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Small room air conditioner
Old 04-25-2011, 11:33 AM   #1
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Small room air conditioner

OK... another chance to use the vast resources in this forum...

I have a two story house.... with one AC unit... the upstairs is almost always 3 to 5 degree hotter than downstairs... I had thought of having the house split with two or even three fullblown AC units (one upstair, one the master bed and bath and the last the rest of downstairs)... but that just sounds like way to much to convert....

SO, after a lot of thinking... I thought... why not get a small room AC for now for the upstairs to bring down the temp the few extra degrees... I would like to have one with a remote so we can turn it on and off if we are there... that is QUIET... and that is energy efficient...

I want it quiet because I have been to some hotels where the AC unit is so LOUD you can not sleep...

Here is what I have found as options....

Sears: Online department store featuring appliances, tools, fitness equipment and more

LG Electronics 6,000 BTU Low Profile Window Air Conditioner with Remote - LP6011ER at The Home Depot

Looking at these.... they both might be the same manufacturer... but who knows...


Any suggestions? Any sights that you might know that have good info?

Thanks...
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Old 04-25-2011, 11:38 AM   #2
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Any sights that you might know that have good into?
Edit: On second read, maybe I should have said "No, but I do know of a site that has good info..."

This one: Consumer Reports: Expert product reviews and product Ratings from our test labs
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Old 04-25-2011, 11:46 AM   #3
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I would look at the Energy Star rating for efficiency, and then the dbA rating for loudness.

Go to the store and actually listen to them if you can't find dbA ratings online.
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Old 04-25-2011, 11:48 AM   #4
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I bought the big brother of that LG unit to cool my shop, and it is very nice. I've owned it for two years and had no trouble with it, but it hasn't run many hours.

These window units go on deep discount at HD and Lowes at the end of the season. I bought mine for about 30% off, so if you can wait another summer you might save some money.

I think you'll really save quite a bit on utilities compared to running a bigger AC unit overnight. Just remember to turn it off when you aren't using it.

Sound: The fans in these units seem to make as much noise as the compressors, so you might consider buying one that doesn't need to run at the highest (noisiest) fan setting.

Also, build a tight-fitting cover to go over it (outside or inside) or take it out of the window in the off season. They tend to leak air.

If you want a fun project, you could simply build a duct with a fan to move the cool air from the lower part of your house upstairs. For extra credit, incorporate air filtration or a dehumidifier. In the winter, run the fan the other way and recapture that warm air that is stagnant on the top floor. Double extra credit: Figure out a way that it can also serve as a laundry chute. Very low energy costs, and you'll have a great story. Payback period would be VERY long.
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Old 04-25-2011, 12:03 PM   #5
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Edit: On second read, maybe I should have said "No, but I do know of a site that has good info..."

This one: Consumer Reports: Expert product reviews and product Ratings from our test labs

Fixed the typo...

Don't want to pay for Consumer Reports... been there, done that... but thanks.
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Old 04-25-2011, 12:12 PM   #6
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If you want a fun project, you could simply build a duct with a fan to move the cool air from the lower part of your house upstairs. For extra credit, incorporate air filtration or a dehumidifier. In the winter, run the fan the other way and recapture that warm air that is stagnant on the top floor. Double extra credit: Figure out a way that it can also serve as a laundry chute. Very low energy costs, and you'll have a great story. Payback period would be VERY long.

Funny you would mention this.... I had thought about this at first.... buying a bathroom fan or something and just running a 4 to 6 inch duct... I was going to just run it down the stairway to see how good a job it would do... but then I looked at the cost of just buying a fan... WOW.. (note... a fan that will move more than 80 cu ft.. which is not much)

And I also thought that this should be a feature in two story houses.... if you build it when the house is being built it is cheap...

I have thought of just cutting a hole in the ceiling and floor and putting a fan that can go either direction.... but if you don't get enough volume... you don't get much help...
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Old 04-25-2011, 12:22 PM   #7
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OK... another chance to use the vast resources in this forum...

I have a two story house.... with one AC unit... the upstairs is almost always 3 to 5 degree hotter than downstairs.
Would a ceiling fan be enough help to deal with 3-5 degrees? I don't know so I am just asking because this seems like an easier, cheaper solution to me.

I also don't know if a ceiling fan would be annoying while trying to sleep. My house has ceiling fans in every room except the master bedroom, and I have often thought it would be nice to have one there too.
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Old 04-25-2011, 12:43 PM   #8
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Would a ceiling fan be enough help to deal with 3-5 degrees? I don't know so I am just asking because this seems like an easier, cheaper solution to me.

I also don't know if a ceiling fan would be annoying while trying to sleep. My house has ceiling fans in every room except the master bedroom, and I have often thought it would be nice to have one there too.
We have ceiling fans in all the rooms... it helps, but the temp is still out of whack... and my wife does not like the ceiling fans that much... I am OK with them... but since I watch the TV downstairs where it is already colder... not good for me... (and no, I am not going to watch upstairs since that is where the kids are)...

The fan in our room is making some strange noise... the fan in our daughters room is also...
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Old 04-25-2011, 12:50 PM   #9
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Any opportunity for extra insulation, radiant barrier and/or ridge vent?
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Old 04-25-2011, 12:54 PM   #10
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Have you considered a ductless mini-split A/C unit? I know it costs more than a window unit, but you get what you pay for.
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Old 04-25-2011, 01:08 PM   #11
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OK... another chance to use the vast resources in this forum...

I have a two story house.... with one AC unit... the upstairs is almost always 3 to 5 degree hotter than downstairs... I had thought of having the house split with two or even three fullblown AC units (one upstair, one the master bed and bath and the last the rest of downstairs)... but that just sounds like way to much to convert
I converted my house I recently sold into 2 separate heat/AC units about 14 yrs ago. I was faced with ripping out walls to run duct from 1st/2nd floors. So getting 2 units was the next option, but I wouldn't do it unless you're having to do a full system replacement (I switched from boiler heat and a rust out cool water AC unit which used massive tap water to cool and was deemed illegal to replace by the city). When I installed this with setback thermostats and increased the attic insulation with another 22" more (only had 2" at the time), it was a really energy efficient setup. No wild temp swings on the floor and you got almost instant heat/AC for each floor.

I'm faced with the same temp swings you're mentioning here in our current house. I've been playing with the damper controls to try to balance out the temps between floors and it hasn't made much of a difference. Talking to the Heat/AC people I know, they mentioned leaving the fan switch on 24/7 to help balance out the temp swings. I would also recommend putting in 2-3 ft worth of insulation into your attic to limit the amount of heat/cooling loss if you haven't done so already.
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Old 04-25-2011, 02:12 PM   #12
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Any opportunity for extra insulation, radiant barrier and/or ridge vent?

None affect the difference in temp between floors...

We have extra insulation and radiant barrier.... not sure about ridge vents as the roof is a hip roof and I have never seen the top of it.... if they are not there... will put them on when I have to change the roof in a few years...
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Old 04-25-2011, 02:24 PM   #13
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I converted my house I recently sold into 2 separate heat/AC units about 14 yrs ago. I was faced with ripping out walls to run duct from 1st/2nd floors. So getting 2 units was the next option, but I wouldn't do it unless you're having to do a full system replacement (I switched from boiler heat and a rust out cool water AC unit which used massive tap water to cool and was deemed illegal to replace by the city). When I installed this with setback thermostats and increased the attic insulation with another 22" more (only had 2" at the time), it was a really energy efficient setup. No wild temp swings on the floor and you got almost instant heat/AC for each floor.

I'm faced with the same temp swings you're mentioning here in our current house. I've been playing with the damper controls to try to balance out the temps between floors and it hasn't made much of a difference. Talking to the Heat/AC people I know, they mentioned leaving the fan switch on 24/7 to help balance out the temp swings. I would also recommend putting in 2-3 ft worth of insulation into your attic to limit the amount of heat/cooling loss if you haven't done so already.

I have not gotten bids on the change... but also think the same as you... I am not going to do it until the current system goes out... I do have an air return on the bottom floor and a big one on the upstairs... so I do not think that there is a lot of work (as long as the bottom has enough return air to handle it.... not sure of that)...

I have tried the dampers etc. also, but no luck in that.... heat rises... and the top floor gets more sun than the bottom... we do have solar screens on the windows, but they are the old single pane ones... not willing to cough up the money to replace them...


Mostly I am looking for a short term fix.... but knowing me it will become long term if it works OK....
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Old 04-25-2011, 02:57 PM   #14
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I have not gotten bids on the change... but also think the same as you... I am not going to do it until the current system goes out... I do have an air return on the bottom floor and a big one on the upstairs... so I do not think that there is a lot of work (as long as the bottom has enough return air to handle it.... not sure of that)...

I have tried the dampers etc. also, but no luck in that.... heat rises... and the top floor gets more sun than the bottom... we do have solar screens on the windows, but they are the old single pane ones... not willing to cough up the money to replace them...


Mostly I am looking for a short term fix.... but knowing me it will become long term if it works OK....
I would venture a guess, that if you go with a 1 unit/floor system from the current setup, you'll need to add more duct for 1st floor returns and shut off all the 2nd floor ducts going downstairs, since the 2nd floor ducts will need to be rerouted to the new unit in the attic. When I got my work done back in the mid 90's, it cost me $2800-2900 for each floor, this included all the duct (I had none converting from hot water) and new gas heat/AC units for each floor.

You may want to try leaving the fan on 24/7 (when you use heat or AC only) just to let the air temps balance out between the floors. Last summer, we used 2 high speed air circulating fans that you can sit on the floor and adjust the direction. These really work well to move air quickly. You could set it up at the top or bottom of the stairs to help adjust air temps between floors, we pulled cool air from the basement to keep the 1st floor cooler too. They're loud if you use these on the highest setting.
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Old 04-25-2011, 03:07 PM   #15
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..............I also don't know if a ceiling fan would be annoying while trying to sleep. My house has ceiling fans in every room except the master bedroom, and I have often thought it would be nice to have one there too.
Addressing the ceiling fan in M/B issue, no problem if you use a decent fan with a 52" blade, and have it turning at a moderate speed. It will add a soft background sound of constant air movement. It should not add any whirring noises or cyclical noises. If you have a desk there with papers on it, they will fly around and make noise, so no loose small papers like receipts, etc.

We couldn't do without one many months of the year.
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Old 04-25-2011, 03:16 PM   #16
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Texas Proud, do you have dampers in all of the ducts that you can get to? Adjusting airflow room-by-room with dampers is better than adjusting registers, as the register will wheeze or make air-rushing noise if closing down much. If you do, you could try closing down, not off, the downstairs dampers, and have the upstairs ones wide open. Having the thermostat on a second floor central location helps for that in A/C season.

Two-story houses, particularly with a big opening from 1st to 2nd floor, are a problem with A/C here in the south. Most two-story houses around here are built with two or more units now. With the upper floor having the big unit, the lower the small unit. Like 4 ton upstairs, 2 ton downstairs.

Then, there are those of us who by choice have avoided all of this attempting to fight physics, by living in a one story.
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Old 04-25-2011, 03:38 PM   #17
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I live in a 2-story house also. Things that have helped me...

  • Extra attic insulation.
  • In the summer, I close all of the vents on the 1st floor, directing most of the a/c to the 2nd floor.
  • Year-round, I use a 'register booster' fan (something like this Register Vent Booster Fan) to help get the heat and a/c to the second floor master bedroom.
  • Changing my 'logic' on programming the setback thermostat. I used to run my a/c using a setback thermostat, paralleling the way I have it set for heating (e.g. running in the early morning upon waking until leaving for work, minimal during the day, running in the evening until bedtime and then minimally at night.) After I retired, it occurred to me that running the a/c at night had quite a few pluses going for it: It was not quite as pricey as daytime usage for a couple of reasons: 1) it's cooler outside at night, so it's a smaller temperature differential to cool and 2) it's billed at cheaper 'off peak' electricity rates. More importantly, it lets me sleep comfortably (as I like to sleep in a cool room) and, as added bonus, I found that it keeps the house cool enough through the early part of the day (as I keep the shades pulled), that the a/c doesn't kick on until mid-morning or so. So I changed the setback thermostat programming for the a/c so that it ramps up about an hour before I go to bed and I sleep in cool comfort!
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Old 04-25-2011, 04:20 PM   #18
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Texas Proud, do you have dampers in all of the ducts that you can get to? Adjusting airflow room-by-room with dampers is better than adjusting registers, as the register will wheeze or make air-rushing noise if closing down much. If you do, you could try closing down, not off, the downstairs dampers, and have the upstairs ones wide open. Having the thermostat on a second floor central location helps for that in A/C season.

Two-story houses, particularly with a big opening from 1st to 2nd floor, are a problem with A/C here in the south. Most two-story houses around here are built with two or more units now. With the upper floor having the big unit, the lower the small unit. Like 4 ton upstairs, 2 ton downstairs.

Then, there are those of us who by choice have avoided all of this attempting to fight physics, by living in a one story.

Sorry, used the wrong word.... I was adjusting the registers.. I do not have dampers...

Adjusting the registers does not seem to fix the problem that much... in the winter it is even worse as the air does not seem to get to the living room downstairs... the powered registers that omni mentions seems like an option, but then I have a problem with getting electricity up to the registers... I don't want to run cords all over the place and I can not get into the walls or ceiling downstairs...
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Old 04-25-2011, 04:27 PM   #19
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Another problem I noticed when trying to isolate the temp difference going to the 2nd floor. All the duct runs to the 2nd floor in my house are along the exterior walls, not the interior walls. I'm pretty sure those wall spaces aren't insulated at all, this leads to a big loss in heated/cooled air supply. It's not cost effective to insulate this space w/o tearing out and replacing the wallboards.
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Old 04-25-2011, 06:21 PM   #20
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Someone told me about a duct fan. It is used at the end of the a/c line to suck out the cold air to help cool the 'hot spots'. It mounts in the grille. I am sure that there is some sort of a/c power hookup required.
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