Shopping for a new Cooling Unit

I posted on our Living Large Facebook page yesterday that we were looking into buying a new air conditioning unit for Our Little House.

One of our community there wrote: “You don’t need air!”

She thought we are in Canada.

Nope. We do need air to survive these dreadfully hot and humid southern summers.

It’s hard to believe it is March 20 and we’re already thinking about air conditioning. There’s been a couple of days when I’ve thought about turning it on.

This is another one of those things we wished we would have done differently when we built the house in 2003.

We thought it would be a weekend home turned office/guest house, so we did not go to the expense of installing a central air/heating unit.

We didn’t know about the heat pump wall mounted units like the one we had installed in The Belle Writer’s Studio.

All we have had is a window unit that was probably too small and pretty inefficient.

Last year, the unit clunked along and we hoped it would make it until the end of the hot southern summer just one more time and it did, but it will not make it this year.

We’ve been investigating another window unit, specifically the LG 12,000 BTU window heat and air unit combo.

The online reviews are overall positive.

We would love to install the wall mounted heat pump air/heat combo, but just don’t have the money for it at this time. We’re thinking the heat might be a good addition as this year, we only needed to fire up the woodstove twice. It just wasn’t cold enough here.

What do you do to cool/heat your small space? Do you know anything about these heat/cooling window units?   

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44 Responses

  1. Lacey says:

    Too late I know but a split system. More attractive and efficient.

  2. Merr says:

    We have central air now but growing up I remember the window units and loving to stand right in front of them, away from the hot, humid NY summer heat!

  3. Jane Boursaw says:

    So hot here in Michigan last week that A/C would have been really nice. Now it’s cold again, so not a problem. Hard to justify an A/C unit up here in the north woods, but I know lots of people have wall units. If it gets that hot, we just go stand in the bay.

  4. We had a window unit–in fact it may have been this model–when we lived in NY. It worked great. As you know, it’s not just the heat but the humidity too that becomes stifling. We didn’t have any problems with our unit, we gave it away when we moved. What we found is that it worked well enough we could keep it on low and be plenty cool

  5. Alexandra says:

    Wish I had a suggestion. I hate to think what the summer will be like if these early hot days are a prelude. On Cape Cod we have a natural breeze that means AC makes little sense, but we do get enquiries for the B&B from New Yorkers who cannot imagine a summer without it.

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, I bet you do. I used to spend a lot of time in NYC when I worked for a large bank based there, but I cannot remember how hot it was during the summer.

  6. Sheryl says:

    No ideas on what to offer. Frankly, I dislike air conditioning, except on unbearably humid hot days. It always chills me to the bone and I have to go outside to warm up!

  7. I’ve got nothing to offer when it comes to A/C. Living at altitude, it just doesn’t get that hot here … even in the summer. And, if it does, all we have to do is open a few windows after the sun sets, and the house cools off nicely.

  8. Brenda says:

    We’ve been using a portable stand alone unit as supplement for the upstairs bedroom. We live in a regular sized house and rarely use the central AC. The portable is basically a window unit on wheels. Comes in different BTUs, pretty noisy and the condensation pan needs to be emptied regularly. It must be vented out a window via a coil hose from the back of the unit. Cycles like a window unit- fan always on. So, noisy, needs venting, needs pan emptying but we like that if it is cool enough to open a window it it easy to push aside.

    • Kerri says:

      Thanks for sharing your perspective, Brenda. We have a dehumidifier that works the same way (although we can run the condensation hose to the drain as it is in the basement). Sounds like the only benefit is being able to push it aside if you want to open the window.

  9. Carol says:

    Does anyone know anything about the free standing units that I see at Home Depot? I can’t use a window unit because due to thieves and vandals, I have security bars on the windows. My place is in the high desert so it does get hot but at 5000 ft we also get snow. I have a kerosene heater that works well when it’s not cold enough for the stove.

    • ANGELA D.T. says:

      This Thursday I am going to go get the free standing AC, But do you know if they are real good???? Because if it dont work good then I am not going to buy it!!!!

      • Kerri says:

        Some of the people on the Facebook page recommended the freestanding ones. I don’t know anything about them personally, though. If you do get one, please let us know how it works! Thanks.

  10. Mary says:

    Real AC only way to go. Tried a “swamp cooler” , didn’t do the job. I’d like to try the AC units that you vent outside, so a window is taken up.

  11. Good luck in finding the right heating and cooling unit for the Little House, Kerri. I would love to know what you end up deciding on, as my sister lives in a small space and has the same kind of challenges with heating and cooling. Hope your summer is cool and breezy!

  12. I had always assumed that we would use a window unit in our Tiny House (250 sqft)because I felt like it was about all we could afford. At the last moment we were given a mini-split. Since that’s what we used, I’ll go ahead and comment/rate how that has worked for us. It was a little harder to install than a window unit but I was able to do it myself. We chose to install the condenser portion of the system over the front door inside the house and it takes up very little space there. The evaporator is mounted outside on the side of the house with the rest of the mechanical equipment. Because the evaporator and compressor is outside the house, it’s very quiet inside. The one we were got is only a 10,000 BTU unit with no heat pump, so no heat from it. Now that the house is almost completed and insulated, it keeps the house cool even here in central Texas. I’m pretty happy with it. I can’t really imagine a better solution although cheaper is sometimes better if it’s what you can afford.

    • Kerri says:

      I like the idea of it going over the front door, Steve, which is mostly wasted space. Thanks for your thoughtful review. Very lucky to have one given to you, for sure. I’m glad you weighed in.

    • Joe3 says:

      I’m in a small home ~ 500ft2 and I’m thinking mini split also. Would you tell me what brand you were given? And I believe your central Texas weather is similiar to ours here in Florida, and I’m curious the wall construction and insulation values for your tiny house. I’ve been lookinh at 18000 BTU units also with no heat. I’ve used a old pot bellied wood stove the last 3 winters, this past winter was so mild I never had a fire in it. And I just purchased a trailer for a Tiny home, now I’m looking at designs, any tips? Thanks

      • Kerri says:

        Joe, we have one of these ductless units in our office, I think it is also referred to as a mini-split. We had problems the first year with the cooling unit, but I’m not sure if it was the brand or the installers did not charge the coolant properly. If we had to do over again, we would go with a Mitsubishi rather than the Fujitsu. If you click on the link up in my post, you can read about the specific problems we had. No ideas for you on the trailer. Have you looked at plans by Tumbleweed?

        • Kerri says:

          It also sounds as if you had the same problem we did this year, Joe, with reference to it being too warm to fire up the stove. We do need something to take the chill off on those days it’s cold, but not freezing. Would adding the heat to the unit be that much more expensive? I know I love mine in my studio.

  13. Andy says:

    Cooling a tiny house is something I’m very concerned with here in Georgia where it gets HOT and HUMID. Needing A/C means I can’t run the house off solar — at least not in the summer!

    Also the loft needs to be fairly open, no loft with a mere trapdoor to get into it. You need airflow. I think a window unit is the only solution.

  14. Alfredo says:

    It’s 85 degrees here in Hotlanta and I am glad I am inside with the air conditioning. Not because I can’t stand the heat, but because the pollen count is in the 9,000 range.

    • Kerri says:

      Yep, the pollen is covering everything in sight here, too. We have to wash off all of the decks and covered porches after spring, the pollen is so thick.

  15. mat says:

    I don’t know a great deal about PTACs, but I would say that your 1-ton sizing (12,000 btu) is accurate. We use a large, 1-ton window A/C to cool the downstairs of our house. Unfortunately, old houses being what they are, it doesn’t reach the kitchen all that well and we supplement it with a fan. We also use 2 smaller units upstairs to cool the bedrooms. Summertime power consumption being what it is, we don’t use it during the day–only when we’re home.
    From an efficiency standpoint, I’m not sure what to think about PTACs. On one hand, their packaging is good and they don’t block out windows when being used. They also generally have higher efficiencies than their window unit counterparts. On the other hand, they require you to cut a sizeable hole in your house that cannot be adequately sealed in times of extreme hot or extreme cold.

    • Kerri says:

      Thanks, Mat. It is the hole in the house that raises concerns. The heatpump wall unit we have in the studio would be perfect, but they cost thousands, compared to hundreds. Argh.

      • Mat says:

        Right. Also consider that split systems like what you use in the studio have about 5-10 years of real-world R&D in this country, as opposed to PTACs that have been used for…well, when was the last time you visited a hotel that DIDN’T use them? I’m thinking some time in the 70s, perhaps?
        Of course, there’s “solutions” to the hole. You could remove the unit from the sleeve for the winter and fill the cavity with a couple of pieces of foam board, then cover the exterior cavity with some plate steel (to keep out the rodents) and the interior cavity with a thin piece of painted luan or something…. I imagine that a 1-ton unit probably weighs around 100lbs, so it’s perhaps it’s viable now, but it sounds like a lot of work as you get older.
        My advice would just be to get the PTAC over the split system and fabricate a “cover” for it using foam board and plywood…maybe something similar to a Sing panel. Laquer heavily and done.

  16. hi, kerri.
    i lived in a 390 square foot studio apartment for about 3 years, it had a large wall unit with heat and air, like you see in the smaller motel rooms. it worked great both in winter and summer.

  17. Heather L. says:

    No advice here. Hardly anyone has air conditioning except the guy next door who got a window unit on sale at the end of the season a couple of years ago. When it reaches 90 here in Tacoma, we are quite envious of him, but that’s not very often.

    • Kerri says:

      Wow, I think it would be nice to live in a climate where we didn’t need air. It sure would save on the electric bills in the summer!

  18. I nominated you for a Kreativ Blogger award. You can pick it up over at my blog 🙂