Best Air Conditioner
As temperatures begin to soar during the summer months, you rely on your air conditioner to provide relief from the heat. There are several different types of air conditioning systems from which to choose, including window, portable, central, and ductless mini-split units. The following air conditioner lists will provide all the information you'll need to make a informed home cooling system investment with the majority of our selections being smaller models as opposed to larger, centralized units. We've also provided an air conditioner buyer’s guide below to aid you in your search.
Best Window Room Air Conditioner:
Choosing an air conditioner unit that fits inside a window is often the easiest choice for cooling rooms. When choosing a size unit one needs to know the amount of British Thermal Units (BTU) required to cool off a room appropriately. Measuring the width, length and height of a room will provide the exact size of an area to cool allowing you to pick the right unit. Remember that bigger is not always better because a larger BTU unit will use too much energy in a smaller room by cycling on and off too frequently thus not cooling effectively.
Along with looking for a well-priced unit, one should also consider the type of window the unit will be placed in and if getting optimal sunlight into the room is necessary. Depending on the budget, there are air conditioners packed with features to rival a central air system. It is important to know how to choose the one unit that will perfectly cool the room as well as fit properly into the window and decor.
In choosing the best window room air conditioners, we also considered the overall experience of living with each unit. They must be quiet enough to be left on overnight without disturbing sleep, as well efficient enough to avoid having a large impact on your utility bill. These units are easy to install, usually coming with an installation kit and plugging into a standard outlet. Although the power of the following selections varies, we've included units that are suited for both small and large spaces alike.
This compact and affordable air conditioner is a good choice for those with a smaller room to cool. Despite being a fairly basic unit, the Frigidaire FFRE0533Q1 offers electronic control and a remote control that are easy to use, as well efficient performance. Read Full Review
For those with a very large room to cool, the Sunpentown WA-1211S is an excellent choice. This window air conditioner is capable of effectively cooling a room of 700 square feet in size, while offering multiple easy to use features and modes. Read Full Review
The LG LW8014ER is capable of effectively cooling up to medium-sized rooms, while being easy to use and energy efficient. For the performance, this air conditioner takes up minimal space in the window and is reasonably priced. Read Full Review
The low-profile design of the Frigidaire FFRL0633Q1 allows it to take up less window space, fitting in better with room decor and blocking less of the sunshine and view. Despite its compact size, this air conditioner offers powerful cooling and energy efficient performance. Read Full Review
This budget-friendly air conditioner comes in a compact size and is an excellent choice for those who need to cool a room up to 150 square feet in size. The Frigidaire FFRA0511Q1 doesn't have multiple features, but offers an affordable option for quiet and efficient operation. Read Full Review
Best Portable Air Conditioner:
When you need to supplement your cooling system but conditions exist that won’t allow you to install a window unit, consider using a portable air conditioner. The design of the portable air conditioner allows you to move it from room to room, granted you have access to a grounded outlet and a window where you can exhaust the heat generated by the unit. You should also take into consideration the size of the area you need to cool, and the amount of space the portable air conditioner needs to operate correctly.
We've chosen a variety of portable air conditioners to meet a wide range of needs, from personal cooling to the cooling of a relatively large room. However, the best portable air conditioners must be easy to set up and operate without too much assembly or complicated programming of features. They must also work well, effectively cooling the space they’re rated for, while being quiet and unobtrusive. Finally, portable air conditioners are ideally as energy efficient as possible, providing savings over the use of a central unit.
This portable air conditioner is capable of cooling a space of up to 400 square feet in size, while casters allow for moving it easily to where it is needed the most. The Honeywell MN10CESWW offers the ability to use it in fan-only mode, while being simple to set up and use. Read Full Review
The Whynter ARC-14S offers the largest cooling capacity of this list, being able to cool a space up to 500 square feet in size. It also offers flexibility, with the ability to use it as an air conditioner, fan, or dehumidifier. Easy to use and effective, this is an excellent portable air conditioner. Read Full Review
The Honeywell MN12CES uses dehumidification to cool a space up to 450 square feet in size, providing quiet and powerful cooling in a portable package. This easy to use air conditioning unit offers good overall performance for the price. Read Full Review
The Sunpentown SF-609 is technically not an air conditioner, instead using humidification to cool a small space. Although this unit won’t work in humid climates, for those in dry climates it offers a more energy efficient way to cool a room than an actual air conditioner. Read Full Review
The Original Handy Cooler brings evaporative cooling technology to a handheld fan design, offering ultra-portable personal cooling. Although the price might seem a bit steep for such a small device, this innovative cooling fan works quite well. It delivers convenient, effective performance wherever and whenever it’s needed. Read Full Review
Air Conditioner Buyer's Guide
Air conditioners are invaluable during hot weather by providing relief from heat and humidity. By their definition, air conditioners cool, dehumidify, and filter the air passing through them. Most modern air conditioners are efficient and quiet when compared to older models as long as you’ve selected the proper size and type for your living or work space.
Although these appliances have remained relatively simple throughout decades of use, there are still several things to think about when you’re looking to purchase a new unit.
Consider where and how the AC will be installed whether mounted in a window, a portable unit for around the house, or if you’re looking for something more permanent like a central unit. Figure out the size of the space where the air conditioner will be installed as this will determine the BTUs needed to effectively cool the space. Think about if you’re going to be installing the unit or if your budget will cover both the AC unit and any potential professional installation costs. Finally, reflect on any features you’d find useful to have.
Cooling power is measured in British thermal units (BTUs) per hour. Choosing the right amount of BTUs is important to ensure the best performance and cooling efficiency. If the air conditioner is too small, it won’t cool the room sufficiently and use up more energy. On the other hand, if it’s too large, the compressor may switch on and off; this doesn’t lower humidity effectively, resulting in a cold yet humid room.
To ensure you pick the right size, it’s important to first measure the square footage of your room. Do this by multiplying the length by the width. As a general guideline, 5,000 BTU will work for a room of up to about 150 square feet, whereas 10,000 BTU will work for a room of up to about 500 square feet.
Remember, this scale isn’t linear so refer to a complete list of recommended sizes for your space. This may also change if the room has an exceptionally large amount of sunlight, or if you’re planning on installing the AC in the kitchen; both environments may require additional BTUs for adequate performance. Also consider the age of your home as well as your local climate.
Space calculators are available online such as this one from Energy Star:
Although there are several types of air conditioners, we’ve focused on the two most common types.
Thanks to their availability, relative efficiency, and generally affordable pricing, window air conditioners are by far the most common type of AC unit. They can usually be installed easily and come with a wide range of features. A drawback with these units is they obstruct part of the window and tend to be a bit noisy. They also need to be removed or winterized during colder months.
If you’re planning on installing a window AC, begin by verifying the type of window you have; there are models that will work both with standard windows and slider/casement windows. Measure the width, height, and depth of your window. Be sure to do this more than once just to be absolutely certain of your measurements.
These are freestanding air conditioners which don’t require permanent installation and typically have caster wheels so they’re easy to move around. These characteristics make them an excellent choice for those who don’t need to use the AC as much or who have multiple rooms which need cooling but don’t want the hassle of installing a unit. Many portable units have a window venting kit for a hot air exhaust hose.
The convenience of room-to-room portability does come with some drawbacks. While some units use evaporation or hookups for a drainage hose, most use a water reservoir which needs to be emptied on a regular basis. Because of this, be sure the reservoir is easy to access as well as large enough to avoid frequent emptying. Portable air conditioners also tend to be less efficient than window models, but nonetheless remain more efficient than older style air conditioners.
Efficiency Rating Terminology
Energy Efficiency Rating (EER)
This refers to how many BTUs are used per hour for each watt of power. The higher the EER rating, the more efficiently your new air conditioner will operate. Air conditioners with a high EER tend to be more expensive, but will be cheaper to run over time.
Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER)
This relates primarily to central and ductless air conditioners. AC Units sold in the US must have a rating of at least ten.
Products with an Energy Star rating meet stringent government standards for efficiency.
Most AC units feature practical applications for increasing efficiency and convenience.
Adjustable Airflow Direction
Most air conditioners have the ability to direct airflow, but if your air conditioner will be installed in a location where this is especially important, be sure to verify that this feature is included.
Some air conditioners also include a dehumidifying-only mode, a fan-only mode, and even the ability to produce heat. These can be very useful to have, and expand the utility of your air conditioner.
Some air conditioners have timers or energy savings modes to allow for efficient and relatively hands-free operation.
Regardless of the size or features, ensure that the air conditioner you choose has easy-to-use controls. Some units now have intuitive digital displays and temperature readouts.
Although most major brand names offer good warranties, it’s well worth your time to check what type of manufacturer’s warranty, if any, is offered.