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, without having to cool the whole house.
GE is a leading brand of air conditioners, according to experts, and several of its window units score very well. One of their top models for small rooms is the GE AEL06LS (Est. $180). It's recommended for up to 300 square feet, and owners say its three-speed fan and two-way adjustable louvers are more than capable of keeping a small area comfortable. It's one of five GE models 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.
The 6,050 BTU GE AEL06LS is a HomeDepot.com exclusive, and owners there are largely pleased with performance. It earns a 4.2-star rating following nearly 340 reviews, though that tally also includes reviews originally posted at the manufacturer's web site. Around 92 percent say that they would recommend this window air conditioner to a friend. Owners say installation is a breeze and call the 24-hour programmable timer and fully functional remote convenient extras. During a brownout, experts say the AEL06LS is excellent for running at low voltage, with a power interruption restart feature that returns the window air conditioner to its last settings. GE's one-year warranty is standard coverage for window air conditioners.
We also saw some terrific feedback for the GE AEM05LS (Est. $200). In a free article, ConsumerReports.org's Mary H.J. Farrell names this 5,450 BTU model the very best small air conditioner according to the site's testing. It "gets excellent marks for cooling a room of 100 to 300 square feet, is fairly quiet, and bounced back from brownout conditions when power is iffy," she says. It's also a good value and earns Best Buy status. The drawback is availability. We could not find it in stock at the time this update was written, though did note that some retailers, such as AJMadison.com, post it as coming in July. Both of these GE air conditioners are Energy Star qualified.
The experts at Popular Mechanics give a thumbs-up to the 6,000 BTU Frigidaire FFRE0633Q1 (Est. $240). This is an older model, and while some retailers list it as discontinued, there was still plenty of stock at retail at the time of this update. You may want to shop around to find the best price, though, as we saw it selling for well below its $239 list price at some sites.
The Frigidaire is among three similar sized units that Popular Mechanics tested, and is easily the best one says Heidi Davis. "Of all the 6,000 [BTU] models tested, this one was the quietest and easiest to install by far," she says. It is relatively feature rich, though the remote lacks the ability to change the thermostat setting. There's an ionizing filter to reduce allergens for allergy sufferers. However, the effectiveness of that feature isn't well addressed in any reviews that we spotted. User reviews aren't extensive, but there are nearly 60 at Amazon.com -- though some of those are from users who received free review samples. Nonetheless, the FFRE0633Q1 receives a rating of 4.3 stars.
For smaller budgets, and smaller rooms, owners say that the Frigidaire FRA052XT7 (Est. $130) is a very good option. This basic air conditioner doesn't offer many of the convenience features that air conditioners reviewed 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 (with seven approximate settings), and that's it. The Frigidaire does include an antibacterial filter that owners say removes odors well and is easy to clean. Plus, Frigidaire's warranty covers the sealed system for five years, in addition to the one-year warranty. It's not Energy Star Qualified, however, and with its 5,000 BTU rating is only suitable for rooms up to 150 square feet.
While we didn't spot any expert feedback for the Frigidaire, owners seem pleased enough. There are almost 1,400 reviews at Amazon.com, where the FRA052XT7 earns a 4.2-star rating. At Walmart.com, satisfaction is even a touch higher -- a 4.4-star rating after nearly 500 reviews, and around 89 percent of Walmart.com users say that they would recommend this tiny Frigidaire window air conditioner to a friend.
Elsewhere in this report: