What is a Mechanical Air Conditioner?

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Updated February 8, 2023

If you are new to the world of advanced cooling, you may wonder, “What is a mechanical air conditioner?” The best air conditioners, after all, are available in a wide array of design types, mechanical AC units being just one. Mechanical air conditioners feature old-school mechanical or analog controls, which is a common feature for window air conditioners. Mechanical units also tend to feature mechanically-controlled vents if you are wondering what the purpose of a fan is on an AC.


  • Mechanical AC units include mechanical or analog controls and may feature mechanical vents and a heat pump.
  • Mechanical controls offer reduced maintenance compared to digital control panels, leading to increased energy efficiency and reduced energy bills.
  • Mechanical AC systems tend to be less expensive when compared to digital counterparts for cooling a large number of square feet.

There are plenty of different AC units out there if you are learning the definition of an air conditioner.

Insider Tip

Make sure you clean or replace the filters as indicated by the instructions to ensure efficacy.

Not all AC types include mechanical components if you are learning what a casement air conditioner is. However, window units, portable units, and some central until are occasionally equipped with mechanical controls.

Benefits of Mechanical AC Systems

There are many obvious and some not-so-obvious benefits to opting for a mechanical system over a digital system for your air conditioning needs.

Reduced Maintenance

Digital controls are certainly convenient, especially when they integrate with smartphones and the like. Digital controls can help you easily navigate around special modes and timers on a unit like how you can on the unit in our Whynter ARC-12SD review. However, when a digital component goes kaput, it will require professional maintenance (unless you are a licensed electrician). Analog mechanical components can often simply be replaced or fixed by hand. In other words, it is easier to troubleshoot a malfunctioning knob than troubleshoot a CPU circuit board.

STAT: A mechanical air cleaner uses a mesh of material, usually fiberglass fibers, to trap particles passing through them. They both impede the particles and attract them to the surface of the fibers, where they become lodged. (source)

Simple Controls

Mechanical units typically feature a number of dials or analog buttons for control, which many users find easier and more precise than dealing with a digital control panel. Of course, there will be a learning curve, as you won’t be switching the dial to exact digital temperature readings. Once you get used to the controls, however, you will likely find them to be more accurate than digital controls.


Mechanical controls predate digital controls by order of magnitude. In other words, these were the primary control schemes before digital panels came along. This makes it a tried-and-true technology with decades of use under its belt. This has caused the various components to reduce in price, as digital components raise in price. If you are looking for a deal, go for a mechanical air conditioning unit.

Mechanical AC FAQs

Why choose a mechanical AC unit?

This depends on your personal preferences and whether or not you want a portable air conditioner. If you want reduced energy consumption and lower energy costs while still allowing for high-power cooling, look into a mechanical AC.

What about portable air conditioners?

Portable air conditioners very often feature mechanical designs, which is a boon of this particular air conditioning technology. This allows portable AC units to reduce energy consumption while still delivering efficient cooling.

Are mechanical units energy efficient?

They are known to be energy efficient while offering decent temperature control and quick comfort. This is considering one of the more efficient air conditioning solutions.
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