The humble window air conditioner, long scorned for its noisy, rattling inefficiency, has undergone a revolution. New models cool down a room more quickly thanks to improved fan and compressor designs, with better sound dampening features and improved airflow, so they operate more quietly. And many models can be controlled remotely using an app on your phone, allowing you to program the appliance’s operation and alter its schedule if the weather takes a turn—for the better or for the worse. And there are a few appliances that offer voice control: just tell the appliance what you want it to do.
How We Chose These Air Conditioners
To select these appliances, we tested some and surveyed the market for others that we didn’t test, looking for key features that point to higher construction quality, energy efficiency, and amperage (current draw) relative to the square feet of cooling area for which the air conditioner is rated.
Read reviews of our top air conditioners below, and keep scrolling for more information on how your air conditioner works and how to keep it working in top condition for many summers to come.
Cooling Area: 250 Square Feet
Unit Dimensions (inches): 21 1/4 x 18 1/4 x 12 7/16
Weight: 56 lb.
Noise Level (Decibels, high to low): 43
This compact model from Haier is one of the quietest and most energy-efficient window air conditioners on the market. It features an internal compressor blanket that dampens vibration and cuts noise down to a whisper-quiet 43 decibels. (By comparison, the average refrigerator hums along at about 40 decibels.) And it has an Energy Star Qualified Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) of 12.2, so it won’t cause a spike in your electric bill. For convenient use, this 6,000-BTU unit has a 24-hour timer with sleep mode, clean-filter reminder, remote control, and three-speed fan with energy saver and dehumidify modes.
Cooling Area: 400 Square Feet
Unit Dimensions (inches): 22.63 x 23.63 x 15.88
Weight: 51 lb.
Noise Level (Decibels, high to low): NA
GE Appliances is the first to announce voice-enabled air conditioners, which will be available at Home Depot and Lowe's. You can now turn these units on and off or adjust the temperature without leaving your couch or even picking up your phone. They've also got a helpful app as well.
Cooling Area: 450 Square Feet
Unit Dimensions (inches): 19.8 x 19 x 14.5
Weight: 63 lb.
Noise Level (Decibels, high to low): 59
This Frigidaire is the best-looking window-mounted air conditioner we’ve ever seen. It’s sleek styling and low-profile circular vents are a welcome departure from the traditional slats seen on most window AC units. Beneath it’s stylish looks is a tech filled appliance that features an app control so you can operate and monitor it remotely. It's also Energy Star rated, so you can stay cool without wasting dough.
Cooling Area: 150 Square Feet
Unit Dimensions (inches): 16 x 12 x 15.4
Weight: 43.1 lb.
This best-selling window-mounted air conditioner features seven speeds and two cool and fan settings. An included installation kit has leaf guards, and the unit has a washable feature that can be reused season after season. Its compact size makes it ideal for cooling small rooms or RVs.
Cooling Area: 340 Square Feet
Unit Dimensions (inches): 19 1/2 x 19 3/8 x 12 3/8
Weight: 57 lb.
Noise Level (Decibels, high to low): 58
Designed to quickly cool large spaces, this high-performance, 8,000 BTU LG window air conditioner is ideal for rooms up to 17 x 20 feet. Some of its many features include energy saver mode, 24-hour on/off timer, full-function remote control, three cooling and three fan speeds, and an auto reset that automatically turns the unit back on if electricity is interrupted by a power outage. And when indoor air humidity is high, this air conditioner will remove up to 2.2 pints of moisture per hour from the air, meaning you’ll feel cooler at lower temperature settings.
Cooling Area: 250 Square Feet
Unit Dimensions (inches): 14 1/4 x 19 3/4 x 21 3/8
Weight: 72 lb.
Noise Level (Decibels, high to low): Not listed
If you’re a light sleeper and you’re bothered by air-conditioner noise, this hefty appliance may be a good choice. Its 20-gauge steel cabinet, high-density noise insulation, and sound dampening engineering on all moving parts are features intended to help you get a good night’s sleep while keeping you cool and comfortable.
Cooling Area: 700 Square Feet
Unit Dimensions (inches): 25 x 23 1/2 x 18
Weight: 105.8 lb.
Noise Level (Decibels, high to low): 56, 53, 52
The Amana’s cooling capacity is about as big as it gets in window air conditioners—both in terms of the cooling area it will handle and in terms of its current draw (11 amps). So if you need heavy-duty cooling and you have a 15-amp circuit that isn’t drawing a lot of load, the Amana is a good choice. In other respects, it’s got all the bells and whistles that you would expect from a fully featured window appliance: sleep mode, remote, three fan speeds, and a dehumdification mode that will remove 3.5 pints of moisture vapor from the air per hour. That’s a lot of water.
Selecting An Air Conditioner
The rule of thumb for selecting a window air conditioner’s cooling capacity is to take the square feet of the floor area you want to cool and multiply it by 20 to determine the BTU of the appliance. Example: a 15 x 20-foot room has a surface area of 300 square feet; 300 multiplied by 20 equals 6000. Select a 6000-BTU air conditioner. Having said that, you’ll often see that manufacturers don’t follow that rule exactly. Use that calculation to get you into the ballpark and then look at the square feet of cooling recommendation for which the manufacturer rates the appliance.
Things get a bit tricky when the room in which this air conditioner will be located faces a hot, south, or west exposure or if it’s likely that there will be more than two people in the room when the air conditioner is running (say it’s a family room or a dining room). Or let’s say the room has unusually tall ceilings. Some manufacturers recommend that you depart from the standard 20 BTU per square foot rule of thumb and increase the appliance capacity slightly.
However, it's difficult for homeowners to accurately increase the cooling capacity of their air conditioner. There are resources that can help. For example, that helps you factor in tall ceilings, the number of people in the room and whether the room is upstairs or a kitchen.
Care and Feeding
Room air conditioners can lead a hard life. All the more reason why you need to take care of them. Here are a few pointers that can help.
First, understand the appliance.
Next, one of the most important things you can do, especially after a couple of hot and humid summers, is to clean the condenser fins and coils and straighten any condenser fins that got mashed flat when the appliance was moved around and stored over the winter.
Use a product known as to take care of the condenser fins, and use a to straighten any fins that have been mashed flat. I’ve used the tool shown here, and I haven’t seen any fins that it won’t straighten out, especially since it handles all common fin spacing of 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, and 15 fins per inch.
Otherwise, the only other typical maintenance step is to wash out the air filter. A light scrubbing with dish detergent followed by a rinse with clean water is enough to do the trick. Let the filter dry before installing it in the appliance.
And, finally, if you need guidance installing the air conditioner, here’s our guide to help you do that.