When the weather heats up, an air conditioner can make indoor spaces bearable once again. But how do you pick the one that will best suit your home?
Here we take a look at seven of the best window air conditioners on the market today. We check out their pros and cons and examine the features to look for before you buy. By the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll have everything you need to make the perfect choice.
Koldfront’s WAC10003 offers a cooling capacity of 10,000 British Thermal Units, or BTU. That means it’s perfect for rooms with a standard ceiling height measuring around 450 square feet.
It offers a temperature range of between 62 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. And you can choose from three different fan speeds too.
The louvers through which the air passes can be pivoted. Move them up, down, left or right to direct the air as needed.
All the controls can be adjusted by remote control too, so you won’t have to move to do it. It will work from up to 16 feet away. And there’s a clear digital display to show you what settings have been activated.
The unit works with a space-age coolant known as R32. This, together with a number of clever features, make this an energy-efficient air conditioner.
A thermostat adjusts the fan automatically to maintain the required temperature. There are also “sleep” and “more sleep” modes. These keep you cool and comfortable throughout the night, without using excessive power.
The sleep mode adjusts the temperature by two degrees at set intervals. After six hours have passed, it will return to the pre-set temperature.
There’s also an energy saver mode. This runs the fan for two minutes in every ten. If the room temperature exceeds the temperature you’ve set, the compressor will start work again automatically.
If all that’s not enough, you can also use this as a dehumidifier. There’s a separate setting to remove excess moisture from the air. And there’s an alert to tell you when to check the filter.
This isn’t the smallest unit out there. It’s designed to fit windows between 23 and 36 inches wide. You’ll need a space at least 15.5 inches high.
Frigidaire’s compact FFRA0511R1E is a great choice for smaller spaces. This 5,000 BTU unit will effectively cool a room of up to 150 square feet – that’s 10 by 15 feet.
It has a dehumidifier setting too. There’s enough power to remove just over a pint of excess moisture from the air every hour.
The smaller capacity means that it’s cheap to run. It’s quiet too, making it a good choice for bedrooms where the soft hum won’t disturb your beauty sleep.
You can choose between two speeds for both cooling and the fan. The controls are very simple: two dials on the front of the unit.
Turn the top one to select the temperature, with settings between 1 and 7. 7 is the highest cooling setting, meaning the lowest room temperature. You won’t be able to select the temperature by Fahrenheit though, and there’s no thermostat.
The bottom dial allows you to choose from four different fan modes, or to turn off the fan.
The louvers can be adjusted here too, although they’re not quite as flexible as the Koldfront model. In this case, you can move them from left to right, but not up or down.
The filter slides out of the side of the unit. It’s covered in antibacterial mesh to avoid circulating germs. And it’s washable, so it’s easy to keep clean.
With this one, you’ll need a window height of 13 inches for successful installation. And as long as your window is between 23 and 36 inches wide, it will work fine. Side panels extend to the appropriate width for a secure fit.
The quick-mount system is easy to use. And there’s a long cord – 6.5 feet – to avoid the need for extension cables. You’ll need a 115-volt power supply and a socket for a three-pronged plug.
One thing to bear in mind here is that there isn’t a drain. That’s apparently because the water that’s collected is used as a coolant.
This does have a side-effect if the fan is switched off while it’s raining. The water will collect inside and when you switch it on, you’ll hear it flicking against the coils. It’s surprisingly loud. Run the fan on high for a few minutes to get rid of the water, and the noise will subside.
Compact design that’s great for smaller spaces
Lightweight and simple to install
Quiet operation (unless it’s rained)
You won’t be able to set the temperature precisely
If you’re looking for a mid-capacity air conditioner, check out the 8,000 BTU version from AmazonBasics. It will give you enough cooling power for a room of around 300 square feet.
It will fit a window height of between 14 and 15.5 inches, and a width between 23 and 36 inches. The mounting kit includes extendable wall panels for a snug fit.
There are plenty of different bells and whistles here.
The side vents can be adjusted independently from one another to direct the air flow as you choose. Both sides can be adjusted up, down and from side to side.
The are three different fan speeds to choose from. And a 24-hour timer allows you to schedule when the unit will turn on and off throughout the day.
Set it to sleep mode and the unit will allow the temperature to rise gradually overnight. There’s also an auto-restart feature to cope with power outages. If one occurs, the unit will start up again safely when the power returns.
Set it to auto and it will automatically adjust when the fan and compressor come on. That works well for a room where external doors are opened and closed regularly. But if you need peace and quiet, choose the “lo-fan” setting instead.
And if you want to eliminate excess moisture, there’s a dehumidifier setting. It’s designed so that any water collected should drain straight out of the back of the unit. We’ve heard of a couple of instances, though, where that hasn’t happened. Some people have drilled their own drainage hole instead.
Most of the features are operated by the remote control, so it’s very easy to use. And you’ll get an alert when it’s time to clean the filter.
That’s easy to do too. The whole thing is washable. And it uses antibacterial mesh to avoid recirculating germs and microbes alongside the cooler air.
It uses a 115-volt power supply. Installation is fast and simple – expect the job to take around half an hour.
The operation is nice and quiet once it’s broken in. Leave it run for a few hours after first installing it, and you’ll find it quietens right down. It is, though, louder on a high setting. If installing it in a bedroom, you’ll want to select the low fan setting at night.
8,000 BTU of cooling capacity will suit rooms of around 300 square feet
Range of different settings, including sleep, auto, and dehumidifier modes
The second window air conditioner from Koldfront to make our list, the WAC12003 is one powerful unit. It offers 12,000 BTU of cooling capacity, making it suitable for spaces of around 550 square feet. That’s about 22 feet wide by 25 feet long.
There’s a sleek remote control to choose the settings. You can choose from a room temperature of between 62 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
There’s also a powerful dehumidifier. That will remove over 60 pints of moisture a day. So if you live in a very humid climate – or have a damp issue – this is a great choice.
The louvers here can be adjusted in any of four directions to control the air flow. There are three different fan speeds, and a 24-hour timer to set when the unit comes on and off.
And there are a range of different settings: auto, dry (the dehumidifier) and sleep. And like Koldfront’s 10,000 BTU model, there’s an indicator light to tell you when to clean the filter.
It requires a 115-volt power supply. The level of power here means that it will cost more to run than smaller units. But it’s still very energy efficient, helped in part by the hi-tech R32 coolant it uses. And installation is a breeze.
As you might expect from a more powerful unit, this is quite large. It measures 14.6 inches high and requires a minimum window height of 15.5 inches. It’s 19 inches wide, and the extendable panels mean it will fit windows between 23 and 36 inches across. The distance from front to back is 21.4 inches.
The remote control with this one is very attractive, but it does have one drawback: it isn’t illuminated. If you want to change the settings at night, you’ll need to turn on the light.
This isn’t whisper quiet, especially on the highest setting. But that’s not surprising – this is moving a lot of air. The noise levels certainly aren’t excessive.
And for a machine with this level of power, it’s very competitively priced.
12,000 BTU cooling capacity, great for spaces of around 550 square feet
Range of settings and fan speeds
Powerful dehumidifier will remove over 60 pints of water a day
This compact air conditioner from LV delivers 9,500 BTU to cool your home. It will suit rooms of around 425 square feet.
It uses R32 coolant and is highly efficient. You can expect to save around 15 percent on your energy bills compared with standard air conditioners.
The dual inverter compressor means that it’s also very quiet. On a low setting, it will produce 44 dbA, or “A-rated decibels”. The noise is comparable to an oscillating fan on a low setting.
The unit is controlled by an attractive remote control. You can select from three different cooling and fan speeds. The temperature is thermostatically controlled.
There’s a dehumidifier setting too. Make sure you install the unit tilted slightly backward to allow the water to drain outside.
It’s also equipped with auto-restart, so it will switch itself back on after a power outage.
You can direct the air flow to where you need it with the adjustable louvers. They can be moved up, down, left or right for maximum flexibility.
But where this really comes into its own is in its ability to be controlled by your smartphone. It’s equipped with what LG calls “SmartThinQ technology”. Connect up your phone and use it like a remote control. It will also work with Alexa or Google Assistant for voice-activated commands.
One thing to be aware of is that when you turn the fan on manually or with the timer, it will default to energy saver mode. If you want to cool the room quicker, that will be an irritation. You can, though, set it to come on in “cool” mode using your smartphone.
This is a fairly compact machine. It measures 24.5 inches from front to back, 19.6 inches wide and 12.5 inches tall.
It comes with L-shaped brackets for support. These are intended to be mounted to the outside sill, but they won’t fit all windows. Fortunately, at a little over 70 pounds, this machine isn’t heavy enough for that to be a problem. Just avoid confusion during installation by ignoring the brackets.
Can be controlled by your smartphone, Google Assistant or Alexa
Very peaceful during operation
Range of functions and auto-restart to switch it back on automatically after a power outage
You can’t manually set it to come on in “cool” mode
The brackets included for installation won’t fit all windows.
The second air conditioner from Frigidaire to make our list, the FFRE083ZA1 offers 8,000 BTU of cooling power. That’s perfect for a room of 340 square feet, or 17 feet by 20.
It’s a smart looking machine, with a digital display showing the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit. On the low and medium settings, sound levels are unobtrusive. But if you want to watch TV in the same room, you may find the high setting is too loud.
It comes with a remote control. Use this to switch between the three different fan speeds. There’s also a programmable 24-hour timer that you can set in half-hour increments. Choose your preferred time to switch it on and off. It’s very easy to program.
Select your chosen temperature and the thermostat will keep it steady, switching the fan on and off as needed.
There’s also a useful sleep mode to minimize energy use through the night. Turn it on and the unit will allow the temperature to gradually increase until the morning.
The unit measures 18.6 inches wide and 12.3 inches high. It comes with a window mounting kit and foam insulation strips. Installation is easy, although the side panels require a bit of time to assemble. Those side panels are adjustable to allow it to fit windows of varying widths.
Draining it is simple too. There’s a rubber plug on the inside that you remove when you’re ready. Make sure you do it regularly. If you don’t, you’ll find the condensed water splashes around and makes the unit sound like a washing machine! When it comes to cleaning, the filters slide out to make the job easy.
All in all, this is an efficient and easy-to-use air conditioner at a fair price.
Thermostatically controlled to maintain your chosen temperature
Sleep mode to minimize energy use through the night
Easy to drain and clean
Fairly noisy when the fan is on high
Make sure you drain it regularly or it will sound like a washing machine.
TCL’s window air conditioner is another one with a smart digital display. You’ll be able to set your preferred room temperature down to the last degree. And the digital thermostat will make sure it remains steady.
There’s a choice of three different fan speeds and three cooling speeds too. The air is directed through two sets of louvers, which can be independently adjusted in four ways.
Select your fan and cooling level, as well as the temperature, using the attractive white remote control. Alternatively, if you’ve lost it down the side of the sofa, you can use the buttons on the unit itself.
You can choose to run it in fan mode only if you wish. And there’s a handy eco mode to keep your energy use under control. Just be aware that the eco mode will allow the temperature to edge up above your preferred setting. We’ve heard of a variance of as much as five degrees Fahrenheit.
There’s also a programmable 24-hour timer. That allows you to set the unit to come on and off as you choose throughout the day. If you’re going out, save power by setting it to come on 10 minutes or so before you return. You’ll enter a lovely, cool room.
If you’re in an area that’s prone to power outages, this is a good choice. The auto restart function will set the unit running as soon as the power comes back on again. And it will automatically apply the settings that were in place when the power went out.
This is an 8,000 BTU air conditioner, so it will suit rooms of around 350 square feet. Installation is simple, as is maintenance. When it’s time to clean the filter, simply slide it out and wash it down.
Once it’s got going, it runs nice and quietly too. If you’re looking for a unit that will work well in a bedroom, this is well worth considering.
But note that when you first turn it on, you may find that it makes an audible ticking noise. It’s a bit like rainwater hitting the back of the machine. It lasts for 20 to 30 minutes before disappearing. So turn it on early and let it warm up (or should that be cool down?) before you hit the hay.
Choice of different fan settings and cooling levels
Digital thermostat and temperature display
Can be operated manually or by remote control
Eco mode allows the temperature to drift well above the pre-set level
Sometimes makes a ticking noise when first switched on.
If you’re feeling bemused by the different features available – don’t worry! Just read through our buying guide to find out what to look for before you go shopping.
How big is your room?
The first question to consider is how big a room you need to cool. That will determine the thermal capacity you need from your air conditioner.
Thermal capacity is measured in BTU – British Thermal Units. The larger the BTU, the more air your unit will shift in a minute. And that in turn determines the size of the room it will work effectively in. The bigger the room you need to cool, the higher the BTU measurement you should be looking for.
All our reviews include both the BTU and the square footage that will normally cool. But take note: when it comes to room size, some factors can vary the power requirement.
If you’re in a kitchen, you’ll need to add 4,000 BTU. If your ceiling is higher than 9 feet, or your room is very sunny, you’ll need to increase the BTU too. And if the room is regularly used by more than two people, add 600 BTU for each additional person.
What extra features do you need?
Air conditioners with eco settings are a great option to reduce your energy bills. And they’re good news for the environment too.
Some models offer the ability to program the fan to come on and off at pre-set times. That’s another good way to minimize your energy use.
And some air conditioners can be used as a dehumidifier too. That’s great if you live in a damp or humid area.
Think about noise
If you’re looking for an air conditioner for your bedroom, check out noise levels. This can be important for studies or family rooms too, where you may want to work or watch TV.
Some air conditioners are quiet on lower settings, but louder when the fan is turned up high.
And check for pitch too. Lower sounds are less obtrusive than higher pitched ones. Look out for sound levels rated in dbA – “A-rated decibels”, which take this into account. They’re a better guide to how noisy machines will seem to the human ear.
Let’s go shopping!
That brings us to the end of our guide to seven of the best window air conditioners out there. We hope you’re now clearer about which one to choose for your home.
Our favorite is Frigidaire’s FFRA0511R1E. It’s compact, quiet, and perfect for small spaces. And it couldn’t be easier to use.
Whichever model you pick, you’ll be able to look forward to a home that’s cool and fresh all summer long. Happy shopping!