It’s easy to find yourself wondering if a window air conditioner can be installed in a typical through the wall air conditioning sleeve. Both window and through-the-wall units look-alike in proportion, shape, and cooling capacities.
However, standard window air conditioners should not be used interchangeably with units designed to be built-in or installed through a wall.
A standard window-mounted air conditioner should not be installed in a through-the-wall air conditioner sleeve (or wall sleeve). Installing a standard window unit into a through the wall air conditioner sleeve would significantly inhibit the ability of the unit to vent properly.
Installing a standard window unit into a through-the-wall air conditioner sleeve would significantly restricting the ability of the air conditioner to vent properly. In addition to impacting its performance, it will also reduce its energy efficiency and product life.
What Is an Air Conditioner Sleeve?
An air conditioner sleeve is a device that holds an air conditioner in place. Window air conditioners are sold with their sleeve while through-the-wall air conditioner sleeves are sold separately. Window air conditioner sleeves are meant to hold the weight of a window air conditioner in most standard-sized windows.
Through-the-wall air conditioner, sleeves are constructed to hold the weight of an air conditioner securely between an interior and exterior wall. Since walls cannot hold heavy objects, the wall sleeve will secure the chassis in place.
Most sleeves come with an exterior grille. Exterior grills can be customized to blend in with the exterior of a residence. Often, the question comes up as to why a window air conditioner can’t be installed in an existing through the wall sleeve.
Installing a standard window unit into a through-the-wall air conditioner sleeve would significantly inhibit the ability of the unit to vent properly. In addition to impacting its performance, energy efficiency, and product life.
- Window air conditioners have side (and rear) vents that allow the unit to breathe.
- The vents on an air conditioner’s chassis line up with its sleeve for the unit to breathe properly.
- If the unit does not vent properly, or if a vent is covered by part of the sleeve holding it, the unit can overheat.
- Overheating can damage the compressor, break the unit and nullify a warranty.
Window Air Conditioners vs. Through-the-Wall Air Conditioners
Window and wall units are an affordable way to cool a home without central air. They are also great supplements to homes with central air in rooms that might need additional cooling like a garage or the second floor of a house.
Similarities Between Window and Through-the-Wall Air Conditioners
When deciding between the two, there are some similarities worth taking note of. Here’s a quick look at how window and through the wall units are the same:
- Both are designed to cool one room at a time, or a few smaller rooms at most.
- They are sold with different modes, such as cooling or fan-only modes.
- The cooling mode takes the air in the room, lowers its temperature, and sends it back into the room.
- The fan-only option saves energy by moving air without cooling it.
- Unlike central HVAC systems’ wall-mounted thermostats, window, and wall units regulate the temperature with built-in thermostats.
Differences Between Window and Through-the-Wall Air Conditioners
When deciding between the two, there are quite a few differences worth taking note of as well. Here’s a quick look at how window and through the wall units differ:
- Wall air conditioners are installed through an exterior wall.
- Inside, wall units can be easier to decorate around or otherwise obscure, and they don’t block the view as a window unit.
- Window units take up window space and for some, don’t appear as clean or permanent, from the inside of the dwelling. However, they are much easier to install than a wall unit.
- Window units are a good bet for a short-term cooling solution since they’re cheaper and easier to install however tend not to last as long.
- Alternatively, through-the-wall air conditioners can be a better long-term option, since they are more permanently installed and last longer. They’re also easy to replace when there is an existing sleeve already installed.
- Properly installed through-the-wall air conditioners are sealed better than window units, which means they use less electricity.
- While a through-the-wall air conditioner may cost more upfront because of the installation required, these units can make up the cost difference overall in energy savings.
The major differences between these two types of air conditioners are how they are initially installed and how they vent the air around them.
BTU vs. Square Feet Differences
Window Air Conditioners
Window air conditioners are designed to cool one or multiple rooms that don’t have access to sufficient cooling. Usually, window air conditioners have a BTU range from 5,000 to 36,000, which means that they can cool an area from 100 to 1,650 square feet.
Window air conditioners are designed to fit through most standard-sized windows. These units are sold complete with chassis and sleeve. They do not normally require permanent installation and can be moved fairly easily. Window air conditioning units’ vent through the rear and sides. For them to do this properly, the container or sleeve that holds them in place needs to allow for rear and side ventilation also.
These units can usually be installed in a double-hung window and typically comes with a side accordion sleeve (which can be removed). The sleeves are not normally interchangeable with each other. If your window air conditioner sleeve needs to be replaced, you will need to purchase a specific model to fit your exact air conditioning unit.
Through-the-Wall Air Conditioners
Through the wall air conditioners are excellent for areas of your house that may not be connected to the central system, such as a garage. These units have a BTU range between 7,000 to 15,000, with a coverage area between 200 to 800 square feet.
Through-the-wall air conditioners are installed in a hole in an exterior wall and require installation of a sleeve due to their weight. Through-the-wall air conditioners are built into a wall and are not sold with a sleeve. The sleeve for this type of unit is sold separately.
Since through the wall air conditioners are built into the wall, they normally require permanent installation and cannot be moved easily. Through-the-wall air conditioners vent through the rear of the air conditioner. For them to do this properly, the container or sleeve that holds them in place needs to allow for rear ventilation also.
Through-the-wall air conditioner, sleeves can be used with any rear venting wall sleeve that fits your unit, making them interchangeable.
What are the pros and cons of buying a window air conditioner?
Window air conditioners are an affordable solution for cool air. Not only are they less expensive however, they are also easy to install and remove. These are more portable than a through the wall unit, and less portable than a portable air conditioner.
Window air conditioners tend to be on the noisy end and occasionally leak water. People often do not like their visual appearance or how they block window space.
What are the pros and cons of buying a through-the-wall air conditioner?
There are many pros to purchasing a through-the-wall air conditioner. Not only do these units help save space in a room they also free up valuable window space. These units are typically more energy-efficient, last longer, and are considered a long-term solution when compared to similar-sized air conditioners.
Through the wall air conditioners are great once installed. The major drawback to purchasing this type of unit is its complicated initial installation and coverage area.