Of course, there are a ton of window air conditioners to choose from, and they're not all worth buying. Some are simply lower quality and won't last as long as others that are better-built and more energy-efficient.
There are a number of things to consider when you're buying a window air conditioner, and you'll want to think about them before you buy to ensure that you get the best quality. For starters, you'll want to consider the air conditioner's BTU – or "British Thermal Unit" — rating. The higher the number here, the better the unit will be able to remove heat from the room. But a higher BTU also means it will likely consume a little more energy.
Check out the list below to figure out the BTU rating you'll need depending on how large your room is. Figures are courtesy of Lowes.
You'll also want to think about the air conditioner's energy efficiency rating, noise level, and how large it is. After all, it doesn't matter how well it cools if it's too big for your window.
LG is a bit of a powerhouse in the window air conditioner space. Our previous top pick was an LG air conditioner, and so is our new one — the LG LW8016ER AC.
This air conditioner has an 8,000 BTU rating, and LG says it'll cool a room up to 340 square feet in size, which should be more than enough for most people. It can also dehumidify a room by up to 2.2 pints per hour. In other words, not only does this AC make the room cooler, but it takes some of the stickiness out of it, too.
Some air conditioners only have two settings — on and off. Thankfully, you have a little more control with the LG window AC. You'll get three cooling speeds and three fan speeds, so you don't have to go from 0-60 right away. On top of that, there's an energy-saving setting, so if you don't mind the AC taking a bit longer to cool the room, you'll save some energy.
According to reviews, the air conditioner is even quieter than most window ACs, so while it's probably not the quietest appliance you'll use, it's better than your average AC. The main downside is still the noise. If you want a truly quiet air conditioner, you'll want to keep looking, and perhaps be willing to spend a little more cash. Still, the experts at Wirecutter also recommend this AC. — Christian de Looper
Note: There is now a model with Wi-Fi capability, which lets you remotely control the AC from your phone. However, we have not yet tested this feature.
The Friedrich Chill Series CP08G10B Window Air Conditioner ranges in BTU rating from 5,200 to 24,000 BTU, so you can find the perfect one for your room size, whether it's 150 square feet or 1,400 square feet.
In terms of control, you get a 24-hour timer so you can program run times and four-way air-flow control. The unit comes with a remote control so you don't have to get up every time you want to change the temperature or fan setting.
Like many window ACs today, Friedrich's is Energy Star compliant. It's a relatively quiet AC, though not as quiet as some of our other picks. You won't get smart features or a ton of settings, either, but the price is great at nearly every BTU rating, so it's worth it. — Malarie Gokey
If you're looking for something better suited to large rooms, the LG LW1516ER might be the better option for you (think of it as the big brother to our overall pick). The LG LW1516ER a 15,000-BTU AC that can theoretically cool rooms up to 800 sq. ft., which is larger than many city apartments. But it's well-suited for large living rooms or even a studio apartment.
This unit offers three cooling settings, a remote control, an energy-saving mode, and a 24-hour timer so you should be able to set it to perfectly suit your needs. It's also able to dehumidify a room up to 4 pints per hour, which is ideal for larger rooms. It even offers an auto-restart feature in the event of a power failure.
Of course, being capable of cooling large rooms means the unit itself is also larger. It'll sit in at 26-inches wide, almost 27-inches deep, and almost 17-inches high. It might seem expensive, but for a 15,000-BTU AC, it's actually reasonable. — Christian de Looper
The LG 115V Dual Inverter Smart Window Air Conditioner comes in sizes ranging from 14,000 BTU to 22,000 BTU, so it's powerful enough to cool rooms ranging in size from 800 square feet to about 1,200 square feet. If you live in a one-bedroom apartment or a studio, it can cool your entire living space.
LG's AC has an Energy Star rating for efficiency, so it should help lower your electricity bill by about 25%, too. The unit has four cooling and fan speeds, as well as an Auto Cool function that optimizes cooling in your space. It has a 24-hour timer, so you can have a set schedule for when you want your AC to turn on and off.
Even though it's a big, high-powered AC, the LG is shockingly quiet, thanks to Lo-Decibel Operation, which brings the noise level down to 43 dB.
In addition to coming in large capacities, this AC can connect to your Wi-Fi to enable smart features like remote app control and voice commands if you use the Google Assistant or Amazon's Alexa. There's also a normal remote control and buttons on the interface if you don't want to get into the techy features.
As a tech geek, I really liked being able to turn my AC on with a simple voice command or with a tap in the app. It worked consistently and was easy to set up on my home Wi-Fi network in the app in a matter of minutes. We used it on some of the hottest summer days and it worked perfectly, cooling our entire apartment.
The 14,000 BTU unit that we tested measures 23.62 by 20.67 by 24.80 inches, so it is a very large AC. It barely fit inside our window, so be sure to measure before you buy. The 18,000 and 22,000 BTU units are even larger. — Malarie Gokey
Pros: Smart features, remote app control, Wi-Fi connected, quiet, sleek-looking, comes in three BTU levels for large rooms
If you want a smart AC, don't spend the extra money to buy one. Just get a smart plug like Belkin's WeMo Mini. It's affordable and makes any device you plug into it smart — not just your AC. It does require that you have a home Wi-Fi network set up.
Once you have your AC plugged into it, you can control it remotely with the app and set schedules for when you want your AC to turn on and off. The smart plug also supports Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit, so if you have one or two of those digital assistants at home, you can control your AC with your voice.
Even if you don't have a schedule set up, it's nice to be able to turn on the AC an hour before you get home, for example.
Best of all, when AC season is over, you can use the plug with anything else — lights, a curling iron, a toaster, what have you. Some of these plugs can even monitor energy usage.
Belkin isn't the only manufacturer that makes smart plugs. We've had success connecting an AC to various smart plug brands, including the iHome ISP6, PureGear PureSwitch, and the new (as of June 2019) SmartThings Wi-Fi Smart Plug from Samsung, which is the most affordable of the bunch.
We tested all of these with great success, although it may require a couple attempts during the set-up process. Otherwise, all of these plugs were easy to set up and able to turn our AC on and off. However, you should make sure the smart plug you buy is capable of supporting an AC's voltage. — Malarie Gokey and Les Shu
Pros: Voice control, supports Alexa, Google Assistant, and/or HomeKit (most smart plugs support Alexa and Google Assistant), app control, makes anything smart, schedule turn on and off
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