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Window AC vs. Split AC – Which Is Better and Why?

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A ir conditioning units are among the most efficient solutions for air cooling, not only for homes but for businesses and vehicles. It is hard to imagine that you would drive a car today that doesn’t come with AC, and more homeowners have decided to bring this kind of comfort in their homes as well, although, in most cases, the costs are considerable.

The big question, however, is which type would make the best choice. You’ve got central AC systems, portable units, split systems, hybrid systems, units that go in the window, and even some geothermal systems that have become increasingly popular. The truth is that each of these options would make a great purchase if used in the appropriate space.

In this article, we will analyze two of the most popular models, namely the split and window ACs, from multiple points of view, so stay with us as we explain how they work and which are the main differences between them.

Window air conditioner Image

Why Do You Need to Install an AC this Summer?

People have managed to live without it for thousands of years, even people who inhabited the desert. So, why invest your money in a unit that will need installation, maintenance, and will generate additional electricity costs every month? To be honest, if you are fine without it, it is just perfect. But some of us just cannot stand the heatwaves that seem to hit more often lately. We like to have a cool space where to work and exercise. Plus, an AC unit comes with many other benefits:

  • It improves health – People with heart or respiratory conditions find it hard to breathe in extreme temperatures. A cool environment reduces the symptoms and can help with asthma and allergies as well.
  • It reduces humidity – All AC units have a dehumidification function, which is part of their functioning mechanism. Moisture removal is important in the summer when humidity tends to increase considerably.
  • It ensures a comfortable environment – It is easier to do your chores or works that require your brain if you are not sweating or struggling to breathe. If the temperature is normal, your pets will also be less agitated.
  • It saves your electronics – The heat can easily take over your laptop, tablet, phone, or TV. They need to make an effort to cool down, which will lead to wear and a shorter lifespan.
  • It makes the sleep restful – A cooler environment will prevent excessive sweating and allow your body to breathe, so you can rest through the night and be fresh in the morning.
  • It prevents dehydration – It is important to drink plenty of water in hot environments, and this is because you are at risk to dehydrate due to excessive sweating. By lowering the temperature, your body won’t need to consume so much energy to keep you comfortable.

You will need your comfort wherever you go, so if you are planning an RV adventure this summer, make sure your AC is in good condition. Or check our selection of ACs for RV and replace it on time.

Split air conditioner in a living room Image

Short Presentation of the AC Systems

No matter the type of AC you choose, the mechanism is pretty much the same. It implies the presence of a compressor, a condenser, an evaporator, and a refrigerant substance that changes its state as it circulates the system and provides coolness for the condenser’s coils. Thus, when the air hits them, the interaction between the heat and the cool coils produces condensation, causing the temperature to drop and moisture to be extracted.

Window AC

In these systems, all the components are packed in a single unit, which, as the name says, gets installed in the window. Window ACs are preferred for their easy installation and low price and are common cooling sources for individual rooms. However, the presence of a window is compulsory, as they need to be positioned with the face inside the room and with the back outside, so they can eliminate the hot air.

Check out our best small window ACs, if your space is restrained. As they don’t occupy the whole window, you will get a healthy amount of light every day.

Split AC

Although these models have the same components as any AC, they are split between an inside and an outside unit. The compressor goes outside, which means that less noise is produced, while the evaporator is placed inside, allowing for the air cooling process to happen. The interior units get mounted on the wall and can cover larger spaces.

Windows AC vs. Split AC – Complete Analysis

Following the main criteria that differentiate them, we will now compare the two systems in an attempt to determine which one is better. The differences go beyond their construction, as you are about to discover.

Window AC in bedroom Image

Design

We all want our homes to look nice, so any appliance needs to fit. However, if you are going for a window unit, you may have to settle for a bulky thing that is blocking your window. As everything is placed inside a single housing, you should expect it to be large. In some cases, you may not even be able to open the window.

With split models, things are a bit different. They are usually sleeker and come in a larger range of colors. Plus, only one of the units goes inside and is smaller as it only includes the evaporator. These models go on the wall, so the window will remain unoccupied, and you will be able to open it whenever you want. Furthermore, many split models come with remote controls and more advanced functions, so they are definitely more comfortable to use.

Installation

This is one of the window models’ strongest point. They can be easily installed with a bit of concentration and a few practical skills. Split systems, on the other hand, are more complex and require the hand of a professional. In some cases, if you decide to set them up yourself, you risk voiding the warranty. Some brands specify this in their warranty contracts.

Room Coverage

This is an essential factor, as depending on the size of the space you need to cover, one unit may be more suitable than the other. The first thing we need to mention is that both window and split systems are designed to cover a single room. The difference, though, is that a split AC is capable to deal with a higher volume of air and will provide cooling for larger spaces, while a window model will work better in a small bedroom or office.

It is important to determine the size of the space and, only after, pick the unit, no matter the type you decide for. Note that window models can have a capacity ranging from 0.75 to 2.5 tons, while split units’ capacity can range from 0.8 tons to 5 tons. Here’s how you can size yours:

  • Small bedrooms or offices – 0.75 – 1 ton
  • Medium bedrooms or small conference rooms – 1 – 1.5 tons
  • Master bedroom or medium conference rooms – 1.5 – 2 tons
  • Living room, large office workspaces, or halls – Over 2 tons

Price

Splits are considered more advanced and have higher cooling capacities so they are usually more expensive than window units. Even if you compare two models that have the same stars and cooling power, you will notice a difference in the fact that the split will be more expensive.

Energy efficiency chart Image

Energy Efficiency

One thing is clear: comfort costs. But the question is how much should you pay for it. When it comes to ACs, the energy efficiency of every unit depends on the star rating. The higher the number of stars the lower the power consumption. For example, if you are going for a split unit and you are looking to cool a large room, you shouldn’t pick anything lower than 5 stars, even if the initial investment is higher. This effort now will save you a lot of money in the long run.

On the other hand, if the room is small, a 1.5-ton window model that has 3 stars will handle it perfectly, so here you can save money both with the initial investment and power consumption over time.

Each star gained is the equivalent of 10% less energy consumed by the unit, which is a lot, so you should keep this in mind when making your purchase.

Noise

In split units, a great part of the cooling process happens outside, so they are usually whisper-quiet and preferred for bedrooms and offices. Their rivals need to be installed in the window, so they will vibrate more and be louder. All the components are in one unit, so internal vibrations will be loud as well. Not to mention that they work best in small rooms, so the distance between you and them will be pretty small. Imagine how this would work at night. Could you stand the sound of a 70 dB machine running all night?

Some window models can be more silent than that. Take a look at our quietest window AC comparison and find one that can fit your bedroom.

Maintenance

Where installation is easy, maintenance is easy as well. Thus, cleaning a window AC won’t be a pleasant job but at least you don’t need to perform it too often and doesn’t require additional expenses. These models are cheaper to repair as well.

A split system is more difficult to clean and often requires professional assistance if problems occur. You will probably need to pay for cleaning services, and the parts, it fit brakes, are more expensive.

Advantages & Disadvantages

A side-by-side comparison of the benefits and drawbacks of every model can help you assess the units better.

Window AC

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Installation is more rapid and costless
  • It can cool small spaces with a low consumption of energy
  • It doesn’t take extra space in the room
  • All the moisture that is extracted goes outside with no assistance from your part
  • It is cheap to maintain
  • It is portable
  • A frame needs to be built for the installation
  • Inefficient in large spaces
  • It occupies the window, blocking the light
  • The water may be dripping on the wall and cause moisture and mold
  • It is loud and bulky
  • Some buildings may have regulations that forbid the installation of a window AC

If window models have gained you on their side, but you don’t have a window available, consider through the wall models. They have the same functioning principle and are energy-effective options.

Split AC

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Can be installed anywhere in the room
  • Provides excellent coverage for large spaces
  • Indoor unit is quiet as it emits less than 50 dB
  • Most units are compact
  • Sleek design
  • Advanced functions and cooling patterns
  • Installation requires the knowledge and craft of a professional
  • Although it is energy effective, the cost of running it is high
  • The outdoor unit isn’t that quiet so you may hear it from your porch or backyard
  • Setting it up requires some works like drilling the holes in the walls for the condenser, so you will invest some money in that too
  • The indoor unit needs to be drained

Window AC vs. Split AC - Which Is Better and Why Image

The Verdict – Which Is Better?

As shown, there are many factors that need to be considered when making a decision. The fact that both of these units are still on the market and popular among buyers shows that each of them can be useful in a given situation. For example, it is difficult to disassemble a split unit and assemble it again. So, if you are on the road a lot, you would rather choose a window AC, or, even better, a portable option, which is even easier to handle.

But if you have your own home, an investment in a split unit is worth it. This sleek device will look good on your wall, even if you will need to pay extra for the installation. It will provide nice cooling for the living room and keep the moisture away. Plus, you can control it from the distance through a remote, or, in some cases, even ask Alexa to do it.

Trystan Jensen
Trystan Jensen
Trystan is a trusted reviewer who has extensive experience in customer satisfaction gained while he worked as a market research analyst. He is well aware of what consumers want, as well as what they expect the most from the acquisitions they make. It is his personal interest in technologies that help improve life quality combined with his attentiveness to detail and customer experience that make Trystan an unending source of qualitative content.