Best Smart Air Conditioners From Consumer Reports' Tests

Forget the remote. Run your AC from your smartphone or digital voice assistant.

Someone operating a Friedrich smart air conditioner with a smartphone.
Project Leader Chris Regan testing a smart AC in the CR labs.

Most window air conditioners come with a remote, but where does that leave you when it goes missing? Sweaty and rummaging through the couch cushions.

Smart air conditioners offer a cool solution. Thanks to built-in WiFi, you can switch a smart AC on from your smartphone or by asking your voice-controlled smart assistant to do it for you. That’s pretty handy if you want to cool the house down before you get home from work but you don’t want to waste energy running the AC all day.

With a smart AC, you can do more than turn it on and off remotely. You can remotely check and change the temperature, select the modes and fan speeds, easily program a cooling schedule, and, in some cases, connect several air conditioners and run them in concert. Some apps even monitor your energy use and send alerts when air filters need cleaning.

You can give anyone in the household access to take control by using the app with his or her phone. 

More on Air Conditioning

More manufacturers are offering smart appliances, and typically all you need is a WiFi connection, a smartphone, and the companion app.

In Consumer Reports’ tests of dozens of window air conditioners, we’re seeing more that have smart features or can be connected to WiFi with an add-on kit. In our tests we discovered that not every smart air conditioner is a brilliant performer.

Although we don’t test every app, Chris Regan, who oversees our air-conditioner tests, installed a smart AC at home and surprised his children when he turned it on from the office when the rest of the family was home. “That was fun,” he says. “The smart features are a nice addition. But before investing in a smart AC, you want to make sure it can perform its primary function of keeping you cool.”

How We Test Window ACs

After installing a unit in a double-hung window in our climate-controlled test chamber, we crank up the air temperature to 90° F, then measure how long it takes the AC to cool the space by 10° F. Regan says the best units do it in less than 15 minutes. We also gauge how accurately the AC reaches its set temperature, whether a model can recover after a simulated brownout, how intuitive the controls are, and how loud each unit is running on low and high.

If you have a Digital or All Access membership to CR, you can read on for ratings and reviews of seven smart ACs from CR’s recent air-conditioner tests.

Best Small Smart AC

5,000 to 6,500 Btu; Cools 100 to 300 Square Feet

Frigidaire Gallery FGRC0644U1
Only one small AC in our tests comes with smart features. And with only a Fair rating for cooling, the Frigidaire Gallery FGRC0644U1 is one of the lower-scoring small window units. But it comes from a brand with favorable scores for reliability and a Good rating for owner satisfaction. It runs quietly when on low and gets a bit noisier when on its highest setting. When we tested it in low-voltage conditions, as you would experience during a brownout, it restarted like a champ. It has an attractive mesh grill and a digital temperature display. This model tends to blow air to the left, so make sure that works for the room where you plan to use it.

The Frigidaire Gallery works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. You can download the companion app through the model page on the Frigidaire website.

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