The Frigidaire FFRA1022R1 10000 BTU is our pick for the best air conditioner, which makes your home comfortable with its 3 cool speeds and 3 fan speeds for you to customize your needs. Pluggable into any 115v electrical outlet, it has a washable mesh filter that makes it easy to maintain for a healthier environment at home.
Our step-up pick is the LG LW1216ER Window-Mounted 12,000BTU and the air conditioner bears a stylish design while expending up to 12,000 BTUs along with an auto cool function. It is fast and cold as an AC which has a 12.1 energy efficiency ratio so it is significantly more energy saving than others.
The budget pick is the Frigidaire FFRA0511R1 5,000 BTU and the air conditioner has a 2-way air direction function so you can cool down more corners and areas of a small apartment. It stood out in our air conditioner reviews and can also eliminate bacteria and room odors due to the air filter and is a compact air conditioner to achieve a healthier indoor air quality even in a small space or area.
A Little Background
Air conditioners are the highest end of cooling technology when it comes to keeping a room, office, car or any other area as cool as possible. They suck up air from the outside and then convert it into a cold mist and cold air that will be able to keep your area cool and comfortable. They can be found on most offices, some homes, in your car or vehicle and most public places.
The working principle of any AC is much like a refrigerator's. The air from the outside of your house, office or area will be converted into colder air. The AC will not work very well if the area is not fully enclosed. It works best in small to medium spaces with almost no windows or at least fully sealed windows.
BTUs or British Thermal Units is the way we measure an air conditioner's capability to convert the hot air into cold air per hour. BTUs can be found on the stickers and user's manual of your product so be sure to compare first before you buy one.
Make sure it is not too much and not too little when it comes to BTUs so you have a just-right unit at hand when it comes down to cooling your area.
Different types of air conditioners exist out there depending on your needs. If you're a simple household that needs an air conditioner, chances are you'll get the window sill or wall type installation or the window air conditioner. You may also want the ductless mini-split air conditioners that can lower the temperature of one or two rooms depending on its design.
ACs can be hefty when it comes down to pricing. Usually, you can get decent models for about $200 but you can get higher end ones at about $500, especially the newer inverter type technology types of AC models today (that save more money due to low energy consumption). Typically, you get about 500 to 1,500 watts of energy consumption from a regular AC.
A heating and air conditioning supply unit can be pretty costly when you run it often. To find out how much it will impact on your energy bill, simply convert the wattage of your air conditioner into kilowatts then multiply it by the cost per kilowatt hour in your area. That will be the cost per hour. To calculate the lifetime cost you just need to multiply it depending on how many times, hours of the day or days of the month you often use your AC.
If you really want to save up money when it comes down to buying room air conditioners, you need to consider first when to buy the unit. Buying when it's cold outside is a great thing, because people won't really buy AC units, fans or an evaporative air cooler during the winter or cold months.
Hence, AC models will not be in demand, and will usually go on a sale or lower their pricing. This is the perfect opportunity to go and buy yourself an AC so you can be ready for the summer.
There are many pluses when it comes to purchasing or using an air conditioner at home or in the office. Other than cooling the air, it is also a heaven sent appliance for allergy sufferers and hay fever patients because it can eliminate dust and debris in the air that can potentially cause you to sneeze.
Certain airborne viruses and microorganisms that can cause sickness and the like can also be eliminated if you have the right air filter for it. If you live in a highly humid area then the AC can make you feel more refreshed by balancing the humidity, especially during the summer season.
Air handlers are important for places with four season climates (really hot summers and really cold winter). Otherwise, if your winter or rainy season isn't very chilly, you may just need an air conditioner, which is just made for the summer and other very hot seasons.
Air handlers and ACs are both products that your HVAC specialist can install for you. While air handlers can be found on homes that require a heating system or heat pump during the winter, air conditioners are typically found in areas that don't really need one. Air handlers can either heat up or cool down your home while AC models are mostly for the purpose of cooling.
While an AC and an evaporative cooler look similar, they are really different. Swamp coolers or air coolers are made for the dry climates while air conditioners are made for the humid and tropical climates.
This is because air conditioners often let out dry air, so you may need to use a humidifier for the task of keeping the air moist. On the other hand, swamp coolers are more like electric fans but work like air conditioners, such that they lower the air temperature without drying it.
How We Picked
If you want the best AC for your home, office or area, you should look for the following:
SEER or EER rating: the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) or EER refers to a standard that dictates how energy efficient a unit is when it comes to expending power. In terms of an air conditioner, you can get somewhere between 13 and 20 or even more when it comes to its SEER rating. A higher rating for SEER means that it is more energy efficient.
BTU rating: the British Thermal Units or BTUs of any air conditioner should be measured to know how efficient it is when it comes down to cooling your area.
Higher BTUs means that the AC works faster to lower the air temperature, and is great for medium to large areas. Average ACs are about 5,000 to 10,000 BTUs while commercial air conditioners can go for up to 20,000 BTUs or more.
Coverage area: do know where you will place the AC before you buy one. Will it be your small apartment, condo unit or dorm? Will it be a small to medium sized house? Will it be an office space or will it be a large area such as a gymnasium or shopping center? Consider the coverage area of the air conditioner, which can be somewhere between 200 to 800 square feet or even more.
Speed: most air conditioners have up to 7 speeds so you can pick just the right amount of coolness in your internal space without wrecking your electric bill and your budget.
Quiet operation: you must have an air conditioner that doesn't run noisily or else it might turn off your guests. Almost all ACs today are made to be as silent as possible.
Energy Star: do consider an AC that is Energy Star certified for it to be not just high class but also energy efficient and safe for your home or living area.
Ease of installation and use: while most ACs are not really easy to install, the user's manual should give you a clearer instruction on how to use and operate it for the first air conditioning installation. If you still don't know what to do, it's best to consult an HVAC personnel for the job.
Voltage rating: the air conditioner should be in the right voltage system for your area. Most Western air conditioner brands have 115-volt air conditioning systems so you might need to look for a different voltage system if you live in Europe or in Asia Pacific.
Our top pick is the Frigidaire FFRA1022R1 10000 BTU, a compact model and probably the best air conditioner brand that will fit most homes. With this, you can control the direction of the cool air and it is easy to install with the included mounting hardware and insulation as well.
It runs at 10,000 BTUs, has a well-built compressor and gives you fresh air indoors. It can work well in an apartment and has an 8-way air direction system for getting more cooling for all spaces. It fits most window-mounted air conditioners and has an energy saver mode for eco friendliness.
You can get a lot of savings with this AC that can cover up to 450 sq. ft. in a short period of time. Most airborne particles can be eliminated with the filter of this air conditioner. It has an energy efficiency ratio of 10.9 and it also fits most universal brackets for ease of installation.
With 2.7 pints per hour of dehumidification process, the AC is great at reducing room odors and it also has an auto cool function for your convenience. With a multi-speed function, you can cool a bedroom without having to expend a lot of power.
There is also a check filter alert for letting you know when to clean or replace the filter. You can adjust this air conditioner to your comfort level with the electronic controls onboard. You can use this air conditioner in the living room and it also has an eco friendly sleep mode to save energy.
Having a 24-hour on/off timer for convenience, the AC allows a comfortable temperature anywhere at home or in the office with its timer buttons. You can also use the exhaust control and the reusable and washable filter so easily. All of the main functions are in the remote control.
Flaws but Not Dealbrakers
While not really a deal breaker, the Frigidaire FFRA1022R1 10000 BTU might not be as quiet as higher priced air conditioner units, but if you want a decent amount of quiet and cooling then this will suffice as our best pick anyway.
The LG LW1216ER Window-Mounted AIR Conditioner 12,000BTU is our step-up pick which has a total of 3 cooling speeds. It has a powerful compressor with has an energy saver function to reduce your electric bill. With a total of 3 fan speeds for the summer, this unit is very quiet overall.
With a 4-way air direction function, you can get more cooling spots in the house with the full function remote included. The AC can cover up to 550 square feet so it is for medium sized homes and rooms. There is also a convenient auto restart after a power failure.
Being an easy to service AC, it also has an anti-corrosion coating made of gold fins so you can feel at ease even when the humidity is pretty harsh where you live. It has a convenient remote control that makes it easy to control the air conditioner when the weather gets warmer.
Having protective shields in its design to keep the unit running for years, you can enjoy a nice and cool home with this 115V system AC. It can help you save even more on expenses due to its good brownout performance. It can also give you a lot of cooling across the room.
You only need to spray it every year for maintenance purposes like most air conditioners out there. It has a convenient 24-hour on/off timer so you can get plenty of cold air without having to wait. It has an included installation kit to make things easier and its included washable filter that can slide out makes cleaning the air conditioner a breeze overall.
The Frigidaire FFRA0511R1 5,000 BTU is our budget pick, with an EER of 11.1, which is sufficient on hot days for eco friendly air conditioning coupled with an effortless restart. This little unit can go for up to 5,000 BTUs so it is great for a small bedroom or a small room.
With 1.1 pints per hour of dehumidification process, the AC is a regular window-mounted installation that is simple to put together. With a total of 2 fan speeds to conserve energy, it is very easy to install as a small unit that bears quiet operation overall.
It plugs into any standard 115V electrical outlet and it also comes with a washable mesh filter for easier maintenance. You can use the AC for the entire night without worrying about your bill due to the 2 cool speeds included.
There is also a window mounting kit included so that you can get the air conditioner to work right out of the box to give you a comfortable environment at home. It easily and efficiently cools a room and it only requires a clearance of at least 13 inches for the opening for window units.
If you want a budget option with a compressor that conserves energy then this air conditioner is a great one to consider. With its low power start-up and typical coverage of up to 150 sq. ft., you don’t have to spend a lot of money anymore for an AC.
As an inexpensive AC, it really keeps you cool without a lot of money spent and it can also reduce airborne particles. The mechanical rotary controls of this air conditioner also do not get broken easily, especially in rust-prone or humid-prone areas. It is backed by a 2-year limited warranty.
The hOme 5000 BTU Window-Mounted AC can cover up to 150 square feet and it has 11.1 EER much like our budget pick. It is also made for smaller rooms yet it comes with a total of 7 speeds.
As a cold window AC, the air conditioner also has a two-way airflow system that makes it great for small room but can cover more rooms as well. As a very easy to install unit, it can cool down your hot areas at home and it is powered only by 4 amps.
The AC also has a window seal foam and has a 10 minute cool time for convenient cooling. As a heavy duty unit, it only requires 13 inches of minimum height to be installed with its side panel leaf covers.
It expends 5000 BTU and can be a nice personal AC unit that is small.
This window AC is backed by a 6 feet power cord for ease of plugging. It has a support bracket included so it is easy to install. With adjustable fan settings, it is great for indoor spaces and also comes with screws.
There is also a reusable eco AC filter included so it is easy to clean this AC for your bedroom needs. You can keep any room nice and cool with this air conditioner and you can even use it in an RV or mobile home. It can reduce hot temperatures and works on both 110V and 120V electric outlets. It is also great for a small apartment and comes with a user guide.
Best Air Conditioner for a Small Room
The GE AHM06LW 19" is an Energy Star qualified small room AC that has a digital thermostat. It has a total of 6,150 BTU cooling capacity and an energy saver mode. Moreover, it has a 24-hour on/off timer for convenience and a digital thermostat for you to program.
Great for a double-hung window installation, the unit features 3 fan speeds to save more energy and it comes with all hardware so it is easy to install. Made with non-zone depleting and eco friendly refrigerants, you get a total of 3 cooling speeds.
This unit is also UL, cUL and AHAM listed and is great for any apartment. With a cleverly designed top air discharge vent, you get a nice dehumidification of 1.6 pints per hour. It is also great for cooling down a bedroom and you can install it alone due to its simple design.
Working on 115-volt systems, this model also features a fixed chassis so it is easier to maintain. With a one touch lift-out filter that is also simpler to clean, it runs quietly and has an EER of 12.1 while it consumes 505 watts on the average. It is backed by a 1-year limited warranty.
Best Portable Air Conditioner
The Costway 10,000 BTU is a portable air conditioning unit that features a 24-hour programmable timer for your convenience. The roll caster wheels makes it mobile for cooling more rooms than ever. It can reach up to 200 square feet and can also dehumidify a room.
It has an auto condensate circle feature for less mess in your room and packs 10,000 BTUs of power. It has a fan mode as well to save on energy and comes with a quick install window kit to use it right off the bat. The wheels will not harm your floor surfaces so you can use it from room to room without a problem.
Having many sleep modes for eco friendliness, its washable filter is easy to clean. There is also an exhaust hose that is easy to use and a programmable control that lets you handle the coolness in your home and office. Being an easy to setup unit, it also has 2 fan speeds so you can save up on expenses.
Featuring a temperature sensor, this unit effectively cools and you can control the cooling power with the use of the LED panel control. When it is bedtime this unit is quiet and cooling and it won’t disturb your sleep at all.
Having a lightweight and compact design that is easy to service on your schedule and program at your best needs, the remote control of this AC unit is also very effective to plan your cooling needs. It also cools an apartment due to its sufficient power without a lot of space consumed.
Due to its easy movement, you can use it from room to room. It also comes with all the necessary accessories so it is easy to install in any home. It has a temperature setting from 62.6 to 86 degrees F. One of the best portable air conditioners we have come across.
Best Single Hose Air Conditioner
The Ivation 10,000 BTU is a single hose compact air conditioner that can provide you with year-round comfort due to the many settings that allow you to set the temperature at your own pace. If you want a single hose AC unit that can fit on any standard slider then this is a good one to have.
There is a dehumidifier feature and it can significantly remove excess moisture for a more effective cooling anywhere. It has cool, fan and dry modes and can be placed in an attic.
The remote control is easy to use and it has a double hung window installation that comes with the needed window adapter. With an auto mode as well, its intuitive LED screen display is easy to navigate through. You can use it for your basement and it allows you to cool hot spots when needed.
Whether you have a cabin or camper, this AC has a multi-mode function for your needs to keep the heat and humidity outside of your room. You can also view either Fahrenheit or Celsius with this unit and it can handle up to 350 sq ft coverage.
Not being a nuisance when you sleep, it is perfect for any home or office setting and can be installed in a windowless room as well. It has an outtake hose kit included and packs a total of 10,000 BTUs while being an energy saver overall.
Best Dual Hose Air Conditioner
The Haier 14000-BTU Dual-Hose comes with a standard 24-hour on/off timer. It also remembers the last setting after a power outage and is fitting on any apartment with its powerful 14,000 BTUs.
Being an easily portable unit with only 50 dBa of noise, it is convenient with its on-board storage for the remote as a portable air conditioner. You can achieve your own personal comfort level and also get a good night's sleep with the electronic control panel to set your programming.
With an auto restart for a power outage, one of our favorite models, it has caster wheels so it is mobile as a portable AC unit to use it when you need it. bearing easy mobility unlike others, it lowers the temperature of a bedroom effectively with its motor and remote control. You get a total of 3 modes (cool, fan, and dehumidify).
What’s more, the caster wheels are multi-directional with this unit. The settings can also give you the temperature and timer display for its digital thermostat to effectively monitor your consumption. It can fit well in a sliding window and can cover up to 500 sq. ft. of area.
Best for Casement Window Installation
The Frigidaire FFRS0822S1 8000 BTU handles up to 350 sq. ft. and can give you a comfortable environment while having different fan speeds to spread air across the room. Its energy efficiency ratio of 10.9 makes it an efficient unit with an eco mode as well.
The fan speed is adjustable and the washable mesh filter makes it easy to maintain for a bedroom. Installed in a casement window, it does a great job for taking out those airborne particles while you control the temperature at your own discretion.
Also applicable for a sliding window installation, it significantly reduces bacteria for a healthier home and it has a 4-way air direction mode as well. You can set your own temperature level in this 8,000 BTU unit and it is so discreet that it can be hidden for your apartment or small home.
Not being a nuisance while you are sleeping, it can also target most room odors and its dehumidification up to 3 pints per hour.
Best Bedroom Air Conditioner
Covering 150 to 225 square feet, the EdgeStar Ultra Compact is an eco friendly model which has a no ozone-damaging R410A refrigerant. It has an exhaust hose up to 49 inches and it also comes with mobile rolling casters.
It has a direct drain option to reduce the mess at home. Having RoHS compliant components for quality and eco friendliness, it has a self-evaporative system on humid climates plus the standard 24 hour programmable timer. The three step venting process makes it easy to install this unit.
With a 3 speed fan, the AC unit also comes with a washable pre filter and it can be used with the dehumidifier for up to 50 pints a day. The 6-foot power cord makes it easy to plug this unit anywhere. Packing a right amount of 8,000 BTUs, it is a good AC that includes all the necessary materials for venting.
If you want a low power consumption AC unit then this is a good one to consider. It also has an adjustable digital thermostat control like similar to the Whynter units.
Other models did not make it to our list for a number of reasons, including consuming too much energy, being difficult to operate or otherwise cumbersome.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How does it work?
A: The aircon is a type of home or office appliance that effectively cools the air on a closed area such as a room, office or car, by converting the hot air outside into cold air. The cooling system is different from a ceiling fan but slightly similar to that of a cooling tower.
The working principle is very simple. It works similar to the fridge in your home and simply converts the hot air from outside of your house into very cold air.
If you feel that your fridge is getting hot on the outside then that means it is insulating the inside part for cold air and that is very much how an AC works. These units have a cold box, much like how a fridge works.
Q: What are BTUs?
A: British Thermal Unit is the unit of measurement to determine how much hot air per hour can the model convert into cold air. BTU is normally used with any kind of appliance or system that uses air in its working principle. While higher BTUs sounds pretty good, it is not very beneficial to your unit's lifespan, as it will tend to overwork itself in the future.
Here’s an ideal table for BTU ratings:
|Small Room (less than 400 square feet)||9,000 and below|
|Medium to large rooms (more than 400 sq. ft.)||9,000 and above|
Q: What types of ACs are there?
A: An air conditioning unit may come in different forms.
For example, there's the regular window A/C, found in most homes and offices, and is installed in a wall or window sill. They are cheaper and easier to install and they can be placed on almost any home or establishment.
Split-system air conditioners don't require hole slots and can cool down more rooms than a regular AC unit. They can be hard to setup and may either be ducted or ductless. They are usually harder to maintain and more expensive.
More advanced types, such as the packaged AC and central air conditioner units, are perhaps best for medium to large scale areas.
Packaged ones are seen in hotels and central air conditioning is best for larger homes, offices or larger spaces.
Q: Is an AC expensive?
A: Yes, most AC units can be very expensive, both unit-wise and operation-wise. AC units are already expensive, ranging from $200 to $500.
The average energy consumption is from 500 to 1,500 watts, and because you need to use an AC for a long period of time, it's going to take its toll on your energy bill. This is why you need to be prepared for a large budget expense if you want to install one for your home.
Q: How do I know the energy consumption of my AC?
A: To know the energy consumption of your AC when it comes down to energy consumption, you must know the cost per hour of your electricity provider. This can range somewhere from 14 to 17 cents (USD) but that depends on your country or area because not all areas have the same cost per hour or kilowatt hour.
Simply multiply your AC unit's wattage by 1,000, multiply it by the cost per hour, multiply by 24 hours and then by 30 days. That will be the monthly consumption of your AC, if you use the portable AC without turning it off. You can just multiply your cost per hour into more hours or days of the month depending on how often you need to use your AC unit.
Q: How do I save money when buying one?
A: Most people buy an AC during the cold months, such as during the winter (or rainy days if you don't have winter in your area). Cold months are the start of not using ACs, so they are less likely to be in demand.
This means that ACs will go on sale, and you will find that installation fees also tend to be lower. This is why it is a lot better to purchase an AC in the winter, presumably before winter ends, so you can use them in the spring and then summer seasons.
Q: What else can an AC do aside from cooling your room or space?
A: Aside from cooling the room or area you are in, there are many other things that an AC can potentially do. For example, its air filter might also trap dust and allergens to keep your indoor area clean when it comes to its air quality - perfect for allergy sufferers.
Humidity is also balanced in an air conditioned room, making it perfect for highly humid places, such as those near the coastlines or in tropical countries. Microorganisms that can cause sickness can also be filtered by an AC.
Q: How is an AC different from an air handler, swamp cooler or air cooler?
A: While ACs are typically installed outside and inside through a hole in the wall, air handlers are simply situated in your home or living area. It looks a bit like a furnace but is capable of both heating and cooling processes.
The swamp cooler may look like a cheaper alternative to the air conditioner (usually because it is a lot more portable) but it is actually different when it comes down to its cooling principle.
While ACs are great for truly humid areas, air coolers are best used in dry areas because they also act as humidifiers. An air cooler circulates air and then adds moisture to it, which is different from the dry air of an air conditioner.
Q: Does using a fan in conjunction with an AC save money?
A: Yes, reducing the work load of your AC also saves you a lot of money in the long run. For instances that you don't need to cool down a lot, you can just use the good old electric fan or ceiling fan to lower the temperature of your home or office area.
In this way, you don't need to get shocked by the electric bill. Using a fan while not using the AC unit also saves the lifespan of your AC.
Q: Why do I need a thermostat with an AC?
A: The thermostat is a very helpful tool so that you can manage your energy consumption. The thermostat lets you set the temperature of the house automatically when you are asleep or when you are going outside.
In this way, you can wake up or return home without having to wait for a while for the AC unit's coolness to kick in. Generally, it saves you time and money in the long run.
Q: Why do I need to inspect my air filter?
A: The air filter is a crucial part of any AC because it will help trap down the dust, dirt and debris that might otherwise cause allergies. Air filters need to be cleaned, checked and inspected by an HVAC expert or someone who is knowledgeable with air filters to make sure the system is running okay.
Q: Why do I need an HVAC expert?
A: An HVAC expert is very crucial because he or she will help you to identify what is the best for your models. He or she will also give you pointers as to when to change or clean up the air filter, how much the operation will cost and many other tips and tricks for improving your AC unit’s performance without sucking up your budget and savings.
Q: Does closing off vents and open windows/doors help with my AC?
A: Yes, having a fully closed room makes it more effective for your AC to run. The AC should be in an area without vents or anything open so that the AC can fully cool down your area without expending a lot of compressor heating power.
Q: What parts of my AC unit are safe to clean by myself?
A: You can DIY clean some parts of your models to keep it running as smoothly as possible. Use the user's manual on how to disassemble your unit properly to ensure no parts become loose or broken.
The fins can be easily cleaned with a fin cleaning spray and you can straighten them up using a knife (carefully). The evaporator coil can also be cleaned using a coil cleaner spray and the evaporator drain can be cleaned off plugging.
Q: Where is the air filter of my AC located?
A: It depends on the design of your AC but you will most likely find it in three common places: on a slot surrounding your furnace, in the blower compartment or behind the return air grille of your AC Unit.
To know where it is located, make sure you read the user's manual for more information and how to disassemble it. Cleaning the air filter is important so that you get clean air all the time.
Q: If I want to DIY clean, what tools should I have?
A: To DIY clean your AC, you need some basic tools such as a screwdriver and some rubber gloves. You may also need a kitchen knife for the fins and garden hose for cleaning.
A vacuum cleaner can also be great when it comes to speeding up the process of cleaning your AC. An electric motor oil will also be helpful for parts that need to be oiled.
Q: When should I perform routine checkup and cleaning?
A: It depends on how much you use it but at least once or twice a year, usually at the start and end of the cold season. If you are not that knowledgeable with cleaning or maintaining your model, you can call up an HVAC professional to pinpoint what could be wrong, much like going to the doctor for a checkup.
Q: Why do I need to clean the evaporator coil of the AC?
A: The evaporator coil is an important part much like the air filter. If it gets dirty then your AC will not be running smoothly. Debris and dust from the outside world can get clogged into the evaporator coil so make sure it is in your list of things to check and clean up.
Wrapping It Up
Overall, the Frigidaire FFRA1022R1 10000 BTU is our pick for the best air conditioner with a multi-speed function, up to 450 square feet of area and a check filter alert.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.