Best Window Air Conditioners for the Hot Days Ahead

Best Window Air Conditioners for the Hot Days Ahead

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.

CR’s take: The Amana AMAP061BW, a newcomer to our test labs, turns out to be a cool addition. It capably cools the test chamber and is a champ at recovering from brownout conditions when the voltage is low, earning an Excellent rating on that test. It comes equipped with a remote control, built-in timer, and dirty-filter indicator. But it’s a bit noisy on both low and high settings.
CR’s take: A CR Best Buy, the GE AHM05LW earns a Very Good rating for comfort but, like the Amana, can be a bit noisy at any speed. It quickly recovers from brownout conditions and has a full suite of features, including a remote, built-in timer, and dirty-filter indicator.
CR’s take: The Friedrich Kuhl SQO8N10D makes an effort to blend in with your décor with a flat front instead of a grille. It aces the cooling test, earning an Excellent rating in that test, and runs quietly on low speeds, although gets a tad noisier on high. Controls are a cinch to use, and it’s equipped with all the conveniences of a timer, remote, and more. This 85-pound model comes with a slide-out chassis that makes it easier to install.
CR’s take: With an Excellent rating for cooling—and intuitive controls—the Kenmore 77080 is a good bet for a midsized room. It’s pretty quiet on the lowest setting, but you’ll hear it running when you crank it up to high. At 52 pounds it weighs considerably less than the Friedrich above. It comes with a remote, built-in timer, and dirty-filter indicator.
CR’s take: A CR Best Buy, the large, feature-filled LG LW1216ER has digital controls, and cooling is top-notch. It weighs 85 pounds, but its slide-out chassis makes it easy to install. It has all the convenience features—remote control, built-in timer, and dirty-filter indicator. It’s a good choice for a large living area and earns a Very Good rating for noise on low, which means it won’t annoy you if you’re watching TV.
CR’s take: Another candidate for large spaces, the SPT WA-12FMS1 is top-notch at cooling, although it’s noisier than the LG at both low and high speeds. On the plus side, our testers found the controls were more intuitive; it earns a Very Good rating for ease of use. It also comes with a full range of features, including a remote, timer, and dirty-filter indicator.

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