GREENSBORO, N.C. — Window air conditioners aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing appliances, but when the heat is on they’re often the only option if you want to keep cool.
Consumer Reports just tested dozens of air conditioners. While not much has changed in how they’re installed, there’s a newer A/C with a U-shaped design that allows you to open and close your window without the heavy unit falling out. Installation is a little different from a traditional window A/C.
"It still needs a special bracket to be installed first. Once you do that you can slide the A/C into place, and the window closes down into this U-shaped groove. Just note that you might not be able to fit some windows with the screen," said Chris Regan, Consumer Reports.
And now the important question: Can it cool a room? CR testers crank up the air temperature in a special chamber to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, then measure how long it takes a window A/C to cool the room by 10 degrees. Most of the window air conditioners do a pretty decent job.
"The best can do it quickly and quietly. And that’s where two of the U-shaped units from Midea stand out," said Regan.
Earning top scores for cooling and noise in CR’s tests is the Midea U-shaped MAW08V1QWT for medium-sized rooms about 250 to 400 square feet about $360 and for larger spaces, CR recommends the Midea MAW12V1QWT U-shaped uni at $480.
If you only need to cool down a small space—anything under 300 square feet, the LG LW6019ER will get the job done for about $280.
If your space can’t accommodate a window A/C, CR also tests portable air conditioners.
CONSUMER REPORTS TESTS PORTABLE AC UNITS
These typically cost more and don’t perform as well as window units. To help you choose one that’s the right size for your space, take a look at the Btu/hr. provided by the Department of Energy on the box. This is often more realistic than the manufacturer’s Btu/hr. range.