Choose the best window air conditioner for your needs and you'll be rewarded with an appliance that will make your room extra cool this summer.
Picking the right window A/C unit can be anything but cooling as there's a lot to think about. Don't worry though as we've done the ground work for you, researching the latest window air conditioners, asked the experts, and sifted through thousands of specs, features and user reviews to find the best window air conditioners you can buy right now.
The best window A/C units are designed to fit any double-hung window, while they should be portable enough to be cleared away into storage for the winter. Remember though, window air conditioners are designed to cool a single room, so if you're looking for a unit to keep your entire home cool, check out our guide to the best central air conditioners. If you're looking for something even smaller, take a look at our round-up of the best portable air conditioners.
Things to consider when buying a window A/C unit
We cover off in more detail the key things you need to look for when buying a window air conditioner, but here is some of the essential factors you need to think about.
The first thing you'll need to decide is the power output for your air conditioner, which is measured in BTU. You'll need the right number to cool the area you have with lots of charts out there comparing BTU and square footage – the best bet is to use the recommendation of the company you decide to buy from. The right power means you won't have too little where it takes a long time to cool, but you won't have too much where it's more expensive initially and potentially louder.
Next, you'll need to decide if you want a smart unit or not. Without this you can save money, but with Wi-Fi connectivity you can control the unit with an app and in some cases even voice controls like Alexa and Google Assistant. This is ideal for cooling the house when out so it's chilled on your arrival, while saving you money by not leaving it on all the time or on a regular timer.
Noise is a huge factor for many, especially if its going to be positioned in a bedroom. Lots of units off quieter running with some offering dual inverters and others special insulation to ensure quiet running.
Styling is another consideration. Some units have sleek and minimal white finishes while others have the more traditional grille front. You'll pay more for looks so this depends on personal preference.
Finally, installation may also something you want to think about, with some units coming as one piece that you need to lug into place and install, while others offer a removable outer than can be attached for the unit to slide into. Easier access also makes longer term maintenance less of an issue so it's worth bearing in mind.
So, all that in mind, which is the best window air conditioner for you? We narrowed down the top seven and laid them out below, each with it's individual appeal, so you can more easily pick your perfect cooling partner.
1. Frigidaire Gallery FGRC124WAE Cool Connect: Best overall window air conditioner
One of the best looking and feature filled window air conditioners out there
BTU: 12,000 +/- | Wi-Fi: Yes | App support: Yes | Night mode: Yes
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 for low running costs
Low running costs and powerful performance
BTU: 14,000 +/- | Wi-Fi: Yes | App support: Yes | Night mode: Yes
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.
- Read our LG Dual Inverter review
3. Friedrich Kuhl Smart Room: Best for long lasting quiet reliability
Best for long lasting quiet reliability
BTU: 6,000 - 35,000 | Wi-Fi: Yes | App support: Yes | Night mode: No
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. But 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.
- Read our Friedrich Kuhl Smart Room review
4. Friedrich Chill Premier CCF05A10A: Best for smaller rooms
Best for smaller rooms
BTU: 5,200 | Wi-Fi: Yes | App support: Yes | Night mode: No
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, 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 for night time quiet on a budget
Best for night time quiet on a budget
BTU: 6,000 | Wi-Fi: No | App support: No | Night mode: Yes
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.
- Read our Haier Serenity ESAQ406T review
6. LG LW8016ER: Best for affordable larger room cooling
Best for affordable larger room cooling
BTU: 8,000 | Wi-Fi: No | App support: No | Night mode: Yes
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.
- Read our LG LW8016ER review
7. Frigidaire FFRA051ZA1: Best budget window air conditioner
Best budget window air conditioner
BTU: 5,000 | Wi-Fi: No | App support: No | Night mode: No
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.
- Read our Frigidaire FFRA051ZA1 review
What to look for when buying a window AC unit
There are a large range of window-mounted air conditioners on the market, many being geared towards a specific niche or need, like super quiet air conditioners for bedrooms, small ones for tiny rooms and windows, as well as, all powerful machines designed to create a large cooling area. With so many functions, and niches it can be hard to know what you window air conditioner is best for each function.
This buying guide for window air conditions will talk you through the common features, installing the machine, as well as, providing reviews for the best window air conditioners we’ve got our hands on, so you won’t bake this summer.
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.
Room size and cooling performance
Window AC units come in many sizes and a variety of power ratings. Air conditioners use British Thermal Units (BTU) to indicate their cooling power, but how does that translate to room size?
A good starting place is a 100-square-foot room: To properly cool a room this size, you need an AC unit rated at 5,000 Btu. For every additional 100 square feet, add 1,000 Btu. So, a 200-square-foot room requires an AC unit rated at 6,000 BTU and so on.
However, there are other factors to keep in mind. For example, you want an AC with a higher BTU rating than the above formula suggests if the room has a high ceiling or gets a lot of sunlight as well as if more than one person regularly occupies the room. A BTU calculator is a nice way to ensure you get an air conditioning unit that is suitable for the space.
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 11.7, though the most efficient units have EER ratings over 12. Typically, appliances that are Energy Star certified are 20 to 30 percent more efficient than minimum requirements.
UL listed products have been tested by Underwriters Laboratories, which is a company that consults on a products safety. AHAM-certified units have passed performance evaluations by Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.
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 I need in a window air conditioner?
The functions you need in a window AC unit all depends on the purpose you are using it for. Here are the most common functions on an AC unit, and what they are good for.
This is basically the ability to control the output temperature of the air conditioner.
The budget window AC units will have a regular mechanical thermostat. This is usually in the form of dial that you can rotate, and set the temperature of the room. This dial usually gives presents the temperature as a single digit ranging from 1 to 7 where one is very cool, whilst the other isn’t. This can mean temperature control can be very hit or miss in these models.
The high end range of air conditioners for windows comes equipped with a digital thermostat. Although more expensive, these thermostats are more accurate and allow greater control. Instead of having a number, you can actually set the specific degrees you want the room to be.
So, if you want to maintain a room at a specific temperature, a digital model would be better.
Fan speed adjustment
An AC unit’s fan speed is how you control the rate of cooling in a room.
Budget models typically come with two speeds - low and high. More expensive models come with a more options, including an auto-speed function.
If you are using an air conditioner for a short time, fan speed isn’t so iportant. The high function of an expensive model will allow you to cool the room down quicker, but most people switch over to low to maintain the desired temperature. So, only look for a model with a high fan speed if you need to cool down a room quickly.
The auto-speed function is a great feature to have. This allows the AC unit to monitor and adjust fan speed depending on the room’s temperature. This means you can set it, and just leave it to adjust and monitor itself. This is an ideal function to have in a bedroom or study, so you can sleep or work without working about the AC. It is also great in rooms where there is a natural heat source, like a kitchen.
Automatic timers allow you to program when an AC unit turns itself off. This is a great function for when you are sleeping, or to save yourself money for when the kids, or the other half-forget to switch the machine off when they head out.
Most budget models will only offer you set intervals for when the machine should turn itself off. Higher models are more advanced timers, which allow you to pre-program the AC unit in advance. This means you can even set the timer to turn on when you are not home.
Window air conditioners allow you to control the direction of cool air through a set of blades that can be tilted and adjusted.
Budget models usually have limited amount of directions, and blades for you to adjust, while more expensive models will offer you multiple options. The directions from two (up or down) to eight.
As a window air conditioner sucks the hot air from the room, it also sucks in dust particles. These collect in the filter. A standard filter will have to be replaced every so often to prevent damage to a machine. A washable filter can be used again, once it has been washed.
Some window AC units are designed to be quiet. These models are usually less powerful, and are not great for large spaces, but they are fantastic for areas that need quiet, like the bedroom. The noise level is something you should check for bedrooms.
These are good for those humid days, or if you live by the sea. On those days this mode will remove the moisture from the air, giving you a more comfortable day. The fan usually runs at slower speed, and the compressor is on for smaller duration so the extra humid is collected efficiently.
In sleep mode an air condition will increase the degrees in the room. It will usually increase by half a degree every hour for a period of four hours. The window air conditioner will either maintain the room at a specific temperature or turn off after this period.