Air Conditioners in Bedrooms: Here’s What You Need to Know

When summertime comes around, everyone flocks to the coolest room in their home. In many cases, that room is the living room—the only room with air conditioning in their home. 

Unfortunately, sweltering temperatures can still persist late into the night. So what do you do when your bedroom is still hot at night?

In this article, I’ll tell you everything that you need to know about putting air conditioning in your bedroom. I’ll also show you where you should place an AC in your bedroom, and what type and size of AC is best for your situation.

Where should you place an air conditioner in a bedroom?

The air conditioner should be placed in a location so that it doesn’t blow directly on the bed. Usually, the air conditioner can be placed on the left or right side of the bed.

Here are a few other criteria for placement of an air conditioner in a bedroom:

Keep the AC unit away from heat sources

Heat sources will affect the AC unit’s thermostat reading. For example, if you have an AC near a refrigerator then the heat from the refrigerator will affect the AC’s temperature sensor.

Heat sources also include sunlight. If the front of the AC gets direct sunlight, the AC will warm up and think that your room is hotter than it actually is.

Keep the AC unit away from electronics and appliances

There’s always a small chance that water may leak out of your air conditioning unit. So keep electronics away from your air conditioner.

For instance, if you have a window AC then don’t put a computer underneath it.

Electronics and appliances also produce small amounts of heat that will affect the AC’s thermostat reading. For example, a TV (especially an older one) will produce some heat and skew your AC’s thermostat reading.

Install the AC in a space that has no obstructions to airflow

Placing the AC in an open area will allow for proper air distribution in your area.

Proper airflow is essential for any AC to run efficiently. If an AC’s airflow is obstructed, then the AC will have to work overtime in order to cool your room.

Placing an object in front of an AC will also increase the chance that condensation forms. For example, if a chair is placed directly in front of an AC, condensation may form on the chair’s surface due to the cold air from the AC.

Install the AC at a proper height

Installing an AC at the proper height is important for airflow patterns in your room. This is because of the anatomy of the human body. In order for a person to feel the cooling effect from an AC, the cold air from the AC must be blown to a height that is 3-5 feet from the floor.

In the case of a window AC, the air is blown in a relatively straight pattern. This means that for a window AC, the proper installation height is 3-4 feet from floor level.

Split ACs are designed to blow air in a downward direction. So for a split AC, the proper installation height is 7-8 feet from floor level.

Install the AC in a central location inside the room

Generally, it is best for an AC to be centrally located inside your room. This is due to airflow. When an AC is placed in a central location, airflow is dispersed equally across the area of the room.

It all matters on the specific shape and usage of your room.

For example, placing the AC at the center of the long wall in a rectangular room will provide good airflow coverage.

However, you’ll also need to take into account the layout of the room. If your room’s living space is offset to one side of the room, then you may want to install your AC in a location that is central to the living space.

What is the best type of air conditioner for a bedroom?

If you don’t have central AC, then a split AC is the best type of air conditioner for a bedroom.

Split ACs are extremely quiet and efficient. When compared to a window AC, a split AC is whisper quiet and uses less electricity to run.

However, installing a split AC in a bedroom requires drilling holes and cutting open walls. You’ll also need space outside to install the outdoor condensing unit. For these reasons, installing a split AC in a bedroom is not feasible for everyone.

If you can’t install a split AC in your bedroom, then the next best option is a window AC. A window AC can be installed in just about any window, as long as you have the right installation kit.

The main drawback of using a window AC is that it is loud—not ideal for a bedroom that you need to sleep in. Window ACs are also less efficient than split ACs, but still good enough as long as you maintain them.

If you can’t install a window AC in your bedroom, then you’ll have to use a portable AC instead.

Portable ACs are the worst option for a few reasons.

First, they are incredibly loud. Portable ACs are just as loud, if not louder than window ACs. All of a portable AC’s mechanical components are consolidated into one large box that vibrates and makes noise inside your bedroom.

Portable ACs are also incredibly inefficient. Most portable ACs use the air from your room to exhaust heat outside. This means that a portable AC is constantly dumping cool air out your window.

The inefficiency also makes a portable AC hard to compare to a window AC. Since portable ACs dump conditioned air outside of your room, their actual cooling capacity is lower than what is advertised. For example, a portable AC with a cooling capacity of 14,000 BTU will have an actual cooling capacity of around 10,000 BTU in practice.

If you absolutely must use a portable AC, try to find a model that has two hoses. Portable ACs with two hoses will use outside air to exhaust heat. So they won’t constantly dump conditioned air outside of your room. This also means that their advertised cooling capacity is comparable to window ACs.

What size air conditioner do you need for a bedroom?

For an average-sized bedroom (11 feet by 12 feet) a 5000 BTU air conditioner will be sufficient in most climates.

If you live in a warmer climate or have a larger bedroom, then consider upgrading to a 6000 BTU unit. It’s always better to have an AC that’s slightly oversized rather than undersized.

If you want to cool your average-sized bedroom with a portable AC, then an 8000 BTU air portable air conditioner will be sufficient in most climates. More BTUs are needed for a portable air conditioner because they are less efficient than window ACs.

The United States Department of Energy recommends 20 BTU of cooling per square foot of living space. For an 11 foot by 12 foot room, this equates to about 2640 BTU of cooling. So why do I recommend a 5000 BTU air conditioner? It’s because 5000 BTU is the smallest size that window ACs come in.