The summers here in Portland, Oregon are mild compared to other parts
of the country. However, there are times that the temperature outside
skyrockets and that makes the temperature inside most homes and
apartments akin to the inside of an oven.
Last summer when temperatures hovered in the high 90 degree range for
several days, I swore to myself that I would not suffer another summer
without air conditioning. As most dwellings here aren’t equipped with
central air, I had to get the next best thing; a window air
Window air conditioners present a special problem for me because of the
windows in my apartment. They are “slider” windows which means that
they open and close on the horizontal axis instead of the vertical and
most window air conditioning units are made for windows that open
There are air conditioners that are sold specifically to solve the
problem with my kind of windows. The first is to get a “mobile” AC unit
that has a hose for the exhaust. Most of these are quite spendy coming
in at the $400.00+ range. I have two rooms that I want to cool, my
bedroom and my office (houses lots of computers). I would have to get
two units and I really didn’t want to spend that much money on AC
units. So I moved to the next option.
They specifically make slider/casement AC units like this unit,
but the price of it ($369.00) immediately turned me off especially when
regular window AC units can cost as low as $100.00 (depending on BTU).
Being determined not to melt this summer, I formulated my plan. I knew
that I wanted two AC units (one for my bedroom and one for my office).
I knew would need something to mount it so that it wouldn’t fall out of
the window, and I knew that I had to plug the space above the unit
(the slider window is quite large to to bottom).
I ended up getting two LG 6000 BTU AC units for approximately $140.00
each at Home Depot. The 5200 BTU units that I wanted (which were on the
website – $119.00) were not available in the store, so I got the next
best thing. At 6000 BTU, they are plenty capable of cooling each room
(and probably a bit of an over kill considering that I measured the
rooms and I came up with needing a 5000 BTU unit).
I also got two AC-Safe Universal 5000 – 10000 BTU support brackets (I
can’t link from Home Depot (idiots) but if you want to look it up the
Internet number is 193005 and the catalog number is 100091666) so that
I could mount the unit in the window without having to drill holes on
the outside of the building. These are listed at $29.89 each.
Finally, to cover up the gaping hole in the window without looking like
a ghetto scrub, I decided to get clear acrylic to cover it. Although
plywood or cardboard would work, I decided not to make my apartment an
eyesore and went with the acrylic. I got mine from Tap Plastics
as they cut the pieces to size. I live on the second floor, so it’s
unrealistic to think that someone is going to break through the acrylic
but if I lived on the first floor I would definitely get polycarbonate
(specifically Lexan) which is harder to break. Each sheet of acrylic
was $25.00 but Lexan is more. Make sure you measure properly so you get the correct size.
So my approximate total for everything was $389.78 for two units and the materials to make it happen.
I should note something that I didn’t have to pay for; a drill. In
order to mount the bracket, you have to drill holes into the inner
window sill. I found out that my Black and Decker 9V cordless drill
wasn’t up to snuff but I was able to use my friend’s Makita which is a
much beefier 14V drill to do the job.
I had my friend Bob (I refer to him as Mister Jimmy Rig) come over and
help me with the first unit to make sure that I got a handle on how it
was gonna go down. After he showed me the first one, I was able to do
the second one on my own.
Basically, here is how it works:
- Remove the screen from the window (do not discard)
- Drill the holes into the inner window sill
the bracket to the inner window sill ((if the screws are being
obstinate, rub soap on them to make them go into the wood easier)
- Fasten the safety arm (this leans against the exterior of the
building with a rubber foot, so there is no drilling on the outside)
- Put in the window AC unit (I had to use wood as shims on each
side to balance the unit. I’m sure you could buy wood, but you can get
some spare wood to work at a lumber shop or Home Depot)
- Put in the acrylic and mark the holes so you can attach the plastic to the AC unit
- Remove acrylic and gently drill holes into the marks (Do Not push hard on the acrylic when drilling as it will crack it – I don’t think Lexan suffers from this)
- Screw the acrylic to the AC unit
- We also screwed it into the top using some clever jimmy rigging
but you can use tape to affix the top of the acrylic to the window if
- Take a drink of your beer, you’re done
NOTE: There is one thing that I found out after I mounted the units.
Because of the bracket and the shims, there are small gaps in between
the window sill and the AC unit. It’s possible that little critters can
get in through that area, but I’m going to spray mine with DAPtex Plus
so they are barred from entry. DAPtex, unlike polyurethane, can be used
by a novice and is easily cleanable with soap and water.
My office, which hit a rather warm 92 degrees this year, is now at room temperature. I’m living the good life now.