The United States is a vast country with harsh winters in the north and warm climates in the south. New York regularly sits under a couple of feet of snow, while coastal California stays temperate thanks to the Pacific Ocean. According to the US census, there are 8.5 million mobile homes, so keeping cool is big business, and where you live determines what size and capacity mobile home air conditioner you will need.
As we’re looking at mobile home air conditioner units, we decided to give you the lowdown on the pros and cons of each type of unit, to help you decide which one is right for your home.
Types of Mobile Home Air Conditioners
This question can be answered in several ways. Where you live, which way your mobile home faces, which room is the air conditioning for, and how well insulated is your home? All of these factors determine which type of mobile home air conditioner is right for you.
There are three styles of non-ducted mobile home air conditioner units:
1. Through the Wall / Window Air Conditioners
These units are designed to cool one room or open space, making them a popular choice for mobile homeowners. They come in varying capacities, ranging from 5,000 - 12,000 BTUs (British Thermal Units) to larger units that typically generate 18,000 BTUs. The BTU is essential because it is a measure of how many heat units the air conditioner removes every hour. The higher the BTU count, the more effective the mobile home air conditioner. You can pick up a through the wall or window air conditioner for between $600 - $1,200.
- Can be placed in a window or through a wall and take up zero floor space.
- Are semi-portable, in that window units can be fitted to other windows in the home.
- Not aesthetically pleasing and block the view from the window.
- They only cool one part of your home.
2. Portable Air Conditioners
This is probably the cheapest option, and ideal if you have a smaller room, like a bedroom that needs cooling. Because they are standalone units, they are perfect for as a mobile home air conditioner, since they require no installation. They aren’t as efficient as window units, although they still generate 9,000 - 12,000 BTUs. The beauty of a portable unit is that it can be moved around the house. You can purchase a portable air conditioner for between $300 - $600.
- They can be moved from room to room.
- They are the cheapest option.
- They take up valuable floor space.
- They aren’t attractive to look at.
- While they are portable, some units can weigh upwards of 25 lbs.
3. Ductless Mini Splits
The best combination for comfort and value may be found in a ductless mini-split heat pump or air conditioner system. Ductless systems are well suited as mobile home air conditioner units, since space doesn't have to be allocated for ductwork. For many, the compact footprint and shallow silhouette make a ductless mini-split a preferred choice.
These air conditioners allow you to mount several encased blowers, typically a wall or floor mounted air handler, in multiple rooms, all powered by one system. There are limits to the number of air handlers you can fit. Typically, a single condenser can handle four air handlers at maximum. However, installers may increase the amount of air handlers with accessories like a y-branch or a branch box. This type of air conditioner is the most expensive to install, costing more than $1,000. This cost will rise if you opt for multiple air handlers.
- This is the quietest of all the air conditioner options.
- Easy to install in mobile homes.
- Multi-zone systems allow for total-home comfort.
- The most expensive of the options, especially when you factor in multiple air handlers.
- May require a professional to install the unit, which brings extra costs.
Other Mobile Home Air Conditioner Factors to Consider
Where You Live
In 2015, the Department of Energy (DOE) divided the United States into zones based on climate, elevation, and proximity to the sea. It means that if you live in the northern states, like North Dakota, you are going to need a mobile home air conditioner with less capacity than if you lived in Florida.
Also, the Department of Energy recently raised the national SEER standard to 14 from 13 for most states. Only homeowners in the northern zone can still purchase and install a 13 SEER air conditioner or heat pump. So, from California to Carolina, 14 SEER is the standard whether you're installing a mobile home air conditioner, package unit, or anything else.
What the government calculates is that the efficiency increases will decrease the number of greenhouse gasses emitted into the atmosphere and help to reduce energy consumption. Long term, improving national efficiency helps control energy costs.
Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating
The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating is a measure of the cooling output during a typical session versus the watt-hours consumed. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the air conditioner.
Learn More: EER to SEER Conversion
How Loud are Air Conditioners?
Most window air conditioners run at about 75 - 80 dB. That’s less than a standard vacuum cleaner. Portable air conditioners are noisy too. Comparably, a mini split ductless system barely makes a sound. Choosing the quietest option means that you can have your unit running at night to cool a bedroom, and it won’t disturb the neighbors.
Look For the Energy Star Rating
Energy Star ratings are adopted in the US and across Europe and Australia, as the standard rating of all energy-consuming products. If the air conditioner you want does not have Energy Star recognition, then maybe you should think again before you buy.
Efficiency is vital, especially if you live in a manufactured or mobile home. Unlike brick houses that retain heat better, mobile homes, and older models in particular, are prone to inefficient insulation.
Location of Your Mobile Home Air Conditioner
Where you install your mobile home air conditioner is vital to its performance and energy consumption. Size the unit correctly. Measure the length by the width, and don’t just buy an air conditioner based on the BTUs. There are several factors at play here.
South-Facing Mobile Home
- If you are cooling a home that directly faces the sun, you need to increase the capacity of your air conditioner by around 10%.
North-Facing Mobile Home
- If you are placing the air conditioner in a home that is shaded, then it would be wise to reduce the capacity by 10%.
- If the unit is for use in the kitchen, add 4,000 BTUs to the capacity. This reflects the fact that the kitchen, with cookers and lots of heat-emitting electrical appliances, is the hottest room in the house, and the air conditioner will have to work harder.
Number of Occupants
- People generate heat, so if more than two people occupy the space you want to cool regularly, add 600 BTU per person.
Final Thoughts on a Mobile Home Air Conditioner
With an estimated 20 million people living in mobile or manufactured homes in the US, cooling these spaces has never been so important. In some ways, fitting a mobile home air conditioner is easier and more budget-friendly than installing one in a standard house. The wall material is easier to work with, they tend to be smaller, so the cooling efficiency increases, and mobile home air conditioner systems are a lot cheaper than those intended for stick-built homes.
Whichever variety of mobile home air conditioner you choose, make sure you get professional advice. They can steer you towards the right option, saving you money and increasing the efficiency of your mobile home air conditioner.
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