When it comes to effectively cooling down your home, the best thru wall air conditioners are a prime candidate. You won’t have to part with a significant chunk of cash for these handy machines; they’re more affordable than the best central air conditioning units because there’s no need to fuse them with your home’s ductwork.
Instead, thru wall air conditioners are fitted into any available sleeve in your home’s wall. That means that they won’t clog up your living space like a freestanding air conditioner unit or loom above your window like one of the best window air conditioners.
The best thru wall air conditioners may not be the most stylish option out there. However, what they lack appearance-wise, they make up for in features. Basic thru wall air conditioners cost as little as $400 and cover the essentials, such as a variety of fan speeds and cooling modes to give you control over the volume of cool air they put out. More premium models might also have a remote control and app connectivity.
As well as fitting your budget, the best thru wall air conditioners need to have the prowess to effectively cool your space. The power of the unit is measured in British Thermal Units (BTU), so the larger your room and the lower your patience, the higher the number needs to be. Handily, all of the top thru wall air conditioners in our lineup Whirlpool, LG, Keystone and other brands are set apart by their great BTU rating and other excellent features.
1. Whirlpool WHAT142-2AW: Best thru wall air conditioner for features(opens in new tab)
Ideal for large rooms, the Whirlpool WHAT142-2AW can take on spaces as big as 700 square feet. This wall air conditioner has been designed to fit into any existing sleeve and comes from a brand with a stellar reputation.
There are louvers that channel cool air in eight different directions so that your room can be evenly cooled. You’ll be able to change the cooling temperature, air flow, and fan speed to reach a comfortable temperature too. If you’d rather not play around with the settings, there are four pre-set modes and a sleep mode that brings the temperature up gradually as you sleep.
The Whirlpool WHAT142-2AW, unfortunately, isn’t Energy Star certified, however, it does come with an Eco mode which automatically turns off the compressor when your room has reached the desired temperature, this helps to save energy. What’s more, because of the power this thru wall air conditioner provides, it will cool your room quickly.
- Read our full Whirlpool WHAT142-2AW review (opens in new tab)
2. Koldfront WTC8001W: Best thru wall air conditioner for small rooms(opens in new tab)
The Koldfront WTC8001W wall air conditioner offers both cooling and heating functionality, but with less cooling power it’s well suited to smaller rooms. The heating functionality, like most other air conditioners with this feature, is designed to be a supplementary heating source, so it’s great to add a little boost in warmth but won’t be effective as a sole heating source.
This unit manages a nice balance between cost and features. It’s not the cheapest thru wall air conditioner on this list, but it’s not far off and it still packs in some good convenience features, like multiple fan speeds, a fan-only mode, and a sleep mode.
As a less-powerful unit, it’s also cheaper to run as it will consume less energy than most more powerful counterparts. The Koldfront WTC8001W feels solid and durable and also comes with a two-year warranty on both parts and labor.
- Read our full Koldfront WTC8001W review (opens in new tab)
3. Impecca ITAC10-KSA21: Best budget thru wall air conditioner(opens in new tab)
Perhaps unsurprisingly for a budget thru wall air conditioner, the Impecca ITAC10-KSA21 is lacking heating functionality, but for a lot of users that won’t be a problem, especially as most AC heating is designed to be supplementary and more of a nice bonus than a must-have feature.
The Impecca ITAC10-KSA21 is close in price to the Koldfront WTC8001W, but it has enough power to beat it in terms of the cooling area it can reach, The Impecca wall air conditioner can cool rooms up to 450 square feet. As a budget model it is a little on the simple side, but it provides effective cooling and is a good option if you’re wondering whether a thru wall air conditioner is right for you.
This unit also utilizes washable filters, so you won’t need to factor in the cost of regular replacements over its lifespan. It also has a clean filter indicator, which is really useful for alerting you when the filter needs a clean.
- Read our full Impecca ITAC10-KSA21 review (opens in new tab)
4. Keystone KSTAT14-2C: Best thru wall air conditioner for large rooms(opens in new tab)
The Keystone KSTAT14-2C is a powerful thru wall air conditioner that has been designed to effectively cool down rooms as big as 700 square feet. This model is Energy Star certified so it won’t cost as much to power, and it also acts as a dehumidifier with the capability to collect 2.9 pints of moisture every hour.
There isn’t a heater built into this wall air conditioner which is a bit disappointing, however, its other features are well thought-out. The Keystone thru wall air conditioner has a remote control that has an integrated thermostat. This control will then read the temperature in the room and instruct the air conditioner to adjust its settings to ensure the room is evenly cooled throughout.
As well as three fan speeds and three cooling speeds, this wall air conditioner has been designed so that it’s easy to clean and maintain. The filter simply slides out of the front of the unit so that you can give it a quick clean before putting it back.
- Read our full Keystone KSTAT14-2C review (opens in new tab)
5. LG LT1016CER: Best thru wall air conditioner for energy efficiency(opens in new tab)
The LG LT1016CER is an effective thru wall air conditioner with enough cooling power to adequately cool rooms up to 450 square feet in size. Price wise, it sits around the middle of the market, but is still only $70 more expensive than our budget choice, the Impecca ITAC10-KSA21.
Like the Impecca ITAC10-KSA21, it doesn’t have heating functionality, but it does have a good range of airflow functionality. Between the choice of three cooling speeds and four-way swing functionality, it offers a good range of airflow options that allow you to customize how this unit cools your home.
The LG LT1016CER is Energy Star certified, so it was designed with energy efficiency in mind. As a result, it helps keep your energy bills lower than some other units. It’s also an effective dehumidifier, able to remove up to 2.9 pints of water in an hour.
- Read our full LG LT1016CER review (opens in new tab)
How do thru wall air conditioners work, and what are the benefits of owning one?
Thru wall air conditioners rather cleverly extract the heat from your room by sucking the hot air into the unit. Rather than spitting it back out, the heat is absorbed into evaporator coils and worked on by a compressor to increase the refrigerant temperature. Then, while the hot air is pumped out through the wall into the outdoors, cool air is sent as a replacement into your room.
The thru wall air conditioner has several benefits compared to other types of air conditioners such as window air conditioners. While window-mounted air conditioners are often stored out of sight in the winter, the thru-wall conditioner is a more permanent solution, meaning it will always be on-hand in case there’s a sudden heat wave. Some thru wall air conditioners also double up as a heater, saving you bucks on a separate appliance.
As they’re slotted firmly into a sleeve in the wall, thru wall air conditioners look less obtrusive for one. However, the design also works undercover to put a stopper on any cold drafts from gaps in the wall. This is a plus when it comes to energy efficiency, meaning it’s relatively cheaper to run than other types of AC units.
Thru wall air conditioners vs window ACs: Which is best for you?
If you’re feeling torn between choosing a thru wall air conditioner and a window air conditioner, there are a few things you’ll want to take into account. In their favor, window air conditioners are fairly straightforward to mount on any window.
They’re also easy to disassemble, so if you’re planning on switching up your AC unit’s location regularly or you’d like to slide the unit away when the temperature dips down again, the portable design may be a good pick for you.
On the other hand, thru wall conditioners are a more permanent cooling solution. Once they’re installed into a sleeve in an exterior wall, the unit is fixed into its location. Therefore, if you ever decide to upgrade, you’ll need to source a unit that will fit into the same space. It’s also trickier to set up and in most cases, you’ll need to hire a professional to ensure it’s installed correctly.
When it comes to power, however, most window air conditioners run laps around thru wall air conditioners. While it’s fairly easy to hunt down a window air conditioner unit with high BTUs, thru wall conditioners tend to have less cooling power, meaning that they’re better suited to more compact spaces.
This partly explains why thru wall conditioners are slightly more budget-friendly. Regardless, a good thru wall air conditioner will have no problem cooling off a small or medium-sized room, as long as it has a good number of BTUs.
What to consider when choosing an in-wall air conditioner
There’s a lot to think about when you're choosing an in-wall air conditioner, but first on your radar should be the following factors:
Room size and cooling performance
Your thru-wall air conditioner needs to be powerful enough to handle the space at hand. That’s why it’s so important to consider the appliance’s British Thermal Units (BTU). A room that measures up to 150 square feet should be on track with an air conditioner that has a rating of 5,000 BTU. However, rooms with up to 300 square feet need a unit with a little more oomph. Around 7,000 BTU should suffice.
If you’re not sure, using a BTU calculator (opens in new tab) will help you to gauge the ideal BTU for your room’s measurements. Still, things like the model’s airflow (calculated in cubic feet per minute or CFM) also have an impact on cooling performance. The higher the number, the better the airflow.
Efficiency ratings and certification
Just as important is the energy efficiency ratio (EER) of your air conditioning unit. Most window air conditioners in our lineup have an EER of 10.3 as an average, but those with a rating over 10.7 are fine examples of excellent efficiency. In short, the higher the ratio, the more efficient your unit.
It’s also a good idea to look for UL Listed products or AHAM-certified units. UL-listed units have undergone testing from the Underwriters Labaroties, a safety consulting company, and AHAM-certified units must have achieved performance standards set by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.
How much does a through-the-wall air conditioner cost?
Cost is always important, no matter the purchase. Since the best through-the-wall air conditioners cost between $400 and $800, you should line up the features you get for each model side by side to compare exactly what you get for the same price.
Wall-mounted AC units operation modes
Great wall-mounted AC unit features are all about customization and control. A good range of cooling modes should be one of your first priorities, and after that, adjustable fan speeds and fan-only modes will let you fully take the reins.
If your home is located in a hot and humid climate, units with a dehumidifying mode will help to suck out some of the moisture from the air. Other features will depend upon your preferences. For example, sleep modes keep the noise down at night and slowly produce less cool air into the night to save energy.