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Ask an Expert: Best apartments for central a/c?

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By Teri Karush Rogers  |
April 5, 2011 - 3:00PM

Q. I'm looking to buy a two-bedroom co-op with central air, but so far I haven't seen that many options. If I have to install central air myself, what sort of apartments are the best candidates, as far as layout, ceiling height and any other factors?  Is there any type of apartment I should avoid?

A.  Before getting to layout and ceiling height, the first question you should ask has more to do with the building than the apartment--i.e., whether the co-op or condo board has ever approved central a/c before. 

A board that's gone down this approvals road before "is less likely to react against such a proposal," says property manager Thomas Usztoke.  

He notes that boards tend to be most amenable to central a/c systems that are installed completely within the apartment versus systems that rely on exterior mounted components, like a condenser on the roof.  (See The big chill: Putting central air in a prewar apartment.)

Instead, through-wall condensers are typically mounted below a window facing an airshaft, or sometimes in the upper portion of the window itself, if the view isn't a treasured one, says architect Thomas Degnan.  

"In general, look for apartments with high ceilings and an interior light well access [airshaft] where potentially a wall-thru a/c condenser can be installed," says Degnan.

An upgraded electrical system is a plus too. Otherwise, new power will need to be run from the basement, which gets pricier the higher you go.

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The big chill: Putting central air in a prewar apartment

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Teri Karush Rogers

Founder & Publisher

Founder and publisher Teri Karush Rogers launched Brick Underground in 2009. As a freelance journalist, she had previously covered New York City real estate for The New York Times. Teri has been featured as an expert on New York City residential real estate by The New York Times, New York Daily News, amNew York, NBC Nightly News, The Real Deal, Business Insider, the Huffington Post, and NY1 News, among others. Teri earned a BA in journalism and a law degree from New York University.

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