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Best smart air conditioners in 2021

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best smart air conditioner

Now that we're in the throes of summer, it's long past the time to start thinking about the best smart air conditioners — but it's not too late to pick one up. Just like a traditional air conditioner, a smart air conditioner goes in your window and cools your room or house. However, a smart air conditioner is also connected to the cloud, which means you can control it from your phone.

A smart air conditioner also lets you connect it to your other smart home devices, so you can control it with Alexa and Google Assistant, or program it so that it turns on if you turn on your lights or lower your window shades. You can also set it to change temperature if you're leaving or arriving back home, so it's not cooling your house while you're away — and wasting energy. 

What are the best smart air conditioners?

For the purposes of this story, we focused on smart air conditioners for windows, as they're the most common type. If you have central air conditioning, we recommend you check out our picks for the best smart thermostats, which can help you cool your house and keep your energy bill down. 

The best smart air conditioner for most people is the LG Dual Inverter Smart Air Conditioner. It has a sleek design, isn't very loud, and can cool your house or room very efficiently. 

LG offers its Dual Inverter smart air conditioner in a range of sizes, from a small 9,500-BTU model to a 22,000 BTU version that's powerful enough to cool an entire floor of a house. It uses LG's Dual Inverter technology, a variable speed compressor that the company claims is more efficient than compressors found in other air conditioners. LG's smart air conditioner also works with Alexa and Google Assistant; about the only thing we didn't like was LG's app, which was pretty basic.

For smaller rooms, the Midea U is the best smart air conditioner. The Midea U has an innovative U-shaped design that not only makes it more secure in your window, but has better insulation, and lets more light in than traditional window air conditioners.

If you already have a window air conditioner and want to make it smart, we recommend the Sensibo Sky. This small, coaster-size device costs around $100, can be controlled from your smartphone, and can be used to send commands via infrared to your air conditioner to turn it on and off, and adjust the temperature. 

best smart air conditioner: LG LW1517IVSM

LG Dual Inverter Smart Air Conditioner (Image credit: LG SmartThinQ (Credit: LG))

1. LG Dual Inverter Smart Wi-Fi Air Conditioner

The best smart air conditioner overall

BTUs: 9,500, 14,000, 18,000, 22,000
Room size: 450, 800, 1,000, 1,300 square feet
Energy Efficiency Ratio: 14.7
Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant
Reasons to buy
+Cools efficiently+Quiet
Reasons to avoid
-LG's app needs work

When you have to cool a large area—say, several rooms on a single floor—then you should consider LG's Dual Inverter smart air conditioners. These models range in size from a 9,500-BTU model (good for 450 square feet) up to a massive 22,000 BTU model, good for 1,300 square feet.  

All models use what LG calls a dual-inverter compressor, which continually adjusts its speed, rather than turning on and off like a traditional compressor. LG says this technology should provide energy savings of up to 25% and make the device quieter than most air conditioners. This model comes with a remote control, works with Alexa and Google Assistant, and can be controlled via the LG SmartThinQ app. In our LG SmartThinQ window air conditioner review, we were pleased with its performance, but noted that LG’s app needed work.

best smart air conditioner

Midea U Inverter Window Air Conditioner (Image credit: Midea)

2. Midea U Inverter Window Air Conditioner

Best smart air conditioner for easy installation

BTUs: 8,000, 10,000, 12,000
Room size: 350, 450, 550
Energy Efficiency Ratio: 15
Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant
Reasons to buy
+Clever design+Very energy efficient+Quiet
Reasons to avoid
-Longer installation process

The Midea U Inverter Window Air Conditioner gets its name from its unique "U" shape. That's right, there's a large slot in the middle of this smart air conditioner, which allows you to slide your window up and down. Not only does this feature let you open your window to allow fresh air in, but when your window is closed, it provides a much more effective barrier, so your air conditioner doesn't have to work as hard to keep your room cool. 

Because of this design, the company also claims that the Midea U is quieter and more efficient than similar window air conditioners. The Midea U can be controlled from a smartphone app, or with Alexa or Google Assistant. It comes in three models:  8,000 BTUs, 10,000 BTUs, and 12,000 BTUs. In our Midea U smart air conditioner review, we really liked its quiet operation and innovative design, but did note that it's trickier to install than other window air conditioners.

best smart air conditioner: Frigidaire Gallery Cool Connect

Frigidaire Gallery Cool Connect (Image credit: Frigidaire Cool Connect FGRC064WA1 (Credit: Frigidaire))

BTUs: 6,000, 8,000, 10,000, 12,000
Room size: 250 - 550 square feet
Energy Efficiency Ratio: 12.2
Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant
Reasons to buy
+Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
Reasons to avoid
-Not as large sizes as LG

Frigidaire's line of Gallery Cool Connect Smart Room Air Conditioners includes 6,000, 8,000, 10,000, and 12,000-BTU models, and are designed to cool rooms from 250 square feet up to 550 square feet for the largest model. The 10,000- and 12,000-BTU models have an especially sleek design, with a metal mesh grille and LEDs to show you the current temperature.

These air conditioners work with Alexa and Google Assistant (you can also control the appliance via Frigidaire's smartphone app). They have a three-speed fan and an antibacterial mesh filter, and it comes with a remote control. It also has an auto-shut-off feature to save you energy. Other features include a scheduling assistant and a sleep mode.

best smart air conditioner

GE Smart Window Air Conditioner (Image credit: GE)

4. GE Smart Air Conditioner

Best smart air conditioner for medium-size rooms

BTUs: 8,000, 10,000, 12,000, 14,000
Room size: 350, 450, 550, 700
Energy Efficiency Ratio: 12.1
Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit
Reasons to buy
+Available in multiple sizes+Works with HomeKit
Reasons to avoid
-Empty List

Starting with the smallest 8,000-BTU unit, GE's smart air conditioners are meant for more modestly sized rooms, which makes them best for apartments. While not as sleek-looking as those models from LG and Frigidaire, GE's models are reasonably priced, and work with HomeKit.

These smart air conditioners are also compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT, making them one of the most connected there is. In addition, they come with a remote, have a three-speed cooling fan and can be controlled via GE's Appliances app (Android and iOS).

best smart air conditioners: Sensibo Sky

Sensibo Sky (Image credit: Sensibo)

5. Sensibo Sky

Best smart air conditioner add-on

BTUs: n/a
Room size: n/a
Energy Efficiency Ratio: n/a
Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant
Reasons to buy
+Small+Easy to set up
Reasons to avoid
-No display

If you already have a working air conditioner, there's no reason to go out and spend hundreds of dollars to get a smart model. The Sensibo Sky can make your "dumb" air conditioner smart, by sending commands via infrared to turn your air conditioner on and off; you can control the Sensibo Sky from an app on your smartphone, and set timers and rules for when the air conditioner should run. 

In our Sensibo Sky review, we liked that it has a geofencing feature; it can sense when you're getting near home, and start up the air conditioner to cool things down for when you arrive. Conversely, it can automatically shut off your A/C when you leave the house. The one thing we wish it had, though, was a display on the device itself.

Best smart air conditioners: Cielo Breez Plus

Cielo Breez Plus (Image credit: Cielo)

6. Cielo Breez Plus

Best smart air conditioner accessory with display

BTUs: n/a
Room size: n/a
Energy Efficiency Ratio: n/a
Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant
Reasons to buy
+Built-in display+
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't work with as many units as the Sensibo

The Cielo Breez Plus is another good option for making your air conditioner smart. The Breez Plus also sends signals via infrared to your A/C unit, and can be controlled from a smartphone app, or with Alexa or Google Assistant.

One thing we also like about the Cielo Breez Plus is that it has not just a large display, but controls on the device itself to let you adjust the temperature, so you don't have to pull out your smartphone to make it cooler. You can also control the A/C's fan speed, set temperature range locks, and see your energy usage history.

Cielo also makes the Cielo Breez Eco ($68), which lacks a display or physical controls other than an on/off button.

best smart air conditioners: Sensibo Air

(Image credit: Sensibo)

7. Sensibo Air

A smart air conditioner accessory with room presence

BTUs: n/a
Room size: n/a
Energy Efficiency Ratio: n/a
Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant
Reasons to buy
+Room sensor
Reasons to avoid

Like the Sensibo Sky, the Sensibo Air can control your "dumb" air conditioner via infrared commands, letting you program it via a smartphone app. However, the Sensibo Air has an extra feature: A separate room sensor that not only measures temperature and humidity, but also detects your presence. That way, you can program the Sensibo Air to turn off your air conditioner when no one's in the room.

It's a smart addition that will help save you money over the long run, even if the Sensibo Air is more expensive than other air conditioner add-ons.

Honeywell smart Wi-Fi air conditioner

(Image credit: Honeywell)

8. Honeywell Smart Portable Air Conditioner

A smart portable air conditioner

BTUs: 10,000
Room size: up to 450 sq. ft.
Energy Efficiency Ratio: n/a
Works with: Alexa
Reasons to buy
+Air conditioner and dehumidifier+Works with Alexa
Reasons to avoid
-Not as efficient as in-window models 

In general, portable air conditioners aren't as efficient as in-wall or window units, but they can be handy if you can't install one of those other models. The Honeywell Smart Wifi Portable air conditioner pulls double duty as it can not only cool down your room, but it can also act as a dehumidifier. 

This model weighs just about 63 pounds — standard for this size — but has a set of wheels on the bottom so you can move it from room to room. Not only can you control it from your phone (and with Alexa), but it also keeps tabs on outdoor weather conditions and adjusts itself automatically. It also has thermal overload protection and a washable filter. 

What to look for when buying a smart air conditioner

Above all else, you should base your buying decision on two things: BTUs and energy efficiency. Air conditioner "sizes" are determined by their BTU cooling capacity. You want a unit that's just powerful enough to cool your room or area. If you get an air conditioner that’s too large, it’ll chill the room before it’s able to remove the humidity, leaving you cold and clammy.

This chart from Energy Star shows how many BTUs you need in terms of room size; the organization also has a handy calculator on its site for calculating your room size.

Energy Star also lists other guidelines for determining the proper size for an air conditioner in your room. For example, if the room gets a lot of sun, you should increase the capacity of your choice of air conditioner by 10 percent; if the room is heavily shaded, decrease the capacity by 10 percent.

You also want to look for units with a high energy-to-efficiency ratio (EER) — that is, the amount of energy needed to cool a room. The higher the EER, the better. You should be able to find this information in the product listing or the packaging. You also want a unit with a good Energy Star rating, another indicator of energy efficiency.

Room Size (square feet)
100 to 1505,000
150 to 2506,000
250 to 3007,000
300 to 3508,000
350 to 4009,000
400 to 45010,000
450 to 55012,000
550 to 70014,000
700 to 1,00018,000
1,000 to 1,20020,000
1,200 to 1,40023,000
1,400 to 1,50024,000
1,500 to 2,00030,000
2,000 to 2,50034,000

How much does a smart air conditioner cost?

Because they're relatively new smart air conditioners are a bit more expensive. For example, a smart Frigidaire 8,000 BTU AC costs $329 on Amazon, whereas a nonsmart 10,000 BTU Frigidaire model costs about $30 less. Still, the price difference is becoming narrower. That being said, it's not such a huge difference that you should toss out a perfectly good air conditioner just to get one that has some smarts. 

Air conditioner types

Apart from central AC systems — which you would control using a smart thermostat such as the Ecobee SmartThermostat — there are four types of air conditioners from which you can choose. Each has its benefits and trade-offs.

Portable air conditioners: These units are each about the size of a small suitcase and have large exhaust tubes that you must stick out a window. They're the easiest to install, but they are by far the least efficient type of air conditioner.

In-window air conditioners: Perhaps the most common type, these air conditioners simply slide into an open window. After portable units, they're the easiest to install, but they will block the lower part of your window and prevent you from opening that window. Also, you have to block the gaps on either side of the air conditioner to prevent hot air from entering and cold air from escaping.

In-wall air conditioners: Very similar to in-window units, these get inserted through an opening in your wall. They're generally more expensive than in-window units and may require professional installation — especially if you need to cut a hole in a wall of your house — but they won't take up valuable window space, and they allow less air leakage.

Ductless air conditioners: Also known as split air conditioners, these have an indoor section connected to an outdoor unit by a small pipe. While they're the most efficient of the different types listed here, they're also the most expensive to install; you'll need a professional. And the appearance of the indoor section can be polarizing.

Mike Prospero

Michael A. Prospero is the deputy editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing the home, smart home, drones, and fitness/wearables categories, as well as all buying guides and other evergreen content. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine or some other cooking gadget.