Finding the Best Air Conditioner for Your Apartment

Buying the air conditioner that will keep you cool can be a race against time, because after June 21, it’s official: summer has set in for at least three months!

Like every summer season in Quebec, there are periods of heat waves and people who are less tolerant of temperatures above 25°C. Hence the importance of choosing a good air conditioner.

No need to panic! We’ve listed the questions you need to ask yourself to find the right unit and the most important features it should offer you!

What Model Do You Need?

That’s the first question you need to answer! What type of air conditioner can and will you install in your apartment? This question also comes with the choice of the location of your air conditioner. Newer apartment buildings often offer a wall-mounted air conditioning system that is pre-installed when you move in.

There are three common air conditioning models that you will find in stores:

  • Portable
  • Window
  • Wall mounted

The Portable Air Conditioner

Let’s start with the portable air conditioner. It is very popular in apartments and condos because, as its name indicates, it can be installed and moved almost anywhere in your home. Or almost. You will still need to have access to a window to let the air hose pass through.

Since the unit uses a compressor, you will need an “exhaust” pipe to let the air out. Otherwise, what’s the point of installing an air conditioner that cools your apartment?

You should also know that portable air conditioners take up slightly more space than other models. Since you have to plug it into the wall and connect the accordion hose to the window. However, this unit is still a good choice for apartments since it can be stored well (with its little wheels!) and can be moved around your room or living room without too much effort!

The Window Air Conditioner

This one is easy to recognize! The window air conditioner is actually placed there and therefore, no need for an accordion tube to let the hot air out of the compressor since it is directly rejected outside.

Of course, you will need an electrical outlet near your window, but a reliable three-prong extension cord will do the job!

Before you buy your window air conditioner, make sure you take measurements! It would be a shame to buy a unit that is too big for the space it can occupy.

When choosing which window to put it in, also consider that it may not be able to be opened during the entire summer. Some window designs allow access to outside air and the screen on one side only. And that’s exactly where your window air conditioner will go! In fact, double-hung windows are ideal for installing your air conditioner.

Wall-Mounted Units

While it’s less common for a renter to get this type of air conditioning, it’s still good to know what to expect if you’re renting an apartment that contains one.

A wall-mounted air conditioner comes with an outdoor heat pump. This is usually a fairly powerful unit that covers a large area, like an entire 4 ½! It is installed at the top of a wall and operates with a remote control. It’s a very convenient system, but a more expensive one. So take advantage of it if you rent an apartment that includes wall-mounted air conditioning!

What Does the BTU Number Mean?

That acronym that we hear so often once summer has arrived! Commonly called the BTU, the British Thermal Unit is a unit of energy that is used, among other things, to determine the power of an appliance, like your future air conditioner. The more BTUs you have, the stronger your unit will be.

Here is an overview of the surface area covered in relation to the number of BTUs in the air conditioner, depending on the model and brand, of course!

BTU Area
5000 From 100 to 200 sq. ft.
7000 300 sq. ft.
10 000 450 sq. ft.
12 000 550 sq. ft.
15 000 650 sq. ft.
18 000 1650 sq. ft. (wall-mounted heat pump)

What Are the Different Functions of Air Conditioners?

Besides providing cool air in the rooms of your choice thanks to its compressor, air conditioners sometimes have one or two other functions. Some models often offer a dehumidifier function that allows you to use your air conditioner even in winter when you feel the humidity level is high in your home.

They can also be used as a fan only, with no air conditioning coming out of the vents.

Shopping for a 3-in-1 is a great option if you don’t want to have multiple units to store!

How to Cover Your Window With the Right Accessories?

Portable and window air conditioners obviously require access to a window, but not to the entire window. This means that you will need to cover part of your window to prevent the air conditioning from escaping through the large opening!

Some window air conditioners have an accordion-like piece that allows you to seal off the open space to the outside. The key is to choose the right size and install it properly.

Some portable units come with a plastic board with a hole shaped like an accordion tube. They can fit in most windows, but sometimes you need to have it cut.

A good way to block any drafts that might get inside is with Plexiglas. You will need to have it cut to fit perfectly in your window, and have a hole drilled in the shape of the mouth of your pipe. After these two procedures at the hardware store, you’ll have a cool summer!

Now that you know what your options are, the stores and classifieds are waiting for you!