Sizing Up New Air Conditioners

air conditionerThe size of your room air conditioner matters, a lot according to Consumer Reports, which tested not only the best brands, but the correct sizes for typical rooms of the home.

Buy too small of an air conditioning unit, and though you save money at the checkout, you will pay in terms of efficiency.  So, small units used in medium to large rooms will struggle to keep the room at a comfortable temperature; rarely cycle off and may even actually cost you more to run-because they will never get the room to a desired level of coolness and be turned off.

On the flip side, if you buy too big of a unit, the room will cool too quickly without removing enough humidity from the air. You end up cold but not comfortable. The advice? By the right BTUs for the size of the space you are cooling. Doing so will keep the temperature comfortable and save money too.

Consumer Reports tested numerous air conditioners in the size rooms that their manufacturer states they are suited and intended to cool. Here are the best small, medium, and large window air conditioners to consider:

Bedroom or office (100 to 300 square feet)

For any smaller sized bedroom, home office, or guest room look for an air conditioner with great scores for comfort as well as quiet operation.

  • The GE AEM05LV, $170, a CR Best Buy, aced our comfort tests and was very quiet on both low and high fan speeds.

  • The LG LW6016R, $175, proved to be excellent at cooling a small room and was very quiet on the low fan setting but a little nosier on high.

  • The Frigidaire FFRA0511R1, $125, came in third because it was a little nosier, but the price is right.

Master bedroom or playroom (250 to 400 square feet)

To cool a larger sized space or a room that sees busy kid activity, you’ll want to step up to a mid-sized air conditioner.

  • The GE AEM08LT, $300, was ranked the best in its class with excellent scores for cooling a medium-size room. It cruised through our brownout test, which tests if a unit can restart when voltage is low.  But it was a bit noisy when the fan was on high.

  • The LG LW8014ER, $240, a CR Best Buy, has very good scores for cooling and aced the brownout test.  It was also somewhat noisy with the fan was on high.

Living room or family room (350 to 650 square feet)

For a living room or family room, you’ll want a large air conditioner, especially if you have an open floor plan.

  • The LG LW1214ER, $350, made our top picks list with its excellent scores for comfort. And despite its size, it operates at a quiet hum.

  • The Haier HWE12XCR, $310, was excellent at cooling but nosier than the LG. But it bounces right back in brownout conditions.

Choosing the right air conditioner size for each of the rooms you wish to cool will save you money and keep you comfortable during the hottest days and nights of the summer season.

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