Window AC VS Central Air: Which is Better?

Both window units and central air HVAC systems have their pros and cons.

For larger homes, you’ll want to go with a central air conditioning unit. For smaller homes or anyone that only uses one room in your home, then a window unit will suffice.

If you’re wanting to compare and contrast the pros and cons of the window and central air conditioning systems, you’ll find that all below.

Let’s get started.

Window AC VS Central Air: Which is Best?

When debating between window air conditioners or a central air conditioner, you need to factor in a few key points.

Your budget

While window air conditioners will cost less upfront, you will need to install them yourself or professionally.

It can cost upwards of $200 for installing each window unit depending on where you live.

Each window air conditioner can cost anywhere from $200 to $500 depending on the size of the unit.

A central air conditioning system can cost upwards of $7500 to purchase and install.

While it will be cheaper to purchase singular window units, central air conditioners will cost less to run all year round.

Size of your home

How big your home is will factor in whether you need a central air conditioning system over window AC units.

If you live in a one bedroom apartment, a window air conditioner can be suitable over a central air conditioning unit.

Bigger homes require bigger air conditioning units.

Compared to window air conditioners, central air conditioners are far more powerful and capable of cooling down an entire house.

You do have to consider if you use certain rooms in your house as well.

If you own a large home but only find yourself in one room again and again, purchasing a central air conditioning unit may not be necessary.


Multiple window units are going to cost more to run at the same time than a singular central air conditioning unit.

Factor in if all of your window air conditioners are going to be used at once or if you’re only going to keep one on at a time.

Window AC Pros

Cheaper: The average price of a window air conditioner is $150 to $500. Compared to a full-blown central AC system, you’re saving upwards of a few thousand depending on how many rooms you have in your home.

More control: Not everyone in your home is going to enjoy the same temperature. With window air conditioners, everyone can set their AC unit to their preferred temperature.

Can install yourself: If you have a buddy around, you can install the window unit yourself. They come with a kit and if you’re handy at all, you should be able to install it without a problem.

Energy-efficient: Window ACs are a great alternative to central AC units if you only need to cool down one room at a time. If you need to cool down multiple, then they will use more energy.

Window AC Cons

Aren’t great at filtering air: Central air conditioning systems use a filter while a window AC unit doesn’t do as good a job at filtering the air.

Not great at dispersing the cold air: Window air conditioners are not great at circulating the air throughout your entire house.

Can be noisy: With the window unit right next to your ear, you’ll hear it working 24/7 while it’s on. This can be a deal-breaker for people that light sleepers.

Central AC Pros

Consistent cooling: Central air conditioners are great at keeping your home at a certain temperature. Window AC units can keep a room cold but are poor at dispersing the cold air around.

Automated: A central air system can be hooked up to a smart thermostat and control the environment inside of your home. Window ACs are basic with only on and off features.

Filters the air: Central ACs use filters that do a great job at filtering out any dust or allergens that may be in the air.

Heats your home: You won’t need to purchase a heater with a central air conditioning system. Most central ACs are capable of cooling and heating, unlike window AC units that can only cool.

Central AC Cons

Expensive: With a central air conditioning system costing upwards of $8000, it can break the bank.

Hard to install: Installing central air conditioning is no easy task. If you don’t already have the ductwork required, then a professional is going to be needed.

Is it Cheaper to Run a Window Air Conditioner or Run Central Air Conditioning?

A window air conditioner will be cheaper to run than central air conditioning.

If you are running several window units at the same time, you may end up in a scenario where you are using more energy than a central AC system.

Can a Window AC Cool My Entire Home?

Window air conditioners are designed to cool down a single room.

Unless you have a mobile home or a small apartment, you won’t be able to cool down your entire house with a window air conditioner.

Final Thoughts

Deciding to purchase a window AC over a central air conditioning system depends on how big your home is, how much you’re willing to spend and how much time you spend in your home.

If you are only spending time in one room, then a central air conditioner is going to be overkill.

Multiple window AC units can also cost more to run than a singular central AC unit if you use them all at the same time.

If you have a small home, then you can get by with a window unit. If you have a large, multiple-story home, then a central AC will pay for itself in energy bills.

About Roy Cohen

Roy Cohen has a burning passion for heating, cooling, and ventilation. He aims to help you save money on expensive repairs and bring you the best HVAC products. He has years of experience behind him in HVAC repair and garage maintenance.

You can find Roy at his LinkedIn or his email: [email protected]

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