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My 13-Step Guide For Buying The Perfect Window Air Conditioner

Erica Puisis

Written By

Erica Puisis

Expert Reviewed By

Josh Mitchell

Last Updated On

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I've installed countless window air conditioning units and witnessed how an improperly sized unit can lead to inefficiency and wasted money.

Most homeowners I've assisted had purchased a new air conditioner that didn't align with their window dimensions. 

When selecting a reliable window conditioner for a client, I go beyond online reviews and BTU ratings, meticulously considering window openings, room square footage, airflow dynamics, sizing calculations, and more. 

I've detailed key insights to illustrate what a comprehensive window AC buyer's guide should encompass.

Step 1 - Understand The Different Types of Window ACs Available

After over 100 installations, the main AC types I often encounter are traditional and casement window units. 

Window AC Types
  • Casement windows crank out like doors instead of sliding, requiring specialized casement AC models—pricier but better for narrow vertical windows. 
  • Traditional window units are the most common. They seal against vertical or horizontal sliders using side panels or expandable curtains. Installing them takes longer, and they use the sash for stability and accordion panels for larger windows.
  • U-Shaped or Saddle Window ACs are increasingly gaining popularity. Instead of using the basic rectangular frame, they use a split design. This promotes not only quieter operations, but allows for a better visibility through the window.

What Type of Window Do You Have?

When choosing a window air conditioner, I need to check if the client's window style, whether vertical or casement, allows for a proper fit without gaps.[1]

Most traditional window units like the Dreo Arctic Cool that I've installed are designed specifically for vertical sliders. Their panels won't properly cover gaps on a casement window, causing compatibility issues.

I use different AC models to ensure an airtight seal for casement windows that crank out or horizontal sliders. 

Casement-specific units such as the Frigidaire FFRS1022R1 mount entirely inside the window opening, so no part hangs outside.

Window Type

Other Window Types

Although less often, I've also installed ACs in awnings, hoppers, and picture windows. I use a casement-style sealed unit for awning windows that hinge outward from the bottom since they slide horizontally.[2]

With hopper windows that tilt inward from the top, some traditional vertical slider units can work when installed properly.

A portable or through-the-wall AC is needed for larger fixed-picture windows with no operable opening.

Can You Use Window ACs as Through-the-Wall ACs?

I've installed many window ACs through exterior walls, but ventilation and installation needs can differ from typical window units, even if sized similarly—they aren't necessarily interchangeable.

For through-the-wall installations, I advise clients to get models, such as the GE AKCQ14DCH, with slide-out chassis that can fully insert and seal into a wall sleeve, like dedicated through-the-wall units. 

Some window models I've used came with wall-mount brackets and instructions.[3]

Airflow direction is important, too—through-the-wall air conditioners exhaust outside while circulating indoor air. Unlike window units, drainage must be modified to remove condensate via a drain line or pump.



Step 2: The Physical Footprint of Window ACs And Window Dimensions

Knowing The Window Dimensions Is Crucial (Especially the Width)

Getting the right fit is crucial—even an inch off prevents a proper airtight seal. The unit size matches its cooling capacity for the space.

Small window air conditioner

I've installed models ranging from compact 16-inch units (the Emerson Quiet Cool) for small rooms to larger 26-inch units (the Friedrich 12 BTU model) for multiple rooms. 

Too wide leads to air leaks from poor side fit; too narrow, and the panels won't extend to seal properly. 

Either way, air escapes, humidity infiltrates, and cooling diminishes.

Depth Is Important If You Have a Limited Space At the Back

While most window units have slim interior cabinets, I've encountered many with boxy housings extending outside the window. 

For example, the LG LW1022FVSM has a depth of 26.97”, requiring more than two feet of space outside of the window. 

I often tell clients to expect serious renovations when installing deeper protruding units with limited clearance behind the window.

Even indoor spaces like nooks, alcoves, or overhangs have restrictions accommodating an AC's depth during installation. For this reason, I have to measure the maximum acceptable protrusion depth and window width.

Height Is Important For Super Short Windows (Which Is Rare)

I don't stress over height when helping a client select a room air conditioner, as most residential windows provide enough vertical clearance for just about any model.

Still, I've noticed some uncommon instances where a home has extremely short or non-standard window openings, and the AC unit's height becomes an issue. 

I have to carefully check AC cabinet heights for houses with very short basement or cellar windows to ensure a proper fit without obstructions up top.

While it doesn't come up often, I prefer busting out the measuring tape and noting the full window height opening.

A couple of the shortest window AC units that I have installed include the Frigidaire FFRA051ZA1 (11.88” tall 5000 BTU model) and the Midea U-Shaped Inverter (13.46” tall 10000 BTU model).

U-Shaped or Saddle ACs

To keep the profile of the AC within the window as small as possible, u-shaped or saddle ACs are gaining popularity over the years. Unlike traditional ACs, you can actually use your window with a U-shaped AC.

How Soleus U Shaped Air Condiioner Works

Average Sizes of Window AC

Here's a table I compiled with averages based on the ASHRAE BTU ratings:[4]

BTU Rating

Length

Width

Height

5000

12.28

15.68

17.72

6000

13.14

18.37

15.69

8000

13.59

19.37

17.35

10000

14.52

20.94

20.43

12000

15.05

21.64

19.92

15000

17.9

25.4

23.6

18000

18.0

25.5

23.75

Don't Forget To Consider the Weight 

I often see the weight range for window air conditioners spanning from around 35.1 lbs for smaller units like the BLACK+DECKER BD05MWT6 to over 211 lbs for larger, higher-capacity models like the Friedrich KEL36A35A

For context, here are my estimates for models with different BTU capacities that we've installed over the years:

BTU Rating

Weight Range (lbs)

5,000 

35-55

6,000

40-60

8,000

50-75

10,000

60-90

12,000

70-100

15,000

85-130 

18,000

100-211

This variance depends on the cooling capacity, build material, and unit size. 

I use additional reinforcements when installing heavier units, which typically have higher BTU ratings, to prevent damaging the window frame or sill.[5]

ACLAB Note On AC Braces:

Heavier ACs cannot sit directly on the window frame and often require a strong window brace to support them.

Related Article: Large Window ACs Reviewed

Window AC brace

Step 3 - Choosing the Right Cooling Capacity For Your Window AC

Proper dehumidification, cost savings, and comfort are among the primary reasons why I emphasize checking the cooling capacity of a window air conditioner.

What's The Size of the Room That Needs Cooling?

To help clients find the right AC capacity, I first measure the room that needs cool air. I measure the length and width (in feet), then multiply them to get the area in square feet. 

Match capacity with room size

For rooms with high ceilings (above 8 feet), I'll add 20% to the calculated area.

Vaulted ceilings or loft spaces also require additional considerations when measuring size.

What BTU Capacity Window AC To Go For? 

What is BTU and Why Does it Matter?

BTU (British Thermal Unit) quantifies the energy needed to heat or cool a space.

ACs with higher BTU ratings are more energy-efficient and powerful for larger spaces. 
When selecting a unit, the client's cooling needs matter—an underpowered one constantly runs, wasting energy, while an oversized AC will short-cycle, reducing efficiency.[6]

ASHRAE vs. SACC DOE BTU Ratings

When comparing BTU ratings, you'll have to choose between two standards: ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers) and SACC DOE (Seasonally Adjusted Cooling Capacity, Department of Energy).[7]

ASHRAE ratings are typically higher, based on ideal conditions, while SACC DOE provides a more realistic estimate of cooling capacity under typical conditions.[8]

How To Calculate The BTU Capacity You Actually Need

While room size in square feet is a good start, other factors influence the required BTU capacity:[9]

  • Poor insulation calls for higher BTU to maintain cool temps
  • Hot climates like Florida need more cooling power
  • Rooms with heat-generating equipment like computers require higher BTU
  • Multiple windows/direct sun exposure need energy-efficient high-capacity units
  • More occupants generating heat require increased cooling

Here's the formula I use to calculate the approximate BTU capacity needed: 

BTU Capacity = (Room Area in Square Feet) × (BTU per Square Foot)

Alongside that, I'd use these weather conditions as a general guideline:

  • Well-insulated rooms in temperate climates: 20 BTU per sq ft
  • Rooms with average insulation and climate: 25 BTU per sq ft
  • Poorly insulated rooms in hot climates: 30-35 BTU per sq ft
BTU Capacity

Short Cycling vs Undercooling - The Importance of Choosing The Right BTU

Short cycling and undercooling are common complaints when the AC's British thermal units don't match the room size, leading to a less energy-efficient air conditioner.[10]

  • Too large a unit will short cycle, cooling the room too quickly and cycling on/off frequently, causing energy waste, inefficient cooling, and increased wear and tear.[11]
  • Too small leads to undercooling, where the air conditioner runs continuously but strains the system and operates inefficiently.[12]
To avoid these issues, I use BTU calculation methods that factor in room size plus other key considerations like insulation, climate, heat sources, sun exposure, and occupancy to determine the right capacity.

The BTU Range Available For Window ACs

Most window unit air conditioners I've fitted have a BTU range of 5000-28000. For small rooms with up to 150 square feet, a 5000 BTU AC unit such as the Amana AMAP050BW should suffice.

If I want to cool larger rooms up to 1600 square feet, I'd go for models with 28000 British thermal units, such as the Friedrich KCL28A30A.

Should You Trust A Model's Official Rated Coverage?

I like approaching coverage area estimates from manufacturers cautiously, as they don't accurately reflect your home's specific circumstances and are based on ideal conditions. 

Both brand and independent testing can be flawed since they may not account for all the variables in your particular space.
As an alternative, I'd use this general room size vs BTU required table as a reference: 

Room Size (Square Feet)

Recommended BTU Range

100-200

5,000 - 8,000 BTU

200-400

8,000 - 12,000 BTU

400-600

12,000 - 18,000 BTU

600-1,000

18,000 - 24,000 BTU

1,000-1,600

24,000 - 28,000 BTU

Since these are rough estimates, all the above factors come into play when determining the most suitable BTU capacity for your needs.


Step 4 - Learn About EER and Why It Matters

What is the SEER/EER Rating of Window ACs

SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) measures seasonal cooling efficiency, while EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) measures instantaneous cooling efficiency at a specific outdoor temp.[13]

EER Rating
For window ACs I've installed, typical EER ranges from 9-15. Portable ACs tend to have lower, less efficient SEER/EER ratings than window units. 

Conversely, mini-splits have higher SEER/EER, making them more energy-efficient than window ACs.

Choose an Inverter-Based Window AC for the Highest Efficiency

The Midea U and LG dual inverter models are among the most energy-efficient window units I've installed.

Though pricier upfront, they offer long-term savings as the inverter regulates compression speed based on cooling demand for efficient operation.[14]
Traditional ACs have a single-speed compressor that runs at full capacity even when less cooling is needed, making them less efficient.[15]
Benefits of Inverter Window AC

Are Window ACs Energy Star Certified

Many window air conditioners are Energy Star-certified, which means they meet the energy efficiency criteria set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). 

Expect an AC unit with an Energy Star certification to have up-to-date technology for being energy-efficient, saving you on energy bills.[16]

Some of my favorite energy efficient window ACs include:

Determining the Running Cost of Window ACs

While window air conditioners were more energy-efficient than portable units during hands-on tests, mini-split systems had higher running costs.

When estimating the running cost of a window air conditioner, I factor in its BTU capacity, SEER or EER rating, and the average cost of electricity in your area.

I did a table table comparing the approximate running costs for different BTU capacities and SEER ratings:[17]

BTU

Assumed Wattage

EER

Estimated Running Cost (per hour @ $0.12/kWh, 8 hrs/day)

Cost Range ($0.13/kWh)

5,000

500W

10

$0.06

$0.07

 

 

12

$0.05

$0.06

 

 

14

$0.04

$0.05

6,000

600W

10

$0.07

$0.06

 

 

12

$0.06

$0.07

 

 

14

$0.05

$0.06

8,000

800W

10

$0.09

$0.10

 

 

12

$0.08

$0.09

 

 

14

$0.07

$0.08

As you can see, higher EER ratings result in lower running costs, but the actual running cost may vary depending on your usage patterns, local electricity rates, and other factors.

Do You Really Need a High EER Window AC?

As is with central air conditioners, window air conditioners with higher BTU ratings save more on energy bills but are also more expensive upfront. 

I compared high with low EER Window air conditioners to give you more context:

EER Rating

Initial Cost

Running Cost

Geographical Location

Recommendation

High EER Unit

Higher upfront cost but lower running cost due to higher efficiency

Ideal for regions with hot climates where AC is used frequently

Recommended for areas with high electricity costs

Worth it for long-term savings if AC is used regularly

Lower EER Unit 

Lower initial cost but higher running cost due to lower efficiency

Suitable for regions with mild climates where AC is used sparingly

May be sufficient for areas with lower electricity costs

Cost-effective if AC usage is limited

Here are the numbers for two window air conditioners with the following specifications:

  • EER rating: 12
  • Cooling capacity: 8,000 BTU/hr
  • Initial cost: $310
  • EER rating: 15
  • Cooling capacity: 8,000 BTU/hr
  • Initial cost: $379

When crunching the numbers, I assumed an electricity rate of $0.12 per kWh and an average usage of 8 hours per day for the same cooling season durations as in the previous analysis (200 days in Phoenix, 120-150 days in Kansas City, and 30 days in San Francisco).

Here's a table I did that estimates annual energy consumption and cost for each unit:

City & Climate

Avg. Daily Runtime

Day Run/Year

Low EER (12)
Annual Running Cost

High EER (15)
Annual Running Cost

Phoenix (Hot)

12-20 hours

200+

$192-320

$153 - $256

Kansas City (Average)

4-8 hours

150

$48-$96

$38.4-$76.8

San Francisco (Cold)

4 hours

<30

$9.6

$7.68

Based on these numbers and varying climatic conditions, here are my findings:

  • In Phoenix's hot climate, you'd recoup the $69 upfront costs of the higher EER AC in about 1-1.5 years through energy savings by investing in a higher efficiency 15 EER unit.
  • Given typical AC lifespans, the high EER unit would take over 3.5-7 years to pay back its higher upfront cost in Kansas City's average climate.
  • In San Francisco's cold climate and very limited AC usage, I'd expect it to take almost 10 years for the high EER unit's energy savings to offset its $69 higher price tag.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that it is not always best to go for the highest EER rating AC. You will notice diminishing returns when buying a high EER unit in locations where the annual runtime of the AC is low.


Step 5: Consider the Noise Levels of Window ACs

I generally find window ACs louder than mini-split or central air conditioning units but not as loud as portable air conditioners.[18]

How Loud Are Different dB Levels

To give you a frame of reference, here's how I'd compare different noise levels in decibels (dB) using familiar sounds:

  • 30 dB: Soft whisper, quiet library
  • 40 dB: Quiet residential area
  • 50 dB: Moderate rainfall, quiet conversation
  • 60 dB: Normal conversation, air conditioning unit
Noise Level Window

For Low Noise, Inverter-Based Models Are Recommended

Not only do inverter-based ACs save you on energy bills, but they're whisper-quiet in contrast to traditional non-inverter models.

Compressors and fans in inverter window AC models run at variable speeds, resulting in less noise and vibration.

What is the Average Noise Level of Window ACs

I've seen noise levels on non-inverter ACs typically range from 50 to 65 dB, while inverter-based models often fall between 40 and 55 dB.

Comparing Window AC Noise Level With Portable and Mini Split ACs

As mentioned above, portable air conditioners generally have higher noise levels than window units, ranging from 50 to 70 dB.

But, during tests, mini-split air conditioners were typically quieter than window and portable units, with noise levels in the range of 35 dB.

dB comparison

Noise You Perceive Is Related To How Close You Are To Your AC

Proximity to the air conditioner impacts perceived noise level when considering decibel ratings for window models.

Window units are louder than mini-splits or central ACs since they house the compressor and blower together. 

However, I've installed ultra-quiet models like the Soleus Air 6K BTU with a split design—the compressor is blocked by the installation wall, reducing noise.

Sleep modes with low fan speeds also minimize sound. 

While central ACs may have higher decibel ratings, the remote condenser placement from living spaces dampens perceived noise levels.[19]

ACLAB Note

If you are particularly sensitive to the AC noise and if you are looking for a quiet unit, then try to look for a unit with a rating of less than 50 dB.

50db noise

Step 6: Placement, Venting, and Drainage

Proper placement, venting, and drainage curbs potential issues, such as restricted air flow, short cycling, or higher energy bills.

Consideration for Condensate Drainage

Like other air conditioners, window ACs cool the air, extracting moisture and resulting in condensation. 

Having repaired numerous window units, I've seen common issues arise from failing to properly drain the condensate, such as leaks, water buildup, and potential mold or mildew growth.

Ensure the drainage hose or tube is positioned to allow proper drainage to avoid water leaking back into the room or damaging surrounding areas.[20]

Window ACs Have to Be Vented To the Outdoor Instead of Indoors

Window ACs must vent hot air from the condenser coils outside, not indoors.

Venting it into another room would recirculate the hot air, negating the cooling effect and potentially causing moisture buildup.

Should You Remove Window AC Drain Plugs? 

Many modern window ACs I recommend include drain plugs to prevent leakage during transport and installation.

Once ready for operation, I remove these plugs to allow proper condensate drainage but leave them in during winter storage or extended non-use.

DIY Contraption For Gaps Left In the Windows

When installing window ACs, especially in horizontal sliding windows, I have to seal gaps around the sides or top due to the window design. 

One tried-and-true DIY remedy is creating inserts or panels from materials like plexiglass, rigid foam, or wood cut to size and sealed with weather stripping or caulking for a tight fit. 

I use specialized side panels designed for various window sizes to give a more polished look.

Step 7: Power and Wall Outlet Considerations

Before installing a window AC, I have to make provisions for power and wall outlets for safety reasons and to ensure efficient operation. 

Place The AC With Wall Outlet Into Consideration

Before installing the Window AC, I must locate an outlet as close as possible.

This relieves the homeowner from the inconvenience of having to use extension cords that could pose safety hazards or limit the AC's performance.

Can You Use Extension Cords?

Most HVAC experts I know won't recommend plugging window ACs into a wall socket if there's an option for placing the AC close to a wall outlet.

A heavy-duty extension cord would work fine if needed.

For starters, verify that the extension cord is rated for the AC unit's suitable amperage and voltage requirements.

A Dedicated Branch Circuit Is Recommended

A dedicated branch circuit serves only one appliance, like a window AC, preventing circuit overloads that could trip the breaker or create fire hazards.

15 AMP vs 20 AMP Circuit

Most window ACs run on common 15-amp residential circuits. However, many codes recommend using a 20-amp circuit, especially for larger units with higher cooling capacities.

For instance, a 14,000 BTU window AC like the Frigidaire FHWC282WB2, rated at 3,100 cooling watts with a higher starting current, might not work properly or could trip the breaker on a 15-amp circuit shared with other appliances.

Typically, window ACs up to 12 amps can safely operate on a 15-amp circuit with a 20% safety margin per the National Electrical Code (NEC). 

For units exceeding 12 amps, I prefer a dedicated 20-amp circuit for safe, reliable operation.[21]

115 vs 220 Volts

Window ACs run on either 115-volt (120V) or 220-volt systems.

I always check if the AC's rated voltage matches the home's supply voltage, as using the incorrect voltage can severely damage the unit.

Most residential window ACs use the standard 115-120V supply, while larger or specialized units, typical in commercial/industrial settings, may require 220-240V.

Inverter-Based ACs and Power Consumption

Inverter ACs consume less power than traditional models by adjusting power usage based on cooling demand. 

Even larger inverter units have lower amperage requirements, and I've seen them run on 12-amp circuits.


Step 8: Do You Need A Unit With A Heater Too?

Window units with both cooling and heating capabilities, called "heat/cool" or "reverse cycle" models, can be convenient but come with extra costs and factors to consider.

ACLAB Note

Window AC with heaters are also known as Window Heat Pumps.

One such model that I like to install is the LG LW8016HR

I'd pick this type if I live where winters are mild or need supplemental heating for specific rooms, potentially saving installation costs over separate heating and cooling systems.

However, the heating capacity tends to be lower than dedicated heaters like furnaces or baseboards.

For best performance, you will need to match both the heating BTU and the cooling BTU of the heat pump with your room size.

HEATING AND COOLING CAPACITY

Step 9: How Difficult Is It to Maintain

Maintaining a window AC isn't complex if you have the right checklist to keep it running optimally and increase its lifespan.

  • Are The Filters Washable?
    Filters trap dust, dirt, and particles to maintain air quality and prevent buildup on internal components. Most modern window ACs should have easily washable filters that can be cleaned with mild detergent and water.
  • Does It Have A Slide-Out Chassis for Easy Cleaning?
    Look for advanced window ACs with a slide-out chassis or removable housing for easier cleaning and maintenance. These units allow users to access and vacuum interior parts like the evaporator coils and drainage system without fully removing the unit. 
  • Does It Have Mosquito / Insect Traps?
    Some models have built-in mosquito or insect traps, which capture or repel insects via screens, filters, or electrostatic grids. While not standard, these can help maintain a comfortable, pest-free indoor environment.
  • Is The Condensate Drainage Prone to Getting Blocked Easily?
    Failing to drain condensation can lead to water buildup, leaks, and moisture issues. To prevent blockages, I recommend regularly inspecting and cleaning the drainage system, drain pan, line, and filters/traps.

Step 10: Other Quality of Life Considerations

Cooling and temperature control are priorities, but other factors affect the overall user experience, too:

Is It Aesthetically Appealing? 

For window ACs in visible living spaces, homeowners often want units with sleek profiles, minimal protrusions, and colors complementing the room's decor.

Clients frequently ask for my recommendations on appealing designs, and I often recommend the Windmill AC.

Is It Remote Controlled?

Remote-controlled ACs like the Black+Decker BD05MWT6 let you adjust the temperature, fan speed, and modes without accessing the control panel—a great convenience, especially for hard-to-reach or elevated installations.

Does It Provide WiFi and Smart Connectivity?

Many newer models, like the Midea U-Shaped, incorporate WiFi and smart connectivity for app/voice control via Alexa, Google Assistant, etc. But, units with smart features usually cost more than non-connected ones.

smart air conditioner benefits

Step 11: Consider the Warranty Coverage

The warranty offered by a manufacturer should protect your investment in case of any defects or malfunctions and should typically cover the following:

  • Compressor:
    I consider the compressor the heart of an air conditioner, so pick a model with a warranty coverage ranging from 5 to 10 years for this component. 
  • Parts:
    Parts warranties often range from 1 to 5 years, and clever defects in components such as the fan motor, control board, and other electrical elements. 
  • Labor:
    I've seen some manufacturers including a labor warranty that covers the cost of professional installation or repair services for a specified period, typically 1 to 2 years. 
  • Full Unit Replacement:
    In rare instances, a manufacturer may offer a full unit replacement warranty for a limited period, often the first year of ownership, if the AC unit is deemed irreparable due to manufacturing defects.

Reputable brands will offer more comprehensive coverage, and higher-end models tend to come with longer warranty periods. 

Nearly all models I've installed also required the homeowner to register their unit within a certain timeframe after purchase to validate the warranty coverage.

ACLAB Note

Homeowners hire me (professionals) because warranties may be voided if the unit is not installed or maintained according to the manufacturer's instructions, so working with an HVAC professional is worth it.

Here's a table with average warranty lengths for different window AC brands:

Brand

Average Warranty Length

LG

1 year 

Danby

2 years parts and labor 

Della

1 year 

Dreo

1-year parts and labor 

Emerson

1-year labor, 2 years parts, 5 years compressor

Freo

1 year 

Friedrich

1-year parts, 1 year labor, 4 years sealed refrigeration system

Frigidaire

1-year parts and labor warranty, 4 years on the sealed refrigeration system

GE

1-year parts and labor 

GREE

5 years parts, 7 years compressor

Haier

2 years 

Keystone

1 year

Koldfront

2 years 

Midea

1-year parts and labor 

Perfect Aire

1 year

TCL

5 years 

Tosot

2-5 years 

Whirlpool

1 year

Windmill

1 year


Step 12: Choosing the Right Brand

When picking a brand for a client, I look at the unit's performance, reliability, and overall reputation.

Popular Window AC Brands To Look Out For

Having worked with several well-established air conditioner brands, here are some options that I'd recommend:

  • LG:
    LG packs all the smart features, including WiFi, voice control compatibility, and a notably quiet operation at just 44 dB. Their 14000 BTU LG Dual Inverter LW1517IVSM has all the premium features for rooms up to 800 square feet, including the LG ThinQ app for remote control and energy monitoring.
  • GE:
    I've installed over a dozen GE window AC units already this season, which fit neatly in most windows without blocking too much light. I especially recommend the GE PHNT12CC, which has a unique U-shaped saddle design that keeps it extremely low profile. This inverter model also has an excellent EER of 14.6 and can run at 40 dB. 
  • Friedrich:                                                                                                                                      The Friedrich brand offers very modern, aesthetically pleasing window ACs that look great in any room. I especially recommend the Friedrich Chill Premier CCV18A30A for its unique Precision Inverter technology, offering powerful cooling in rooms up to 900 square feet. 
  • Midea:                                                                                                                                           The Midea U is often at the top of my recommendations for it's very special design that allows the window to close down over the unit, blocking the compressor of this inverter style unit for very quiet cooling and a stellar EER of 15.
  • Frigidaire:
    When value for money is at the top of my customer's list, I often recommend the Frigidaire brand. The Frigidaire FFRE083WA1 is a popular model that I like to use in rooms of up to 350 square feet. At $250, this 8000 BTU model is a great deal from a trusted brand.

Other dependable window air conditioner brands that I've installed and would vouch for include Black & Decker, Emerson, TCL, TOSOT and Haier

Window AC Brands To Avoid

I consistently see negative reviews on various forums for generic, unbranded, or knock-off models.

For instance, Chinese brands like Keystone have been known to have issues with reliability and customer support.

If you see a cheaper version of a well-known brand model that has a weird, off-brand name, then this is the biggest red flag.

Some lesser-known brands may often lack quality control and have questionable components or manufacturing processes, leading to potential performance issues or shorter lifespans. 


Step 13: How Much Do You Want To Spend?

You'll spend anywhere from $200 to $800 on a window AC, depending on the brand, cooling capacity (BTU), the model's energy efficiency rating, advanced features, design, and more.

ASHRAE BTU

Average Window AC Cost

Average Portable

5000

$219 

$289

6000

$235

$327

7000

$264

$355

8000

$288

$384

9000

$320

$409

10000

$358

$449

11000

$387

$479

12000

$427

$529

13000

$462

$579

14000

$509

$619 

15000

$555

$649 

16000

$599

$689

17000

$639 

$739

18000

$679

$799


References: 

  1. https://www.replacewindowslimited.co.uk/blog/casement-vs-sliding-windows/
  2. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/window-types-and-technologies
  3. https://learn.sensibo.com/b2c-blog/through-the-wall-air-conditioners
  4. https://www.acsize.com/window-ac-dimensions/
  5. https://www.iea-4e.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/AC_Test_Methods_Report_Final_V2_incl_JP_KO.pdf
  6. https://www.energystar.gov/products/ask-the-experts/how-choose-right-sized-window-ac
  7. https://www.sylvane.com/ashrae-vs-sacc-btu-ratings.html#:~:text=ASHRAE%20BTU%20ratings%20are%20determined,different%20temperatures%20and%20humidity%20level.
  8. https://www.reddit.com/r/AirConditioners/comments/gxs6rq/trying_to_understand_ashrae_vs_doe_btu_ratings/
  9. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ck54RV1wmGM
  10. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/345742521_Solar-Driven_Air-Conditioning_Cycles_A_Review
  11. https://airedalecooling.com/air-conditioner-short-cycling-how-to-avoid-it
  12. https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-effects-of-under-sizing-an-air-conditioner-on-its-performance
  13. https://www.eesi.org/papers/view/fact-sheet-air-conditioner-efficiency-standards-seer-13-vs.-seer-12
  14. https://www.reddit.com/r/AirConditioners/comments/n8lcvu/midea_u_vs_lg_dual_inverter_window_ac/
  15. https://orzechheating.ca/blog/single-stage-vs-two-stage-air-conditioner/#:~:text=Single%20Stage%20vs%20Two%20Stage%20Air%20Conditioner%3A%20The%20Main%20Differences,resulting%20in%20lower%20energy%20bills.
  16. https://www.energystar.gov/products/central_air_conditioners
  17. https://ecocostsavings.com/cost-to-run-window-ac/
  18. https://poe.com/p/What-is-the-recommended-noise-decibel-level-for-a-window-air-conditioner-to-ensure-safety
  19. https://www.airconadvisory.com/blog/what-are-the-noise-levels-of-different-air-conditioning-systems
  20. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27mBLdF0dt0
  21. https://nassaunationalcable.com/blogs/blog/how-many-amps-does-a-window-ac-use#:~:text=Does%20a%20window%20AC%20need,draw%20more%20than%2015%20Amps.
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Erica Puisis

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Erica Puisis
Erica's work has been featured in top digital publications such as Forbes, The Spruce, MyDomaine, and U.S. News & World Report. When she's not knee-deep in HVAC specs or testing the latest smart thermostat, you'll find her trying new coffee shops or at the local farmers market.

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