Some of the manufactured homes sold today come with cabinet spaces left aside specifically for indoor HVACs units. A few don’t have them, so you will be compelled to install your manufactured home air conditioner on the window or outside instead.
Either way, you want an A/C system that can remove heat and moisture from your mobile home as efficiently as possible.
Speaking of efficiency, it is important to note that, although modern mobile homes are more efficient than their pioneers, their efficiency still lags behind that of site-built homes.
That’s one of the reasons why you need air conditioning systems specifically made for manufactured homes.
Manufacturers usually don’t make one-fits-all A/C systems. Even among manufactured homes, different homes have different air conditioning needs. They may also possess unique aspects that may require specific types of A/C systems.
These core factors determine the kind of A/C you should install in your home:
- The interior space situation and ductwork
- The energy efficiency of your home
- The size of the interior spaces to be conditioned
Because the A/C system is one of the most integral parts of any functional home, so many factors are usually at play. Some minor things you may overlook, such as the positioning of the system, may affect the quality of service you’ll receive from the unit.
How to Choose the Best A/C System for Your Manufactured Home
Here are the factors to consider when shopping for an air conditioner:
- The BTUs of The A/C System
- Compactness and 2-In-1 Design – How Space Conscious and Flexible Is the A/C System?
- Type of A/C Systems
- Noise Level
- Energy Star and SEER/EER Ratings
- Unique Technologies – Inverter Technology and AccuCharge™ technology
1. The BTUs of the A/C system
BTU, or the British Thermal Unit, is a measurement used to determine the total amount of heat energy used to raise 1 lb. (one pound) of water by 1° F (degree Fahrenheit). In the HVAC industry.
BTUs measure the quantity of heat the A/C unit can eliminate from a room per hour.
One BTU per hour is equivalent to 0.293 watts. The BTU of the air conditioner can be an indicator of its power – the higher the BTU value the more powerful the air conditioner is.
This, however, doesn’t mean you should immediately go for the A/C system with the highest BTU in the store.
Relationship Between BTUs and Size of the Rooms
Choose a less powerful A/C system for a large space and you won’t receive the satisfactory cooling you deserve.
Conversely, choose a very powerful system for a small space and you’ll incur high energy costs for the excess service. Basically, the power of the A/C system is proportional to the size of the intended space.
Because the power of the unit can be determined by looking at its BTU rating, we can also use BTUs to determine the size of space for which the system was designed. The large the room, the higher the BTU ratings the system should have.
- As a rule of thumb, the A/C system requires 20 BTUs to cool one square foot of your living space.
- The height of the ceiling may call for more power, but that’s mainly the case beyond the 8” standard ceiling height.
- Windows too may have an influence, especially when they are many and energy inefficient.
So, how do you determine the correct system for your living space?
- Start by taking the measurements of the length and width of the area you wish to cool.
- Multiply the two to find the area of the space.
- Because the typical air conditioner requires 20 BTUs to 1 sq. ft. of space, multiply the area of the space with 20 BTUs.
- The obtained product is the BTU rating the air conditioner should have to cool your room sufficiently.
- Let’s say your space is 15 feet wide by 28 feet long, the area is 270 square feet. Multiplying this area with 20 BTUs reveals the BTU rating the system should possess – 5,400 BTUs.
Such a room can be serviced perfectly by a 5000 BTU window A/C system, like the popular compact systems from Frigidaire.
- Frigidaire 5,000 BTU 115V Window-Mounted Mini-Compact Air Conditioner (With a full-function remote control) – Cost: $180
- Frigidaire FFRA0511R1E 5, 000 BTU 115V Window-Mounted Mini-Compact Air Conditioner (With mechanical controls) – Cost: $299.99
Double Wides, the largest multi-section manufactured home, comes in sizes ranging from 532 sq. ft. to 2,800 sq. ft.
This size range makes them competent enough for 34,000 BTU A/C systems, see the table below:
|Area to be cooled (sq. ft.)||Capacity Needed (BTUs/hour)|
|100 up to 150||5,000|
|150 up to 250||6,000|
|250 up to 300||7,000|
|300 up to 350||8,000|
|350 up to 400||9,000|
|400 up to 450||10,000|
|450 up to 550 ||12,000
|550 up to 700||14,000|
|700 up to 1,000||18,000|
|1,000 up to 1,200||21,000|
|1,200 up to 1,400||23,000|
|1,400 up to 1,500 ||24,000
|1,500 up to 2,000||30,000|
|2,000 up to 2,500||34,000|
There is no ideal BTUs for an average manufactured home (the 16×80 size).
So, it is possible for some manufactured homes to call for systems with power as high as 20,000 BTUs, even more. Also, note that the standard 20 BTUs per square foot can be increased a bit depending on the environmental conditions of your area.
The standard value can get as high as 45 BTUs per square foot in the middle of the winter. The same applies if you live in very cold areas.
Household Factors That May Affect The BTU
When calculating the BTU needs of your home, consider these factors:
- The materials used to make the room
- Presence of ceiling fans – fans help to reduce the temperature in the room, meaning they will also reduce the BTU ratings you need in an air conditioner
- The color of your ceiling – darkly painted ceilings absorb more heat and keep it longer while lighter ceilings absorb less and easily lose the little they absorb
- The number of occupants in the rooms – humans generate heat. The more you are in a room the more the heat that needs to be removed by the A/C unit
2. Compactness and 2-in-1 Design – How Space Conscious and Flexible Is the A/C System?
Space is a major factor when shopping for an air conditioner for a manufactured home.
Unless you own the largest Double Wide mobile home out there, you would want an air conditioner that delivers to the maximum without taking a big part of the already limited space.
Also, outdoor systems may not be particularly attractive if you live in a mobile home community or you are prone to relocating. In such cases, the most compact indoor system would be great.
A packed unit may be the best option for you because it comes as a heat pump that can perform both cooling and heating tasks.
If gas is the most affordable heating option in your location, you can go for a “gas pack” which is a 2-in-1 unit consisting of an air conditioner and a gas-powered furnace.
Either way, this unit is normally installed outside your home and linked to indoor spaces with light ductwork.
Some manufactured homes come with a specially designed interior cabinet or special space designed to hold an A/C system. You can expect such homes to come with ductwork already installed as well. They are the best type of homes if you are planning to buy an indoor space-saving A/C system.
There are brands that produce compact systems made specifically for manufactured homes. Such units are designed to fit in some of the smallest unused areas you can have in your home.
HVAC brands like Coleman, for example, produce units that can operate with zero clearance around them. Coleman’s MG9S series is known for achieving 95% AFUE efficiency in a small 33” cabinet.
3. Type of A/C systems
There is the right type of air conditioner for every home. The trick to choosing the correct type is to understand your needs first.
There are three types of A/Cs based on the location of installation:
- Through the wall or Window units
- Portable units
- Ductless units
Through the window A/Cs
This type is designed to cool an open space or one room. They are very popular among mobile homeowners.
Most of them fall in the brackets of 5,000 – 12,000 BTUs and 18,000 BTUs. Their price tags seldom get out of the $600 and $1,200 margins.
- They can be positioned a window or via the wall and occupies no floor space
- They are semi-portable – you can fit them on the window for the time being only to remove when you want to move to another room.
- They block your view through the window besides being aesthetically unpleasant
- They only one section of your home or one room
Probably the cheapest air conditioners you can ever lay your hands on. They are best effective when you need to cool a smaller room, say, the bedroom.
They are standalone units that require no installation.
They are not as efficient as their window-based alternatives although they are capable of generating between 9,000 BTUs and 12,0000 BTUs.
The best thing about this type of A/Cs is that you can carry them to whichever room you please in the home.
The cost of portable units rarely falls out of the $300 and $600 range.
- The cheapest cooling option out there
- They are highly portable
- They can take up a significant amount of floor space
- Though highly portable, some units can weigh over 25 lbs.
- Not pleasing to the eye
This type of A/Cs is a perfect combination of value and comfort. The reason why they are perfect for manufactured homes is that they don’t require you to install the ductwork for them to operate.
For many homeowners, the shallow silhouette and the compact footprint makes this type of A/C highly preferable.
The best part is that the homeowner is allowed to mount multiple encased blowers, typically floor or wall mounted air handlers, in several rooms, all adequately powered by a single system.
Ductless-mini splits are some of the most expensive A/Cs out there with an average unit going at over $1,000. The more the handlers you opt for, the higher the price.
- They are easier to install in most of the modern mobile homes
- They are the quietest A/Cs out there
- Allows total-home comfort, thanks to the multi-zone systems
- They are some of the costliest air conditioning systems you can ever buy
- May require a qualified professional to do the installation, which costs extra money
4. Noise Level
How loud is your prospective A/C model?
Most of the units you will find in stores produce noise in the range of 75 dB. and 80 dB.
That’s way less than a typical vacuum cleaner found in most homes. Smaller portable and semi-portable units tend to produce more noise compared to larger options.
The larger Mini-Split Ductless units are barely audible.
Why is noise level such a big factor?
- Firstly, you need a peaceful and uninterrupted sleep while receiving the service of the A/C unit. It better be silent, otherwise, you’re not going to sleep properly.
- Secondly, a noisy unit can upset your pets.
- And if it requires to be installed outside or at the window, there is a strong chance it will upset the neighbors as well.
5. Energy Star and SEER/EER ratings
Only the energy-efficient air conditioners are awarded an Energy Star label.
The Energy Star program was launched to encourage manufacturers to produce energy-efficient products that save the money of users and protect the environment.
But what does the Energy Star mean for the A/C system?
These systems tend to use about 8% less energy compared to conventional new models.
The lowest SEER value the air conditioner can have is 13 while the highest is 22.
Most air conditioners come with between 14.5 SEER and 22 SEER.
So, basically, the reason why you should look for the Energy Star label on the air conditioner unit is to determine its efficiency and the amount of money it could save you.
6. Unique Technologies – Inverter Technology & AccuCharge™ Technology
These two technologies don’t need to appear together in an A/C unit, but each goes a long way to ensure you have a good experience with the system.
Systems with this technology cut wasted operations by efficiently controlling the speed of their motors without much intervention from the user.
Units without this technology don’t make adjustments to the speed of the fan during the normal cooling session – the fan is only controlled by switching the unit on/off.
Because room temperatures occur in a spectrum, inverter technology is a must-have feature in any A/C unit if you want to have complete control on each temperature point and still save money in energy bills.
Some manufacturers still ship air conditioners without this valuable technology.
That’s partly because consumers pay too much attention to BTUs and the SEER side of efficiency instead of some unique efficiency technologies that may be onboard.
AccuCharge™ technology can mean different things depending on the electrical equipment. In A/C units, it serves to ease the installation process and removes the need for a professional.
Systems with this technology are also easier to balance. Fast installation means the system will be up and running in no time and fewer dollars spent.
Revolv™ is a sort of authority in the market segment of A/C units with AccuCharge™ technology.
Here are some of their 14 SEER models (14 SEER being just the perfect SEER you want in a unit made for manufactured homes) specifically made for manufactured homes:
- Revolv™ 2 Ton 14 SEER Revolv AccuCharge Mobile Home Air Conditioner & Coil System – Cost: $1,800
- Revolv™ 3 Ton 14 SEER Revolv AccuCharge Mobile Home Air Conditioner & Coil System – Cost: $2,015
Bigger Isn’t Necessarily Better
Air conditioners are some of the few home equipment that doesn’t conform with the “bigger is better” notion.
Yes, a bigger A/C system will cool your space faster, but do you really want it to do it that fast?
In fact, a fast cooling system would impede the purpose of having it running in the first place. You know, the unit extracts some moisture from the environment around the same time it cools the air.
Installing the most powerful unit in a tiny room will cause you to feel sticky and dry because it will be a point where no more moisture can be extracted from the air.
There is no real danger of installing a large air conditioner in small spaces, except for the pain you will get paying the bloated energy bills.