If you've lived without air conditioning and are now thinking about installing an AC system, but you can't afford central air, here are three types of AC units that can offer you cooling benefits.
Window Units -- Unlike a central AC unit, which blows air through vents built into your upper walls or on the floor, a window unit is a self-contained device that is mounted on a window. Unlike a portable unit, a window unit doesn't take up any living space, which may be a consideration if you have limited room. Similar to portable units, window unit AC feature programmable thermostats, remote control and timers, but the drawback with this type of AC is that it is permanently fixed into your window opening and is not easy to dismantle if you want to move it to another window.
Portable Units -- Portable AC units are upright and easy to move from one room to another without needing to take anything apart. They are available in different sizes, with different British Thermal Unit (BTU) capabilities. The higher the BTU of a portable unit, the more power it generates to cool your living space. Portable units feature exhaust pipes that direct air out of your window, but they don't require the unit to be mounted into the window, because all that's necessary is an exhaust hole for the pipe. The advantage of a portable unit over a window unit is that you can place it in more areas, and it doesn't hang out your window, which can be unsightly. In addition, some flats and condominiums don't permit you to install window units, so a portable unit is a good alternative in those cases. You can also buy portable units that include a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air, which is beneficial on humid summer days. The drawback of a portable unit is that it takes up more space than a window unit.
Split System AC Units -- Unlike a window unit or a portable unit, split system AC units are installed on a wall, and sometimes on a ceiling. This type of unit features an outdoor unit known as a condenser, and an indoor unit that mounts on a wall. The condenser also houses the air compressor and expansion coils. The wall-mounted indoor unit features a cooling coil, a blower and an air filter. Professional HVAC contractors can run the wires that connect the indoor and outdoor unit through the wall so that it's not visible. Split system AC units have the advantage of being much quieter than window units or portable units, because the main cooling unit is outdoors. You can also buy more indoor units that connect to the main outdoor unit, so that you can cool more than one room. These units also offer 'zone' options, in which you can set use a different thermostat setting for units in different rooms.
For more information about your options, contact a local air conditioning company.