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 practical options. Here are some that we recommend.
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. The fewer BTUs you’ll need if you have a dorm room, a studio apartment, or a small room. A window AC unit should also be less expensive. On the other hand, look for higher BTUs for rooms of larger square feet.
- Features: Some window AC units are Wi-Fi capable, so you control them through your mobile phones via an app. 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 room’s space. 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 AC 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 costly central AC units run around $4,500, and the least expensive run for about $800. Conversely, the most costly window AC unit costs about $900, and the least expensive ones are around $130. You’ll 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 window AC units will cost less.
FRIGIDAIRE Compact Mechanical Window Air Conditioner 5,000 BTU
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 offers high BTUs and cools a lot of square feet, this isn’t the one for you. 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 genuinely notable, as most AC units don’t have that feature.
GE Electronic Window Air Conditioner 6000 BTU
This compact window AC unit works like a charm! It's easy to install and operate with the remote control.
Pros: This AC unit is easy to use, has a simple design, and is compact. 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. It’s powerful for its size and can cool a small room up to 250 square feet, which is ideal for a dorm room, a studio apartment, or a reading nook that needs cooling. Take advantage of the remote control to select among three fan modes and three cooling modes, and eco mode to save energy.
Cons: Some find this AC unit loud.
Bottom Line: The GE Mechanical Window Air Conditioner gets a thumbs up for what it is: a small mechanical unit for rooms of 250 square feet or less. Users who like what the GE AC unit offers will be pleased. It has a reasonable 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.
hOmeLabs 14,000 BTU Window AC
When it comes to cooling power, window units blow portable AC models out of the water.
Pros: Finally, a powerful, 14,500-BTU AC unit you can control with your mind! Just kidding! It’s Wi-Fi enabled so that you can operate it with your mobile phone and the hOmeLabs app. Select the SMART button on the remote control or the LED digital control panel to connect it with your phone. From there, you have multiple options to create the perfect environment for you. Choose from COOL mode, DRY mode to reduce humidity or FAN for extra circulation, and more. It’s just the right size and has 1,270 watts of power to cool a room up to 650 square feet. An Energy Star efficient unit, it boasts CEC, DOE, and CSA certifications. And you don’t need to hire a contractor to install the AC unit, but have a buddy on hand for assistance, as it weighs 72 pounds.
Cons: You may need to give yourself time to get used to all the options available and how to navigate the app.
Bottom Line: With a bit of research, it’s clear that this hOmeLabs AC unit was made to make you as happy as possible. It’s quiet, too, at 61 decibels or less.
Midea 5,000 BTU Window Air Conditioner with Mechanical Control
An affordable, energy-efficient AC unit that's ideal for smaller rooms.
Pros: Besides its reasonable price, the Midea is incredibly energy-efficient. This model has an Energy Star Combined Energy Efficiency Rate (CEER) of 11.0, which helps reduce energy costs and saves you money throughout the year. It’s easy to install and suitable for windows 23-36 inches wide and at least 13 inches high. You don’t even have to sweat if you don’t own tools because everything you need for mounting is included. The 5,000-BTU unit quickly cools down your space according to the ventilating and cooling modes you select. Enjoy Sleep Mode for a quiet, nighttime breeze. The Midea also comes with a removable and reusable air filter.
Cons: Some users were disappointed with the cooling capacity of this unit. If you’re concerned about this issue, check out the 6,000-, 8,000-, 10,000-, and 12,000-BTU options.
Bottom Line: The Midea offers easy to install, operation, and maintenance. Because there’s no remote control or smart features, there’s less that can go wrong. It’s a perfect-efficiency AC window unit.
Soleus Air Exclusive 8,000 BTU
This over-the-sill window AC keeps your view, you, and your family cool.
Pros: Maybe it sounds weird, but it’s pretty simple. Called a saddle AC unit, it’s shaped like an upside-down U that fits right over 11-inch wide or narrower windowsills. For a proper fit, your window needs to measure between 24 and 48 inches wide with a minimum of 16 inches of height clearance. Use the LCD remote control to activate the MyTemp sensor. There’s also Auto Mode, Sleep Mode, Dry Mode, and more. Because the compressor sits outside the window, the unit runs at a quiet 30 decibels max, ideal for a comfortable environment.
Cons: Condensation buildup from an AC unit is normal; however, some users don’t appreciate the need to drain the condensation tank almost daily.
Bottom Line: Most of us assume that a window AC unit will take up a large section of the window, but this one won’t. That’s what makes the Soleus a great buy; you can keep the light coming in. Plus, it has numerous other premium qualities.
When deciding on a window AC unit, personal preferences and unignorable facts are 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.