The air conditioner market has grown massively in the past decade. More people than ever before appreciate having control over their home environment, and over 87% of American homes have AC. As a result, manufacturers are becoming more and more innovative, and new styles of air conditioners are produced every year.
Saddle air conditioners are the latest trend that offer an innovative way to cool your home. In this guide, we’ll help explain the benefits of saddle air conditioners and introduce you to some of the best models available.
The Rise of Saddle Air Conditioners
Saddle air conditioners, sometimes referred to as u-shaped air conditioners or over-the-sill AC, are becoming increasingly popular. They operate in a similar way to window AC with half of the air conditioner on the outside and half on the inside. The difference is that a saddle air conditioner has a dip in the middle, so they take up much less of your window space.
The internal portion of your air conditioner has your controls, filter, and fan to push air into your home. The external portion has a condenser that draws in the air from outside and cools it. The middle portion acts as a small duct that lets air flow through.
Saddle air conditioners are the next generation of window AC that allows homeowners to enjoy the benefits of a cool, well-ventilated room without completely removing the window.
Benefits of U-Shaped Over Window ACs
Saddle air conditioners offer a more intelligent design that brings some immediate benefits, but they are also more modern than traditional window ACs. They are more expensive than most window air conditioners, but they also offer more performance and longevity, making them worth the extra investment. Here are some of the key benefits:
Air conditioner efficiency is measured as a SEER rating, and the higher the rating, the more efficient they are. Modern window ACs are efficient and have a reasonably high SEER rating, but some older models have a rating of under 10. Saddle ACs are all modern, so they’re generally rated 10 or above. Compared to your average window AC, you could spend 30-50% less to run a saddle AC.
Saddle air conditioners benefit again from being more modern and have better internal mechanisms and insulation, so they produce less noise. Your average window AC will produce 55-70 decibels, but a saddle AC will only produce 40-50 decibels. This is noticeably quieter, and with some saddle air conditioners, you won’t even hear them running.
Easy To Install
Window air conditioners usually require you to remove a whole window, which can be complicated to install. Saddle air conditioners only require a fraction of the window space, and there’s a lot less work involved. Saddle air conditioners will come with home installation kits that allow anyone to install them at home. You’ll need to seal up the area around the AC, but there’s much less space to fill compared to window ACs.
Up To 80% Lower Profile
The profile is the amount of space that your AC takes up. A traditional window AC will basically replace your window completely, and you won’t be able to see out anymore. A saddle air conditioner only takes up about 20% of the space at the bottom of your window. This gives you a much bigger window to look through and lets you enjoy more sunshine in the summer months.
3 Best Saddle Air Conditioner Reviewed
Saddle air conditioners are relatively new, but there’s already a lot of different models available. To help you determine which is best for you, we’ve identified our top 3 models and given a breakdown of their key features:
1. Midea U Inverter
|Overall Dimension||21.97 x 19.17 x 13.46 inches|
|Item Weight||71 lbs|
|BTU Ratings||8000, 10,000, 12,000|
|Window Sill Clearance||13.75 inches|
|Noise Level||42 DB|
At first glance, the Midea U Inverter seems like a fairly standard saddle air conditioner, but there is definitely more than meets the eye. It offers high BTU models which have enough power to cool up to 500 square feet effectively, and it has modern features which make it simple to use.
The design of the saddle AC is flexible and adapts to most window sizes with a strong window bracket to hold it in place. Unlike some other saddle ACs, it has an inverted U, so it has a higher profile than other models, but it still gives more visibility than a traditional window AC. In addition, it has a full LED display screen with easy-to-use controls so you can adapt it to your preferences. There’s also an integrated app so you can control it from your mobile even when you’re not home. We found these user-friendly features made this AC intuitive to use.
There are two stand-out features with this air conditioner: the efficiency and the noise level. It has a SEER rating of 15, which is incredibly efficient, and was even named the most efficient home AC in 2020. It’s roughly 30% cheaper to run than other saddle air conditioners and up to 75% cheaper to run than some window ACs. Over the life of the unit, this represents a significant saving. The Midea U Inverter is also incredibly quiet and is only about 42 decibels. To put that in perspective, it’s only a little bit louder than a whisper, so you’ll barely hear it run.
This saddle air conditioner is well suited for large homes or spaces that need an AC to run frequently. It offers a lot of long-term value and could save you thousands in bills. The downside is that it will block more of your window than other saddle conditioners, so it’s not as well suited for those with a great view.
We have also made an in-depth review of the Midea U-Shaped Air Conditioner to know more about this product.
What We Like
- Extremely efficient and low cost to run
- Powerful cooling
- WiFi control via app
- Very quiet operation
What We Don’t Like
- Higher profile
- Installation is quite challenging
2. Soleus Air Exclusive
|Overall Dimension||28.9 x 18.7 x 15 inches|
|Item Weight||85 lbs|
|BTU Ratings||6000, 8000|
|Window Sill Clearance||11 inches|
|Noise Level||47 DB|
The Soleus Air Exclusive is an over the sill low profile air conditioner with a very stylish look and feel. It combines effective aesthetics with some valuable features to make it a doubly useful home air conditioner, and most importantly, it doesn’t block your window.
Alongside being low profile, this saddle air conditioner runs really quietly. It operates somewhere between 40 and 45 decibels which is about 35% quieter than standard window ACs. It can be controlled with a remote control and comes with pre-set functions that automatically adjust to the room it’s installed in. All of this means you can set this up and forget about it because you won’t even notice it; you’ll just have a well-ventilated and cooled room.
This isn’t as efficient as some other over the sill air conditioners, so it is slightly more expensive to run, but the design gives you full use of the window. This means you can choose to open the window for ventilation at some times rather than having to run the AC constantly. This AC also doubles up as a dehumidifier with a dry setting that allows you to remove up to 30 pints of moisture from the air every hour.
If you have a good view and lots of sunshine hitting your window, then this AC is for you. It lets you get the most from the good weather but still allows you to control the environment around you with some effective cooling. It’s easy to use and can cool a decent-sized space, but if you have a very large home or room, then this may not have enough power for you.
To know more about this model, check our post on the “Soleus Window AC Reviews“.
What We Like
- Low profile
- Drying feature and other modes
- Remote control
- Very quiet operation
What We Don’t Like
- Less cooling power
- Less efficient
3. MRCOOL U-Shaped
|Overall Dimension||26 x 19.5 x 16 inches|
|Item Weight||78 lbs|
|Window Sill Clearance||13.5 inches|
|Noise Level||41 DB|
|Warranty||Up to 2 years (but extra cost involved)|
The MRCool U-shaped air conditioner is well suited for offices or bedrooms with ultra-quiet running and effective cooling. It, too, has some modern features and technology incorporated into it, making it easier to use and better value for homeowners.
This saddle AC features a full display screen and integrated thermostat to set the desired temperature, but also comes with a range of different settings to choose from. You can set it to automatic, so it adjusts to your room, fan only when you just want ventilation, or drying mode if you need to remove excess moisture and humidity. You can also set it to night mode for even quieter running, and there’s an app to adjust the settings which works really well.
The sound output from this AC is really low, and even at full speed, it won’t go above 45 decibels. The whole machine is designed to insulate your home and provide protection against noise. The louvers on the front help spread the airflow and give better ventilation without having to up the power. That being said, the energy rating of this AC is impressive, so if you do need to run it for longer, then it won’t have a significant impact on your energy bills.
This is a high-performing saddle AC with user-friendly features and a sleek design. It’s the most affordable on our list, and while it doesn’t offer the highest BTUs, it’s still more than enough for most rooms. It’s great for your bedroom or office, and the noise cancellation effect makes it a useful asset in loud neighborhoods or busy urban environments.
What We Like
- Energy efficient
- Quiet running with noise-insulating
- Electronic control and several modes
- Very quiet operation
What We Don’t Like
- Higher profile
- Extra warranty cost
Factors To Consider When Buying A Saddle Air Conditioner
We’ve introduced you to a few of the best saddle air conditioners, but if you want to search the market, then it’s good to know what to look for. Here are the key factors that you need to consider before selecting your AC:
Window Size & Windowsill Clearance
The size of your window will impact the air conditioner you can buy for your home. Most saddle ACs are adaptable and work in various window sizes, but it’s still worth measuring up before you start searching. It’s also important to consider the windowsill clearance as this is the amount of window space the AC will block.
If you get a lot of sunlight and enjoy the view from the window, then you should look for as low a windowsill clearance as possible. This tends to range from 10-15 inches, but some inverted u-shaped ACs go a bit higher.
The cooling capacity of an AC is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs). The higher the BTUs, the more cooling your AC will provide, and the greater the area it will be effective in. Most window ACs will offer between 6000 and 12000 BTUs. 6000 BTUs will cool a space of 200-300 square feet, whereas a 12000 BTU AC will cool 500-600 square feet.
It’s worth measuring the space and getting a saddle AC to match the area. If there are too many BTUs, then you’ll pay more on your bills, but if you don’t have enough, then you won’t feel the benefits.
The electrical requirements of your AC will generally be linked to the BTUs. The more BTUs the AC produces, the more watts it will need to run. Most saddle air conditioners are electrical and will need to be plugged into an outlet, so make sure you have one within reach. They’ll typically need 120 volts, and it’s worth knowing the exact wattage as this will impact how much it costs you to run.
The efficiency of an AC is represented as a SEER rating. The higher the rating, the more efficient the model and the less it will cost to run. Most saddle ACs will have a rating of over 10 because they’re built to be energy efficient, but if you can get one above 15, it’s going to save you a lot in the long run. Remember, paying more upfront could result in some long-term savings.
Ease Of Maintenance
We all want home appliances that work and don’t need much effort to maintain. Most saddle air conditioners are pretty simple, and you’ll only need to change the filters every 4-6 weeks. It’s worth looking for a unit with a good warranty to help protect it. The industry standard is about 2 years, so anything above that is a bonus.
The price of your unit is always going to be an important factor. There does tend to be a correlation between quality and price, but you can get some cheaper models which are more cost-effective. A saddle AC can cost anywhere between $300 and $1000, but you shouldn’t be afraid to spend a little more on an AC that seems more durable.
How To Install U-Shaped Air Conditioners?
Every u-shaped air conditioner is different, but you should be able to install it yourself without professional help. We’ve given a quick guide below, but always remember to follow the specific user instructions of your air conditioner.
Start by gathering your tools. You’ll need safety gloves, a drill, a screwdriver, insulating foam, and your AC itself. It should come with a support bracket, but if not, you’ll need to get one from your hardware store.
1. Fit Your Bracket
Open your window fully and take the support bracket out of the packaging. Place this, so it runs across the bottom of the window and mark where the holes in the windowsill need to be to hold it in place. Use your drill or screwdriver to secure this in place.
2. Lift Your AC In
Once the bottom bracket is secure, lift the air conditioner to sit on top of the bracket. The U-shaped section should be right underneath your open window, and you should partially close the window so you can check the AC is in the right place. You may need a friend to help you with this step because some ACs are heavier than others.
3. Attach The Side Brackets
Attach the two side brackets, which should fit on the side of the AC and into the bottom bracket. Secure these with screws and then lift down the sidearm hinges to help hold them in place.
4. Measure The Insulating Foam
Measure the distance between the side of the AC and the edge of the window. Add ¼ inch onto this measurement, and then cut this amount from your insulating foam. This should fit snugly in the sidearm hinge and run right into the window frame. It’s important this fits snugly to help insulate your home and keep the cold out, so if it doesn’t fit snugly, you should repeat this step.
5. Secure Your Anti Tip Brackets
Middle brackets should then be placed on top of the insulating foam and run from the AC to the window frame. Once these are in place, screw them in so the anti-tip brackets are secure on both sides.
6. Check Your Window Locks
You should now be able to close the window fully, so it fits snugly into the middle anti-tip bracket. There should be a flap on the AC to lock the window down. This will help to hold your AC in place and secure your home.
7. Install Window Seal
Use some insulating foam along the top of the window so that it is completely sealed. Just measure your foam to the appropriate length and push it into the gap.
8. Check For Gaps
Check for any gaps between the AC and the window where air might come into the room. If there are any, then take small bits of insulating foam and try to cover them up.
9. Plug In Your Saddle AC
Your AC is now ready to use. Plug it into the nearest outlet and switch it on. If you’re not sure it’s working or worry that the AC isn’t secure, then you should get a professional to come and review your work.
People Also Ask (FAQ)
Do U-shaped air conditioners need brackets?
Yes, you do need AC window brackets, and most models will come with them. Brackets are a legal requirement in some states, so it’s not worth trying to install a window AC without them.
How does the U-shaped AC drain?
The support bracket tilts slightly downward out of your window so that condensate can drip out of your home.
Where can you buy saddle air conditioners at a good price?
Online marketplaces like Amazon tend to be the best option for saddle air conditioners and offer a better price than traditional stores.
U-shaped over the sill air conditioners offer greater benefits, look better, and still allow you to have a functional window. In the next few years, they’ll become much more common in urban areas, and we’ll no longer have as many ugly window ACs blotting the skyline of major cities. Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand a bit more about saddle ACs, and you now know if they’re the right choice for you.