Quietest Air Conditioners

Ah, sweet summertime. The sounds of chirping birds, buzzing insects and the rattle of air conditioners fills the air. Not exactly the idyllic summer picture you had in mind, is it? Which is why you want one of the quietest air conditioners available to maximize your summer relaxation.

Summertime is many people's favorite time of year, but the last thing you need is the obnoxious hum or buzz of an old air conditioner running in the background.

Air conditioning units make noise for many reasons. If yours is older, it might be a sign it's time to replace your home air conditioner. But how do you decide which type of air conditioning unit will work best in your home? And which are the quietest air conditioners out there?

Air Conditioner Noise

What Causes Air Conditioner Noise?

Various factors cause air conditioner noise. Some of the most common causes include:

Motor Malfunction

Older air conditioning units have a belt connecting the motor to the unit's blower to propel the cooled air out of the unit and into your home. If the belt on an older unit slips, this can cause noise. Belts aren't a feature of newer units, but their direct drive motors can make a grinding or squealing sound if the motor develops damage or a malfunction.

Loose or Broken Parts

If your air conditioner makes a buzzing sound while it's running, your unit could have a loose or broken part. When one component of an air conditioner isn't working correctly, it puts a strain on the other parts, which can lead to the buzzing noise. Buzzing may also indicate that the compressor is malfunctioning, or, in some cases, the unit may be leaking refrigerant.

Wear and Tear

Over time, the components of an air conditioning system can become loose or worn. Even if all the pieces are still working, older units may also become a gathering place for leaves, sticks and other yard debris. As the unit works harder to compensate, it may make more noise. Depending on the loose part, it can hum, squeal, bang or make a range of other sounds.

Quietest Air Conditioners

In newer air conditioning units, repairing or tightening the offending part may be all you need to restore quiet. But if your unit has seen better days, it's probably time to start shopping. Besides getting a good deal on a new AC unit, you want to select one that will efficiently cool your home — and stay quiet while it works. You could always go with an upgraded version of what you have, but before you buy, consider some of the options on the market today. You might be surprised at what you find!

Central Air Conditioning

A traditional central air conditioning system consists of a series of ducts and returns that distribute cool air throughout your home. There are two different kinds of central air conditioning options available today — split systems and package units.

In a split system, the unit's outdoor cabinet houses both the compressor and the condenser. There is then an indoor unit that contains an evaporator, as well as a furnace or heat pump unit. This option is often an economical choice for a home that already has a furnace, but doesn't have central air.

In a package system, the compressor, evaporator and condenser are all in one unit, typically installed on a roof or in an appliance near the home. These units often include heating coils or a natural gas furnace, eliminating the need to install a separate furnace system inside the home.

Central air conditioners are available in different sizes, depending on the house or building they will cool. Larger homes require correspondingly sized units to efficiently cool the space. An incorrectly sized unit will not be able to run as quietly or efficiently as it should.

Quiet Window AC

What Makes This Air Conditioner So Quiet?

Modern, high-efficiency models are some of the best central air conditioners to ever hit the market. And they make out-of-the-way, quiet options for the home. The main components of the system are outside and in the attic, which also decreases the amount of noise you'll hear inside your home. They distribute cooled air through a series of ducts, using fans to move the air throughout your home. Other than a subtle blowing sound when the unit is circulating cool air, you won't hear a thing.

What Are the Pros of Central Air Conditioning?

Central air conditioning is a common, cost-effective way to cool an entire home at once. They're more convenient than room air conditioning units, and they're also easier to operate because you can control them from a thermostat located in a central area of your home. These units also provide a more even cool temperature throughout each room of your home without having to turn individual units on and off by hand.

What Are the Cons of Central Air Conditioning?

Central air conditioning is a common-sense option for cooling a home. However, it can be expensive to install, especially if your home does not already have adequate ductwork in place for the cooled air to travel from room to room. It may also not be a cost-effective option if you live in a climate that doesn't have a lot of hot days that would require air conditioning to stay comfortable at home.

How Much Does it Cost?

The cost of installing a central air conditioning system depends on a variety of factors, including the size and brand of the unit you select, as well as the cost of adding or upgrading existing ductwork to the home. Installation costs may also vary by region.

Quiet Ductless Mini Split AC

Wall and Window Air Conditioning Units

Wall and window air conditioning units are less expensive to install and use than central air, primarily because the unit's use and effectiveness are exclusive to one room. Rather than directing cooled air throughout the house under the control of a central thermostat, a quiet window air conditioner or wall unit turns on and off to cool one room. Although these units are less expensive, they are also less efficient, especially if used in areas with warmer climates.

What Makes This Air Conditioner So Quiet?

One significant reason a wall air conditioner or window AC unit is quiet is that it only runs when you turn it on. If you live in a region with cooler temperatures, you may only have a few days out of the year where you want cooler air as you're reading, watching television or trying to sleep. When you opt for a room unit, you can turn it on as needed, and it stays silent when it's not in use. Modern room and window units also come with built-in timers and digital readouts for the thermostat, so they aren't continuously running. Just like a central air thermostat, it senses when a room has reached the optimal temperature, then shuts itself off — leaving you with plenty of quiet.

What Are the Pros of Wall and Window Air Conditioning?

As we said before, a wall or low-profile window air conditioner can be a logical choice if you live in an area that doesn't see a lot of hot, humid weather. The expense of installing a central air system doesn't make good financial sense when you only expect to use it a week or two out of every year.

Wall units are also an efficient alternative to paying to cool rooms you aren't regularly using. Since a lot of people spend their days in a kitchen and living room and nights in their bedroom, sometimes it may make more financial sense to cool only the spaces of your home that are in use. This benefit can be especially significant for older adults and empty nesters who keep several bedrooms closed off for months at a time or those who spend long hours at work, rather than at home.

What Are the Cons of Room and Window Air Conditioning?

Room or window units aren't a good idea if you live in a climate that has extended periods of warm, humid weather. When compared to a central air system, they can't keep up with that kind of demand for weeks or months on end. If you rely on this type of unit in a hotter climate, you'll end up sweaty or with a massive energy bill — or both!

The efficiency of these units also somewhat depends on the quality of their installation. Because they fit into a window or a cutout in an exterior wall, it's critical to properly anchor them in the space, then seal any gaps around the edges to prevent air leaks in and out of the home. Improperly installed room and window units drain more energy than they save.

How Much Does it Cost?

Like central air, the size of a room or window unit depends on the size of the room it will cool. The larger the unit needed, the higher the expense. The smallest window air conditioners may be able to plug into an existing electrical circuit if another large appliance hasn't claimed it already, but larger models will require a dedicated circuit. You should add this extra expense, along with labor charges, to your budget.

Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioning Units

If you're looking at new air conditioning units, a third option is the ductless mini-split system. In some ways, it's a combination of traditional central air and a room or window unit. In other ways, it's an entirely independent concept that provides efficient home cooling without the cost or intrusive renovations that can come with other systems.

Like central air, a ductless mini-split air conditioning system has an outdoor compressor and condenser, as well as one or more indoor air handlers to distribute air throughout the home.

How does it work?

The compressor/condenser links to each air handler by a conduit comprised of refrigerant tubing, a power cable, a condensate drain and suction tubing. No ducts carry cooled air from room to room. Depending on the size of the building, there may be one air handler servicing the entire home. In larger properties, such as multi-family dwellings, ductless mini-split systems can have up to four air handlers.

What Makes This Air Conditioner So Quiet?

Ductless mini-splits are among the quietest air conditioners available. Depending on the size of the home in question, you will have between one and four air handlers installed. They operate on a "zone" form of cooling, meaning they only turn on when the temperature for the zone they service rises above a specific temperature.

What Are the Pros of a Ductless Mini-Split System?

This particular system is often ideal for multi-family dwellings — for example, a house that now functions as two or more apartments. A landlord of such a building would only pay to heat and cool occupied units. These systems may also be ideal for older homes where the cost to update or build ductwork for central air would be incredibly high.

Besides the potential to save money on the installation of a ductless mini-split system, they are also an incredibly energy-efficient air conditioner. Ductwork can account for a 30% energy loss in homes with central air, depending on where the ducts are and the quality of the home's insulation. With a ductless mini-split system, you don't have any duct-related energy loss to contend with.

The design of these systems also allows for installation in out-of-the-way spaces along the ceiling or floor. Many customers prefer this option, rather than the obtrusive look of a window or room unit.

What Are the Cons of a Ductless Mini-Split System?

These units are bulkier than a central air system, so some people find they don't like the look of having a unit attached to a wall or ceiling in their home. Finding an experienced installer may also be challenging, since ductless mini-splits are only starting to become popular in the United States.

How Much Does it Cost?

Like its central air and room unit counterparts, the cost of a ductless mini-split system will vary, depending on the size of the unit — or units — needed for your home. On average, these tend to cost more than more traditional options. However, the unit costs don't include ductwork or labor charges. For a homeowner who is facing thousands of dollars in ductwork repair or installation, a ductless mini-split system may ultimately save money.

Shop Air Conditioners

Shop Ingram's Water and Air Equipment

If you're in the market for one of the quietest air conditioners available, let Ingram's Water and Air Equipment guide you to the right unit at the right price. With more than 30 years selling home comfort products, our experienced sales team has what it takes to help you find the right unit at the right price. Our 100% satisfaction guarantee ensures you get the right product at the right price from the beginning.

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