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The best window A/C units: Compare easy-to-install models from GE, Friedrich, and more

According to HVAC and home experts, the best window A/C units are easy to install, powerful, and compact.
Written by Lena Borrelli, Contributing Writer on
Reviewed by Christina Darby

There is nothing like the heat when summer is in full force. And without a reliable source of air conditioning, there might be little escape, leaving you to watch those beads of perspiration lazily drop down your face. 

A window A/C unit offers an effective, relatively hassle-free reprieve from the heat -- especially if you have space limitations, renting an apartment or house without a full-blown A/C system, or want college dorm life to feel a little cooler. 

Also: The best home office cooling solutions

ZDNET talked to home and HVAC experts to find the best performing window A/C unit based on the A/C unit's build, cooling range, size, and price. Based on these factors, accompanied by its sleek design and 350 square foot cooling range, the Windmill Air Conditioner is our top pick overall. Read on to see how options from Friedrich, GE, and more compare. 

Best window A/C unit of 2023

Pros & Cons
  • Smart technology
  • Generous coverage area
  • Easy installation
  • Sleek form factor
  • Could be quieter
  • Some compatibility concerns
More Details

Windmill Air Conditioner specs: Room size: Up to 350 square feet | BTU: 8,000 BTU | Voltage: 120 volts  | Dimensions: 19.4 x 19.3 x 13.2 inches

Also one of the best best cheap air conditioners that you can buy, the Windmill's budget-friendly tag coupled with its smart home technology makes for high recommendations from users and HVAC experts. 

With nearly a 20 liter capacity, it has 8000 BTU cooling power and a 6.2 Seasonal Energy Efficient Ratio (SEER). There are three speeds to choose from, so you can always get the right temperature for your home. Simply control the unit via the auto-dimming LED display. It's quiet, too, so you don't have to worry about your window A/C unit competing with conversation. Installation is a breeze because the unit comes already assembled. 

"The Windmill is a remarkable blend of quiet operation and powerful performance, but most importantly, it looks fantastic," says Josh Mitchell, the owner of Air Conditioner Lab, who has extensive A/C window unit testing experience and has personally gone hands-on with the Windmill Air Conditioner. "The versatility of controlling it via the app, its remote, or directly on the A/C unit is another feature I absolutely adore," he says. 

Pros & Cons
  • ENERGY STAR-certified
  • Washable filter
  • Remote control-enabled
  • Lengthy setup
  • Not ideal for larger rooms
More Details

Friedrich Chill Premier Smart Window Air Conditioner specs: Room size: Up to 150 square feet | BTU: 6,000 BTUs | Voltage: 115 volts | Dimensions: 15.62 x 18.62 x 13.38 inches

The Friedrich Chill Premier Smart Wi-Fi Controlled Air Conditioner combines smart technology with energy efficiency to make for an efficient, but quiet operation. It is powered by the sound of your voice, offering integrated Wi-Fi for a seamless experience. Download the app to have even greater control. 

It has a 6000-BTU cooling capacity with a 12 SEER rating, making it suitable for rooms up to 150 square feet in size. Enjoy eight-way airflow control with three individual speeds you can choose from so you can get the temperature just right. You can also choose from cooling or simply fan-only options. 

"This model combines powerful cooling performance with smart functionality and is designed to deliver precise temperature control and enhanced energy efficiency," says Ryan Collier, an HVAC expert and Director of Heat Pump Source. Moreover, its quiet operation ensures a comfortable environment without disturbing noise levels," says Ryan Collier, an HVAC expert and Director of Heat Pump Source

Pros & Cons
  • Easily portable
  • Ideal for smaller spaces
  • Compact
  • Mechanical controls
  • May not be powerful enough to cool larger spaces
More Details

GE Window Air Conditioner specs: Room size: Up to 150 square feet | BTU: 5,100 BTU | Voltage: 115 volts | Dimensions: 15 x 16.44 x 12.56 inches

The GE Window Air Conditioner is the best affordable window A/C unit, offering efficient cooling for spaces up to 150 square feet. Additionally, it promises a simple form factor and straightforward use, just turning the knob to adjust up to ten different temperature settings. 

It comes with a 2.6 seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rating and promises quiet performance at a 56 decibel output. You will have to install the unit, but an EZ Mount installation kit comes included, which based on Amazon reviews, is fairly intuitive and easy to set up. 

"This unit performs precisely as described, offering a solid 5,000 BTU cooling capacity, ideal for small spaces," says Air Conditioner Lab's Josh Mitchell. "I would particularly recommend it if you're looking to cool a small bedroom."

Pros & Cons
  • Multiple colors available
  • Customizable accessories
  • Simple installation
  • Pricey
  • On the louder side
More Details

July Window Air Conditioner specs: Room size: Up to 350 square feet | BTU: 8,000 BTU | Voltage: 115 volts | Dimensions: 17.75 x 19.75 x 14.75 inches  

Compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant to adjust and control temperature combined with a remote control and a variety of panel designs to choose from, the July Window Air Conditioner is small but has endless possibilities for customization. 

"The July Air Conditioner's 8,000 BTU model fared better than other models with comparable BTU ratings, and it was on par with a 15,000 BTU unit in our tests for cooling efficiency," says Joshua Bartlett, founder and owner of DIY site, I'll Just Fix It Myself

"Its powerful cooling ability guarantees that the space will cool down rapidly and efficiently."

It's a capable unit that can cover more space, cooling up to 350 square feet with an 11 seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rating. Even more impressively, it is Wi-Fi-enabled. This means that you can use Alexa and Google Assistant to adjust the temperature and control the unit. A remote control also comes included. To better personalize your unit, choose from a variety of colors.

"Overall," Bartlett says, "the July Air Conditioner is an excellent option for homes looking for the best window A/C unit since it combines outstanding cooling performance, user-friendly design, and various customization options."

Pros & Cons
  • Extremely quiet
  • Smaller footprint
  • Fantastic padding
  • Installation can be tricky
  • No HomeKit support
More Details

Windmill Air Conditioner specs: Room size: Up to 550 square feet | BTU: 12,000 BTU | Voltage: 115 volts | Dimensions: 19.17 x 21.97 x 13.46 inches

The Midea U-Shaped Smart Inverter Window Air Conditioner is the best window A/C unit for smart technology. Both Alexa and Google Assistant are compatible with this unit, and a remote control also comes included.

It has 12,000 BTUs of cooling power, which can cool spaces up to 550 square feet. Given its larger form factor, the unit still manages to remain on the quieter side, reaching only up to 42 decibels. Additionally, Midea claims that you can save up to 35% in energy costs with its 15 seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rating. 

Ryan Collier, an HVAC expert and Director of Heat Pump Source, has tested this window A/C unit extensively. "The innovative design allows for easier installation, better airflow, and reduced noise levels compared to traditional window units," he says. "Additionally, the Midea U-Shaped Smart Inverter Window Air Conditioner boasts excellent energy efficiency and smart functionality, making it a reliable and cost-effective choice."

What is the best window A/C unit?

According to our research, the Windmill Air Conditioner's cooling range, smart tech integration, reasonable price, and expert testing makes it ZDNET's choice for best window A/C unit overall. 

Here's a quick table to see how the Windmill compares in price, BTU (British thermal units), and room size, to other best window A/C units on this list. 

Best window A/C unit



Room size

Windmill Air Conditioner


8,000 BTU 

Up to 350 square feet 

Friedrich Chill Premier Smart Window Air Conditioner


6,000 BTU

Up to 150 square feet

GE Window Air Conditioner


5,100 BTU

Up to 150 square feet

July Window Air Conditioner


8,000 BTU

Up to 350 square feet

Midea U-Shaped Smart Inverter Window Air Conditioner


12,000 BTU

Up to 550 square feet 

Which is the best window A/C unit for you?

Even if you are familiar with window A/C units, it can still be confusing when trying to determine which one is best for your home. These suggestions may help.

Choose this best window A/C unit...

If you want...

Windmill Air Conditioner

The best window A/C unit overall. This is an eco-friendly model that is both voice-enabled and app-controlled for extreme convenience.

Friedrich Chill Premier Smart Window Air Conditioner

The best window A/C unit with Wi-Fi. This high-end window air conditioner is a premium model with built-in smart technology. 

GE Window Air Conditioner

A budget-friendly window air conditioner. This affordable A/C unit is great for smaller rooms or spaces that are 150 square feet and under. 

July Window Air Conditioner

A customizable window air conditioner. This unit is a stylish pick that comes in your choice of color. 

Midea U-Shaped Smart Inverter Window Air Conditioner

Smart technology with your window air conditioner. This quiet A/C window unit comes with smart controls via the companion app.

How did I choose these best window A/C units?

There are several factors I kept in mind during my search that may also help you with yours.

  • Cooling power: The cooling power of a window A/C unit is measured in British Thermal Units, or BTUs. When determining the best window A/C unit for your home, it's helpful to use this rule of thumb: the higher the BTUs, the larger the room it can cool. To see what kind of cooling power you need for your home, see below. 

  • Energy efficiency: The seasonal energy efficient Ratio (SEER) rating of a window A/C unit will tell you how energy-efficient each window A/C unit is. Most units are Energy Star-certified, which means that electric bill will cost less each month. Before you buy, check the SEER rating and look for the Energy Star logo on your chosen device.

  • Installation: Some window A/C units come already assembled and ready to go, while others on our list may require minimal assembly. Be sure to review the installation instructions for your window A/C unit to be sure that you are prepared for any installation that may be required.  

  • Noise: The sound of your window A/C unit is a major consideration, so you are not plagued by disruptive noises when you are trying to rest. "Nearly all consumers want a quiet and efficient air conditioner for their home," says Michael Brief, Director of Retail Sales and Spokesperson for Friedrich Air Conditioning. "Today's technology offers inverter compressors and fan motors that provide variable speed performance for smoother starts and stops -- so no loud bang when the unit kicks on." 

What is a BTU on a window air conditioner?

British Thermal Units, or BTUs, measure the cooling capacity of a window A/C unit. It lets you know how powerful the unit is. By looking at a unit's BTU, you can determine the appropriate room size for your window A/C unit.  

How long does a window A/C unit last?

 "Manufacturers often state that the average lifespan of a window air conditioner is usually around 10 to 15 years, but this can vary based on factors like usage, maintenance, and overall build quality," says Air Conditioner Lab's Josh Mitchell. "In my experience, 5-10 years is a more realistic expectation when it comes to window A/C lifespan. Regular cleaning and maintenance can help extend the life of your unit."

How many BTUs do I need for my window A/C unit?

You will find that many window A/C units range from 4,000 to 12,000. This handy chart can help you find the right-sized window air conditioner for your home.

Room size


150-350 square feet

5,000 to 8,000 BTU

350-550 square feet

8,000 to 12,000 BTU

550 to 1,050 square feet

12,000 to 18,500 BTU

1,050 to 1,600 square feet

18,500 to 25,000 BTU

Are there alternative best window A/C units worth considering?

If you are looking for some more options, these are the best window air conditioners that almost made our list.

Frigidaire 5,000 BTU 115-Volt Window Air Conditioner

Best window A/C unit alternative for 150 square foot rooms

Frigidaire 5,000 BTU 115-Volt Window Air Conditioner - Best window air conditioner for small rooms

The Frigidaire 5,000 BTU 115-Volt Window Air Conditioner comes equipped with easy temperature control and user-friendly maintenance for rooms up to 150 square feet in size.

View at Amazon
Koldfront WAC12001W Window Air Conditioner

Best premium window A/C unit alternative

Koldfront WAC12001W Window Air Conditioner - Best premium window air conditioner

This window air conditioner does not only come equipped with energy-efficient cooling but there is built-in heating, too. Use the remote for temperature control in those smaller rooms of your house.

View at Amazon
LG 12,000 BTU Window Air Conditioner with Heat

Best window A/C unit alternative with a heat option

LG 12,000 BTU Window Air Conditioner with Heat - Best window air conditioner with heat

This best window air conditioner comes with heat for your home and electronic controls for greater energy efficiency in your home.

View at Amazon
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