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Best Air Conditioners

Updated April 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. Read more
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How We Decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 51 Models Considered
  • 31 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 151 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Shopping Guide for Best Air Conditioners

    Last Updated April 2018

    You may have memories of a loud, rumbling window air conditioner that used to sit in your grandparent's kitchen window, combatting the heat generated by the oven during the summer.

    This beloved home appliance has improved significantly over the years. The window air conditioners you now see on store shelves offer a host of helpful features that bring them squarely into the 21st century. These features include programmable temperature and timer options, remote controls, and yes, a far quieter noise output.

    If you’re reading this because you’re considering a new window air conditioner for your home, we don’t blame you.

    Today’s window air conditioners are:

    • Portable

    • Easy to set up

    • Inexpensive (less costly than central air)

    • Energy-efficient

    • Highly refreshing

    Air conditioners come in various sizes to fit all windows, so it’s important to purchase one that is the size that you’re looking for. Additionally, the size of the unit can determine the difficulty of the installation and whether another person will be needed to help.

    At BestReviews, we’ve seen firsthand the barrage of product choices that consumers are faced with each day. Our mission is to research and test these products so you don’t have to.

    We offer our expert analysis on the top products that we find, never accepting free manufacturer samples in order to supply our readers with unbiased advice.

    If you’re ready to buy a new window air conditioner, please refer to the matrix above for in-depth information about our top choices.

    If you’d like to learn more about window air conditioners in general, please see our complete product guide below.


    Richard is a seasoned small business owner in the hardware industry. He also owns a pool maintenance business and serves as an advisor on groundskeeping committees for a number of prominent organizations. He’s a regionally renowned safe cracker/locksmith expert, and in his spare time, he renovates and repairs vaults, safes, appliances, and a number of other products.

    Richard  |  Hardware Store Owner, Do-It-Yourself Guru

    Window air conditioner features

    Fan speed

    In many cases, you can control a window AC unit’s fan speed with the turn of a dial. The speed of the fan affects how quickly the cool air spreads throughout the room.

    The higher the fan speed, the faster your room will cool down.


    The purpose of an air conditioner is to cool down a room, and the SPT 12,000 BTU accomplishes the task as well as any of its peers. It comes with features such as a remote control, a timer, and a variety of modes for your convenience — including SLEEP mode, ENERGY SAVER mode, and DRY mode. While the SPT 12,000 BTU can be a bit on the noisier side, its high-powered motor makes it possible to place it far away from common areas while still being extremely effective. All in all, given its combination of performance, power and its feature set, this air conditioner beats out the rest of its competitors.

    Cooling power

    Window AC cooling power is typically measured in British thermal units, or BTUs. The more cool air you desire, the more BTUs you want.

    As a general rule, you should aim for 20 BTUs for each square foot of living space in a two-person home. (Add 600 BTU for each additional person.) Kitchens require about 4,000 extra BTUs to make up for heat generated from cooking.

    BTU specs are listed in the product description, and sometimes you can find them in the product’s in-depth specifications.

    The main purpose of an air conditioner is to cool down a room. One of the most important things to look for is the BTU number, which determines the amount of energy exerted by the device. The amount of BTU necessary is dependent on the size of the room you are attempting to cool down.


    Swivel vents

    The slats of an AC unit's swivel vents turn, allowing you to control the direction of the airflow.

    This is particularly helpful if you have an oddly placed window and want the air to flow to the center of the room instead of one side.

    They’re also nice if you want the cold air to flow directly on you — or directly away from you.


    Many air conditioner units have multiple directional vents to help evenly cool the room.

    Remote control

    Many modern air conditioners come with a remote control. Using the remote, you can adjust the settings on the air conditioner from anywhere in the room.

    Not all window AC units include a remote control, but if you’re in a busy work environment, have hard-to-access windows, have limited mobility, or just don’t want to get up more than you have to, a remote control can be a godsend.


    If you’re looking to save some cash to put towards other appliances, the Frigidaire 115V  may be the right choice for you. It may not cool a room as quickly as a 12,000-BTU unit, but it will get the job done in bedrooms and closed areas. As an added bonus, the timer adds a unique function that many other 5,000-BTU air coolers don’t offer. This feature, along with its easily installation and its relative quietness, makes the Frigidaire a solid purchase.


    If you follow a predictable schedule and would like to have cool air waiting for you when you arrive home, you can program your AC unit’s timer to maximize efficiency. For example, you could program the unit to start running half an hour before you get home.


    An AC unit’s air filter helps purify the air that passes through the appliance by removing dirt and debris. These machines come with replaceable or washable filters. Washable filters are a more economical choice since you can reuse them. If you live in an area that is dry, dusty, or has reduced air quality for any other reason, you may wish to consider an AC unit with a washable filter for financial reasons.


    If your air conditioner has a built-in filter, clean it regularly to ensure that it works effectively and doesn’t clog.

    Richard  | Hardware Store Owner, Do-It-Yourself Guru

    Tips for optimal AC efficiency

    The average window conditioner lasts about 10 years. Like most appliances, its lifespan depends on how well you care for it.

    Follow these maintenance tips for optimal air conditioner efficiency.

    Inspect the machine’s coils

    Vacuum the coils with a brush attachment, and take care of harder dirt with a scrub brush.

    Ease of Use

    While some people have noted that the Frigidaire 115V vents don’t adjust vertically as easily as some other competitors, we find this to be a small price to pay given the its outstanding qualities and relatively low price. Overall, it is an excellent value among a crowded field of air conditioners on the market.

    Clean the filter regularly

    The filter must stay clean to do its job. A dirty filter can slow down the machine. You can access the filter on most machines by popping out the front grille. Clean it, or replace it if it’s not washable.

    Look for (and fix) bent coil fins

    Fins are the narrow metal pieces that form the grooves in the air conditioner. A fin comb can help you straighten any bent coil fins. You run the comb over the fins to straighten them.


    Take into consideration that your air conditioner will take up space in your home. Although it may stick in only a few inches, it can still be a nuisance if you don’t plan for it accordingly.

    Richard  | Hardware Store Owner, Do-It-Yourself Guru

    Window air conditioner prices

    Like a lot of appliances, air conditioner prices run the gamut. Cheaper air conditioners can cost as little as $100, whereas high-end air conditioners can cost $700 or more.

    $130 to $200

    These less-powerful units sit around 5,000 BTU. The machines in this price range are basic and tend to work best in smaller rooms.


    When installing a window air conditioner unit, always use proper tools to make sure it sits stably in the window. Otherwise, you risk it falling out and injuring someone below.

    $200 to $350

    In this price range, you’ll find powerful machines that typically range from 8,000 to 12,000 BTU. At the top of the range, you’ll find machines with remote control features.

    $350 and up

    For $350 and up, you’ll find more machines with remote controls and other cool features. These are powerful machines with 15,000 BTU or more. (Machines at the top of the price range can have as much as 23,000 BTU.) Some have heat functionalities, as well.

    Noise Level

    This Keystone Window Air Conditioner, at 5,000 BTU, is a solid choice for a room. The main upside of this unit is the fact that it is very quiet. It is strongly recommended for bedrooms because it will not disturb noise-conscious sleepers. In fact, a few owners we talked to said that this was the only model that allowed them to sleep in the same room as an air conditioner.

    Good to know information

    • Storing your air conditioner properly when it’s not in use can help extend its life. Remove it from the window during cool seasons, and keep it in a dry place. Cover it to protect it from dust.

    • BTUs are the amount of energy required to change the temperatures by one degree. The higher the BTU rating of the air conditioner, the more powerful it is.

    • If possible, install your new air conditioning unit out of direct sunlight. A machine that is shaded from the sun works less hard and may last longer.

    • Consult your owner's manual to learn how to properly install your new window air conditioner. You don’t want precious cold air seeping out of the sides of the window.

    • If you need to find an air conditioner for your bedroom, consult owner reviews to find out which ones are the quietest.

    To take full advantage of your AC unit, turn down lights while it’s in use. Lights create more heat than you would expect!


    Q. How is a window air conditioner better than central air or a freestanding air conditioner?

    A. Whereas a central air system may cost several thousand dollars, a window AC unit only costs several hundred dollars. And because these units sit in the window, they don’t consume precious floor space.

    Q. How much maintenance does a window air conditioner require?

    A. You may need to clean and/or replace the air filter from time to time, but other than that, window air conditioners require little maintenance. We do advise owners to occasionally clean the evaporator and condenser coils and to straighten bent fins with a fin comb.

    Q. Aren’t window air conditioners noisy?

    A. Older models were certainly noisy, and some cheaper air conditioners may put out some noise. But today, manufacturers are far more conscientious about their products’ noise output.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Melissa
      Senior Editor