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Best Window Air Conditioners
How to Choose a Window Air Conditioner
The top performers in our review are the Haier ESAQ406P, the Gold Award winner; the Frigidaire FFRE0633Q1, the Silver Award winner; and the Danby DAC060EUB5GDB, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing a product to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 window air conditioners.
A hot and humid room can drain the energy out of anyone on a sunny afternoon. Options for fighting an uncomfortable summertime climate are many, ranging from a dip in the pool to a new central air conditioner for your home. Window air conditioners represent a low level of commitment and low price that is perfect for certain living situations. It makes a decent option for renters because the installation process involves little or no alteration to the home. Even for home owners, energy-efficient window air conditioners can make sense for times when you don't want to run an outdated, energy-guzzling central air conditioner and can live with just one room that is extra cool and comfortable.
Besides a small window AC, you have other energy-efficient and inexpensive options like portable air conditioners, which require no installation and move easily from room to room, though they are universally regarded as less effective at cooling. Through-the-wall air conditioners require a permanent alteration to your home but are still more efficient and less expensive than central air conditioners. A central air system can be the best choice if you own your home and have the budget to invest in a long-term solution. If you don't own your house or don’t want to cool the entire house, window air conditioners are a solid choice.
Window Air Conditioners: What We Evaluated, What We Found
During our evaluations of window air conditioning units, we considered the cooling ability and energy efficiency more heavily than other features on these units. The first and most important thing these units should do is regulate the temperature and keep you comfortable. If an air conditioner can’t perform this function, then it does not serve its purpose. Therefore, we considered each unit's ability to move air through a room, operate in different modes and operate effectively more heavily than other features.
We also considered each unit's energy efficiency and determined the estimated annual cost to operate each unit. This particular criterion is vital if energy efficiency is something you find important and you want to keep your electric bills low each month.
Ease of use is also important, and during out evaluation we looked at contributing features like each unit's modes of operation to help keep you comfortable. Nearly every unit in our window air conditioner reviews includes a remote control and a programmable timer. These convenient features allow you to control the air conditioner from across a room and set it to turn on or off at specific times.
Finally, the overall design is another major consideration for window air conditioning units. Although they may not be the most maneuverable AC units available, they shouldn't be too heavy to lift into the windowsill. The unit you choose should be lightweight and easy to install. Also, consider how quiet a unit is during operation. If you want to install a window air conditioner in your bedroom, a loud unit can wake you up at night. The average noise level of window air conditioners is 54 decibels, which is about as loud as a conversation between two people. Look for an air conditioner that is around this average noise level, if not lower, if you plan on using it while you sleep.
What Should You Look for in a Window Air Conditioner?
The first and most important consideration when looking for a window air conditioner is the size of the room you want to cool. It's important to note that a big, powerful unit may not be the right one for you. Each air conditioning unit is rated in British thermal units (Btu), which indicates the size of the room it can cool. Essentially, you want to find a window AC unit that is just as powerful as it needs to be – not too powerful and not underpowered. Typically, an air conditioner that produces 5,000 Btu can cool a room up to 150 square feet, whereas a unit that produces 7,000 Btu can cool a room up to 300 square feet.
The next thing to consider is how much air an air conditioning unit blows through the room. This is indicated by the model's maximum airflow, measured in cubic feet per minute (cfm). The higher the cfm, the more air is pushed through the unit and into the room you want to cool.
Energy Costs & Certifications
Another thing you have to consider when purchasing any large appliance is how energy efficient it is. This also determines how much you can expect to spend on electricity. Every air conditioner we reviewed has an energy efficiency ratio (EER), which helps you determine the overall energy efficiency. The higher the EER, the more efficient the air conditioner is. The average EER of window air conditioners in our comparison is 11.24, so if you want an efficient unit, look for an EER above that.
Also consider the annual cost of each unit. We determined the annual energy cost of each window air conditioner by calculating the energy requirements of using the unit eight hours a day for three months out of the year, which is an industry-standard formula. Your actual cost completely depends on how often you use the unit and how much you pay for electricity – the national average is 12 cents per kilowatt – so your overall energy cost can vary from our estimate.
Finally, we paid attention to units that have certain performance and safety certifications, such as the Energy Star certification, UL Listed mark and AHAM certification. Typically, appliances that are Energy Star certified are 20 to 30 percent more efficient than what is required by law. UL Listed products have been tested by Underwriters Laboratories, which is a safety and consulting company. Finally, a unit that is AHAM certified has passed performance evaluations by the Home Appliance and Manufacturing industry. These three designations can give you a solid idea of how an air conditioner performs.
Portability & Design Considerations
What differentiates these models from other air conditioners is that they are designed to be lightweight yet easy to install for long-term use. Setting up one of these units should take a matter of minutes and shouldn't be a headache or a serious workout, so look for models that are lightweight and easy to install. We found that the average weight of window air conditioners is about 60 pounds.
Finally, every window air conditioner includes some kind of window kit that seals any open spaces that the unit itself does not cover. These kits tend to be the weak point in these systems, as improper installation allows cool air to escape the room and hot air to enter the house. Therefore, look for window air conditioners that have great window kits that keep the room insulated, and make sure to install them correctly.
Regardless of which air conditioner you purchase, you want one that has many mode options so you can customize it to match your level of comfort. Look for units that provide cooling modes, fan-only modes and so on. Adjustable fan speeds can play a major role in keeping a room comfortable, so look for a window air conditioner that has adjustable fans speeds.
If you live in a humid environment, look for units that feature a dehumidifying mode that pulls excess moisture out of the air. This particular element found in many window air conditioners is helpful as you may not need a separate dehumidifier for your home in order to keep cool. If you plan on using an air conditioner while you sleep, consider a model that has a sleep mode, which gradually raises the temperature during the night, helping save energy while still keeping you comfortable.
Window Air Conditioners: Our Verdict & Recommendations
During our evaluation process, we came to the conclusion that the Haier ESAQ406P, Frigidaire FFRE0633Q1 and Danby DAC060EUB5GDB are the three best window air conditioning units on the market.
The Haier ESAQ406P stands out first for its quiet operation, but that is really just one small part of its charms. Impressive energy efficiency, cooling speed and moisture removal rates combine to make this quiet window air conditioner a powerful tool for cooling your targeted room.
The Frigidaire FFRE0633Q1 has a little bit less in terms of airflow than the top product but offers a strong set of features overall, especially when you consider all of the operating modes. With fan, sleep, energy saving and other modes, you have a lot of control over your environment and energy usage.
Third place finisher Danby DAC060EUB5GDB is very competitive because of its energy efficiency. It has the second highest EER of all the units in our comparison, so it should keep you cool without racking up high energy bills.
All three of these units combine great cooling capabilities with energy efficient designs, making them highly functional and relatively inexpensive to operate when compared to other window AC units. They also feature lightweight, easy-to-install designs that make it easy to get them up and running quickly.