All of the window air conditioners in Consumer Reports’ latest tests do a good enough job at keeping you cool. What distinguishes one window unit from another is how quickly and quietly it cools a room—and how easy it is to operate.
Even if your home has central air conditioning, you might want to consider a room unit to cool areas not served by the main system, such as a home office or a finished room in the attic. If you do, go with a window air conditioner. They’re a better choice than portable air conditioners, which struggle in our tests.
And you don’t have to pay a lot to get heat relief. Most window air conditioners in our tests range from $150 to $400. The outlier? The Friedrich Kuhl SQO8N10D, $710, a strong performer with a streamlined look.
To help a window unit run more efficiently, look for a model equipped with insulating panels. “Most new window ACs come with panels you place over the plastic adjustable side panels to boost efficiency,” says Chris Regan, CR’s senior test engineer for air conditioners. Adding weatherstripping around the perimeter will also prevent air from leaking in or out.
How We Test Window ACs
After installing the unit in a double-hung window in our testing chamber, we crank up the chamber’s heat to 90° F, then measure how long it takes the AC to cool the room by 10° F (the best units do it in less than 15 minutes). We also gauge how accurately the AC reaches the set temperature, whether each model can recover after a brownout, how intuitive the controls are, and how loud each unit is on the lowest and highest settings.
Below, grouped alphabetically by the size room they can cool, are some of CR’s top-performing window air conditioners. For more on getting the best fit, find out how to size a window air conditioner. You’ll find even more choices and a broader price range in our full air conditioner ratings and recommendations.