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Types of Cooling Appliances or Air Circulators

From an Air Circulating Fan to Central Air - Ways to Keep Your Home Comfortable

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What type of cooling product or appliance you buy depends mostly on where you live.  If the area has a moderate temperature, you may only need a room air conditioner seasonally or a small circulating fan to keep your living space comfortable.  But if you live in a hot climate, central air may be an essential part of your home's comfort systems.  

Though we often think of circulating fans or ceiling fans as cooling products, they merely move air around.  They do not produce any form of cooling whatsoever but rather circulate the air, which in some cases, may be sufficient to create a small breeze that makes you more comfortable.  There are various cooling systems to consider, something for every budget from portable appliances to more intrusive cooling systems that require professional installation.   I'll break down the types so you can find what works for your home and budget.

1. Portable Circulating Fans

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Portable fans come in a variety of shapes, sizes and features with the most popular being a table or floor model that oscillates.  The oscillating feature is ideal - it enables a wider and better coverage of the room area and creates a breeze effect that can be felt in different corners of the room.   Inexpensive for the most part and being portable means you can easily relocate a fan from the living room to the bedroom for the night. 

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2. Ceiling Fans

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Ceiling fans are multifunctional in that they can provide lighting - if so equipped, air circulation and they tend to enhance a room's decor.  With an existing ceiling lighting connection, installing a ceiling fan is a task many handymen can easily complete.  If there is no existing lighting in the ceiling, an electrical connection must be put in by a qualified technician before a fan can be installed.  Ceiling fans are available in a wide range of prices, from a basic one-light fixture, to several lights with an ornate fan housing.  Since ceiling fans usually have two directional settings, this fixture can provide comfort during summer and help to circulate warm air trapped on the ceiling in winter.  It's important though that the rotation of the blade is correct for each season. 

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3. Room Air Conditioners

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There are a variety of room air conditioners and the decision of which to buy usually is based on the type of installation required.  The most economical requiring the least installation are window air units.  Portable air conditioners and multifunction - combined with a dehumidifier, are also quite popular for room air conditioning, but more expensive than a window unit.  Another type of room air conditioner is a through-the-wall air conditioner.  These require permanent installation and are not ideal unless you are the home owner.  More expensive but very versatile are mini-split ductless air systems.  These room air conditioners are mini-central cooling systems and require less outlay or work than central air. 

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4. Portable Air Conditioners or Multifunction Units

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Multifunction units are those that combine air conditioning with dehumidification or heating and an air circulating fan, all in one versatile and portable unit, that only requires a window access and an electrical outlet to complete the connection. They offer cooling benefits for more than one room because you can transfer it to where you need it most.  These units are more expensive than a window air conditioner, but are a viable option especially for apartment dwellers, because of the easy installation (or lack of).  Please note however, that air cooling efficiency is often sacrificed somewhat because of the design of these units.

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5. Mini-Split Ductless Air Conditioning Systems

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Ductless and requiring less outlay than a full central air conditioning system, mini-split cooling units ofter the home owner a smaller, less intrusive cooling system for one, two or more rooms.  Mini-split systems are considered more energy efficient than whole-house units because you are only cooling the rooms where you need the air.  These cooling units are more attractive than window or wall air conditioners and offer a different type of installation.  Prices are much lower than central air, making these ductless systems a viable cooling choice.

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6. Central Air - Whole House Cooling

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Central air systems are very popular but they do require a sizable investment and must be installed using the home's ducting system.  Though they do a great job of cooling the home, they tend to cool areas that really do not require cooling such as closets, basements and storage areas.  Central air must be installed professionally.

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7. Swamp Coolers

NewAir Swamp Cooler
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Unlike other air conditioners that use compressors and refrigerants to cool a room, a swamp cooler provides cooling by evaporative technology.  For this reason, they are often found to be cheaper to operate than central air or larger air conditioners.  Swamp coolers are available in portable or freestanding units with coverage areas that range from a small room or personal space, to a larger area of the home.  They do best in certain climates so they are not ideal for all homes.

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