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Through the Wall Air Conditioner: What is It and What Does It Look Like?


Ever since we felt the refreshing and comfortable indoor experience with air conditioners, many of the leading companies decided to focus on adding more perks to increase their marketability and efficiency. This includes aesthetics, installation set-up, air filtration system, and more options for controlling the temperature.

In our previous articles, we talked about window air conditioners, portable ACs, and split-type aircon. This time let’s tackle about through the wall air conditioners. It’s a very specific type of AC that’s a good option for buildings with no access to central air ducts or airways. But how do you fully define it? And what does it look like?

What Does Through the Wall Air Conditioner Mean?

through the wall air conditioner

The definition of a through-the-wall air conditioner is a literal air conditioning system mounted on walls instead on a window sill. Its design and features are similar to window air conditioners, but it’s much bulkier because it’s commonly used as a substitute for a central AC system. 

Aside from this, a wall-mounted air conditioner carries all the components needed to produce cool air in the room. Unlike a split-type AC, which is also a wall air conditioner, a through-the-wall air conditioner is not separated into an outdoor and indoor unit. In comparison to window air conditioners and split-type ACs, through-the-wall air conditioners require more attention and workload during their installation. This cautiousness is to prevent wall deforming due to the weight of the wall AC unit.

How Does a Through-the-Wall Air Conditioner Function?

A through-the-wall air conditioner is a standalone unit. Much like other AC systems, the main purpose of a wall air conditioner is to draw in hot air, cool it down, and then exhaust it. Hot air from the room is drawn into the chilling system where it’s cooled in the condenser with a dedicated refrigerant. Smaller rooms are then filled with refreshing air.

The good thing about through-the-wall air conditioners is they can keep the conditioned air running for a very long time. The motor also generates hot air as a byproduct of this process, which is expelled through the vents and back into the environment.

What is the Difference Between Through the Wall and Window Air Conditioner?

There are many notable differences that can be listed between a window air conditioner and a through-the-wall air conditioner. The most obvious is the dissimilarity in the installation, but it also includes the energy efficiency of each air conditioner, maintenance, and the like.

It’s good to note each difference carefully, to avoid having to spend too much money on an air conditioner unit you might not need. Thus, below are the common contrasts between window air conditioners and through-the-wall air conditioners.


As previously discussed, a through-the-wall air conditioner is mounted on the wall of a building or house. It requires a permanent location of a square or rectangular hole on the wall, and installing it can be quite tedious. However, if done right, it provides an airtight space which increases the cooling capacity of the wall AC. 

Since the installation is permanent, it’s not suitable for rented places or rooms. This reason alone sets it apart from window air conditioners or split-type ACs. Window air conditioners can only be installed on window panes or sills, hence they can be moved from one window to another. However, both systems require additional support to carry their weights, otherwise, either the window or the wall will collapse. Hence, L-brackets are usually installed for window units, and a sleeve is needed for through-the-wall air conditioners. Sleeves can be bought separately or come with the purchased unit.

Moreover, a through-the-wall air conditioner has less flexibility because it requires a permanent place for mounting. Whereas, window air conditioners can be removed and stored if a person feels like freeing up additional window space in their rooms. Both also, they require more than two people to install each unit.


Energy efficient air conditioners are very important nowadays because it saves a good amount of electrical bills and household energy every month. Both window air conditioners and through-the-wall air conditioners display this feature. The two units can cool a room efficiently without the cost of spending too much electricity. 

This stays true most of the time, especially with modern air conditioner systems. Heat pumps are also very efficient in reducing the monthly electricity costs for the house. It can keep the place warm throughout winter yet only consumes less energy. 

However, window air conditioners are less likely to be energy efficient in comparison to through-the-wall air conditioners and heat pumps. The reason can come from many things, but two of the major contributors are inadequate maintenance and improper installation. 

If the unit is improperly installed, there will be a leak from the small gaps where the air conditioner is mounted. Where there are unsealed crevices on the window or on the wall, the cool air will escape and the temperature indoors will be less likely to change. 

Window air conditioners are more susceptible to this kind of situation because window panes don’t offer many airtight privileges as much as a dedicated hole on the wall for a wall AC unit.


Proper maintenance is as significant as planning out how to install air conditioners in the house. It keeps the unit intact and going for a very long time if done right. The maintenance for both window air conditioners and through-the-wall air conditioners is similar. It follows the general rule of checking all the components that keep the ACs running, such as the condenser and evaporator coils, air filters, drain pan, a potential opening or leak, busted remote control batteries, and heating problems.

If any malfunctions or unusual activities are observed, it’s best to contact an HVAC expert to prevent further damage to both air conditioners. For instance, frequent loud noises every running time, unwanted smell, sudden loss of power in the middle of cooling a room, slow reboot time, or higher monthly electrical costs from the previous months.

Cooling Capacity

The chilling capacity for both window air conditioners and through-the-wall air conditioners is almost comparable. Much like other AC units, it’s being measured using British Thermal Units (BTU), which also determines its Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER).

Generally, the capacity of a window air conditioner to cool dedicated spaces, for instance, a small room, ranges from 5,000 to 12,500 BTU. On the other hand, a through-the-wall air conditioner has a cooling power that ranges from 8,000 to 18,000 BTU and can cool at least a 350 sq. ft. to 1,000 sq. ft. room. Still, both are good choices in maintaining a stable temperature in the house.

Noise Disturbance

Unwanted noise can most likely stem from the lack of maintenance or from an improper installation process. However, most air conditioner units make a slow and steady blowing noise. It’s normal for them to make such sounds since they have a motor that keeps the fans moving. But if it starts making loud shrieking noises, then it’s an indicator of a faulty motor.

If the basis is the normal blowing noise of an air conditioner, then a through-the-wall air conditioner will be a less nuisance to a light sleeper than a window aircon. While it’s not essentially the quietest among air conditioner units, its noise level can run from 42 dB to 56 dB only. As a general rule, an air conditioner with a sound level that’s less than 60 dB is considered calm, steady, and perfect for a good night’s sleep. It can keep running smoothly and quietly while maintaining a stable temperature during your bed rest.

What are the Features of Through the Wall Air Conditioners?

Aside from its energy-efficient technology, through-the-wall air conditioners offer many perks that will satisfy the needs for a more comfortable indoor experience. Here are the most notable qualities that should be kept in mind when buying a wall AC.

Digital Controls

Similar to its interior counterpart, check if it’s working fine after conducting maintenance and cleaning. To reinstall the fan in the condenser plating, use the same front panel of a through-the-wall air conditioner that has digital controls. With this type of technology, it’s easier to control the temperature accurately and with more ease. It’s also a user-friendly feature for people of all ages.

Washable Air Filter

Another important quality of most through-the-wall air conditioners is their washable air filter. This component of a wall AC, and in most air conditioners, is an appealing feature to most consumers as air filters can be quite expensive if they need constant replacement. 

Air filters need proper maintenance because they collect dust and to some extent, pathogens in the air to keep it fresh and free from any harmful bacteria and viruses. If left unwashed, molds will start to accumulate from the excess moisture and this results in a release of bad odor from the air conditioners.

Remote Control

Most modern air conditioners have remote controls for an easier way to adjust the settings. A through-the-wall air conditioner can also be controlled remotely, which can be paired with a smart AC controller to schedule the air conditioning experience to a much more comfortable setting.

Auto Restart

Another good feature in modern air conditioner systems nowadays is the auto restart setting. Simply said, it ensures to automatically set the setting the wall air conditioners previously had before a sudden power outage. It’s quite tedious to always set the desired air conditioning setting for the wall AC every time a power interruption happens. The auto restart option ensures periodic air conditioning to maintain the right amount of humidity in the room, even after a sudden loss of electricity.

Louver Adjustment

The louvers of through-the-wall air conditioners can also be adjusted to set the direction of cold wind to cover the desired place of chilling in the room. It can be adjusted up, down, left, and right to accommodate the entire space.

Heating Function

Aside from the option of maintaining a cool room during hot summer days, through-the-wall air conditioners also offer a heating function. It’s one of the advantages of wall ACs over other forms of air conditioners because they can serve as a comforter for a room or the entire space of the house. It provides a decent amount of heat that can be controlled, much like its chilling feature.

Programmable Timer

There are models of through-the-wall air conditioners that come with a programmable timer. This feature is good for people who are always busy to think of small tasks, such as managing the air conditioner settings. 

Programmable timers are a gamer changer because you can automatically set how long the wall AC can run before it will shut down on its own. It’s also good when sleeping, especially if you want to save more money on your monthly bills.

What are the Types of Through the Wall Air Conditioners?

through the wall air conditioner

Much like a window AC, through-the-wall air conditioners have different types and models. It’s important to take note of these differences to serve as a guide when buying a wall air conditioner. Here are the common types of through-the-wall air conditioners in the store today and their differences from each other.

120 VS 220 Volts

The vast majority of modern air conditioners, even the through-the-wall models, are made to function with standard 120-volt electrical outlets. Some larger models need a 220-volt electrical outlet, so if one isn’t available nearby, it needs to be installed to accommodate the required voltage power. To prevent this, consult an electrician and check the voltage power of the outlets in the room before purchasing an air conditioner.

Fixed Sleeve VS Slide-out-Sleeve Through the Wall Air Conditioners

Metal containment sleeves are included with all through the wall ACs to keep them in place and to prevent the wall from collapsing over time. These sleeves can either be permanently attached to the device or be taken off. If you can find a replacement air conditioner that will fit your old sleeve, an air conditioner with removable sleeves are simpler to replace.

In addition, some through-the-wall ACs with removable sleeves can also be used in a window or an exterior wall for a more convenient installation. Make sure to check the user’s manual to verify how much weight the sleeves can support and carry and for how long.

How to Choose the Right Through the Wall Aircon for the House?

Choosing the right through-the-wall AC can be quite tricky. While the process is the same for almost every type of air conditioner, it’s still important to take note of what to look for when buying a through-the-wall aircon. Thus, here are some useful tips that can help you in buying a through-the-wall aircon.


One important aspect of choosing the right air conditioner for a specific room or place is its size. The size determines how much space the air conditioner can cool, and how much energy it will cost. Much like most AC brands, through-the-wall aircons have different sizes, depending on what model is available in the store.

Make sure to measure the room size, especially the location of the wall hole where the aircon will be installed. As discussed above, the chilling energy of a through-the-wall aircon is measured in BTU. The higher the BTU reading, the larger the room area it can cool. In addition, proper sizing will prevent the additional cost when it’s about to be installed or from further damage if the wall aircon is too heavy to be mounted on the wall.

Energy Efficiency

Most of the time, consumers are keener to buy an air conditioner that saves them a decent percentage of electricity and money. When buying a through-the-wall aircon, make sure to check for brands with an Energy Star Label. An air conditioner with this kind of label is 10% more energy efficient, aside from the usual EER sticker that manufacturers claim their products to have. The government made it easy for consumers to spot the appliance that can help them save more money every month with this type of labeling.


One good way to save more money and time is to research and read more about the type of air conditioner to buy. A through-the-wall aircon can be quite expensive, depending on its size and added features. An average size wall aircon can be as pricey as $400, while the bulkier and more advanced ones can go as high as $1,500.

Air Conditioner Features

Another tip to save money in buying an air conditioner is to check if the added features like the comforter option, smart thermostat, advanced chilling, and other bonus qualities in a modern-day AC are what you need. Include only what’s needed, like the sleeves, if the budget is only good for what an average through-the-wall aircon has to offer.


If the goal is to replace an old wall aircon, make sure that it’s compatible with the old sleeve. In this way, there is no need to buy a new one or spend more money to install a new set of sleeves to carry the weight of the wall aircon.

How to Install a Wall Aircon?

through the wall air conditioner

Installing a wall aircon is a straightforward process but the hole where it will be mounted on requires accuracy to prevent any potential loss of cool air inside the house. As such, to install properly, it’s best to hire an HVAC expert to do the job. 

Here are the noteworthy points that should be kept in mind when a through-the-wall air conditioner is to be installed in your house.

  1. Selecting a wall is the first step. You must choose an exterior wall because wall ACs need to be vented outside. Considering the thickness of your wall, as well as the dimensions of your AC, can help you make the best choice. Additionally, confirm that there is a nearby electrical connection.
  2. Select a location on your wall that is suitable while making sure there is no plumbing or wiring inside. Make sure the wall can support the weight of the air conditioner and is made of solid concrete or wood, not gypsum board or any other light material.
  3. Find 3–4 studs in the wall using a stud finder and make sure that the distance between them is 16 inches. Studs are substantial wooden beams that serve as the wall’s structural supports. Your air conditioner should ideally be positioned between two studs rather than through them. For a better result, consult the user’s manual to check the right dimensions.
  4. If the walls or nearby window has an electrical connection or wiring, turn off the electrical source before cutting through an opening to avoid any unnecessary accidents. If you’re renting the house, make sure to ask for permission from the landlord.
  5. After choosing the preferred location where the AC will be installed, outline the dimensions of the hole in accordance with the aircon’s size. Refer to the user’s manual to check its actual length and width.
  6. Draw a second outline that is about 2.5 inches larger than the first one. Using the second outline, you can draft a supporting framework in which the sleeves can be fitted. This will also ensure that none of the cool and refreshing air will escape.
  7. Similar to a window-type air conditioner, build a frame for the AC by joining a 2×4 lumber that is slightly bigger than the wall-mounted AC. Fit and fill it in the wall opening and make sure there will be no gaps and crevices for the air to escape.
  8. Make an opening in the exterior wall by drilling through the four corners of the interior wall. Cut a similar rectangular frame on the outside wall using these holes as a guide. Again, make sure that the drilled hole is not big enough for the cooled air to escape.
  9. Install the sleeve through the opening, and slide the wall-mounted AC into the sleeves.
  10. Seal off any potential openings and paint over any damage to the interior walls before plugging the AC into an electrical source.

How Much Does it Cost to Install a Through-the-Wall Air Conditioner?

Aside from the cost of buying the AC itself, the fee of installing it should also be taken into consideration for the overall budget. Roughly, Php 25,000 is needed to install the aircon. While it can be done without hiring an HVAC expert, you still need the right tools and be good at using these types of equipment to ensure that the exchange of cold air and heat is smooth. Moreover, hiring a professional also comes with the perks of being able to adjust the direction of the cold air to cover all the spaces in every room or several rooms in the house.

Why are Through-the-Wall Air Conditioners So Expensive?

The market cost of this type of aircon is already expensive but the added expenses and work to mount the aircon in the house make it pricier. However, the benefits of owning this type of aircon mirror the needed budget, hence the price for comfort is justified.

Should I Change my Window Aircon to a Through-the-Wall Air Conditioner?

It’s not necessary to change your window aircon to a wall-mounted AC, especially if the former is still running smoothly. Both exhibit the capability of performing an exchange of cold air and heat from a room, hence it’s best to stick with what you already own.

If you want a cheap yet powerful air conditioning system, then a window aircon is the best choice. However, for higher quality and long-term comfort, a wall-mounted aircon is highly recommended especially if you have the budget for it.

Final Thoughts

through the wall air conditioner

A window aircon is the most generic type of chilling system up to date. It’s strong and easy to mount on a window, and the overall cost is bearable. However, a through-the-wall air conditioner is also a good choice for a longer and more permanent solution to maintaining a stable temperature inside your house. It’s much bulkier and more expensive, but it delivers a stronger chilling capacity than a typical window aircon.

JP Reyes

JP has been in the aircon industry for almost as long as he has been alive. As a child JP would help his tatay fix aircon units at their junk shop in Cavite. After graduating UP in the early 2000's, JP then started his own Aircon servicing business and within 5 years had 10 shops in 8 different cities. Fast forward to today and JP brings all his experience and expertise online to give readers trustworthy advice and reviews about Air-conditioning buying, servicing, cleaning and repair in the Philippines.

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