Whether you believe in the ongoing effects of global warming and the tie-in to inexorably rising temperatures, it’s an indisputable fact that if you live in Los Angeles, the one thing you cannot be without, during the summer or fall, is a form of acceptable and dependable air conditioning in your home.  It is therefore a strange anomaly that for one of the hottest regions in the United States, that up until as recently as ten years ago, less than half of homes in Los Angeles were equipped with air conditioning, and less than 1 in 4 had central air!Is Central Air Conditioning a Must-Have in Los Angeles?

During the past decade, however, there has been a seismic shift in the demand for basic air conditioning. It is no longer regarded as a luxury, but a necessity in improving quality of life in the home. All new-builds in the greater Los Angeles area now incorporate an air conditioning system and many occupants of older dwellings are retrofitting and installing a quality air system.

But what are the options available when it comes to installing a system in your Los Angeles home and which one delivers the greater benefits? There are really only two options available and they are whether to install single-room units or a central air system.

How do they work?

Single-room air conditioners are readily available in any big-box hardware store like Home Depot or Lowes. Typically they are heavy fixtures that are designed with the intention to be cut into a window or wall on the inside of a property, with the main venting unit on the outside. They consist of basic fans, a thermostat and an evaporator.

Central air conditioners have an entirely different structure. A system of pipes will carry the coolant from the condenser unit to an air handler that will then pipe the cool air through the duct system into individual rooms throughout the home.

What are the advantages of a central air conditioning system over window units?

Advances in programmable thermostats have dramatically improved the efficiency of central systems. The main thermostat will now control the entire operation of a central unit, turning off and on as needed and keeping the home at a desired constant temperature. Homes can even be divided in to different temperature zones and the thermostats can be regulated to alternate temperature during the day and night to conserve power usage.

Contrast this level of sophistication with standard window units that are normally operated manually and cannot be programmed to maintain a constant temperature and you can see the value of a central air conditioning system.

Noise level is also a major factor when comparing the two systems. Today’s central air conditioning units are extremely quiet to the extent that tenants and homeowners can barely hear the cooling systems operating. Apart from a quiet hum when the system starts to cool, there is little other sign that a complex cooling system is in operation. Much of this is because unlike window units, the main condenser unit sits outside of the home, typically on a roof, the side of the house or in a backyard.

There are also significant differences in the quality of air that occupants are breathing if there is a central air conditioning system installed. An efficient system and regular changing of the air filters results in a greater ability to filter out much higher levels of allergens and pollutants from the circulated air.

On a purely aesthetic level, for Los Angeles or San Fernando Valley residents who have invested in a desirable piece of real estate, it is far from ideal to have a very obvious metal structure entirely visible in the window blocking the view from both inside and out.

If you live in a studio space or one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles, it may be that the traditional window unit is a more practical and cost-effective solution, but if you are trying to cool more than one or two rooms, a central air conditioning system makes better sense on multiple levels. Not only do they win out in terms of efficiency, control and quality of life benefits, they also add to the value of your property if you are the homeowner ever considering the sale of the property.