The Best Air Conditioners of 2020

Setting up your space with air conditioning is essential if you live in a climate where it is hot and humid for all or part of the year. There are a few different types of ACs you can set up in your space, from movable units, like a portable AC, to more permanent options, like central air conditioning or an in-wall unit.

Each type of unit comes with trade-offs in terms of power, energy efficiency, and cost, so determining the right one for you is requires thinking about the size of your space, whether your home is or can be set up for a permanent solution, and your cooling needs.

Here, the best air conditioners for all your cooling needs.

With its sleek looks, nearly-instant cooling powers, and affordable cost, you can’t go wrong with an LG Electronics air conditioner of any size. At 12,000 BTUs, this one can readily cool rooms up to 550 square feet. This Energy Star Certified Unit has three fan speeds and controls and four way air deflection. It comes with a remote, plus you can also pair it with Amazon Alexa or an Apple Smart Home Kit to use it with voice control or your phone. Even on the highest setting, it’s super quiet, only 52 decibels, which is lower than an average conversation. It’s also a powerful dehumidifier, removing 3.3 pints of water out of the air each hour.


Window air conditioners are a great solution for renters who want to be able to take their AC with them when they move. This 8,000 BTU unit will quickly cool a room down at a price that won’t break the bank. One of the biggest complaints about window units is that they blow air in only one direction; the Frigidaire has a clever solution in its eight-way comfort control design. Other pluses are its built in clean air ionizer that catches pollen and dehumidifier that removes 1.7 pints of water from the air per hour. This pick comes with an installation kit, though you may need to attach a support bracket outside of your window to support its 52 pounds.


This Toshiba unit cools down smaller rooms of up to 150 feet quickly and without jacking up your electric bill. The trade off is you won’t get as many of the bells and whistles—it has two cooling speeds instead of the usual three and doesn’t come with a remote control, so you have to change the settings on the unit itself. If you’re willing to let those go, you’ll be satisfied with this purchase, especially its sleek, modern design that’s not quite as much an eyesore as other window units. At 41.7 pounds, it weighs less than similar models, which makes installing it with the included kit a breeze.





How do air conditioners work?

All types of air conditioners work in pretty much the same way. First, they extract air and filter out any dust or impurities. That air is then passed over the cooling or evaporating coil, and the coil absorbs the heat. At the same time, during this step, moisture from the air is reduced to dew on the surface of the coil, effectively decreasing the humidity level in the room. Finally, the air is pushed back out of the device, lowering the room’s overall temperature.

What types of air conditioners are there?

There are several different types of air conditioners. Window units tend to be the most popular because they’re affordable and easy to install, though some homes and apartments with unusually shaped windows may not accommodate them. Portable units are a great pick because they can be moved from room to room, but they also require more maintenance and aren’t as efficient. Built-in or split systems offer a more permanent solution but require professional installation and can be costly.

How do you clean a window air conditioner?

Check the filter of your window air conditioner each month, and clean it as needed. Also, take a look at the water pan inside the unit, and wipe it with a rag or sponge—this will help ensure proper drainage of the condensate created by the unit. It also helps prevent mold growth.

How do you install a window air conditioner?

If you have basic DIY skills and some tools you most likely can install a window air conditioner yourself—although, because some units are very heavy and cumbersome, you might want to enlist a friend to help you. For those who aren’t confident about installing an air conditioner themselves, you can ask the retailer when you’re purchasing a new one, or try a service like HomeAdvisor.

How much does an air conditioner cost?

The cost of an air conditioner varies by type and functionality—you can spend anywhere from $100 to several thousand dollars. Window models start at around $100 but can cost upward of $1,000 if you need one with advanced features and a high BTU capacity. Portable air conditioners tend to be slightly more expensive, typically costing between $200 and $500. Wall air conditioners generally cost $400 or more, and mini-split options start at around $800—plus the cost of installation. Central air systems are often desirable because they can be used for heating, as well, but you’ll likely pay several thousand dollars for the system and installation.

What are BTUs and why do they matter?

The amount of heat an air conditioner can remove from a room is measured in BTUs, or British Thermal Units—larger rooms require a unit with a higher BTU. Energy Star recommends units around 6,000 BTU for rooms up to 250 square feet; 8,000 BTU units up to 350 square feet; 10,000 BTU units up to 450 square feet; and 12,000 BTU units up to 550 square feet.


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