TCL Smart Inverter Window Air Conditioner review

Quiet and efficient

TCL Smart Inverter Window Air Conditioner
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The TCL Smart Inverter Window Air Conditioner is very quiet and efficient for its size — and has Matter, so it works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and HomeKit — but feels a bit underpowered compared to the Midea U.


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    Very quiet

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    Very efficient

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    Works with all major smart home systems


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    A little underpowered for the size

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TCL Smart Inverter Window Air Conditioner: Specs

BTUs: 8,000, 10,000, 12,000
Room size: 350, 450, 550
Energy Efficiency Ratio: 15
Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit, SmartThings
Size: 23 x 18.9  x 14 inches
Weight: 61.7 pounds (8,000 BTU model)

But, before you slide this A/C into your window, you’ll want to read the rest of our review first to see how it compares to some of the best smart window air conditioners on the market

You want to keep your room cool during the summer, but you don’t want your electric bill to skyrocket — and you don’t want to be kept awake at night by the thrum of an air conditioner in your window. TCL — yes, the same company that makes some of the best TVs — has a Smart Inverter Window Air Conditioner looks to tackle both issues; not only is it one of the more efficient window A/C units we’ve tested, but it’s also one of the quietest, too. It also has side panels that are more durable than the traditional waffle-like baffles, and it supports Matter, so it’ll work with all major smart home systems. 

TCL Smart Inverter Window Air Conditioner review: Price and availability

TCL sells its Smart Inverter Window Air Conditioner in three sizes: an 8,000 BTU model (good for a 350-square-foot room) costs $399, a 10,000 BTU model is $449, and a 12,000 BTU model (for rooms up to 550 square feet) costs $499. For this review, I tested the 8,000-BTU model.

Those prices are comparable to competing models on our list of the best smart air conditioners, though you should always look for sales.

TCL Smart Inverter Window Air Conditioner review: Design and installation

The majority of the front of the unit is made up of a plastic grille; in the upper left is the TCL’s control panel, which has physical, rather than touch-sensitive buttons. While it doesn’t look as sleek as other models like the Windmill Air Conditioner, there’s a bit of comfort in feeling an actual button depress. To the left of the control panel is the air conditioner’s vent, which automatically opens and closes. 

Installing the TCL Smart Inverter Window Air Conditioner was pretty much the same process as with any other window unit: You heave the thing into your window sill, pull down the pane, and hope it doesn’t fall out the window.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Instead of the traditional accordion-like baffles, the TCL has two metal frames that extend out each side of the air conditioner. Inside each is a telescoping plastic insert that fills the gap, and locks into the metal frame via two tabs. While I found the locking mechanism a bit finicky — I had to bend the tabs on the frame to get it to lock in place — it feels much more durable than the plastic accordion-style baffles on most other air conditioners. It’s not going to provide as much insulating capabilities as the Midea U smart air conditioner, which uses your actual window instead of baffles, but it’s a nice feature. 

TCL Smart Inverter AC

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

TCL includes the usual foam weatherstripping, as well as a small cube of plasticine to help seal any other openings. 

TCL Smart Inverter Window Air Conditioner review: Performance

TCL Smart Inverter AC

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Similar to other air conditioners I’ve tested with inverter technology, the TCL was quiet and efficient. In fact, it was one of the quietest air conditioners I’ve tested — on a par with the Hisense. From about six feet away, I registered a max of about 49 dBa, not that much louder than the ambient noise in the room. Moreover, the TCL unit has an energy efficiency rating of 15, the same as the Hisense and the Midea U air conditioner. 

However, the 8,000-BTU TCL model felt a little underpowered for my bedroom, which measures 13 x 10 feet. Even at its highest setting, it didn’t move as much air as I would have liked, so I spent more time than I’d like above the covers. 

I (and my wife) especially liked that you can turn off the TCL’s display; its bright LEDs can be very distracting when you’re trying to sleep. There’s a  “mute” button on the remote and the A/C, but instead of turning off every beep when you push a button — which I wish it would do — it instead just turns off the unit’s fan. 

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Like the air conditioner itself, the included remote won’t win any beauty prizes, but is comfortable to hold and easy to use. There’s a four-way directional arrow in the center to adjust the temperature, and buttons to control the A/C’s other functions. 

TCL’s app (for Android and iOS) is similarly utilitarian, but in a good way. When the air conditioner is on, the top of the app shows the temperature you’ve set, surrounded by what looks like a dial you can adjust up or down. Annoyingly, it’s just for show — you have to use a slider beneath to change the temperature. Beneath this are controls to adjust the fan speed, and activate other modes such as Eco and Sleep. 

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Because the air conditioner has Matter built in, you can add it to Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomeKit, and SmartThings. If you have a TCL Google TV, you can even control the air conditioner from there. I connected it easily to HomeKit — it was more or less a matter of scanning a QR code — but had an unexplained error with Alexa.

TCL Smart Inverter Window Air Conditioner review: Verdict

Apart from its less-than-ideal output, TCL’s Smart Inverter Window Air Conditioner works well, and is very quiet, so it’ll keep you cool without waking you up at night. If you are considering it over some of the other best smart air conditioners, I would suggest going for a size larger than you think you’ll need. 

Later this year, TCL will come out with a new version of this unit that’s a heat pump, meaning it will keep your room cool in the summer and warm in the winter. So if you’re looking for an air conditioner and space heater in one, you might want to wait. Otherwise, the TCL Smart Inverter Window Air Conditioner is worth a look.

Mike Prospero
U.S. Editor-in-Chief, Tom's Guide

Michael A. Prospero is the U.S. Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide. He oversees all evergreen content and oversees the Homes, Smart Home, and Fitness/Wearables categories for the site. In his spare time, he also tests out the latest drones, electric scooters, and smart home gadgets, such as video doorbells. Before his tenure at Tom's Guide, he was the Reviews Editor for Laptop Magazine, a reporter at Fast Company, the Times of Trenton, and, many eons back, an intern at George magazine. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College, where he worked on the campus newspaper The Heights, and then attended the Columbia University school of Journalism. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, electric scooter, or skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine, smoker, or pizza oven, to the delight — or chagrin — of his family.

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