It doesn’t matter if it’s an apartment, bedroom, office, garage or classroom – sometimes you have a space that you really, really need to cool down, and that old desk fan just isn’t cutting it anymore. It’s time to upgrade to a window air conditioner…but what kind? Luckily, today’s window-based AC units are smarter and more efficient than ever, and we’ve collected the best of the best for you to choose between.
Note on BTUs: BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. If your chemistry lessons are a little hazy, BTUs are used as shorthand for describing how much heat energy is being moved around. For reference, one BTU is roughly the same energy as lighting a single match. The higher the number of BTUs on an air conditioner rating, the more easily it can cool a space by moving that heat elsewhere…and as a result, higher BTU units can cool larger spaces. However, moving a lot of BTUs requires a lot of electrical energy as well, so higher BTU numbers mean higher AC bills.
AC manufacturers skip the science lesson and just recommend square feet of a room, but this is only a guess. If you really want to know how many BTUs to look for, you can find your cubic space and learn the required rating with this handy calculator.
If your bedroom overheats at night and prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep, this 5000 BTU window air conditioner can cool things down. It’s ideal for indoor spaces up to 150 square feet, and the product claims to cool a room down in just 10 minutes, thanks to its seven speeds and two-way airflow.
If you’re environmentally conscious, you’ll be glad to know this unit comes with a reusable washable filter, which can be easily cleaned off with soap and warm water. The unit also arrives with its own support bracket, side panel leaf covers, and window seal form, allowing you to install it easily without any concerns about dripping.
Friedrich Chill 6000 BTU ($317)
If you have a large master bedroom, this Friedrich Chill window air conditioner can handle it — the 8,000 BTU model can cool down rooms up to 350 square feet. Light sleepers will enjoy how quietly this conditioner operates, with minimal noise so you won’t be kept awake all night by a whirring sound. The unit also oscillates left and right as it cools the space, so your entire room will get an even cool.
Trying to save on your electricity bill? You’ll be glad to know that this model is ENERGY STAR rated, so you won’t have to stay cool at the expense of sky-high energy costs. The unit can be installed easily in a window, or in a wall up to 7.5 inches deep, and the power cord can run to the left or right, depending on where the outlet is located in your space, giving you added flexibility.
LG LW8016ER 8,000 BTU ($209)
This powerful LG model has a 12.1 efficiency ratio according to the Energy Star guidelines, a rating that should guarantee you some energy savings if you are switching from an older model. This window unit is rated for up to 340 square feet, and includes three cooling modes and three fan speeds. It can also provide two directional air currents, and allows you to set a time or use a remote control – not exactly smart tech, but still nice when it comes to programming.
The unit requires a 115-volt outlet…a common requirement for window units, which means that any average North America wall outlet will work fine. This isn’t an issue for any of our chosen units, just make sure there’s an outlet near the window you want to use.
This very popular window air conditioner hits a sweet spot when it comes to price and usability. It’s rated for a 150 square foot space, and has a fairly high energy efficiency ratio of 11.1 to help you save some money. There aren’t quite as many customization features as some of our other models, but you still get two cooling speeds and two fan speeds, as well as 2-way directional airflow. It’s a solid set of features in a compact package that can work great in many “I need to get this room cooler now” situations.
This is one of the more expensive AC units on our list, and not just because it can cool an area up to 250 square feet. It also includes more modes than most units – four different settings for 1) cooling, 2) using only the fan, 3) saving as much energy as possible, and 4) dehumidification. There a dual motor and cross flow design for more accurate air control, and a timer for schedules throughout the day. If noise bothers you a lot when trying to sleep, consider this model: It’s been rated as one of the quietest AC units around.
Frigidaire FFRE1033Q1 10,000 BTU ($285+)
Finally we come to the big option – this unit can handle up to 450 square feet of space, making it ideal if you don’t so much want to cool down a room as you want to drop the temperature in an entire apartment or loft (the size also makes this a great unit for dehumidifying at a rate of three pints per hour).
In addition to a temperature-sensing remote and eight-direction airflow control, the unit contains an air ionizer to help remove particles (as long as you remember to clean the ionizer fins regularly!). There are three fan speeds and several modes to choose from, too. Just…make sure you have some help when trying to install this one.
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