In western countries like the United States and Canada, central air conditioning is the norm. Most homes have a system controlled by a single thermostat (or one per floor), and they are believed to be more energy-efficient and require less air conditioning repairs. But when other countries almost always use individual room units attached to a wall or window, how can you tell which is preferred? Read on for a brief comparison.
Cost is an important factor for most families to consider, and it is hard to deny that central air conditioning is almost always more expensive than room units. However, bear in mind that oftentimes, window units will need repairs or upkeep more often, and the constant cost of air conditioning services could make central AC seem a bit more desirable.
Determining which system is more energy efficient really depends on how you are using the device. Although central air can be programmed to switch on/off during the night or day, most houses run it almost constantly, while individual room units are normally turned on/off when the occupant enters or leaves the room.
If you plan on simultaneously running multiple individual units and central air to compare costs and energy consumption, the central AC system will win hands down. The system technology is advanced, and if your ducts are properly designed, they lose little cool air as it travels to its destination. Window units, on the other hand, are more cheaply made and most do not have the high-tech capacities that larger units have.
One way to increase the sustainability of smaller units is to only use them when needed. Some will have settings that automatically shut off the power when the room reaches a desired temperature and will turn back on once that temperature passes a certain threshold. This is a perfect compromise between convenience and energy efficiency.
Noise can be a bit tricky because you won't hear either system until it is actually installed; however, central air conditioning is almost always quieter and less obtrusive than window units. The actual system is located on the ground floor or basement and, at least in the most sophisticated versions, they are designed especially to be quiet.
Alternatively, window units are located either directly in a room or a few feet outside, and it is difficult to engineer them to be silent. Advances have been made, but they can shake, rattle the window frame, and make beeps or other noises when problems arise.
Choosing the best air conditioner for you is really a matter of personal preference, but central air conditioning systems are superior to window units in most arenas.