Window air conditioners fall in the middle ground between portable AC units and HVAC systems. While a step up from portable units in terms of power, they can be considered unsightly, and companies have used the same boring form factor for decades. Over the sill units and streamlined models have begun to change that, and we’ve compiled a list featuring the best low profile window air conditioners on the market today.
- Top 5 Low Profile Window Air Conditioners
- How to find the Best Low Profile Air Conditioner
Top 5 Low Profile Window Air Conditioners
- BTU: 8,000
- Noise Level on Low: 41dBA
- Coverage: 280 sq. ft.
- Airflow: 265 CFM
- Energy Star: No
- Refrigerant: R-410A
- BTU: 12,000
- Noise Level on Low: 42dBA
- Coverage: 550 sq. ft.
- Airflow: 420 CFM
- Energy Star: Yes
- Refrigerant: R-32
- BTU: 5,000
- Noise Level on Low: 50dBA
- Coverage: 150 sq. ft.
- Airflow: 140 CFM
- Energy Star: Yes
- Refrigerant: R-32
- BTU: 6,000
- Noise Level on Low: 51dBA
- Coverage: 250 sq. ft.
- Airflow: 141 CFM
- Energy Star: Yes
- Refrigerant: R-410A
- BTU: 10,000
- Noise Level on Low: 47dBA
- Coverage: 350 sq. ft.
- Airflow: 220 CFM
- Energy Star: Yes
- Refrigerant: R-32
Before we delve into our picks, it’s important to note that there is no set category for low-profile air conditioners… it’s simply a term. That means manufacturers can use the word loosely to describe their units, although we’re taking a different approach. While the choices on our list vary in size and power, all are designed to take up a minimal amount of space in your windowsill.
The Best Low Profile Air Conditioner
#1 Soleus Window Sill Saddle Air Conditioner
When you install a window air conditioner, one of the biggest drawbacks is that you lose the ability to see out of the window to a degree. The engineers at Soleus Air have found a way around that problem with their Saddle Air Conditioner, which truly makes it the best low profile unit available for homeowners today.
This unique air conditioner is designed to leave you with a largely unobstructed view of the outdoors. It’s aptly named after a saddle, as it straddles a windowsill, which allows you to use the window without removing the system. You’ll never have to worry about it falling out of the window, and the design makes it incredibly easy to install.
You can control the Soleus Saddle Air Conditioner with a remote control or through onboard electronic controls. This model has standard modes like Auto and Sleep Mode but also comes with a Dry Mode that can remove up to 30 pints of moisture from a room in a day. Another interesting feature is the MyTemp remote that focuses the system’s cooling power on the remotes location.
While we chose the 8,000 BTU model of Saddle Air Conditioner with Wi-Fi, it’s available in four configurations if you need a slightly smaller unit or don’t care about connectivity. This model is rated for areas up to 280 square feet and suitable for windows 24” to 48” wide with a minimum of 16” height clearance. It tips the scales at 71 pounds but won’t need to be moved once it has been set into place.
This window air conditioner is an excellent alternative to traditional systems, and while it’s pricey, it comes with all the bells & whistles you could ask for. The ability to use your window with the unit in place is a huge bonus, and it’s one of the quieter systems on our list as well at only 41 decibels. We would have liked to have seen Energy Star certification considering the price, but that’s really our only knock on this unique system.
The Best Inverter Window Air Conditioner
#2 Midea U Shaped Window Air Conditioner
Midea is another company that decided to shake things up with the design of their new U Series air conditioners. This system is another hybrid unit that’s half mini-split, half window air conditioner, and highly efficient thanks to a DC inverter.
The Midea MAW12V1QWT is one of the most efficient 12,000 BTU units on the market. This air conditioner has been certified by Energy Star and received their “Most Efficient” accreditation for 2020. That’s due in part to the DC inverter, which regulates the compressor speed resulting in an energy savings of up to 35% compared to traditional window air conditioners.
Just like with the Soleus Saddle AC unit, this system is designed so that you can still use the window. The U-shaped chassis keeps the controls and air filter indoors while the compressor and noisy parts are outside. On low, the Midea MAW12V1QWT is a decibel rating of 42dBA, which is in-line with our top choice. It also has a similar set of modes with Auto, Dry, Cool, and Fan.
While one of the quieter systems on our list, this system is also powerful. It has a standard three speeds but produces 423 CFMs on high. With a weight of 58 pounds, it’s easy to manage, and the company’s Snap Bracket makes installation a breeze. Other features of interest on this system include a remote control, an anti-theft system, and Wi-Fi. When connected to your home network, this unit can be controlled through an app or voice commands if you rely on Alexa or Google.
The Midea U-shape air conditioner has a completely different design than the Saddle system, but it serves the same purpose. It cools you down and allows you to keep using the window while keeping the noise levels to a minimum. It has a very attractive price tag given its size and features, although you may want to consider an extended plan as it’s only guaranteed for a year.
The Best Compact Air Conditioner
#3 Frigidaire Window-Mounted Mini Compact Air Conditioner
While we expect to see an influx of saddle or U-shaped air conditioners in the coming years, there’s still a place for traditional systems. If you’re in need of a small energy-efficient system that’s in the budget class, look no further than the Frigidaire FFRE053WAE.
This window air conditioner has a compact design that weighs 49 pounds and suitable for windows that meet the minimum requirements of 23”W x 13”H. A set of SpaceWise adjustable side panels help form a tight seal, and the washable mesh filter is easy to access through a tilting panel. This unit is rated at 5,000 BTU with a range of 150 square feet.
The Frigidaire mini-compact air conditioner may be small, but it produces a respectable amount of airflow on high at 140 CFM. It’s listed with two speeds with electronic controls, including a small digital readout on the unit's front. Consumers found it a bit noisy, however, and the decibel rating on this system backs up those claims.
All the standard modes you’d expect from a modern window AC unit are present on the Frigidaire FFRE053WAE. It has an auto-restart feature in case of power outages, a remote control, and a timer to go along with Sleep Mode, Dry Mode, and Eco Mode. It’s an Energy Star certified system as well, and it’s backed by a standard 1-year guarantee on parts and 5 years on the sealed system.
Frigidaire has always been a name consumer’s trust, and the FFRE053WAE is one of the more highly-rated units in its class. The only common complaint is the noise level when the air conditioner is running on high. If you intend to use it in a room where you slumber, you will want to keep placement in mind with this system.
The Best Small Budget-Friendly AC Unit
#4 Amana Window Air Conditioner with Remote
Low-profile air conditioners can be slim and sleek with a modern design or small and affordable. The Amana AMAP061BW is an air conditioner that falls into the latter category, but one you won’t want to overlook if you want something affordable and efficient.
At 6,000 BTUs, this air conditioner has enough power to handle smaller rooms up to 250 square feet. It’s also the smallest system on our list as it's only 18.6”W x 15.6”D x 13.3”H and weighs 44 pounds. This air conditioner won’t break your back, and while it has a retro style, it’s easy to operate and maintain.
There are two short louvers on the front of this air conditioner, which provide 8-way directional airflow. A small digital display on the side provides details on the system or allows you to adjust the settings from the unit itself. A simple remote control is also included so that you can set the speed or mode from a distance.
As for those modes, this model has three of them with Sleep Mode, Auto Mode Eco Mode. You can use the fan sans the compressor if you just want to circulate air in a room or set the timer to suit your needs. The Amana AMAP061BW is a 115-volt air conditioner like the rest of the units on our list and has a 5.9 door LCDI power cord.
This is another simple but effective window air conditioner that takes up a minimal amount of space on your windowsill. The 6,000 BTU model provides a lot of bang for your buck, but there larger variants with the exact same style as well. This model and the variants all have a standard 1-year warranty from Amana.
A Slim and Smart Air Conditioner from Frigidaire
#5 Frigidaire Gallery Cool Connect Air Conditioner
Our second system from Frigidaire is completely different from the first when it comes to power and design. It comes from the company’s Gallery Cool Connect lineup, which means it’s a connected air conditioner with a streamlined profile.
The Frigidaire FGRC104WAE stands out from other window air conditioners on the market because of its design. The old-fashioned grate has been replaced by one that’s far more modern, and there are no buttons on the front. There is an embedded digital readout that tells the temperature, but the touch-based controls are set across the top.
While the design is different, the controls are standard, so there are three speeds and several modes like Energy Saver and Sleep Mode. It has a 24-hour timer, notification light for the filter, and can be used with the Frigidaire Smart App thanks to Wi-Fi. From within the app, you can control the speeds and access all the functions on the unit.
At 21”W x 19”D x 13.3”H, this system is larger than other traditional window models but can still fit in windows that meet the minimums of 25.4” wide and 14” high. That’s on par with other models of various styles, and it’s rated to handle rooms up to 350 square feet. The airflow rate is average at 220 CFM, and it’s relatively quiet as well, with a range between 44 to 51dBA.
There’s a lot to like about this window air conditioner, including the slim profile that looks great indoors. It has all the features you would expect from a unit this size, and while the speed is underwhelming, Wi-Fi connectivity and R-32 refrigerant are a nice way to round things out. The Frigidaire FGRC104WAE has a general 1-year warranty along with 4 years on the sealed system.
How to find the Best Low Profile Air Conditioner
In this part of our guide, we’re going to discuss what separates great window air conditioners from mediocre systems. That includes important but common features like sleep timers and remotes, along with several overlooked areas.
When you want to know how powerful an air conditioner is, the first specification you should look for is a BTU rating. BTU is short for British Thermal Units and is how manufacturers in the HVAC world measure a room air conditioning systems' cooling capacity.
While a window air conditioner rated at 20,000 BTU is more powerful than a 12,000 BTU system, choosing an oversized AC unit isn’t a good idea. If you purchase a unit that’s too small for an area, it will struggle to keep the room cool. Alternatively, buying an oversized system is like throwing money down the drain and can also result in something called short cycling.
An air conditioner that’s too big for the room where it’s installed can constantly turn itself on and off. This is called short cycling and happens when the unit reaches the temperature you set too quickly and shuts itself off. A system that short cycles can actually increase your electrical bill and causes unnecessary stress on the compressor and other parts of your air conditioner.
To find the right size unit for a room, you have to take square footage into account, and there are window air conditioners rated for rooms anywhere from 150 to over 700 square feet. Most slim or low-profile models are between 5,000 to 12,000 BTU, however. The type of room can also impact efficiency, so you need to keep the following factors in mind as well.
Does the room get a lot of sunlight during the day? If so, you may need to increase the BTU rating as direct sunlight can quickly heat up a room. Dark rooms can have the opposite effect, but you will always want to increase the number if the room's ceilings are higher than 8 feet. If you’re unsure of how to calculate the square footage of the room, multiply the length and width of one side to find the figure.
Airflow and Noise Levels
Two other specifications you’ll want to be aware of are decibel levels and airflow ratings. Airflow on a window-based AC unit is measured in CFMs, and the larger the number, the further away you’ll be able to feel the cool air. In most cases, larger systems will have more powerful fans, although 90% of the models on the market have three speeds with low, medium, and high.
If you intend to use the air conditioner in an area where you sleep or work, you will want to carefully consider the noise level. These types of systems can be noisy, and most homeowners will find anything over 60dBA to be a distraction. While we listed both of these ratings for the air conditioners on our list, you may have to dig deep to find the correct information from some manufacturers.
Energy Star Ratings
Over the past few decades, homeowners who have purchased any appliances have encountered products with the Energy Star label. The popular logo is hard to miss and something you’ll want to look for if you care about efficiency and energy savings.
An Energy Star product is one that has met certain standards set by the DOE or EPA to ensure they use less energy. With room air conditioners, they have to be at least 10% more energy efficient than the federal government's minimum standards. Products with this certification have been third-party tested, and while they are more expensive, they are more efficient and better for the environment.
Every window air conditioner needs refrigerants to help cool the air, and they are something that has come under intense scrutiny since the 2000s. While all refrigerant used in modern air conditioners today is designed to be eco-friendly, that wasn’t always the case as HCFCs took a toll on the ozone layer for years.
R-22 refrigerant was the most popular type before the EPA changed the rules, but it was phased out and eventually replaced by R-410A refrigerant. This is what you’ll find in most systems being sold in the United States, but it also has started being replaced by a greener alternative.
Several manufacturers have begun using R-32 in their air conditioners, which has a global warming potential around 30% lower than R-410A. While both are rated at 0 ODP on the Ozone Depletion Scale, R-32 systems don’t need as much refrigerant to be efficient. Either style is safe, but R32 is the more eco-friendly alternative.
Window Air Conditioner Features
When compared to their portable counterparts, window-based AC units aren’t exactly known for having a wealth of features. Wi-Fi connectivity is by far the most high-tech feature found on these systems and one that has been slow to be adopted by HVAC manufacturers. With that in mind, here are the features that should be on your radar with this style of AC system.
- Modes – All air conditioners will allow you to adjust the speed, but most also have special modes. Sleep Mode can slowly idle down the speed while you sleep, while systems with an Eco Mode can save energy. Fan Mode is self-explanatory, and Dry Mode transforms your AC unit into a mini dehumidifier.
- Filter – While there aren’t any 2-in-1 systems on our list that can scrub the air before blowing it back into a room, they all have filters. These filters vary in terms of quality, but you’ll want to look for systems with filters that are easy to remove and have a filter notification light.
- Louvers – Louvers are an air conditioner part that’s largely remained unchanged over the years on window-based AC units. All louvers are adjustable, which allows you to direct the airflow, but some systems have dual louvers while others use a long, single vent.
- Timer – Window air conditioners with on/off timers are common. That said, cheaper models may limit your range, while premium systems have timers that are good for a full 24 hours. They can be set from the machine itself, with a remote control, or through the next option on our list.
- Wi-Fi – If you live in a connected home, you’ll want to seriously consider an air conditioner with Wi-Fi. It is considered a premium feature and one that’s usually found on systems between 8,000 to 12,000 BTU. Connected air conditioners come with app access and typically let you connect to service like Alexa or Google Home as well.
Window air conditioners are usually more expensive than portable AC units but far cheaper than a central system or mini-split air conditioner. They aren’t cheap, however, which means you should always consider the length of the warranty beforehand.
There are two types of warranties you can expect to find with a window air conditioner – a single or tiered policy. You’ll want to read the fine print with both, but a standard warranty typically covers any damage up to 1-year. Tiered guarantees will provide a 1-2 year standard warranty along with a guarantee of up to 5 years on the sealed system.
This is also an area where you need to take the brand or its parent company into account. A 1-year warranty from a company like Frigidaire or GE is better than a policy of the same length from a company you’ve never heard of. Extended warranties are also an option, and it’s always a good idea to consider the cost or replacement parts as well.
Choosing a solid air conditioner isn’t difficult considering how many models are available, but slim or low-profile machines are a different story. We hope our guide helped shine some light on the compact systems, even if you didn’t opt for one of our picks. If you prefer something that can heat and cool a single room, check out or list of the best window air conditioners with heat.