Author Topic: In-room Air Conditioner - worth it?  (Read 8176 times)

Hotstreak

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In-room Air Conditioner - worth it?
« on: April 07, 2016, 04:56:00 PM »
I'm considering buying a portable AC for my bedroom, any advice or things to consider?


I'm in a new apartment that gets a huge amount of solar exposure.  Even though spring is just getting going, with temps in the high 70s around here, my place is getting to the mid to upper 70's during the day, and it's only going to get hotter during the summer.  Now I don't mind low to mid 80's around the house, I can tough it out forever, but I can't fall asleep at that temperature.  I find that I do best between 65-68 in the bedroom, and anything higher than 72 means I'm tossing and turning.  Obviously sleep is important and I can't be groggy and sleep deprived for the next 6 months.  Cracking the windows works around here, but it usually doesn't get cool until after midnight.  My plan is to get a programmable unit that will automatically cool the room before I go to bed, and crack windows around the house to bring the overall temp down through the night.

Right now I'm concerned with venting the hot air.  Is it possible to vent through the floor vent for my central HVAC system?  This would be going against normal flow direction, the ducting is normal metal and runs between the apartment and the ground.    I don't want to use the window since quite a few cars drive by (noise), and my landlord isn't excited about it (window units are prohibited). 

I'm seeing 8000 BTU, programmable, auto evaporation units, for around $250.  If these are "true to size" I would expect it to cool my room, but should I get a more powerful unit so it can cool more quickly?  The last thing I want is to find out half way through the summer that my unit isn't powerful enough.

Thanks!

bobechs

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Re: In-room Air Conditioner - worth it?
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2016, 06:05:34 PM »
Don't.

Get a window unit that you are capable of picking up.

Put it in the window.

Tun it on when you want cold air.

Put foam board insulation in the window areasother than where the a/c sits, at least during the hottest days.

brotatochip

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Re: In-room Air Conditioner - worth it?
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2016, 06:22:29 PM »
So your place has a HVAC system and no central air?  If not just get a small window unit and turn it on before you go to bed.  You can get a new unit at Walmart for $100 or so. 

Rezdent

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Re: In-room Air Conditioner - worth it?
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2016, 06:31:58 PM »
Have a question about "auto evaporation".  How is this accomplished?  Are you in a location with low humidity?  Every cooling machine I've ever seen produced more water than it could evaporate, but there's high humidity here.  Evaporative coolers (swamp coolers) simply don't work here, for the same reason.  How will you deal with that moisture?

tarheeldan

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Re: In-room Air Conditioner - worth it?
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2016, 07:24:42 PM »
I bought a portable AC specifically because window units were not allowed for liability reasons. There's no safety issue to object to.

I don't think you'll notice much noise since the white noise from the compressor and the fan will dull any.

As long as you run the AC you shouldn't have problems with condensation buildup, that only happens with the dehumidifier setting on mine. Dry as a bone the past two summers.

As for power, I think you'll be ok but I found it's very worth it to take the time to seal the exhaust in the window so the unit can work efficiently. I used plastic wrap and packing tape but I'm sure there are better solutions to create a good seal.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2016, 07:28:36 PM by tarheeldan »

Hotstreak

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Re: In-room Air Conditioner - worth it?
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2016, 09:34:20 PM »
So your place has a HVAC system and no central air?  If not just get a small window unit and turn it on before you go to bed.  You can get a new unit at Walmart for $100 or so.


I do have central air, but I don't want to cool the entire apartment.  It has high ceilings and will take a lot of energy to cool, versus just cooling the bedroom.  Unfortunately window units are not allowed here.

Frankies Girl

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Re: In-room Air Conditioner - worth it?
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2016, 10:25:00 PM »
Why not shut off the vents in the other rooms and only leave open the bedroom vent so it's only cooling that one room if you have central air?

Dollar Slice

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Re: In-room Air Conditioner - worth it?
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2016, 10:46:53 PM »
I have an ideal setup with central air I can turn on or off on a per-room basis at home. More efficient and quieter than window units, I think.

At the office, though - I have one of those portable units in my office because our building is ancient and hasn't got real ventilation, and my office is akin to a tomb in terms of air movement. I only have one window so we decided to get a portable rather than permanently blocking the window with a professionally-installed window unit. The portable unit is much bigger and somewhat louder than I expected, so keep that in mind. But the power level is just fine, it cools like a champ. I don't think you need an overpowered unit. Unless maybe your room was right on the borderline of what 8000 BTUs can cool.

big_owl

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Re: In-room Air Conditioner - worth it?
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2016, 09:13:47 AM »
Why not just fit the hot air exhaust right up to the window with cardboard and tape and allow it to exhaust outside? 

ETA - guess I need to read better.  Still seems like the best option to me.  Venting it to the duct will make the room cooler but probably add humidity to the duct and at the very least just end up heating up the rest of your living space. 
« Last Edit: April 08, 2016, 11:09:39 AM by big_owl »

2Cent

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Re: In-room Air Conditioner - worth it?
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2016, 09:24:41 AM »
So you could just try to put ice packs under your pillow and/or under in the blankets half an hour before sleeping. Why cool the whole room if you're just in the bed. Once you are asleep I guess you'll stay asleep. Or just get some ice water and drink it just before sleeping. Or if you want something more fancy: http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/1/3/cooling-pad
« Last Edit: April 08, 2016, 09:26:22 AM by 2Cent »

Hotstreak

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Re: In-room Air Conditioner - worth it?
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2016, 11:22:33 AM »
Why not shut off the vents in the other rooms and only leave open the bedroom vent so it's only cooling that one room if you have central air?
I like this idea, thanks.  At first I thought it wouldn't work since the thermostat is in the main room (so the AC would never know when to shut off), but I realized my thermostat is programmable to come on for a set period of time, so it won't blow all night.


Why not just fit the hot air exhaust right up to the window with cardboard and tape and allow it to exhaust outside?
Personally I don't mind what my windows look like from the outside, but it's really important to the landlord!  Window units are explicitly prohibited.

So you could just try to put ice packs under your pillow and/or under in the blankets half an hour before sleeping. Why cool the whole room if you're just in the bed. Once you are asleep I guess you'll stay asleep. Or just get some ice water and drink it just before sleeping. Or if you want something more fancy: http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/1/3/cooling-pad
Thanks for those links, I'll ride my bike to BB&B this weekend to take a look.

Here's an interesting article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-christopher-winter/best-temperature-for-sleep_b_3705049.html .  The author says that the pads you link work passively, so they may be good for falling asleep but once they heat up they stay warm.  I'm not sure that would work for me since I have trouble waking in the middle of the night, as well as trouble going to sleep.  He remarks on another interesting product called a ChiliPad, which cools a small amount of water and pumps is through a mattress pad.  It has great reviews and I will need to look in to it, the catch is that they run around $900 for a queen, or a bit less for a single or twin if I only wanted to cool half the bed.

big_owl

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Re: In-room Air Conditioner - worth it?
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2016, 04:21:35 PM »
Why not shut off the vents in the other rooms and only leave open the bedroom vent so it's only cooling that one room if you have central air?
I like this idea, thanks.  At first I thought it wouldn't work since the thermostat is in the main room (so the AC would never know when to shut off), but I realized my thermostat is programmable to come on for a set period of time, so it won't blow all night.

Be careful on this one -

1. It doesn't really work that way.  Just because you close other vents in your house doesn't necessarily mean you're saving money by directing all the cool air into one room.  What it really means is that the blower on your system isn't flowing as much air and it can cause issues long term with the blower/motor.  Your AC compressor is still working just as hard and you won't save any money...and the compressor is where the money is being spent, not the fan.

2. Your HVAC system was likely sized and laid out based on an assumed amount of airflow and would not operate effectively being so heavily choked off.  There is usually a minimum number of vents required to remain open.

As for the sleeping pads...sort of OT, but I'm a hot sleeper and Little_Owl's parents once bought me a water filled pad that went inside your pillowcase and kept you cool.  Worked great until one night I woke up sopping wet because the seam had come apart and about a gallon and a half of water had leaked out all over my pillow and mattress.  Some strange thoughts went through my head when I woke up as I nervously considered the possible sources of all that water...

Well Respected Man

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Re: In-room Air Conditioner - worth it?
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2016, 09:00:45 PM »
We had 5 of the portable units and they have to vent through the window. They can also leak, even if they are auto-evaporative. Some of ours had a little plug on the back that fell out a few times and flooded the ceiling of the room below.

You have central air from what I can tell. If you really can't deal with the warmth, turn the air on. You're not sleeping with blankets and clothes on right? If you need 65-68 degree temps at night, but sleep with pajamas and blankets, you're doing it wrong.

If you don't have central air, then check your local regulations; the landlord may not be able to restrict you from venting out the window if AC is not provided.

Dollar Slice

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Re: In-room Air Conditioner - worth it?
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2016, 09:27:38 PM »
Some strange thoughts went through my head when I woke up as I nervously considered the possible sources of all that water...

Nothing like that moment of utterly confused panic! :-)  One time I woke up suddenly out of a dead sleep to the sound of heavily gushing water (sounded like the bath turned on full blast). Turned out my toilet tank had decided to catastrophically fail at 5AM. Nobody sees that one coming...

ChicagoGirl

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Re: In-room Air Conditioner - worth it?
« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2016, 09:43:49 PM »
Are your bedroom windows a Southern or South-west exposure? Why not stop some of the heat coming thru the windows?
I use a fabric called Warm Window (which is great in the winter) but I found it worked great in the summer too.  You can buy it at a fabric store, cut it to fit the window and use velcro to keep it up.  Dropped the temperature in my bedroom that faces SouthWest by over 10 degrees in the summer.  Also, it just looks like a window shade to outside observers (or landlords). 

I had contemplated a portable AC unit before I found the insulated fabric. (It has insulated fabric with a layer of some kind of mylar sheeting inbetween the insulated layers, but still filters a little light into the bedroom so it's not a complete black-out).  Now my central A/C no longer needs to fight to keep the bedroom cool.

2Cent

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Re: In-room Air Conditioner - worth it?
« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2016, 04:43:13 AM »
...
So you could just try to put ice packs under your pillow and/or under in the blankets half an hour before sleeping. Why cool the whole room if you're just in the bed. Once you are asleep I guess you'll stay asleep. Or just get some ice water and drink it just before sleeping. Or if you want something more fancy: http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/1/3/cooling-pad
Thanks for those links, I'll ride my bike to BB&B this weekend to take a look.

Here's an interesting article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-christopher-winter/best-temperature-for-sleep_b_3705049.html .  The author says that the pads you link work passively, so they may be good for falling asleep but once they heat up they stay warm.  I'm not sure that would work for me since I have trouble waking in the middle of the night, as well as trouble going to sleep.  He remarks on another interesting product called a ChiliPad, which cools a small amount of water and pumps is through a mattress pad.  It has great reviews and I will need to look in to it, the catch is that they run around $900 for a queen, or a bit less for a single or twin if I only wanted to cool half the bed.
In the link it also has some active cooling units for less than 600.
What is also good to keep in mind is that you don't need to cool your entire body. If you cool your head, and maybe upper torso, blood circulation will take care of the rest. For me, if my head is on a cool pillow I fall asleep right away. In the middle of the night, I turn it over, so that I get the cool side again.

Fishindude

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Re: In-room Air Conditioner - worth it?
« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2016, 05:17:18 AM »
A small window air conditioner is pretty affordable and it will make life a whole lot more comfortable.  Don't go through the summer uncomfortable.

ender

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Re: In-room Air Conditioner - worth it?
« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2016, 06:51:16 AM »
Don't.

Get a window unit that you are capable of picking up.

Put it in the window.

Tun it on when you want cold air.

Put foam board insulation in the window areasother than where the a/c sits, at least during the hottest days.

I did this at a previous apartment where the "central" AC basically didn't reach a bedroom on second floor without the first floor being a freezer.

Got a window AC on craigslist and rigged up a totally hacky setup using foam board insulation and some wood pieces. Took only a few minutes running to cool that room completely down, even when it was 90+ outside.