Best Window Air Conditioners of 2021
Top choices for small, midsized, and large rooms from Consumer Reports' tests
All of the window air conditioners in Consumer Reports’ latest tests do a good enough job at keeping you cool. What distinguishes one from another is how quickly and quietly it cools a room—and how easy it is to operate.
And you don’t have to pay a lot to get relief from the heat.
The window air conditioners in our tests range from $150 to $580, with prices climbing as size and capacity (Btu) increase. (One outlier is the midsized Friedrich Kuhl, which usually retails for $870.)
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 weather stripping around the perimeter will also prevent air from leaking in or out.
Also important from an energy standpoint is to get the right size AC for the space you want to cool. For help with this, see our guide to how to size a window air conditioner.
How We Test Window ACs
After installing the unit in a double-hung window in our testing chamber, we crank up the air temperature to 90° F, then measure how long it takes the AC to cool the room by 10° F. The best units hit the mark in less than 15 minutes. We also gauge how accurately the AC reaches its set temperature, whether it can recover from a simulated brownout, the intuitiveness of the controls, and how loud each unit is when running on low and high.
Read on for CR’s take on our three top picks for each room size, based on our latest tests. CR members can check out even more choices in our full air conditioner ratings. For more intel on your options aside from central air, see our air conditioner buying guide, which covers portable and split ductless ACs, too.
Below, details on nine of the top window ACs from our tests.
CR’s take: The LG LW6019ER tops the list of small window units with ratings of Very Good for comfort (based on how quickly it cooled our test chamber) and its ability to operate quietly, making it a good choice for a bedroom. It recovers nicely from low-voltage brownout conditions. The LG comes equipped with a remote, a dirty-filter indicator, and a timer so you can set it for specific use. According to data from our member survey, LG window ACs earn an Excellent rating for predicted reliability and a Very Good for owner satisfaction.
CR’s take: The nicely priced Frigidaire FFRE063WAE window unit cools a small room in ample time, earning a Very Good rating in our comfort test, in which we measure how quickly and accurately the temperature hits a set point. It easily restarts in periods of low voltage, such as during a brownout, and our testers found the controls easy to use and the filter easy to clean. It’s a bit noisy when running on high but less so on low. According to data from our member survey, Frigidaire window ACs earn the highest mark for reliability but are only so-so for owner satisfaction.
CR’s take: The Midea MAW06R1YWT-E, sold at Sam’s Club, is a good performer for the price, earning a Very Good rating for cooling in our comfort test. When on the lowest setting, it runs pretty quietly, making it a good choice for a bedroom. And when you crank it up to high, it earns an average noise rating of Good but is still quieter than some models in our tests. It bounces back in brownout conditions and fares well in our hands-on ease-of-use test, meaning the controls are easy to see and adjust, and the filter is easy to remove for cleaning. We don't have enough data from our member survey to give Midea a reliability score.
CR’s take: The Frigidaire Gallery GHWQ083WC1 is top-notch at cooling a midsized room and earns an Excellent rating for comfort. It’s whisper-quiet on the low setting and just a bit noisier on high but not enough to annoy you. The controls are simple to figure out and you can depend on it during brownout conditions. In our member survey, Frigidaire gets top marks for predicted reliability and average for owner satisfaction.
CR’s take: With its innovative design, the top-rated U-shaped Midea MAW08V1QWT solves one of the consumer concerns with window ACs—that you can’t open the window when one is installed. The Midea has a U-shaped channel between the indoor and outdoor sections of the unit that allows you to open the window when the AC isn’t running and close it when it’s on. Specially designed brackets hold it in place. The Midea is also impressive at cooling a room, earning a Very Good rating in our comfort test and running quietly on the high cool setting and whisper-quiet on low. The controls are easy to set, and it bounces back in brownout conditions.
CR’s take: The high-end Friedrich Kuhl KCQ08A10A is the most expensive window air conditioner in our tests. Friedrich has always been a premium brand, and this model has some extras you may like. It’s WiFi-compatible, so you can set it from your smartphone using the FriedrichConnect app. Like a thermostat, it has seven-day programmability, so you can match your cooling to your schedule. You can also control several Friedrich ACs from one app and run them in concert or individually. But how does it cool? Quickly and efficiently, earning an Excellent rating on our comfort test. It runs pretty quietly on low but less so on high, earning a Good score on that test. But it bounces back from brownouts, and our testers found it a cinch to use. Friedrich window ACs earn Very Good ratings for both predicted reliability and owner satisfaction in our member survey.
CR’s take: The large U-shaped Midea MAW12V1QWT is bigger and a little better than its brandmates above. Like the midsized model, it has the same U-shaped channel between the indoor and outdoor parts of the unit that allow you to open the window when the AC isn’t running and close it when it’s on. Brackets hold it in place. The Midea is impressive at cooling a room, earning an Excellent rating on our comfort test. The controls are easy to set, and it bounces back in brownout conditions.
CR’s take: Like its midsized brandmate above, the Frigidaire Gallery GHWQ103WC1 is a champ at keeping you comfortable in a large room, earning an Excellent rating on that test. You’ll barely hear it running on low and it’s not much louder on high, so you can easily carry on a conversation while it’s running. The easy-to-use controls won’t perplex you, and if you live in an area with frequent brownouts, there’s no need to worry that you’ll lose your AC.
CR’s take: Apparently, Frigidaire cracked the code on how to make a room AC that keeps you comfortable. Like its brandmates, the Frigidaire Gallery GHWQ123WC1 is aces at cooling, earning an Excellent rating on our comfort test. It’s not quite as quiet as the Frigidaire Gallery GHWQ103WC1, and we judged it to be noisier on both the low and high settings. It bounces back in brownout conditions and the controls are intuitive in case you don’t want to thumb through the manual.