Staying cool and comfortable during the scorching and humid summer months is easy with the installation of air conditioners. For many people, they are lucky enough to live somewhere where opening the windows will do a decent enough job at ensuring total comfort. However, we understand that not everyone has such luxury and this is where the best through the wall air conditioners step in to save the day.
Through-the-wall air conditioners offer an excellent energy-efficiency and space-saving cooling system. These self-contained AC units are styled like a window AC but they’re fit through your wall so that you don’t have to sacrifice your window along with fresh air from opening it and a great view. The wall AC units are also supported by wall sleeves.
The best part about this type of air conditioner is that they emit heat from the exterior of the wall so that it won’t negatively impact the temperature in the room. However, through-the-wall AC units are a permanent cooling option for homes and they’re designed to meet the cooling needs of a given room space.
Through-the-Wall vs. Window Air Conditioners
Both through-the-wall and window air conditioners are very similar in terms of design and functionality. But, they do have their own unique differences that make people choose one over the other.
As the name suggests, window units are, obviously, installed in the windows. But typically, air conditioners are not built to fit any particular window. Further customizations will need to be made to avoid seepage after installation. Window air conditioners vent the heat from the sides and the back whereas through-the-wall units only vent from the back, helping to lower the amount of heat coming back into your room.
Window units are often preferred by those who want to be able to put the AC unit away when not in use, such as during cooler seasons. But, those who do not want to go through the fuss and meddle with the AC unit every year will prefer a more permanent solution like the through-the-wall AC unit.
Those who chose to purchase a window air conditioner will need to be sure that their window measurement complements the AC unit. However, with a through-the-wall AC unit, you can simply cut a hole in the wall that fits your needs.
Although a through-the-wall unit can be slid out, it may not always be necessary. This means that you will have a hole in your wall but you don’t have to move the AC every year during the winter.
Window units are easier to install and uninstall and don’t leave a lasting mark on your house. But with a window air conditioner, you’ll have to face the issue of a one-time installation versus an annual process of setting up and removing a window unit.
Space Consumption and Cooling Capacity
Both types of air conditioners pretty much stay out of your way. The only difference is that through-the-wall units allow you to kee[ your window as it is since they can be pretty much placed anywhere on the wall.
If you only need to cool a small room, then you can do away with smaller window units that cost less than $200. Both types of air conditioners also come in larger capacities too, to fit your room size and requirements.
Price and Energy Efficiency
One notable difference between the two is that through-the-wall units are much more energy-efficient than window units whereas window air conditioners are cheaper than through-the-wall ACs. So this means that you’ll be looking at the difference between upfront savings and long-term savings. Through-the-wall units are more effective in the long term – as long as you have the initial budget to pay for it.
How Hard is it to Install?
Installing a through-the-wall AC unit can be a clean affair with the right professionals on it. Apart from the electrical work, you’ll also need to have a hole put in the wall. Here are a few points to keep in mind before attempting to install the wall air conditioner yourself:
- Check carefully that you’re not going to be interfering with existing pipes or wiring when deciding on where to make a hole on your wall.
- Check the unit and sleeve dimensions before digging the hole.
- Take into consideration the thickness of the wall.
- Be sure that you are choosing the right wall in the room. You may want to consult an HVAC professional and not just any carpenter for this.
- The ACs will need to be vented, so be certain to pick an exterior wall.
- Once you’ve decided on which wall will be used for the installation, work towards the electrical details.
- Check the power source and make sure you match it with the outlet. Make sure the voltage required for the AC unit is available. Through-the-wall ACs use standard 110-120-volt plugs, but some larger or older units may require 220 volts.
- If your house does not support the voltage, you may consult an electrician to install special electrical wiring. Be sure the power cord that comes with the unit is long enough. It’s never a good idea to use extension cords or splice cords just to make it longer as they may not be able to tolerate such high voltages.
Through-the-wall Air Conditioner Pros
- Window view isn’t blocked
- Less security risk compared to a window AC
- Tighter fit for slightly better overall energy efficiency
- Slightly quieter as the walls reduce noises more than the windows
- Permanent installation is easier than having to move a unit in and out of the window
Through-the-wall Air Conditioner Cons
- Expensive installation cost in the range of $300 to $600
- Wiring and outlet cost approximately $200 to $400 and possibly more if the installation is on the second floor or above
- Higher kit cost due to the trim package most include
- Optional sleeve cost is $70 – 115 extra
- Limited size options
- May have fewer models to choose from
- Possibly harder to remove if repairs are required
How to Choose the Best Through-the-Wall Air Conditioner
Picking out the best wall AC unit requires you to focus on several aspects other than just the price and cooling ability. So, let’s get yourself equipped with the following information before you head out to go AC shopping.
The cooling capacity is calculated based on the BTUs (British Thermal Units) of the AC. Units with higher BTUs can cool a larger room. Of course, how the room is used will make a significant difference too. For example, you’ll need a more powerful unit to cool a kitchen compared to a bedroom, even if they’re both the same size. This is because more heat is generated in a kitchen and the AC unit will need more power to cool the room down.
Pick the wall and check whether its measurements correspond to the size of the AC unit. You need to remember to leave enough space around the installation area to enable good ventilation on the exterior side of the wall. It is also important to note the thickness of the wall.
You should also consider whether the room gets more natural sunlight. Sunlight will cause the room to be hotter and you’ll need to consider an AC with higher BTU to allow better cooling around the space.
Other than the room area, you also need to look into the ceiling height. If they’re more than 8 feet tall, you’ll need a more powerful unit as this means there’s a larger volume of air to cool.
Most newer models require 115 volts, but if you happen to have some larger and older ones that require 208/230 volts, you may want to consider hiring an HVAC professional or electrician to help you add the kind of plug and line you need.
Heat and Other Alternatives
Through-the-wall AC units sometimes come with additional features. The most popular one is the heat mode. Unlike a heater that uses electric heating, these wall AC units use a heat pump to warm the room on cold nights during winter.
If the wall air conditioner is your main source of cooling, then it is recommended for you to invest in a unit with Energy Star efficiency. If you’re using an AC model to supplement a central AC and don’t expect it to run a lot, then you can settle for a less efficient, more affordable wall mounted room air conditioner.
When installing a through-the-wall AC, you will need to pay attention to the type of wall sleeve that goes with it. A wall sleeve is a metal stand that’s installed to hold the outside portion of the air conditioner. There are two types of sleeves – the slide-out chassis and the through-the-wall sleeve.
Slide-out chassis sleeves allow venting from the back and sides of the unit. This chassis is suitable for both through-the-wall and window units. They are often first used with a window unit before being replaced by a through-the-wall unit.
A through-the-wall sleeve is usually a better option for through-the-wall units as they vent the heat out through the rear side only and can handle thicker walls that are beyond 8 inches.
Sleeves are usually sold separately from the unit. So, if you’re going to buy a sleeve, make sure you know the brand and unit dimensions of your AC to prevent buying the wrong one.
Wall Air Conditioner Features
Some AC models come with special features and functionalities that are worth paying for. Here are a few main feature options your wall air conditioner may come with:
Timer and Programmable Start
Having an AC model that comes with a timer and programmable start feature will allow you to program the unit when to turn it on and how long it will run. This is the best way to save on energy costs and still enjoy a comfortable room. You can also program the AC to turn on shortly before you enter the room so that it will be cool before you go in. Plus, you won’t have to waste energy by leaving on a unit when nobody is in the room.
A small space heating element is built into the air conditioner. These are designed to supplement a furnace in winter to add a little heat into your room on cool spring or autumn day,
The dehumidifying mode turns your AC into a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture in the room so that it feels cooler. Sometimes the air can also be cool and damp, you can still turn this unit on to remove some of the humidity without the air conditioning system function.
Top 6 Best Through-the-Wall Air Conditioners in 2021 (Review)
We understand that picking the best wall air conditioner can get frustrating since there are thousands of different wall air conditioners available on the market. To make your purchasing decision easier, we have brought together a list of the best wall air conditioners from different brands.
Do take note that each comes with a different cooling capacity, so pick one that’s right for your room based on its sq ft area. Hopefully, we can assist you in finding the best through-the-wall AC for your room.
1. Friedrich Chill Series
- Cooling Area: 300 – 350 sq. ft.
- BTU: 7,800
- EER / SEER (Energy Efficient Rating: 10.8
This through-the-wall air conditioner brand comes highly recommended and it performs exceptionally well compared to other 8000 BTUs units. All of this at a very reasonable price. This wall AC unit should comfortably cool a 350 square-foot room with a wall thickness of 7.5 inches. The Friedrich Chill Series can be used as either a window or through-the-wall unit.
Some of its winning features include a washable antimicrobial filter for safe and cleaner air quality, an “Entrygard” anti-intrusion protection, and expandable side curtains. It also has a pretty aesthetic design considering the fact that this is something that’s more functional than decorative. As this is standard with most units, it also comes with other basic features like remote control and three fan speeds for you to achieve your ideal level of comfort.
- Comes with many money-saver features like auto air sweep for better cooling and a fan cooling option
- Includes a through-wall sleeve for installation.
- Power cord can be pulled out from both sides of the unit
- May be a little noisy for some
2. Koldfront WTC12001W
- Cooling Area: 450 – 550 sq. ft.
- BTU: 12,000
- EER / SEER (Energy Efficient Rating: 9.5
The Koldfront WTC12001W 12,000 BTU 208-230V heat/cool air conditioner is an excellent through-the-wall air conditioner choice that you will never regret buying. This is super simple and easy to install. In fact, users have reported that the entire installation process, including taking out the wall will only take about fifteen minutes to complete.
This wall AC unit also boasts some versatility. In addition to its cooling function, it also has a heating and dehumidifying function. The air vents point in four different directions for users to achieve maximum cooling/ heating/ dehumidifying capability.
This powerful device can cool down rooms effectively even if they have vaulted ceilings, which is quite an impressive feat. To be honest, there is really not much you’re not getting if you choose to go with this wall air conditioner unit.
The bottom line is that the Koldfront WTC12001W is a fantastic wall AC unit that offers a wide range of versatility and even comes with a simple installation process that simply can’t be beaten. However, it does have a few inconvenient aspects such as a lower energy efficient rating which you should take into consideration too. ‘
- Features a remote control
- Able to quickly cool down rooms
- Works well under frequent use
- Three fan speeds and four operation modes
- May be loud for some
- Not the most energy efficient with a low energy star rating
- Cleaning the filter can be tricky
3. LG LT1016CER
- Cooling Area: ~ 440 sq. ft.
- BTU: 9,800
- EER / SEER (Energy Efficient Rating: 10.7
The LG LT1016CER wall air conditioner has an Energy Star rating of 10.6 and features 9800 BTUs of cooling capability to comfortably cool a room of approximately 450 sq ft. This AC unit even lets you enjoy cooling flexibility with 3 cooling speeds and 3 fan speeds. Other than that, it also comes with an easy-clean mesh filter and a “clean filter” alert to let you know when it’s time for maintenance.
The unit has LG’s patented gold fin anti-corrosion coating that provides a protective shield, helping you preserve your unit for as long as possible. Also, it is designed to fit into a 26-inch wall sleeve.
- The wall air conditioner comes with a dry mode to avoid humidity buildup
- It is a quiet machine with great cooling capacity
- The rood air conditioner fits into the wall sleeve used for other similar product brands
- The water gets drain from the rear side of the wall conditioner, keeping it out of the way
- The room air conditioner can rattle and get noisy if the installation is not done well
4. Frigidaire FFTA1233S1
- Cooling Area: ~550 sq. ft.
- BTU: 12,000
- EER / SEER (Energy Efficient Rating: 10.5
This 12,000 BTU wall AC unit from Frigidaire has the cooling capacity to cool a room with a size of up to 550 sq ft. This wall air conditioner uses a 115 volts electric outlet and even has the capacity to dehumidify a room up to 3.3 pints per hour.
Other than that, the room air conditioner also has a temperature-sensing remote control that lets you set your desired room temperature. It also has ready-select electronic controls for better convenience. Another feature of this wall air conditioner is the multi-speed function with 40way directional fan control.
- The sensor controls and remote control of the wall AC are some of the most popular features
- This wall air conditioner is a long-lasting product made with durability in mind
- This wall air conditioner unit can cool larger rooms with lower ceilings and limited sunlight exposure
- The wall AC is also very quiet and has an energy saver mode to keep your electricity bills low
- Some complaints on the quality of customer service and responsiveness on warranty claims
5. Keystone KSTAT12-1C
- Cooling Area: ~550 sq. ft.
- BTU: 12,000
- EER / SEER (Energy Efficient Rating: 10.5
The Keystone KSTAT12-1C is another through-the-wall AC that has very similar features to the LG wall air conditioner discussed above with an energy saver mode, sleep mode, and a programmable 24-hour timer. This wall AC unit carries 12,000 BTU and can cool a room of about 550 sq ft.
- Good cooling capacity and value for money
- Good money-saving features
- May get noisy over time
6. Kenmore Smart
- Cooling Area: ~550 sq. ft.
- BTU: 12,000
- EER / SEER (Energy Efficient Rating: 12.1
The Kenmore Smart 04277127 Room Air Conditioner is the through-the-wall air conditioner of the future. This wall air conditioner comes with WiFi capability! You can download the Kenmore Smart AC app to your smartphone or smart device like tablets. This app is compatible with both iPhone and Android smartphone models. If you’re not so tech-savvy or do not own a smartphone, you can also control this wall air conditioner unit with remote control.
This air conditioner comes with four different modes: fan, cool, dry, and eco. Eco is an energy saver mode that will help you save a substantial amount of money on energy costs. But beyond all the bells and whistles on this unit, this model is also a straight-up awesome through-the-wall air conditioner unit.
The air conditioner features adjustable “fins” which will help direct airflow to exactly where you need cool air the most. It is simple to operate with WiFi or no. Other than that, it is also very quiet, even when turning on or powering the unit down.
The Kenmore Smart air conditioner is a great unit with all the newest and coolest technological features. However, it may be a little confusing to read through the instructions.
- One of the best quiet air conditioners
- Well made wall air conditioner from high-quality materials
- Good customer service from Kenmore
- Easy to start up the air conditioner unit with WiFi system using the app
- Installation instructions for the model are confusing
- Advertised as compatible with Amazon’s Alexa but it’s not
Pros and Cons of Through-the-Wall Air Conditioners
Similar to the various air conditioner units out there, through-the-wall conditioners come with their own unique set of good and bad aspects. Knowing about them will also help you decide if these air conditioners are the right fit for you.
Wall AC Units are not only aesthetically pleasing, but they also work to keep your room cool and comfortable on hot summer days. They’re typically installed in a pre-set wall sleeve, which acts as additional support to the wall air conditioner unit. Moreover, the tight fit also creates an airtight seal around the air wall air conditioner to prevent unwanted drafts from entering the room. This increases the efficiency of these wall air conditioners.
Enjoy the View from Your Window
The best through-the-wall air conditioners are installed in the wall, meaning that you won’t have to sacrifice the view from your window. A window AC unit, on the other hand, would block the view from your window, which can be quite annoying for some.
Wall air conditioners are also much quieter compared to window AC units. Although they might make some noise since they’re in constant contact with the wall, it is much less than the noise produced by window air conditioners.
As compared to window AC units, wall air conditioners have a much better cooling capacity with better fans and more BTUs. This translates to the wall air conditioners being able to cool a room much faster than window air conditioners.
The lifespan of wall air conditioners is greatly determined by the maintenance executed on them. Proper and regular maintenance will ensure your wall air conditioner can last for as long as ten years. However, if you do not pay any attention to its maintenance and run it year after year without changing the air filter or examining the hoses, you might need to replace the wall air conditioner unit within a few years.
Through-the-wall air conditioners are most popular among those who want to maintain their window space and keep this as a permanent cooling system instead of having to remove and reinstall it every year. Picking the best through-the-wall AC might not be as tough as you think.
However, do keep in mind that wall air conditioners involve installation and you may need to hire professionals to work on it for you. Nonetheless, a through-the-wall air conditioner would be great value for money on the whole considering the energy efficiency or with the energy star rating that you will enjoy.
Hopefully, today’s buying guide on the best through-the-wall air conditioners has given you enough insight on how to pick the right air conditioner for you. Do remember to check through each of their advantages and disadvantages before finally deciding on a model.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is a Through-the-Wall Air Conditioner?
Through-the-wall air conditioners are self-contained AC units that cool the rooms quickly. They are also installed through an exterior wall with the help of a wall sleeve for support.
How do through-the-wall air conditioners work?
Through-the-wall air conditioner units suck hot air present in the room and cool it through the air conditioning condenser before being pushed back into the room. These air conditioning units condense the moisture from inside the room and drain it out to lower the humidity which will help you feel cooler as well.
How to winterize a through-the-wall air conditioner?
Winterizing your AC is important to keep your house warm and toasty during winters. This will also ensure that your AC unit is ready when the summer months come. Here are a few steps you can do to winterize your AC.
Get an air conditioner winterization kit from any home improvement store. These AC kits typically include heavy-duty plastic that you can place on the outside of your AC. This will stop the cold air from entering your home. You can also choose to seal the plastic to effectively close all the gaps.
You can also cover these units with metal covers made from heavy-duty sheet metal that will fit snugly over the unit.
What wall AC sizes are available?
Wall AC units are designed with a cooling capacity of 8,000 to 25,000 BTUs but mostly are in the 8K to 14K BTU range.
Can a wall AC unit cool more than one room?
Not even the best through-the-wall AC will be able to cool more than its capacity allows, therefore, be mindful about the sq ft before your purchase. The wall AC units usually serve a single room like a bedroom or one large open zone such as the living room/kitchen area
What do EER and CEER mean?
EER and CEER are efficiency ratings. EER is an energy efficiency rating while the CEER is a newer rating that built-in ACs must use known as Combined Energy Efficiency Rating.
The difference is that it factors in the energy used by the wall unit while it is plugged in but not running. This is why CEER is slightly lower than EER on through the wall air conditioners for this reason. The higher the ratings, the less energy the wall unit uses. Depending on the CEER and size of the unit, some air conditioners are also certified by Energy Star.