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The Best Window Air Conditioners

James Andrews1/Shutterstock.com
🕚 Updated September 2021

It's hot out there! These days, there's an uptick in temperature worldwide, and window ACs have become a must-have for many people in order to ward off heat exhaustion.

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  Best for Large Rooms Best for Small Rooms Best Smart Unit Best Value Best for Open Windows
 
  Frigidaire
10,000 BTU Cool Connect
General Electric
5,000 BTU Mechanical Window Air Conditioner
General Electric
8,000 BTU Smart Window Air Conditioner
Frigidaire
5,000 BTU Compact, Mechanical Window Air Conditioner
Midea
12,000 BTU U-Shaped Smart Control Window Air Conditioner
 
Our SummaryThis smartphone controllable window AC unit is as powerful as it is smart. With 10,000 BTUs, it cools spaces up to 450 square feet.This compact window AC unit works like a charm! It's both easy to install and operate.This smart window AC unit has lots of bells and whistles and is an effective option.This little window AC unit is packed with cooling power! Plus, it's easy to install and use.This window AC unit allows you to keep the window open, and it blocks out noise.
ProsWi-Fi enabled control, compatible with voice command systems, three modes, can schedule operation time.Easy to install, use, and change filter, simple design, compact size, can change air direction.Energy Star certified, Wi-Fi-enabled, several settings.Simple mechanical rotary controls, easy to install, energy-efficient, washable filter.U-shaped design, can open your window while the unit is in place, Wi-Fi-enabled, runs quietly, Energy Start certified.
ConsHas a 2017 Energy Star certification that might not be relevant now, may run a bit loudly, display unit can be difficult to read from a distance.Must manually adjust the thermostat and fan settings, no smart features.Weighs a hefty 54 pounds, pricey, hard to know when Energy Star certification was last updated.Not for a larger window, offers higher BTUs.Pricey, Wi-Fi-connected smartphone app control features might be too complex for some users.
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The Best Window Air Conditioners

Two window AC units are secured in two rooms of a brick apartment building.
James Andrews1/Shutterstock.com

As you might have noticed, window air conditioners are compact units installed in a window. The devices work by ejecting heat out and blowing cool air inside. If you need a window AC, there are plenty of effective options. Here are some that we recommend.

Buying Guide for Window Air Conditioners

A window AC unit is installed in a living room window.
Frigidaire

Why buy a window air conditioner?

Because it’s hot! Well, maybe you’d like to know why you might want to buy a window AC over a central AC unit. Even if you have central AC, you might notice that an area of the house remains warmer, maybe by a wall of windows, and you’d like to find a solution. Window ACs are much less expensive to buy and operate, easier to install and maintain, and don’t take up any floor space! Among the window ACs available, some are energy-saving and sufficiently powerful to cool large rooms. Energy-saving window units generally mean cost-saving ones, and that’s a clear advantage. Many models have modern features like programmable timers, heat modes, digital control boards, and wireless control.

What should you look for in a window air conditioner?

  • BTUs: The BTUs (British Thermal Units) tell you how powerful the AC unit is or how much heat it can remove from your home. AC units don’t just blow cold air—they remove heat from the air and circulate cool air back in. So the higher the BTU, the larger the area that a unit can cool. If you have a dorm room, a studio apartment, or a small room, the fewer BTUs you’ll need. A window AC unit should also be less expensive. On the other hand, look for higher BTUs for rooms of larger square feet.
  • Features: In today’s day and age, even window AC units can be synced through Wi-Fi. Smartphone-compatible AC units give you control of fan and temperature modes, and even some with sleep modes on energy-efficient units. Some are compatible with voice command services like Alexa. Some AC units come with remote controls, while others are completely mechanically operated.
  • Design: Design is something to take seriously. It’s a practical issue as well as a stylistic consideration. If you have a tiny apartment, for example, you probably don’t want a large unit that seems to take up half the space of the room. Plus, it might not fit your window. People with highly stylized homes might prefer a unit that’s unimposing. And, of course, you have to consider the dimensions of the unit and the limitations of your window.

How much should you expect to spend on a window AC unit?

One thing that’s nice about window AC units is that they’re less expensive than central AC units. The most expensive central AC units run around $4,500, and the least expensive run for about $800. Conversely, the most expensive window AC unit costs about $900, and the least expensive ones are around $130. Clearly, you’ll really cut costs by choosing a window AC unit, and that’s a good thing! The rest is up to you. In general, the higher-performing window ACs, with powerful BTUs, Wi-Fi control, Energy Star certifications, and low-running decibels will tend to run higher in price. On the other hand, more compact, simply designed window AC units will cost less.

Our Picks for the Best Window AC Units

Best for Large Rooms

FRIGIDAIRE 10,000 BTU Cool Connect

This smartphone-controllable window AC unit is as powerful as it is smart. With 10,000 BTUs, it cools spaces up to 450 square feet.

Pros: This 10,000-BTU window AC by Frigidaire can cool up to 450 square feet. That’s pretty powerful. The built-in Wi-Fi gives you control over modes (Cool, Eco, Fan), temperature, and on/off power through your Android or iOS smartphone. It also supports voice control Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri voice commands. The technology also gives you the option to schedule ahead when the AC unit turns on while you’re away. You can track when to change the filter and the hours of use via the app.

Cons: This Fridigaire model runs a bit loudly compared to others, which can be annoying, especially if you want to run the unit through the night. The display can be difficult to read from a distance.

Bottom Line: This is a decent product, for sure. It has the modern technological features that most of us want, which makes it easier for users to control. It seems that those features serve the functional capacity of the Fridigaire well. The high BTUs alone are a major selling point. A 450-square-foot room can be compared to the size of a two-car garage, and that’s a considerable amount of space.

 

Best for Small Rooms

GE 5,000 BTU Mechanical Window Air Conditioner

This compact window AC unit works like a charm! It's easy to install and operate.

Pros: This AC unit gets a gold star for its ease of use, simple design, and compact size. It’s even easy to install and clean the slide-out filter. It has a fixed chassis that easily fits in a double-hung window, and it comes with an EZ mount installation kit and a three-prong cord. Another nice feature is the two-way louver, which allows you to change the air direction. AC unit louvers work like shutters or blinds for windows with horizontal slats, which can be moved up and down to adjust interior light. The louver on the window AC unit provides you with the option to adjust airflow. This little unit is powerful for its size and can cool a small room up to 150 square feet, which is ideal for a dorm room, a studio apartment, or a reading nook that needs cooling.

Cons: This GE model has no smart features. You have to walk over to the unit to adjust the thermostat and fan settings. It doesn’t have an Energy Star rating or any other official indications of efficiency. 

Bottom Line: The GE Mechanical Window Air Conditioner gets a thumbs up for what it is: a small mechanical unit for rooms of 150 square feet or less. Users who like what the GE AC unit has to offer will be pleased. It has a good price, longevity, and cooling power. If you’re looking for a window AC unit with higher BTUs for larger spaces and more accessories, look elsewhere.

 

Best Smart Unit

GE Smart Window Air Conditioner

This smart window AC unit has lots of nice bells and whistles.

Pros: This GE Smart Window Air Conditioner has what the GE Mechanical Window Air Conditioner doesn’t. Its higher BTUs cool up to 350 square feet—an average-sized room—and it’s Energy Star certified. As a Wi-Fi-enabled window AC unit, you control its settings via your smartphone or with your voice through Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri voice commands. The unit uses your smartphone’s location services to activate cooling in your home while you’re away. Again, you have control of this function. You can also walk up to the unit and hand-select several functions: Mode button (Cool, Energy Saver, Fan Only), Fan Speed button (Low, Medium, High, Auto), and Sleep. The sleep setting is just like the one on a computer. It allows you to reduce energy usage.

Cons: This model is on the pricey side, so if you’re on a tight budget, you’ll probably prefer a different model. Some users will need help with installation, as the unit weighs a hefty 54 pounds.

Bottom Line: You can’t go wrong with this unit as long as you want what it has to offer. It has a lot of features for you to evaluate. Fundamentally, this product is smart-tech oriented. With simply your smartphone, you can activate the AC while you’re out running errands so that you have a cool home to return to. You can also operate it through voice commands if you have Alexa or some other compatible voice command service. Of course, the smart technology could be working perfectly fine, and you could still experience poor performance as far as the cooling function is concerned, which is the whole point of having a Window AC unit, right? Well, if you take into consideration the rave reviews, you probably don’t need to worry.

 

Best Value

FRIGIDAIRE Compact Mechanical Window Air Conditioner

This little window AC unit is packed with cooling power! It's easy to install and use.

Pros: This compact mechanical window AC unit by Frigidaire offers all the basics. With 5,000 BTUs, it can cool a room up to 150 square feet and do it quickly. It’s simple to operate the unit. Just use the mechanical rotary controls to set the cool and fan speed, each with two settings, as well as two-way air direction control. The vents run the full length of the unit for optimal airflow. With a low-power start-up, this Frigidaire model is also energy-efficient. Plus, the model includes a slide-out filter that’s washable and antibacterial!

Cons: If you’re looking for a window AC unit that fits a larger window, offers higher BTUs, and cools more square feet, then there’s no need to spend time contemplating this product. Other similar compact window AC units sometimes have remote control and timer functions, but this one doesn’t. And while it’s efficient, the unit isn’t Energy Star certified.

Bottom Line: This low-cost mechanical Frigidaire unit lives up to its promises. The power and features that it offers deserve acclaim. The window AC unit might be small, but it cools quickly and is durable. The washable filter is truly notable, as most AC units don’t have that feature.

 

Best for Open Windows

Midea U-Shaped Smart Control Window Air Conditioner

This window AC unit design allows you to keep the window open and it blocks out noise. It seems paradoxical, but it's not!

Pros: Where to start? The Midea U window AC unit is named for its U-shaped design. Its remarkable design allows you to open your window while the unit is in place. There’s a large indentation in the body of the unit, so the majority of it sits outside your window, with the smaller-portioned front section remaining inside. The design is a major plus for the product because it allows fresh air and better lighting. Additionally, because the cooling system resides toward the back of the unit, which rests on the outside of the window, it runs at a quiet 42 decibels. The Midea U is Wi-Fi-enabled and can be controlled from nearly anywhere using the MideaAir app on iOS or Android smartphones. It can also be powered via voice command systems. Using the app, you can create schedules to switch temperatures and modes. Finally, with the advanced DC Inverter technology, it boasts the Energy Star Most Efficient Certification.

Cons: The Midea U is a rather expensive window AC unit. While it’s available for single- or double-hung windows, the minimum height is 13.75 inches. So, if you have a shorter window, it’s a no-go. For some users, the Wi-Fi-connected smartphone app control feature might be too much to handle. You can manually adjust some settings, but the main attractions are the U-shaped design and the smart control, so if you like low-tech, this is likely not your dream window AC unit.

Bottom Line: This Midea model gets a big thumbs up. The smart features, design, energy efficiency, quiet operation, and cooling capacity put the Midea U in a category of its own. It’s ideal for people who are looking for an impressive, quiet, and high-tech model. Again, if you need to watch your budget and prefer less gadgetry, check out a different model.

Final Thoughts

When deciding on a window AC unit, there are both personal preferences and unignorable facts in play. Let’s start with the facts: Limitations include budget, window dimensions, and square feet. Personal preferences include features like smart control, energy efficiency, Energy Star certifications, diverse settings, easy installation, and more. Window AC units offer a simple solution for cooling your living space. Plus, they make great add-ons to central AC. On their own, they require less energy, which translates to lower electricity bills. All in all, more and more people will need to find ways to cool down as the world heats up. A window AC unit can be a great way to do that.

Britta Kallevang Britta Kallevang
Britta is a professional writing tutor and freelance writer that is trained in journalistic, technical, and creative copywriting. At LifeSavvy, she researches products, writes about the items, and shares what she's uncovered with readers. Her writing is comprehensive and sometimes a bit silly. Read Full Bio »

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