Summertime is just around the corner, with hotter weather on the horizon. For many, that means it is time to get an air conditioner.
One thing that many people shopping for an air conditioner forget to consider is the electrical component. In other words, what is the right size and power of air conditioner for your particular space? And are the outlets in your home capable of delivering the electricity required for the unit? And how can you know?
It should be no surprise that air conditioners use up a fair amount of electricity in general, and if the wrong size is purchased, you could end up wasting electricity (and money) in the process.
Before choosing an air conditioner for your home or space, gather the necessary information about air conditioner voltages and amps so that you can be sure you are getting the best fit for your money.
What’s the Difference Between Voltage, Amperage, and Wattage?
When you start looking for an air conditioner, you’ll notice that they are often labeled with three different electricity measurements: voltage, amperage, and wattage. Each one speaks to a distinct element of the electrical operation of the air conditioner.
- Voltage is the electrical potential between two points. Higher voltage machines result in lower amp draw which allows the units to last longer and have higher capacities.
- Amperes –– often called “amps” –– tell you how much electricity flows between two points in a given amount of time. Appliances require a circuit that can handle the amount of amps being drawn from it, or they will trip the circuit breaker.
- Finally, watts are the electrical energy required to make something run. We most commonly see watts listed on our electric bill to show how much power we’ve used in a particular month.
Knowing the difference between these measurements can aid you in determining which unit will be the best option for your space, based on how powerful or cost-effective they are.
Types of Air Conditioners and Their Electricity Requirements
Mini Split Air Conditioner Electricity Requirements
The vast majority of mini splits require 208/240 volts. Some smaller capacity units only require 110/120 volts. Depending on the BTU capacity amp requirements can range from 15 to 45 amps. All mini splits require a dedicated circuit. A surge protector can also be used to help protect the equipment from voltage spikes.
PTAC Unit Electrical Requirements
All PTAC units require 208/240 volts (or 265/277 volts for some commercial projects). Units are available in either 15, 20, or 30 amps. Most PTAC units are plugged in although they can be hard wired if desired. Some units offer interchangeable cords while other need to be ordered with the correct cord preattached. To see the different plug faces and how many amps they handle, click here. If you are not sure which one you need, be sure to contact us before ordering. PTAC units require a dedicated circuit.
Window Air Conditioner Electrical Requirements
Window units are available with a variety of electrical requirements. Smaller units commonly run on standard 110/120 volt service and can plug into a regular wall outlet. Some large models require 208/240 volts. These units have varying plug types depending on how many amps they require.
Through the Wall Air Conditioner Electrical Requirements
TTW units are typically available in either 110/120 volt or 208/240 volts versions. It is highly recommended that you run your through the wall unit on a dedicated circuit.
Central AC Electrical Requirements
Central air conditioning units require 208/240 volts. They must be hard wired and have a dedicated circuit. Units require anywhere from 15-60 amps depending on how many tons they are.
Read Carefully, Plan Accordingly
When looking through the different options, you may also want to note if there is a picture of the plug type required for the appliance you are looking for. These receptacles can help you determine if the outlet you plan to use for your air conditioner is sufficient or if it requires installation by an electrician.
Depending on the size of your air conditioner, it may also require a dedicated circuit, meaning that no other appliances can be plugged into the outlet at the same time. This is important to keep in mind, especially if you are installing the air conditioner in a space like a kitchen, where there are likely many other things that will need to be plugged in.
Know Your Air Conditioner Electricity
Before you run out and buy an air conditioner, it’s important to know a bit about how the electricity for an AC system works, so you can make sure to both spend your money wisely and cool your home efficiently.
Remember the difference between voltage (electrical potential), amperage (electrical flow), and wattage (electrical power), and take note of the differences between the units you are looking at. Consider the range of power requirements between central air and window units, and how those differences in voltage can affect the outlet you will need. If you aren’t sure what you need, consult a professional who can advise you.
Finally, do some planning before you shop. Think about where the air conditioner unit will need to be plugged in, and make sure you have a dedicated outlet for just your air conditioner unit, should it require one of its own.
With some background knowledge about the inner workings of air conditioning units and systems, you should more easily be able to find the perfect option for your space.
Here at Total Home Supply, we carry plenty of units to choose from, so you can be fully prepared to beat the summer heat.