How Does A PTAC Air Conditioner Work

how ptac air conditioners work

With the rising global temperatures, weather patterns have become more unpredictable. Places that were known to have cold climates are experiencing sweltering heat waves. So people are trying to keep the climate of their homes in as much control as possible.

The most common solution is to install central air conditioning that needs ductwork to operate. This installation is expensive and needs a lot of work. Instead, a much easier and non-complex solution is PTAC air conditioner.

PTACs stands for packaged terminal air conditioners. They are easier to install and require no ductwork. Commonly found in motels, dorms, hotels, hospitals, and commercial places. They are used in places where a central air conditioning system will not work.

How Do They Work

A PTAC is incorporating a system that has self-contained heating and air conditioning. The refrigerant is pushed through, it cools the air, and throws it into the room. While an outlet on the unit takes in the hot and humid air of the room and dumps it outside. All of these actions are performed by consuming electricity.

They are installed with a vented opening in the wall. The vents are at the back end of the PTAC and they help the PTAC to throw the hot air outside from inside the room. They can also be installed in the wall with a metal shield. PTACs are best for small spaces so the room they are being used in must be small and closed.

To reduce pipings that dispose of the condensed vapor it uses a mechanism that deposits the condensed water onto the condenser coil. The condenser coil is hot so the water evaporates. This reduces the cost because it doesn’t require a drain.

How They Have Become So Popular

With rising energy prices, people are trying to find energy-efficient cooling solutions. They also want air conditioning that is simple to use and does not require an expensive installation procedure such as central air conditioning.

PTACs are best for people who want to save space and want a cooling solution that is powerful and reliable, so it has risen in popularity. They are small and energy-efficient. Unlike other options on the market, they are not bulky. Also, they are used individually so no energy is wasted.

They are convenient and a user can set up a temperature specifically for them instead of disturbing others. They also have heating options, so in winters you will not need a heater to keep warm.

New Features

PTACs have been innovated to meet the requirements of the modern user. Apart from being energy efficient, they are coming equipped with technology that cleanses the air in your room.

They have further improved the efficiency which means users are getting returns on their investment within 5 years.

If you are looking for a PTAC air conditioner then you should check out They have a wide range of PTACs. They will help you in choosing the right PTAC according to your needs and requirements.

How Does A PTAC Air Conditioner Work

Do you know which type of PTAC you want?

PTAC units are a familiar presence in hotel rooms. They’re not difficult to install, and most of them run quietly. If you want to buy PTAC units for your home, the following information will come in handy when selecting. Let’s start with the types of PTAC units!

Heat pump

PTAC units that come with heat pumps are typically more expensive than other models. The higher upfront price is worth it due to the energy efficiency; you will save on the electric bill in the long run.

Heat pumps are less powerful than electric heat PTAC units when heating a room during the winter months. If you want a PTAC unit for the summer, the heat pump option is the most appropriate choice. If you’re going to use the packaged terminal air conditioner as the primary form of heating in the cold winter and you live in a place with low temperatures in the winter, the PTAC unit won’t be enough.

Who is it for?

People who plan to use the PTAC mainly in the summer and care about energy efficiency should opt for the heat pump PTAC units.

Electric Heat

The upfront cost for an electric heat unit is lower than for the heat pump. These units use more energy and are quieter than the heat pump models. The primary reason for buying isn’t the lower cost upfront (we talk about $60 or so), but the better ability to heat is.

Even if you think about using the PTAC mainly in the summer, the PTAC will also be useful in the winter—it will heat the room efficiently.

Who is it for?

Clients interested in a PTAC model that is effective as a heater and air conditioner, too, should go with an electric heat model.

What factors are essential when selecting?

Since the market covers many models, you should pay attention to several aspects when searching for a PTAC unit.

How Does A PTAC Air Conditioner Work


Packaged terminal air conditioners cost anywhere between $500 and $1,500. Expensive models generate more power and can cool a larger space. Needless to say, units from the most reputed manufacturers come with a higher price tag. You should pay the extra buck as you get a dependable model that lasts for many years.

Along with the unit’s cost, you need to consider the price for the accessories, such as the external grill and the wall sleeve. You will pay anywhere between $50 and $100 for each of the items.

Last but not least, keep in mind that PTAC units’ consuming energy. Even if the energy-efficient models cost you more upfront than the non-energy-efficient models, they make a wise investment in the long run.


One of the reasons why people opt for PTAC units is the installation, which is less complicated than with HVAC units. If you like fixing and installing things in your house, you will probably be able to install them on your own.

If you set the PTAC unit in a space that never had one before, you will need to cut a hole in the wall. Even if you don’t need to call the HVAC specialist, you might want to call a handyman/contractor if you’re not skilled at home improvement projects.


The most important thing to remember when buying a PTAC unit is that it’s made to heat and cool just one room. Should you plan to cool the entire house, you must purchase a PTAC for every room or set up a central air conditioning system. Having said that, you need to check out the BTUs on the manufacturers’ list.

BTU’s reflect the air conditioner’s power and give you an idea about the unit’s ability to heat/cool a room. Remember that the place you live in and where you install the PTAC unit also come into play. As a result, you should get a unit with high BTUs if you live in a warm location and place the unit under direct sunlight.

Spend some time deciding the power of the PTAC unit as you don’t want to buy one that isn’t strong enough. You don’t want to get too much power either—you will pay more than you need. If the PTAC cools the room too much, it won’t dehumidify the space efficiently.

Energy Use

Some PTAC units offer better energy efficiency than others. Heat pump models use less energy than the electric heat options. Obviously, models with high BTUs will use more energy than models with fewer BTUs.


If you’re replacing the current PTAC unit with a new one, you need to get the same size and shape to fit in the present space/hole. Things are more flexible if you buy a PTAC unit for the first time. Typically, people set up the PTAC units at the ground level and under the windows.

Electrical requirement

Needless to say, when replacing the current unit, the new unit has to have the same voltage and plug that match the current one. Otherwise, you will have to hire an electrician to modify the wiring or outlet type to match the PTAC.


Air conditioners can get loud, but you can find models that are quieter than others. It’s not easy to discover the silent models, as all manufacturers claim their PTAC units are the quietest.


You don’t want to get a unit that requires regular maintenance and servicing. Buy a model from a reputed manufacturer—it must be doing things properly if it’s so popular! Check out the warranties and read the customer reviews.

The features and accessories

When buying a PTAC unit, you should also check out the features and accessories:

  • Wall sleeve- some wall sleeves can be reused when replacing the PTAC unit
  • External grill- you can also reuse it for the new PTAC unit
  • Remote thermostat- it’s always great to adjust the temperature from a distance
  • Energy saver mode- it helps you stay cool without using too much energy
  • Drain kits- you need one when the outside of the kit is close to something like a deck or patio

Frequently Asked Questions

How is a PTAC different from an HVAC air conditioner?

PTAC units are entirely self-contained appliances. They don’t require separate units (condenser and compressor) nor ducts to operate. When you want to heat/cool a single room, the PTAC units represent a better choice than central air systems (HVAC). The latter is typically used to service an entire household or property.

How long will a PTAC unit last?

With proper maintenance and care, PTAC units can last up to ten years. However, energy efficiency and smart technology developments push consumers to replace them every 5-7 years.

How much will you pay for a PTAC unit?

Similar to other air conditioning systems, several factors weigh-in for the price of PTAC units. Size of the unit, brand/manufacturer, energy efficiency, features, build-in technologies, and abilities are such factors. On average, though, PTAC systems cost anywhere between $600 and $1,300.

How much electricity will a PTAC unit use?

A PTAC unit will be 208/230 volts. The most common option for PTAC units is 20amps, which offers the PTAC unit the power necessary to give around 11,500 BTU’s of heat. The number of BTUs tells how powerful the unit is and reveals how much energy is generated in an hour.

Is it difficult to install a PTAC?

More often than not, you will need professionals to install the PTAC unit, sleeve, and grille. PTAC units are set up through a hole in the wall. They cannot be set up without a sleeve because the wall isn’t strong enough to handle the unit’s weight.

About Amanda

I love to buy a lot of products for the home, and dissect them out. I split them into duds and winners, and share the findings here on my site. As a reader of my site, I'm aiming for your next purchase to be an informed and inspired one.

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