The Best Small Window Air Conditioners of 2022

With one of these top small window air conditioners, there’ll be no more tossing and turning from sleeping too hot or waking up in a sweat.

By Tony Carrick and Tom Scalisi | Updated Jul 12, 2022 3:30 PM

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Best Small Window Air Conditioners Options

Photo: Tom Scalisi

Those who live in older homes without the comfort and convenience of central air conditioning understand just how hard it can be to sleep in a hot bedroom in the midst of a heat wave. While a fan can help, a better solution is a small window air conditioner. These diminutive but mighty appliances produce around 5,000 British thermal units (BTUs) of energy, which is enough to cool most bedrooms. They are smaller than more powerful units and capable of fitting in window openings as narrow as 21 inches wide and 14 inches high while also being much more affordable.

Small air conditioners range from top-of-the-line models with LED displays, remote controls, fancy operating modes, and even smart technology to budget-priced models with simple analog controls. With so many options on the market, it can be difficult to determine which model is the right one.

This guide will examine the factors to consider when choosing the best small window air conditioner and review some of the best models on the market.

  1. BEST OVERALL: GE 6,000 BTU Electronic Window Air Conditioner
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Emerson Quiet Kool EARC6RE1 Window Air Conditioner
  3. BEST FOR SMALL WINDOWS: Midea 5,000 BTU Easy Cool Window Air Conditioner
  4. BEST FOR LARGER ROOMS: Frigidaire 10,000 BTU Window-Mounted Air Conditioner
  5. BEST AESTHETIC: Soleus Air 6,000 BTU Over the Sill Air Conditioner
  6. BEST QUIET: Midea 8,000 BTU U-Shaped Air Conditioner
  7. ALSO CONSIDER: TCL 5,000 BTU Mechanical Window Air Conditioner
Best Small Window Air Conditioners Options

Photo: Tom Scalisi

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Small Window Air Conditioner

Selecting the right size and cooling capacity to meet the needs of the room is the most crucial element when selecting a small window air conditioner. However, other features are also important, including energy efficiency, temperature controls, and the number of operating modes.

Size/Cooling Capacity

Purchasing the proper size to suit the space is perhaps the most critical factor when shopping for a window air conditioning unit. Too small and the air conditioner won’t be able to cool the space to the desired temperature. Too large and the air conditioner will waste energy.

An air conditioner’s cooling capacity is indicated by BTUs, which is a measure of energy output. Window air conditioners range from 5,000 BTUs to over 20,000 BTUs. To determine what size is right for a particular room, match the BTU output to the square footage of the room. A 5,000-BTU air conditioner unit can handle up to 150 square feet, while an 18,000-BTU unit will cover up to 1,000 square feet. Most small window air conditioners range between 5,000 and 6,000 BTUs.

When selecting an air conditioning unit, it’s essential to make sure it can fit the window opening. Most small air conditioners can fit window openings from 22 inches to 34 inches wide with a minimum vertical opening of about 14 inches.

Temperature Settings and Display

Window-mount air conditioners have different types of controls for temperature settings. More affordable models have analog controls with temperature settings that range from 1 to 9, with nine being the coldest.

Higher-end models have a digital or LCD display with precise controls that allow the user to set the air conditioner to specific temperatures, typically ranging from the low 60s to the mid-80s. These window air conditioners have thermostats built into the main unit that read the temperature in the air and then use the results to regulate when the air conditioner turns on and off. Some models have thermostats in a remote control, which allows the unit to read the temperature in other parts of the room to more evenly cool a space.

Filter and Vents

Window air conditioners have filters that fit behind the slatted air intake on the front of the unit. These filters not only remove impurities that could harm the inner mechanical pieces in the air conditioner but also filter out air impurities, such as pollen, dust, and even some viruses, making the air in the room cleaner. These filters should be cleaned periodically by removing them and rinsing them under a faucet to remove the collected dust and dirt.

After the air in an air conditioner passes through the filter and is cooled in the condenser, a blower sends the chilled air back into the room through the vents at the top of the unit’s face. These vents are adjustable in four directions, allowing the user to make adjustments to the airflow from the air conditioner to evenly cool the room.

Dehumidifier

All air conditioners remove humidity in the room simply by cooling warm, humid air via the compressor. A dehumidifier function uses the compressor just enough to remove moisture from the air by cycling the compressor on and off. While this mode won’t lower the temperature in the room, it does make the air drier and thus more comfortable. And since the compressor isn’t running full-time as it does in cooling mode, the dehumidifier mode uses less energy, making it a more economical way to make a room more comfortable.

Energy Efficiency

Air conditioners use a significant amount of energy to operate the condenser that cools the air that passes through it. Depending on its size, a window AC unit uses between 500 and 1,500 watts of electricity. If a small 500-watt window air conditioner runs for 8 hours a day, that translates to 120 kilowatt-hours of electricity each month. Considering the national average cost per kilowatt-hour of electricity is 12 cents, that translates to about $15 a month to cool a single room. Larger AC units cost more to operate.

Some window air conditioners are more efficient than others. The best way to compare models is to calculate an air conditioner’s Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) by dividing its BTU output by its wattage. The higher the number, the more energy-efficient the air conditioner is. For example, a 12,000-BTU air conditioner that uses 1,200 watts would have an EER of 10 (12,000/1,200). An energy-efficient air conditioner has a rating of at least 9 or above. Energy Star–certified air conditioners have an EER of at least 12.

Additional Features

Window air conditioners include various operating modes and features that make them versatile, more energy efficient, and easier to use.

  • Timers: Many units feature 24-hour timers that automatically turn them on or off after a certain amount of time has passed. This allows the user to set the AC unit to turn off while not in use, saving energy and money, or to turn it on to make sure the space is cool when it’s time for bed.
  • Modes: Many air conditioners include various modes that allow the user to fine-tune the way they operate. These include energy-saver modes that cycle the compressor off and on to save energy, sleep modes that slowly increase the temperature a few degrees through the night to account for the natural decline in body temperature during sleep, and turbo modes for quickly cooling a hot space.
  • Smart: High-end smart air conditioners are able to connect to a home’s Wi-Fi network, allowing the air conditioner’s temperature and modes to be controlled remotely via a smart device or even a digital assistant.

Noise Level

Unlike central AC units, which have their noisy compressors outside the home and air handlers tucked away in the attic space, window units have both pieces in a box that rests in a window. This means the noise of the unit is not muffled by walls.

The average window air conditioner produces about 60 decibels of noise; this is about the same volume as a normal conversation or an electric shaver. Some AC units have quiet options capable of dropping their noise output close to 50 decibels, which is similar to the sound of light traffic. Just keep in mind, the window AC unit is louder when working at or near its capacity, so it won’t produce as much cold air in quiet mode as it does in turbo mode.

Some window AC units feature innovative designs that muffle the sound of the condenser, reducing their noise output to around 40 decibels.

Installation

Of all the types of air conditioners—central, through the wall, and ductless—window air conditioners are by far the easiest to install. They don’t require cutting holes in a wall, complicated wiring, or brazing copper pipe fittings. Installation typically involves placing the unit into a window using a mounting kit that includes brackets that attach the air conditioner to the window sash and jamb.

Since window units don’t take up the entire width of the window opening, they include adjustable plastic panels that fill the voids in the window on either side of the unit. Weatherstripping installed between the sash, sill, jambs, and air conditioning unit help prevent air from escaping around the unit.

Best Small Window Air Conditioners Options

Photo: Tom Scalisi

Our Top Picks

The list below consists of the best small window air conditioners on the market. It includes basic models for the budget minded, efficient units with Energy Star certifications, and advanced air conditioners with cutting-edge technology. Any of the air conditioners below is a good pick for making a bedroom more comfortable in the summertime.

Best Overall

The Best Small Window Air Conditioner Option: GE AHQ06LZ Window Air Conditioner
Photo: amazon.com

Enough power to handle most bedrooms along with controls that take the mystery out of setting the temperature make this window air conditioner one of the best all-around models on the market. Its 6,000-BTU output sets it just above the power envelope of most smaller air conditioning units, which have 5,000 BTUs, giving it just enough extra oomph to cool spaces up to 250 square feet.

The controls for this AC unit are also an upgrade. A digital display allows for precise temperature settings, and a remote control adds convenience. While this model isn’t Energy Star certified, it just misses the mark with an energy efficiency rating of 11. Despite its larger compressor, this model is compact and able to fit windows as narrow as 21.875 inches wide with a minimum opening of 13.375 inches.

During testing, we found the GE 6,000 BTU Electronic Window Air Conditioner to be a good choice for bedrooms and smaller spaces. It’s quiet compared to most other 5,000- or 6,000-BTU air conditioners. Also, it was easy to install, and working through the digital settings is intuitive. The main issue with this model is the display is very small, which makes noting the temperature difficult when using the remote.

Product Specs

  • Size: 6,000 BTU
  • Display and setting type: Digital
  • Additional features: Remote control

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • Quiet compared to most other small models
  • Digital controls for easy settings

Cons

  • Small display can be tough to read

Get the GE Electronic small window air conditioner on Amazon.

Best Bang For The Buck

The Best Small Window Air Conditioners Option: Emerson Quiet Kool EARC6RE1 Window Air Conditioner
Photo: amazon.com

For those on a budget who don’t need all the bells and whistles that come with higher-priced models, this window air conditioner from Emerson is an excellent option. While it doesn’t boast some of the operating modes and features of other higher-priced air conditioners, it does have a 5,000-BTU energy output, which is enough to cool a 150-square-foot room, making it ideal for smaller bedrooms.

Two rotating knobs allow the user to adjust the temperature of the unit from 1 to 7 or set it to fan-only mode. Both cool and fan modes offer two speeds. Louvers allow the airflow to be adjusted in four directions. It fits in windows as small as 17 inches wide with a minimum window opening height of 13 inches. At 50 decibels, it’s marketed as one of the quieter window units available.

First, understand that we do believe this model to offer plenty of value. During testing, it proved to be lightweight and easy to install, and we liked the positionable louvers. It quickly cooled a 150-square-foot room on an 85-degree day as well. However, we did find that it rattles, and we also noticed a gap in the construction that allowed us to see daylight through the vents.

Product Specs

  • Size: 5,000 BTU
  • Display and setting type: Analog
  • Additional features: Positionable louvers

Pros

  • Lightweight and easy to install
  • Positionable louvers for directing airflow
  • Affordable price point

Cons

  • It’s not quiet
  • Gap under air conditioner

Get the Emerson small window air conditioner on Overstock.

Best For Small Windows

The Best Small Window Air Conditioner Option: Midea 5,000 BTU EasyCool Window Air Conditioner
Photo: amazon.com

With its compact size, this window air conditioner from Midea is a great option for smaller windows that don’t open wide enough to handle larger models. This window air conditioner measures just 12.05 inches long by 15.98 inches wide by 15.35 inches deep, allowing it to fit a window with vertical openings as small as 13 inches and as wide as 16 inches. Despite its diminutive size, it packs a punch with a 5,000-BTU energy output that allows it to cover up to 150 square feet.

While not Energy Star certified, its energy-efficiency rating of 11 makes it one of the more cost-conscious window air conditioning units on the market. A rotating knob adjusts temperatures between 1 and 7, while a second knob allows the user to toggle between two fan-only speeds and two cooling fan speeds. The reusable filter, which catches pollen, dust, and other contaminants, is easy to remove for periodic cleaning.

When it comes to ease of installation, the Midea Easy Cool was one of our favorites. It’s lightweight and compact, meaning popping it into a window takes just a few seconds. It also cooled the room relatively quickly, though it wasn’t exceptionally loud like some of the other small window units. Our least favorite feature from this air conditioner is the fact that the louvers only adjust side to side, not up and down.

Product Specs

  • Size: 5,000 BTU
  • Display and setting type: Analog
  • Additional features: None

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Easy to install
  • Cooled quickly while not being exceptionally loud

Cons

  • Louvers don’t adjust up and down

Get the Midea 5,000 BTU small window air conditioner on Amazon or Wayfair.

Best For Larger Rooms

The Best Small Window Air Conditioners Option: Frigidaire 10,000 BTU Window-Mounted Air Conditioner
Photo: amazon.com

Small windows in larger rooms can be a challenge, but this model from Frigidaire could be a solution. This 10,000-BTU air conditioner is capable of cooling rooms up to 450 square feet but measures just 21.5 inches long by 19 inches wide by 14.5 inches deep, allowing it to fit in smaller windows.

This Frigidaire window air conditioner has a digital display, which provides a timer, programmable on-and-off times, as well as a sleep setting that gradually increases the room temperature. This model also comes with a remote control and an energy-saver mode. There are also three vent modes: closed (blocking out all outside air), fresh air (cycling fresh air into the unit), and vent (allowing room air to escape).

As far as 10,000-BTU window air conditioners go, this model is compact and relatively easy to install. It’s also quiet for offering that much cooling capacity. The digital display was easy to use, and setting the programmable times was relatively straightforward. The biggest downside to this model is that it might be just slightly too large for an easy installation in a 24-inch window, as the side panels only compress to 23.5 inches.

Product Specs

  • Size: 10,000 BTU
  • Display and setting type: Digital
  • Additional features: Remote, programmable times, sleep mode

Pros

  • Powerful 10,000 BTU
  • Quiet for larger window unit
  • Programmable timer and sleep mode
  • 3 vent modes: closed, fresh air, and vent

Cons

  • It might be slightly too large for smaller windows

Get the Frigidaire small window air conditioner on Amazon.

Best Aesthetic

The Best Small Window Air Conditioner Option: Soleus Air 6,000 BTU Over the Sill Air Conditioner
Photo: amazon.com

For those who just aren’t willing to compromise the view from the window for cool air, there’s this innovative model from Soleus. Rather than sitting on top of the window jamb, this air conditioner straddles it, placing the bulk of the unit below the window and preserving most of the view.

This design also keeps the compressor noise outside, making it 30 percent quieter than other window air conditioners despite offering 6,000 BTUs. A digital display and remote control that senses the surrounding temperature help create an even temperature throughout the room. Other options include a sleep mode and a dry mode. Keep in mind, however, that though this unit doesn’t take up much window space once installed, it does require a minimum opening of 16 inches to allow for installation.

The Soleus Air 6,000 BTU Over the Sill Air Conditioner turned out to be one of our favorite air conditioners in the test. Despite being heavy due to its design, it was relatively easy to install (though the adjustable feet underneath the saddle were a little tricky to reach). We also enjoyed an almost fully functional window, and it was even compatible with our window’s locking system. The display and remote control are also very easy to use. The worst thing about this air conditioner is that it is big for a 6,000-BTU unit, but that’s largely because of its design.

Product Specs

  • Size: 6,000 BTU
  • Display and setting type: Digital
  • Additional features: Saddle style, remote control

Pros

  • Allows for almost full view out of the window
  • Heavy but easy to install
  • Runs very quietly
  • Excellent display and remote

Cons

  • It’s quite large

Get the Soleus small window air conditioner on Amazon.

Best Quiet

The Best Small Window Air Conditioner Option: Midea 8,000 BTU U-Shaped Air Conditioner
Photo: amazon.com

With its innovative U-shaped design, this air conditioner solves one of the biggest gripes about window air conditioners—noise. Rather than fit in the window space, requiring the window to be open a foot or more, this 8,000-BTU model straddles the window, allowing it to close between the blower and the compressor. With the noisy compressor on the other side of the glass, this air conditioner produces 42 decibels, slightly noisier than a library.

This design also has the effect of creating a much tighter seal between the window and the outside, making it 35 percent more energy efficient than standard window units (which helps to offset its significantly higher price tag). In addition to having all the requisite modes of a higher-end air conditioner, including sleep, energy saver, and auto shutoff, this model is also a smart device, capable of connecting to a home’s Wi-Fi for control via a smart device or virtual assistant.

Let us start by saying that installation of this air conditioner takes some effort. It comes with several brackets, pieces of hardware, foam strips, and other components that are a little confusing, even with the QR-code directions. However, once installed, this machine is so quiet that it’s barely noticeable. The display is also very attractive, and the remote is easy to use. And it allows more light into the room than typical window air conditioners. We also liked that we could tuck our curtains behind the AC to promote a bit more security.

Product Specs

  • Size: 8,000 BTU
  • Display and setting type: Digital
  • Additional features: U-shaped design, remote control, Wi-Fi

Pros

  • Allows in more light than a typical air conditioner
  • Extremely quiet compared to any other model
  • Handsome design

Cons

  • Installation is not easy

Get the Midea U-Shaped small window air conditioner on Amazon or at The Home Depot.

Also Consider

The Best Small Window Air Conditioner Option: TCL 5,000 BTU MECHANICAL WINDOW AIR CONDITIONER
Photo: amazon.com

This small but mighty air conditioning unit pumps out sufficient cold air to meet the needs of the average-size bedroom while offering enough options for managing the temperature and airflow in the room. A knob adjusts the cooling output from a range of 1 to 7, and four operating modes allow the user to run the air conditioner at two fan speeds with cooling and two fan speeds without cooling.

An easy-to-access filter removes dust, pollen, and pet hair from the air. With its compact size of 15.2 inches long by 15.98 inches wide by 12.52 inches deep, the model is one of the smaller air conditioners on the market and fits window widths ranging from 23 to 36 inches with a minimum vertical opening of 14.5 inches.

The beauty of the TCL 5,000-BTU air conditioner is its simplicity. It’s compact, lightweight, easy to install, and easy to use. We liked that the louvers were fully adjustable, allowing us to install this AC over a bed. While the compressor is relatively quiet, the unit itself does rattle a bit.

Product Specs

  • Size: 5,000 BTU
  • Display and setting type: Analog
  • Additional features: Adjustable louvers

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Easy to install
  • Adjustable louvers

Cons

  • It rattles

Get the TCL small window air conditioner on Amazon.

Our Verdict

For those looking for a reliable, quiet, and compact air conditioner for their smaller windows, the GE Electronic small window air conditioner is worth serious consideration. However, for those looking for a bit more light and functionality, the Soleus small window air conditioner’s design and style make it a contender.

How We Tested the Best Small Window Air Conditioners

Testing a group of small window air conditioners took quite a bit of work, and we compared them to one another on several levels. First, we had to break the air conditioners up into separate categories, as comparing a 5,000-BTU model to a 10,000-BTU air conditioner is unfair. We had three 5,000-, two 6,000-, one 8,000-, and one 10,000-BTU models to compare, so we were as systematic as possible.

We installed the 5,000-BTU models in bedrooms first. We compared the process of assembling them (which were remarkably similar), as well as how quickly they could cool the room in the first hour. Then, we moved to the 6,000-BTU units, which were on totally different pages when it came to installation and design, so we installed them in different spaces, comparing their installation, noise, and features. Finally, we set up the 8,000-BTU model, as well as the larger 10,000-BTU, and compared their installation procedures, features, and dimensions.

Comparing cooling proved to be fruitless, as these models were all effective but totally different in terms of output. However, this test did provide us with the information we needed to compare features and installation procedures. We then gave models awards based on their strengths but noted where they may fall short for some shoppers.

FAQs

Proper installation and maintenance of a small air conditioner are vital to keeping it performing efficiently. Ahead, learn more about how to get the most out of these appliances.

Q. Is a window AC the same as a room AC?

Window and room air conditioners differ in the way they vent hot air. Portable room air conditioners are freestanding appliances, often resting on wheels and requiring a hose that attaches to a window to vent hot air outside. A window air conditioner mounts inside the window, allowing it to vent hot air directly through the window.

Q. Is a small air conditioner energy efficient?

Many small air conditioners are very energy efficient, with energy efficiency ratings that are 11 or above. The most efficient small air conditioners have an Energy Star rating, which means they have an EER of at least 12.

Q. How do I make my window air conditioner airtight?

While there are many options for sealing the space around an air conditioner, the best way is to use adhesive-backed weatherstripping to cover the spaces around the air conditioner and the window. You can also use rope caulk, which is similar in consistency to clay, to fill small gaps.

Q. How do you clean window air conditioners?

Use the following steps to clean a window air conditioner:

  1. Begin by unplugging it.
  2. Remove the case using a screwdriver.
  3. Clean the drainpipe pan with soapy water to prevent mold from growing on it.
  4. Use a vacuum to remove any dust or dirt that has collected inside the unit.
  5. Spray the inside of the unit with a mild water and dish detergent solution, and wipe with a clean cloth.
  6. Open the case that covers the exterior side of the air conditioner, and spray and wipe clean the condenser coils.
  7. Reassemble the air conditioner, then remove and clean the reusable filter.