In any sort of indoor environment, keeping people comfortable is going to require some level of climate control. For a small space, one of the most efficient systems to have is a packaged terminal air conditioner.
What is a PTAC System?
PTAC (packaged terminal air conditioner) is a single unit, self-contained air conditioning system installed inside a wall. Each room should have its own PTAC system, providing the room’s occupant(s) full control over cooling and heating.
PTACs are also energy-efficient because, unlike central HVAC systems, you don’t have to waste energy cooling unoccupied rooms. Other benefits of installing a PTAC unit in a smaller space or multi-tenant building include:
- Durable design
- Low maintenance
- Removes odors and airborne particles
- Easy to install
- No ductwork required
How to Install PTAC Units
Follow these steps to install a new or used PTAC unit to optimize climate control within your facility:
1. Measure the Location
Are you replacing an old PTAC system or installing one for the first time? If you are replacing an old system, measure the existing system’s space to find a model that can fit into it. For a new system, you will have to cut a hole through your wall to contain the unit.
For optimal airflow and easy filter removal, the hole should be at least 36 inches from the ceiling. If you want the unit at floor level, especially if it has a top control panel, create the hole 3 to 5 inches off the ground.
Cut the wall according to the PTAC’s dimensions, which you will find in the product manual. The hole must also provide 6 to 8 inches of clearance around the unit. Otherwise, there won’t be enough circulation and airflow around the system for optimal cooling.
Lastly, the outside of the spot you pick must have nothing blocking (foliage, cars, and so on) the ventilation at the PTAC unit’s rear.
2. Fit the Wall Sleeve
The wall sleeve is a housing for the PTAC unit. Installing one is unnecessary if you are replacing an old system with an undamaged sleeve, or installing a PTAC where there wasn’t one previously. To install a sleeve:
- Remove the wall sleeve’s outside enclosure panel
- Insert the sleeve into the opened wall space without distorting the sleeve
- Project the sleeve at least a ¼-inch from the exterior wall to be flush with the inside wall.
- For proper drainage, the case must be level from left to right but slope slightly downwards at the back—if your PTAC model has an internal drain kit, the sleeve must be level on all sides
- Drill two holes into both sides of the wall sleeve, but not into the bottom or top (the holes are for screws that will hold the case in the wall)
- Use caulk to seal any space between the sleeve and wall
After the sleeve installation, the next step is installing the PTAC itself.
3. Insert the PTAC Unit
Slide the PTAC unit into the wall case and make sure it is level and stable. If angled into the room, water from the unit can damage your wall and floor. If your model requires it, screw the PTAC unit into the wall sleeve, but take care not to damage the base pan. Damaging the base pan will lead to leaks that damage your property.
After securing the unit, insulate its edges to prevent air from escaping from your interior. Insulating around the AC unit will also stop outside temperatures from seeping inside.
4. Power Outlets
The power outlet for your former PTAC should be compatible with your new unit. If it’s a first-time installation, make sure your available outlet and wiring can support the system’s required voltage. An incompatible outlet can damage the unit and pose a fire risk.
If you can’t verify the outlet and voltage, contact a professional electrician to do it and install a better-suited outlet.
5. Make Your PTAC Weatherproof
External moisture can seep through open spaces around your installed PTAC. Watch for moisture-related color and texture differences around the PTAC’s casing. If you notice leaks, use specialized caulk to create an airtight seal where necessary. The product’s manual may offer other recommendations for weatherproofing your AC unit as well.
Installing a PTAC is straightforward, especially if you are replacing an old unit. After completing the installation, check that the system is secure and level. Also, verify nothing is obstructing it on the outside or inside. Obstructions will disrupt airflow and the unit’s performance.
Are you installing a PTAC from scratch and need to break a wall for the unit? Having a professional do it may be better. Before hiring an installer, verify that they have experience installing PTACs specifically, not just central HVAC systems. Choosing someone with experience will ensure installation without damaging your building or PTAC unit.
An expert can also recommend the perfect PTAC model and size for your needs. In a long or short-term care facility, that means an air conditioning system that is user-friendly and quiet. The system should also have the right SEER rating and generate enough BTUs to match the room’s size. Otherwise, it will perform poorly and not be energy-inefficient.