In-Wall Air Conditioner Vs Window

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Updated February 2, 2023

If you’re in the market for air conditioning units, you’ll want to learn about the best air conditioners for your needs. This means comparing and contrasting many different types, including an in-wall vs a window air conditioner.


  • When it comes to the installation process, the clear winner is the window model since an in-wall unit will require professional installation.
  • For those seeking long-term energy efficiency, any model will be a good pick as long as it has an energy star rating.
  • A window model will provide more cooling power for larger spaces.

Below, we’ll go over the major differences between window units and models that will penetrate an exterior wall.

Difference Between Wall Units and Window Units

The type of air conditioner you choose makes a difference, and your choice may depend on several factors. For example, every unit requires a different installation method and will have differing levels of efficiency. You’ll want to consider these things when deciding between a window unit, a wall-installed unit, or any other type. The biggest difference between these two types of air conditioners is a window unit is much easier to install and replace if needed, as the window holds the unit in place. In comparison, an in-wall unit requires a modification to an exterior wall where you want to place the unit. Additionally, a window unit is much more DIY-friendly as most people will not feel comfortable cutting a large hole in their wall and will want to use an HVAC installer which will also increase your costs.

Insider Tip

An energy star rating means that you’re purchasing a strictly regulated product that is proven to be energy efficient.

While you’re researching your options, it might be helpful to review our comparison of BTU vs ASHRAE to help you decide. After all, both BTU and ASHRAE ratings provide an indication of a unit’s cooling capacity, which is an important deciding factor.

Cost and Ease of Installation

Naturally, the permanent installation required with a through-the-wall model will immediately make it a challenging choice overall. Unless you’re a construction professional, you’ll need to hire a contractor to install the unit, as it requires opening a hole in your wall in which to place the AC and will take a few days to complete. This option is also quite pricey, with the cost running anywhere from $600 to $2,000, and sometimes more.

On the other hand, window air conditioners are far easier to get up and running, often in less than an hour. You’ll be able to install this type of AC unit yourself, as they only need to be secured inside a pre-existing window. The cost is also considerably less, as you can pick up quality units for less than $500.

STAT: In 2017, around 8 million air conditioners were shipped across the United States. (source)

If you want more information on easy-to-install systems, you might be interested in our article comparing a portable air conditioner vs window ac.

Level of Energy Efficiency

Both units are pretty energy-efficient options, and neither has a particular advantage over the other in terms of energy savings.

However, there are some perks to choosing a through-the-wall air conditioner instead of a window unit. Because they go through your wall, these units can prevent air conditioning from escaping through the window. This means that in-wall models are marginally better for energy bills than a window unit.


Not all affordable air conditioner options will be a good bang for your buck. Make sure you aim for high-quality options that won’t wear out as quickly.

Keep in mind that these aren’t the only types of air conditioners available, however. For more information, read our comparison between a central air conditioner vs a wall unit.

Square Footage of Cooling Capacity

There is a clear difference in cooling capacity between these two types of air conditioners. You can expect 5,000 to 36,000 BTUs of cooling power with a window model, covering between 100 to 1,650 square feet. On the other hand, you’ll only get 7,000 to 15,000 BTUs of cooling power when you go with a wall unit. This will cover anywhere between 200 to 800 square feet.

For more information on selecting the perfect model for you, read our article on how to choose an air conditioner.

In-Wall vs Window Air Conditioner FAQs

What are through-the-wall ACs?

This type of unit is installed directly through the exterior wall of your home. This is a more permanent solution to cooling than its counterpart, the window AC.

How do I install a wall AC?

Unlike another type, such as a portable unit, this unit requires the help of a professional. It is highly recommended that you have a qualified party do the hardware installation.

Are portable air conditioners worth it?

A portable unit can be a good investment for those looking for a short-term solution for cooling. While not as powerful as more permanent solutions, they can get the job done in a pinch.

What is an energy star rating?

When you see that a product has an energy star rating, you’ll know immediately that the product meets federally mandated guidelines regarding energy efficiency.
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