The best thru wall air conditioners offer a less expensive alternative to AC units, and as the name suggests, they work through your walls to take all the hot air from inside your room and pass it outside. This is very effective at cooling down your home, and while they won’t win any prizes for stylish design, they take up a minimal amount of space and don’t have to cost much, either.
Choosing the best wall air conditioner will depend on your budget and the space you need to cater to. While less expensive thru wall air conditioners cost as little as $400, these are typically less effective when it comes to cooling larger spaces. On the other hand, there are some more premium options with remote and even app controls, which can cool an area of up to 700 square feet. They make great alternatives to the best central air conditioning units, and cost a lot less too. That’s because thru wall air conditioners do not need to be connected to the ductwork in your home, which could make installation more straightforward if you have an opening that’s ready to be fitted.
While they can be used to cool your room, thru wall conditioners can also work as fans to keep the air in your home moving. Switch up the settings using remote controls, or simply use the on-board controls which will offer an array of fan speeds and cooling options. Of course, you may not be too keen to leave your thru wall air conditioner running on full blast all night long, but many of our top picks have night modes to keep the noise down while you try to sleep.
Take a look at our best window air conditioners guide for more cooling solutions, and for our roundup of the best thru wall air conditioners from Whirlpool, LG, Keystone and more, just keep reading.
1. Whirlpool WHAT142-2AW: Best thru wall air conditioner for features
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
2. Koldfront WTC8001W: Best thru wall air conditioner for small rooms
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
3. Impecca ITAC10-KSA21: Best budget thru wall air conditioner
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
4. Keystone KSTAT14-2C: Best thru wall air conditioner for large rooms
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
5. LG LT1016CER: Best thru wall air conditioner for energy efficiency
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
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
Before buying a through wall air conditioning unit it is best to consider the following...
Room size and 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 bear 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.
Efficiency ratings and 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.
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 side-by-side comparison will help you find the unit with the features you need at the most reasonable price.
Wall-mounted AC units operation modes
Regardless of which air conditioner you purchase, you want one with customizable modes that can match 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.