Which Type Of Air Conditioner Is Best For A Tiny Home?

Posted on: 23 March 2019


Tiny homes are rapidly becoming more popular as people begin to downsize and simplify their lives. They're very inexpensive, and the tiny footprint allows you to save a substantial amount of money on your energy bill — in fact, many tiny homes are run completely by solar power.

Due to their small size, tiny homes have different cooling and heating needs than larger houses. An air conditioner meant for cooling a single room is typically adequate for keeping a tiny home comfortable. Which is the best choice? Read on for an exploration of the most popular options for cooling a tiny home and which is the best way to meet your heating and cooling needs.

Portable Air Conditioner

Freestanding portable air conditioners are an extremely convenient way to cool a tiny home. You simply plug them into an outlet and vent the portable air conditioner out of an adjacent window. If you opt to spend some extra money on your portable air conditioner, you can find one that has a built-in heater as well. This allows you to skip installing a separate heating system for your home. Unfortunately, portable air conditioners have two downsides. The first is that they're quite large, especially if you purchase a model with a heater. Since floor space is at a premium in tiny homes, you may not want a bulky portable air conditioner taking up so much room.

The second downside is much worse — portable air conditioners have very poor energy efficiency. The condenser in an air conditioner generates a substantial amount of heat when it's condensing the refrigerant. The reason you vent a portable air conditioner outside of a nearby window is so some of the heat generated by the condenser can be blown outside.

Unfortunately, blowing the generated heat outside of the window isn't very efficient — the thermal transfer between air and the condenser is poor. Much of the heat generated by the condenser ends up inside your home. While a portable air conditioner will cool your home, it's fighting the heat generated by its own condenser in order to do so. The result is overall terrible energy efficiency compared to other types of air conditioners.

Window Air Conditioner

Window air conditioners are another popular choice for tiny homes. They have better efficiency than portable units because the condenser is already located outside the window — there's no need for the unit to blow air over the condenser to try to jettison its generated heat outside. Like with portable air conditioners, you can purchase window units that double as heaters.

Of course, window units are not without their downsides. They're quite loud, which can be annoying in a tiny home where you're forced to sleep close to your window unit. They also ruin the view through one of your windows, and you don't have too many windows to begin with in a tiny home!

Ductless Mini-Split System

Overall, the best type of air conditioner for a tiny home is a ductless mini-split system. Mini-split systems can both heat and cool your home. In addition, they don't share the downsides of portable units and window units. They work similarly to central air systems. A condenser located outside of your tiny home continually pumps refrigerant to an indoor air handler through a conduit running through your exterior wall. The air handler is installed high on an interior wall and takes up very little space — it's also extremely quiet, which eliminates one of the problems found with window units.

When compared to portable air conditioners and window air conditioners, ductless mini-split systems are highly efficient. All of the waste heat generated by the condenser is safely located outside of the home, with none able to leak inside. If your tiny home runs on solar, you'll want the most efficient appliances possible — this means you'll need a ductless mini-split system. The only downside of a ductless mini-split air conditioner is that it needs to be installed by a professional. However, AC system installation costs (especially for a tiny home, where the conduits don't have to be run through multiple interior walls) are quite inexpensive.

If you're looking for the best in tiny home heating and cooling, you need a ductless mini-split system. Contact your local AC installation services and ask if they have a unit in stock that would be the perfect match for your tiny home. You'll be installing the very best solution to keep your tiny home comfortable, no matter what time of year it is.