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Common Ways to Heat and Cool a Mobile Home

by John Fedro on May 17, 2012 · 4 comments

mobile home air conditioning

Mobile homes and manufactured homes utilizes many of the same features and mechanical systems when it comes to heating and cooling a home’s interior. Below is a list of the most popular heating and cooling systems used in many mobile homes today.

Split-Unit Central Air Conditioning:

Around the time I was ten years old, my family upgraded from window air conditioning units (see below) to the now common place Split-Unit Central Air conditioning units that force cooled air throughout the entire home via a series of under-floor or above ceiling ducts. Ducts are closed passages running from the mobile home’s air-handler or forced air furnace to a vent typically located underneath the mobile home’s floor.

The reason for the name “Split-Unit” is to signify that this air-conditioning system uses 2 separate appliances to force cooled air throughout the home. The exterior Compressor/Condenser is the component which sits outside the home and an Evaporator also known as an Air-Handler sits inside the home. Attached to the Evaporator is a fan which blows conditioned air throughout the home.

Base model units are often priced in the thousands of dollars new and used, not including installation. As these units are seldom moved after installation in many areas you may need a city or county permit in addition to a licensed contractor to install a central air conditioning unit.


A furnace is comprised of a heating device either gas or electric (electric typically being the least efficient) and an air circulating fan which blows heated air into the ducts and onto the interior of the mobile home. Furnaces are typically small enough to be located inside a closet in your mobile home, and should be properly maintained yearly to avoid damages. Filters should be changed regularly to avoid potential problems. Used units on start for around five hundred dollars not including installation. Any cost associated with this repair should be factored into all purchase offers for a mobile home.

Air-Source Heat Pump:

Heat pumps both cool and heat homes. Although less well-known then central air-conditioning units above, heat pumps are generally more efficient and less expensive to own and operate. Simply put, a heat pump works by exchanging warmth for cold in the summer months and cold air for warmer air in the winter. A heat pump can stand alone and look very similar to an exterior compressor/condenser portion of a traditional central-air unit.

Heat pumps do have limitations with heating a home when the exterior air temperature drops below 35-ish degrees Fahrenheit. This is one reason heat pumps are less commonly seen in the Northern half of the United States unless they are geothermal heated.

Evaporative Coolers:

Also known as Swamp coolers, wet-air coolers, and desert coolers, are self-contained units that use the act of evaporating a liquid into the air being pushed into the home to lower the interior temperature of the home. Evaporative coolers use ducts in the same ways furnaces and split-unit A/Cs work to distribute air evenly throughout the home. Evaporative coolers are generally found in drier states and can decrease the internal temperature of a home by as much as 40 degrees. Be aware of roof mounted units as these often contribute to roof leaks over time.

Portable Window Units:

If you choose not to repair your broken central A/C unit or install a new cooling unit as listed above, you may opt to install individual window air conditioning units to cool localized sections of your mobile home. You may even choose a window unit that contains a heating element to heat the room when exterior temperatures are cool. These units work well for cooling and heating the room in which the window unit is placed. If your investment mobile home is located inside a pre-existing mobile home park be sure to check with park guidelines about installing window units in your home as some parks have rules forbidding window units as they detract from curb appeal.

Verify Heating and Cooling Systems Work at Time of Purchase!

As a rule of thumb always, always, always verify all mechanical systems work or do not work before you make any purchase offers for the subject property. If the mobile home seller states the units are working correctly, personally verify each appliance is in proper working condition. If you do not feel hot or cold air blowing when the unit is on assume the worst until proven otherwise. Hiring a licensed professional will satisfy most questions. Once a professional has been consulted you may now correctly negotiate a proper price for this home.

When discussing heating and cooling options for a used mobile home inside a park, we must remember that price and performance are key. While your resident and you both want the home to remain cool in the summer and warm in the winter, neither of you want to add thousands of dollars to the cost of this mobile home if unnecessary. It is with this in mind that correctly fixing an existing mechanical unit may always be your first line of defense before installing a new one. Network with active investors, tradesmen, and EPA certified handymen in your area to find great deals on new and used heating and cooling systems for your next mobile home investment.

Save money and invest wisely,
John Fedro

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Arthur Garcia May 17, 2012 at 11:07 am

Good to know the technicalities of this stuff. Thanks for taking the time to explain them.


John Fedro May 17, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Thanks Arthur, It was a good lesson for me as well having to remember and/or look-up info about some of these systems. best, John


Tod R May 18, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Thanks John. Bought a MH on land from HUD a couple of years ago. They cut the line so close to the compressor that it was cheaper to buy a good used compressor than to repair, thanks HUD…

Thanks John for sharing your knowledge.



John Fedro May 18, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Hi Tod,

A new/used compressor is not cheap. Good lesson for all of us. If you can’t trust HUD who can you trust… Ha!



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