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Best Air Conditioner for Large Rooms

By: Carl Laron on May 14, 2018

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 Consumer Reports, 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, Consumer Reports' 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.

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 is both pretty ample and pretty positive. The biggest accumulation is at Home Depot and includes reviews originally posted at the site as well as feedback left at the manufacturer's web site. Overall, there are nearly 230 reviews, and a composite score of 4.3 stars. Roughly 85 percent of owners offer the LG air conditioner a recommendation -- and that's better than we see for many competing units.

LG also offers a step up version of this air conditioner, the LG LW1217ERSM (Est. $370) which adds the ability to control the unit using LG's SmartThinQ app for Apple and Android smartphones. The app lets you control the air conditioner from anywhere you have Internet access to do things like changing the scheduling on the programmable timer or turning the air conditioner on before you get home. Consumer Reports hasn't tested the LW1217ERSM, but gives it a recommendation based on its testing of the LW1216ER as its specifications, other than the addition of the smart features, are similar.

User feedback is scant, however. The biggest accumulation is at Home Depot, where the LG LW1217ERSM air conditioner earns a rating of 4.3 stars based on just over 20 reviews -- and even that number is helped along by some reviews from individuals that received a free product in exchange for their input.

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 decent feedback for the LG LT1216CER (Est. $525). 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 through the wall installation, the LG LT1216CER (Est. $95), 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 we did find around 70 reviews at Home Depot. Most are pleased; the LG LT1216CER earns a score of 4.1 stars with recommendations from 92 percent. Feedback is a bit poorer at Amazon, but it looks like a good percentage of the negative feedback there comes from those who received an air conditioner that was damaged in shipping.

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