Best In-Wall AC Units 2019 - Through the Wall Air Conditioning
There are loads of air conditioning options that can keep you super cool this summer. It is not only hard to know what the best in-wall air conditioning unit for your needs is, but even if it is the best type of AC unit for you when compared to window-mounted models or portable options.
Wall air conditioners are usually more powerful, and much more insulated than other models of room air conditioning. This means they are much more efficient and offer a larger cooling area. The bigger build means that these models are much more durable, especially when compared to portable models, and have a longer life span.
However, wall AC units are embedded, and can’t be moved around or stored away for winter like more portable models. On the plus side, a lot of these AC units come with heating options, that helps keep away winter’s chill. These are great options for rooms without windows, or for people that want to leave their windows functional.
This expert guide for in-wall air conditioners will take you through all the things you need to look out for when shopping around for a product, and tell you about the best wall air conditions we’ve discovered. We highly recommend the Frigidaire FFTA1233Q1 as the best wall air conditioner for most homes because it's powerful enough to handle any room, particularly large rooms.
The Frigidaire FFTA1233Q1 is more powerful than most wall air conditioners. While it’s not the most energy efficient machine we reviewed, it is relatively affordable and has a great feature package.
The Koldfront WTC8001W is more affordable than the other wall AC models we looked at, and it’s the least expensive to operate. It also has some nice convenience features like an energy saver mode.
The GE AJCQ10ACG is more efficient than any other wall air conditioner we looked at, and it doesn’t sacrifice too much cooling power.
The Frigidaire FFTA1233Q1 is the best wall air conditioner we reviewed because it's the most powerful and it has a good range of features like auto restart, sleep mode and energy saver mode.
This Frigidaire unit has an unmatched maximum airflow of 305 CFM, which helps it circulate and cool air more effectively than its competitors. As such, this unit is an excellent option for large rooms up to 550 square feet. This Frigidaire model also has many of the convenience features you’ll find on most AC units, though its sleep mode is useful because it helps you save energy while you sleep by adjusting the temperature automatically.
The dehumidifier in this AC unit can remove up to 3.3 pints of water from the air per hour, which is one of the ways it cools your home. This is a respectable amount of moisture removal, but it’s not the highest we've seen.
This wall AC unit is powerful, but it isn’t top of the class for energy efficiency but just average in this category. It is still good enough to have an Energy Star certification and a better-than-average energy efficiency ratio of 9.8. The estimated annual energy cost is about $110 – the highest operating cost of the models we reviewed. The compressor on this model carries a five-year warranty, the longest we saw among wall AC units.
Best Value for Small Rooms
The Koldfront WTC8001W is the best value of the AC units we reviewed in part because it is the least expensive, priced at around $400. In contrast, the average cost of the in-wall air conditioners we reviewed is $584. It also has some versatility.
This unit isn't very powerful, though it can comfortably cool rooms up to 350 square feet. This is larger than most master bedrooms, but it might struggle with larger rooms. It also has a heating function you can use during the winter. This lower power level means it needs less energy overall to cool a room than any other model we reviewed. We estimate that it only costs around $75 per year to run this unit, which is $20 lower than the $99 average of the competition.
It has an energy efficiency rating of 9.6, making it the least efficient model we looked at, though it’s still good when compared with the overall market. It is still high enough to obtain an Energy Star certification. A two-year appliance warranty covers all the Koldfront’s parts except for the compressor, which is the cooling component. Every other wall AC unit we looked at only offers one year of coverage, so it is the best appliance warranty we saw. However, the unit’s two-year compressor warranty doesn't quite match the industry average coverage of about four years.
The GE AJCQ10ACG strikes an excellent balance between power and efficiency. It is the most efficient wall air conditioner we reviewed, with an energy efficiency rating of 10.7. It also has an Energy Star certification.
This unit has a relatively low airflow rating of 270 CFM, though that’s enough to cool rooms up to 450 square feet. That is a good-size room, but the most powerful in-wall ACs can cool a room of 550 square feet. The estimated annual energy costs are around $86, which is less than the majority of wall air conditioners. Some weaker units we evaluated have lower operating costs but are less capable in rooms over 350 square feet.
This GE unit can remove a respectable 2.7 pints of moisture from the air per hour. Among this GE unit’s features is an energy saving mode that turns off the compressor while the fans still run. This keeps air moving in the room and makes you feel cooler, though the compressor turns back on if the room gets too warm.
Its other convenience features include adjustable fan speeds, timers and a remote control. However, this unit lacks both a sleep mode and an automatic restart, which aren't strictly necessary but make it easier to use. The auto restart will restore all of the unit’s original settings if there is a power outage. GE provides a five-year warranty on the compressor, which is the longest in the industry.
The Fredrich Uni-Fit US12D10C has a solid package of features that make it an effective wall AC that will cool a room of up to 550 square feet.
It has not only a strong maximum airflow of 290 cubic feet but the unusual six-way directional louvers to distribute air more effectively. Most ACs have only four-way directional louvers. It also removes an impressive 3.8 pints of moisture from the air per hour. It is lacking in a few convenience features, like sleep mode, which would make it even more efficient, but overall this is a solid, effective air conditioner.
Best for Humid Climates
The LG LT1236CER is an energy efficient wall-mounted AC that does a great job of removing moisture from the air.
This through-the-wall air conditioner pulls 3.9 pints of water from the air per hour, which is more than any of the wall ACs in our reviews. The less moisture in the air in your room, the cooler you will feel. The LG’s uncommon dehumidify mode setting is a big reason why it can extract extra moisture. This AC’s airflow is on the low side, moving at 265 cubic feet per minute, which is lower than other units we reviewed, but its stellar moisture removal capabilities make it a good choice for humid climates.
Why trust us
Since 2016, we've tested programmable thermostats and fans in-house at Top Ten Reviews. This experience has helped inform many of our conclusions relating to other heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment. We apply exacting standards to each product we test, primarily focusing on performance and user-friendliness. We design our tests to simulate typical consumer experiences.
When, as in the case of in-wall air conditioners, we cannot test the physical product ourselves, we apply the same due diligence to make sure our information and conclusions reflect the mission of Top Ten Reviews.
How we evaluated
As we evaluated wall-mounted air conditioning units, we weighed cooling ability and energy efficiency more heavily than other features. Since air conditioners are used first and foremost to regulate the temperature and keep you comfortable, we considered how well each unit circulates air, what modes it has and if it works effectively.
We looked at each unit's energy efficiency and estimated how much it costs to operate per year based on a three-month period of use with it running eight hours per day. High energy efficiency is vital to lowering your electric bills each month and reducing energy use.
We also considered ease of use, noting each unit's modes of operation. Every in-wall AC we reviewed includes a remote control and a programmable timer, convenient features that allow you to control the air conditioner from across the room and set it to turn on and off at specific times.
Even though in-wall air conditioners are permanent fixtures and not meant to be moved around, it's a good idea to look at how heavy a unit is before installing it. The average weight of the wall air conditioners we reviewed is about 80 pounds, which makes them difficult to install by yourself.
In-wall air conditioner installation
If you don’t already have a sleeve in your wall for an in-wall air conditioner, you will probably want to have your new AC professionally installed. Unless you have previous installation experience or are confident you can install an AC unit yourself, professional installation is recommended.
On the other hand, if you have an existing wall sleeve, you can install your new air conditioner on your own. You first need to prepare it by thoroughly cleaning it out and making sure it is in secure working order. If you can see through the sleeve to the outside of your home, the AC will probably have the ventilation it needs to breathe and function properly.
You need to precisely measure the sleeve before you purchase a new air conditioner. Be sure your new AC fits snugly into the existing sleeve. Look for a universal-fit, rear-breathing air conditioner, since they are designed to fit the vast majority of sleeves.
There is a chance you won’t be able to find an AC that fits perfectly into the sleeve, but that isn’t necessarily a problem. As long as the AC isn’t too big for the sleeve and there isn’t too much excess space around the air conditioner, you can make it fit with a few adjustments. Simply place foam padding inside the sleeve to fill all of the gaps between it and the AC. Once all the empty space is filled, you can buy a frame that fits snugly around the outside of the air conditioner to give it a finished look.
Things to consider when choosing an in-wall air conditioner
1. Room size & cooling performance
Air conditioners use British thermal units (BTU) to indicate the size of the room they can cool. Using a calculation from the Energy Star organization, an air conditioner rated at 5,000 BTU can cool rooms up to 150 square feet, whereas a unit with 7,000 Btu can cool rooms up to 300 square feet. An easy way to check BTU is through a BTU calculator. Just bare in mind there are a range of factors that could affect your through-the-wall air conditioner’s cooling capacity.
The next thing to consider is the model's maximum airflow, measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). A higher CFM means better airflow in a room, which helps improve cooling performance.
2. Efficiency ratings & certification
Every air conditioner has an energy efficiency ratio (EER), and the higher the EER, the more efficient the air conditioner is. The average EER of the window air conditioners we compared is 10.3, with the most efficient unit having an EER rating over 10.7. Typically, appliances that are Energy Star certified are 20 to 30 percent more efficient than the minimum requirements.
UL Listed products have been tested by Underwriters Laboratories, which is a safety consulting company. AHAM-certified units have passed performance evaluations by Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.
3. How much does a through-the-wall air conditioner cost?
Cost is another important consideration. The wall ACs in our comparison range between about $400 and $800. Our best overall, the Frigidaire FFTA1233Q1, has a great feature package and is economically priced in the midrange at $600. The most affordable unit, the Koldfront WTC8001W, has some nice convenience features like sleep and auto mode and is priced at about $400. The most expensive unit is the GE AJCQ12DCG at about $800, which is an efficient, well-made unit, but its features don’t necessarily stand out enough to justify the extra expense. Our side-by-side comparison will help you find the unit with the features you need at the most reasonable price.
4. Wall-mounted AC units operation modes
Regardless of which air conditioner you purchase, you want one with customizable modes you can match to your preferences. Choose a unit with cooling modes, fan-only modes and adjustable fan speeds. If you live in a humid environment, look for one with a dehumidifying mode that pulls excess moisture out of the air. If you plan to use the air conditioner while you sleep, consider a model with a sleep mode, which gradually raises the temperature during the night, helping save energy while keeping you comfortable.