How to buy a air conditioner or fan
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Buying the right cooling unit

Feeling overheated by your choices when it comes to staying cool? Chill out: whether it's an air conditioner or evaporative cooler, a ceiling fan or portable fan, our buying guide will help you decide which option is best for you.
  • Cooling unit options
    Air conditionersEvaporative
    cooling units
    Ceiling fansPortable fans
    Cools rooms & removes moistureCools rooms & filters airCools people using wind-chill effectCools people using wind-chill effect
    Heating & cooling options availableWorks best in dry, hot climatesCirculates air & supports A/C unit efficiencyCan be used to create an indirect breeze
    Permanent and portable modelsPortablePermanentPortable
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    Air Conditioners
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    Evaporative Cooling Units
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    Ceiling Fans
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    Portable Fans

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  • Air conditioner types
    Portable unitsWindow unitsBuilt-in wall units
    Affordable & easy to set upAffordable & easy to set up Heating & cooling options on some models
    Place near a window for exhaust hoseWill partially block the windowRequires making a hole in an exterior wall
    Ideal for cooling a single roomCan cool larger spacesCan cool larger spaces
    PortableEasy to store when not in usePermanent
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    Portable Units
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    Window Units
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    Built-in Wall Units

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  • Air conditioner sizes: room size & BTUs chart

    The efficiency of an air conditioning unit is partly dependent on the size of the room it's meant to cool, and on the unit's BTU rating. Make sure you buy a unit with enough BTUs to cool the room properly.

    BTU stands for British thermal unit, and is a measure how much heat an air conditioner can remove from a space in an hour.

    Find the square footage of a room by multiplying length by width. Then match the square footage of the room you want to cool with the required BTUs.

    Room’s square footageRecommended BTUs/hourShady roomFull sun roomKitchen
    Small AC units
    100 - 150 sq. ft.5,0004,5005,5009,000
    150 - 250 sq. ft.6,0005,5006,60010,000
    250 - 300 sq. ft.7,0006,5007,70011,000
    Mid-sized AC units
    300 - 350 sq. ft.8,0007,5008,80012,000
    350 - 400 sq. ft.9,0008,5009,90013,000
    Large AC units
    400 - 450 sq. ft.10,0009,50011,00014,000
    450 - 550 sq. ft.12,00011,50013,20016,000
    550 - 700 sq. ft.14,00013,50015,400018,000
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  • Air conditioners: Energy Star ratings
    Frigidaire Energy Star Air Conditioner

    Energy Star ratings

    • Indicates the Energy Efficiency Ration(EER) of a unit
    • Uses a scale of 8-11.5
    • Higher ratings indicate greater efficiency and usually cost more
    • In-store: Look for the yellow Energy Guide label on packaging
    • Online: Look for the bright blue Energy Star logo

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  • Air conditioners: safety and installation
    Air Conditioner Plug types


    • Always follow manufacturers' directions
    • Some units are heavy and awkward to handle—get help with installation when needed
    • Use extreme caution when installing units on upper floors

    Electrical requirements

    • Position the unit close enough for the electrical cord to reach an outlet
    • Check the room's available amperage
    • Use an outlet designed for an A/C unit's amps
    • 208/230 volt models need one of three branch circuit power supplies

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  • Evaporative cooling units

    Also called swamp coolers, this affordable alternative to air conditioning is ideal for hot, dry climates. They are popular in the southwest United States, where humidity is consistently low.

    • A dynamic cooling system that relies on a simple but reliable process to cool air. The lower the humidity, the better the unit will work.
    • Can use up to 75% less electricity than an air conditioning unit
    • Filters smoke and pollution from warm air while cooling it
    • Portable units are designed to cool a single room. Larger, exterior models are designed to cool a whole house.

    Before you buy a portable unit:

    • Know the square footage of the room you want to cool. To calculate square footage, multiply the length of the room by the width. Then pick a unit designed to cool a room that size.
    • Think about water capacity and consumption. These systems require a constant supply of water, and units will vary in terms of their water needs. Greater capacity means less refilling of the unit, while greater consumption could be an issue if water is scarce in your area.
    • Understand CFMs. Standing for cubic feet per minute, CFMs are a measure of how much airflow a cooler can move through a space. To calculate the CFMs needed, multiply the room's square footage by the ceiling height, and divide that number by two. The final number is the amount of CFMs the unit will need for that space.
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  • Ceiling fans

    In areas that don't experience extreme heat, ceiling fans might be enough to make people feel cooler—though fans won't actually lower the air temperature of a space. But a ceiling fan can help an air conditioner function more efficiently by circulating cool air through a space.

    Ceiling fan size

    Ceiling fan size refers to the length of the blade span, which can range from 29 – 54 inches. Match the square footage of the room you want to cool with the appropriate fan size. To calculate square footage, multiply the room's length by its width.

    Room’s square footageBlade length
    Up to 75 sq. ft.29 – 36”
    76 – 144 sq. ft.36 – 42”
    144 – 225 sq. ft.44”
    225 – 400 sq. ft.50 – 54”

    Tip: Run your ceiling fan in different directions depending on time of year

    • Summer: Run the fan in a counterclockwise direction to create a cooling wind-chill effect
    • Winter: Run the fan in a clockwise direction to create a gentle updraft that will push warm air near the ceiling down into the room

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  • Portable fan types

    Fans normally blow air on you. But they can also be used to push warmer air out of a space. Position the fan in front of a door or window with the fan facing away from the center of the room. Portable fans can also be used to create an indirect breeze—point the fan at a wall to bounce the air off of it and on to you. If children will be around, choose a fan with grids small enough to keep out small fingers.

    Features to consider:

    Pedestal fanTower fanFloor fan
    Adjustable heightCompact vertical designAvailable in larger sizes for increased airflow
    Oscillating and speed setting optionsOscillating and speed setting optionsFixed design
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    Pedestal fans
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    Tower fans
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    Floor fans
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How to Buy an Air Conditioner

How to buy an air conditioner. When you're considering buying an air conditioner and aren't quite sure how to buy an air conditioner that's just right for your home, this handy air conditioner buying guide is here to help. Get smart advice on what to look for in an air conditioner and how to buy an air conditioner based on factors like what climate zone you live, the size of your home, what's best for your budget and more.

There are many different types of air conditioners to choose from and knowing which air conditioner to buy can be a challenge. That's why we break the question of how to buy an air conditioner into simple categories for consideration. For example, which air conditioner type is ideal for hot, dry climates? How many BTUs should you look for in an air conditioner that's meant to cool a large room? Find the answers to these questions and more right here in our easy air conditioner buying guide, and can even compare air conditioners using our air conditioner comparison charts.

Once you've learned a bit more about how to buy an air conditioner and are ready to buy an air conditioner that's right for you, you can get everything you need at Walmart for less. No matter which air conditioner you end up choosing, our entire selection of air conditioners comes with big savings. You'll also breathe even easier all year 'round with terrific low prices on ceiling fans, ventilation systems, air purifiers, thermostats and much more.

So you see, figuring out which air conditioner to buy isn't really as difficult as it might seem if you have this air conditioner buying guide and our air conditioner comparison charts on your side. And when it comes to how to buy an air conditioner at great savings, Walmart really is the smart place to shop.

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