Air conditioning is critical in the hospitality industry. You need to create the most comfortable indoor climate conditions to allow guests to relax and experience the most enjoyable time to get positive reviews and generate returning traffic.
At the same time, though, heating and air conditioning can prove relatively expensive for hotel owners. Estimates show that guestroom energy consumption accounts for up to 80% of total building energy use in the industry. Cooling often accounts for the majority of the energy use.
Choosing the right air conditioning system is therefore paramount. You want an AC system that’s powerful enough to ensure guest comfort without spending too much on power bills. This guide should help you pick the best air conditioner for hotel rooms.
Importance of Hotel Room Air Conditioning
First off, it’s important to understand how air conditioning your rooms benefits the hotel. There are four main reasons why you should air condition your rooms;
- Provide ultimate comfort: The purpose of hotels and guest rooms in the first place is to provide guests with a comfortable space to stay. A hot, sweaty room isn’t comfortable at all.
- Attract positive reviews: Hotels thrive on positive reviews, online and offline. Poor reviews from former guests can damage your reputation and cost you new and returning traffic.
- Good for your guests’ health: Excessive heat exposes guests to several health issues, including fainting and heat stroke. Some air conditioning can go a long way in minimizing the risks.
- Minimize mold and mildew: Hot, humid conditions create the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. Running an AC alongside a humidifier can mitigate the problem.
Best AC Types for Hotel Rooms
The best types of air conditioners for hotel rooms are variable refrigerant volume/flow (VRV and VRF) units, packaged terminal air conditioners (PTACs), and ductless mini-split air conditioners, in that order.
Variable refrigerant volume (VRV) and variable refrigerant flow (VRF) air conditioners, of which VRPs are part, employ unique technologies to vary the amount of refrigerant used for increased energy efficiency.
A typical VR AC system consists of a single outdoor compressor, multiple indoor air handlers, and several low and high-temperature gas and pressure lines. It’s important to mention that the VR AC only runs on refrigerant. There’s no water involved in the process, as is the case in conventional air conditioners.
When the VR AC is turned on, coolant travels from the compressor to the air handlers. Each air handler contains a fan and coil. When air flows over the fan and coil, heat is converted between the coolant lines and the air. The fan then blows the treated air into the building.
- Exceptional energy efficiency
- Supports multiple zones at a go
- Indoor air handlers are exceptionally quiet
- State of the art, efficient controls
- It takes up no floor space
- VR AC units are expensive upfront
- Require professional installation
Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners (PTACs) and Vertical TACs (VTACs)
Packaged terminal air conditioners (PTACs) are standalone AC/heater units installed through the wall. They are self-contained, i.e., do not rely on ducts to operate.
Vertical TACs are almost the same. They are also packaged units that don’t rely on ducts to operate. The main difference is that whereas PTAC air conditioners install through the wall via a wall sleeve, VTACs are installed in a closet or a similar space to hide them from view.
- Easy to install
- Long warranties
- It can be noisy, especially PTACs
- No smart/app controls
Mini Split Air Conditioners
Finally, you should also strongly consider ductless mini-split air conditioners for hotel cooling (and heating). Mini-split systems comprise an outdoor compressor unit and one or more indoor air handler units (for multi-zone mini splits). Refrigerant lines and electrical wiring connect the two components through the wall.
The biggest advantage of mini-split units over other AC types is the high efficiency. Mini-split AC units are some of the most efficient cooling appliances. They waste very little electricity.
- Highly efficient (save costs)
- Cool multiple rooms with multi-zone models
- They don’t take up space on the floor
- Eliminate the need for ductwork
- Tend to be expensive
- Require professional installation
Top Considerations When Shopping for AC for Hotel Rooms
As with any other AC shopping process, you need to consider several factors when choosing an air conditioner for your hotel rooms. These include;
- Size: AC size is measured in British Thermal Units (BTU), tons, or horsepower. 1.0 ton = 12,000 BTU and 1.0 HP = 2,544.43 BTU. Generally, you need about 20 BTUs per square foot. That figure often changes depending on the building’s insulation, ceiling height, geographic location, and other factors.
- Noise levels: Hotel air conditioners must be exceptionally quiet. Otherwise, the guests might not have the most enjoyable time. Fortunately, some commercial AC systems have indoor air handlers as quiet as 25 decibels or lower.
- The number of rooms to cool: A small restaurant may only need two or three single-zone air conditioners. However, it’s best to consider AC systems that connect to multiple indoor air handlers for hotels with dozens of rooms. Some VRF, VRV, and multi-zone mini splits support up to 64 indoor air handlers connecting to a single outdoor compressor.
- Other considerations: Three other considerations are aesthetics, features, and ease of control. An AC with a built-in dehumidifier and heat pumps is a much better investment. Wi-Fi and app control are also worthy bonuses.
Hotel Room Air Conditioning FAQs
What kind of AC do hotels have? Most hotels use Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners (PTACs) and ductless mini splits (especially multi-zone mini splits). However, more innovative solutions, such as Variable Refrigerant Volume (VRV) and Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) models, are becoming popular.
How can I cool down a hotel? Yes. You can cool down your hotel using a variety of solutions, including air conditioners and fans.
How do hotel AC units work? It depends on the specific AC type. However, most units pass indoor air over very cold refrigerant lines where heat from the air is extracted. The now-cold air is then sent back to the rooms and dispersed with a blower fan’s help.
Best Air Conditioner for Hotel Rooms Reviews
Let’s begin with a quick round-up of some of the best air conditioners for hotel rooms. We’ve mostly picked commercial AC units.
Although residential units, including portable ACs, single-zone ductless mini splits, and wall/window units, can also work in the hotel sector, specialized commercial options offer the best value.
1. Amana PTAC 12,000 BTU Air Conditioner PTC123G50CXXX with 5kW Heater
The AMANA PTAC PTC123G50CXXX is a name you’ll come across quite often when shopping for borderline commercial air conditioners. It’s one of the best cooling solutions for atypical heavy-use applications. The 12,000 BTU Packaged Terminal AC (PTAC) guarantees powerful cooling and 5kW of supplemental heat during the cold season.
The unit fits standard wall sleeves (42 inches wide x 16 inches high) and comes with a factory-installed power cord with a 30 amp 3-prong plug and a current detection device.
What makes the model PTC123G50CXXX PTAC an excellent choice for hotel cooling, though, is the wireless energy maintenance system. The wireless energy management system employs an in-room wireless thermostat and occupancy sensor connected with a single button’s push.
This allows you to connect all the PTACs on your property so that they can be monitored from a single controller. You can quickly determine whether a room is occupied if the unit in the occupied room is running, and which AC units require maintenance.
Also, the PTAC has a built-in Room Freeze Protection system that automatically activates electric heating as soon as temperatures dip below 40˚F. This can help prevent freezing in guest rooms currently not in use.
- Extremely durably
- Ideal for up to 550 square feet
- Doubles as a dehumidifier and heater
- Features condensate dispersion system
- 5-year manufacturer warranty
- You need one for every room
2. Friedrich PTAC w/Heat Pump 11,000 BTU Cool, 265V, PDH12R3SG
- Price For: Each Hz: 60 Includes: Chasis, Front Panel, Installation Instructions Requires: Wall Sleeve and Exterior Grille Refrigerant Type: R-410a Phase: 1 Item: Packaged Terminal Heat Pump Reverse Cycle Heat BtuH: 10, 600 Min. Circuit Amps: 17.0 Heating kW: 3.5 EER: 11.6 Power Cord Length: 2-1/2 ft. Voltage: 265 Power Supply: 20A NEMA Plug Configuration: 7-20P
- BtuH Heating: 11, 700 BtuH Cooling: 11, 800 Reverse Cycle Heat COP: 3.4 Country of Origin (subject to change): China
Another excellent PTAC ideal for light commercial applications is the Friedrich model PDH12R3SG AC. It’s also a 12,000 BTU air conditioner with a built-in heat pump.
The heat pump is rated 10,600 BTU (minimum) and up to 11,800 BTU (maximum). Unfortunately, it doesn’t comprise a built-in dehumidifier, so you’ll need to buy that separately.
What truly stands out about the model PDH12R3SG, though, is the low noise levels. The two-motor design, i.e., one motor inside and another outside, allows the indoor motor to run at lower speeds, sharply reducing indoor noise levels.
Also, the motors are permanently lubricated for quieter operation and increased durability. The soft start/stop fan delay further reduces transitional noise typical of compressor startups.
It’s a reasonably energy-efficient air conditioner, too, rated 12.1 EER and 3.5 COP. A separate thermostat limit for cooling and heating provides greater control over temperature ranges for even greater energy efficiency.
The universal power cord simplifies installation and ordering. You can change the heat output merely by changing the standard power cord to the desired size. You can also stack fewer PTAC models and optional power cords instead of multiple PTAC units. It comes standard with corrosion-resistant coils.
- Ultra-low noise model
- Very efficient at 12.1 EER
- Includes 20-AMP power cord
- 2-year warranty
- Wall sleeve sold separately
- Doesn’t incorporate a dehumidifier
3. Daikin RMXS Series 8-Zone Multi-Split, 58,000 BTU
- Energy efficient (Up to 18.9 SEER)
- Precision temperature control for individual rooms
- 252 Year limited parts warranty with online registration
- May qualify for regional utility rebates and incentives
- Low ambient cooling to 5 degrees F / -4 F with optional drain pan heater
A significant disadvantage of the above two PTAC air conditioners is that you need one for every room. This makes them excellent for take-away restaurants. But what happens if your hotel has multiple guestrooms. The rest of the products on this list efficiently address this challenge.
The Daikin RMXS multi-zone mini-split is the least complex of the remaining four products. It’s a regular ductless mini-split air conditioner. The only difference is that it has up to eight air handlers, allowing you to serve eight different guestrooms at a go. Even better, it allows for a mix and match of up to six different indoor air handler types in a wide range of capacities.
Most hotels prefer to connect it with the highly efficient Daikin EMURA air handlers rated 18.8 SEER and 11.3 HSPF. These units are as quiet as 21 decibels. The EMURAs can also be controlled remotely via the Daikin Comfort Control app. EMURAs come in silver or a pre-matted white finish. Other than the EMURAs, VISTA cassettes and branch provider units are also popular.
The unit is backed by an industry-leading 12-year parts warranty for indoor air handlers and a 10-year parts warranty and 10-year compressor warranty for the outdoor components.
- Multi-zone AC for up to 8 rooms
- Select from six different air handler types
- Exceptionally quiet air handlers, up to 25 decibels
- Smart Wi-Fi control via app
- Industry-leading 12-year warranty
- Expensive at over $3,000
- It can be complex to set up
4. Daikin VRV IV S-Series RXTQ 60,000 BTU AC for up to 9 Indoor Units
The Variable Refrigerant Volume (VRV) air conditioner is another multi-split AC design designed for commercial purposes. However, it’s slightly different from the regular multi-split AC in that it uses variable refrigerant flow control developed by Daikin to maintain individual zone control in each room and floor of the building.
The VRV IV, in particular, is available in 3, 4, and 5-ton systems to serve up to nine indoor units simultaneously. The 3-ton model supports up to six indoor air handlers, the 4-ton model supports up to eight indoor units, and the 5-ton model connects to up to nine indoor units. Remember that one ton = 12,000 BTU.
Its simple, versatile design and long piping lengths (up to 230 feet one-way piping) can accommodate virtually any floor layout, enabling better space utilization. Its advanced zoning capabilities allow floor-by-floor installation. All indoor air handlers come with fan speed control and operate exceptionally quietly, down to 28 decibels.
As with the multi-split AC above, you can choose from a wide range of Daikin indoor air handler devices, including concealed ceiling units, cassette ceiling mounting units, and floor standing air handlers. For hotel rooms, concealed ceiling units and ceiling cassettes are recommended.
- Condition up to 9 rooms simultaneously
- Space-saving design
- Flexible indoor air handler options
- Individual zone control
- Low-noise emission
- It’s expensive
- Requires professional installation
5. MIDEA 12HP V6 Series VRF (50/60Hz) Model MV6-335WV2GN1
Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) air conditioning systems are considered the “Rolls Royce” of commercial heating and air conditioning.
The appliances use a refrigerant as the only coolant material and employ inverter compressors that allow lowering power consumption with partial heating/cooling loads. They also comprise several air handlers connecting to one outdoor unit, making them ideal for hotels with multiple guest rooms.
The MIDEA 12HP V6 employs an EVI compressor that significantly increases heating and cooling capacity under extreme conditions. Evaporating temperatures (during cooling) and condensing temperatures (during heating) are adjusted depending on outdoor and indoor temperatures to maximize energy efficiency without compromising comfort.
Alongside the automated temperature adjustments, guests and staff can select operating modes (cool, heat, dry, fan, or auto), choose speed levels (low, medium, high, or auto), and select operating modes.
A single outdoor unit can connect to up to 64 indoor units, each of which is independently controlled. More importantly, these indoor units can operate at 130% of regular capacity whenever necessary.
The V6 has a piping length of 1,000m and operates at temperatures as low as -5˚C in cooling and -25˚C in heating mode.
- Connects to up to 64 indoor air handlers
- Increase heating/cooling capacity under pressure
- Multi-channel refrigerant cooling system
- Piping length of up to 1,000m
- It’s expensive
- Requires professional installation
6. Friedrich VRP36K 36,000 BTU AC and Heat Pump
- Entry Gard anti-intrusion protection
- Power cord can run either left or Right Out of the side of the unit front
- Expandable side curtains
- Standard installation hardware
- Install in window or thru-wall
Finally, we’ve discussed packaged terminal air conditioners and variable refrigerant air conditioner units above. We’ve also seen that they offer unique solutions that fit the hospitality industry much better than conventional AC types.
Now, imagine if you could combine the two! That’s precisely what Variable Refrigerant Packaged (VRP) air conditioners offer. They give you the high-level performance of VRFs, and single package convenience packaged AC units.
The Friedrich VRP36K, specifically, utilizes precision inverter compressor technology to give it exceptional performance and increased efficiency of up to 13 EER and 20 SEER. For a 36,000 BTU AC, it’s awe-inspiring.
The design also reduces AC noise significantly, allowing building owners to meet ASHRAE 62.1 1-2013 requirements. Patent-pending humidity control sensors built into the unit adjust compressor speeds to ensure optimal dehumidification.
The unit also features a 70 CFM fan to draw fresh air into the home. All inbound air is filtered with MERV 8 filters. It can operate at 120% of regular capacity to reach the set temperature faster and automatically adjusts capacity to meet specific cooling conditions.
The product is available in 1-ton, 2-ton, and 3-ton capacities. However, for a hotel, you want to go with the 3-ton unit.
- Best in class cooling performance
- Precision inverter technology
- True humidity control
- Superior efficiency heating
- Straightforward installation
- Requires 230V wiring
It’s critical to air condition your hotel rooms if you want to retain your customers and attract new traffic. However, the conventional AC types rarely cut it for hotel applications. At the very least, you need a powerful multi-zone mini split air conditioner, though PTAC, VRV, and VRF units are the most ideal.