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Best Air Conditioner for Large Rooms

By: Carl Laron on June 02, 2017

Large spaces and kitchens require a more powerful air conditioner

If you are trying to cool a kitchen of any size, an area that receives full sun, or a room that's larger than 300 square feet (which is about 15 feet by 20 feet), you need the power of a large in-wall or window air conditioner. That means a minimum rating of 9,000 BTU, a beefy compressor that blasts a sufficient amount of icy air and a fan that can circulate it through the entire space. Be careful stepping up too much, however, a unit more powerful than 12,000 BTU will require a 230-volt outlet, which means you'll probably need to call an electrician.

Among air conditioners in this size category, we found the best feedback for the LG LW1216ER (Est. $350). This Energy-Star qualified, 12,000 BTU unit is about as powerful an air conditioner as you can find that will run on 115V AC and not require a dedicated 220-volt line, and it can handle a room of up to 550 square feet. The small remote control lacks a display, but is otherwise full-featured and lets you control all functions, including temperature settings, from across the room.

The LG LW1216ER is the highest scoring air conditioner in its capacity category at ConsumerReports.org, and is named a Best Buy. It earns the highest rating for comfort, and outscores all other similar air conditioners on noise, with ratings of Very Good at low speed, and Good at high speed. In a free article, ConsumerReports.org's Mary H.J. Farrell notes that this unit has "top-notch" cooling, is "feature filled," and has a slide-out chassis for easier installation -- a pretty important plus if you consider the hazards of otherwise wrangling an 81 pound air-conditioner like this one into a window.

At TheSweethome.com, Liam McCabe the LG LW1216ER for a larger room after testing its smaller sibling, the 8,000 BTU LG LW8016ER (Est. $240). McCabe particularly liked the smaller LG for the timbre, though not necessarily the volume, of the noise it generates. That finding wasn't echoed by other authorities, nor by all users, but here at least, feedback indicates that the noise acceptance is better than with most competing large-capacity air conditioners.

Beyond the Energy Star rating (the LG LW1216ER has a CEER of 12.0), the feature line up is about typical of what you'll see in this price class. There's a remote control, a 24 hour on/off timer, three fan speeds, four-way louvers, a slide out filter, and more. User feedback isn't overly abundant, but what's there is reasonably positive. The biggest accumulation is at HomeDepot.com and includes reviews originally posted at the site as well as feedback left at the manufacturer's web site. Overall, there are nearly 45 reviews, and a composite score of 4.3 stars. Roughly 93 percent of owners offer the LG air conditioner a recommendation -- and that's better than we see for many competing units.

If you prefer something with a few more bells and whistles, and can get by with a little less cooling power, the 10,000 BTU Frigidaire FFRE1033S1 (Est. $320) is a good alternative. It is Energy Star qualified, can cool rooms of up to 450 feet, has impressive features, and largely gets good reviews from users and experts. Features include a sleep mode, temperature sensing remote, three-speed fan, eight-way louvers and an ionizing air filter to reduce allergens in the air. It's covered by a five-year warranty on the sealed refrigeration system, and a one-year warranty on the balance of the appliance.

Among the reviews we spotted, this Frigidaire air conditioner is named a top choice in a round up at Popular Mechanics. Notably, Heidi Davis and Timothy Dahl say that the Frigidaire air conditioner is simple to install, and they like the temperature sensing remote control. No dislikes are noted.

Users are mostly pleased. We found the biggest accumulation of user reviews at HomeDepot.com, where the Frigidaire FFRE1033S1 air conditioner earns a score of 4.2 stars based on more than 180 reviews, though that total includes feedback originally posted at Frigidaire's site. Some owners complain about the noise level, but most seem happy with performance, ease of installation and more. Feedback is somewhat poorer at Amazon.com, but many of the negative reviews seem to relate to units that were received damaged or issues with a seller, though some are disappointed in the noise level or cooling capacity, too.

Finding an in-wall air conditioner to recommend proved to be a tall order. We couldn't find a reputable expert review of any current model, and even user reviews are hard to come by. That said, we did see excellent feedback for the LG LT1216CER (Est. $550). This 11,800 BTU air conditioner is designed to exclusively mount through the wall and cannot be installed in a window. It has a CEER of 10.5 so it meets Energy Star criteria for through- the-wall units (without louvered sides).

This LG air conditioner can cool rooms up to 530 square feet and is reasonably well featured, including a remote control and a wall trim kit. The required sleeve for though the wall installation, the LG AXSVA1 (Est. $85), is sold separately, but the unit is designed to fit standard 26-inch sleeves, so if you are replacing another through-the-wall air conditioner its sleeve might be reusable if it is sized appropriately and structurally sound. The air conditioner runs on standard 115-volt AC, and comes with a 6-foot cord, so that could simplify installation. The warranty is for one year. User feedback is limited, but the 15 or so that have weighed in at HomeDepot.com are mostly pleased; the LG LT1216CER earns a score of 4.5 stars.

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