner
- Make Through the Wall Air Conditioners Smart!
- Factors to Consider Before Installing Wall Unit in Your Home
- How to Install Through-the-Wall Air Conditioner?
- Why Choose a Through-the-Wall Air Conditioner?
- Cost to Install a Through-the-Wall Air Conditioner
- The Downside of Having a Wall AC
- Achieve Ideal Room Climate With Wall AC Units
What Is a Through-the-Wall Air Conditioner?
You may be familiar with window ACs or heat pumps. They are almost everywhere, from small apartments to condos.
Through-the-wall air conditioners are quite similar to window units. The main difference lies in the placement of these units. While window air conditioners are designed to sit inside your window frame, through-the-wall ACs are intended to sit in an opening in your building’s wall.
Window ACs tend to obstruct your view from the window. On the contrary, through-the-wall ACs free up your window space and provide a more decluttered look to your room. However, more work is required to install these types of ACs as you need to create an opening in your wall.
Differences Between Window Air Conditioners and Through-the-Wall Air Conditioners
Let’s take a look at the major differences between window and through-the-wall ACs in detail.
1. Location and Installation
A major difference between through-the-wall and window air conditioners is the installation location.
Through-the-wall air conditioners are installed into an exterior wall. They require a permanent wall opening and thus are unsuitable if you’re renting a place.
On the other hand, window air conditioners are installed within the boundaries of the window frame, but they block your view from the window. These air conditioners do not require permanent installation and can be removed easily.
Here’s how to DIY window AC installation.
The installers sometimes do not follow the manufacturer’s instructions, trying to fit the air conditioner in a space they were not designed for, compromising the air conditioner’s warranty.
Improper installation and the wrong location can cause your air conditioner to work inefficiently, leaving you all sweaty during high temperatures!
While through-the-wall ACs are permanent, window air conditioners can be removed when you don’t need them. You can store them away during winter and free up your window space, making them very flexible!
Energy efficiency is an important factor when it comes to air conditioning. Both air conditioners are energy efficient and help to cool or heat up a room. But due to installation differences, in-wall units are more efficient than window units.
Air conditioners installed in the window frames tend to have more leaks and gaps. As a result, cool air may still escape regardless of how well you seal the leaks. Due to this, window ACs have to run longer to keep your room cool or warm. While wall air conditioners perfectly fit into the wall without allowing any leakage.
Through-the-wall air conditioners are relatively more expensive than window units. The setup and installation costs add up to a considerable amount. However, it should be kept in mind that these ACs are more efficient at cooling down your space and thus can make up for the initial high cost.
If you are a light sleeper and wake up due to disruption easily, then through-the-wall AC units are for you. They are designed in a way that the noisiest part is situated outside the room.
These units can be as quiet as 50 decibels, equivalent to the noise of your refrigerator. On the contrary, window air conditioners tend to be loud and can cause irritation.
Here’s how to reduce AC sounds that disrupt your comfort.
Depending on the design, some in-wall air conditioners can be interchanged with window air conditioners. However, through-the-wall air conditioners are heavy and unsuitable to be installed within the window frames.
The Similarities Between Through-the-Wall and Window Air Conditioners
Wall air conditioners and window units differ in many ways but share some similarities too. The primary purpose of both systems is the same; to cool down a space. Some models also provide heating options to keep you comfortable all year round. They’re both suitable for individual room cooling.
Moreover, both through-the-wall and window air conditioners have built-in thermostats that regulate the temperature.
How Does a Through-the-Wall Air Conditioner Work?
Through-the-wall-air conditioner is a self-contained device. Its primary function is to take in hot air, cool it down, and release it back like any other AC.
First, the unit sucks in hot air from inside the room. Next, this hot air is brought to the condenser to cool it down as per the set temperature. This conditioned air is then released back into the room. As a result of this process, the motor also produces hot air, which is pushed out through the vents back into the surrounding environment.
Features of Through-the-Wall Air Conditioner
While purchasing the in-wall air conditioner, you should look for the following features:
Digital controls allow you to make changes to your temperature settings. For example, they help you set a more accurate temperature using specific numbers instead of a dial.
Washable Air Filter
Air filters collect dust and other particles and can affect your unit’s efficiency if not cleaned timely. Most through-the-wall air conditioners come with washable air filters that can save you money on AC filter replacements.
Unlike old models, new through-the-wall air conditioners come with remote controls that let you change the AC settings conveniently. You can also pair these ACs with a smart AC controller for home climate automation and the convenience of controlling the AC using your phone.
Your best choice to make any mini-split, window,
or portable AC smart. Enhance your comfort and savings.
In case of a power outage, auto restart mode automatically restarts the motor. As a result, the air conditioner operates in the last programmed setting when the power is restored.
You can adjust the louvers in any specific location that you want. In addition, some models come with automatic swing louvers and move cool air around the room, maintaining the perfect room temperature!
Many models offer the option to heat as well. This feature comes in handy as you can use your in-wall unit throughout the year.
This is a quieter mode of operation that consumes less energy. It is designed to help you sleep comfortably without AC sound affecting your sleep.
This is useful when a cool mode is not required, and you want to turn on the fan for good air circulation in the room.
This helps to eliminate access moisture in the air during the hot and humid climate.
As the name suggests, you can reduce energy consumption by operating the AC at a lower level. The compressor only runs when absolutely needed.
If a model has the option to program your AC, you can set it to turn on even without your presence. This will allow you to come home to a chilled room.
If your wall AC lacks this feature, you can use a smart AC controller like the Cielo Breez Plus to set weekly schedules from your phone or simply use the geofencing feature to automatically turn off the AC when you head out and back on before you return.
In addition to the features mentioned above, you should also purchase an Energy Star certified model. Also, choose a model with a higher EER (Energy Efficiency Rating) since they are more energy-efficient. Generally, a model with a 9.7 or greater EER value provides excellent cooling at the lowest possible operational cost.
Make Through the Wall Air Conditioners Smart!
Double up the benefits of an air conditioning wall unit by pairing it with a smart AC controller! Cielo Breez through-the-wall AC thermostats equip your ordinary unit with next-gen smart features.
This means being able to control your air conditioner from anywhere, anytime, using only your mobile. Other benefits include saving yourself from the hassle of manually adjusting the temperature and letting smart scheduling do the job.
With smart AC controllers like Cielo Breez, you can also use Comfy Mode to maintain the perfect temperature at any time of the day. The intelligent temperature/humidity triggers automatically turn your AC on/off to achieve your desired temperature.
The cherry on top, you get to save up to 25% on your energy bills!
Here’s how to DIY a smart air conditioner!
Factors to Consider Before Installing Wall Unit in Your Home
Here are some points to take into account before opting for a through-the-wall unit for your room.
1. Through-the-Wall AC Size
Choosing the right AC size according to your space is crucial. A size too large would use more energy, adding to the monthly bills, and a size too small would make the unit work harder to achieve the ideal temperature.
The more British Thermal Units (BTUs) your AC has, the more cooling capacity it will have. This means bigger rooms will require a higher BTU. Opt for the correct size for maximum efficiency. You can use this AC size chart as recommended by the US Department of Energy.
2. Electrical Requirements
Today’s air conditioners typically require a standard 120-volt outlet, with some larger models requiring an upgraded 220-volt connection – so be sure to check your power availability before purchasing.
3. Do Through the Wall Air Conditioners Need a Sleeve?
Through-the-wall air conditioners do need a sleeve. A sleeve functions as a support for the air conditioner, making sure that it does not deform the wall. Without a sleeve, there is a great chance that the wall might buckle because of the extra weight.
Sleeves can be slid into the wall opening and then fixed in place. They can either come along with the air conditioner or be bought separately. Newer air conditioners usually have a sleeve as part of the package. If you are getting an older air conditioner, you might have to purchase it separately according to your air conditioner’s size.
Be sure to take proper measurements of your air conditioner and get the correct sleeve size.
How to Install Through-the-Wall Air Conditioner?
Through-the-wall air conditioner installation might seem pretty straightforward, but cutting through a wall is anything but simple. It’s best to take help from a professional for smooth installation and your own safety.
However, if you are a skilled DIYer, here’s a step-by-step guide you can use:
- The first step is to choose a wall. Since wall ACs need to be vented outside, you must select an exterior wall. Also, keep your wall’s thickness in mind; checking the sleeve and your AC’s dimensions can help make the best decision. In addition, make sure that there is an electrical connection nearby.
- Choose a suitable spot on your wall, and ensure no plumbing or electrical wiring is inside. Take great care that the wall is not made of gypsum board or any other light material and is a solid concrete or wooden wall that can support the weight of the air conditioner.
- Use a stud finder to locate 3-4 studs in the wall. They are placed 16 inches apart. Studs are structural supports for the wall and are thick wooden beams. Ideally, you’d want your wall-mounted air conditioner to be placed between two studs and not through them. Usually, such air conditioners come with a guide and help you with the unit’s propositions.
- Since you choose a wall with electrical connections, it is important to take some precautionary measures. First, switch off the main power before you start the process.
- Cut a hole in your wall. Be sure to take the proper dimensions of your air conditioner and the sleeve. Outline first, then cut through the wall. Take adequate safety precautions, and have a respirator at hand as well.
- After the first outline, draw another roughly 2.5 inches larger than the original outline. The second one will help you create a supporting frame.
- Make the frame for the air conditioner. Measure and cut 2×4 limber pieces and join them to make a sturdy frame for your unit. Slide it into the wall opening and secure it in place.
- Cut a hole in the exterior wall. Next, drill through the four corners of the wall’s interior. Use these holes as a guide, and cut a similar rectangular frame on the outside wall.
- Slide through the sleeve into the wall, then slide the air conditioner into the sleeve.
- Make sure to seal off all the openings before you turn on the air conditioner. Use drywall to fill the large gaps. Use caulking once you have filled the larger gaps. Touchups can be done using paint.
- Plugin the power outlet and turn on the power mains. You should be able to enjoy a cool summer with your air conditioning wall unit!
In case of any inconvenience or issue, please contact an HVAC expert to review the installation process.
Why Choose a Through-the-Wall Air Conditioner?
Still confused? Here’s a rundown of all the possible benefits you will receive by investing in through-the-wall air conditioning:
- More energy-efficient than window units
- More effective at cooling
- Takes less space
- Little to no likelihood of leakage through gaps
- No wastage of valuable window space
- Not noisy
Here are the 7 best through-the-wall air conditioners for your home.
Cost to Install a Through-the-Wall Air Conditioner
The installation costs about $600 on average, and the process takes around 8-10 hours to complete. With a DIY, you can eliminate this cost and would be left only with the purchasing cost of the unit. However, it’s best to contact a professional if you’re not handy with tools to avoid damage to your unit or building structure.
The Downside of Having a Wall AC
Although wall ACs are a convenient solution for smaller spaces, they require a long-term commitment. You’ll be cutting a large hole in a wall, which would have to be filled and repainted when you decide to replace it with perhaps another type of air conditioning system.
Another thing to keep in mind is proper insulation. If the hole isn’t insulated, your room will be exposed to drafts and insects.
Achieve Ideal Room Climate With Wall AC Units
Through-the-wall air conditioner is a comfortable solution for your home. They can be installed in bedrooms, dorm rooms, hotel rooms, assisted living facilities, etc. Some notable factors to keep in mind while shopping for these ACs include the size of your room, digital controls, and efficiency ratings. With this comprehensive guide as your go-to source, you should now be equipped with all the necessary knowledge about in wall ACs to make an informed decision that best fits your needs and budget.
Our issue is replacing an in the wall a/c for a new one. Does it have to be special made!! Our in wall sleeve is under window but follows an L shape (mansard roof). It goes out then down through the mansard waves. At present the voltage is a 3 prong 220 outlet. What to do??
The older in-wall mount AC units are smaller than the new ones it seems. The condo we purchased has a 1994 unit that is 13’X18″. Which means cutting a larger hole in the condo, so many older units with that size. Cutting larger holes in condo’s is frowned on.
Why can’t we purchase an in window mount unit and permanently mount it in that wall hole as the in window is the correct size.
Hi! We are struggling big time. We need to replace our through the wall AC. But are struggling with where to start? It’s wedged in there so well.
Can a through the wall air conditioner be installed in an interior wall? I have an office in my garage and would like to install the air conditioner in the office wall, with the back end in the garage. It would be drawing in air from the garage and exhausting hot air into the garage.
Hi Jeffery, air conditioner functions by removing heat from your room and expelling it outside. So, your AC won’t be able to cool down your office if it’s exhausting hot air in the same area.
Do I need a permit to install?
Hi Robert, each city has its own bylaws and guidelines, so make sure to check that out. Even if a permit is not necessary, most leases require that you take permission from your landlord to install an air conditioning unit.
I have a through the wall air conditioner installed up 10 feet high. How do I winterize from the inside since the opportunity to insulate outside is difficult.
Hi Steven, it’s best to remove units such as window units and through-the-wall ACs ( if they don’t have a heating function) before the chilly weather arrives. You should clean the system, get rid of dirty air filters, and conduct any routine maintenance before storing them for the season. After that, store the unit in a cool, dry place and cover it to prevent it from getting dusty.
But since your unit is high above and it’s unlikely that you will be able to remove it easily, you can winterize the indoor part by covering it with a breathable & water-resistant cover. Also, make sure it is protected from pests and moisture.