It is critical to install a wall air conditioner using the right sleeve to ensure that your unit works optimally to cool your space efficiently.
Through-the-wall air conditioners and window air conditioners can easily be confused because at first glance, they look similar in structure.
They are actually quite different though, and part of what makes them different is the way they are installed, either in windows or walls.
A wall air conditioner needs to be installed into a wall opening, but the wall needs to be an exterior wall so that the unit can vent and drain condensate outside. The wall unit needs to be securely inserted into the wall, which requires a sleeve.
Wall air conditioners and sleeves
You cannot simply insert a wall unit into a hole in the wall. There is a lot more that goes into the installation process of a wall air conditioner to ensure that your unit is effective in functionality and in efficiency.
This is where a wall sleeve comes in handy, as it may or may not determine how well a through-the-wall unit will work to cool the room it is in.
Do you need a sleeve for a wall air conditioner?
Absolutely. Technically, installing a wall air conditioner without the aid of a sleeve is quite pointless if you want your unit to work properly.
Without a wall sleeve, the air conditioner will not be installed correctly, which may result in damage caused to the wall structure, and, most importantly, damage caused to the air conditioner.
If you just place the air conditioner in the wall opening, the unit can potentially slip out of the opening or get scratched by the edges of the wall, and the weight of the unit could be too much for the wall structure and damage it.
A wall sleeve helps relieve the stress on the structure of the wall and protects the unit so that it is positioned securely in the sleeve that is holding it in place.
It is essential to find an appropriately sized sleeve, as your wall unit needs to fit securely inside it and remain stable.
The sleeve needs to have the right vents for the unit to be able to vent hot air out and keep it out, so that airflow is not restricted in this regard.
If the sleeve is too small for the unit or does not vent the right way, the wall air conditioner will not function efficiently and may result in efficiency problems for you. There are a few different types of sleeves you can consider for your unit.
Slide-out chassis wall air conditioner sleeves
A wall air conditioner either needs a slide-out chassis sleeve or a traditional through-the-wall sleeve. A slide out chassis sleeve is a built-in sleeve that comes with the wall unit and vents through the sides and the back of the unit.
They can also be installed in a window and are ideal for walls that are around 8 inches thick, or less.
With this sleeve, you do not have to worry about purchasing a separate wall sleeve to fit your unit, as it already fits into its own custom sleeve, which makes the installation process much easier.
An example of a wall air conditioner with a slide-out chassis is the Friedrich Smart wall and window unit.
Traditional wall air conditioner sleeves
Unlike the slide-out chassis sleeves, traditional wall sleeves are not built into the wall air conditioner, as they need to be purchased separately.
They are also different from slide-out chassis sleeves in that they only vent through the back of the unit and not from the sides.
To use this type of wall sleeve, your unit needs to vent from the back as it is difficult for the unit to vent to the sides if there is no ventilation space on the sides.
Identifying the right wall sleeve for a wall AC replacement
In the case where you need to replace an old wall unit, it is important that you identify which unit will fit into the wall sleeve you have.
Looking at the varying venting placements on the sleeve will help you identify the type of wall unit you need (one that vents to the back, or one that has louvers or vents at the back and at the sides).
Measuring the dimensions of your sleeve will also help to get the correct size wall unit to fit inside the sleeve.