The best window air conditioners will stop hot air in its tracks. A plain-sailing addition to your home, window AC helps to fight off the heat before your room gets too fiery, leaving you feeling cooler, calmer and in control. Unlike a freestanding air conditioner, these units go about this without getting in the way too, as they sit neatly in the window rather than out in the open where a bulky device can stick out like a sore thumb.
When it comes to the best window air conditioners, you won’t want to invest in just any old model. Window AC units from brands such as Frigidaire and LG get down to business thanks to a reel of helpful features, from WiFi enabled units that let you set off the cooling process with a tap on the accompanying smartphone app, to antimicrobial fibres that aid in banishing germs for an ultra-clean airflow. While these types of features come with the more expensive window type air con that cost up to $1,400, there are also budget picks as cheap as $180 that won’t break the bank.
However much you’re planning to spend, the best window air conditioners don’t compromise on power, measured in British Thermal Units (BTU). An efficient Energy Star rating is another stamp you’ll want to look out for, especially if you’re looking to save on energy costs. If your sleep is precious to you, you may also want to get your mitts on a quiet-running window AC that won’t bother you through the night.
Once you’ve cashed in on a powerful window type air con with formidable features, you’ll want to read up on how to clean your air conditioner so that it will stay that way. While you’re at it, check out our guide to the best central air conditioners too.
1. Frigidaire Gallery FGRC124WAE Cool Connect: Best window air conditioner overall
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
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
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.
- Read our Friedrich Kuhl Smart Room review
4. Friedrich Chill Premier CCF05A10A: Best window air conditioner for small rooms
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
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 window air conditioner for large rooms
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 window air conditioner on a budget
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
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.
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.