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Best window air conditioners 2021

Best window air conditioners 2021
(Image credit: LG)

With the best window air conditioners, you won’t have to worry about sleepless nights or sweaty study sessions anymore. A handy alternative to a freestanding AC unit or one of the best central air conditioners, a window air conditioner cozies into a spot in any double-hung window, meaning it’s pretty much out of sight and out of mind. Rooms big or small won’t cause these savvy units from Frigidaire, LG and more to break a sweat either, and at the same time, you won’t have to worry about extreme energy costs, thanks to their efficient Energy Star ratings.

Thankfully, you won’t have to part with too many bucks for the best window air conditioners, as budget models are as inexpensive as $180. However, if you’re after the best window type air con with the bells and whistles such as WiFi connectivity to start a cool blast from a smartphone app, you might spend up to $1,400. So, while you’re weighing up our window air conditioner reviews, you’ll want to bear in mind how much you really want the sparkly features. That’s because elements such as antimicrobial fibers to fend off germs or night modes to limit the humming after dark will boost up the price.

You’ll also want to invest in a powerhouse that will leave no loose ends untied, so the best window air conditioners are those with a high number of British Thermal Units (BTU). This is especially important if you’ve got a large space in need of some action, as it will take more effort to effectively ward off the heat.

After you’ve found the best window air conditioners for your home, you’ll want to keep it in check by reading up on how to clean your air conditioner.


Best window air conditioners: Frigidaire Gallery FGRC124WAE Review

(Image credit: Frigidaire)

One of the best looking, feature-rich window air conditioners out there

Specifications
BTU: 12,000 +/-
Wi-Fi: Yes
App support: Yes
Night mode: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Wi-Fi smart app and voice controlled+Powerful and quiet+Energy efficient
Reasons to avoid
-Few app issues

The Frigidaire Gallery FGRC124WAE Cool Connect is one of the best looking and feature filled window air conditioners out there. It's not the cheapest but then it's not the most expensive either, yet it offers some of the best specs. 

The LED display tops a mesh front finish that actually enhances the room this unit is placed into. There's plenty of power with this model offering 12,000 BTU, but with lots of options above and below that to suit most spaces. 

Wi-Fi connectivity with app support and smart assistant voice controls are excellent features. This isn't the quietest unit out there but it cools fast and has a Sleep mode for quiet running at night making it an option for bedrooms. Installation is easy but customer care is great too so you should be fine no matter what happens. 


2. LG Dual Inverter Smart: Best window air conditioner for low running costs

Best window air conditioners: LG Dual Inverter Smart Review

(Image credit: LG)

Enjoy low running costs and a powerful performance

Specifications
BTU: 14,000 +/-
Wi-Fi: Yes
App support: Yes
Night mode: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Wi-Fi app and voice controls+Quiet running+Decent looking
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy

The LG Dual Inverter Window Air Conditioner is one of the best for low running costs. While there's plenty of power for larger rooms this is also at home quietly cooling smaller spaces.

Thanks to LG app support there are plenty of scheduling options as well as smart assistant voice controls. The looks are great with a minimal finish and the slide-out chassis makes for simple installation. 

The quiet running is thanks to a dual inverter which also means you can make energy savings of 25 per cent more than the Energy Star recommendation gets you on other models. 


3. Friedrich Kuhl Smart Room: Best for long lasting quiet reliability

Best window air conditioners: Friedrich Kuhl Smart Room Review

(Image credit: Friedrich )

Best window air conditioner Wi-Fi control

Specifications
BTU: 6,000 - 35,000
Wi-Fi: Yes
App support: Yes
Night mode: No
Reasons to buy
+Super silent running+Good looks+Wi-Fi app controlled
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy

The Friedrich Kuhl Smart Room air conditioner is one of the most expensive on our list and, as such, is one of the most well made. Using high-end materials and coming with a five year warranty, this is one for the long haul. 

The other advantage of such a great build is that it runs really quietly. In fact Friedrich says this is up to 45 percent quieter than the competition. There's lots of power, Wi-Fi connectivity with a smartphone app, plus antimicrobial filters for cleaning of your home's air as it cools. 

But it's that brand and it's manufacturing know-how that makes this one of the most reliable units for the long-term to keep running and stay quiet as it ages. 


4. Friedrich Chill Premier CCF05A10A: Best window air conditioner for small rooms

Best window air conditioners: Friedrich Chill Premier CCF05A10A Review

(Image credit: Friedrich)

Need a window air conditioner for your small bedroom? Try this one

Specifications
BTU: 5,200
Wi-Fi: Yes
App support: Yes
Night mode: No
Reasons to buy
+Wi-Fi phone control+Good price+Reliable build quality
Reasons to avoid
-Remote control and Wi-Fi issues

The Friedrich Chill Premier CCF05A10A is best for smaller rooms thanks to its 5,200 BTU which covers about 150 square feet. But size isn't everything as this certainly isn't limited thanks to Wi-Fi connectivity with voice controls.

There's also QuietMaster low-noise running, washable antimicrobial filters and a low annual running cost which equates to around $40 per year. This might not be as cheap as some equivalent BTU units from other brands but for the money you get quality and a five year limited warranty too.


5. Haier Serenity ESAQ406T: Best window air conditioner for night time use

Best window air conditioners: Haier Serenity ESAQ406T Review

(Image credit: Haier )

A super-quiet running mode shouldn't interfere with your sleep

Specifications
BTU: 6,000
Wi-Fi: No
App support: No
Night mode: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Super quiet+6,000 BTU of power+Energy Star rated efficiency
Reasons to avoid
-Not the cheapest for the BTU

The Haier Serenity ESAQ406T window air conditioner is the ideal unit if you like yours to run quietly but don't need all the extras that can push the price up. That means a 24-hour timer is there, but no Wi-Fi. 

You do get super quiet running and a Sleep mode too. While you won't get app support there is a full-function remote control for working the three fan speeds and three cooling levels. 

You also get a dehumidifier mode, a four way air directional control and an Energy Saver mode to save you even more money on top of the great price of this very capable unit.


6. LG LW8016ER: Best window air conditioner for large rooms

Best window air conditioners: LG LW8016ER Review

(Image credit: LG)

This window air conditioner will keep the cost down on large room cooling

Specifications
BTU: 8,000
Wi-Fi: No
App support: No
Night mode: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Remote control+Timer and multiple fan speeds
Reasons to avoid
-52dB in low mode only-No smart features

The LG LW8016ER wall air conditioner is a great option for anyone that wants to efficiently cool a larger space without spending too much. The unit is decent enough looking, works powerfully with its 8,000 BTU but remains super affordable. 

At 52dB it's not the quietest but you do get a 24-hour timer, remote control and Energy Star efficiency for longer term savings on electricity bills. The three fan speeds can be used in conjunction with the four way louvre to cool most spaces as you need up to about 300 square feet.


7. Frigidaire FFRA051ZA1: Best window air conditioner on a budget

Best window air conditioners: Frigidaire FFRA051ZA1 Review

(Image credit: Frigidaire)

Best budget window air conditioner

Specifications
BTU: 5,000
Wi-Fi: No
App support: No
Night mode: No
Reasons to buy
+Great reliability and customer care+Energy conservation mode
Reasons to avoid
-Can get noisy after rain-Lacks power for larger rooms

The Frigidaire FFRA051ZA1 window air conditioner is a superb budget option for those that want room cooling without the extras that push the price up. That means manual knob controls for two fan speeds. You do also have the option to select Energy Saver mode for electricity bill savings. 

This 5,000 BTU unit should cover a room up to about 150 square feet and it'll do so at about 51dB. This might not look great but at the price and with the power it offers, from a brand that's reliable, that sub $200 price is tough to find fault with.


How much does a budget window air conditioner cost?

For a budget-friendly and energy efficient window AC unit, you can expect to pay between $100 and $300. These units typically don’t have a lot of features and most won’t feature the ability to use multi-directional air streams. Always look for model that has at least a one-year warranty that covers the compressor.

A window air conditioner cools the air in an apartment where a woman using laptop computer while kneeling on floor at home

(Image credit: Getty)

Window air conditioners: Room size, cooling performance, and efficiency

When it comes to room size, the question is does your window AC unit have the extra oomph to handle your space? And by oomph, we mean power. As a rule of thumb, the larger the space, the greater cooling power and higher the BTU you’re going to need.

While a 100-square-foot room might need an AC unit with 5,000 BTU to cool off effectively, a much larger space such as a 200-square-foot room is going to need a bigger bang, most likely above 6,000 BTU.

Of course, there are other factors that come into play. If your room is a hotbox with high ceilings and sunlight, it will naturally be harder to cool off and you may want to use a BTU calculator to do the math and decide on how much power you need from a window AC unit.

Energy efficiency ratio (EER) is another important figure – and again, the higher, the better. Our lineup has an average rating of 11.7, but if you want to max out on efficiency, units with an EER above 12 will save you the most in the long run. Energy Star certified units are typically 20 to 30 percent more efficient too.


Which is better, a window air conditioner or a portable AC unit?

As long as you have a double-hung window in your room, you’ll be able to install a window air conditioner in your room. Unlike the freestanding portable AC units, window air conditioners slot into your window area, saving you space on the ground. They also come without the rather clunky long hose, which can be a hassle to vent air conditioner units outdoors. 

If your main concern is your budget, window air conditioners tend to be cheaper and quieter to run as they’re slightly more efficient than a portable air conditioner unit.

However, some buildings and windows may not be compatible with a window air conditioner, so this may not be an option for you. Similarly, if you’re constantly on the move between rooms or houses, a portable air conditioner will be far easier to move around. 

While the window air conditioner which would need to be carefully dismantled in the event of a move, portable air conditioners are easy to transport around the house or stash out of sight when the temperature drops down again. 


Best window air conditioners: Care and maintenance tips

The key to keeping your window air conditioner grub-free is consistent cleaning. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to do. Simply get out the vacuum and run the hose over the air filter regularly. This easy method extracts any dirt that’s built up from your window air conditioner being in use. However, you can also tend to your air conditioner in other ways too:

  • Wipe away any stubborn dirt with water and dish detergent before rinsing the air conditioner clean.
  • If any of the fins get bent out of shape while you’re cleaning it, use a handy fin straightener tool to fix it or if it hasn’t bent too far, simply straighten them using something with a hard edge, like a credit card. Slot the card into the gap above the fin and move it downwards until the problem area straightens out.
  • Is your machine is rattling due to a loose windowpane or uneven sill? Combat the noise with a foam insulation strip or rubber sheeting.
  • If the circuit breaker trips, make sure that there isn’t another device on the same circuit, such as a cleaning device.

Tips on installing a window air conditioning unit

Installing a window AC unit is a job for two people, due to the weight of the unit. Setting up a window AC unit should take a matter of minutes and shouldn't be a headache or a serious workout, so look for one that is lightweight and easy to install. The average weight of window air conditioners in our lineup is about 48 pounds, which can make them difficult to install without help.

An air conditioner does not need to be the same size as a window. Window AC units include a window kit that seals open spaces the unit itself does not cover. The 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. Make sure you buy a unit with a kit that fits your window with a proper seal.

Most air conditioners for windows are designed for double-hung windows, which means that you might have to get creative and so some DIY to get the AC unit to fit if you casement windows or sliding windows. 


What functions do you need in a window air conditioner? 

This is all about controlling your room’s temperature, so first things first, your AC unit should have a thermostat. Most common as a dial form, some higher-end units have a digital version, great if you’re a sucker for precision as you can pick an exact number.

Fan speed adjustment is another essential feature, as this decides how quickly you’ll cool down your room. While budget picks may have one or two speeds, auto-speed functions are smart enough to do the job on their own while you sleep or study, for instance.

Other handy features you may want to cash on include an automatic timer to get things on the roll ready for when you get home or quiet machines for those of you who value your snoozing time highly. Tilted and adjustable blades are also handy to have if you want to manipulate where the cool air is heading.

As for the air’s condition itself, an AC unit with an air filter will help to banish dust from being blown around by sucking the particles into a filter, which is either replaceable or washable so that you can reuse it.  

Luke Edwards

Luke is a veteran tech journalist with decades of experience covering everything from TVs, power tools, science and health tech to VPNs, space, gaming and cars. You may recognize him from appearances on plenty of news channels or have read his words which have been published in most tech titles over the years. In his spare time (of which he has little as a father of two) Luke likes yoga, surfing, meditation, DIY and consuming all the books, comics and movies he can find.