5 Coolest Air Conditioners of 2024 for Every Cooling Purpose: Tested and Reviewed

Nelly’s “Hot In Here” is a classic, and while it’s a bop on the Peloton, it’s a drag when your air conditioning breaks down. The best air conditioners will bust the hot air and keep the airflow flowing with optimal cooling power—and without eating too much into your monthly utilities, breaking your back during installation, or being an absolute eye-sore. Air conditioners have come a long way over the past few years: They’re sleeker, more powerful, more energy efficient, easier to snag on Amazon, and just straight-up cooler than that old clunker you’ve been lugging around from rental to rental. The newest window AC units are so effective, in fact, that you won’t have to make best friends with your HVAC representative anytime soon. Invest in one of the best window air conditioners and you’ll be set for the next decade or so, no problem.

“An air conditioner works by drawing heat and humidity out of the indoor air and returning cooled air into a space while also transferring the heat outside,” explains Cassandra Teverbaugh, global product manager at Dometic, a company specializing in state-of-the-art outdoor coolers. When looking for the right window air conditioner for them, she says that, “customers should consider the type of unit, size of the unit, energy consumption, noise, their budget, warranty, and installation.” Plus, you can now shop for smart window air conditioners that have smart features like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, voice control, a U-shaped design, and sleep mode that makes staying cool a breeze.

In our hunt for the best air conditioners, we found that folks are pretty specific when it comes to what they’re looking for, like affordability, easy installation, looks, and even portability (and, of course, overall cooling abilities). Our favorite models suit the widest range of situations for any square footage (small rooms to large rooms alike should watch out), for those looking for design qualities or those looking for the quietest option on the market. Sure, you can run down to Walmart or the Home Depot to snag whatever’s piled up in front, but if you want to save your heat funds for something more fun, we suggest you start shopping here, and you’ll save in the long run. Keep scrolling for five of our top picks to keep you cool no matter how high that mercury soars.

The Best Air Conditioners, According to GQ

You want a great air conditioner that will chill you out and keep you cool. Skip all the scrolling and get straight to our picks for the best ACs for anyone, from green warriors to portable AC lovers.

The Best Air Conditioner, Overall: Midea U-Shped Unit, $349


MAW08U1QWT Air Conditioner

For any AC unit to be considered the best, it must be super efficient, have an optimal energy efficiency ratio, be relatively powerful, quiet and not, well, ugly. This Midea model ticks the boxes, with its exceptionally quiet performance (one of the most hush-worthy around, in fact) clocking in at about 42 decibels or around the noise level in a quiet library. The design itself is pretty considered, with the majority of the unit outside and a U-shaped body deflecting the compressor noise. It’s energy-efficient, and while it comes with a typical remote, you can also control it using a companion app and Wi-fi (if your phone isn’t already awash in those).

The Best Budget Air Conditioner: Frigidaire FFRA051WAE, $179


FFRA051WAE Window-Mounted Room Air Conditioner

You need to get cool, and you need to now, but maybe just not as a major investment. Say hello to this basic but necessary air conditioner that maintains room temps and your budget—and is surprisingly quiet to boot. This Frigidaire model is small and relatively light, making it easy to install with adjustable side panels that extend to fit most windows. The extra-long three-prong cord acts as its own extension cord, and the filters are easy to clean. While this model doesn’t come with the bells and whistles of pricier units, it does work well and cools fast. The mechanical operating system uses color-coded dials to shift things from pretty chill to downright chilly seamlessly. If you’re looking for a fresh machine that performs well, get ready to rumble.

The Best Looking Air Conditioner: Windmill, $379

Summer has hit, and your trusty AC unit is malfunctioning. You’ve tried to rest, and it’s time to try the best-looking one. This sleek Windmill air conditioner is modern and smart, perfect for vibing with the careful aesthetic you’ve curated for your home. It’s fairly quiet, even on higher settings, and can cool a decently sized room quickly and with ease. Bonuses like an activated carbon insert antimicrobial and an included air filter help keep any room fresh and cool. It has smart home connectivity, is Wi-fi enabled, and has an auto-dim feature that can be used as a fan for those days when it’s warm but not too hot. And, of course, it’s Energy Star certified to help ease your monthly electric bill.

The Best Portable Air Conditioner: Whynter ARC-147WF, $638


ARC-147WF Portable Air Conditioner

Does this solid yet portable air conditioner from Whynter cost a little bit more? Sure, but it can also be used as a dehumidifier because sometimes the worst thing about the summer is the muggy air. Plus, an activated carbon filter helps remove odors and particulates like an air purifier. The setup is a breeze and comes with a handy remote control and a protective cover. To make it even easier to maintain, there’s an automatic draining setting and a washable pre-filter for easy maintenance. This unit efficiently cools rooms up to 500 square feet and frees the air of most musty smells.

The Best Air Conditioner for Small Rooms: LG LW5023, $179


LW5023 Window Air Conditioner

Multiple fan speeds, a slide-out filter, and a dehumidifier functionality make this small unit a well-thought-out purchase. You do need a window to install it, but the Energy Saver certification and eco-friendly R32 refrigerant are effective at keeping things pretty chill without costing you too much. The unit has two fans and multiple cooling models to customize the chill factor in rooms up to 150 square feet. It’s surprisingly quiet, and adjusting the temperature settings is a breeze. Just make sure to wash your filter once a month to keep things running smoothly.

What to Look For in an Air Conditioner

1. Unit Type and Size

Air conditioners come in many shapes and sizes, not counting central air systems. There are three main types of personal air conditioners: window units, through-wall units, and portable units. Teverbaugh advises that “when making a choice, the customer should think about how the air conditioner will be used, where it will be installed, and the cost. If they want to be able to have the flexibility to be mobile, a portable unit would be a good fit. If the customer is looking to cool a specific room and wants more energy efficiency, a window unit would be a good fit.”

Standard window units have accordion attachments that adjust to window width. Portable units have an exhaust attachment, which requires a ventilation area. They can also be more expensive and take up more floor space but the flexibility that comes with being able to change locations makes it a better choice for some people. Through-wall units are installed into a sleeve built into the wall, and are commonly made to fit one particular size of air conditioner, so make extra sure that your measurements are correct.

2. BTUs

While size actually does matter, it’s not always the most important factor when it comes to cooling things down. The perfect AC unit for any room has the correct amount of BTUs, or British thermal units per hour, for your space. BTUs reflect the measurement of the cooling capacity of an air conditioner, which means that the higher the BTU, the better the performance. “If a customer wants to cool a single room, anywhere from 100 square feet to 300 square feet, a window unit or a portable, freestanding air conditioner would be appropriate. If [you’re trying to cool] an entire house, around 1,200 square feet, a mini-split or central system should be considered with around 24,000 BTUs,” Teverbaugh recommends.

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