Average Customer Review:
For rooms that are up to about 250 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.
Finding a consensus between experts and users as to which air conditioners work great, are reliable, and are energy efficient can be a challenge, however among smaller air conditioners, the Kenmore 77060 (Est. $220) checks all the boxes. This 6,000 BTU window air conditioner is recommended for rooms of up to 250 square feet. It finishes toward the top in its cooling capacity class at Consumer Reports, and earns Recommended status there.
Features on the Kenmore 77060 are typical of what you can expect in this size and price category. There are three speeds, along with louvers that can be adjusted eight ways to direct cooled air where you want it most. There's a programmable timer and a sleep mode that reduces energy consumption (by stepping down the temperature while you are asleep), too. A small remote control is included. The CEER rating is 12.1, which means that this air conditioner is Energy Star qualified and meets the most recent standards.
The Kenmore 77060 air conditioner is primarily sold at Sears, and while user feedback is certainly not extensive, it's pretty solid for models in this price range -- 4 stars, with 91 percent of the more the 40 owners giving it a recommendation. The most common complaint with the unit is with its noise level, though happier owners say that it's fine for even nighttime use in a bedroom. The sealed refrigeration system is covered for five years, while the balance of the air conditioner has a one year warranty.
The Kenmore is one of a number of units that finish near the top of the charts in this size range at Consumer Reports (the first place finisher in that review scores a single point higher, but is discontinued). Another alternative is the Amana AMAP061BW (Est. $190). Made by XLS Products under license from Amana, it's a little cheaper than the Kenmore, especially if you shop carefully, and is singled out for praise by Mary H.J. Farrell in a free article at Consumer Reports. "It capably cooled the test chamber and was a champ at recovering from brownout conditions when voltage is low," she says. Despite the budget price, the unit is as amply equipped as the Kenmore, including digital controls, an Eco mode, a sleep mode, a programmable 24 hour timer, a dirty filter alert and a remote.
However, we have a few concerns that keep us from elevating this Amana air conditioner to Best Reviewed status. The manufacturer specifies an EER of 12.2, but not a CEER, and while they claim that the unit is Energy Star qualified, it does not appear in the database of current Energy Star models at the Energy Star website. In addition, the warranty is for one year, which is considerably shorter than the Kenmore when it comes to the sealed cooling system -- the heart of the unit -- though the same for the balance of the air conditioner. Finally, there's a dearth of owner reviews -- just one or two at most sites.
For even smaller budgets, and smaller rooms, feedback indicates that the 5,000 BTU Frigidaire FFRA0511R1 (Est. $140) 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 it is only suitable for rooms up to 150 square feet.
The Frigidaire FFRA0511R1 doesn't earn Recommended status at Consumer Reports, but doesn't do terribly in testing there, either. Notably, the Frigidaire earns an Excellent rating for comfort. Noise performance at all speeds is merely good, and ease of use is a sore spot. However, users disagree, with most saying it's very straightforward and simple -- and easy to install as well. It earns a 4.1 star rating based on nearly 2,200 reviews at Amazon, and user ratings elsewhere, while not quite as plentiful, are often even higher. This air conditioner is covered under a one year warranty for the entire unit, plus five years for the sealed refrigeration system.