These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (2024)

These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (1)

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For those of us who don't have central air conditioning, it can be a challenge to stay comfortable on those hot summer days. But to avoid over-spending money on not only the initial investment but the electricity usage from running your new AC, you'll want to be sure you're

investing in a powerful unit that strikes the balance of quality and performance at the right price.

The engineers and product experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute tested hundreds of different HVAC products, from portable air conditioners, evaporative coolers and cooling fans to humidifiers and dehumidifiers. Based on our in-Lab and consumer testing, our pros found the best window AC unit on the market. We test window ACs yearly and consistently over a period of a couple months by measuring fan speed and cooling capability to ensure the AC can effectively cool down the space it says it can. We also consider factors like loudness, ease of installation, size options, BTUs and removal and useful features like app connectivity.

After perusing our top picks, learn more about window AC units' energy efficiency, how they compare to portable ACs and more FAQs. Once you find the best window air conditioner for you, consult our guides on how to clean an air conditioner and using an AC unit when air quality is bad.

    Pros
    • These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (8)Superb cooling power
    • These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (9)Fairly quiet
    • These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (10)Energy efficient
    Cons
    • These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (11)Not suited to large spaces

    LG's 8,000 BTU window AC blew away the competition in our evaluations. We found it great for cooling a living room or a bedroom up to 350 square feet (and it's available in larger sizes up to 15,000 BTUs, for up to 850-square feet of cooling power). This unit carries the Energy Star label, which is a government regulated program that helps consumers identify the most energy-efficient products on the market, so you can trust that this pick will save you.

    The AC comes with a remote, nice for manipulating everything with just a couple button presses. Our testers found the interface to be clean and intuitive, which is not the case with all units we test, causing frustration when you can't get the setting you want. We think the unit is easy to maintain, too, since it has a removable filter that you can wash at the sink with soap and water," adds Dan DiClerico, Director of Home Improvement & Outdoor with the Institute. The check filter signal is a helpful reminder. The unit comes with everything you need to install, including side panels and insulation.

    Item Dimensions LxWxH19.6" x 19.4" x 12.4"
    Item Weightlbs
    BTU Cooling Rating (ASHRAE)8000
    Cooling Area340 sq. ft.

    2

    Best Value

    Frigidaire FFRA0511R1 Window-Mounted Air Conditioner

    These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (12)

    These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (13)

    2

    Best Value

    Frigidaire FFRA0511R1 Window-Mounted Air Conditioner

    Now 11% Off

    Pros
    • These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (14)Great price
    • These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (15)Easy installation
    • These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (16)Best window AC for small rooms
    Cons
    • These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (17)Not suited to large spaces

    When you need something cheaper and simple that can still get the job done, this is the window AC for you. To keep costs down, this unit doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles — no WiFi capability, for example, or other smart features. Its controls are completely manual. You can use dials to adjust coldness and functionality (whether just fan or AC). "The dials don't tell you the exact temperature of the room, which is another factor of its bare-bones design," says DiClerico. "But the truth is, you don't really need to know the temperature of the room. You just need to be comfortable within your room." That said, since it is manual, it defaults to the same settings each time it's turned off, and there's no timer.

    While this 5,000 BTU unit isn't super powerful, it's perfect for a room around 150 square feet, like a bedroom or office — and it's also available in strength up to 15,000 BTU if you need it for a much larger space. It comes with a washable filter and mounting brackets, so you can keep your air fresh and your AC in place.

    Item Dimensions LxWxH16" x 15.25" x 12"
    Item Weight41 lbs
    BTU Cooling Rating (ASHRAE)5000 BTU
    Cooling Area 150 sq. ft.

    3

    Quietest

    Midea U Inverter Window Air Conditioner

    These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (18)

    These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (19)

    3

    Quietest

    Midea U Inverter Window Air Conditioner

    Pros
    • These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (20)Extremely quiet
    • These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (21)Energy efficient
    • These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (22)Window can still open and close
    Cons
    • These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (23)Unique installation is a little tricky

    Our pros love Midea's U-shaped window AC. It's an inverter window AC, meaning that not only will it provide you with more energy savings, it'll actually be quieter overall. This is because the inverter allows the window AC to control how much power it utilizes for cooling air, instead of a non-inverter AC that just runs on full power the entire time. While this increases the initial cost, our experts say it will reduce your overall costs in the long run. This smart AC works with Alexa, Google Assistant and a smartphone app.

    One important note: the Midea installs differently from traditional window ACs, and it can be a bit tricky to figure out. Instead of the window sash resting on top of the installed unit, this U-shaped window AC has a built-in cavity for the window, enabling you to close the window almost all the way. This is a massive benefit over other window AC's because it reduces the amount of air that might leak through the side panels and insulation that you install. It also reduces the amount of noise you hear coming from the interior of the unit as well, operating at 42 dBA according to the brand. We love that, when installed properly, the unit lets you open the window to allow in fresh air on days when you don't want to run your AC.

    Item Dimensions LxWxH19.17" x 21.97" x 13.46"
    Item Weight55.56 lbs
    BTU Cooling Rating (ASHRAE)8000
    Cooling area 350 sq. ft.

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    4

    Best Smart Home

    GE Energy Star Window Smart Room Air Conditioner

    These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (24)

    These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (25)

    4

    Best Smart Home

    GE Energy Star Window Smart Room Air Conditioner

    Now 28% Off

    Pros
    • These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (26)Smart home integration
    • These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (27)Big cooling power
    Cons
    • These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (28)Doesn't go lower than 64º F

    For a powerful AC with both WiFi and a smart home capability, look no further than this GE. This Energy Star-certified window AC cranks out 8,000 BTU, meaning it can cool a room of up to 350 square feet. Its flat display screen has a modern LED design and since it's smart, you can control it via app or its remote. Though the unit is very intelligent, we loved its simple controls, with three cooling modes and four different fan speeds. It also has a sleep mode, that will quiet the sound down even more to help prevent extra noise.

    The GE comes with a traditional install kit (side panels, insulation and screws) and at 35 pounds, it could likely be installed by one person. Several Amazon reviewers wished this unit reached temperatures below 64ºF, something to keep in mind if you like your room extra cold.

    Item Dimensions LxWxH23.6" x 15.9" x 22.6"
    Item Weight51 lbs
    BTU Cooling Rating (ASHRAE)8000
    Cooling area400 sq. ft.

    5

    Best Energy-Efficient

    Frigidaire Inverter Air Conditioner

    These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (29)

    These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (30)

    5

    Best Energy-Efficient

    Frigidaire Inverter Air Conditioner

    Now 13% Off

    Pros
    • These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (31)Smart Apps with WiFi Connectivity
    • These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (32)Inverter technology
    Cons
    • These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (33)Display can be a little tough to see

    This 8,000 BTU unit is both smart and energy efficient, thanks to its inverter. The technology also makes for quiet operation—all the way down to 41 decibels in quiet mode, which our experts say is just a tad louder than a quiet library. The Frigidaire also has many usability features that we look for, including the ability to control it by remote or via the app on your smart phone; that's handy, since a few reviewers noted that the front display is a little frustrating to see at certain times of the day due to the light. The AC can crank out 12,000 BTUs of cooling power, which is ideal for a small bedroom. Based on our engineer's analysis of the installation instructions, the unit should fit most windows.

    Item Dimensions LxWxH23" x 19.45" x 13.9"
    Item Weight55 lbs
    BTU Cooling Rating (ASHRAE)8000
    Cooling Area350 sq. ft.

    How we test air conditioners

    These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (34)

    When testing air conditioners, our experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute start by shopping the marketplace to target the window air conditioners that consumers are most likely to find on store shelves and online, focusing on brands that have performed best through our years of testing. For this round of testing, our engineers and product testers reviewed hundreds of technical and performance data points via hands-on testing in our Lab as well as our homes, enabling us to evaluate the equipment in real-world conditions.

    Since performance is tantamount with most consumers, our experts measured how quickly the units were able to cool a space and also how consistently they maintained target temperatures using a temperature sensor. We used a sound meter to determine the loudness at different power levels and fan speeds, and an anenometer to determine the speed and power of each unit's air flow. We evaluated ease of use, grading how easy it was to install and set up each AC, how they fit in various windows and how easy it was to remove the filter, clean and re-install it. We also considered useful features, including any Wi-Fi capabilities, apps or a remote control.

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    What to look for when shopping for the best window air conditioner

    These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (35)

    While you're shopping for the best window AC, keep these points top of mind:

    ✔️ Room size and BTUs:
    It's important to purchase the right size room AC for your space. Getting too powerful a unit can mean you'll end up with excessive electricity bills on your hands. Meanwhile, a unit that is undersized will be inefficient. Most models list their cooling capacity on the box or website. It's measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units), which correspond to the square footage of a room. Window air conditioners generally range from 5,000 to 15,000 BTUs. In general, the larger the room, the more BTUs you will need. A quick guide:

    • 5,000 to 7,000 BTUs can cool 100 to 200 square feet
    • 7,000 to 9,000 BTUs are suited to 200 to 400 square feet
    • 9,000 to 15,000 BTUs can cover 400 to 600 square feet or more

    Keep in mind that other factors beyond square footage might force you to size up a bit, for example high ceilings, location (you'll want a bigger unit in the kitchen where it can get warmer) and how sunny the room gets. See a bigger guide here from Trane, one of the biggest and most used HVAC manufacturers out there.

    You'll see a lot of BTU's rated by ASHRAE in our product specifications for each product. ASHRAE stands for the "American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers." They created a standard on how to evaluate BTU's for Window AC's, which is the most widely used standard for determining the cooling capacity of the AC.

    ✔️ Noise: Our tests find a wide range in volume of operation, from whisper quiet to so noisy it could be difficult to fall asleep. If the unit will be installed in a bedroom, look for a quiet model, like the recommended Midea that operates at 42 dbA. Some window ACs also have quiet settings that get as low as 40db. The CDC says sounds below 60 dB are considered a safe sound level, while 70-85 dB can cause real annoyance. Anything above that has the capability to damage your hearing in a couple hours or less.

    ✔️ Features: Our experts like to see the following: a “check filter” indicator, which visually reminds you to clean or change out the filter; oscillating vents to help move the unit's air flow from side to side for more efficient room cooling; remotes, great for adjusting the temp without having to move; and smart controls, which allow you to operate the unit from your phone.

    ✔️ Window size: It's important to measure the height and width of the window opening to ensure that the unit can be properly mounted inside it. Measure twice, buy once.

    Are window air conditioner better than portable ACs?

    These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (36)

    Window air conditioner units are the better pick for most situations, assuming you're able to install one in your window. Unlike even the best portable air conditioners, window ACs won't take up floor space or require you to vent a long hose from the device to the outdoors. They tend to be quieter and cost less money for comparable capacity.

    One of the biggest differences is in the name: While they both need windows, window ACs tend to stay in one location, while portable ACs, on the other hand, are mobile and able to be wheeled from room to room. However, some window sizes and shapes don't allow for window ACs, and in those cases, a portable AC is best.

    Are window AC units energy efficient?

    These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (37)

    Compared to portable ACs, definitely, but some are more efficient than others. Here's what to look for to ensure energy savings:

    ✔️ Check its energy efficiency rating (EER), which is derived by dividing BTUs by power consumption in watt-hours. The higher the efficiency rating, the less you’ll spend on home electricity bills. Usually you can find this rating on the packaging itself, or on the official website of the device.

    ✔️ Check EnergyStar.gov, which is run by the EPA and DOE in order to help promote energy efficiency using standardized methods. Input the model number of the AC you're considering for information on its energy use.

    ✔️ Look for an energy-saver switch. This setting ensures that the fans don’t operate continuously. Likewise, some units have sleep modes that will raise the room temperature at night for improved efficiency.

    ✔️ Get an AC with inverter tech. Inverters work by modulating the compressor motor within the system, adjusting how much power the unit draws rather than operating at full strength all the time (which is what ACs without inverters do). That means an AC with an inverter is capable of controlling how much power it uses instead of utilizing full power at all times. This makes inverters great for reducing overall costs as well as helping to provide better energy efficiency.

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    Why trust Good Housekeeping?

    These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (38)

    The GH Institute Home Improvement Lab has provided expert reviews and advice on all things home-related for decades, including window air conditioners and other HVAC equipment. In his role as Director of the Home Improvement & Outdoor Lab, Dan DiClerico brings more than 20 years of experience to the Institute, having reviewed thousands of products for Good Housekeeping, as well as brands like This Old House and Consumer Reports.

    For this report, Dan worked closely with Rachel Rothman, Chief Technologist & Director of Engineering at the Institute. For more than 15 years, Rachel has put her training in mechanical engineering and applied mathematics to work by researching, testing and writing about products across the home improvement and HVAC space, doing cross-category tests for air conditioners, as well as air purifiers, heaters, humidifiers, dehumidifiers and more.

    They also worked with Alec Scherma, the Test Engineer at the Institute. His background in mechanical engineering and HVAC consulting help to provide testing expertise and knowledge on the different types of HVAC equipment one can purchase.

    These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (39)

    Rachel Rothman

    Rachel Rothman was the chief technologist and executive technical director of the Good Housekeeping Institute for over 15 years, overseeing testing methodology, implementation and reporting for all GH Labs. She also managed GH's research division and the analysis of applicants for the GH Seal and all other testing emblems.

    These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (40)

    Tested byDan DiClerico

    Home Improvement & Outdoor Director

    Having written thousands of product reviews and how-to articles on all aspects of home ownership, from routine maintenance to major renovations, Dan (he/him) brings more than 20 years of industry experience to his role as the director of the Home Improvement & Outdoor Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute. A one-time roofer and a serial remodeler, Dan can often be found keeping house at his restored Brooklyn brownstone, where he lives with his wife and kids.

    These Top-Tested Air Conditioners Will Keep You Cool All Summer Long (2024)
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