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What Is a Packaged Terminal Air Conditioner?

By Paul Scott
Updated May 16, 2024
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A packaged terminal air conditioner (PTAC) is a self contained heating and cooling device commonly used in smaller areas such as the rooms in houses, apartments, and hotels. Larger commercial air conditioning units consist of separate condenser and evaporator sections often positioned a significant distance from each other. The PTAC combines the parts of the air conditioning unit in one package which typically mounts through an exterior wall. This type of mounting arrangement places the evaporator coil, fan, and controls inside the room with the condenser coil and compressor on the outside. This allows the PTAC to effectively maintain optimal temperatures while shedding heat into the outside air.

Large air conditioners usually feature separate condenser and evaporator units connected by lengthy pipe runs. Commonly known as splits, these units are appropriate for applications where interior spaces with no exterior walls or very large areas are involved. In smaller spaces with exterior walls such as the rooms in a home, office complex, apartment block, or hotel, the packaged terminal air conditioner is a more suitable option. Consisting of a single, self contained unit, the PTAC combines all the equipment needed for the heat exchange process. These units are generally mounted through an existing exterior wall in a specially designed sleeve or enclosure.

The average packaged terminal air conditioner will generally mount with the majority of the unit located within the wall cavity and outside the building, leaving only a fairly slim console inside the room. This, in conjunction with attractive grills and covers, makes the packaged terminal air conditioner unobtrusive and easy on the eye. The interior part of the PTAC usually contains the evaporator coil, filters, fan, and the air conditioner controls. The piping, compressor, and condenser coil and fan are then located within the body and on the outside face of the unit. This allows the release of heat into the outside air while maintaining desired temperatures within the room.

The interior console of the packaged terminal air conditioner generally includes a grill consisting of adjustable louvers which can be positioned to ensure efficient distribution of the airflow. The controls of the unit may be situated on the unit alone or incorporate separate, remote controls. The aesthetic appeal of the PTAC is usually ensured by a good selection of enclosure colors and designs to complement most decor themes. There is also a wide range of available PTAC capacity options with average unit ratings running between 5,000 to 20,000 Btu.

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