What’s The Best Air Conditioning Unit For Home

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We plan to test several new models in the spring, including the Frigidaire FHPW122AC1 and the Honeywell MN4CFSWW9. We’ve added details to the What to Expect section.

What’s The Best Air Conditioning Unit For Home

What's The Best Air Conditioning Unit For Home

After another round of testing, we still stand by all of our options. We have added several new models to a segment of considerable competition.

The 6 Best Air Conditioners Of 2023

Portable air conditioners are not as mobile as their name suggests, and are one of the noisiest and least efficient ways to cool a room. But if you don’t have central air and a window AC isn’t an option, a portable AC is the next best way to beat the heat — and if that’s the case, we recommend the Midea Duo MAP12S1TBL. Of every dozen other portable ACs we’ve tested since 2016 (and hundreds more we’ve researched), this one is quieter, more powerful, and generally more pleasant to live with.

What's The Best Air Conditioning Unit For Home

The Midea Duo’s two independent hose setup and powerful inverter compressor are great for dialing in precise comfort levels, but are generally quieter and more efficient than other machines.

Most portable ACs are very similar, but the Midea Duo MAP12S1TBL offers better cooling performance than other models while consuming less power and making less noise. Instead of operating at maximum speed or nothing, the Midea inverter compressor operates at constant variable speed, so the unit has more flexibility in how it achieves the desired temperature over a wide range of temperature and humidity conditions. In our tests, it was very effective at distributing cool air, leaving no more than 1 degree temperature difference in the room. Unlike the single-hose portables we usually recommend, the Duo has a unique “hose-in-hose” setup, where the exhaust and intake are split into two separate ducts within a large tube, making it even more efficient. It’s also one of the quietest portable ACs we’ve tested, with volume consistently measured below normal conversation levels. Midea offers all the standard smart home functionality, including support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and the included smartphone app and remote control offer more options for custom control.

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What's The Best Air Conditioning Unit For Home

Btu Split Air Conditioning Unit A++/a+, With Quick Connector

This portable AC dual-rotor variable-speed compressor offers many thoughtful features, including an internal hose for easy installation and a convenient storage pocket.

If the Midea Duo is not available, the LG LP1419IVSM single hose is another good option for a portable AC with an energy efficient inverter compressor. It’s basically the same setup, with an internal hose and a fan at the top that makes the AC breathe white noise and cool air, and has similar smart home features. It’s a bit more expensive than the Midea, and some readers have complained about the noise (although we’ve had no issues with it), but overall it’s still one of the best portable air conditioners you can find.

What's The Best Air Conditioning Unit For Home

The Frigidaire Gallery Cool Connect GHPC132AB1 impressed us with its surprisingly compact performance, not only for its ability to keep cool throughout the room within half a degree. While it doesn’t have the power or efficiency of an inverter model like the Midea or LG, the single-hose Frigidaire was inexplicably able to run quieter in our tests, outselling both portable ACs by about 2x. However, its window mounting kit wasn’t strong enough, and despite offering the same smart home capabilities, we had some issues with how they worked.

Find The Best Portable Air Conditioner For Your Needs

This popular model matches our other picks in terms of cooling performance, but it looks cheap — it has fancy buttons and lacks features like card storage.

What's The Best Air Conditioning Unit For Home

The popular and affordable Black+Decker BPACT14WT offers the best cooling performance of any in its price range. But it’s a little rough around the edges compared to our other picks: its performance is louder, its controls are more cluttered, and it lacks the fine detail we like about some other models. But still, it gets the job done and is a good option if you need a portable AC at a price close to a window AC.

We have been reviewing and testing air conditioning systems in general since 2013 and evaluating portable units specifically since 2016. During this time, we spent more than 125 hours on research and testing in the full field, and we spent dozens of hours focusing on portable devices. Specifically. We considered around 175 different portable models and conducted hands-on tests with over 20 of the best options available. We’ve met manufacturers at trade shows and events, interviewed sources over the years, and reviewed volumes of DOE materials on AC efficiency standards.

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What's The Best Air Conditioning Unit For Home

Best Portable Air Conditioners 2022

Tom Dunn wrote The Wirecutter’s Guide to Window Air Conditioners, Room Fans, Space Heaters, and More. He has published articles for The Huffington Post, Upworthy, Vice, The Weather Channel and other outlets, and in 2019 he was commissioned by Cornell University to create a full-length play about society’s responses to climate change. He is especially good at being cool.

This guide builds on previous work by Wirecutter senior writer Liam McCabe, who has been writing about wirecutter tools since 2013.

What's The Best Air Conditioning Unit For Home

If you don’t have central air conditioning, you should first look into window ACs or ductless mini-splits, which are generally more efficient and (in the case of window units) more affordable. But not every room or every type of window can accommodate a window AC, and installing a mini-split is too expensive or complicated. If you find yourself in one of these situations, a portable air conditioner can make the difference between warm weather and comfort.

The Importance Of Proper Installation Of Air Conditioning Units

You still need to have a window for a portable AC, but there is a place to vent the heat to the outdoors. It bears repeating, because it’s a common misconception about what’s “portable”: all these units need is a window and an electrical outlet within a few feet of where they work.

What's The Best Air Conditioning Unit For Home

Our primary concern in choosing a portable AC is to find a unit with decent cooling performance, low noise, decent efficiency, and other quality-of-life factors we measure when we see our finalists in person.

We used independent ratings to test candidates for cooling performance. The initial measure of seasonally adjusted cooling capacity, or SACC, is a US Department of Energy calculation that represents a weighted average of a portable air conditioner’s performance under several test conditions. The SACC measurement not only measures cooling capacity, but also takes into account how the unit performs on cold or hot, dry days and the effect of heat returning to the room through the unit’s vents. Since 2016, SACC has gradually replaced the lower integrated British Thermal Unit (Btu) rating as the standard measurement of AC power output. Many air conditioners include both numbers—Btu measurements developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) are widely used—so we considered both figures in our selection.

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What's The Best Air Conditioning Unit For Home

Reasons Why Your Ac Is Freezing At Night

In 2020, the Department of Energy finalized new standards for Combined Energy Efficiency Ratio (CEER), a new SACC-based measure that includes additional factors such as standby power consumption in addition to the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) measurement. First, take into account that until AC reaches our minimum SACC threshold of 7,200 Btu per hour, we won’t pay much attention to these specific numbers. Anything less, and the AC is not worth looking at. (When in doubt, look at the Energy Guide label on the box.)

We didn’t have to worry about making the AC bigger for the space. Overcooling the area before dehumidifying is the main danger of using a large AC, and all these units have dehumidification functions that can remove moisture without cooling the area if the room is too cold and muggy. But we’re more concerned with providing recommendations that actually provide enough power. Portable ACs perform poorly and are generally less efficient than window-mounted ones, and we’ve heard of people buying a smaller unit, finding it unsatisfactory, and returning it or replacing it with a larger unit. Our tests have proven this over the years. We’ve seen seemingly efficient models with only a dent in decent-sized cooling chambers. These results helped us go bigger and not focus too much on the claimed square footage requirements. So we set a baseline SACC of 7,200 Btu per hour, which generally corresponds to the old ASHRAE standard of 14,000 Btu.

What's The Best Air Conditioning Unit For Home

With performance requirements met, we gathered 22 finalists and evaluated them individually, looking for the following factors:

The Best Mobile Air Conditioner

From 2019, we started comparing dual and single hose models based on the same criteria and did not reject any model based on their number. However, our research ultimately led us to single-hose portable models – in part because many newer models use this design. In fact, we didn’t find any convincing new models of the two-wheeler from the big company.

What's The Best Air Conditioning Unit For Home

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