When would the benefits of a room air conditioner out do a central air conditioner?

We all know the benefits of a central air conditioner, the whole house stays cool, it is easy to adjust, and it is usually quieter. But, sometimes you don’t need the whole house cooled. Maybe the kids are off to college and you can close off their rooms. Sometimes only one room gets the afternoon sun and needs a little bit of cooling.

The original cost could be the deciding factor. A replacement central air conditioner will cost thousands of dollars, while a room unit only hundreds. If your home is an older one, and never had central heating, the cost of remodeling to accommodate the ducts may be too much.

Your personal lifestyle might enter into the picture if you are gone a lot of the time, why cool the whole house when there is no one home. Maybe an A/C window unit in the bedroom is all it would take to make you comfortable.

Some people live in a climate zone where the need of central air is minimal, perhaps, superfluous. Others are outdoor types and just don’t feel the need for central air.

In some areas you can install a ‘whole house fan’ in the attic and keep the house comfortable by opening the windows a couple of inches, and turning on the fan to draw the cooler evening air through the house.

New systems are being developed that don’t require ducts, and provide the choice of how many rooms to cool at any time. With utility rates going higher and higher, the convenience of whole house cooling is loosing its appeal. Window awnings may make the difference in a spare bedroom or office.

A smaller, window air conditioner, can be moved from room to room as the needs change, and the need for the lowest initial cost is important, such as a rented home.

With the high cost of an original installation of a central unit, it might be wise to carefully work out the numbers of cost vs convenience between the two types of units and decide what would be best for you and your family.