The best air conditioner types for mobile home use include a central air conditioner, mini split air conditioner or window air conditioner aka room air conditioner.
Factors in deciding the right mobile home AC type are your climate, your home’s age and its layout.
Terminology – Mobile homes are also called manufactured homes, HUD homes and trailers. And the term modular home is used, but that’s a term better suited to a different type of home.
This page discusses your options for equipment to air condition your mobile home.
It includes mobile home air conditioning prices for you to compare.
Central Air Conditioning for a Mobile Home
Central air conditioning comes in two forms, a traditional split system and a package unit. Both require ductwork within the home and are controlled by a wall thermostat. WiFi thermostats are available.
Package system central air conditioner: A package AC system is ideal for a mobile home because all of the cooling and heating equipment is outdoors. This overcomes the space limitations found in many mobile homes.
Split system central air conditioner: These systems have a condensing unit outdoors and an air handler indoors. The air handler can be a furnace. An evaporator coil is placed in or adjacent to the furnace.
The bad news is that not all mobile homes can accommodate split system air conditioning equipment. Often space limitations within the home or the home’s design/construction prohibit their use.
Tip: An HVAC contractor will quickly be able to determine what equipment your home can accommodate.
Pros and Cons
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of traditional central air.
- Efficiency: These systems provide more efficient cooling than room air conditioners– efficiency ratings are up to 15 SEER2 when buying a unit designed for mobile home use. Unfortunately, if you have to choose a unit designed specifically for a mobile home, efficiency isn’t as high as if you can buy a system from a standard brand like Lennox or Trane.
- Cost: Fairly affordable for central air conditioning.
- Durability: Longevity of 14 to 20 years is common.
- Efficiency: Split and packaged systems are not as efficient as mini split air conditioners, which are discussed next.
- Cost: Central air conditioning of all types is much more expensive than window air conditioners – even if you buy 2-4 window air conditioners for various rooms in the house.
- Ductwork: The ducts need to be in good condition to make using a ducted central air conditioner system worthwhile. In older homes, the ductwork is sometimes leaky. Duct sections might be disconnected. Or the ducts could be dirty and hazardous. In any of these scenarios, another mobile home AC type will be preferred.
- Compatibility issues: As noted, your mobile home might not be set up to accommodate a split system. But there are other good options!
Furnace/AC combination package units are ideal for cold climates. Heat pump package systems are best for warm and hot climates when some heat is needed. An AC-only system can be chosen for a home when no heating is needed, which is rare.
Mini Split Central Air Conditioning for a Mobile Home
A mini split HVAC system is also called a ductless system – and that is a great design for a mobile home!
No ductwork is required. First, many mobile homes do not have return air ductwork, so the flow of air is not optimized. Secondly, older mobile homes often have ductwork in poor condition that should not be used. The ductwork should be replaced, or a ductless system should be installed.
Mini split AC for mobile home systems include an outdoor unit and one or more indoor units. The outdoor unit, aka condensing unit, can be AC-only or it can reverse the flow of refrigerant to bring heat indoors in winter – a heat pump. Most mini splits are heat pumps.
Indoor units are installed in each zone or room of the home in which you want AC. If the home’s floor plan is open, then a single indoor unit might be enough. Most often, 2 or 3 indoor units are used in a mobile home.
The system is typically controlled with remotes for each indoor unit. Some are WiFi compatible.
Pros and Cons
There is a lot to like about a mini split for mobile home installation and a few precautions.
- Ductwork: No ductwork is required, so if the home doesn’t have ductwork or it is in bad shape, that’s no problem.
- Efficiency: Mini split ACs are the most efficient air conditioner types for mobile homes. Roughly speaking, they can be twice as efficient as standard split system ACs for mobile homes and three times more efficient than window air conditioners.
- Noise: The outdoor units are quieter than standard outdoor units, about 45 decibels for a mini split and up to 75 decibels for a standard split unit. Mini splits are a lot quieter than window air conditioners.
- DIY: A few brands including Mr Cool, aka MrCool, and Klimaire make DIY-ready systems precharged with refrigerant. A DIY mini split for mobile home use allows any handy homeowner to install the system without having the expense of hiring an HVAC technician or installer.
- Multizone DIY: MrCool makes systems with up to 5 indoor units.
- Price: While comparable with the cost of a standard split system, mini split cost is much higher than for 1-4 window air conditioners.
- Installation Cost: Each indoor unit requires detailed installation, so when you have more than one indoor unit, total job cost is higher than for a standard mini split. That’s true unless you DIY the installation.
- Maintenance: It is recommended that you clean the filter on each indoor unit every 30-60 days. It’s not a major hassle, but if it is neglected, it will negatively affect efficiency and performance.
- Noise: Since the indoor unit is right there in the room, there is a small amount of noise you might not get with a ducted system. Indoor units run at 32-42 decibels.
Mini splits are a great choice for any climate if you’re considering one for its air conditioning only, not heat. If you need heat, then a mini split is best suited to warm and hot climates. There are a few ductless systems that remain efficient in extreme cold, but they are costly. You might be better off with a traditional gas furnace and other AC types in northern regions.
Mr Cool and Klimaire make both DIY and pro-installed systems.
Brands that require professional installation include LG, Mitsubishi, Daikin, Gree, Midea, Fujitsu, Pioneer, Blueridge and ACiQ plus all standard brands like Lennox, Trane, etc., that make mini splits.
Room Air Conditioners for Mobile Home
There are two kinds of room ACs, window air conditioners and portable air conditioners.
Window air conditioners are the most affordable of any of the best AC types for mobile home use. And they have good and bad points compared to other mobile home air conditioning options.
Note: Through the wall room air conditioners are not suitable for the construction of most mobile homes.
Pros and Cons
When considering a portable AC or window AC vs central air, there are reasons for and against room air conditioners for a mobile home.
- Cost: Affordable – especially window ACs. And there are no installation costs.
- Efficiency: There are Energy Star certified window air conditioners (not portable) that are very energy efficient.
- Ductwork: Obviously, it isn’t required.
- View: Portable units need the window raised around 6 inches to allow for the exhaust kit. As a result, they barely block the view and natural light. And some window ACs like the U-shaped Soleus Air and GE Profile Clearview are very low profile.
- Portability: Portable ACs can be rolled on their wheels from room to room. And the window exhaust kits take just a few minutes to remove from and install in another window. Most fit in single-hung/double-hung windows and in sliding windows.
- Cost: While less than for a mini split or standard central air systems, you will want a separate unit in each room or zone for the best cooling. And the average cost of a portable AC is higher than that of a window air conditioner.
- Efficiency: Portable units are not efficient. There are no Energy Star portable ACs. Your cooling costs will be highest if you choose this option.
- Noise: Both room AC types are loud because the unit is right there in the room or window.
- Weight: Window ACs have to be lifted in and out frequently – and they’re not light.
A window air conditioner is a good choice for a cool climate when AC is needed on only a few days. They’re also used for supplemental cooling in hot climates when a central air conditioner doesn’t do the job and some rooms, like those facing west or south, get quite hot.
Portable air conditioners are OK for cool climates and for supplemental cooling too, though their efficiency isn’t great. That means the electric cost to run them is higher than for other mobile home cooling types.
The best window air conditioners are made by LG, GE, Koldfront, Frigidaire, Midea, Haier, Whirlpool, Arctic Air, Amazon Basis, TOSOS and Emerson.
Top portable air conditioner brands start with LG. Delonghi, Danby, Serene Life, Danby and Black + Decker are also worth considering.
Best Air Conditioner Types for Mobile Home Use
Here’s a summary of your top AC types for mobile home installation and when to use it:
Standard Split System: Use this type if your home has ductwork and it is in good condition, and if the indoor furnace location can accommodate an AC coil.
Package System: A package system is ideal when the ductwork is fine but space inside the home for AC equipment is limited.
Mini Split Systems: The best setting for a mini split AC is in an older mobile home and the condition of the ductwork is poor or isn’t known. The ideal climate is warm or hot, not extremely cold.
Window AC or Portable AC: These are OK for occasional cooling in cool climates or for supplementing central cooling from one of the other system types. Window air conditioners are also an affordable, though noisy, alternative to central air conditioning.
How Much Does AC for a Mobile Home Cost?
Expect to spend $225 to $1,500 for one or more window air conditioners or room air conditioners. The cost for central air conditioning will be $2,250 to $14,000 depending on the size of the system and, in the case of a mini split, how many indoor units you choose.
|Air Conditioner Type||Installed Cost Range||Average Cost|
|Package System||$4,200 – $9,400||$6,300|
|Standard Split System||$4,600 – $11,500||$6,850|
|Pro-installed Mini Split System||$3,400 – $14,000||$7,400 for 2 Zones|
|DIY Mini Split System||$1,950 – $9,600||$3,300 for 2 Zones|
|Room Air Conditioner||$225 – $1,500+||$385 each|
|Portable Air Conditioner||$335 – $1,000+||$550 each|