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Central AC vs. Window Unit: Which is Better for my Phoenix Home?

Updated April 2024

If you’re thinking about investing in a new cooling system, you may be wondering whether a central AC system or window unit is better for your home. The answer? It depends.

Central AC systems and window units each have pros and cons, and determining which one is best for you depends on many factors like:

  • Your home
  • Your current system
  • Your budget
  • Your priorities

To determine which system is the better option for your home, you should ask yourself the following questions:

Based on your answers to these, we’ll walk through whether a central AC or a window unit is the better option for your home.

Ready to install an AC system? Our team will provide you with a free, in-home price estimate on your new system or unit(s). Schedule an installation today!

Question #1: Do you own your home or are you renting?

If you own your home….we suggest investing in a central AC system. A central AC system has a better resale value and will last longer than a window unit.

If you’re renting...we would suggest purchasing a window unit. A window unit is cheaper than a central AC system, so if you’re renting, this may be a more cost-effective option for you.

However, although window units are generally less expensive than a central AC system, they do come with some potential security concerns. It is possible for someone to remove your window unit, providing them with an open pathway into your home. This is something to consider when thinking about whether a window unit is the best option for your home.

Question #2: How many rooms do you need cooled?

If you need 1-2 rooms cooled…the cheaper option would be to invest in 1-2 window units. Window units can be fairly cheap ($250-$1,500), compared to a central AC system which can cost anywhere from ($11,000-$26,000).

Not only is the installation cost cheaper, but window units only cool the air in the room they are in. With a window unit, you’ll only pay to cool the rooms you want cooled, as opposed to a central AC system which will cool your whole home.*

*Many central AC systems have climate control options and can be set up to provide different temperatures to different zones of your home.

If you need 2+ rooms cooled...the most cost-effective option will probably be a central AC system.

One central AC system can cool your entire home, as opposed to installing multiple individual window units for several rooms.

Question #3: Are you looking for a quick or long-term fix?

If your priority is a quick and less-expensive fix… your best option is probably a window unit. As discussed above, window units are fairly inexpensive and are usually quick to install, depending on the type of windows you have.

However, window units have poor insulation levels, which means they use more energy. Because window units are placed into open windows, they allow:

  • Hot air to leak into your home
  • Cool, conditioned air to leak out of your home

The bottom line is, if your window unit is leaking air, the air conditioner has to run longer and harder to keep your room cool.

Note: Depending on the kind of windows you have (slider and casement windows) and how many window units you are planning to install, installing window units could end up being expensive.

If you’re looking for a long-term solution...our suggestion would be to invest in a central AC system.

Although the cost to install a central AC and supporting ductwork is much higher than installing 1-2 window units, a central AC is the better long-term option.


  • Central ACs have a longer lifespan- 15-20 years, compared to 10 years for a window unit.
  • Central ACs have higher resale value- Unlike central AC systems which have good resale value, window units are not considered permanent, so they usually have no resale value.
  • Central ACs don’t block your windows- A window unit takes up a large part of your window, blocking sunlight and taking away the ability to open your window for fresh air. A central AC system doesn’t take up usable space in your home.

Question #4: What is a professional’s recommendation?

Before determining which option is best for your home, you should have an HVAC technician come and assess your home and cooling needs.

While we can offer suggestions, the only way to accurately determine which option will be the best and most cost-effective for your home is to have a professional conduct an analysis.

During this analysis, a professional will assess factors, such as:

  • Your home’s layout
  • Number and location of windows
  • Quality and amount of insulation
  • Number of people living in your home
  • And more

Ready to install a cooling system? Hire our Phoenix techs!

Our team of experts can provide free in-home price estimates and make sure your installation is done correctly, from start to finish.