10 Types of Air Conditioners: (With Pros & Cons and Prices)

Air conditioning becomes necessary as soon as summer comes. But, as we know that there are many different types of air conditioners in the market, and for this reason, it becomes difficult to choose the one that suits your needs.

So to help you identify which one is good for you. This blog post will explain all the different types of air conditioners along with their pros and cons. Let’s get started!

What are the different types of Air Conditioners?

Here are the 10 different types of air conditioners with pictures, their advantages and disadvantages and prices as well.

#1 Portable Air Conditioners

Quietest Portable Air Conditioners

Portable air conditioners are an easy, cost-effective cooling solution for cooling your small to medium-sized spaces, such as bedrooms, study rooms, kitchens, small offices, and more. It is one of the most popular types of air conditioners. Portable air conditioners are also used for camping and outdoor activities.

These types of air conditioners are usually easy to install, in fact, they don’t require any installation at all, all you have to do is just vent the duct outside your space and use it, it’s that simple. In addition  to this they are super easy to move from room to room, making them a perfect choice for renters. 

These units are generally louder than other types of air conditioners, and they require more maintenance, such as regular cleaning and filter replacements. They also tend to have a shorter lifespan than other types of air conditioners and may require more frequent repairs.

However, the good news is that portable air conditioners typically do not cost much to repair. These days, some good quality portable air conditioners come with many different features. Common features include a built-in timer, sleep mode, adjustable temperature controls, and eco mode. You will find good quality portable air conditioners from a reputable brand under $500 that have all the features even Wi-Fi enabled. However, as per some studies it has been found that portable air conditioners last only for about 5 to 8 years. 

  • Super easy to install and use
  • An ideal choice for small or medium-sized rooms with or without windows.
  • Easy to move from place to place
  • Can be used for camping or tenting
  • They tend to be cheaper than other types of models.
  • Cost a fraction of the money on repair compared to other types.
  • Noisy 
  • Provide average cooling
  • Higher operating costs 
  • Require more maintenance
  • They have short lifespan

Types of Portable Air Conditioners

There are mainly two types of portable air conditioners.

  1. Single Hose Portable Aircon: A type of  portable air conditioners that  have only one hose.
  2. Dual Hose Portable AC Unit: A type of portable air conditioner which has two hoses, one to draw in air and the other to expel hot air. Dual-duct portable air conditioners are generally more energy efficient than single-duct units.
We have recently published a roundup post of quietest portable AC units, and also a guide to quiet your portable air conditioners.

#2 Window Air Conditioners

Quietest window air conditioner

Window air conditioners are the most common and widely used air conditioning systems today. Just like a portable air conditioner, a window air conditioner is a single unit that is installed in a window. They are also easy to install but some units take a lot of time to install because of their unsuitable size. 

Window air conditioners are usually a bit more expensive than portable units but nowadays, the prices of portable and window AC units are pretty much similar. They are mostly used  to cool small and medium-sized rooms. Most people preferred window air conditioner as it does not require any extra space or holes on the wall for installation like portable and split system units. 

Their effectiveness varies by size, coming in a wide range of sizes from 5,000 BTUs to 36,000 BTUs. The price range for a good-quality window air conditioner is typically between $300 and $700, although some models may be priced above.

Moreover, this type of aircon requires less maintenance and repairs as compared to portable units. However, their maintenance and repair can cost more than portable units. One important thing to keep in mind if you are buying a window air conditioner is that window air conditioner filters need regular cleaning, and you should do the cleaning once a month. If you don’t take care of your AC units they become inefficient and noisy over time. Also, water leakage is very common in this type of aircon.

  • Easy to install
  • No need extra space like a split unit
  • A bit efficient
  • Operates quietly
  • Easy to clean
  • Usually costs under $300-$700
  • Require regular cleaning of filters
  • Can be tough to install, if size that doesn’t suit your window size.
  • Blocks natural light from coming into your room through the window.
  • Not all window AC units are quiet

Types of Window Air Conditioners:

There are also two types of window air conditioners.

  1. Single-Hose Window AC: A type window air conditioner comes with single-hose configurations, and they are relatively inexpensive.
  2. Dual-Hose window aircon: As the name suggests, these types of units come with a dual-duct configuration, and cool a room more quickly than single-duct, and are efficient as well, but they cost much more.

If you are looking for window air conditioners you can check our list of 8 best quiet window aircon.

#3 Split System Air Conditioners

split-system air conditioners

As the name implies, this type of air conditioning system consists of two separate parts to effectively cool a space: one installed inside your room and another installed outside the room. The indoor unit, which is usually mounted on a wall, consists of an evaporator coil, a blower fan, and an evaporator coil. 

On the other hand, the outdoor unit houses the compressor and condenser coils. The indoor units work together to circulate cool air through your home. This process works by pulling warm air out of your space, cooling it, and then pushing cool air back into your space. The refrigerant in a split system picks up heat from the indoor space and conducts it outside where it is expelled by an outdoor unit. 

Split-system air conditioners are designed to reduce energy costs and provide even cooling throughout the entire house. Split-system air conditioners are highly efficient, quiet, and reliable. They cost up to 50% less to operate than portable air conditioners. They operate under the noise level of 40 dB. 

Split-system air conditioners tend to be more expensive than portable or window units, ranging in price from $1,500 to $5,000. While they generally don’t require frequent maintenance and repairs, when they do need attention, the cost can be higher than other types of air conditioners. 

When choosing a split-system air conditioner, consider the size of the space that is to be cooled. For larger areas, a larger system will be more effective. Additionally, the installation process for a split-system air conditioner can be complicated and time-consuming, so it’s important to hire a qualified professional for the job.

  • Ideal for medium and large-sized rooms.
  • Works at super low noise
  • Extremely energy-efficient
  • No needs frequent repairs
  • Have longer lifespan
  • Can be complicated to set up and takes longer.
  • Pricey
  • Maintenance and repairs are expensive

Types of Split-System Air Conditioners

There are four main types of split-system air conditioners.

  1. Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioner: These types of ac are a great option if you want to cool multiple rooms without needing extensive installation work. Ductless mini-split air conditioners are ideal for cooling specific rooms or zones in your home without installing traditional ductwork.
  2. Inverter-Split Air Conditioners: Inverter-split air conditioners are the most efficient models on the market and can save you money in the long run. These types of units use an inverter to regulate their power supply, meaning they do not need to be turned on and off constantly to maintain a constant temperature, resulting in a lower energy bill.
  3. Single-stage split-system air conditioners: These units have only one level of cooling and are designed to be turned either on or off. When they are on, they will run at full capacity until the desired temperature is reached, at which point they will shut off. Single-stage units are less energy-efficient than multi-stage units, but they are also less expensive. 
  4. Multi-stage split-system air conditioners: These units have multiple levels of cooling, which allows them to adjust their output to meet the cooling needs of your space. They can run at partial capacity, which can help save energy and reduce operating costs.

#4 Central Air Conditioner

central air conditioners

Central air conditioners are one of the most efficient energy efficient air conditioners. It is the most commonly used air conditioner among all types of air conditioners. According to LearnMetrics.com, about 50% of homes in the USA have central aircon

It works similarly to a split-system air conditioner. It uses ducts to distribute cool air throughout your living space. And the main part of it is installed outside the house or in the courtyard. This type of air conditioner can cool an entire house or a large living room.

Central units are more expensive, costing anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000, but they operate super quietly and in fact, when I operate my central air conditioner I don’t feel like my AC is on, making them ideal for those who need a peaceful atmosphere. And as I mentioned earlier they are efficient too, and they have the longest life span, they can last for 20 years and more.

The downside of central aircon is that they are very difficult to install, in fact, this type of air conditioner is the most time-consuming to install because you need to penetrate your ceiling and wall while installing them, but operation is relatively easy.

Central air conditioning isn’t ideal for small rooms, so if you have a small space to cool, consider going with a window or portable AC.

  • A single central unit is enough to cool the entire house.
  • Easy to operates
  • Can lasts up to 20 years
  • Efficient
  • Does not make loud noise
  • Expensive
  • Hard to install
  • Maintenance costs a lot

Types of Central Air Conditioners

There are also two types of central air conditioners.

  • Split-System Central Air Conditioners: These are the most common type of central air conditioners. They consist of an indoor unit, which contains the evaporator, and an outdoor unit, which houses the compressor and condenser.
  • Package Air Conditioners: These units combine the evaporator, compressor, and condenser into one outdoor cabinet. They are often used in small commercial buildings or in homes where space is limited.

#5 Spot Coolers

spot coolers

Spot coolers are essential equipment for boats and ships, allowing them to keep their cabins and cargo areas cool and comfortable. Spot coolers are specifically designed to operate in the harsh marine environment, withstanding intense sunlight and salt water, while providing powerful cooling in areas that may not have conventional air conditioners.

These spot coolers can be used to cool small areas on ships, such as cabins, galleys and wheelhouses, or large areas such as open decks and storage areas. They can be permanently installed on a boat or ship, or they may be portable units that can be easily moved around as needed. They also come with caster wheels for easy movement.

Spot coolers also come with features like digital thermostats, adjustable airflow, automatic shutoff, and remote controls. Along with ships and boats, they are also used in airplanes. These types of coolers are very heavy even portable spot coolers are weight above 250 pounds. They are also not efficient due to smaller sizes, and are also noisier. They cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000.

  • Spot coolers can be easily moved and placed wherever they are needed.
  • Ease of installation
  • Higher energy costs
  • Noisier

#6 Rooftop Air Conditioning Units

Rooftop Air Conditioning Units

Rooftop air conditioning units are an excellent option for large commercial and industrial facilities. They offer many advantages including high efficiency, cost savings, ease of installation and minimal disruption to the building exterior. Rooftop AC units provide better cooling power and are generally more powerful than wall-mounted.

And, they are also more expensive than other types of air conditioning units, but they also offer greater energy efficiency. These can cost anywhere between $1,000 to $2,500. 

Their installation is also relatively simple as they are mounted on the ceiling and do not require ductwork. But the location of your rooftop air conditioning unit (RTU) on the roof exposes it to various weather conditions such as heat, rain, snow, wind, and storms, which can increase the risk of wear and tear, and this may decrease the lifespan of your rooftop air conditioning unit. 

Rooftop AC units are great for facilities that need to keep their interior temperature consistently cool. This makes them ideal for data centers, factories, warehouses, and other industrial environments. 

These types come in a variety of sizes, allowing you to choose the one that best suits your particular needs. By the way, these AC units are noisy. Also, rooftop ACs have a short life span, they can range between 4 years to 8 years.

  • They are usually easier to install than split systems, as all components are contained in a single unit.
  • Rooftop air conditioners are less likely to accumulate dirt and debris, so they don’t require frequent maintenance.
  • They can be more expensive to repair or replace.
  • Rooftop air conditioners can be noisy.
  • They don’t have long lifespan
  • They are exposed to rain, snow, wind, storm and heat.

#7 Wall-Mounted Air Conditioning Units

Wall-Mounted Air Conditioning Units

These types of AC units, also known as a split wall, consist of two parts: an indoor unit and an outdoor unit. The indoor unit is mounted on an interior wall. The outdoor unit is usually located outside near the indoor unit and is responsible for dissipating the collected heat from inside the home. 

Wall-mounted AC units are more energy efficient than traditional window and portable AC units because they are mounted on the wall, allowing them to move more air to cool the room faster and more efficiently. These types of units are affordable, costing between $300 to $1,000, the price can vary depending on the size of the unit and the features they offer. 

Many wall-mounted air conditioners come with convenient features such as remote control, temperature settings, and timers, allowing you to customize your climate needs. However, it is important to note that these units may cause the wall to become hot to the touch due to operating the unit all day long. 

And these types of units also require more maintenance, especially to the exterior part as they are directly exposed to heat, rain and storms, and become more prone to dirt accumulation. These types of units are quite low because the compressor is located outside the space. 

In my opinion, the main drawback of wall-mounted air conditioners is that they cannot provide cooling to the whole house as split-system air conditioners. While they are effective at cooling specific rooms, they may not be suitable for large spaces or homes with open floor plans.

  • Efficient
  • Operates at low noise
  • Cheap
  • Can lasts up to 10 Years
  • Require regular cleaning of the exterior units.
  • Limited cooling
  • Require professional installation

#8 Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners (PTACs)

Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners

You may have not heard the name of this type of unit yet. Packaged terminal air conditioners (PTACs) are a type of air conditioner designed to cool and heat separate rooms or areas. PTACs can be used in commercial and residential buildings, and are often seen in hotels, motels, and other similar establishments. 

PTAC is designed for convenience and ease of use. They come as a single unit that is wall mounted and does not require additional ductwork. The PTAC consists of an evaporator, condenser, compressor and fan motor that work together to provide cooling and heating. The controls are located on the front of the unit and are easy to use.

Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners that are coming in the market these days are highly energy efficient and offer lower operating costs than window or portable units. They also come with various features such as adjustable thermostats, adjustable fan speeds, digital displays, and remote controls. 

The cost of a Packaged Terminal Air Conditioner (PTAC) unit can vary depending on the size of the unit, the brand, and the features it offers. We checked the prices of more than 100 PTAC units on various sites and found that, On average, PTACs can cost anywhere from $800 to $1,900.

While PTACs offer many benefits, they also have some drawbacks as well. First and foremost, PTACs generally produce more noise than other types of air conditioners, as I have personally tested the noise levels of many PTAC units and found that they generally produce more noise than 55 dB. The loudest unit recorded a noise level of 72.3 dB.

Also, because the units are installed in walls, they can be difficult to repair or replace. Lastly, water leaking from the PTAC unit is the common issue. 

Speaking of their longevity, the lifespan of a PTAC unit can also vary depending on the quality of the unit and how well you have maintained it. PTACs have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years, although some can last longer with proper maintenance.

  • A bit affordable compared to central and split-system AC units.
  • Can last more than 10 years
  • Energy efficient
  • Energy efficient
  • Provide cooling in the summer months and heat in the winter months.
  • Water leaking is the common problem in these types of units.
  • Noisier

#9 Geothermal Air Conditioning Unit

Geothermal Air Conditioning Unit

Geothermal air conditioning is a great alternative to traditional air conditioning systems. It uses the earth’s natural heat to heat and cools your home, making it an eco-friendly option for many homeowners. Geothermal air conditioning works by using a series of pipes, buried underground, to conduct natural heat from the earth into your home.

In the summer, this system draws heat from your home and transfers it to the ground, allowing your home to cool naturally. In the winter, the process is reversed, pulling warm air from the ground up to heat your home. This process helps reduce your carbon footprint.

The biggest plus point of geothermal air conditioning is its efficiency. The temperature in the ground remains relatively constant throughout the year, which means that it takes less energy to transfer heat between the air and the ground. This can result in significant savings on your monthly energy bill. They consume up to 50% less energy than other types of air conditioning systems.  

Geothermal air conditioning systems last longer than traditional systems, which means you can save even more money over time. Geothermal air conditioning systems have an average lifespan of 25 years and may last as long as 50 years.

Geothermal air conditioning systems are also quieter than conventional systems. They also require less maintenance than traditional systems, as there are no external components that need to be serviced. But, as we all know, every product has a drawback, and geothermal air conditioning also has a big drawback, and that is their cost, they are extremely expensive to install, and they can cost anywhere between $15,000 to $40,000. At this price, you can buy 30 to 80 window air conditioner units.

  • 2 times more energy efficient than other types of air conditioning systems.
  • Longer lifespan up to 50 years
  • They don’t generate carbon dioxide emissions and can help reduce a building’s carbon footprint.
  • Wishper Quiet
  • Require less maintenance than other types.
  • High upfront cost
  • Limited Availability: Geothermal systems are not suitable for all locations due to soil and geological conditions.
  • Long payback period: Energy savings from a geothermal system can take years to offset the initial cost of installation.

#10 Evaporative cooler

Evaporative cooler

Evaporative coolers are also known as swamp coolers. Unlike traditional air conditioners, evaporative coolers use evaporation to cool the air. It works by drawing in warm outside air and passing it through water-saturated pads that evaporate the water and release cool air into the home. 

These coolers are an energy-efficient way to keep your home comfortable, using up to 75% less energy than traditional air conditioning. They are relatively cheap to buy and install, and most can be installed without the need for major renovations. Also, their maintenance cost is also very less.

  • Low cost of purchase and installation
  • Less energy consumption
  • Eco-friendly cooling option
  • Humidity levels increase in the home, making it uncomfortable.
  • Requires proper ventilation 
  • Not suitable for dry climates 
  • Higher maintenance than traditional AC systems.

An FAQ: Types of Air Conditioners

If you’re having trouble choosing the right option, our FAQ on types of air conditioners is here to help. Read on to learn more about the different types of air conditioners and find the right air conditioner for your home.

Q1. What is the best type of air conditioner to use?

Ans: The best air conditioner for your home or business depends on your specific needs and circumstances. If you have a small or medium-sized room, a portable or window AC unit would be a great option.

Q2. Which type of air conditioner is the most energy efficient?

Ans: Central air conditioners and geothermal air conditioners are generally the most energy-efficient types of air conditioners, with energy efficiency ratings of up to 30% and 50%, respectively.

Q3. Which type of Air conditioner has the longest lifespan?

Ans: Geothermal air conditioners generally have the longest lifespan of all types of air conditioners, with an average of 25 years and the potential to last up to 50 years.

Q4. How does a ductless mini-split air conditioner differ from a traditional split air conditioner?

Ans: A ductless mini-split air conditioner does not require the installation of ductwork and consists of an indoor unit connected to an outdoor unit by a short duct. It is a good option for situations where installing ductwork is not practical.

Q5. What are the four common modes in air conditioners?

Ans: The four common modes in air conditioners are cooling, sleep, fan, and dry mode. Some air conditioners may also have additional modes, such as energy-saving or heating modes.

Wrap Up: What are the different types of air conditioners?

When it comes to choosing an air conditioning system, it’s important to consider your specific needs and preferences. From portable units to geothermal systems, a wide range of options are available, each with their own benefits and drawbacks.

Ultimately, the right air conditioning system for you will depend on your budget, the size and layout of your home or business, and your personal comfort preferences. 

No matter which system you choose, be sure to do your research and consult with a qualified professional to ensure that you are making an informed decision that will keep you cool and comfortable for years

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David Jack

David Jack

David Jack is a veteran when it comes to air conditioners, he love helping people find solutions to their problems with AC units. His specialty is helping people find the right Air-Conditioner for their needs, whether that means replacing a broken unit or adding on to an existing system. He is also great at diagnosing problems and fixing them quickly. He learned this from my father Jack Smith who was an air conditioner repairer, he has 2 years of experience in this field.

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