What Is a Packaged Terminal Air Conditioner?

Posted by: Mas Broto
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What Is A Packaged Terminal Air Conditioner?

When you’re searching for HVAC options for your small square footage space, a PTAC Unit may be what you need. This is one of the most popular options for heating and cooling small areas. If you’re not familiar with a Packaged Terminal Air Conditioner or PTAC Unit, this article will unpack what a PTAC is, why they’re so popular, and what to consider when shopping for them.

There are different types of air conditioners. Window, portable, packaged terminal and mini-split or ductless. Packaged terminal air conditioners encase heating and cooling units and are installed through the wall. Choosing which type is ideal for use depends on many factors, such as the size of the room to be cooled and how hot the room is. 

Whether you need to control the temperature in a hotel room, tiny home, or office space, choosing the right equipment will save you time, money, and hassle.

What Makes PTACs Special?

PTACs are all-in-one, self-contained heating and air conditioning units that are installed through a standard-size 42″ wall cutout. They’re easily hooked up to a power source using only a simple plug for outlets that can range from 208 to 277 volts depending on whether or not it’s a residential or commercial space. This simple hookup and the single-unit system make them economical and easy to replace.

Because of their ability to control the temperature accurately for small spaces with no ductwork required, PTACs most often service a single room such as a dorm room, small office, or hotel room. Some are even powerful enough to heat and cool multi-room hotel suites and lobby areas.

How Much Space Can PTACs Serve?

These wall air conditioners typically serve spaces ranging from 300 to 900 square feet, which has the biggest impact on how many BTUs the unit needs to have. Usually, these units serve a single room, as there is no ductwork to circulate the air, but they can work in multi-room spaces with good airflow between them.

Is PTACs Different Than Mini Splits?

It’s important to note that PTACs aren’t the same as mini-splits. With a PTAC, everything is contained in a single rectangular box that simply goes through an existing slot in the wall. There are no refrigerant lines required, so costly HVAC service by a professional isn’t necessary. This alone can save considerable cost when installing an HVAC system, along with whenever service is needed. 

Mini-splits, on the other hand, need to have a condenser placed outside, along with refrigerant lines that connect the blower unit to the condenser. This adds up to far more expensive at the time of installation, along with maintenance calls. The main advantage of a mini-split is energy efficiency, making them an attractive option in climates with more extreme temperature ranges.

What to Consider When Selecting A PTAC Unit

PTACs can vary widely in features and capabilities. Some can do a much better job of cooling than heating, and vice-versa, so it’s important to pay attention to certain factors when shopping for one. Let’s take a closer look at these next.

Climate where the unit will be installed

Will the system need to serve both cooling and heating functions? Is one season much worse than the other? Be sure to find a unit that provides enough BTUs for both heating and cooling functions for the area it will be installed. The better the BTUs are matched to the needs of the space, the more energy-efficient and trouble-free the unit will be.

Amount of square footage to heat and cool

The square footage of the space is the next major factor, as it directly impacts how many BTUs you need to offset the outside temperature. More space requires more BTUs, especially when more extreme temperatures are the norm.

How quiet is the unit?

If the packaged terminal air conditioner is near sleeping quarters, such as in a hotel room, the noise produced by the unit is an important factor to keep in mind. Some PTACs are far quieter than others, so it’s helpful to read reviews for a sense of which ones will work best for your needs.

Power source availability

Residential PTACs generally use 208/240 power connections, while commercial spaces use 265/277-volt connections, so be sure the unit you’re considering is matched up with the power source. Also, check on the type of wall outlet you have to determine which one you’ll need. Aside from the voltage and plug, you’ll also need to check the available amp supply to the power outlet. This figure will be either 15, 20, or 30 amps.

New or refurbished?

When shopping for packaged terminal air conditioners, the cost is a significant factor in the decision, especially if you’re buying multiple units at once. You can often save considerable sums by opting for a quality refurbished unit that comes with a warranty from the seller. Also, don’t forget the cost of required PTAC accessories, such as external grills and wall sleeves.

How energy efficient is the unit?

Energy consumption is vitally important to how much the unit will cost you over its lifespan. Some PTACs use considerably more energy than others, which really adds up if you’re installing numerous units in a commercial space like a hotel. Energy-efficient models typically cost more upfront, but the overall savings can be worth it.

What’s the warranty?

When buying a PTAC, be sure to look up how long the warranty is. Choosing a high-quality PTAC at a great price is even better when you have the peace of mind that comes with a warranty.

Where Can You Buy Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners?

After carefully weighing what features matter most to you and what you can afford, it’s time to shop for a PTAC. You can find these online at websites like PTAC4Less, which sells both new and refurbished PTACs so you can get the most for your money. The company also provides warranty coverage on their refurbished units, delivering excellent value.

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Mas Broto

Have been in the heating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry for over 20 years. He is person that will grow and thrive to learn more about the HVAC industry throughout his career. Mas Broto is also a blogger, who's dedicated to bringing you the best knowledge to get ahead in the game of life.

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