While window air-conditioning units are a fine option for cooling a room in the summertime, they require sacrificing a window and the view that comes with it, along with some of its aesthetics. The best through-the-wall air conditioner offers a viable alternative. These air-conditioning units function similarly to window air conditioners, but they fit into a hole in the wall, preserving the view and aesthetics of the room’s windows.
A through-the-wall air conditioner can produce up to 15,000 British thermal units (BTUs), making this type of air conditioner suitable for cooling rooms up to 700 square feet. Some models also include heating elements that supplement a home’s main heat source in the wintertime. Our guide examines the crucial factors to consider when shopping for the best through-the-wall air conditioner and lists our recommendations for some of the best options on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: LG LT1216CER Through-the-Wall Air Conditioner
- RUNNER-UP: Koldfront WTC12002WCO115V Air Conditioner
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Koldfront WTC8002WCO 8,000-BTU Air Conditioner
- BEST FOR LARGE ROOMS: Frigidaire FHTC142WA2 Built-In Room Air Conditioner
- BEST WITH HEAT: Koldfront WTC12001W Air Conditioner With Heater
- BEST FOR SMALL ROOMS: Keystone KSTAT08-1C Through-The-Wall Air Conditioner
- ALSO CONSIDER: Whirlpool WHAT121-HAW 12,000-BTU Air Conditioner
How We Chose the Best Through-the-Wall Air Conditioners
Lots of factors went into selecting the best through-the-wall air conditioners for this article. We spent time looking at current technologies and products from all the leading brands.
Cooling capability is obviously a key element, but performance is only one consideration. It was important to us to offer a wide variety of choices, so we included high-output models as well as smaller devices for those with more modest spaces to cool. Efficiency is another key factor and has a big impact on running costs. Noise levels were a key consideration. Plus, ease of installation played a part in our decisions, as did reliability and durability.
In addition to our own research, we collated information from other expert sources and from buyers who gave feedback on what these air conditioners are like to live with day-to-day.
Our Top Picks
The list below narrows the field of through-the-wall air conditioners to some of the best models on the market by coverage area. These air conditioners range from 8,000-BTU models for small rooms to 15,000-BTU behemoths for large spaces. They feature multiple operating modes and Energy Star certification.
A powerful output coupled with Energy Star certification make this model one of the best all-around wall air conditioners available. It produces 11,800 BTUs of energy, which is enough to cool up to 530 square feet. A robust set of operating functions allows you to select between optimal cooling power or energy efficiency with three cooling speeds and three operating modes: a turbo mode for quickly cooling a warm room, an energy-saver mode that cycles the compressor on and off, and a dry mode that removes humidity from the air. Adjustable louvers that blow in four different directions enable you to direct the airflow.
This air conditioner measures 14.41 inches high by 24 inches wide by 20.09 inches deep and includes a trim kit that creates a clean and finished look between the wall and air conditioner. It plugs into a standard 115-volt outlet.
- BTUs: 11,800
- Area: 530 square feet
- Energy efficiency ratio (EER): 10.6
- High-performance model with 3 fan speeds for rapid cooling and user-friendly remote control
- 3 modes, including dry mode, that can remove up to 3.9 pints of moisture per hour
- Energy Star certified; has a 24-hour timer to maximize efficient use
- Although usually reliable, a variety of complaints suggest quality control can be inconsistent
Get the LG through-the-wall air conditioner at Amazon, Lowe’s, or The Home Depot.
Cooling a larger living area in midsummer requires an air conditioner with some oomph. With an ample 12,000 BTUs of energy output, this model from Koldfront is well equipped to cool an area up to 550 square feet. It also includes a broad set of operational modes that allow you to fine-tune its performance, whether the goal is to save energy, maximize cooling power, reduce humidity, or create a comfortable environment for sleeping.
Keeping a large room cool when not in use just isn’t practical, which makes this model’s 24-hour auto-off timer so convenient. It allows you to set a time for the air conditioner to kick on so it’s cool before the occupants arrive home. A remote control makes it easy to cycle through the air conditioner’s modes, adjust fan speed, or change the temperature setting, while a cleanable filter removes impurities from the air. This air conditioner plugs into a 115-volt outlet.
- BTUs: 12,000
- Area: 550 square feet
- EER: 10.5
- Output and cooling area are as good as any other models in its class
- Control panel provides access to multiple fan speeds, temperature, dehumidification, and timer
- Convenient handheld remote includes sleep and energy-saver functions
- Problems aren’t common, but a few owners reported that their units stopped cooling within 12 months
Get the Koldfront WTC12002WCO115V through-the-wall air conditioner at Amazon or The Home Depot.
With its 8,000-BTU output, this through-the-wall air conditioner from Koldfront can cool up to 350 square feet, making it ideal for bedrooms, offices, and other small rooms. A convenient remote control allows you to control all of the air conditioner’s settings, adjust temperature, and turn the unit on and off from across the room.
Despite its smaller capacity, this is a versatile air conditioner with numerous settings and functions, including a dehumidifier setting that reduces the humidity in the room, a sleep mode for quieter operation, and a 24-hour timer. This air conditioner measures 14.5 inches high by 24.25 inches wide by 20.375 inches deep and uses a 115-volt outlet for power, eliminating the need for complicated hard wiring.
- BTUs: 8,000
- Area: 350 square feet
- EER: 10.6
- High-quality construction ensures warm exhaust air does not reenter the room
- 3 fan speeds with remote control, plus dehumidifying for maximum comfort
- Highly efficient with Energy Star certification, competitive EER, and timer function
- Faults are rare, but a few owners have found the unit louder than expected
Get the Koldfront WTC8002WCO through-the-wall air conditioner at The Home Depot or Amazon.
Many through-the-wall air conditioners on the market can crank out enough cold air to cool a large space. What sets this model from Frigidaire apart is its ability to do it efficiently. With its 14,000-BTU energy output, this air conditioner can cool up to 700 square feet efficiently enough to earn an Energy Star certification, making it one of the most economical options for cooling a larger space.
It includes other useful add-ons such as a thermostat in the remote control (a must for evenly cooling larger spaces) and standard features like a programmable timer, multiple fan speeds, a sleep mode, and an energy-saver mode. At 14.5 inches high by 24 inches wide by 21.5 inches deep, Frigidaire’s through-the-wall air conditioner is similar in size to other models.
- BTUs: 14,000
- Area: 700 square feet
- EER: 9.5
- This unit provides the high performance needed for large rooms, with precise thermometer control
- Programmable timer plus eco and sleep modes help reduce energy consumption
- Built-in ionizer and easy-clean washable filter reduce dust and other airborne particles
- A premium-priced model that does not have Energy Star certification
Get the Frigidaire through-the-wall air conditioner at The Home Depot or Appliances Connection.
If a room is warmer in the summertime than the rest of the house, then chances are it’s also colder in the wintertime. With its built-in heating function, this through-the-wall air conditioner from Koldfront can warm a chilly room during colder periods while keeping the space cool in the summer. Its 12,000-BTU cooling output and 10,600-BTU heater make it capable of cooling or warming rooms up to 550 square feet.
Useful operating modes such as energy saver, sleep, and dehumidifier add versatility to this air conditioner. Intuitive controls, which include a digital display on the unit and remote control, allow you to cycle through its modes, set the thermostat, or program on and off times with its 24-hour timer. This air conditioner measures 14.5 inches high by 24.25 inches wide by 20.375 inches deep and requires 230-volt power.
- BTUs: 12,000
- Area: 550 square feet
- EER: 9.5
- The effective cooling expected from Koldfront plus a powerful 10,600-BTU heater
- Easy-to-read digital display with touch controls, including programmable timer
- Eco-friendly coolant has no bromine or chlorine and will not harm the ozone layer
- This unit requires a 230-volt supply, which complicates installation
- No Energy Star certification
Get the Koldfront WTC12001W through-the-wall air conditioner at Amazon or The Home Depot.
High energy efficiency and features that improve the accuracy of temperature readings make this through-the-wall air conditioner from Keystone a worthy pick for smaller rooms. One downside of window-mounted and wall air conditioners is the challenge they face to evenly cool a room when the thermostat is located near the unit’s output—the coolest place in the room. Keystone solves this issue by enabling you to place the thermostat in areas that are not in close proximity to the air conditioner.
This useful feature plus an Energy Star certification makes it worth the additional cost—this model is more expensive than other 8,000-BTU models. Similar to other through-the-wall air conditioners, this air conditioner has multiple fan speeds and offers useful additional features such as a programmable auto shutoff, a sleep mode, and an energy-saver mode. At 14.5 inches high by 24.2 inches wide by 20.3 inches deep, this through-the-wall air conditioner is average in size. It plugs into a 115-volt outlet.
- BTUs: 8,000
- Area: 350 square feet
- EER: 10.6
- With 3 fan speeds and dehumidification, this model is ideal for smaller rooms
- Multifunction remote control has integrated thermostat for balanced room temperature
- Auto and energy-saver modes allow money-saving management of energy consumption
- A number of owners have reported breakdowns or inconsistent cooling
Get the Keystone through-the-wall air conditioner on Amazon or The Home Depot.
Most through-the-wall air conditioners are great at providing cool air, but when the temperature drops, it’s usually necessary to find a different device for heating. This Whirlpool model provides both functions in a single unit with a cooling capacity of 12,000 BTUs and heating of 10,600 BTUs. This gives it the ability to control room temperature anywhere between 62 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit in spaces of up to 550 square feet.
The Whirlpool through-the-wall air conditioner also offers excellent control. There are three fan speeds for both heating and cooling and eight-way louvers that allow the airflow to be directed where it is most effective. Although it does not have Energy Star certification, it does have a competitive EER of 10.7 and incorporates an eco mode to reduce power consumption. A 24-hour timer is also included. However, the Whirlpool requires a dedicated 230-volt circuit and will not run from a standard household 115-volt supply.
- BTUs: 12,000
- Area: 550 square feet
- EER: 9.7
- Versatile unit that provides cooling or heating from 62 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit
- Great control with 8-way directional louvers plus 3 fan speeds and 4 modes
- Eco and sleep functions reduce energy use and improve personal comfort
- Requires a separate 230-volt supply, which makes installation more complicated
Get the Whirlpool through-the-wall air conditioner at Amazon or The Home Depot.
What to Consider When Choosing a Through-the-Wall Air Conditioner
While selecting the right through-the-wall air conditioner to suit the size of the room is crucial, other factors are also important, including energy efficiency, operating modes, and whether the unit has a heating function. Below, learn more about these and other attributes of through-the-wall air conditioners.
Through-the-wall air conditioners are ideal for rooms that remain warmer than other parts of the home or that aren’t served by a central air conditioner’s ductwork. This could include a garage, a bedroom, or a bonus room.
While it’s possible to mount a wall air conditioner anywhere on an exterior wall, most units are mounted close to the floor so they are less conspicuous and don’t detract from a room’s aesthetics. When choosing a location, make sure there is enough space around the installation location on the exterior side to allow the air conditioner to draw air into the compressor.
Through-the-wall air conditioners are installed into a sleeve that fits into a hole in the wall. In order for the air conditioner to fit properly, the depth of the sleeve should be equal to or greater than the thickness of the wall. Most walls are about 5 to 7 inches thick, depending on the type of siding used on the home. Most air conditioner sleeves fit walls that are 8 inches thick or less.
Matching the size of the air-conditioning unit to the size of the room is crucial to selecting the right model. If the air conditioner is too small, it won’t be able to cool the space to the desired temperature. Purchasing an air conditioner that’s too large is overkill. The air conditioner will be more expensive than a smaller unit and cost more to run.
The best way to determine the right size air-conditioning unit is by matching the square footage in the room to the air conditioner’s energy output, which is measured in BTUs. Most wall air conditioners range in output between 8,000 and 18,000 BTUs. An 8,000-BTU air conditioner can cool up to 350 square feet, while an 18,000-BTU model cools up to 1,000 square feet.
While many through-the-wall air conditioners use a standard 115-volt outlet, some high-output models require a 230-volt connection, which can require special wiring.
The more cooling power an air conditioner produces, the more electricity it uses. An 18,000-BTU air conditioner uses more than twice the amount of electricity of an 8,000-BTU air conditioner. To compare energy efficiency between two wall air conditioners, simply calculate each unit’s energy efficiency ratio by dividing its watts by its BTUs to determine its Energy Efficiency Rating (EER). The higher the EER, the more efficient the air conditioner is. Most through-the-wall air conditioners have an EER rating between 9 and 11. Many manufacturers advertise the EER of their air conditioners.
Air-conditioning units with Energy Star certification must have an EER of at least 12. While Energy Star-certified units tend to cost more up front, they can quickly make up for that difference in energy savings. An Energy Star–certified wall air conditioner uses 15 to 30 percent less electricity than models that don’t have the certification (even with the same BTU output), making them cheaper to run.
Many through-the-wall air conditioners also offer a heat mode through a small built-in heating element. Air conditioners with heater functions that plug into a standard 115-volt outlet, as opposed to a 220-volt outlet, can produce around 5,100 BTUs of heat, which is enough for 144 square feet, while air conditioners that use a 230-volt connection can produce around 10,600 BTUs of heat, which is enough to heat a 500-square-foot space.
Keep in mind that the heating function is meant to supplement a furnace in the wintertime or provide a touch of warmth on a cool day. Through-the-wall air conditioners are not meant to serve as a main source of heat.
Many through-the-wall air conditioners have additional features that purify the air in a room, adjust the airflow, or allow you to customize its operation. A dehumidifier mode uses the air conditioner to reduce the humidity inside a room by running the fan on low mode and intermittently turning on the condenser. A fan-only mode circulates air throughout the room without using the condenser to cool the air, while a sleep mode runs the air conditioner at a quieter noise level while also slowly increasing the temperature through the night to accommodate for the natural decline in body temperature that happens during sleep.
Most wall air conditioners also have programmable 24-hour timers that automatically shut the air conditioner off after a set amount of time. Other features include louvers that allow you to adjust the direction of the air and air filters that clean the air by removing airborne contaminants such as pollen, dust, and mold spores.
Like window air conditioners, through-the-wall air conditioners include a compressor that creates the cool air and an air handler that blows air into the room using a large fan. This dual design tends to be noisier than central air conditioners, which feature a compressor that is outside the home and an air handler that is typically tucked away in an attic, or a ductless air conditioner, which has a compressor that is on the exterior home.
Since the air compressor is in close proximity to the living space, through-the-wall air conditioners are noisier, producing about 50 decibels, which is similar to light traffic or moderate rainfall. Some through-the-wall air conditioners feature quiet operation settings, which can drop the decibel level into the 30s. Keep in mind that when an air conditioner operates in quiet mode, it runs the compressor at a lower level, producing less cold air.
Measuring around 20 inches high by 24 inches wide by 15 inches deep, a through-the-wall air conditioner is a sizable appliance. While these air conditioners are typically installed in an unobtrusive location, such as below a window, they are still a very visible feature in a room. So as not to detract from a room’s aesthetics, most models are white with understated features that include simple adjustable louvers that can direct airflow and a slatted vent that covers the filter and air intake. Some through-the-wall air conditioners include a trim kit that allows you to create a more finished look between the appliance and the wall.
If you’re wondering how wall air conditioners differ from window air conditioners or which model to choose for your home, then read on for answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about these appliances.
Q. Are window and wall air conditioners the same?
No, they are not. Window and wall air conditioners are two distinctly different types of air conditioners. Both types of air conditioners draw air in from the outside and cool it before blowing it into the room, but there are important differences. A window air conditioner fits inside a window of the home, between the sash and sill. It isn’t suitable for all types of windows, and the window needs to be open (though sliding side panels fill any gaps). A through-the-wall air conditioner fits into a hole in an exterior wall so there’s no need to leave a window open.
Q. How do I choose an air conditioner for my wall?
There are a number of considerations when choosing an air conditioner for your wall, and these are discussed in detail in the article above. Room size has a major impact, so this is the starting point. Measure the square footage of the room so you know the size of the air conditioner that will cool that space. Also check your wall thickness and the installation requirements of models that meet your performance requirements. Finally, compare things like power consumption, controls, and any user-friendly features.
Q. How much power does a through-the-wall air conditioner need?
In terms of electricity supply, most through-the-wall air conditioners plug into a standard 115-volt outlet. However, larger models or those that provide heating may require more power, hence a 230-volt connection. This will usually involve running new wires from the breaker box; unless you have the required skills, it’s a good idea to call in a suitably qualified professional.
In terms of power consumption while running, it will depend on the model chosen. One way to judge is to look at the wattage. Higher numbers means more power used. Air conditioners with Energy Star certification need to meet criteria set out by the U.S. government, so these are usually more efficient than nonrated models. Many manufacturers also provide an EER. Higher numbers are better.
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