Clicky

Buyers Guide & Information

6 Best Through the Wall AC's

We have reviewed, rated and compared the best through the wall air conditioners. Stay cool in summer with these top-rated AC brands.

Buyers Guide & Information

6 Best Through the Wall AC's

We have reviewed, rated and compared the best through the wall air conditioners. Stay cool in summer with these top-rated AC brands.

by Joshm
Quietest Choice
Friedrich CP08G10B
Friedrich CP08G10B

This 8000 BTU Friedrich model is a cost-effective and quiet AC option that is excellent for rooms up to 300 sq.ft.

Best Overall
Koldfront WTC12001W
Koldfront WTC12001W

This 12000 BTU Koldfront model come swith heating and dehumidifying features and is excellent for rooms up to 550 sq.ft.

Best for Smaller Rooms
Koldfront WTC8001W
Koldfront WTC8001W

This 8000 BTU Koldfront model comes with heating (supplemental use only) and is excellent for rooms up to 350 sq.ft.

The average US resident consumes around 300,000,000 BTU (equivalent to 87,925 kWh) of energy. A significant portion of this goes to climate control, especially in uncomfortably hot or cold climates. If you are in the market for a wall-mounted AC system, it is worth it to seek units that are not only a great value at purchase but also a great value in terms of electric energy consumption.

What are ‘Through the Wall’ Air Conditioners?

A through-the-wall air conditioner (also known as a wall mounted AC, wall AC, or wall sleeve AC) is an air conditioner that is installed into the wall of a building, such that one side of the unit is fully exposed to the interior room and the other side is fully exposed to the exterior outdoor space.

To get down to basics: An air conditioner is an apparatus that uses energy (usually electrical energy) to pump thermal energy (heat) against its normal hot-to-cold flow. Ultimately, nature will tend to make warmth enter your home until it is even with the outdoors. An air conditioner acts as a reverse heat pump to counteract this process to make the air cooler.

best through the wall air conditioner

Differences between Wall and Window AC Units?

Wall and window AC units are similar in appearance and concept. Some units can be used for both. However, a critical difference is that many window AC units vent their warm exhaust both out of the back and also out of part of their sides, too.

If you install a unit like this into a wall such that the sides are completely covered by the surrounding wall, you are blocking the vents. Wall-only AC units are usually made to be completely embedded into a wall—all of their ventilation happens out of the back (outdoor-facing) side of the unit.

Window units are generally easier to install, since all you need is a normal-sized window that can be opened around the unit. (There are adjustable screens made to close around any excess space in the open window.) In the case of wall AC units, once the wall opening is created and the sleeve is in place, you just have to slide the unit in, put the front cover on, and plug it in.

Comparing Different Types of ACs

A central AC unit is a large AC mechanism (almost always located just outside the building) that pipes the cool air it produces into the building’s interior via a system of insulated ducts. Window ACs and AC wall units are mostly similar in structure and ideal for cooling single rooms or apartment-sized dwellings.

For something that has both the room-by-room flexibility and the energy efficiency of a wall/window unit, but also the capacity to cool an entire building like a central AC unit, consider split system AC units. A split system has the hot-air-producing half of the unit outside and the cool-air-producing elements located on the interior.

A portable air conditioner is generally the least energy efficient option, but it allows you to move the AC system anywhere you are, and it might be altogether sufficient for single rooms.

Type of AC Best For Contractor Needed to Install Initial Cost Ongoing Energy Costs
Central Whole house Yes High Mid-range
Split System Small homes; part of a house Yes (quite often) High Low
Window Bedroom, living room, etc. No (but ideally, 2 people needed) Low Low
Portable Bedroom, living room, etc. No Low High
Wall Mounted Bedroom, living room, etc. Yes (usually, to make a hole in the wall) Mid-range Low

What to Look For In a Quality Wall Air Conditioner

Cooling Area (Room Size – Sq. ft.)

Calculating the square footage, or area, of a room is easier than you might think. You simply measure the length and width of the room and multiply the two to get the area. For triangular shapes, multiply the length and width as though it is a rectangle but then divide the product by 2.

If you have a circular room, multiply the radius by itself and then by 3.14. (The radius is half of the length across the circle.) In many cases, however, a room is irregular in its dimensions. If so, just divide the room into measurable subparts as best you can, find the areas, and add them together.

British Thermal Units (BTU)

A BTU is an amount of thermal energy (heat) required to raise the temperature of 1 lb. of water by 1⁰ F. (Note that, many times in reference to AC units, BTU numbers are short for BTUs/hour.)

According to Consumer Reports, you generally need an AC with about 20 BTUs of cooling for every sq. ft. It is important to realize, too, that buildings with high ceilings, many heat-producing machines, or multiple people, require more cooling.

For buildings that house more than two people, add about 600 BTU for each additional person. A kitchen may require an additional 4000 BTU. Similarly, increase or decrease the total BTUs by 10% for especially sunny or shady locations.

Noise Levels (dB)

Loudness, or sound intensity, is usually measured in decibels (dB). Air conditioner dB levels are reported in the model’s description; most wall air conditioners create between 50 and 60 dB of sound.

All air conditioners, including through-the-wall, make some noise, but most people favour those that are quieter, especially when the unit is in the house—especially in the bedroom. (However, if you want your wall AC to double as a noise-maker to block other sounds, you might want it on the louder side.)

To learn more about decibel levels and how they can affect humans, you can visit this article and learn more.

Energy Efficiency (EER Rating)

The EER rating is a standard efficiency rating for all air conditioners. It is calculated by taking the cooling capacity per hour (in BTU) and dividing it by the energy needed per hour (in kW). Ultimately, it tells you just how much energy you have to pay for to get a given amount of cooling.

Most users want a high EER (more cooling for less), but highly efficient units are often more costly. However, a good-quality unit will eventually give back the extra cost (and possibly more) in savings. The estimated yearly energy cost of a unit is calculated based on an electric energy cost of 13 cents/kW, 8 hours/day, 3 months/year.

Size (dimensions of unit)

Wall AC units are not restricted by the size of your windows, as are window units. However, you do have to already have, or create, a hole all the way through your wall that will at least roughly fit your desired unit’s wall sleeve. Fortunately many units of similar cooling power will fit in the same openings. Most units are about 15 inches high, 25 inches wide, and 20 inches deep.

Voltage

The standard electric outlet in the US is 115V (actually a range of 114-126V), so if your wall AC unit is made to work in this voltage class, you can just plug it in. However, some units require a 230V (actually 220-240V) outlet, in which case you either must already have a special 230V outlet in your location of choice, or you must get an electrician to create one for you.

Sleeve (Size & Installation)

Koldfront WTCSLV Through The Wall Air Conditioner SleeveNormally, the wall sleeve is a separate purchase from the AC unit. The sleeve for a wall air conditioner is really just a thin metal box open on two faces (outside and inside).

You insert it into an opening in your wall and insert the AC unit in the sleeve. For an excellent sleeve option, consider the Koldfront WTCSLV Through-the-Wall Air Conditioner Sleeve.

This durable steel sleeve can fit the Koldfront line of wall ACs, and even fits most other wall-mounted AC brands—with its dimensions of 15.25’’ (height) x 25.5’’ (width) x 17.5’’ (depth).

Heating Options

Some wall AC units can double as heaters. This makes sense, because air conditioners are essentially reverse heat pumps. It is the same mechanism, but in reverse. Some elements do not reverse the cycle; instead they have an electrical heating element. However, note that unless you are in a very small space, most wall units are not sufficient to be the sole heat source, but they make excellent supplemental heat sources for a single room or a way to keep a garage warm.

Dehumidification Levels

All AC units dehumidify to some extent—usually a few pints of water/hour—since lower temperature air does not hold water as well. Units release extracted humidity as water out the back (exterior face) of the unit, normally by dripping. However, with many units, the water tends to just re-evaporate once it is heated by the warm exhaust of the AC and the warm outside air. Dehumidification is enhanced when fans blow air slowly over the cooling coils, allowing more water vapour to condense. This is generally what the dry mode on an AC does.

Extra Features for Convenience

Most good-quality wall AC units have multiple convenience features. Some allow you to operate the device from your smartphone or to set a timer so that the unit turns on and off when you want it to, even if you are not at home.

Many have a sleep mode that allows the room temperature to rise bit by bit throughout the night (usually for 6 hours) before returning to the set temperature, saving energy and keeping you from waking up cold.

Most brands also have an energy-saver mode that runs the fan by itself every 10 minutes or so, and only turns the AC back on if the temperature is rising above the set temperature. Most at least have a remote control, which sometimes has a temperature sensor that acts as a thermostat for the unit.

There is a high-quality thread on Quora that discusses these 2 options in detail.

Warranty

Wall AC units normally have at least 1-year limited warranties, and many times, warranties are only for the AC parts themselves, not the electrics, sleeves, covers, etc. Most companies have a warranty statement that lists what is covered and what is not. Damages and breakages that are not directly related to the unit’s manufacture are usually not covered: this includes electrical issues, problems with the wall the unit is installed in, and malfunction from accidental abuse.

6 Best Through-The-Wall Air Conditioners Reviewed

1. Koldfront WTC12001W

Our Top Pick

Cooling Area (max) 550 sq. ft.
BTU 12,000
EER 9.5
Heating Options Yes
Size (inches) 14.5 (H) x 24.2 (W) x 20.3 (D)
Price Guide $$
Warranty Yes—2 years
(limited, parts and labour)

This Koldfront 12,000-BTU unit is, on average, the best: It is a great value; it can both cool and heat a medium-sized space; it has all of the desired features in a through-the-wall air conditioner; furthermore, Koldfront tends to provide the best customer service of all the through-the-wall AC dealers.

The 10,600-BTU electric heating element can heat areas up to 450 sq. ft.—plenty of supplemental heat for a room, or a sole source of heat in a garage. Its estimated yearly energy cost is $123—very reasonable for a unit this size.

There is both remote control and a front digital display with control buttons on the unit itself. The unit has an electronic digital thermostat, a sleep mode, a 24-hour timer, and an energy-saver mode.

There are 3 fan speeds (low, medium, and high), plus auto. The louvers in the output vent of the unit can be adjusted to direct air in 4 directions. The Dry Mode takes about 2.5 pints of water out of the air per hour. Note that this unit does require a 230V outlet.

However, conveniently, it will fit in the standard Koldfront sleeve mentioned under the heading above “Sleeve (Size & Installation).” Also, this unit is not unpleasantly loud—it produces a normal amount of noise for an AC of its capacity.

2. Frigidaire FFTA1233Q1

Runner Up

Cooling Area (max) 550 sq. ft.
BTU 12,000
EER 9.8
Heating Options No
Size (inches) 14.5 (H) x 24 (W) x 20.5 (D)
Price Guide $$$$$
Warranty Yes—1 year (limited)

This Frigidaire 12000-BTU unit is a legitimate runner-up, because it actually has many improvements over the winner above—but possibly some losses in the value-for-price and the customer service areas; furthermore, it does not have any form of heating element.

However, its beneficial features might make it the right choice for you. It is actually a bit more efficient than the winner with an EER of 9.8 and a yearly estimated energy cost of $110. Also, in a sense, it might be easier to install, since it works with a normal 115V outlet and can fit in most pre-installed wall sleeves.

It has the normal desired features of a through-the-wall AC: adjustable 4-direction louvers, a 24-hour timer, 3 fan speeds plus auto, an energy-saver mode, and a sleep mode. It also has a filter reset indicator and a fan-only mode.

It can take 3.3 pints of water out of the air per hour—a relatively high humidification power. It has both a front digital display with control buttons and a temperature-sensing remote; the remote itself takes a thermostat reading of the room at its location—usually a more accurate measure of the temperature where the user is.

This unit does a great job of cooling 1-2 rooms in an apartment or office, even on sweltering days, and even when the unit is installed in sunlight (usually not recommended for maximum efficiency). Like the unit above, this one produces a normal amount of noise for an AC of its power and build.

3. Friedrich CP08G10B

Quietest Option

Cooling Area (max) 350 sq. ft.
BTU 8,000
EER 12.1
Heating Options No
Size (inches) 13.9 (H) x 18.6 (W) x 20.7 (D)
Price Guide $$
Warranty Yes—1 year (limited)
60 months (core AC parts)

This Friedrich 8000-BTU air conditioner is the quietest on this list; it also happens to be the most energy efficient, with an EER of 12.1 and an estimated yearly energy cost of $62. It is made to cool relatively small rooms, such as a bedroom—where quietness is valued.

It has all of the valued features in a through-the-wall AC: a remote control, a 24-hour timer, a money/energy-saver mode, and adjustable fan speed. In addition, it dehumidifies at a rate of 2.2 pints/hour.

This unit has some less common features: it has automatically oscillating louvers that sweep air evenly throughout a room; auto-restart, which allows it to keep its settings after a power outage, and swing, which allows you to set how precise you want the thermostat-triggering response to be (you do want to allow a few degrees of error).

It is convenient to plug in: this unit can be plugged into a normal 115V outlet, and you can run the cord from either side of the unit’s front, eliminating the confusion of making sure you can get the cord to the socket without tangling it up in something else.

Aesthetically, some users would prefer the simple front design of the unit—it has no control buttons, only a digital display. (The remote control has all the buttons.) Note that the build of this unit is a little different from others on this list: it has a slide-out chassis, which means it essentially has its own sleeve; also, you can install this as a wall or window unit.

5 Tips on Keeping Noise to a Minimum

  1. Use an appropriately sized unit for your space: An overly powerful unit will be triggered to turn on and off a lot, which is annoying to many; a unit with insufficient cooling power will be triggered to run constantly.
  2. Keep your unit clean with weekly checks, including filter cleans and dusting (if needed). Also check the back (exterior) face periodically. A unit with residue or other obstructions on its grills will have to run more to transfer heat.
  3. Seek a unit that is relatively quiet. Look at the reported loudness (in dB) of a unit, if you can find it. Look at any noise-related reviews about it, too. Take into account your own preferences: some people actually like more ambient noise; others are sensitive to it.
  4. Meticulous insulation between the unit and the sleeve not only makes the unit more efficient—so it runs less—but it also dampens a portion of the noise. Also, be sure the unit is correctly installed (everything is screwed in place)—if not, there may be rattling as it runs.
  5. Use operation modes and convenience features strategically: sleep mode automatically reduces noise both as the exterior temperature usually drops at night and as the unit allows the interior temperature to rise a little bit; a timer or smartphone connection allows you to get the unit on ahead of time so it does not have blast to catch up later.

4. Koldfront WTC8001W

Best for Small Rooms

Cooling Area (max) 350 sq. ft.
BTU 8,000
EER 9.6
Heating Options Yes
Size (inches) 14.5 (H) x 24.2 (W) x 20.3 (D)
Price Guide $
Warranty Yes—2 year
(limited, parts and labour)

This Koldfront 8000-BTU air conditioner takes care of climate control for small rooms. In addition to cooling, it also has a 4200-BTU heater that Koldfront indicates for spaces up to 100 sq. ft.

However, users generally find that the heater actually works for the full 350 sq. ft. (the maximum space the AC mechanism can manage). Even with all of this, its estimated yearly energy cost is a mere $81.

It has all of the desired features of a through-the-wall AC: remote control, adjustable fan speed, 4-way louvers, energy saver mode, sleep mode, and a 24-hour timer. It also dehumidifies 1.9 pints of water/hour—fairly impressive for this size of the unit. Most users will be relieved that this unit works with a normal 115V outlet and creates a normal amount of noise for a unit of its power and build.

As other Koldfront through-the-wall ACs do, this one fits in the Koldfront sleeve mentioned in the “Sleeve (Size & Installation)” section above. This is the perfect unit for those who want easy, no-fuss installation and/or individual climate control for an individual room such as a bedroom or efficiency apartment.

Koldfront’s unusually good warranty and customer service make the installation and maintenance even easier.

5. Koldfront WTC14012WCO

Best for Large Rooms

Cooling Area (max) 700 sq. ft.
BTU 14,000
EER 9.4
Heating Options No
Size (inches) 14.5 (H) x 24.2 (W) x 20.3 (D)
Price Guide $$$
Warranty Yes—2 years
(limited, parts and labour)

This 14000-BTU Koldfront AC is ideal for large rooms; in fact, many users find that it can cool rooms larger than the indicated 700 sq. ft., so there is no need to be nit-picky about how large your room is.

At 78.1 lbs., it is actually rather light for such a powerful unit, and indeed it does fit in the standard Koldfront sleeve mentioned above under “Sleeve (Size & Installation).”

It has the usual desired features in a wall AC unit: remote control, adjustable fan speed (low, medium, high, and auto), adjustable louvers, sleep mode, energy saver mode, dry mode (dehumidification), and a 24-hour timer. It also has a front digital display with control buttons. Users generally find that this unit makes a normal amount of noise for an AC of its power and build.

Some users might need to consider this unit’s electrical needs since it requires the non-standard 230-V outlet. Again, Koldfront has the best customer service and warranty, so more than other companies, they are there to respond to your maintenance and installation concerns.

However, between the hardware and insulation included with the purchase, you should have little difficulty—especially if you already have a standard-sized sleeve in place.

6. Friedrich EP18G33B

Best for Larger Spaces

Cooling Area (max) 1000 sq. ft.
BTU 18,000
EER 11.2
Heating Options Yes
Size (inches) 16.9 (H) x 25.5 (W) x 30.3 (D)
Price Guide $$$$
Warranty Yes—1 year (limited)
60 months (core AC parts)

This 18000-BTU Friedrich is the best window/wall AC on the market to climate control large spaces. It also has 12000-BTU electric heating. Most users are satisfied with its cooling and heating capacities, even when it is the sole climate control element.

In this way, it is great for an office, apartment, or small condominium. Amazingly, it manages to have a relatively high EER, an estimated yearly energy cost of $144, and a relatively low level of noise for a unit of its power.

It has the desired wall AC elements: money/energy saver mode, adjustable fan speed, and a 24-hour timer. In addition, it can dehumidify a whopping 5.5 pints of water per hour, and it has automatically shifting louvers—ideal for distributing air over large spaces.

It has characteristics of Friedrich units: swing control, which means you can adjust how precise the thermostat’s interaction with the unit is; it has a simple front grill with a digital display only—no control buttons; also, it is possible to run the power cord out the left or right of the unit’s front.

Like the 8000-BTU Friedrich above, this one has a slide-out chassis, which means that it essentially has its own sleeve. Note that you do need to have a 230V outlet for this unit.

Frequently Asked ‘Wall AC Unit’ Questions

Can I install one of these mounted units by myself?

It depends on how much you have to do—is there already an appropriately sized hole in the wall? Is a wall sleeve already there?—and how much expertise you have. If the sleeve is already in, you can probably just lift the unit up and slide it in, ideally with the help of another person. If you need to alter the wall opening or the electrics, then you might need specialized help.

How do you install a ‘through the wall’ air conditioner sleeve?

How much handiwork you have to do to install a through-the-wall AC unit depends on where in the process you are starting: in many instances, an appropriately sized opening is already there and you just have to be sure you get a sleeve that fits or do some minor adjustments so that the sleeve you have will fit. A good rule of thumb that many through-the-wall AC installers discover is: Use your common sense.

However, at some point, all of these steps must be done:

  1. Find wall space. Try your best to avoid an area with plumbing, electrical, or any other household wires or ducts.
  2. Mark an outline of the rectangular hole to be cut. Take note of wall studs.
  3. Cut the opening from the inside, and take out intruding wall studs. Install a wooden support frame about the perimeter of the opening.
  4. Drill guide holes in exterior and proceed to cutaway opening.
  5. Use a leveller to be sure the opening is level, and make fine adjustments if it is not.
  6. Put the sleeve in. Affix the sleeve to the opening by following the installation instructions and using the hardware, both of which usually come with the purchase of the sleeve or AC unit itself.
  7. Insert the air filter and put the front grill on. Apply any insulation (this usually comes with the AC unit), and finally, if desired, a finishing frame to the wall surrounding the AC.

The ehowathomechannel, P.C. Richard, and Dazzling Dave provide straightforward tips about wall AC installation.

What else should I consider when installing a mounted wall AC?

First of all, if a unit is already in place, unplug it before removing it. If you are installing a unit anew, do not plug it in until you are done with installation and try to make a good location choice. Consider: Is the unit away from doors or other elements that could whack into it?

Also, consider installing at a height that reduces the chances of children tampering with the unit or people being in some way impeded by its presence. Realize that cold air tends to sink and warm air tends to rise—this is yet another reason to put the unit up higher. However, if you want to be able to control it directly (without remote control), you must put it at a level you can reach.

How do I seal one of these units to the wall?

Wall ACs often come with foam inserts that can be used to create a weathertight seal. If needed, you can also purchase extra foam and/or weathertight sealing for this purpose.

One user voluntarily promoted the product Great Stuff spray foam, made by Dow, as an easy-to-use insulating product. For finer sealing, you might even want to caulk around the unit, including the space above it. The ehowathomechannel thoroughly discusses how to seal AC units.

How do I clean a wall air conditioner without removing it?

Ideally, you should check/clean your filter about once every 2 weeks, especially if you live in a location with a lot of dust, pollen, or other fine particles in the air. Inspect the exposed front of the unit for dust as you are doing this. Start by turning the unit off. If you anticipate doing more than just slipping the air filter out, unplug the unit for safety. Furthermore, it is a good idea to lay some sort of cover on the floor below to catch any debris that falls. To check the filter:

  1. Take the front grill off. Usually, this requires no unscrewing—you just gently flip it up/down or snap it off.
  2. Slip out the air filter and clean, or change, if needed. Most units have filters that you can clean and reuse. Simply wipe it with a damp paper towel (according to the Consumer Reports video below) and, if needed, bath it in soap (dish or hand) and water, and let it dry.
  3. If there is dust on the exposed front (behind the filter) of the AC unit, then brush this off. If there is a more serious residue, use a vacuum cleaner and/or small brush (potentially a toothbrush) to clean the exposed front of the unit. VideoJoeKnows is another great YouTube channel for wall AC unit cleaning advice.
Are wall air conditioners more powerful than window or portable models?

Not inherently so. Portable models are generally not as energy efficient, but they can have equal cooling power. Window and wall models are essentially the same device—in fact, many can double as either one. Look at the BTU label—this is what really indicates the cooling power.

Can I sleep comfortably with these types of Wall ACs?

Generally, yes. However, you have to consider how much noise you like as you are sleeping. Also, be sure you have a unit with appropriate cooling capacity for the room size so that it does not cut on and off a lot—aside from the fact that this diminishes the dehumidifying effects of the AC, some might find it annoying.

Conclusion

A through-the-wall AC with heating is an excellent way provide climate control to a garage. The Koldfront WTC12001W 12,000BTU 208/230V Through-the-Wall Air Conditioner—this article’s #1 wall-mounted air conditioner—gives you this and so much more. Its energy-, money-, and time-saving features make it great for almost any office or residential situation.

Last Updated on

Top