The Best Editor-Tested Window ACs That You Can Buy Now

updated 2 days ago
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living room with window air conditioner unit. Seal in upper left reads "Apartment Therapy the Best List 2024 Window Air Conditioners"
Credit: Amanda Archibald

If you don’t have central air conditioning, a window AC unit is a must. That’s especially true in the summertime or if you live somewhere that’s warm most months of the year. Choosing an air conditioner unit isn’t the sexiest home design topic, but it’s a practical one — and one that you should give quite a bit of thought. Not all window air conditioners are built the same, so buying the right AC for your lifestyle is important.

Do you need one for a large space or a small space? How much noise can you handle? Is it worth spending a little extra cash to be able to control your window AC with a remote or from your phone? Shopping for a window AC unit might be a necessary evil for many, but it doesn’t have to be an impossible venture. That’s where we come in: We’ve tested many of the window AC units on the market — just in time for the warm weather ahead — to determine the best of the best and help you find your coolest fit.

The Best Window ACs

What to Consider Before Buying a Window AC

BTUs

British Thermal Units (BTUs) represent the energy an air conditioning unit uses to remove heat from the air. For ACs, BTUs are used to help you choose the right size system, and the numbers are most commonly rounded down to 6,000; 8,000; 10,000; and 12,000. The higher the number, the more energy will be used to cool a room. Thus, the larger the room you’d like to cool, the higher BTU count you’ll need.

Functionality

Depending on your needs, you may want an air conditioner that can do more than just cool down the room. Some units are equipped with heat, dehumidifiers, and more. Before you commit to a specific AC, double-check its features to see if it has everything you want.

  • Inverters: You don’t necessarily need a window air conditioner with an inverter, but there are some perks to having one. First and foremost, having an inverter saves energy and gives you a quieter AC. Non-inverter air conditioners rely on a fixed-speed compressor to operate, while inverter units have variable-speed compressors to adjust the motor speed. However, ACs with inverters tend to be a bit more expensive than their non-inverter counterparts.
  • CEER rating: CEER refers to the Combined Energy Efficiency Ratio of the device, which measures the cooling capacity in terms of its power consumption. A high CEER number (it goes up to 15) means that it’s more efficient.

Size

It’s no secret that window ACs can be hefty. To avoid any unnecessary heavy lifting, be sure to choose the right size air conditioner for your space. According to the ENERGY STAR website: “Selecting the right sized unit is key to comfort and savings. Remember, bigger is not always better. An oversized air conditioner will be less effective.”

Certifications

  • ENERGY STAR: Products that are ENERGY STAR certified have met “strict standards for energy efficiency” that are set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The ENERGY STAR label indicates that the product will save you both energy and money in the long run.

What We Look For in a Window AC

  • Performance: How well does the air conditioner cool the room? Is it noisy?
  • Window fit: Does hot air still come through after the air conditioner is installed?
  • Ease of use: Are the controls intuitive? Can it be operated via an app or voice control?

The Best Window ACs

Best Overall: The Windmill AC

When it comes to function, efficiency, and style, the Windmill AC is three for three. This smart air conditioner is available in five sizes, has a dual filtration system to provide you with cleaner air, and comes with its own pre-built installation kit. The device can also be controlled directly on the appliance, by remote, app, or voice. “I’m absolutely obsessed with Windmill’s AC,” says senior style editor Blair. “I love the look of it in my bedroom (something I’ve never been able to say about an air conditioner). Even the display panel is perfectly unassuming: it comes with an auto-dimming feature that fades to black immediately after turning it on or making a temperature change.” Those buying medium or large units (8,000 BTU and above) can even opt for the brand’s WhisperTech, which uses inverter technology to make them even quieter, improve airflow, and elevate energy efficiency.

The Windmill AC comes with a white front panel; however, you can easily change its appearance with one of the brand’s magnetic front panels. Available in a solid or ombre color, you can bundle it at a discount when you place your air conditioner order or purchase the panel later for an additional $49. Fashionable winter covers that are water- and mold-resistant are also available for those keeping their Windmill ACs installed all year. “The winter cover is really cute,” says contributor Tara. “As someone who does not have a spot to store out-of-season ACs, I appreciated looking at a cute cover during the cold months.”

Read our full review of The Windmill AC.

Specifications:

  • 12” x 18” x 15.6”; 48-65 pounds
  • 6,000; 8,000; 10,000; 12,000 BTU options
  • Cools up to 250-550 sq. ft.
  • 115 volts; 540 watts
  • 50 dB noise level
  • Inverter on WhisperTech models
  • Compatible with 22”-36” single-hung or double-hung windows; 13” height minimum
  • Includes remote, carbon filter, cosmetic side panels, insulation foam, scissors, window lock, and installation hardware
  • Wi-Fi enabled; works with Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Washable and removable filter
  • 1-year limited warranty

Who It’s Best For: Those in small spaces; those who want to operate their AC from afar; those wanting a more decorative window air conditioner.

Good to Know: “The only downside is that the BTUs run on the lower side, so you have to size up a lot if you have a bigger room, but they’re perfect for small spaces,” says Blair. For those with curtains, blinds, or shades, she adds, “Because it blows air upward, it can also get a little tricky with window treatments.”

No other window AC unit on this list has as many style options as the compact July Air Conditioner. It was designed to be customized to fit your home’s aesthetic, but that’s not all it has to offer. Built for small spaces with a coverage area of up to 350 square feet, the July Air Conditioner is app- and voice-enabled to make controlling your indoor air easier than ever. It also uses a refrigerant that has less carbon emissions than a typical window AC. Additionally, the brand will pick up your old unit to be recycled or donated upon delivery of your brand-new July device. Beyond the air conditioner itself, July also offers a variety of accessories to elevate its style even further, including plexiglass side panels that allow natural light to shine through.

“I love this aesthetically pleasing AC unit. Most units are not exactly beautiful decor objects, but the design of July’s AC is sleek and comes with a choice of color for the front, which makes it easier to match to a room’s vibe,” says social media manager Sam. “The setup was great, with someone who delivered it as well as installed it in the window, making it convenient. Using it is great, too, with simple buttons and a remote that makes changing temperatures easy. It’s not too loud and has an eco setting, so I don’t feel as bad keeping it on all day or night.”

Read our full review of the July Air Conditioner.

Specifications:

  • 177/8” x 197/8” x 143/4”; 50-55 lbs.
  • 6,000 and 8,000 BTU options
  • 115 volts; 10.9 CEER
  • Cools up to 350 sq. ft.
  • 50-54 dB noise level
  • No inverter
  • Compatible with 203/8“-39” single-hung or double-hung windows; 151/8” height minimum
  • Available in 7 colors (matte colors and premium materials are an additional cost)
  • Includes remote and installation kit
  • Wi-Fi enabled; works with Alexa and Google Home
  • 1-year limited warranty

Who It’s Best For: Those who live in small apartments; those who prefer a more decorative window AC

Good to Know: “The only con is that this AC seems to automatically turn off randomly, which may be when the temperature of the device is set to something warmer than the outside,” says Sam.

You can find our pick for the best smart window AC in the home of more than one AT editor! Midea’s U-Shaped Smart Window Air Conditioner is stylish, quiet, innovative, and effective. It’s available in three sizes that accommodate rooms from 350 to 550 square feet and has earned a five-star energy rating. In fact, it was the first window AC to score ENERGY STAR’s Most Efficient certification in 2022. “I love my Midea, so much so that I replaced another brand new window AC in my bedroom to get a Midea just like the one in my living room!” says brand innovation and strategy manager Ivy, who lives in a small single-bedroom apartment in New York. “It’s the quietest AC I’ve ever used, and it cools my entire living room and kitchen in less than five minutes. I’ve had it for over two years now and it seems to have held up very well — I would never use another AC unit again after getting a Midea.”

Midea’s AC unit can be controlled by voice with Alexa or Google Assistant, as well as via an app on iOS or Android. The air conditioner’s design allows you to open your window while the unit is in use, and it’s equipped with an anti-theft mechanism that locks your window when it’s closed. “When I lived in a bedroom with one window, I loathed the summer because it meant placing an AC in my window and a lack of fresh air for at least three months,” says commerce SEO editor Sarah. “With this air conditioner, I was finally able to get the best of both worlds. Thanks to the U-shape design, I’m able to open the window without it falling out, meaning I can get both fresh and air-conditioned air anytime I want! Not only did it solve a problem, but it’s also incredibly stylish and powerful, cooling off my space in minutes. I never thought I’d be in love with an AC, but alas, here we are!”

Specifications:

  • 21.97 x 13.46″ x 19.17″; 55.6 lbs.
  • 8,000; 10,000; 12,000 BTU options
  • Cools up to 350-550 sq. ft.; long-distance airflow up to 20 ft.
  • 115 volts; 15 CEER
  • 42 dB noise level
  • 5-star energy
  • Inverter
  • Compatible with 22”-36” single-hung or double-hung windows; 13.75″ height minimum
  • Includes remote and mounting bracket
  • Wi-Fi enabled; works with Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Washable and removable filter
  • ENERGY STAR Certified
  • 1-year limited warranty

Who It’s Best For: Those looking for a window AC that doesn’t look like a traditional AC; those who want an AC that still gives them window access.

Good to Know: While the AC unit does come with a quick-start guide, it’s recommended that you use the installation instructions provided in the larger manual for an easier setup. Ivy adds, “This is definitely a two-person installation job, and it’s way heavier than other ACs I have used.”

When it comes to dealing with the hot summer in NYC, senior commerce Editor Ian relies on TCL’s Smart Window AC. Of the air conditioners on our list, it’s one of the lightest, comes in two colors, and can be operated via remote, app, Alexa, and Google Assistant. “I’ve had over six different window AC units since I’ve lived in New York, and I’ve gotta say, this one is my favorite one by far,” says Ian. “It’s the first one I’ve had with a remote and, while I didn’t imagine myself using it a lot when I first unboxed the unit, it’s actually so convenient.”

One cool feature of the TCL window AC unit is that it has two four-way directional vents, which give you the power to direct airflow wherever you need it. It also has Sleep and Eco Modes to help conserve energy and keep your bill low. Additionally, the air conditioner’s filters are washable and reusable, which automatically extends the lifespan of your device.

Read our full review of the TCL 8,000 BTU Smart Window Air Conditioner.

Specifications:

  • 15.59” x 18.58” x 13.31”; 45.3 lbs.
  • 8,000 BTU
  • 11.4 CEER
  • Cools up to 350 sq. ft.
  • No inverter
  • Compatible with 26”-36” windows; 14.5” height minimum
  • Includes remote
  • Wi-Fi enabled; works with Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Washable and reusable filter
  • ENERGY STAR certified
  • 1-year limited warranty

Who It’s Best For: Those who want a “lightweight” window AC; those who want a powerful and cost-efficient window air conditioner.

Good to Know: It’s not the quietest AC on our list, but it gets the job done.

As a brand known for its quiet ACs, it’s no surprise that the GE Profile ClearView Inverter Smart Window Air Conditioner takes its rightful position on this list as the Best Quiet choice. What does come as a pleasant surprise is that this AC unit doesn’t get in the way of you enjoying the view and natural light from your window. Tested by senior commerce editor Alicia, the GE window AC received high marks for how easy it is to use and how quiet it is, as well as its temperature control, durability, maintenance, and style. “I’ve never had an AC that didn’t take up half of my window, so I was thrilled to try this innovative new version from GE,” Alicia says. “The AC only takes up a few inches of my view instead of half of it, which is a huge benefit.” It comes with a remote and can be controlled via phone app or voice with Alexa or Google Assistant.

The customization factor of the GE ClearView Window AC was another perk for Alicia, as it allowed her to adjust the device to her lifestyle and not the other way around. “The AC hangs directly on my windowsill, which makes it feel more secure, and it has extra grips that keep it connected to the side of the building,” she adds. “I don’t use the app often, but I do love that I can adjust my AC from my bed with the remote. It cools my bedroom completely, but quietly, so it just sounds like white noise.”

Specifications:

  • 28″ x 19.63″ x 12.75″; 80 lbs.
  • 6,100; 8,300; 10,300; 12,200 BTU options
  • Cools up to 450 sq. ft.
  • 115 volts; 900 watts; 14.7 CEER
  • 40-54 dB noise level
  • Inverter
  • Compatible with 20” – 40” windows; 13” height minimum
  • 10” minimum height from the floor
  • Includes remote and window kit for double-hung windows
  • Wi-Fi enabled; works with Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Removable filter
  • ENERGY STAR certified
  • 1-year limited warranty

Who It’s Best For: Those wanting a quiet window air conditioner; those who want an AC unit that won’t block their window.

Good to Know: This window AC is heavy — even the small one weighs 61 pounds — so it’s a good idea to have some help at home or hire someone to install it.