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Small bedrooms and spaces need a small air conditioner

For rooms that are up to about 200 square feet, a window air conditioner that is between 5,000 and 6,000 BTU will give you the best experience. These have enough power to cool your room, while staying on long enough to dehumidify and circulate. They're popular with people who like to keep their bedrooms cool at night -- or a small sitting room or office during the day -- without having to cool the whole house.

Best cheap air conditioner

Frigidaire FFRA0511R1
Frigidaire FFRA0511R1

LG is a leading brand of air conditioners, according to experts, and several of its window units score very well in expert testing. One of their top models for small rooms is the LG LW6016R (Est. $180). It's recommended for up to 250 square feet and, in testing, earns an Excellent rating for comfort, meaning that it quickly and efficiently cooled down a room at the lowest setting. It's one of three window air conditioners to sit at the top of the charts among small air conditioners at ConsumerReports.org, notes the site's Mary H.J. Farrell in a free article.

Since it is new for 2016, there were no user reviews of the LG LW6016R at the time of this report; however, testing at TheSweethome.com also puts the LG LW6016R on top -- although there Liam McCabe tested the slightly larger (at 8,000 BTU's) LG LW8016ER (Est. $260). Still, he goes on to recommend the LW6016R for smaller rooms --- it's just a touch smaller than the one he tests and has a couple of fewer features, otherwise, the units are similar, and the performance of the LW6016R can be expected to be similar as well. Noise is a big factor with most window air conditioning units, but McCabe says that the LG is quieter than most, with a lower pitch that's simply not as annoying. The LW6016R also earns a Very Good rating in professional tests for noise on the low speed, Good on the higher speeds.

In spite of its small size, the LG LW6016R has a pretty decent offering of features, from the three-speed cooling and fan settings, to an included remote control. There's also a 24-hour programmable timer to turn it off and one even when you're not around. And, if you have a power outage, the LW6016R will automatically turn itself back on. Installing the LG LW6016R may be a bit trickier than some other models, but, if you enlist an extra pair of hands to help, it shouldn't be too bad. The instructions are very clear, which is helpful. It comes with a one-year warranty.

Although we didn't see it in any expert roundups, the GE AEL06LV (Est. $180) gets terrific feedback from owners. This small air conditioner is rated for rooms of up to 250 square feet rooms, and users say it's quiet and very powerful in the right size room (many use it for a small bedroom or enclosed porch). The GE has some good features, including a delay timer, remote control and three-way fan, but no air direction adjustments. In spite of its description on retail sites and the GE website, this air conditioner is no longer Energy Star Certified, per the EnergyStar.gov website because of its EER rating of 11.2.

Some newer, small GE units that are very well-reviewed at one professional testing organizations are Energy Star Certified, but they are not yet available at retail. Because of that, this is the only category where we were not able to recommend an Energy Star Certified small AC unit. We will continue to monitor this report and modify it if and/or when these GE room air conditioners do come on the market. These include the GE AEM05LV and the GE AEM06LV.

For smaller budgets, and smaller rooms, experts and owners say that the Frigidaire FFRA0511R1 (Est. $130) is a very good option. This basic air conditioner doesn't offer many of the convenience features that the air conditioners described above have -- there's no programmable timer or remote, and the controls are old-fashioned analog knobs rather than the digital controls and temperature display of more upscale models. You get one knob to set the motor speed for either the fan or the air conditioner, and another to select the temperature, and that's it. The Frigidaire does include an antibacterial filter that owners say removes odors well and is easy to clean. It's not Energy Star Qualified, however, and with its 5,000 BTU rating it is only suitable for rooms up to 150 square feet.

In professional tests, the Frigidaire FFRA0511R1 earns an Excellent rating for comfort and for power saving during brownouts, Good ratings for noise on all settings, but just a Fair rating for ease of use. However, users disagree, with most saying it's very straightforward and simple -- and easy to install as well.

Elsewhere in this report:

Best Air Conditioners | Best AC for Medium Rooms | Best AC for Large Rooms | Buying Guide | Our Sources

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