Split AC vs Window AC Which is Best?

Split systems and window air conditioners are the most popular alternatives to central AC. First, you need to understand: split AC vs window AC which is best and more practical? These devices can be installed almost in any building and don’t require big-time constructional remodeling. But there are some significant distinctions between these two types of AC. So if you are wondering, which one to choose, keep reading this article. We provide a concise and detailed guide to help you make the right choice.

Difference between window AC and split AC

split ac vs window ac which is best

To begin with, let’s determine the difference between these two types of air conditioners.

What is a split air conditioner?

A split-system (also called split AC or mini-split) consists of two units. The compressor/condenser part is installed on the outer wall of the building, while an evaporator part is located indoors. Tubes that run through a small hole in the wall connect these two units. (You can find out more about split ACs in this article how do mini splits work).

Window AC is a single unit that holds all the essential parts in one box. Such ACs are designed to be installed in a window opening or in a dedicated hole in the wall.

The table below summarizes all the major distinctions between a window AC and a split system

FeaturesWindow ACSplit-system
Number of unitsOneTwo
PricingUsually less expensive than similar split-systemsMore expensive than similar window ACs
InstallationComparatively easy*Requires costly professional installation
Cooling capacity (residential)Limited to 2.0 tons (24,000 BTU/hour)Up to 5.0 tons (60,000 BTU/hour)
EfficiencyGenerally less efficientGenerally more efficient
NoiseQuite noisyProduces little noise
MaintenanceRelatively easyRequires professional repair and cleaning services
FlexibilityLimited installation optionsThere are certain limitations, but generally more flexibility in installation. Split ACs can be installed even in rooms without a window. Multiple indoor unit installation is possible
DesignUnified designVarious design options

* – Only if the window is fitted for an AC unit. Otherwise, it will require some carpenter’s work.

Power consumption difference between window AC and split AC

We believe this topic deserves a little more attention. Many families are concerned about cutting down their energy consumption. Some of them want to save money on electricity bills. Others are concerned about the environment and try to go green as much as possible. Since very few of us are willing to give up the comfort an air conditioner provides, we need to make sure we choose the most efficient solution.

window ac unit

It is commonly believed that window ACs consume more power than split ACs. However, you can find window ACs that are more energy efficient than particular split-systems with the same cooling capacity. Window AC unit power consumption largely depends on the insulation. If it’s not installed properly, hot air might penetrate into the room through seams between the unit and the window frame. That will force the AC to work harder and thus, increase power consumption.

Also, many people complain that their window ACs do not provide a desirable cooling effect while running on their maximum capacity. That can happen if the unit sizing is wrong. The thing is, window ACs cannot put out more than 24,000 BTUs per hour. If the room is large, that will not be enough. As a result, consumers try to get the most out of their units by running them all day at full capacity. Needless to say, electricity bills don’t make anyone happy.

Useful tips

To avoid such mistakes, you need to choose the correct cooling AC capacity for your room. You can find comprehensive charts online (such as this one).  They work for both window ACs and split-systems. With these guidelines, you will never go wrong.

If you feel that your air conditioner does not cool well enough, it might not be its fault. Often times the problem lies in poor air circulation. This is often the case with irregular-shaped rooms, angled hallways, and multi-level homes. You need to learn how to circulate air with fans in order to solve this problem.

In fact, there is not much power consumption difference between window AC and split AC. However, split-systems generally use more advanced technologies. Therefore, it is easier to find an economical split air conditioner than a window unit with the same energy efficiency rating.

What air conditioner should I buy?

The choice depends on many factors. Both types of air conditioners have advantages and disadvantages. The ultimate choice depends on your needs. Here are some tips that will help you make up your mind.

Which AC is better: split or window?

which ac is better window or split

Sometimes, choose a particular system of cooling rooms, based on the provision.

Situations, in which window AC is preferable:

  • the room size is less than 1,500 square feet.
  • you are looking for an affordable solution and don’t want to pay an installation fee.
  • there is a window you can dedicate for the purpose. Ideally, the size of the dedicated opening matches perfectly with the size of the unit.
  • you don’t care about the noise.

Split-systems work best in the following cases:

  • the room you need to cool down is larger than 1,500 square feet.
  • you need air conditioning in several rooms. Then you can install a multi-split system. This is a more efficient solution than buying a separate window unit for each room.
  • you want to avoid excessive noise.
  • this is going to be a permanent installation and you are willing to bear all the costs.
  • you care about the aesthetics of the room.


In general, people prefer to buy window units for small rooms or rental apartments. Window units are easy to install and take down in case a tenant decides to move. Split systems (especially multi-splits) are often installed in large homes and offices. There are great options in both product categories. Whether you need the best mini-split system or a window type inverter air conditioner, the market has something to offer. So what is your choice going to be?

Video Review: Advantages of Split AC Over Window AC

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