Best Window Air Conditioners of 2022
The best choices for small, medium and large rooms according to Consumer Reports tests
Test engineer Chris Regan moves a window air conditioner into Consumer Reports’ test chamber.
By Mary HJ Farrell
All of the window air conditioners in Consumer Reports’ latest tests do a pretty good job of keeping you cool. What sets them apart from each other is how quickly and quietly they cool a room and how easy they are to use.
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 over $1,000, with prices increasing as size and capacity (Btu) increase.
To help a window unit operate more efficiently, look for a model equipped with insulated panels. “Most new window air conditioners come with panels that you place over the plastic adjustable side panels to increase efficiency,” says Chris Regan, CR’s senior test engineer for air conditioners. Adding weatherstripping around the perimeter will also prevent air from getting in or out.
It’s also important from an energy perspective to get the right size AC for the space you want to cool. For help, see our guide to How to Size a Window Air Conditioner.
After installing the unit in a double sash window in our test room, we raise the air temperature to 90°F and then measure how long it takes the AC to cool the room by 10°F . less than 15 minutes. We also assess how accurately the AC reaches its set temperature, whether it can recover from a simulated brownout, how intuitive the controls are, and how loud each unit is when running low and high.
Read on for CR’s take on our top three picks for each coin size, based on our latest testing. CR members can view even more choices in our air conditioning ratings. For more information on your options, in addition to central air conditioning, see our air conditioner buying guidewhich also covers portable and ductless air conditioners.
Below are details on nine of the best window air conditioners in our tests.
For small rooms (100 to 250 square feet)
CR’s opinion: The right price Frigidaire FFRE063WAE The window unit cools a small room in record time, scoring very well in our comfort test, in which we measure how quickly and accurately the temperature reaches a set point. It restarts easily in times 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 little noisy when you turn up but less down. According to data from our member survey, Frigidaire window air conditioners score the highest for reliability, but only mediocre for owner satisfaction.
CR’s opinion: The small, elegant Friedrich KCQ06A10A is a strong performer in CR tests, with none of his scores falling below Very Good. It’s the rating it gets for comfort – reaching and maintaining a set temperature – which is a top priority. It’s quiet when running at low altitudes and only a little louder at high altitudes, which you’ll appreciate if it’s in a busy living space. Note that it’s expensive, so if you’re limited by your budget, look for models from other brands with similar ratings.
CR’s opinion: the Frigidaire FHWW063WB1 is no slouch when it comes to refreshing a room. It scores very high for comfort, reaching and maintaining a set temperature with little effort. It bounces around in brownout conditions with no problem, and the controls are a snap to figure out. It runs quite quietly on a low setting, but once you crank it up to high it gets a little loud. So if you plan to install it in a room where you watch TV, look for another model.
For medium-sized rooms (250 to 350 square feet)
Gallery Frigidaire GHWQ083WC1
CR’s opinion: the Gallery Frigidaire GHWQ083WC1 is excellent for cooling an average sized room and scores an excellent comfort rating. It’s quiet on the low setting and just a little louder on the high, but not enough to annoy you. The controls are simple to understand and you can count on them during brownout conditions. In our member survey, Frigidaire scores highest for predicted reliability and average for owner satisfaction.
Midea U-shape MAW08V1QWT
CR’s opinion: With its innovative design, the high-end U-shaped Midea MAW08V1QWT solves one of the consumer issues with window air conditioners that you can’t open the window when it’s 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 power is not running and close it when it is on. Specially designed brackets hold it in place. The Midea is also impressive at cooling a room, scoring very high in our comfort test and running quietly on the high cooling setting and quiet on the low. The controls are easy to adjust and they bounce back in brownout conditions.
CR’s opinion: Once you get past the high price tag, you’ll appreciate the cooling capabilities of the Friedrich KCS08A10A. It’s great for refreshing a room and keeping it that way. And it won’t let you down in low voltage conditions, if that frequently happens where you live. It’s pretty quiet when running at low altitudes but can get a bit noisy at high speeds. The compromise is therefore between comfort and silence.
For large rooms (350 to 550 square feet)
Midea MAW12V1QWT U-shape
CR’s opinion: The big U Midea MAW12V1QWT is bigger and a bit better than its brand mates above. Like the mid-size model, it has the same U-shaped channel between the inner and outer parts of the unit that allows you to open the window when the AC is not running and close it when it is on . Hooks hold it in place. The Midea is impressive at cooling a room, scoring an excellent rating in our comfort test. The controls are easy to adjust and they bounce back in brownout conditions.
Gallery Frigidaire GHWQ103WC1
CR’s opinion: Like its mid-size branded companion above, the Gallery Frigidaire GHWQ103WC1 is a champion at keeping you comfortable in a large room, scoring an excellent mark on this test. You’ll barely hear it running at low temperatures and it’s not much louder at high speeds, so you can easily carry on a conversation while it’s running. The easy-to-use controls won’t confuse you, and if you live in an area with frequent brownouts, you don’t have to worry about losing your AC power.
Gallery Frigidaire GHWQ123WC1
CR’s opinion: Apparently Frigidaire has cracked the code on how to create an AC room that keeps you comfortable. Like its brand comrades, the Gallery Frigidaire GHWQ123WC1 is a cooling ace, scoring an excellent rating in our comfort test. It’s not as quiet as the Frigidaire Gallery GHWQ103WC1, and we found it to be noisier on both low and high settings. It bounces back in brownout conditions and the controls are intuitive in case you don’t want to leaf through the manual.
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