If you've recently purchased a condominium or other multifamily housing unit, you may quickly be adjusting to life with shared walls and minimal exterior maintenance. While living in a condo or triplex can have a number of distinct advantages over a single-family house, it can also pose a number of unexpected differences, making tasks like selecting your next heating and air conditioning unit a challenge. What HVAC systems are most compatible with condos and other adjacent-wall units? Read on to learn more about the factors you'll want to consider when replacing your condo's existing heater or air conditioner, as well as some of your best heating and air conditioning options.

What will you need to consider when shopping for your condo's next heater and air conditioner? 

There are a few factors that can make heating and cooling a condo different from a freestanding home. These include:

  • Whether you're an upper or lower unit

Heat rises, which can mean units at the top of a building may require next to no heating during even the coldest months. By taking advantage of your downstairs neighbors' waste heat to keep your unit at a steady temperature, allowing yours to kick on only when needed, you'll be able to save money and conserve energy. However, the inverse of this phenomenon will show itself once outdoor temperatures grow warmer, as you find yourself struggling to keep your unit cool while heat from the downstairs slowly seeps through your floor.

This means that lower-level units may need to focus on higher-powered heaters, while upstairs units could benefit more from a heavy-duty air conditioner and may be able to get by with only a few strategically-placed space heaters. If you live in an extra-hot (or extra-cold) climate, you'll especially need to take this into consideration, as even an ostensibly appropriately-sized heater or air conditioner may still be inadequate if you have a rooftop condo in Florida or a basement unit in northern New York.

  • Whether you're on the corner

The lack of shared walls on both sides of your unit can also leave you more vulnerable to heat loss, so those on corner units may need to pay more attention to heating and cooling needs when sizing an air conditioner or picking out a radiator.

  • Whether you have unfettered access to the outdoors

Because certain heating and air conditioning options require a compressor, wood stove, or other exterior installation, your ability to install components directly outside your home can impact your options. If your condo is governed by a homeowners' association (HOA), your covenants and restrictions are likely to address many of the choices available to you, as well as those that may land you in hot water. 

What are the best heating and cooling options for a small attached space? 

After taking these factors into account, there are a couple of specific heating and a/c options that can make life much easier (and less expensive) for condo dwellers. 

The first is a ductless mini split. This versatile heater and air conditioner doesn't require central ductwork and utilizes a much smaller compressor than that found in most central air conditioners, allowing you to place this compressor on your balcony or patio unobtrusively. You'll also be able to connect several vents to your compressor, placing them in each room that requires climate control without tearing out walls or even repainting.

Another good option for a condominium is a portable air conditioner. Unlike window units, which vent through the outdoor-facing back of the unit, these portable air conditioners vent through a thin hose that can be connected to a window, door, or even a hole in the wall. This can be a great choice for small condos or even larger ones where you tend to remain concentrated in one room.