The demand for unitary air conditioners is forecast to expand at a 4.9 percent yearly rate through 2021 reaching $11.0 billion and continuing to outperform air conditioning equipment sales as a whole.  The replacement of units that have reached the end of their operational lives will remain the primary driver of sales.  In unit terms, unitary air conditioner sales are projected to increase 2.7 percent per year through 2021 to 5.9 million units. These and other trends are presented in Air Conditioning Equipment Market in the U.S., a new study from The Freedonia Group, a Cleveland-based industry research firm.

Split unitary air conditioners will remain significantly more popular in the U.S. due to the widespread use of warm air furnaces. Split systems utilize the furnace’s blower and ductwork to cycle and distribute air. Split units locate the compressor and condensing coils outside the building, while utilizing an evaporating coil and air handler inside the building to distribute cooled air. 

The demand for split type unitary air conditioners is expected to rise 5.4 percent annually through 2021 to $8.2 billion, slowing from the 2011-2016 period but continuing to take share away from packaged units due to the ease of adding a split system to a building that has a warm air furnace heating system.  Even faster increases will be limited by competition from split system heat pumps, especially ductless mini-split units, due to their greater operating efficiency and ability to better control room temperatures.

For more information, visit

Publication date: 6/12/2017