While some people enjoy the ambient hum of appliances in the background, others find it hard to ignore.
Window ACs aren’t as loud as their portable AC counterparts, but because part of the unit is still inside, there will still be ambient white noise.
In this article, we look at the 5 top window ACs for the latter group.
The Department of Energy estimates that about 75 percent of all US households have air conditioning in some form. While many of those homes rely on central air conditioning, a method of cooling that places the unit and its parts outside of the home, millions of people rely on room air conditioners to cool specific areas of their homes.
For these users, the quietness of a unit is often one of their primary shopping factors. The white noise from appliances can range from barely noticeable – say, with a small computer – to loud and hard to ignore, in the case of dishwashers.
Room air conditioners, particularly window units, are somewhere in the middle: they usually have an estimated decibel range between 40 and 60 dbA. Because window units are both inside and outside of the home, noise may not be as much of an issue as with quiet portable air conditioners, but it is a factor nonetheless.
To learn more about AC units’ noise levels and how to choose the best option for your home, read our detailed reviews below.
What are the Quietest Window Air Conditioners to Buy?
Before we explain how decibel levels and cooling capacity work, we’ll breakdown our top choices. Below, you’ll find a more detailed explanation as to why these are the quietest AC units on the market for 2019.
AC Comparison Table
|Model||Noise Level (dBa)||BTU||Room Size||Estimated Costs (per year)|
|Haier ESAQ406T||43 (low setting)||6000||Up to 250 sq.ft.||$50|
|Haier ESAQ406P||43 (low setting)||6050||Up to 250 sq.ft.||$45|
|LG LW6017R||52||6000||Up to 260 sq.ft.||$50|
|LG LW8016ER||54||8000||Up to 340 sq.ft.||$60|
|LG LW1216ER||52||12000||Up to 550 sq.ft.||$90|
|Koldfront WAC25001W||64||25000||Up to 1500 sq.ft.||$44 (Low Setting)|
Understanding Decibel Levels
Decibels are used to measure “the pressure of the sound waves traveling through the air from a source of noise,” says Explain that Stuff. “You have to think about the decibel scale very carefully because it’s a logarithmic scale and it works in a different way to the scale on a ruler, which is a linear scale.”
Essentially, the decibel scale moves up the ladder in powers of ten, so something that’s at 50 dbA isn’t just a little louder than something at 40 dbA: it’s exponentially louder.
The sound of rustling leaves is about 20 dbA, and 30 dbA is about the same as a quiet rural area, which has all sorts of low-level, natural noises going on at once. As you move up the decibel scale, the intensity of noise level goes up significantly.
For example, a noise at 60 dbA – conversation, a larger window AC unit – is about half as loud as 70 dbA. You may think that the difference between 60 and 70 is fairly minor, but the truth is that moving from 60 to 70 dbA makes something twice as loud.
So, you can see that small differences in decibel ratings can make a big difference in the actual noise level in your home. Choosing a unit on the low end of that range can help keep white noise to a minimum, and you would generally hear a noticeable difference in a unit that operates at 50 dbA and one that operates at 60 dbA.
Another factor to consider is distance. The decibel rating of your window air conditioner may be 50, but the ultimate “intensity” of the noise will change based on the distance between the unit and the listener. A unit on the other side of a bedroom won’t appear to be as loud as one right next to your head while you’re sleeping, for example.
“You know from your own experience that distance affects the intensity of sound — if you are far away, the power is greatly diminished,” says HowStuffWorks.
For those reasons, it’s good to have an idea of where your unit will be placed in the rooms you’re looking to cool. If you know the distance between you and the unit will be longer, you may have a little more flexibility in noise level.
Small rooms with little distance to work with may require smaller, quieter units to maintain your ideal noise level. If your room or home doesn’t allow for window ACs, you can also find a small portable air conditioner that will fit the cooling needs of your space.
The Quietest Window Air Conditioners
Over the last year, we’ve reviewed more than 40 window air conditioning models to determine which offer the best noise levels while still performing well. So although we do take into consideration the overall decibel rating of a unit, we also consider how well it performs, because a quiet ac unit that doesn’t actually cool your room isn’t a good purchase.
We’ve also considered customer feedback and industry reviews for ultra-quiet air conditioner units. Sources like Consumer Reports, Wirecutter, Popular Mechanics and other publications each offer helpful reviews for units in general, so we considered these recommendations and suggestions while researching the best quiet window air conditioners.
With that in mind, we recommend the Haier ESAQ406T as our Editor’s Choice because of its decibel rating, good reviews and inclusion in industry recommended reviews from sources like Wirecutter.
Our runner-up is the Haier ESAQ406P which also receives good reviews, industry recognition and maintains a low decibel rating compared to similarly sized units. This model was our previous #1 choice although it is almost impossible to find in stores these days.
Editor’s #1 Choice
|Noise Level (dBa)||43 (low setting)|
|Cooling Area||Up to 250 sq.ft.|
|Dimensions||18.1 x 21.2 x 12.4 “|
The top choice on our list, is the Haier ESAQ406T. This ac unit is part of the Serenity Series by Haier. The 6,000 BTU unit also comes with a compressor blanket for sound reduction and operates at just 43 decibels on a low setting.
Like the ESAQ406P (see below), it has a dual motor design, cross-flow fan, and comes with a remote, on/off timer, auto cool, sleep mode, dehumidify mode, and an energy saver setting.
“The Haier ESAQ406T sits in at 6,000 BTU, and Haier argues that it can cool a room up to 250 sq ft, which isn’t bad at all,” says Business Insider. “It’s also Energy Star rated, so while it may not be as energy efficient as the GE, it will still be easier on the wallet than most other air conditioners.”
Noise-wise, this unit produces about the same amount of sound as a white noise machine. But it’s quiet enough to be able to hear family members moving in the hall and doesn’t block out sounds completely.
With most other AC units, you have to turn your TV volume up to hear over the sound produced, but with this one, you likely won’t need to. Though it does produce some noise, it’s closer to what you’d expect from a fan than the rumble of a compressor. The remote is easy to use and simple.
Overall, this machine cools well, is well-made, and is ultra quiet when comparing with most other window units on the market. Though this air conditioner does cost more than units of the same BTU rating, some will find the extra cost worth sleeping through the night. Installation is easy enough but the unit is quite heavy, so ask a friend to help you put it in.
|Noise Level (dBa)||43 (low setting)|
|Cooling Area||Up to 250 sq.ft.|
|Dimensions||18.1 x 21.2 x 12.4 “|
The Haier ESAQ406P, a 6,050 BTU air conditioner is another part of Haier’s Serenity series. The window unit has a compressor blanket to reduce noise and operates at just 43 decibels. It also comes with greater air control with its dual motor design and a cross flow fan, offering smoother, stronger airflow.
“An older Haier Serenity Series model, the ESAQ406P, is still available on the Amazon Marketplace,” says Wirecutter. “It was one of our upgrade picks for a part of summer 2016, until availability dried up. This older model uses about $3 to $5 more energy per year than the new one (based on DOE estimates) but is otherwise similar.”
Ideal for cooling rooms no larger than 250 square feet, it has a 24-hour on and off timer, auto cool, sleep mode, dehumidify mode, and energy saving mode. It also comes with a fully functional remote control, making it easy to change settings from across the room.
The air conditioner was designed intelligently, sitting more inside your window than most other units. This allows the vent to be placed on top and send the conditioned air upward into the room.
With most of it sitting inside, the unit protrudes just 7.5 inches from the outside window sill. And since it doesn’t stick out as much from the house, it looks better than other air conditioners. If you have an at-home job that requires a quiet environment, this window unit sounds much smoother than others and won’t disrupt you as much. It’s quieter than similar brands with the same BTU rating.
It might make a rattling noise when it’s turned on at first, but that will go away quickly instead of remaining constant as it does with other window units. Depending on the size of the room you use it in, you might have to keep it set to auto cool to reach your ideal temperature. This window ac unit was previously our #1 pick for home use. Unfortunately, it is difficult to purchase online and in retail stores but it remains one of the quietest machines on the market.
Best Budget Option
|Noise Level (dBa)||52|
|Cooling Area||Up to 260 sq.ft.|
|Dimensions||114.4 x 17.3 x 11.1 “|
If you’re looking to save some money, the best budget option on our list is the LG LW6017R. This 6,000 BTU air conditioner works for rooms 260 square feet and smaller and comes with an energy saving function and on/off timer.
In addition, it has 3 fan speeds and 3 cooling speeds to choose from. Like the other LG models mentioned, it has the LG patented anti-corrosion protection, full-function remote, and an installation kit included.
“A good air conditioner can help make those hot summers much more bearable,” says Business Insider. “The LG LW6017R Air Conditioner is the best window AC you can buy, with its three cooling speeds and built-in dehumidifier.”
The 2016 version of this model was one of Consumer Reports top recommended units, and the newest model maintains many of those same features and quiet performance. With a dBa noise level of 52, this AC unit is still quiet enough to sleep with while running, although it is 9 decibels difference between the Haier models.
Many users will appreciate that the vent on this unit is pointing upward instead of out toward the room, more efficiently cooling the room without blowing air on you as you sleep. Since being directly exposed to forced air isn’t particularly healthy, this is preferable.
The installation is quite painless, even for those who are not the “handy types.” It weighs just about 40 pounds so depending on your strength, you might be able to do it alone or might require some help.
When you install this unit, getting it into the window should be quick. It can be installed and removed within minutes without permanent holes or fasteners in the frame or window jambs. This is great if you plan to take it with you when you move.
But during the installation process, keep in mind that the adhesive strip that comes with it for the window frame is very sticky. Be careful not to get it on your hands. If you do, it will wash off with soap and water, though. This strip will help the seal stay in place.
This machine is easy to operate, and you can set the timer to stop and start at the correct times during the morning and night. As long as you use this unit in the right size space, it will cool your room down very well and keep you comfortable in the heat of summer.
Best for Medium-Sized Rooms
|Noise Level (dBa)||54|
|Cooling Area||Up to 340 sq.ft.|
|Dimensions||19.6 x 19.4 x 12.4 “|
The quietest option on our list for medium size rooms, this LG 8,000 BTU machine works for rooms 340 square feet and smaller. Like the LW1216ER covered above, it has an energy efficiency ratio of 12.1, an on/off timer, and energy saving function. It also comes with a fully functional remote and protective anti-corrosion coating.
“The LG LW8016ER is a top choice for an office or den, and some people will find it quiet enough for a bedroom, too,” says Wirecutter. This unit is also recommended by Consumer Reports. It is slightly louder than the previous LG unit and comes with a dBa level of 54.
Even on very humid nights, this unit gets the job done and cools your room down very effectively. If you have a small house, this can be used to cool down other rooms, too, and provides good airflow. The instructions are not as straightforward as those of other brands, but installation is easy apart from that.
It has extra panels on the side to block out the hot air from outside even more. You can cut these and add them to the unit’s sides as soon as you’ve installed it. These are an addition to the existing accordion panels the unit already comes with. Instead of dropping your central AC down to cool your house, this unit works for a single area and saves you money on electricity.
It won’t rattle your window frame like some other models and even alerts you when it’s time to clean out the air filter. This is especially important for customers with pets. Some users reported that this unit wasn’t as quiet as they would have liked, but that it’s still quieter than most similar products on the market.
Best for Large Rooms
|Noise Level (dBa)||52|
|Cooling Area||Up to 550 sq.ft.|
|Dimensions||23.6 x 22.2 x 15 “|
As our pick for the best performing quiet AC for larger spaces, the LG LW1216ER is a 115V, 12,000 BTU unit and works for spaces 550 square feet or smaller. Great for quickly cooling your room down, it has an energy efficiency ratio of 12.1, and an on/off 24-hour timer.
“Reviewers say the unit is easy to use and among the quieter window air conditioners they’ve owned, especially on lower speeds,” says The Spruce. “Many rave about how cold it keeps larger spaces, even when the temperature is sky-high.”
The remote is stylish, fully functional, and makes using the unit more convenient. And the machine comes with an anti-corrosion, gold fin coating (LG patented) that protects it and allows it to last longer. When you order this product, the AC comes with an included installation kit, making setup quick and easy.
The noise level of this larger unit is greater than the previous Haier models but that’s to be expected given it cools a bigger space. It is still very quiet in terms of dBa output, coming in at 52 for the indoor noise level and 60 for the outside of the unit.
The unit itself is modern and attractive, with a standard window AC machine look, and fits in well with most types of décor. It’s boxy, white, and measures about 22 by 15 by 24 inches. You may want to call a strong friend (or two) to help you put this unit in as it weighs roughly 80 pounds.ly
The fan speed is a little slow to change, requiring 5 to 10 seconds to switch once selected. However, the speeds don’t seem to differ much from each other. Though some may see this as a con, it’s part of what makes the AC unit so quiet. If you happen to use this as an add-on to a trailer, you might have to find some sort of solution to the lack of included back-grille to protect against debris and bugs when in motion.
Best for Very Large Rooms
|Noise Level (dBa)||64|
|Cooling Area||Up to 1500 sq.ft.|
|Dimensions||18.6 x 26.5 x 26.5 “|
The quietest air conditioner for large rooms/spaces is the Koldfront WAC25001W window air conditioner.
This 25,000-BTU unit (dimensions: 18.6’’H x 26.5’’W x 26.5’’D) can easily cool a space up to 1,500 sq. ft.—all while having every beneficial feature you could want in a window AC: adjustable fan speed; 4-way air-directing louvers; washable filter with cleaning indicator light; sleep, energy-saver, and dry modes; 24-hour timer; an all-controlling remote; and even, an electric heater promised to provide heating for 700 sq. ft. of space. It manages to do all of this with an EER of 9.4 and an estimated yearly energy cost of $259.
This unit is somewhat loud (64 dba) when it is running at its highest fan speed and maximum cooling power. One Amazon user commented that he/she could not hear the TV with the AC on.
Keep in mind that this is a very large window AC, and when it is in a large room, this level of sound normally will not seem as intense as it would in a small room. Also, this unit is so effective that you can usually keep the sound down by having the unit on a low setting (this also saves energy). You can also avoid putting audio media (TV, radio, etc.) close to the AC; however, if it is on low, you should not have much trouble.
Users are consistently pleased with this unit’s performance. It dehumidifies at a maximum of 137 pints of water/day, and many find that it can really freeze them out, even in larger spaces.
It comes with a 2-year, limited warranty on parts and labour; the purchase includes thorough instructions and all necessary parts to install the unit. Just be sure you have a working partner to help you with installation—this AC weighs 131 lbs. Also, be sure you have an appropriate 240V, 30A outlet close to the window.
How to Get a Quiet Cooling Experience
For most users, the perfect air conditioner is as quiet as possible. You generally sleep a lot better in a cooled down room, with a unit that makes just enough noise to cover city and traffic noises. This list will give you some ideas for achieving almost no noise at all from your unit.
Check the Power Cord
If your cord is frayed, twisted, or worn down, it won’t supply the machine with enough power. This problem can lead to vibrating noises and intermittent stops when the unit restarts. Replace your cord or hire someone to do so if you notice these issues.
With the correct installation, proper maintenance and care, your unit should give you years of quiet and cool air in the space you install it in. If you’re unsure about any of the steps involved with installing or using it, don’t hesitate to hire a professional to help.
Keep the Filter Clean
Most units will come with a filter screen near or inside the faceplate. Take this off and clean it once a week during the hot season when you’re using your machine a lot. Many modern machines will let you know when it’s time to change the filter.
Look at the Insulation
Most unit cabinets come with insulation in the faceplate and walls to deaden noise. If this insulation is torn, worn out, or missing altogether, it must be replaced with material that is resistant to moisture. This insulation should be packed tightly into the walls and faceplate to reduce noise from the moving parts of the AC unit. If you aren’t sure how to do this, have an experienced friend or professional help you.
If the faceplate on your machine comes with a large open grid, you can reduce the air intake quite a bit by adding some insulation. This can stop excessive vibration and annoying noise. While you’re at it, check that the housing and faceplate on the unit fit together well, connecting smoothly without any air gaps.
Check the Moving Parts
Before putting the unit in, make sure its mechanical parts are all in working order. Look at the fan blades inside the machine’s front face to ensure they’re straight. If they aren’t, they could rub against the unit’s faceplate and make a very irritating noise.
You should also look at the unit’s fan attachment to make sure everything’s in order. Add some WD-40 or another type of lubricating spray to the rotating plate so it runs smoothly.
Always Properly Install the Machine
If your unit isn’t mounted tightly enough in your window frame or is installed on an unstable ledge or frame, it’s going to buzz, hum, and rattle loudly. Before you go through the trouble of installing your unit, make sure the frame is firm enough to support it.
Add putty or caulk to the edges if necessary and tighten all of the window’s fastenings to create a seal that is airtight to fully support the machine.
Put It in a Shaded Area
Even if you get the highest quality AC unit, it’s not going to function at its best in the full sunlight. Try, instead, to put the unit in a shaded window. If this isn’t possible, put an awning over it to create shade and help the machine function at optimal capacity.
Get the Correct Sized Unit
An AC unit that is meant for a larger space than the room you have it in will irritate you as it constantly turns on and off, making noise. You shouldn’t hear every single time the fan stops or turns on. A unit that isn’t large enough for the room it’s cooling will create a wheezing noise as it struggles to keep up with the volume of the space.
Power Vs Room Size
In most contexts, BTU is short for BTU/hr; the BTU is a unit of heat transfer, and so higher-BTU units can move heat out of a room more quickly than lower-BTU units. Generally, higher-BTU units will have a higher estimated running cost per year, but this is reasonable, considering that you are getting more cooling.
Generally, larger rooms require more cooling; however, there are other factors to consider. While rooms are usually sized by area, high ceilings increase a room’s volume, which means the space is bigger overall.
Windows, sunlight, heat-generating appliances and devices—and even human bodies can increase the cooling power needed. Do not assume that getting a small unit is more economical or that bigger is always better. There are adverse consequences (excessive or unsteady noise, among others) to getting the wrong size of AC.
|BTU’s||Maximum Cooling Area (sq. ft.)||Suitable Room Type||Estimated Cost (average per year)|
|8000||300||Living room/large bedroom||$71|
|10000||350||Large living room||$89|
|25000||900||Very large space||$223|
Determining Running Costs
While electricity is commonly thought of in terms of current, or rate of flow, measured in Amperes (Amps or A)—the amount of electric energy you are paying for is usually noted by total energy use, in kilowatt-hours (kWh). AC units with higher energy efficiency ratios (EER) are capable of generating more BTU’s with relatively fewer kWh, so in the end, you pay less. The EER is the number of BTU’s you can get from 1 W (one-thousandth of a kW).
Estimated yearly cost is normally calculated by assuming electricity costs 13 cents per kWh (=1000 W*h) and that the AC unit will be run 8 hour per day, for 3 months. So, for example, if you have a 10,000-BTU unit with a 10.5 EER:
(1W / 10.5 BTU) * (10,000 BTU) * (13 cents / [1000 W*h]) * (8h / day) *(30 days /1 month) * (3 months / year) *(1 dollar / 100 cents) = $89 / year
If you do not like doing the math, you can always find a site to estimate the yearly cost of any air conditioner for you.
Aside from getting high-EER units, there are other ways you can lower your AC-related energy costs. All good-quality window ACs have a variety of modes that improve user experience and increase overall efficiency. Energy saver mode means that the unit will not run unless the room temperature has risen above the set temperature—this also reduces overall noise.
If sleep mode is engaged, the unit will allow the temperature in the room to rise gradually throughout the night before returning to the set temperature—this allows you to avoid getting cold in the wee hours of the morning and to avoid using more energy (and generating more noise) than you need. Timers similarly allow you to get the room to your desired temperature when you are there without wasting energy by running the unit when you are not there.
Bedrooms Vs Living Rooms
The room where most people especially want quiet is the bedroom; however, the ideal level of noise for any room is still ultimately a subjective choice. Some people dislike any ambient noise and want to reduce it as much as they can. Others may be comforted by white noise—either just because they are, or because it blocks out other, less consistent, noises.
If you are a white-noise lover, then you probably would love for your window AC to run consistently as you sleep. In this case, you should be sure the unit is not oversized—it will cut on and off a lot if it is. While you still do not want it drastically undersized for the size of the room, a small AC is less of a problem for a bedroom since the climate is usually cooler at night.
Other types of rooms are usually larger in size and more likely to need greater cooling: Kitchens always do—even if you do not cook a lot—because the refrigerator and freezer produce heat as they run. Rooms used as offices may need cooling to offset the heat produced by computers and other electronic devices. Large windows and devices (TVs, sound systems) in a living room generate extra heat that the AC unit must offset.
Quick Guide to Installing an AC Unit
To install a window AC, first be sure that you have a window of sufficient dimensions to accommodate the unit, and be sure that an appropriate electric outlet is within a reasonable distance. Then, remove or stabilize any obstructions in the window (storm windows, screens). First, put the top and bottom flanges/grooves and the side panels on. Now you are ready to use the grooves to place the unit in the window frame and bring the window sash down on it.
If you are installing a large unit, you will need to make supports for the part that protrudes out the window. (Note: For the actual placement of the unit, it is best to have another person to help, since most of these units are over 70 lbs.) Fan out the side panels until they meet the window frame. Then, affix the side panels to the frame and lock the sashes in place.
Finally, squeeze some foam into the space between the sashes at the top of the window and seal any other leak-prone spots you can find.
Through the Wall
A through-the-wall AC unit is similar in size and build to a window AC (some can work as either) but is installed in an opening that goes through a wall, rather than in an open window. Therefore, unlike most window ACs, most through-the-wall ACs do not have any vents on the side. To install a through-the-wall, first find a suitable wall space: Use a stud finder to make sure there is no electrical wiring that runs through the space.
Next, draw the opening in absolutely straight lines, allowing 2 extra inches over the AC unit’s dimensions and cut through the drywall. Then, draw and cut out an identically sized opening on the exterior side. Apply a wooden frame to the interior opening. Finally, insert the sleeve/cabinet and nail it in place. At this point, all you have to do is insert the unit, fix it in place, and insulate it. (There are usually included instructions with particular units.)
The Editor’s Choice, the Haier ESAQ406T, is ideal for a bedroom: At 6000 BTU, it is the right size for relatively small rooms; on its low setting, it is no louder than a small personal fan. If temperatures are not very high (more likely the case at night), the low setting is likely all you need.
Last Updated on