PTAC: Self Contained Air Conditioner Buyer's Guide

PTAC: Self Contained Air Conditioner Buyer's Guide

How to Pick the Perfect Packaged Terminal Air Conditioner

By  |  Product Expert
By  |  Product Expert

PTACs are all around us. You see them most often in hotels, hospitals, condos, apartments, college dorms, and assisted living centers. If you have a room that is hard to keep cool or warm, like a basement, sun-room, or addition, a PTAC unit may be just the thing you need.


A packaged terminal air conditioner (PTAC) is a compact, self-contained heating and air conditioning unit that will fit where traditional furnace and air conditioners won't, making them perfect for offices, workshops, or older buildings without ducts.


So whether you're outfitting a new motel or you're interested in supplemental air conditioning in an under-served area of your home, PTACs have you covered.

 

How Do PTAC Units Work?

How PTAC Units WorkPackaged terminal air conditioner installation requires sufficient space inside a wall, but much less space on the exterior of the wall, making them ideal for more confined living spaces.


PTAC units consist of a compressor, a heat exchanger coil, and a blower, all neatly contained within a single case. Because they're entirely self-contained, they're great for conditioning single rooms or small apartments where available space is everything.

 

Choosing the Right Heat Option

LG PTACPTAC units can heat an area by using a heat pump or electric heat. Both can use electric heat, but heat pump units concentrate the heat already found in outside air and pump it inside.


A heat pump brings in concentrated heat from outside air. Heat pumps are more efficient, but are typically only found in warmer climates because they don't operate as well once outside temperatures drop below 40 degrees F. Select units may operate in temperatures below 40, but efficiency generally decreases with the temperature.


Units with electric heaters pass air over a heating element that's warmed by an electric current. The warmed air is then dispersed throughout the room by a strong fan. These units are ideal for cooler climates because they don't rely on heat from outdoor air.


Choosing the Right Size

Amana PTACIf you choose a unit that has too low of a BTU capacity, it'll have to work overtime to cool the area, which will wear out the unit and cost you more on your energy bill.


If you choose a unit that has too high of a BTU capacity, it won't remove humidity from the air effectively enough, leaving the room damp. A higher BTU capacity can also wear out the unit by cycling on and off too frequently.


To make sure you are getting the right size PTAC, don't just rely on simple square footage estimates. There are many other factors that can have a large impact on the BTUs needed to heat and cool your room.


Instead, use our PTAC sizing tool below to get an estimated BTU range for your space. This tool was created by our engineers as a simplified "Manual J", the advanced calculation used by professionals to determine exact heating and cooling loads.

 

Step 1. Basic Info
Step 2. Room Info
Step 3. Construction
Step 4. Results
Total Load Calculations
Start Over
Cooling Load:
Heating Load:
Basic Room & Home Information
Room Size:
Zip Code:
Room Type:
Building Age:
Download As PDF
Print
* For more accurate load calculations, you can edit the detailed information below.
Skip To Results
Tell Us About Your Home
Fill out all of the fields provided to calculate your heating and cooling loads. We'll use that information to help you find the right mini split system for your home.
Select the approximate age range of your home. We will use this to make an estimate of the quality of insulation of your home.
Because different types of rooms are used differently, they have different heating and cooling needs.
Calculate Load Estimates
Temperature Information
High: 90°F | Low: 10°F
Outdoor Design Temp. determined by ZIP Code.
Next: To Wall Details
Wall Details
Select 'Yes' if this wall separates the space being conditioned from the outdoors or an unconditioned space like a garage. Otherwise, if this wall is adjacent to another conditioned space, select 'No'.
Enter the width of the wall. If only a portion of the wall is "Exposed", enter this width.
Select 'Yes' if this wall separates the space being conditioned from the outdoors or an unconditioned space like a garage. Otherwise, if this wall is adjacent to another conditioned space, select 'No'.
Enter the width of the wall. If only a portion of the wall is "Exposed", enter this width.
Select 'Yes' if this wall separates the space being conditioned from the outdoors or an unconditioned space like a garage. Otherwise, if this wall is adjacent to another conditioned space, select 'No'.
Enter the width of the wall. If only a portion of the wall is "Exposed", enter this width.
Select 'Yes' if this wall separates the space being conditioned from the outdoors or an unconditioned space like a garage. Otherwise, if this wall is adjacent to another conditioned space, select 'No'.
Enter the width of the wall. If only a portion of the wall is "Exposed", enter this width.
Next: To Window Details
Window Details
North
We assume Windows are 3'x4'. If your windows are larger or smaller, please adjust accordingly.
We assume French Doors are 3'x7'. Each half of a double door should be counted separately.
We assume Sliding Doors are 6'x7'. If your doors are larger or smaller, please adjust accordingly.
East
We assume Windows are 3'x4'. If your windows are larger or smaller, please adjust accordingly.
We assume French Doors are 3'x7'. Each half of a double door should be counted separately.
We assume Sliding Doors are 6'x7'. If your doors are larger or smaller, please adjust accordingly.
South
We assume Windows are 3'x4'. If your windows are larger or smaller, please adjust accordingly.
We assume French Doors are 3'x7'. Each half of a double door should be counted separately.
We assume Sliding Doors are 6'x7'. If your doors are larger or smaller, please adjust accordingly.
West
We assume Windows are 3'x4'. If your windows are larger or smaller, please adjust accordingly.
We assume French Doors are 3'x7'. Each half of a double door should be counted separately.
We assume Sliding Doors are 6'x7'. If your doors are larger or smaller, please adjust accordingly.
Next: To Ceiling Details
Garage Door Details
Each single garage door should be counted as 1 and each double garage door should be counted as 2.
Next: To Ceiling Details
Ceiling Details
Select 'Yes' if the ceiling separates your space from the outdoors, an attic, or any other unconditioned space. Otherwise, if there is another conditioned room above your space, select 'No'.
Enter the height of your ceiling. If you have a sloped, vaulted, or any other type of non-flat ceiling, enter the approximate average ceiling height.
Next: To Floor Details
Floor Details
Select 'Yes' if the floor separates your space from the outdoors, an unconditioned crawlspace or basment, or is a slab on grade. Otherwise, if your space is over a conditioned room, select 'No'.
Continue to Construction
Wall & Window Details
Garage Door Details
Ceiling Details
Floor Details
Previous
Submit & View Results
Basic Room & Home
Room Type
Room Size
ZIP Code
Building Age
Temperature
Edit
Avg. Outdoor Temp. High
°F
Avg. Outdoor Temp. Low
°F
Desired Indoor Cooling
°F
Desired Indoor Heating
°F
Walls
Edit
Wall Type
Wall Insulation Quality
North Wall Exposed Area
East Wall Exposed Area
South Wall Exposed Area
West Wall Exposed Area
Garage Door
Edit
# of Garage Doors
Garage Door Insulation Quality
Windows
Edit
Window Type
North Wall
East Wall
South Wall
West Wall
Ceiling
Edit
Ceiling Exposed
Ceiling Insulation Quality
Ceiling Type
Floor
Edit
Floor Exposed
Floor Insulation Quality
Floor Type
Load Results (BTU/hr)
Cooling load
Wall
Window
Ceiling
Floor
Bay
Infiltration
Internal
MRA ?
Moisture Removal Allowance: It is typical for roughly 30% of your air conditioner's capacity to be used to reduce the humidity in your home.
Total
Heating load
Wall
Window
Ceiling
Floor
Bay
Infiltration
Total
Print
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Disclaimer: This sizing tool, although based on a version of the ACCA Manual J, is for informational use and is intended only as a guide to assist with finding the best product for your needs. Since the calculations are based on the information provided, Power Equipment Direct, Inc. assumes no responsibility for inaccuracies resulting from improperly sized equipment. For a complete, professional sizing estimate, please call us at
866-554-HEAT (4328).
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Accessories Needed for Newly-Installed Units

PATC AccessoriesIf you're looking to install the unit where one never existed before, you'll need some extra PTAC accessories to complete the installation.


A wall sleeve will be needed for inserting the unit into the wall. This item should be sized to match the unit you're using it for. While most PTAC units are the same width, there may be some variations out there.


An external grille will be important for protecting the coils on the back and maintaining proper air flow. Again, make sure it's the right size for your unit before ordering.

 

Need More Efficiency and Less Intrusive Installation? Mini-Split System

Mini split systems require less cutting, are more efficient, and can provide clean and quiet cooling and heating to multiple zones in your home.

 

If you have a home with several rooms and would like to be able to utilize advanced programming options for energy savings and improved comfort, a mini split system is the better option for you. While up-front costs may be higher, installing a mini split will provide much better energy efficiency, saving you more money over time.

 

How to Pick the Perfect Mini-Split System for Your Home

 

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