A through the wall air conditioner is, as the name suggests, an air conditioner that’s installed inside the wall of a house. A through-the-wall air conditioner is also known as a wall air conditioner, a wall sleeve AC, or a wall mounted air conditioner.
The unit is mounted such that the front side faces inside the home, with its backside exposed to the outside, identical to a boxed window unit air conditioner.
Through-the-wall air conditioners work on the same principle as window-mounted air conditioners, with the only difference being where each unit is mounted. You can also look at wall-mounted air conditioners as the localized versions of central air conditioners.
That’s because unlike central air conditioners that pump cool air to various rooms within a house, a wall unit is used to cool only a single room. That makes them more energy-efficient.
Read on for more insights on how these systems work, how to shop for the best AC wall units, and special product recommendations.
Quick Picks: Through the Wall Air Conditioners Compared
The Differences between Wall and Window AC Units
The fundamental difference between AC wall units and AC window units is that the former is installed inside a wall while the latter is mounted on a window.
As we’ve mentioned, the systems are similar, both in appearance and mechanism of operation. Besides, these units are not only affordable but are also easy to maintain, as they consume less energy.
However, most window AC units are designed to vent their warmth both out of their backs as well as their sides. Installing such a unit on a wall would mean blocking the side vents, which could significantly affect the performance of the units. As with through-the-wall air conditioners, all ventilation is outdoor-facing.
That makes it logical to mount wall sleeve AC units inside the wall and seal off their sides completely. In terms of installation, window AC units tend to be easier to mount than their wall counterparts.
But wall mounted AC units and window AC’s aren’t the only types of air conditioners available out there.
You’re probably already familiar with Central Air Conditioning systems that are designed to pump cool air to the entire house. As they serve the whole house, these systems are the costliest, both in terms of the initial purchase price and energy consumption. You’ll also need a contractor to install them.
There are also the Split Systems that are ideal for small homes and are usually permanently built into a house. They also come with hefty price tags and are energy-inefficient compared to the window and wall ACs. Also, the installation must be done by a contractor.
Lastly, we have Portable ACs that, like wall-mounted and window ACs, are perfect for specific rooms within a house. You don’t need a contractor to install portable AC units. Also, the initial purchase price of a portable conditioner is reasonably low, even though these systems tend to consume more energy than the window and through the wall air conditioners.
Advantages of Through the Wall Air Conditioners
The following are some of the reasons why you might consider installing a wall sleeve AC:
The first thing that makes through-the-wall air conditioners remarkably energy-efficient is the fact that they serve only one room. With central ACs, the system continuously pumps air throughout the entire house. That usually sees a lot of energy go to waste, especially if you’re only interested in cooling one room.
Wall-mounted AC units are also more energy-efficient than window-mounted systems, thanks to the tight seals around these units that prevent them from venting cold air onto the ambient space.
Standard through-the-wall air conditioners can run for up to 8 hours a day but will consume just about $30 per month in energy bills. Besides, their relatively cheap initial purchase price makes these units easy to acquire and maintain.
3. Multiple Utility
Some through-the-wall air conditioners can cool as well as heat the house. With such a system, you won’t need to purchase a space heater during winter, which makes wall sleeve ACs cost-effective in the long run
4. Service All Year Round
Wall-mounted ACs supply a house with cool air throughout the year. As they’re permanently mounted inside the wall, you won’t have to remove them during the colder months, as is usually the case with window-mounted ACs.
Remember that even in the coldest months, some hot days may pop up, requiring you to have a cooling system handy.
The fact that in wallair conditioners are permanently built into the wall also makes them safer alternatives to window-mounted AC units. They’re difficult to dislodge or push through from the outside. And even if someone manages to push them through, their sleeve holes are often too small to allow the average person to fit through and enter your house.
On the other hand, burglars can easily dislodge or push window-mounted ACs, thereby gaining access to your home.
6. Lack of Unwanted Drafts
Installing wall sleeve ACs takes away the concerns of unwanted drafts creeping into the house. That’s because the units are designed to slide into a sleeve that’s built inside the wall, thereby causing them to fit tightly.
7. Less Obtrusive
If you have an AC unit mounted on your window, two things are for sure; you’ll never enjoy fresh air or experience the beautiful outdoor views as you did before. Thankfully, you can install wall-mounted AC systems without worrying about sacrificing a window.
Choosing the Best Through-the-Wall Air Conditioner for You
Much as they’re cost-effective and energy-efficient, choosing a suitable through-the-wall air conditioner isn’t a walk in the park.
The following are some of the factors to consider while shopping for a wall AC.
1. Cooling Area/Room Size
The first thing you want to make sure of is that the wall sleeve AC you purchase can effectively cool the room where you install it. That would require you to calculate the square footage of the room by measuring its length and width and multiplying the two, for rectangular rooms.
For square rooms, simply find the measurement of one side of the room and multiply it by itself. Essentially, you can calculate the area of your room easier if you know what shape the room is. If the room isn’t a distinct shape, hive off the largest square or rectangle out of it and work out the area of that section.
As you determine the size of your room, also consider the size of the unit itself.
The good news is that with wall sleeve ACs, you have much flexibility with size options as you’ll unlikely find a unit that’s larger than the size of the wall.
Generally, most through-the-wall AC units measure 15 inches long by 25 inches wide by 20 inches deep. Before hitting the stores, ensure you have created a hole through your wall that’s roughly the same measurements as the dimensions of the unit you intend to buy.
2. Consider the Noise Levels
Like most AC units, wall-mounted air conditioners are somewhat noisy. Noise levels are measured in decibels (dB), and the lower the dB, the quieter the appliance. Most through-the-wall air conditioners you’ll come across have dB ratings from 50 to 60.
If you intend to install the unit in your bedroom, you should look for an appliance that features the lowest dB. You might also experiment with a slightly noisy air conditioner to help mask the background noises around your house. It all depends on what noise levels you find acceptable.
3. British Thermal Units
BTU is a unit that measures the quantity of thermal energy that’s needed to raise the temperature of a pound of water by 1⁰ F. Generally, your wall mount AC should have a BTU of about 20 for each square feet. For instance, if the room measures 200 square feet, the BTU should be around 4,000.
However, this is not a hard and fast rule. Other factors, such as the height of the ceiling, the size of the household, and the number of heat-emitting appliances inside the house, impact the performance of your wall sleeve AC. In turn, they affect how many BTUs the appliance should have.
4. Energy-Efficiency Rating
You can calculate the energy efficiency rating of a wall-mounted air conditioner by dividing the per-hour cooling capacity of the system (in BTU) by its hourly energy consumption (in kW).
Higher EER rating means the unit cools much faster, but that isn’t necessarily an ideal situation. Remember that the appliance should function at optimal capacity, depending on the room size where it’s installed.
If the unit is overpowered, it may end up raking up high energy bills. Underpowered units aren’t recommended either, as they take longer to cool the room. That means they have to run more often and for extended durations, which may cause them to break down more frequently.
As you establish the EER rating of your wall mount AC, also ensure that the appliance is compatible with the voltage outlet in your region. In the US, the standard electric outlet ranges from 114 – 126V. Always check with your local electrician if the unit is compatible with the voltage capacity in your region before having it installed.
5. Other Considerations
a) Wall sleeve – Go for a durable steel wall sleeve that’s the right size for your AC unit.
b) Heating Options – Consider AC units that also double up as space heaters
c) Warranty – Insist on a wall-mounted AC unit with at least a one-year warranty, and read the warranty terms to ensure they’re favorable.
Lastly, look out for other convenience features, such as a sleep mode, an energy saver mode, Wi-Fi compatibility, and remote control features.
Best Through the Wall Air Conditioner Reviews
With the ability to cool a room up to 700 sq ft with 14,000 BTUs for colling and 10,600 BTUs for heating when some supplemental heat is needed in the winter months, this Emerson Quiet Kool EATE14RSD2T air conditioner is a workhorse!
If you are someone who loves incorporating modern technology into new appliance purchases then this is an ideal choice for you. This unit is wifi enabled and pairs with both Amazon Alexa and Google Home. You can also control the unit with your phone via the HE Smart app!
Emerson believes so much in this unit that they offer an industry exclusive 1-2-5 warranty which covers 1 year of labor, 2 years of parts, and 5 years on the compressor.
Consisting of split vents you are able to point the air in a couple directions which should assist with cooling (or heating) your space quicker.
Be aware that this unit requires a special 230-volt/20-amp electrical outlet and will not operate with a standard 115V household electrical outlet.
The Frigidaire FFTA1233U1 air conditioner boasts 12,000 BTUs, which speaks volumes about how powerful this machine is. With its remarkably high BTU ratings, you can install this appliance in a room that’s as large as 500 square feet.
With an EER rating of 10.5 this large unit is also energy-efficient which is a welcomed addition for such a large ac unit.
This Frigidaire ac can dehumidify up to 3.3 pints every hour. The unit uses an electric outlet of 115 volts, making it compatible with most electric voltage outlets out there.
This ac unit includes a temperature-sensing remote control that enables you to set your ideal room temperature. The air conditioner also boasts ready-select electronic controls as well as a multi-speed 4-way directional fan.
For convenience the anti-bacterial filter is able to be cleaned which limits any additional accessory costs. Owners pair this unit with the Frigidaire EA108T wall sleeve.
The Koldfront 12,000-BTU air conditioner is an AC and a heater, all rolled into one. Besides being able to cool rooms as large as 550 sq ft, this AC unit also comes with a 10,600-BTU heater that enables it to heat spaces of up to 450 sq ft.
With this Koldfront ac, you won’t have to invest in an extra space heater, which saves you money and aggravation. The unit also has a 9.5 EER rating which means it’s very energy-efficient.
Working at optimum capacity, the Koldfront WTC12001W air conditioner will only set you back some $80 in annual energy consumption. Some of the convenience features this wall AC comes with include a remote control, 4-way directional louvers, 3-adjustable fan speeds, sleep mode, energy saver mode, and a 24-hour timer.
Friedrich Uni-Fit Series 8,000 BTU is designed to cool a room that’s as large as 350 square feet and with 16-1/4″ deep wall thickness. To prevent the transmission of germs and bacteria, the manufacturer included washable antimicrobial filters.
Unlike most through the wall air conditioners, Friedrich Uni-Fit 8,000 BTU is perfect for mounting both in the wall and on the window. The unit also works by remote control, and there are three fan speeds to experiment with. Needless to mention, its design is just as appealing as its specifications.
Keystone KSTAT12-2HC 12000 BTU comes with a powerful BTU score that enables it to cool larger room sizes (up to 550 square feet or over). The air conditioner features an energy saver mode, which significantly reduces your monthly energy expenses.
The inclusion of a programmable 24-hour timer makes for ease of operation, as you can program the cooler to turn on at your preferred times during the day. Other convenience features include a sleep mode, remote control features, and voltage compatibility.
Owners usually purchase the Keystone KSTSLV1 wall sleeve with this unit.
The LG LT1016CER air conditioner has an impressive BTU of 9,800, enabling it to serve a room size of 440 square feet. The appliance boasts digital control features and a remote that allows you to fine-tune it to your preferred settings from across another room.
Weighing 77 lbs, with dimensions of 24″ x 20.1″ x 14.4″, you may need a hand installing this unit.
A gold-fin anti-corrosion coating makes the AC unit water-, salt-, and acid-resistant, ultimately cushioning it from corrosion. Lastly, the appliance uses 115 volts and allows you to set the temperature between 60° F – 86° F. Many owners pair this purchase with the Keystone KSTSLV1 wall sleeve to ensure proper installation.
Final Thoughts on Through the Wall Air Conditioners
What comes out throughout the post is that there are numerous wall mount air conditioners to fit the varied consumer needs out there. However, you should first determine what you’re looking for before hitting the stores. That will help you hunker down on a suitable through-the-wall AC for your home much faster.