Photo of a through the wall air conditioner in a roomWith the summers getting hotter and lasting longer with each passing year, some people are finding it increasingly difficult to stay cool and comfortable in their very own homes.

For some, it’s the high monthly cost of central air conditioning that’s making them sweat.

And for others, it’s the certain rooms of their home that trap a lot of heat.

Fortunately, through the wall air conditioners exist to help mitigate those problems.

But, “What is a through the wall air conditioner?” you ask.

We’re going to explain everything you need to know about these cooling devices, including what they are, how they work, how much they cost, and how they’re different from other cooling appliances like window air conditioners.

What Is A Through The Wall Air Conditioner? (Defined)

Through the wall air conditioners are unique air cooling devices that have been around for many years.

And their popularity is now even more on the rise because people are looking for more affordable options for air conditioning.

Through the wall air conditioners are self-contained units. This means that the compressor, evaporator, and condenser (i.e. the parts of the unit that actually work to cool your space) are all located inside the unit. You don’t have to have a multipart installation where one section of the cooling unit is installed outside while the other is installed indoors.

Through the wall air conditioners are also known as “wall air conditioners” or “wall AC units”.

They get their name because they’re installed in a wall as opposed to on a ceiling on in a window like other AC devices.

With through the wall air conditioners, one side of the unit faces the room that it’s being used to cool while the other side faces the outdoors.

What makes these units so unique is that they don’t take up window space inside your home. Other air cooling units, like window air conditioners and portable air conditioners, require a window to ventilate the hot room air.

Since through the wall air conditioners are installed in a wall, they can be put almost anywhere in your home, even if a window doesn’t exist.

Window Air Conditioners Come in All Sizes

We’ll go more in-depth about this topic later, but for now, we wanted to point out that we have a helpful guide for you to check out after reading this post.

To save the most amount of money on a new through the wall air conditioner (and each month on the electricity), you need to get a unit that’s properly sized for the room you want to use it in.

Take a look at our top through the wall air conditioner list and buying guide. It goes over everything you need to know to make the right choice for your needs and budget.

How Do Through The Wall Air Conditioners Work?

The fact is that through the wall air conditioners work very similarly to window air conditioners.

So, if you’ve ever seen or used a window AC unit before, then you already know 90% of how through the wall AC units work.

Like window AC units, through the wall air conditioners suck in hot air through the large grill located at the front of the appliance. That air is then passed by a series of coils which use refrigerant from the device’s compressor to cool the air down.

Once the air is cooled, it’s pushed back into the room through vents located on the top of the front of the unit.

The way a wall AC unit differs from a window air conditioner is the location of the hot air vents. Window units have them on the sides while wall air conditioners have them on the back.

The purpose of those vents is to expel hot air generated by the unit to the outdoors. This ensures that the hot air doesn’t find its way back into your room and spoil the cooling efforts of your air conditioner.

Difference Between Window and Wall Air Conditioner

As you just learned, through the wall air conditioners operate very similarly to window air conditioners, but what’s the real difference between window and wall air conditioner units?

Although there’s quite a bit of overlap, they’re not one and the same.

Below are some of the major differences between through the wall air conditioner vs window air conditioner.

Installation

The biggest difference between window and wall air conditioners are how they’re installed.

Through the wall air conditioners must be installed in a wall which does take some time and skill. To support the weight, a metal sleeve is fitted inside the wall opening where the unit is positioned.

Window air conditioners must be installed in a window. Installation doesn’t take much time or skill. Just open a window, place the unit on the sill, and secure it into place.

Placement

Through the wall air conditioners can be placed anywhere inside a room as long as it’s on a wall that faces the exterior.

You can install it up high, down low, above a bed, below an existing window, next to a door, etc.

Window air conditioners are limited in their placement since they must be installed in a window. If a window doesn’t exist, the appliance can’t be used in the room.

Permanency

Wall air conditioners are permanent air cooling appliances. Since you build them into a wall, they’re meant to stay there all year round.

Window air conditioners are not permanent air cooling appliances. They’re meant to be removed and stored during the colder months so you can keep your window closed to retain indoor heat.

Aesthetics

One aspect that may seal the deal for you when it comes to a through the wall air conditioner vs window air conditioner is the aesthetics of these appliances.

Some people find wall air conditioners to be more pleasing to look at, from both the interior and exterior. Since these units can be installed practically anywhere, these devices can flow better with the design of a room.

Some people dislike the looks of a window air conditioner because it can look junky from the outside. Also, it takes up window space and can detract from the style of a room.

Efficiency

Although both window and wall air conditioners are great at cooling indoor spaces, through the wall AC units are slightly better in their efficiency.

If installed properly, through the wall air conditioners have an airtight seal around them. This prevents any cold air from seeping out and hot air seeping in.

Even if you install a window air conditioner the right way, there are still gaps around the accordion panel that fills in the extra space on the side of the unit in the window sill. This can leak out cold air and let hot air inside.

Now that you know the difference between window and wall air conditioner units, we can now move on to how much wall air conditioners cost.

How Much Do Through The Wall Air Conditioners Cost?

Through the wall air conditioners are reasonably inexpensive appliances compared to other air cooling solutions.

Depending on the features you want and the size of the unit, you can expect to pay between $300 to $1,000 for a high-quality wall air conditioner.

The biggest determining factor of price is how large a space the unit can cool.

British Thermal Unit

The total cost for a through the wall air conditioner is roughly based on the British Thermal Unit which is a measurement that tells you how much energy the appliance uses to cool a room of a particular size.

The higher the BTU of an air conditioner, the more coverage you get, and the more you can expect to pay for it.

Underpowered vs Overpowered Wall AC Units

The goal is to get a wall AC unit that’s properly sized for the room you want to use it in. That way, you save the most money on your initial purchase and each month on your electricity bill.

If the appliance is underpowered for the intended space (i.e. too small for it), this will increase your electricity bill because the unit will have to work harder (and longer) to cool the room down.

Conversely, if the appliance is overpowered for the intended space (i.e. too big for it), this can also increase your electricity bill because the unit will cycle on and off too much. You’ll also spend an unnecessary amount of money on the initial purchase.

Getting the Right Size Unit

For those previously mentioned reasons, it’s important to adequately measure the square footage of the room you want to use the wall air conditioner in and get a model that has a BTU number which matches that measurement.

Measuring square footage (sq. ft.) is easy. Just measure the length and width of a room (in feet) and multiply those two numbers together.

For example, a 10′ x 30 ‘ room = 300 sq. ft.

A 300 sq. ft. room would need an 8,000 BTU wall air conditioner.

Square Footage to BTU Reference Chart

Room Area To Be Cooled (square feet)Capacity Needed (BTUs per hour)
300 up to 350 sq. ft.8,000 BTU
350 up to 400 sq. ft.9,000 BTU
400 up to 450 sq. ft.10,000 BTU
450 up to 550 sq. ft.12,000 BTU
550 up to 700 sq. ft.14,000 BTU
700 up to 1,000 sq. ft.18,000 BTU

Our top through the wall air conditioner list and buying guide shows you the best wall air conditioners for each size room. Give it a look.

Advantages Of Through The Wall Air Conditioners

If you’re still on the fence about purchasing a through the wall air conditioner, here are some additional benefits for why they make a good investment.

Can Double as a Heater

Some through the wall air conditioners also have a heating function.

This means you can have year-round comfort during both the summer and winter seasons.

Since wall air conditioners are permanently installed in a wall, it might be a good idea for you to purchase a model that doubles as an air conditioner and heater (if you need it).

Gives You Access To Your Window

Through the wall AC units don’t take away your window space.

All other air cooling solutions besides central air conditioning and evaporative coolers require a window for hot air ventilation.

Good for the Long Term

Through the wall air conditioners are built to last because they’re fixed inside a wall.

That means you won’t have to worry about buying another air conditioner for many years to come.

Is a Through the Wall Air Conditioner Right for You?

Now that you know the answer to the question, “What is a through the wall air conditioner?”, hopefully, you can decide if this type of appliance is right for you.

As you discovered, these devices offer many benefits over the competition and are one of the most efficient and attractive ways to add supplemental air conditioning to your home.

For some people, a through the wall AC unit is all they need to stay cool and comfortable during the hot seasons. For others, they enjoy the combination of one of these units along with a central air conditioner to even out the cooling in their house.

As for you, what do you think? Do the advantages and low cost make sense for your lifestyle?