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Air conditioners

What's behind our air conditioner Ratings?

Experts at our National Testing and Research Center tested 31 models in air conditioners to see which ones perform best.
We look for:
  • Overall score
    This is based mainly on comfort, noise, and energy efficiency. The displayed score is out of a total of 100 points.
  • Comfort
    This is how well temperature and humidity are controlled at the low-cool setting. The best performers held temperatures to within one-and-a-half degrees of the setpoint.
  • Indoor noise low
    This judgment of indoor noise at the low-cool setting combines an objective measurement of noise level using a decibel meter with a subjective assessment of noise quality (how annoying or grating the particular sounds were).
  • Indoor noise high
    This judgment of indoor noise at the high-cool setting combines an objective measurement of noise level using a decibel meter with a subjective assessment of noise quality (how annoying or grating the particular sounds were).
  • Brownout
    Gauges the unit's ability to run and restart during extreme heat and low voltage.
  • Ease of use
    This reflects control-panel layout, including the clarity of its markings, as well as how easy and intuitive the controls were to operate.
  • Airflow left
    This shows how well the louvers can direct air to the left of the unit when the user is facing it. Most important if the air conditioner must be installed in the corner of a room.
  • Airflow right
    This shows how well the louvers can direct air to the right of the unit when the user is facing it. Most important if the air conditioner must be installed in the corner of a room.

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Recommended air conditioners

Recommended air conditioners are standout choices with high scores. They include CR Best Buys, which offer exceptional value. When narrowing your choices, weigh features, price, and attributes that matter to you.
  • Buying Guide
  • Price & Shop
Low prices and high efficiency make room air conditioners an inexpensive alternative to central air for cooling one or two rooms. Some 5,000- to 6,000-Btu units now cost less than $150. If you're looking for information about air conditioners, Consumer Reports is your best resource. Consumer Reports’ air conditioner reviews will give you honest buying advice that you can trust. Use our air conditioner buying guide to discover which features are most important to consider. We also provide unbiased Ratings and air conditioner reviews to help you choose the best air conditioner for your needs.

Recently reviewed air conditioners

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LW5011 (Home Depot)
This 5,000-btu LG model only has mechanical controls and only 2 fan speeds on cool.

Air conditioner buying guide

All the air conditioners in our latest tests do an excellent job of cooling and come with such convenient features as a digital display, a built-in timer, a remote control, or touchpad controls. But some models are noisy and others struggled to cool during brownouts. Find out which to buy for the space you need to cool.

Low prices and high efficiency make room air conditioners an inexpensive alternative to central air for cooling one or two rooms. Some 5,000- to 6,000-Btu (British thermal units) models now cost less than $150. Our air-conditioner guide will help you choose what's right for you.

All the models we tested meet the 9.7 Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) now required for small and medium-sized models below 8,000 Btu per hour, and the 9.8 EER required for larger, 8,000- to 13,999-Btu models. Most also meet or exceed the 10.7 EER needed to qualify for Energy Star. And all now have electrical plugs that help prevent fires by shutting down if the power cord is damaged.

Find out whether replacing your air conditioner makes sense by using the savings calculator on the room air conditioners page at www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=roomac.pr_properly_sized. (Every 0.1 increase in EER translates into about a one percent drop in electricity use.) Also keep the following in mind:

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