You might not realize it if you live in a hot climate where central air is common, but room air conditioners are the most popular type of cooling system in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Room air conditioners (aka window air conditioners) are great if you’re really frugal. It’s possible to skip the central air altogether and only run a window air conditioner if you’re concerned with keeping your energy bill low.
Consumer Reports likes these window air conditioners
With that in mind, Consumer Reports recently took a look at the best air conditioners for your money.
5,000 to 6,500 BTU/hr. (Cools rooms of 100-300 sq. ft.)
General Electric has two ‘best buys’ here, according to the consumer magazine — the GE AHM05LW and GE AEW06LX.
Both of them sell for less than $200.
This model gets excellent marks on comfort and brownout.
The latter metric is a measure of the unit’s ability to run and restart during periods of extreme heat and low voltage.
This model scores only nominally lower on the Consumer Reports tally than the prior GE model. Yet it’s $30 cheaper and only available through Walmart.
That’s it for ‘best buys’ in the 5,000 to 6,500 BTU/hr. category.
Meanwhile, ‘recommended buys’ that the folks at Consumer Reports like include the following air conditioners:
If you’re willing to spend a bit more than the GEs would run you, this is one of the highest rated models of all. It gets excellent marks on both comfort and brownout.
This model gets an excellent mark on brownout, but only average marks on noise level when running on high and overall ease of use.
7,000 to 8,500 BTU/hr. (Cools rooms of 250-400 sq. ft.)
GE rules the roost again with the only two ‘best buys’ in this category.
Excellent marks on comfort and brownout make this model that’s only available at Lowe’s a winner.
Again, we have excellent performance on both comfort and brownout.
But watch out for indoor noise when running on high and low; it’s only rated fair on both of those metrics.
Now on to the ‘recommended buys’ for the 7,000 to 8,500 BTU/hr. category…
Like the other Kenmore on this list, this model gets an excellent mark on brownout. But this particular model is likely to be noisier than most; it gets average marks when running on both high and low.
Other ‘recommended buys’ include the following:
- Danby DAC080BEUWDB at Costco ($175)
- GE AEZ08LV ($210)
- GE AEW08LX at Walmart ($200)
- Kenmore Elite 77087 ($390)
- Friedrich Kuhl SQO8N10D1 ($710)
9,800 to 12,500 BTU/hr. (Cools rooms of 350-650 sq. ft.)
Here’s the only category where GE doesn’t win the top spot!
That ‘best buy’ honor goes to…
This LG model received the highest score of any air conditioner of any size on the tally. It offers excellent performance on comfort and brownout; very good performance on indoor noise low; and average performance on indoor noise high and ease of use.
But being the only ‘best buy’ is lonely. So here’s a look at the ‘recommended buys’ in the 9,800 to 12,500 BTU/hr. category:
For just a few bucks less than the best-in-class LG LW1216ER1, you can get this Haier that offers excellent performance on comfort and brownout, along with good performance on indoor noise low and ease of use.
But watch out for indoor noise when running on high; it only got a rating of fair on that metric.
Meanwhile, other ‘recommended buys’ i n this category include the following:
- LG LW1217ERSM ($380)
- SPT WA-12FMS1 ($365)
- Frigidaire Gallery FGRC1244T1 ($470)