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.
Frigidaire Energy Star 5,000 BTU 115V Window-Mounted Mini-Compact Air Conditioner FFRE0533Q1
SPT 12000 BTU Window Air Conditioner WA-1211S
LG Electronics Energy Star 115-volt Window-Mounted Air Conditioner - LW8014ER
Frigidaire Energy Star 6,000 BTU 115V Window-Mounted Low Profile Air Conditioner - FFRL0633Q1
Frigidaire 5,000 BTU 115V Window-Mounted Mini-Compact Air Conditioner - FFRA0511Q1
Honeywell 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Remote Control - MN10CESWW
Whynter ARC-14S Platinum Eco-Friendly 14000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
Honeywell 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Remote Control - MN12CES
Sunpentown SF609 Evaporative Air Cooler with Humidifier
The Original Handy Cooler Small Fan & Mini-Air Conditioner
The Frigidaire FFRE0533Q1 5,000 BTU window room air conditioner comes in a compact size, making it a good choice for smaller spaces. It’s capable of cooling a room up to 150 square feet in size, while removing up to 1.1 pints of moisture from the air per hour. This air conditioner comes with a quick-mount kit, and uses a standard three-prong outlet. A choice of two speeds is offered, as well as an automatic function that allows the unit to maintain your desired temperature.
The FFRE0533Q1 offers increased energy efficiency over previous models, including a dedicated energy savings mode. Electronic controls are simple to use, as is the included remote control. Overall, this unit is an excellent, affordable choice, with reasonably quiet operation and efficient performance.
The Sunpentown WA-1211S 12,000 BTU air conditioner is well-suited to larger spaces over 400 square feet in size (some users report being able to cool a room as large as 800 square feet). Using dehumidification the WA-1211S can remove up to 3.2 pints of moisture from the air per hour and it even has a dedicated mode to allow the unit to be used as a dehumidifier only.
The WA-1211S comes with many features and modes to choose from, including three fan speeds, auto mode, and other options such as a sleep mode, fan-only mode, and energy saver mode. This provides plenty of flexibility allowing the unit to fit efficiently into your lifestyle. This air conditioner is reasonably simple to install, using a standard outlet and coming with an installation kit. Although expensive, it delivers powerful performance for the money, with quiet operation and the ability to cool a very large space.
The LG LW8014ER 8,000 BTU window room air conditioner offers powerful performance while having only a small footprint in the window. This air conditioner is easy to install and use, and is capable of cooling a space of up to 340 square feet in size. The LW8014ER uses dehumidification to accomplish this, and can remove up to 2.2 pints of moisture from the air per hour. This air conditioner is Energy Star qualified for 2014, reducing the impact on your utility bill.
Easy to use controls offer the ability to choose between three cooling speeds and three fan speeds which are adjustable thanks to the included remote control. Although the LW8014ER is somewhat on the pricier side, it offers a tremendous amount of performance for the price, making it overall an excellent value.
The Frigidaire FFRL0633Q1 features a low-profile design allowing it to fit into the window without blocking as much of your view. This air conditioner offers 6,000 BTU of cooling power and is able to effectively cool a room up to 250 square feet in size. It can also remove up to 1.3 pints of moisture from the air per hour. The FFRL0633Q1 is simple to install, while performance is effective and efficient.
Several energy saving modes contribute to the FFRL0633Q1's Energy Star qualification, ensuring that your utility bill won't take too much of a hit. Electronic controls are easy to use (as is the included remote control), and temperature control is accurate. The FFRL0633Q1 offers quiet operation, a sleeker design, and efficient performance.
This compact air conditioner from Frigidaire fits easily into a window with the included quick-mount kit. The FFRA0511Q1 5,000 BTU window room air conditioner is capable of cooling a room up to 150 square feet in size, while dehumidifying the air by removing up to 0.8 pints of moisture per hour. The FFRA0511Q1 keeps things simple with easy to use mechanical rotary controls, while there are two fan speeds and two cooling speeds to choose from.
Although this window room air conditioner isn’t fancy, it offers efficient performance and reasonably quiet operation for a budget-friendly price. If you have only a smaller space in need of cooling, the Frigidaire FFRA0511Q1 is a solid choice.
The Honeywell MN10CESWW 10,000 BTU air conditioner offers the ability to effectively cool a room of up to 400 square feet in size. This portable air conditioner features a no-bucket design, which means that continuous operation is possible thanks to auto-evaporation. The MN10CESWW has casters and can be moved from room to room as needed, with no requirement for permanent or extensive installation.
This air conditioner comes with an exhaust hose and window venting kit, with easy assembly and set up. The MN10CESWW has a fan-only function, three fan speeds, and an auto on/off timer feature. A remote control is included, and the controls themselves are easy to use. Overall, this portable air conditioner is efficient and works very well.
The Whynter ARC-14S 14,000 BTU air conditioner is capable of cooling a space of up to 500 square feet in size. This portable air conditioner has three modes to offer flexibility; it can be used as an air conditioner, simply as a fan, and also as a dehumidifier. The ARC-14S is able to remove up to 101 pints of moisture out of the air per day, while for cooling the unit uses CFC-free, ozone-safe refrigerant. It includes a washable pre-filter and a carbon air filter to remove allergens and odors.
The design of the ARC-14S allows for continuous operation while an extendable exhaust, intake hose, and a window kits are included. This portable air conditioner works very well without much noise, there’s a choice of three fan speeds and also includes features such as a remote control and timer. There is full temperature control and a digital display for ease-of-use, while the included casters make moving the unit around the house simple.
Honeywell products are readily found in most American households, thanks to their relatively affordable prices and good quality. The Honeywell MN12CES 12,000 BTU air conditioner offers a portable design, with casters allowing it to be rolled easily from room to room. This air conditioner features a no-bucket design, which uses auto-evaporation to allow for continuous operation.
The MN12CES offers dehumidification of up to 79.2 pints per day, while being able to cool a space of up to 450 square feet in size. A remote control is included, and controls are overall simple to use. The unit is easy to set up, and offers three fan speeds and a built-in auto on/off timer. Quiet and powerful, the MN12CES is a good overall choice.
While the Sunpentown SF-609 is technically not an air conditioner, it offers the ability to quietly and efficiently cool a small space while using substantially less energy. The SF-609 is an evaporative cooler, meaning it’s essentially a humidifier so the unit will not be well suited to areas with high humidity, as it will make the space feel muggy. For those in dry climates, and evaporative cooler can be a good way to save on energy bills while cooling a small space.
The SF-609 uses both water and ice, so you'll need access to large amounts of ice to get the best cooling performance. Although the resulting air won’t be extremely cold like from a dedicated air conditioner, it does create cool air that effectively lowers the ambient temperature by quite a bit. The SF-609 has three fan speeds, a remote control, timer feature, and a water level indicator. It also includes an ionizer to help purify the air, while its casters allow it to roll easily from room to room. This unit is more affordable to purchase and run than a typical portable air conditioner, making it an excellent budget-friendly choice for those in appropriate climates.
Taking the concept of a handheld fan a step further, the Original Handy Cooler incorporates evaporative cooling to effectively humidify and cool the air down to 30 degrees Farenheit. Essentially a miniature air conditioner, this cooling fan can be used handheld, or attached to a surface such as a desktop. While the Original Handy Cooler can be used as a fan alone, it only takes the addition of water to allow its air cooling function to work. This surprisingly works quite well, and makes for an excellent personal cooling device. Although the Original Handy Cooler isn’t cheap, it works well, offers great portability and high quality construction. This device runs on four AA batteries, or using the included USB adapter.
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.