The window air conditioner makes the difference between living in a reasonable comfort during the summer or sweating out as our home office becomes a sauna. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to fight back against the heat with one of these appliances.
But it pays to have some background knowledge and some test data to help you choose the best appliance to keep you cool. Since the AC window is cooling in the room, you want the quietest window air conditioner you can find. It will make sleeping, talking or listening to the media much easier.
Common Quiet Window Air Conditioner (Window AC)
The popularity of a quiet window air conditioner has steadily increased since the arrival of Philco Bantam 12 on the market in 1957. Today, there are some 7.5 million to 8.5 million small air-cooling appliances sold every year in this country, according to Statista.com and the U.S. The Energy Department.
Although these appliances may have a variety of features—such as app control and multiple air conditioner fan speeds and cooling modes—all work in the same way that they shift heat from inside to outside.
The metal cabinet of the air conditioner contains two key components: a condenser (also called a compressor-condenser) and an evaporator.
Cold refrigerant gas circulating through the evaporator tube acts as a heat-absorbing sponge. Hot indoor air blown over the evaporator loses its heat to the surface of the cold coil and the gas inside it. The refrigerant gas then moves from the evaporator to the condenser, where it is compressed, causing the compressor coil wall to become extremely hot.
The air conditioner fan blowing the air over the condenser coil moves the heat out of the hot coil surface and into the outdoor air. Inside the house, the air conditioner blows the cold, dry air from the evaporator to the living room.
The moisture that condenses out of the air flows out of the evaporator coil and drips outwards. The bottom line, all window air conditioners are working this way.
How We Make Sure They are Tested
We surveyed the market and surveyed manufacturers along the way looking for key features that point to better construction quality, energy efficiency, noise reduction, convenience and ease of maintenance.
We test each appliance in a 1,200 cubic-foot space with a high ceiling. One wall of space faces west and sees a strong, unrelenting afternoon sun. It’s getting extremely hot and stuffy, which means it’s perfect for an air conditioner test.
We run each appliance at different settings and use an infrared thermometer to measure the effect of the appliance on its surroundings, such as walls and nearby objects. Next, we measure how far away the cooling breeze of the appliance can be felt. This is known as throwing in the air conditioning.
Of the five we tested, all of them (even the least expensive ones) throw up to 10 feet of cool air; the sweet spot is mostly in the six-to eight-foot zone. We’re looking for how easy it is to use the controls of the appliance (they should be so simple and intuitive that you don’t need the owner’s manual).
We get a sense of how comfortable the appliance is to make us feel. The five appliances we tested all deliver effective cooling; this is true from the smallest to the largest. Having said that, more powerful air conditioners (those with higher BTU rating) have larger condensers and evaporators and significantly larger cooling coils.
There is no question that they could better cool larger floor areas or spaces with high ceilings or windows facing south or west. Simply stated: when the cooling needs are challenging, purchase a slightly larger air conditioner to handle the additional load rather than simply rely on the sq ft for which the manufacturer rated the appliance.
We also included a number of models that we have not yet been able to test but evaluated on the basis of our market knowledge and contextual insights from the pace of other window ac. With that in mind, here are the results of our tests and the most prepared air conditioners to help you survive the summer heat.
Top 10 Best Quietest Window Air Conditioners in 2021
1. Amana AMAP050BW
This Amana is the very definition of low cost cooling. It seemed as much a time machine as a cooling machine to us. Just looking at its two-knob simplicity and hearing it run was enough to take us back to our first stuffy apartment and the simple little air conditioner that kept its temperature under control—and that was more than 40 years ago.
Call the AMAP050BW a fancy version of an ice block and an air conditioner fan. Turn your dial to a large snowflake setting, and dial to number seven (maximum chill and maximum air conditioner fan speed).
In a few minutes, you’ve had cold air filling up your space. We didn’t detect rattling, but can we say that’s a whisper-quiet cooling? No, no. But it isn’t annoying either. You might need ear plugs if you’re a light sleeper.
Then again, you may find comfort in the steady white noise it produces, a clear indication that the heat is moving to the outside. As far as maintenance is concerned, its air filter slides out to the right, a simple and welcome feature that makes cleaning easier.
2. LG LW1517IVSM
The largest window AC test was the LG, a heavy slab of an appliance that uses a multi-speed compressor to control cooling. That compressor doesn’t just run at a constant speed, then cycle on and off to cool the space.
Instead, its compressor speed varies depending on the temperature of the indoor space. This multi-speed and adaptable design is not widely used in window air conditioners, but is an effective means of maintaining constant indoor temperatures and reducing energy consumption while reducing compressor wear.
LG calls this a dual-inverter design. If you’re a light sleeper, we’d recommend that you consider this LW1517IVSM or the Midea U-shaped appliance below; both have sleeping modes that scale back cooling from the initial setting, saving you money and being woken up by the window AC bike.
In all other respects, the LG is a quiet, pleasant and efficient quietest window air conditioners, quickly ramping up to temperature and operating at a steady hum, making it easy to forget that the thing is only a few feet away.
We also commend LG as the only manufacturer to include insulated panels that can be installed on either side of the air conditioner to reduce the energy transfer between the inside and the outside.
At the end of the day, its Wi-Fi capability allows you to turn it on and off your phone, cool and dehumidify the space before you get there.
3. Midea MAW12V1QWT
This was the quietest air conditioner we were trying to do. It was also the only U-shaped appliance that allows you to shut down the window in its centre and better isolate the compressor (which is always on the outside of the appliance) from the indoor space.
The design, which requires a specialised air conditioner mounting bracket, makes the MAW12V1QWT mechanically more complex, but also quieter. The low volume was also helped by the fact that, like the LG, this is an inverter compressor appliance.
The compressor speed changes as required, rather than simply switching on and off. The Midea was the only window AC with an auto louvre swing feature—lovers move vertically to better distribute air in space.
Between that and its large BTU number, the Midea hastens to bring down indoor temperatures. We also like the fact that its air filter is angled, making it much easier to access when the front panel tips about 45 degrees. Improved access to the air filter means that owners are more likely to actually clean the filter, which means healthier air in the living space.
4. Midea MAW06R1BWT
We found this Midea to be a capable and pleasant mid-duty window air conditioner – call it a traveller, if you like. It is well suited to typical double-hung window dimensions and is useful for a single large room, apartment, or a moderately large open area, even one with high ceilings, as in our test.
It’s about equal to the Amana in terms of its noise and slightly louder than the two quietest appliances, the LG and the Midea U-shape. You get a little more appliance for your money because it has a clean filter alert light and a dehumidifier mode.
And speaking of the clean filter alert, we’ve got one complaint. Although the front panel is down to about 45 degrees, the filter itself is vertical. We don’t say filter access is difficult, but it’s not as good as it could be.
5. Whirlpool WHAW081BW
The Whirlpool is a typical product class, a mid-priced appliance that does what it says. Although it’s a little loud, it’s cool quickly, without annoying rattling and squeaking. It’s not made by Whirlpool, as the company will tell you.
It is manufactured under licence to Whirlpool by a company, XLS, based in Philadelphia, PA. Thus, the Whirlpool is another small, white box made in China, sharing (as far as we can tell from its louvred sides) many of the components of other small air conditioners in this test—and elsewhere.
It comes down to that, you can drive down to your nearest Home Depot, put this appliance in your trunk, and have a cool room a few minutes later—brand or no brand.
You’ll also get features typical of this price range: varying cooling outputs along with the auto, sleep (gradually ramps down the cooling when you’re asleep and don’t notice), and an eco setting for reduced energy consumption (the appliance cycles on and off).
6. Haier ESAQ406
This Haier has the reputation of being one of the quietest window air conditioners on the market, and when a family member who is a notoriously light sleeper has recently decided to purchase an air conditioner, this is the one he has chosen.
He was so excited about it, he called us to love it. As far as he’s concerned, the ESAQ406 is the quietest of the many air conditioners he’s owned over the years. An internal compressor blanket that dampens vibration and noise is one of its noise-cancelling features.
According to the family member, when the compressor is running, the appliance is slightly louder than the refrigerator. Its Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) of 12.2 can help reduce the spike in your electricity bill caused by running an air conditioner all summer.
7. GE AEC08LX
The GE looks like another little white box that blows cold air, but appearances can be misleading.
It has a respectable efficiency rating of 12 CEER, which it achieves by using a variety of energy-saving features, such as running on next generation R32 refrigerant and using a digital thermostat that monitors and monitors cooling more closely compared to electro-mechanical versions.
Consumer Reports gives this model a marginally lower rating than the previous GE model. However, it is $30 less expensive and only accessible at Walmart.
That concludes the ‘best buys’ in the 5,000 to 6,500 BTU/hr. range.
Tech gurus may also be glad to know that GE can be operated via Wi-Fi or voice commands. Aside from high-tech gizmos, you’ll also get the battery of features that people expect at this price: auto setup, three cooling speeds, Eco mode, air conditioner fan only, and programmable operation.
8. Frigidaire FGRC1044T1
This Frigidaire is one of the best-looking window-mounted air conditioners we’ve ever seen. Its sleek styling and low-profile vents are a welcome departure from traditional slats on most AC window units.
Below the stylish look, there’s a tech-filled app remote control app that lets you operate and monitor it remotely with a remote control. It’s Energy Star rated, too, so you can stay cool without wasting your dough.
This model has a large potential for cooling. Up to 450 square feet of room. If you live in a tiny apartment or need to cool a medium-sized bed, this model is reasonably priced for the coverage region. Your mobile acts as your remote control, enabling you to remotely order and manage your air conditioner from anywhere. You can conveniently configure your air conditioner to do anything you want.
Although it isn’t flawless, for the price, you can’t go wrong with this air conditioner with wifi power. It’s a little loud, but it makes up for it with excellent room coverage, built-in Wi-Fi, a fantastic smart app, and plenty of strength. The antibacterial mesh is also a good addition, keeping it a little cleaner. As is the simple scheduling. It is one of the best mobile phone powered air conditioners around. This high BTU window air conditioner and the Frigidaire software also amazed me.
9. LG LW8016ER
Designed to quickly cool large areas, this high-performance 8,000-BTU LG window air conditioner is ideal for rooms up to 17 x 20 feet. Some of its many features include energy-saving mode, a 24-hour on/off timer, a full-function remote control, three cooling and three air conditioner fan speeds, and an auto-reset that turns the unit back on when power is restored after power is interrupted.
The air that is blown out is guided upwards before collapsing into the room. This is perfect for a bedroom or dining room where you don’t want a cold burst of air to reach you when you’re relaxing. That said, the fan is plenty strong for a single room, but if you’re cooling two, you might like a little more oomph. However, for the sake of electricity cost reliability, the trade-off is worthwhile.
In terms of performance, it has an Energy Star ranking, which corresponds to a yearly operational cost of about $60. Of course, this depends on how much you use it, so it’s really nice in comparison to a lot of the competition out there.
The LG LW8016ER is an outstanding option if you need to cool a space that is less than 340 square feet, want to save money, and want a remote-controlled air conditioner that runs silently. The fact that it can do all of this while holding use costs down makes this a very appealing product.
If you need to cool several rooms or a larger space, you can suggest anything with a more efficient fan device and higher BTU. In comparison, if you want improved looks and mobile access, you’ll need to invest in a higher-end wall-mounted air conditioner.
And when indoor air humidity is high, this air conditioner has a powerful dehumidifying capability; it can remove up to 2.2 pints of moisture per hour, which means you’ll feel cooler at lower temperatures.
10. Friedrich Kühl KCQ06A10A
If you’re a light sleeper and disturbed by air-conditioning noise, this heavy appliance is a good choice. Its 20-gauge steel cabinet, high-density noise insulation and sound-damping engineering on all moving parts are features designed to help you get a good night’s sleep while keeping you cool and comfortable.
Kuhl’s smart room air conditioners are also fitted with Quietmaster Technology, which allows them 45 percent louder than rivals’ devices. Quietmaster equipment involves noise-cancelling shielding, a rotary compressor mounted on rubber grommets, and concrete inner walls.
The Kuhl line also has several other noise and vibration-reducing functions. With an EER of 12.2 and a CEER of 12.1, this machine will save you money on your electricity bill and work reliably for several years!
The front faceplate of the Friedrich Kuhl Series KCQ06A10A Air Conditioner is neutral grey. The 6,000 BTUs can cool a small space of around 150 – 200 square feet. The KCQ06A10A may be mounted in either a window or on a wall. Heavy-duty side curtains are used for window mounting.
The Friedrich Link Software links your Energy Star rated Kuhl KCQ06A10A cooling only air conditioner in minutes. You can conveniently design a 7-day program that suits your lifestyle, like home, out, and nighttime habits, and monitor your unit from anywhere at any time!
Control functions such as turning on/off the electricity, rising or lowering fixed points, and also adjusting device modes (cool, fan, and auto settings) and fan speeds. Furthermore, once you have several units mounted, the Friedrich advanced grouping software helps you to manage several units so that they can operate individually or as a single device. You may also assign another user to run one or more of your units.
Selection and Maintenance
The first step in the air conditioning of the space is to size the appliance correctly. This is a simple three-step process.
1. Calculate the area: multiply the floor length by its width to reach its area. If the floor area has a triangular section, multiply the base triangle times its height and divide it by half; add that number to the floor area that you have reached earlier (length x width).
2. Multiply the area times 20: this gives you the approximate BTU of the air conditioner you need to shop for. BTU (British Thermal Units) describes the ability of the appliance to remove heat. The 20 multiplier is a thumb rule, not an exact one. You may end up getting a BTU air conditioner that reflects a multiple of 22 to 23.
That’s all right. In addition, there are conditions that may cause you to purchase an air conditioner with a larger BTU number than you get when you multiply the sq ft of the room by 20 to 23. If the room is exceptionally hot, such as below the attic or on the south or west sides of the house, increase the BTU slightly.
3. Choose the air conditioner in your price range with the highest possible EER. EER reflects the ratio of how much electricity it uses to convert warm moist air to cool dry air while exhausting waste heat from outside. A higher EER is better than a lower EER. If the higher EER appliance costs a little more, there is a good chance that high energy efficiency will cancel the price with lower utility bills over the life of the appliance.
The best thing you can do to maintain your AC is vacuum the air filter and wash it out. If it’s really grubby, just give it a light rinse of water and dish detergent, and rinse it clean. Always let the filter dry before it is reinstalled.
If a few fins on its back are mashed in the handling of the appliance, use the edge of a plastic putty knife or credit card to bend the fins back into position. Insert the knife or card in a space above the bent fin and slide it down to the bent area.
If the fins are severely bent, use the fin straightener tool you can buy online. When a rattling emerges from the operation of the appliance, your first step is to investigate. Everything from a rough window sill to a wobbly panel can cause the appliance to give off an unpleasant sound as it cools.
Foam insulation strips and even sound-damping rubber sheets can help to silence the noise level. Most of the air conditioners shown here will operate very comfortably on a 15-amp branching circuit (all the wiring and devices that hook up to a single circuit breaker or fuse).
These circuits will support up to 15 current draw amps. If the air conditioner is running at six amps, the circuit will still support another nine amps of current. However, even an energy-efficient air conditioner draws a considerable amount of current when its condenser comes in to pump its refrigerant through its sealed loop.
When this happens, the air conditioner may draw substantially more amperage for a second or two – in some cases two or three times the amperage at which it operates. This may cause the circuit breaker to travel.
If that happens, look around to see what other loads are on the circuit. Maybe someone is running a vacuum cleaner or some other high-current appliance. Shutting down other loads will release electrical capacity and allow the air conditioner to run as it should.
Pros and Cons of a Quiet Window AC
There are advantages and a few disadvantages to consider before making your purchase.
- Pros: The main benefit is obvious – less noise level means that the AC won’t keep you up at night, make it hard to hold a conversation or, in general, make a noise in your home.
- Cons: These are potential problems, but you can avoid them by shopping carefully and following the tips in this guide.
- Too small: Many window air conditioners are sold as “quiet” because they are small – 5,000 or 6,000 BTUs. If you buy an AC that is too small for space, the unit won’t keep your air cool and dry.
- Not powerful enough: Sometimes even larger AC in the range of 10,000 to 16,000 BTU are called “quiet,” but it’s because they simply don’t have enough cooling power or because the air conditioner fan isn’t strong enough to move cool air to the farthest parts of the room. Avoid reading reviews from other users, especially negative reviews. The window air conditioners in our Quietest Window AC list are all properly powered by their size.
Factors To Consider When Looking For The Best Quietest Window Air Conditioners
As you consider your options, research these features.
The compressor is an AC pump that circulates the refrigerant. It’s what you hear when the unit starts to cool. The compressor is the loudest part of the AC as well. The quietest compressors are compressors of the inverter type.
Rather than just switching on at 100 percent capacity, it’s like dimmer switches. They run at higher or lower capacity, choosing the lowest (and quietest) capacity needed to do the cooling work.
The LG LW2217IVSM in the above list has an inverter-driven compressor. That’s why it is one of the quietest window air conditioners, even though it has a large 22,000 BTU capacity. If that’s too big for your needs, you might want to know that LG makes the 17IVSM Series in two other models.
They’re both rated very high and very quiet. While a little expensive, the LG 17IVSM Series could be the best all-around window air conditioners available.
There’s a “sound blanket” of insulation inside the unit that muffles the noise level. The AC should also have a strip of insulation that goes between it and the window. The insulation stops air leaks, of course, but it also prevents noise from vibrating.
Placing the weather stripping below and on the sides of the unit could also reduce some noise. It’s hard to make a loud compressor quiet whatever you do, so it makes sense to start choosing a quiet AC.
Most of the units have air conditioner fans with 3 or 4 speeds. Obviously, the lower the speed, the lower the noise. Choose a window AC with enough capacity to cool your room/space when running at one of the lower air conditioner fan speeds.
Let’s say, for example, that you have a 250 sq ft room to cool down. That would require a 6,000 or 7,000 BTU AC. If it’s a bedroom and the bed is near the window, a 6,000 BTU unit will keep you cool at a low window air conditioner fan speed at night.
If the bedroom is across the room, a 7,000 or 8,000 BTU unit would be a better choice, as it would have the power to reach you at a low window air conditioner fan speed.
Why Size is Important
Let’s talk more about the size of the window air conditioner and why it’s important. Sizes range from 5,000 to 24,000 BTUs for most models, although a few are more than 30,000 BTUs.
Undersized window air conditioners
They’re not going to cool the room, and you’re going to have to run them at the highest window air conditioner fan speed to try to get air to the whole room. The result is a warm, noisy room, and that’s a bad combination.
Oversized window units
It’s tempting to get a window air conditioner that’s bigger than you need to make sure it cools the room properly. But if it’s too big, it’s going to cool the room too fast. Why is it a problem? Because it’s not going to remove a lot of moisture in the process.
You’re going to have a cool, clammy room, another bad combination. Did you know that when the air is dry, you feel just as comfortable at a higher temperature? 76 degrees and 25% humidity is as comfortable as 72 degrees and 60% humidity. It costs less to cool a room to 76 degrees than to cool it to 72. Stick to the window air conditioner size chart below.
Bottom line, If the room is on the sunny side of the house and it’s not shaded, or if you’re cooling the kitchen and you’re having a lot of ovens, then go up one level. If there are often more than one or two people in the room, you should go up a level for that, too.
What Else To Consider?
Window air conditioners range from standard efficiency to more efficient units that are certified to Energy Star. In any window AC series (and in split system AC and ductless systems as well), the smallest model is the most efficient, and they get less efficient as they get bigger. Here’s an example of this.
Haier QHC Series window air conditioner CEER ratings:
- 8,000 BTUs: 12.0
- 10,000 BTUs: 12.0
- 12,000 BTUs: 12.0
- 15,000 BTUs: 11.8
- 18,000 BTUs: 11
- 24,000 BTUs: 10.3
CEER rating is the combined energy efficiency rating, the new rating system that measures the unit’s efficiency when running plus when plugged in but not running.
Q: How efficient should a window AC be?
A: It depends on three factors:
- If you want the greenest AC available, choose the one with the highest CEER rating.
- AC that is the main source of refrigeration should be very efficient. If you’re planning to use the AC window for additional cooling, so it won’t run as much, then lower efficiency is OK.
- The hotter your climate, the more efficient the unit is.
Popular Features and Their Benefits
Here’s a brief bottom line of your options for features. More details can be found in our AC Buying Guide window. Of course, the better the features, the higher the average unit price.
Digital controls vs. knobs
Digital control ac costs more but offers more accurate cooling and other features only with computer-controlled functionality.
Timer and programmable start
These features allow you to plan when the AC is switched on and off and how long it will run. This allows you to control the energy use and programme the unit to cool your room or space before you get home.
Window units with wi-fi connectivity allow you to remotely control with a remote control them with an app. It’s the safest way to reduce energy use and still have a comfortable room/zone/apartment/home.
Sleep mode, econ mode, energy saver mode
These are all names for similar features that reduce AC output and energy use when you’re asleep or away for a short time.
Fans speeds and fan-only mode
The windows have 2-4 window air conditioner fan speeds. Some of them have fan-only mode. Window air conditioner fan speeds give you the ability to control the climate. Window air conditioners fan only mode creates a breeze when you want the air to move, but you don’t need to cool.
Auto restart after an outage
With this feature, the unit will be switched on and returned to your settings when the power is restored. This is a great feature if you have frequent power outages during the spring and summer storms.
It is very convenient to be able to adjust the temperature display of the AC or other settings from across the room or from another room with remote control.
Fresh air option
According to the EPA, indoor air pollution is a major concern when homes are built tightly and windows are not opened regularly. This option is to exchange fresh outside air for polluted indoor air. It can be used during cool days of the day to improve indoor air quality.
The ionizer is an air cleaner that captures pollutants by electronic means. The Frigidaire FFRE Series is the only series of major brands equipped with an ioniser. The ionizer is an electronic air cleaner type (EAC). Our Guide to Air Cleaner includes a section on Eac and its pros and cons.
How to Make a Window AC Quiet & Keep it Quiet
These window air conditioner tips will help you choose some of the most quiet window air conditioners that meet your size requirements.
- Choose the largest window unit in the appropriate range for your space and run it at a low fan speed. For example, if you have 550 sq ft to cool down, either a 12,000 or a 14,000 BTU unit is recommended. Choose a 14K model to keep it at this sq ft at a low fan speed.
- Use the foam insulation provided – and add more. Foam prevents vibration noise and muffles noise from the compressor, which is outside, and prevents it from leaking through the insulation gaps into the house. You can buy foam weather stripping to fill any air gap. It’s very cheap.
- Put the awning over the window of the AC if it gets direct sunlight. The sun shining directly on the AC is going to heat it up and make it run too much, even if the indoor air is comfortable. Keeping sunlight out will reduce the use of noise level and energy.
- Use the LED lights in your room. Non-LED light bulbs will heat up, and if they’re near the AC, they might cause it to run when it’s not needed, creating unnecessary noise.
- Clean the filter on a regular basis. A dirty filter will not allow fresh air to enter the unit. It could produce a wheezing sound, as air is sucked through any gap that can be found, or the unit could overheat, causing it to run too much. Either effect is a noisy one.
- Clean the coil and the compressor every year. This prevents the build-up of dirt, algae and debris, all of which can make noise if the blower fan is hindered.
Bottom line, these tips are going to make the unit some of the quietest window air conditioners it can be.
The Bottom Line
It’s pretty easy to choose the quietest window air conditioner for your purpose.
- Size it correctly
- Locate information on the operating noise level found in the manufacturer’s literature.
- Compare the models you are considering head to head
- Read user reviews and find out more about the noise level
- Use the purchase tips here to find a unit that is not just the quietest window air conditioner, but one with the features and energy efficiency you want.