Author Topic: Air conditioning options  (Read 2562 times)


  • Magnum Stache
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  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Air conditioning options
« on: May 06, 2015, 01:07:19 PM »
A substantial portion of the living space of my house is finished attic. Despite living in east-central Pennsylvania, this third floor gets very hot in the summer. Because we're expecting a large number of guests this summer we are considering buying a portable air conditioner, but since we are using the space more and more as our daughter grows, I'm curious if there's a better solution. My central heat is through steam radiators. The house has brick structural walls.

Window unit
All the windows up there are tiny, which also makes getting airflow through harder. I don't think this is an option.

Portable unit
These are also inexpensive, but they seem to run pretty inefficiently. Maybe that's not a concern because it's Pennsylvania. I'm also concerned about the hose that needs to go to a window opening. Could my 1-year-old break it in her monkeying around? Finally, I've read it's possible even with the self-evaporating units (more inefficiency?) that you have to empty the drop pan anyways. There is no plumbing on this level so that would be a real pain in the butt.

Mini split
Most expensive by far. The reason it crosses my mind is that this space doesn't have steam radiators and instead has electric resistance baseboards. These are basically space heaters, so I worry some about the fire risk with the way little kids like to shove things new places, and they're certainly less efficient than a heat pump unit would be (many mini splits can provide heat too). We generally used these for only a few hours a day this past winter, which was certainly very cold, and they didn't bump up our electric bill by much. But I imagine the expense would mount when somebody slept up there. Obviously, quite a bit of heat from the lower levels of the house gets to the third floor.

Also, mini splits are the most energy-efficient.

Thoughts? Anybody been in this situation, and if so, what decision did you make, and do you wish you'd made a different one?

(Edited to close the bold tag)
« Last Edit: May 07, 2015, 06:24:43 AM by ShoulderThingThatGoesUp »

Mr. Frugalwoods

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Re: Air conditioning options
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2015, 02:29:02 PM »
I really dislike those portable air conditioners.  They're expensive, inefficient, and prone to leaking.  But they are easy to "install".  If you were only going to use the room occasionally... then that might be your best bet on a hassle/cost axis.

The cheap DIY solution would be to wall mount a large, efficient window AC.  This involves cutting the exterior wall and framing out the opening, but saves window space.

The minisplits are what I'd do if you are planning on staying in the house long term AND plan on using that room a decent amount.  The new ones are _really_ efficient for both heating and cooling.  And yeah, electric resistance heating makes me nervous too.

Our house currently has option 2, the window unit installed through the wall.  It works totally fine.  If I were doing it over again and planned on living in the house for more than say, 7 years, I'd do a mini split.