When a heatwave hits, the best air conditioners will quickly lower the temperature of your entire room. Keeping your home cool and comfortable is a breeze with one of these high-tech gadgets at your disposal. There are numerous top models on the market, and we’ve compiled a list of the best, ranging from low-cost to high-end options.
It should come as no surprise that air conditioners are larger and more expensive than fans, but this is because they are more effective at lowering room temperature and, in some cases, humidity. When selecting a device, consider the noise level and the size of the room you need it for compared to the model’s coverage.
How Air Conditioning Works
High heat and humidity make you uncomfortable because they inhibit your body’s ability to release heat into the environment, causing you to sweat. And the more sweat that builds up on your skin and is absorbed by your clothing, the more uncomfortable you will feel. Reduce heat and humidity in the air (cooling and drying it) and increase air circulation, making you more likely to experience comfort.
Factors to consider when choosing the best air conditioner
We gathered various units to help you choose the best window or portable air conditioner. We ran them in a hot room while measuring the temperature of their discharge air and the room’s ambient temperature. In addition, we surveyed a few untested appliances for innovative features, soundproofing, efficiency, and cooling capacity. We indicate in the review if we have not utilized the product.
In addition to our test results, there are five factors to consider when buying an air conditioner. Note that the selection criteria for an air conditioner are interdependent. In other words, it is unlikely that the cheapest air conditioner will be the most robust and capable of cooling a large room. Using these considerations and the appliance’s features, choose a suitable device.
The cooling capacity and construction of an air conditioner have the most significant impact on its price. Physically larger air conditioners with greater cooling capacity are inherently more expensive than smaller air conditioners with less cooling capacity. Adding sound-dampening materials to an air conditioner will increase its price, as will using more robust motors and a better-constructed compressor. Typically, adding features to an air conditioner increases its cost.
The more cooling capacity you need, the larger the space you need to cool or the more intense the heat in it (such as through large windows facing south or west). This is expressed in BTUs (British Thermal Units, a description of thermal energy). A window or portable air conditioner is more potent if it can remove more BTUs from a given space per unit of time. To determine the BTU of the air conditioner you require, multiply the floor area (length multiplied by width) by twenty.
Some people prefer analog controls such as knobs and buttons, while others desire the ability to control an air conditioner with a remote or a mobile device. Most modern air conditioners offer a fan-only mode without the cooling provided by the refrigerant-filled coil. However, a few models also include heater and dehumidifier functions and settings that give you greater control over the appliance’s nighttime operation (while you sleep). Multiple fan speeds and cooling settings allow you to rapidly reduce a room’s temperature or fine-tune the air conditioner’s operation to achieve the desired level of indoor comfort. In many instances, this fine-tuning can also lower your electric bill. In regions of the country where the cooling season is lengthy (May to October), this can be a significant factor.
In general, appliances with greater energy efficiency are more expensive. Their cost premium is more likely to be recouped if they reside in a region with a long cooling season (May to October).
Purchase an air conditioner with the highest possible combined energy efficiency ratio (CEER). CEER is the applicable efficiency rating for window air conditioners. (Note that this is not SEER, which applies to heat pumps and central air conditioning systems.) CEER expresses the ratio of cooling capacity measured in BTUs to the amount of electricity the appliance uses to perform its function; it includes the appliance’s efficiency when the compressor is energized and running and when the compressor is not running, in standby mode. A higher CEER score is preferable. Several air conditioners still feature the older (but still valid) EER rating. The same principle applies: a higher EER is preferable to a lower one.
Compared to portable
There are more similarities between window-mounted and freestanding air conditioners on wheels than differences. All air conditioners cool by cycling between the gaseous and liquid states of compressed gas refrigerant. This gas circulates within a coil. The refrigerant is gaseous at one end of the coil, absorbing heat from the air. The refrigerant is compressed to a hot liquid at the opposite end of the coil. On the cold end of the coil, air passing over the coil is cooled and expelled from the room. At the hot end of the coil, air passing over the coil is heated and expelled outside. Between the hot and cold end, water vapor condenses from the air and drains out the bottom of the appliance to the outdoors, or a fan throws it against the hot end of the coil, where it evaporates and is expelled to the outdoors.
Air conditioners for windows are heavy, weighing between 50 and 80 pounds, and are typically best installed by two people lifting and fastening them. Once installed, they obstruct approximately half of the view from the window. Additionally, they must be meticulously installed to ensure that they remain securely in place, do not fall out of the window, or allow easy access to intruders. A window bracket is an effective means of ensuring a secure installation. Fall is the optimal time to remove an air conditioner, clean it, and store it indoors.
Portable air conditioners only need their discharge hose (or hoses) to be directed outside. These hoses attach to a window bracket, making their installation easier than window air conditioners and obstructing the view less. Alternatively, emptying the condensation they produce may or may not be necessary.
In some instances, condensation may evaporate out of the pan and into the room or be expelled from the appliance along with the discharge air stream. In other cases, the drain pan may need to be manually emptied, or the condensation drain hose must be routed to a floor drain. Others utilize a condensate pump to discharge water through a small plastic tube.
By reading on, find the ideal air conditioner for you, whether it mounts in a window or remains in the room. The right appliance will keep you cool and comfortable throughout the summer, day and night.
10 Best Air Conditioners For Every budget reviews
If you do not have central air conditioning, a window air conditioner is the next best option for cooling your home. Window air conditioners can cool any room with single-hung or double-hung windows. When you choose an Energy Star*-certified unit, you can save money. Our window selections are all certified.
Window air conditioners are safe and easy to install if the manufacturer follows instructions. Most models include security brackets to deter intruders and keep your air conditioner in place.
Since not all windows are suitable for window units, we’ve included our top pick for a portable air conditioner. Also available is our comprehensive guide to the best portable air conditioners.
We evaluated ten window air conditioners for this guide and consulted the US Environmental Protection Agency spokesperson Enesta Jones (EPA). We subject each unit to a battery of objective tests. In addition, we answer frequently asked questions about air conditioners and define standard terms.
1. Best Overall: LG LW6019ER Rated 6,000 BTU Window Air Conditioner
- 6, 000 BTU window air conditioner; 6,000 BTU window air conditioner; Energy Star rating; Cools a room up to 260 sq. ft.; Dehumidification up to 1.8 pints per hour; Full-function remote controls unit from across the room; Thermistor thermostat maintains the selected temperature; 3 cooling speeds / 3 fan speeds; 24-hour on/off timer cools on your schedule; Energy saver function conserves energy and saves you money; Height 12.38; Width 19.38; Depth 19.56; Weight 56.00; Color; Operating System
- Energy star rating; Batteries Included; Batteries Required; Number of Batteries 2; Battery Type AAA Alkaline Battery; Language English; Assembly Required
- Uses standard 115-volt/15-amp electrical outlet
- Cools a room up to 260.00 sq. ft
- Dehumidification up to 1.80 pints per hour.
- Available in multiple sizes
- Digital controls with remote
- Energy Star certified
- Quiet during operation
- Poor installation instructions
- Larger models require 230-volt outlets
2. Best Budget: GE 5,000-BTU Mechanical Window Air Conditioner
- GE 5000 BTU MECHANICAL WINDOW AIR CONDITIONER – Designed to efficiently cool rooms up to 150 sq ft; easy install kit included so you can start cooling right away
- BEST FOR SMALL ROOMS: This AC unit is the right size for delivering 5000 BTU cooling capacity to smaller areas like bedrooms, studio apartments, guest rooms, and home offices
- LOW-NOISE OPERATION – Keep the cool air flowing with minimal disruption; ideal for nighttime use in bedrooms
- MAXIMUM COMFORT: Efficient with 2 cooling modes and 2 fan speeds to provide flexible and optimal room temperature; controls with 10 temperature settings make it easy to adjust cooling to your comfort
- EASY INSTALLATION AND CLEANING: This AC has a fixed chassis and installs easily in a double hung window (size: W 21.875 – 36 x H 13.375″) with included EZ Mount installation kit; slide-out filter makes cleaning a breeze to keeps your unit running its best when cleaned every 30 days”
- EZ mount kit included
- 10 temperature settings
- No energy-saving features
- No remote control
3. Best Smart: Windmill 8,300 BTU Window Air Conditioner
- No Pre-assembly With The Easiest Room Air Conditioner Installation Kit Possible
- A Quiet Ac To Really Make Your Home More Comfortable
- Enjoy More Efficient Cooling That’s Good For The Planet
- The Windmill AC & Install Kit
- Cosmetic Side Panels
- Elegant appearance
- Upward air flow
- Pairs to app and voice assistants
- Dual filters
- Easy to install
- Cosmetic side panels
- Lack of HomeKit compatibility
- Slightly expensive for BTU count
- Pricey for its size
- Not Energy Star certified
4. Best for small room: Frigidaire FFRE053WAE Window-Mounted Room Air Conditioner
- ENERGY STAR Certified: Use less energy than standard air conditioners reducing your energy usage, and ultimately lowering your utility bills
- SpaceWise Adjustable Design Optional Side Panels: With the Adjustable Side Panels, the side panels will extend to best fit your window
- Power Cord: Comes with an extra-long three-prong cord — makes extension cords unnecessary
- Programmable 24-Hour On/Off Timer: Customize times to fit your schedule for immediate comfort when you get home. The built-in timer allows you to preset the unit to turn on and off in half hour increments
- Effortless Temperature Control: Our air conditioners maintain the preset room temperature, so you will always remain comfortable
- Remote Control: Allows you to precisely control the temperature and fan speed from across the room
- Easy-to-Clean Washable Filter: Capture dust from the air and keep your dehumidifier working efficiently with our easy-to-clean washable filter
- Energy Star certified
- Extra-long power cord
5. Best Quite: Midea 8,000 BTU U-Shaped Smart Inverter Window Air Conditioner
- Introducing the first-ever U-shaped Inverter Window Air Conditioner that allows you to open or close your window while the unit is installed. The innovative design makes installation very easy, and the ability to close the window isolates the noise outside making it ultra-quiet.
- Ultra-Quiet – The U-shaped design blocks the noise coming from the compressor outside.
- Quick & Easy Installation – Includes a quick-snap bracket.
- Long-distance Airflow up to 20 feet – The strong airflow allows you to feel the cold air up to 20 feet away.
- Available in multiple sizes
- Energy Star Most Efficient certified
- Extremely quiet
- Wi-Fi enabled
- Still able to open window
- Tricky to install
- Display light can’t be turned off
6. Best Wall: KEYSTONE 12,000 BTU 115V Through-The-Wall Air Conditioner
- Free Up Windows From Large Clunky Unit
- Sleep Without Interruption
- Control From Anywhere In The Room
- Easy Removal
- 3 Cooling And Fan Speeds Plus Auto Cool
- One Year Promise
- Trim kit included
- Easy-access washable filter
- Temperature-sensing remote control
- Energy Star certified
7. Best Portable: LG LP1419IVSM Smart Dual Inverter Portable Air Conditioner
- 10,000 BTU (U.S. DOE)/ 14,000 BTU (ASHRAE)
- Estimated Cooling Area 500 Sq. Ft
- Efficient, Energy Saving Inverter Technology
- Optimal Low Noise Performance
- Quiet operation
- Powerful dehumidifying
- Easy to install
- Smart features
- Fairly short vent hose
- Not Energy Star certified
8. Best Over-the-Sill: Soleus Air Exclusive 8,000 BTU Air Conditioner
- DESIGN: Exclusive Soleus Air design combines the benefits of a portable ac, window ac and mini-split ac into a simple format
- SIMPLE INSTALLATION: Simply slide the saddle air conditioner over the windowsill for a safe installation without any tools required or risks of the air conditioner falling out of the window. The maximum window sill clearance this unit will fit in is 11 inches. Fits windows 24″ to 48″ wide. Fits windows with a minimum of 16″ height clearance.
- MYTEMP REMOTE: Activate the MyTemp sensor on the remote control and relax anywhere in the room while the air conditioner cools to your exact location. Save on energy costs with the 24-hour timer, energy saver mode, and sleep mode and rest easy knowing the air conditioner with automatically restart after a power interruption.
- ENJOY THE VIEW: Keep the view outside and full use of your window even after installation without having to remove the air conditioner
- SIMPLE OPERATION: Electronic controls and LCD remote controls keep all the industry-leading features at your fingertips. Washable and reusable filter for easy maintenance and extended product life.
- Extremely quiet operation
- Easy to install
- Temperature-sensing remote control
- Doesn’t block window
- Available with or without Wi-Fi
- May not fit all windows
- May need to manually drain
9. Best Portable: BLACK+DECKER 8,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
- A window casement.
- An air exhaust hose.
- Hose inlet/outlet adapters.
- A water drain hose.
- QUIET & POWERFUL – Our 4,000 BTU (8,000 BTU ASHRAE) compact air conditioner (16.5 x 11.5 x 26 in,) will keep you cool and comfortable all summer. An adjustable fan speed cools the air to 65°F at the coolest setting. Sleep mode makes it extra quiet while you rest
- PERFECT FOR SMALL ROOMS – This floor-standing portable AC unit provides steady, fast, effective cooling for rooms up to 150 sq. ft. It’s the ideal small air conditioner for dorms, apartments, cabins, campers, offices, bedrooms, or living rooms
- SIMPLE & QUICK TO INSTALL – Just wheel this portable air conditioner into any room with a double hung or sliding window. Attach the included hose (4’ 11”) & window adapter & plug it in to an outlet! At the end of the season, just unhook & store. Top mounted control panel with LED display
- EASY TO USE & CLEAN – The simple remote control & top-mounted LED display with 24-hour timer allow you to precisely control the air temperature. To clean the filter, just slide it out twice a month, rinse it thoroughly under running water, & put it back
- 3-in-1 FUNCTIONALITY – Combines 3 energy efficient functions for all your cooling & ventilation needs with cool, fan, & dehumidifying modes all in one machine. Bucket-less, self-evaporating operation makes your living space cool, clean and dry
- Cools a room approximately 15′ x 20′
- Compact size
- Comes with a full window kit for easy installation
- 24 Hour Timer & sleep mode for energy efficiency
- No Wifi for Internet connection
10. Koldfront WAC10003WCO 10000 BTU 115V Window Air Conditioner
- 10,000 BTU cooling capacity; Recommended room size: 450 sq ft; Temperature range: 62° – 86° F
- Three (3) separate fan speeds; 4-way air directional louvers; Remote control included; Auto function; Sleep mode; Dry mode
- Uses the energy efficient coolant of the future R32, which surpasses even R410 in capacity and coefficient of performance
- Energy Star rated; Energy Saver mode; 24-hour timer; LED filter alert; Input voltage: 115 V/60 Hz; Current 8.03A; Plug type: NEMA 5-15P
- Dimensions: 14.6H x 19.0W x 21.4D; Min. window height 15.5″; Window width: 23″ – 36″; PLEASE NOTE: This window air conditioner does not require a wall sleeve
- 10,000 BTU cooling capacity makes it ideal for large rooms up to 450 sq.ft
- Features 4-way air directional louvers that provides maximum cooling coverage
- Comes with a remote control that makes it easy to change the setting from anywhere in the room
- Built-in fins may not be sturdy enough
All types of air conditioners operate similarly. First, they extract air and remove any dust and impurities with a filter. This air is then circulated over a cooling or evaporating coil, which absorbs the heat. Concurrently, moisture from the air is converted to do on the coil’s surface, effectively reducing the humidity level in the room. Finally, the air is expelled from the device, reducing the room’s temperature.
There are numerous varieties of air conditioners. Window units are typically the most popular because they are inexpensive and straightforward to install, though they may not fit in some homes and apartments with unusually shaped windows. Portable units are advantageous because they can be moved from room to room, but they are less efficient and require more maintenance. Built-in or split systems provide a more permanent solution, but their installation requires a professional and can be costly.
Check the air conditioner’s filter each month and clean it if necessary to keep it clean. Additionally, examine the water pan inside the unit and wipe it down with a rag or sponge to ensure proper drainage of the unit’s condensate. Additionally, it prevents mold growth.
If you have basic DIY skills and a few tools, you can likely install a window air conditioner on your own; however, because some units are cumbersome and awkward, you may want to enlist a friend’s assistance. When purchasing a new air conditioner, you can ask the retailer for installer recommendations if you are unsure about installing it yourself.
Depending on the type and functionality, the price of an air conditioner can range from $100 to several thousand dollars. If you need one with advanced features and a high BTU capacity, window air conditioners can cost upwards of $1,000. Portable air conditioners are typically more expensive, costing between $200 and $500 on average. In general, wall air conditioners cost $400 or more, and mini-split options begin at around $800, plus installation fees. Central air systems are often desirable because they can also be used for heating, but the system and installation will likely cost several thousand dollars.
British Thermal Units (BTUs) are used to measure the amount of heat an air conditioner can remove from a room; larger rooms require a unit with a higher BTU. Energy Star suggests 6,000 BTU units for rooms up to 250 square feet, 8,000 BTU units for rooms up to 350 square feet, 10,000 BTU units for rooms up to 450 square feet, and 12,000 BTU units for rooms up to 550 square feet.
These ten air conditioners are excellent options for those searching for a cost-effective and efficient way to cool their home or office. Each has distinctive features, but they are all simple to use and install. If you’re looking for a portable air conditioner, any of these are excellent options.
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