How Does Central Air Conditioning Work In Apartments?

Central AC is the go-to choice for many multi-family buildings with built-in ductwork for heating and air conditioning. It provides consistent heating and cooling for year-round comfort.

And even though this kind of system’s installation might need a higher expense, central ACs do not affect the design of the residential unit, typically when the ducts and vents are already in place.

But how does air conditioning work in apartments? This guide is here to help you understand central air conditioning for apartments.

How Does Central AC Work In Apartments?

Unlike a functionally defective window air conditioning unit, central air conditioners distribute cold air via ductwork.Another essential component of this system is a compressor that works with a condenser and evaporator coils to flush heat out of your apartment, making it nice and cool from the inside.

Central AC systems are a go-to choice for many multi-family buildings with in-built ductwork for heating and air conditioning.

They provide much more consistent heating and cooling for year-round comfort inside your apartment.

Even though the installation time of central ACs is longer and more expensive, it doesn’t necessarily affect each residential unit’s design, especially when the ducts and vents have been in place for a long time.

However, the downside to using central air conditioning for apartments is the chance of discomfort in all the units when the apartment central AC malfunctions or is ill-maintained.

Furthermore, due to the central cooling, you might not have control over the temperature inside your apartment.

Advantages Of Central AC In Apartment Block Units

Several Centralized Air Conditioning Outdoor Unit

Central air conditioning offers multiple benefits for apartments over the conventional window air conditioning system.

Your traditional window AC system might only cool one or two rooms in your apartment, whereas a central AC unit will give you a consistent and cool temperature in your apartment.

This is because the central air conditioning system pushes cold air through vents that move through the apartment.

An apartment central AC system also employs filters. This leads to cleaner air to breathe since it circulates your apartment air. Hence, an AC unit smelling stale or getting stuffy won’t be an issue very often.

On the other hand, window units are ineffective at cleaning air or recycling it.

You may make an apartment with a central AC unit feature your top priority if you or your family members have dust-related allergies since it will effectively decrease the particles you inhale throughout the day.

Another feature that makes the central air conditioning beneficial for an apartment is noise. Typically, an apartment central AC unit’s loudest parts are outside, keeping the indoor atmosphere quiet compared to conventional air conditioning units.

They might also employ new technologies than the older window ACs, making them much more suitable and quieter for smaller apartment needs.

Central air conditioning unit takes up a limited wall or floor space instead of window units installed near walls. These limit wall space where you might otherwise install furniture or hangings.

Disadvantages Of Central AC In Apartment Units

If we are talking about the benefits of central air conditioning for apartments, you may as well understand the disadvantages of the unit.

One of the first drawbacks of having a central AC unit in your apartment is facing a big energy bill, especially when you do not have individual control over the thermostat.

Furthermore, the central unit cools the whole apartment, even in the areas where you do not really need it.

Comparatively, portable and window units only cool specific areas, and you can choose where to install them: ideally, the room you spend most of your time in.

If you do not want to cool your entire apartment, then a portable or window AC unit is much more cost-effective since it is inexpensive and easier to install.

Furthermore, central air conditioning systems need very low maintenance; however, they build up gunk over time. Mildew and mold can form inside vents and ducts, which may cause them to blow around in the apartment.

This might not be a problem if your landlord is up to date with the maintenance. But unfortunately, if your landlord does not check regularly and perform routine HVAC system servicing, you may end up with sinus issues and allergies.

Talk to the other residents before deciding whether you should rent there. They may be able to tell you beforehand whether they have had various breathing problems due to poorly maintained air conditioning.

Can One AC Unit Cool An Entire Apartment?

The central air conditioning units are designed to cool the entire building, so obviously, they can cool your apartment.

However, a portable or window air conditioning unit is not a complete apartment cooling solution. Therefore, if you want to cool more than a single area of your apartment, you will have to buy and install additional units.

Also, based on the unit price, installing a central air conditioning system might be much more cost-effective.

Remember, the average BTU for a central air conditioning unit for residential purposes typically varies from around 20,000 to 50,000 BTUs depending on the size of the building.

Can You Install Central AC In Existing Apartments?

Tenants cannot install a central AC unit in their apartment without the landlord’s written permission.

In addition, many apartment leases do not allow their tenants to make improvements or changes to the rental unit without their landlord’s consent. This includes security systems, satellite dishes, and central air conditioners.

Tenant alterations and improvements are considered property damage since they affect the appearance by making structural changes.

The law also permits the landlord to charge its tenants for restoration or repair costs following an improper installation of your air conditioning unit.

It also violates the lease agreement and can result in eviction. If your landlord permits you to arrange for central AC unit installation, the deal must be in writing to protect both parties.

Apartment Outdoor Wall Full of Central AC Condenser

People Also Ask (FAQ)

Do apartments have separate AC units?

The apartment may or may not have separate AC units based on when the building was established. For example, newer apartment buildings are equipped with central air conditioning units instead of the older ones where you might need to have a window or portable AC unit installed.

How do I circulate my air conditioner in my apartment?

The best way you can get the air to be circulated in your apartment is via a ceiling or box fan, if you have them. However, ceiling fans employ a very low amount of energy as they are running, and they can move a lot of stale and stagnant air inside the room.

How can I make my AC cooler in my apartment?

You can make your AC colder by doing routine maintenance of the unit. You can also make the AC cooler in the apartment by keeping blinds and curtains closed during the day.


Central air conditioning for apartments has been a dilemma for new renters. There are multiple benefits of a centrally air-conditioned apartment building, but there are downsides to it as well, such as having no control over the thermostat.

Hopefully, this guide was able to help you understand how does air conditioning work in apartments.

Josh Mitchell

Josh Mitchell

My name is Josh and I am obsessed with DIY and improving my family home. HVAC topics can be tricky for homeowners so I decided to share my knowledge on the subject. When I am not working on DIY projects, you can find me at the beach or my local coffee shop.