Summer is coming up quickly. With it, for many locations, that means heat. Depending on where your tiny home is located and your personal comfort level, you may want to have air conditioning. That is unless you are like my sister who loves to keep her home at 85°. Needless to say, when we visit her house, we are all sweating.
There are several ways you could air condition a tiny home. They are:
- Portable air conditioning units
- Window air conditioning units
- Through the wall air conditioning units
- Mini split air conditioning units
We will discuss each option and give you some ideas on places to buy what you are looking for.
A few other items that we won’t go into detail for but you should consider, especially if you are building your tiny home are; windows and insulation. I recommend you don’t skimp in either of these areas. Having your tiny home properly insulated with quality windows will make it significantly easier to keep your tiny home cool.
Portable Air Conditioning Units
Portable air conditioners can be a quick and easy way to air condition a tiny home. Setup usually includes nothing more than unpacking them from the box and plugging them. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.
Most portable air conditioning units are perfectly sized for tiny homes. They have a cooling capacity for anywhere from 150-600ft2. When choosing an air conditioner for your tiny home, don’t buy one that just barely meets the square footage of what you need.
If you do, the chances are it will have to run more frequently and work harder to keep your tiny home cool. Buying one with a greater capacity than you need will allow the unit to be more efficient. It will not to have to run as long or as hard to keep your tiny home cool.
By purchasing a unit with a greater capacity than your bare minimum needs you will actually save yourself money in the long run. It may cost a little more to buy a nicer unit now, but the energy saving will be worth it and save you more in the long run.
Another added benefit of a larger unit is the ability to keep your house cooler. A larger unit will more easily drop the temperature of your tiny home. It will also be able to drop it further than a small unit that just meets the minimum.
Places To Buy Portable Air Conditioning Units
Portable air conditioning units are easy to buy and can be found at places like:
There are other sources as well. The ones listed, do offer ratings and make it easy to find the right air conditioner to meet your needs and budget.
Window Air Conditioning Units
Window units, like portable units, are usually straightforward and easy to install. They just need a sliding window which you can place them in. Setup will take a little longer than a portable unit but they won’t take up any floor space.
Window units do have a few disadvantages. One is that in most tiny homes, window space is at a premium. If you fill one of your few
available windows with an air conditioning unit that can significantly impact the the feeling of openness in your tiny home. Another disadvantage is their appearance. Because window units can be seen from both the inside and outside of a tiny home they can detract from the looks of your tiny home.
Window units do have their place though. Many are even less expensive than portable units with comparable ratings. If you are working on a tight budget you can get more bang for your buck and save $100 or more by purchasing a window unit.
Places To Buy Window Units
You can obtain a window unit at most of the places that you could find a portable unit. Although I was not able to find any through compact appliance. The other retailers, again listed below, carried well reviewed window units.
Through The Wall Air Conditioning Units
Through the wall units are another option to provide air conditioning for a tiny home. Some of the advantages of a through the wall unit are that they do not take up precious window space. Another advantage is that you can find them with a higher BTU rating that either a portable unit or a window unit. The higher BTU rated ones may be slightly overkill for a tiny home’s needs though.
Some of the disadvantages of these units are that they require you to cut a sizeable hole through your tiny home. They are more difficult to install. A through the wall unit is also permanently mounted. Depending on your tiny home design this may or may not be an attractive option. Another disadvantage is that some of these units require a special outlet to be plugged into. You need to make sure that you know what unit you intend to use prior to building in order to wire you tiny home properly for your air conditioner. Make sure you check to see if the unit you want has special electrical needs.
Most sites don’t have as many reviews for their through the wall air conditioning units. I am a big fan of reviews and so this is another reason I think that the through the wall units are at a disadvantage. I even found that the couple of units available on the Home Shopping Network rated so low that I wouldn’t even consider purchasing one.
Places To Buy Through The Wall Air Conditioning Units
You will notice that the places to obtain a through the wall air conditioner are also a little sparser. They are still easily available but there are not near as many units to choose from when it comes to this option.
Mini Split Air Conditioning Units
Mini split units are about as close to central air as you can get for a tiny home. They offer a lot of advantages. The interior unit is just mounted to the wall. Only a hole big enough to run the lines outside is required to be drilled through the structure. They also can be used for heating. They typically are more efficient than any of the other air conditioning options.
A few of the drawbacks to a mini split are that you have to have somewhere to put the evaporator unit outside. If you are building a Tiny House On Wheels (THOW) This can be a little challenging. You would have to either mount the unit to the tongue of the trailer or somehow attach it to the back of the trailer on a platform. It is doable but a little more complicated.
Another drawback is the price. Typically a mini split is going to run from about $800 to several thousand dollars. The higher end units are usually more efficient and offer some great options. Although more expensive, if you can go with a mini split I think it is well worth the cost.
Some other obstacles are that many mini splits will require professional installation. In order to charge them and meet any warranty requirements, they must be done by a licensed contractor. This can add to the cost of your system.
Overall the advantages of mini split far outway the disadvantages. They provide the most efficient options for air conditioning a tiny home.
Where To Buy Mini Split Air Conditioners
Mini split air conditioners are obtainable through most retailers we have already listed. I have linked them below.
Mini Split For The DIYer
If you like doing things yourself there is an option in the mini split that will allow you to do so. It is the Climate Right system. This unit comes pre-charged and has quick connect fittings that you can hook up your self.
Check out this great review on YouTube to see how well this unit works. Their unit gets great reviews and can be completely installed on your own.
Solar And Air Conditioning
If you want to use solar it is possible with an efficient air conditioner. Check out this article on The Tiny Life to see how he was able to do it. You can check out his setup here. Setting up a solar system big enough to power an air conditioner is costly but do able. If running on solar is your only option or your preferred option then you could make it work.
Living in a tiny home does not mean you have to sacrifice comfort. If you are living somewhere with utilities an air conditioner is an easy addition. In most areas I would even say it is a requirement to have. Even if you want to live totally off grid you can still live cool and comfortable as long as you plan appropriately.
Having air conditioning in a tiny home makes it much more comfortable and easy to live in year round. It is much easier to plan for and install an air conditioner up front than it is to come in and add one later. If it is something that you even think you would like I would recommend planning for and budgeting one into your build.