U-shaped air conditioners are becoming more and more popular these days. That’s for good reason, as these units are effective, efficient, and, best of all, quiet. Rather than the rectangular shape of a standard window air conditioner, with all components living together inside the same box, U-shaped air conditioners split their components into two separate boxes joined by a narrow bridge. This gives the unit a U-shaped appearance and keeps the noisy bits outside.
But with more U-shaped air conditioners hitting the shelves, it can be hard to find the right one. To help, we compiled the following list of the best U-shaped air conditioners available. It highlights some of the top models and explains everything it takes to choose the best air conditioning unit.
- BEST OVERALL: Midea 8,000 BTU U-Shaped Air Conditioner
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Midea 12,000 BTU U-Shaped Air Conditioner
- UPGRADE PICK: Soleus Air 8,000 BTU With Wi-Fi Air Conditioner
- ALSO CONSIDER: GE Profile ClearView 8,300 BTU Smart Air Conditioner
How We Chose the Best U-Shaped Air Conditioners
An air conditioner isn’t a small investment, regardless of its shape. For that reason, we wanted to ensure we suggested only the best U-shaped models to help our readers make smart decisions. And since we’ve been performing extensive hands-on testing with air conditioners recently, we knew just what to look for. We prioritized output and noise level to pick out some of the top models on the market.
Once we knew which models to check out, we began extensive product research to determine which were the best. After comparing outputs and noise levels, we looked at the air conditioners’ price points, extra features, and more. We made sure that each model we selected provided excellent value, and those that didn’t pass our tests were removed from the list. Those that did pass were given awards based on their strengths.
Our Top Picks
Trying to find the best U-shaped air conditioner can make you want to lose your cool. The following list of the top models can help.
Folks wanting a good-looking, quiet, and efficient U-shaped air conditioner will want to consider this model from Midea. It features an 8,000 British thermal unit (BTU) output that allows it to cool rooms up to 350 square feet in size. It has inverter technology that regulates output and offers energy savings of up to 35 percent compared to standard models. These savings are partly thanks to its sleep, energy saver, and automatic shut-off functions. It also has a dehumidifier mode to keep your home from feeling sticky.
The Midea features a true U-shaped design with the compressor and inverter outside and the fan, filter, and controls inside. This allows the unit to cool at noise levels as low as 42 decibels. It also lets you open your window to get some fresh air on nicer days.
The included installation kit comes with the brackets and foam required to properly install the Midea. Installation can be a bit tricky due to the size of the unit, but once in place, the bracket is very secure. The unit has a remote control with a built-in digital display. Folks who prefer smart tech will appreciate that this air conditioner works with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, or the Midea Air app.
- Type: True U-shape
- Output: 8,000 BTUs
- Extra features: Digital-display remote control, compatible with smart devices
- True U-shaped design allows the unit to operate at noise levels as low as 42 decibels
- Compatible with the Midea Air app, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa
- Has multiple modes such as sleep, energy saver, automatic shutoff, and dehumidifier
- Installation can be a bit tricky due to the size and heft of this model
Get the Midea 8,000 BTU U-shaped air conditioner at Amazon, Lowe’s, The Home Depot, or Walmart.
Per BTU, the Midea 12,000 BTU U-shaped air conditioner offers quite the deal. Priced slightly higher than some of Midea’s smaller units, this air conditioner produces up to 12,000 BTUs of cold air, allowing it to cool rooms up to 550 square feet. And since it benefits from the same true U-shaped design as other Midea models, it keeps all of the noisy parts outside while maintaining a noise level as low as 42 decibels inside. It also features inverter technology to regulate output and energy draw, potentially reducing energy consumption by up to 35 percent over traditional air conditioners.
While it’s one of the more affordable U-shaped air conditioners, it doesn’t skimp on features. This model has several modes: sleep, auto-off, energy saver, and dehumidifier. It comes with all of the installation brackets and foam required to install it (which can be tough for one person but is certainly manageable for two). While it comes with a digital remote control, you can also install the Midea Air app and control it via your smart device. This model is also compatible with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.
- Type: True U-shape
- Output: 12,000 BTUs
- Extra features: Digital-display remote control, compatible with smart devices
- Affordable price point allows this model to cool large spaces for less
- Up to 35 percent more efficient than a traditional air conditioner, allowing you to save money each month
- Plenty of features, including a digital remote and several operation modes
- It can be a handful to install for just 1 person
Get the Midea 12,000 BTU U-shaped air conditioner at Amazon, Lowe’s, The Home Depot, or Walmart.
If preserving as much window space as possible is a priority, check out Soleus Air’s 8,000 BTU air conditioner. This model features an over-the-sill design that allows you to install it without blocking light coming through the window. For folks whose rooms are already limited on light, this feature alone could be worth the higher price point.
And while maintaining light might be the key differentiator, plenty of other features make this model from Soleus Air desirable. This AC unit installs over the sill, meaning it doesn’t require complicated brackets to hold it in place. You just pop it over the windowsill and adjust the legs on the outside of the unit until it fits properly. This keeps the noisy stuff outside while also making it safe and easy to install. Inside, the unit provides a small shelf area on top as well as an unobstructed view. The downside of this model is that it requires you to drain accumulated condensation, which is done via a plug on the side of the unit.
Other upgrade-worthy features include a digital remote with a MyTemp sensor and several running modes. When set to MyTemp, the air conditioner uses the remote as a thermostat for the room, continuing to cool until the temp around the remote reaches the desired setting. This unit is also compatible with Android and iOS devices via the Soleus Home Comfort app.
- Type: Over the sill
- Output: 8,000 BTUs
- Extra features: MyTemp remote control, compatible with smart devices
- Features an easy installation process that doesn’t require any complicated brackets
- MyTemp remote functions as a thermostat, so the air conditioner adjusts the temp to the remote’s reading
- Over-the-sill design doesn’t block the natural light coming from the window
- Users have to drain the condensation from the inside of the unit
Get the Soleus Air U-shaped air conditioner at Amazon or Zoro.
With adjustability to fit virtually any window, the GE Profile ClearView is worth considering. This over-the-sill model features an expandable chaseway that adapts from 4.5 inches to 13.75 inches wide, allowing it to fit over a range of wall thicknesses. And since it doesn’t have any complicated brackets to install, it’s easier to get up and running than some other U-shaped models. It also doesn’t block the natural light from the window when installed.
This unit from GE has some other desirable features as well. It has an 8,300 BTU output suitable for rooms up to 350 square feet and produces sound as low as 41 decibels. It’s Wi-Fi enabled, allowing you to control it via the GE SmartHQ app, and it’s also compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. Additionally, it has four modes, including cool, fan, dehumidify, auto, and eco, and comes with a remote. One thing to note is that it does have to be emptied from the inside of the unit, as condensation will build up while cooling or dehumidifying.
- Type: Over the sill
- Output: 8,300 BTUs
- Extra features: Remote control, compatible with smart devices
- Chaseway adjusts to allow the unit to fit a wide range of wall thicknesses
- Cools rooms up to 350 square feet while producing just 41 decibels of sound
- Compatible with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, or the GE SmartHQ app
- Condensation has to be drained from inside as it will build up from cooling and dehumidifying
Get the GE Profile U-shaped air conditioner at Amazon, Lowe’s, The Home Depot, Wayfair, Walmart, Best Buy, or GE.
What to Consider When Choosing a U-Shaped Air Conditioner
There’s more to consider when choosing the right U-shaped air conditioner than just stuffing any old model in the window. The following sections will guide you through the most important aspects to keep in mind when shopping for one of these models. Be sure to consider each section to make the best possible choice.
There are essentially two types of U-shaped air conditioners: true U-shaped models and over-the-sill models. True U-shaped models resemble the letter U from the side, with the valley of the unit between the inside and the outside sections. These models are flat on the bottom and usually sit on a bracket. Over-the-sill models are inverted versions of that, resembling an upside-down U shape. They install over the windowsill, with the inside and outside sections hanging on either side.
Both model types are efficient and quiet. However, true U-shaped models are a bit more difficult to install, though they don’t require you to manually drain any condensation. Over-the-sill models don’t block any natural light and usually don’t require brackets, making them easy to install. However, they build up condensation on the inside that users have to drain.
Size and Cooling Capacity
Generally speaking, U-shaped air conditioners are fairly “small” in terms of output. There aren’t any 24,000 BTU models on the market yet, and that’s because these models would have to be so large and cumbersome that they’d be too difficult to install. However, there are a few options on the smaller end, delivering around 6,000 BTUs to 12,000 BTUs of cooling power.
The 6,000-BTU models can generally cool smaller rooms, such as offices and small bedrooms. Standard 8,000-BTU ACs are sufficient for large bedrooms, living rooms, and spaces around 350 square feet. A 10,000-BTU unit might be suitable for 400 to 450 square feet, while a larger 12,000-BTU air conditioner would work for up to 500 square feet. It’s important to pair the right size AC unit with a compatible room to ensure it can run as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Just like traditional air conditioners, U-shaped air conditioners have different settings or modes. These modes adjust how the air conditioner operates and impacts the air within the room, and settings often include cool, fan, dehumidify, and auto.
- Cool mode allows you to set the air conditioner to a specific temperature, and the air conditioner will keep running until it reaches that temperature. Once it does, the compressor inside the unit shuts off while the fan continues to run, keeping air moving and making the room feel cooler.
- Fan mode operates the fans regardless of room temperature. Most U-shaped models have three fan speeds that you can choose from to modify airflow.
- Dehumidify (or dry) mode removes moisture from the air, which helps the air feel less sticky and keeps you more comfortable.
- Auto mode helps regulate room comfort by adjusting fan speed to maintain a desired temperature.
Other modes might include sleep and eco, among others. You can control the different modes from the unit’s control panel, remote, app, or voice-control interface.
One of the benefits of U-shaped air conditioners is their energy efficiency. Rather than being a poorly insulated box placed in an open window, these models allow the window to close on a small chaseway that helps prevent cold air from escaping. More cold air stays in as a result, reducing how often the unit has to run.
Another improvement in air conditioners, whether U-shaped or traditional, is inverter technology. Essentially, inverter technology allows the air conditioner to regulate how hard it’s working. It can set itself to a lower energy-consumption mode than other models always operating at full bore.
What type of efficiency does this add up to? Some models claim to be 35 percent more efficient than traditional air conditioners. However, more independent testing is probably necessary to determine just how much more efficient U-shaped models are.
The Advantages of Owning a U-Shaped Air Conditioner
U-shaped air conditioners are considerably quieter than traditional window units. These models put the noisy mechanicals on the outside of the house and allow the window to close almost all the way, preventing noise transfer.
Blocking less natural light is another advantage of U-shaped air conditioners. These models, particularly the over-the-sill versions, don’t take up nearly as much window space. Even the true U-shaped models allow natural light on either side of the air conditioner, whereas traditional units block all the light below the window sash.
Finally, as the latest and greatest in window air-conditioning technology, U-shaped air conditioners are generally packed with features. Wi-Fi, smart apps, advanced remotes, and inverters allow you to tailor your air conditioner to better fit your needs.
- U-shaped air conditioners are quieter than traditional air conditioners.
- They don’t block as much natural light as traditional air conditioners.
- U-shaped air conditioners are generally packed with plenty of features and smart tech.
Tips for Installing a U-Shaped Air Conditioner
Read the installation instructions carefully before installing a U-shaped air conditioner. These models install very differently than a traditional air conditioner, and you should understand how they work before trying to install one into a window opening. Some models feature brackets and foam panels that need to be installed properly, which many standard window units do not.
Unless specifically designed to be a portable air conditioner, air conditioners are heavy and awkward, so it’s almost always better to have a helper. Two people can easily support and place a U-shaped air conditioner into an opening, while one person might struggle and cause damage to the air conditioner or window.
If the unit comes with a bracket, it’s important to ensure it is installed according to the directions (if it’s supposed to be level, it better be level!). This ensures condensation doesn’t leak back into the room and drip down the wall. It also ensures that the air conditioner is harder to remove from the outside, minimizing safety concerns.
- Read the installation instructions carefully before installing a U-shaped air conditioner.
- U-shaped air conditioners are heavy and awkward, and they’re much easier for two people to install than just one.
- Make sure the support bracket is installed properly to make the air conditioner safe and prevent condensation from dripping into the home.
Even with all that background information on the best U-shaped air conditioners, there may be some additional questions that need answering. The following are some of the most commonly asked questions on the topic.
Q. What makes new AC units more efficient?
Many of the newest air conditioners feature inverter technology that allows the air conditioner to regulate how hard it works and how much energy it uses. U-shaped models better separate outside conditions from inside conditions, potentially requiring the air conditioner to run less often.
Q. Which AC brand is best for a window AC unit?
Some of the best AC brands for traditional window units include LG, GE, and Kenmore. However, Midea is becoming increasingly popular, and the Bob Vila team has had good luck with the brand’s products.
Q. Are U-shaped AC units better?
U-shaped air conditioners are better at some things. For example, they’re better at running quietly and maintaining window functionality. They can also be more efficient thanks to their technology and design.
Q. Should an AC unit be tilted?
Air conditioners should always be installed according to the manufacturer’s directions. In some cases, this means the unit should be slightly tilted to allow condensation to drip from the air conditioner outside rather than dribbling back in.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.
Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.