Let's first define what a ptac unit "deal" is and isn’t. Purchasing an air conditioner you have confidence in and would have bought anyway, but getting it at a much lower price – that's a deal.
Best Online PTAC Deals
What isn't a deal is sacrificing quality and paying less because of that. So, for instance, warranties matter a great deal in the AC world, and if you don't read this little blurb on the Amana website1, you might be caught short with what seems like a good deal, but isn't:
They state clearly that Amana brand PTACs have to be installed by a qualified HVAC technician to get their warranty. Presumably, that HVAC person can order directly (or has a unit in stock) – taking the whole brand out of the running for Internet deals.
It turns out you probably do, in fact, have warranty coverage from Amana even if purchased online if the unit is installed professionally. Please see our PTAC Warranty Info page for clarification. --Dave
What Do I Need?
Although I'll mention the best general sites and some tricks, buying a unit starts with knowing some facts going in. It's not going to be easy to return a unit that doesn't fit your needs. Before you go shopping, you'll need to have a good idea of the size of the unit you are looking for – wall opening size and BTU capacity. Check out our PTAC unit size and capacity page. Another excellent resource is HVAC Talk2. This forum is a blend of DIY and commercial installers – a great place to get advice and recommendations.
Once you have a short list of units to price, get the model numbers – you'll use these for searching.
Getting a feel for what a good price is
Start by checking three main sites to get a feel for what a good deal is. Make sure you are pricing the same model number between sites. Below I used the Friedrich PDE07K3SF, 7,700 BTU PTAC for price comparisons, and delivery to Michigan.
Consistently low prices can be found at:
- Valley of the Sun Heating and Cooling Supply4 – located in Nevada, this site also has a good selection of PTACs. Good place to look for seasonal specials. Test unit priced out at $636.00 plus $125 shipping. Difficult site to search, I used Google to search their site. If you are on the west coast, it’s worth calling and asking if you don’t find what you want. They do carry Amana.
- Cool Running Hospitality Supply5 – Also in NY, this was the cheapest for the test item -- $619 with free shipping. Their advantage is that they only act as a middleman – they don’t have an actual showroom or physical location. Shipping is from manufacturer at their brokered price.
- ABT6 (used to be ABT Electronics) – recommended by many in HVAC, this business is out of Chicago. They didn’t have the test unit but had the next size up (9,700 BTU), for $622.00 and $78.00 shipping (local shipping is free). Good search function and live chat where you can ask questions on the site.
Search engines and directories
Because the Internet landscape changes so frequently, it's worthwhile to do a couple more searches before you decide to buy. Using the test unit I mentioned above, a search on Google would look like this: "Friedrich PDE07K3SF".
A couple of directories worth looking at are: Bizrate.com and Next Tag.com – search under manufacturer and model to get links to online stores selling what you want.
Don't forget to look at big box retailers who might carry the unit you like. Even if they don't have it in-store, they sometimes offer the product online. And here's the important part: they will sometimes ship for free to a local store. Or, as I recently found when buying a window unit from Wal-Mart, direct to your house for a nominal fee – in my case, just 99 cents. You can also take advantage of store-type discounts, sales and incentives if you get a store credit card.
Buy local when shipping is an issue. Sites that calculate shipping based on zip code will charge less if they are in your state or geographically near you. The $50 to $100 you save may make the difference between buying a unit on the East Coast or the West.
Look for price matching offered on the site or call and ask – this one tip can save you hundreds. Sales tax – if you buy in your own state, you will be charged sales tax.
What about used on Craig's list or eBay?
In a word, risky. For every great deal and happy customer, there seems to be another that got burned. Craig's list is worth looking at to find out if there is something local you can examine and test before you buy. eBay is a bit more of a risk, mainly because shipping is such an issue. Someone is going to pay if the unit has to be returned – plus there's the issue of not getting a warranty. Be cautious.
Surprisingly, Amazon is a good place to shop for deals, although it's hard to find the exact model you want. Worth checking though.