Remove or Cover Air Conditioners
Joseph McCullar/shutterstock
Remove or Cover Air Conditioners
Joseph McCullar/shutterstock

cool your space for a cool price

As summer heats up, keeping costs down doesn't have to mean sweating it out inside. If you don't have central air, or one room gets warmer than the rest, it's time to consider a window air conditioner.'s research into the best cheap air conditioners turned up models from well-respected brands that get the job done for less than $300. This roundup also includes a trio of slightly pricier choices, including a smart air conditioner, as well as an ultra-quiet through-the-wall unit and a portable model for anyone who can't or would rather not install a window AC.

Frigidaire FFRA0511R1
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frigidaire ffra0511r1

Best Cheap 5,000-BTU Air Conditioner
Est. Price:$136 | Buy it on Amazon

- Cools up to 150 square feet quickly and effectively for a unit with just 5,000 BTUs of cooling capacity, reviewers say.
- 2 fan-only speeds in addition to high and low cooling modes.
- 7 temperature settings and auto restart.
- Very easy installation, users report; compact and relatively lightweight at 41 pounds.
- Washable antibacterial mesh filter.
- Generous warranty: 5 years on the sealed system and 1 year on parts and labor.

- Mechanical controls mean fewer features.
- 2-way air direction control is slightly limited.
- No Energy Star certification; energy-efficiency ratio (EER) of 11.1 falls short of some models in its class.
- Scattered reports about short lifespan.

Takeaway: The relatively diminutive size of this Frigidaire air conditioner (16" W x 12" H x 15.3" D) is particularly well-suited for homes with tiny windows, a feature many reviewers mention with apparent relief. They say it cools smaller bedrooms, studios, and even workshops in a matter of minutes — and keeps them that way — without making a racket. Mechanical controls, rather than electronic controls, help keep the price in low-budget territory. Users also sacrifice popular features like a remote control, timer, energy-saver mode, and clean-filter alert, but few seem to mind. A digital version, the Frigidaire FFRA0522R1, is available for about $40 more.

LG LW6017R
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lg lw6017r

More Powerful Small Room Air Conditioner
Est. Price:$179 | Buy it from Home Depot

- 6,000 BTUs provide coverage for up to 260 square feet.
- 3 fan speeds and 3 cooling speeds; auto-cool, dehumidify, and energy-saver modes.
- Electronic controls with remote; thermostat and 24-hour timer; auto restart.
- Washable filter; clean-filter alert.
- Sufficiently quiet for many reviewers.
- Lightweight, at 39.6 pounds.

- Some grumbling about insufficient cold-air output.
- Scattered complaints about the location of the display panel, which is hard to see if the unit is elevated.
- Air output can be adjusted in only 2 directions.
- No Energy Star; 11.5 EER is lower than some other models.
- 1-year warranty on parts and labor is on the short side.

Takeaway: A solid majority of reviewers give this LG air conditioner a thumbs-up for discharging plenty of cold air to quickly chill a small or midsize room — even one with a wall of windows. Most users say they get their money's worth from this model, although some voice dissatisfaction with what they consider inadequate power or excessive noise. The LW6017R is a relatively new model from LG and has amassed just slightly more than 300 reviews. Based on those and the performance of predecessors, we feel confident recommending this iteration.

Frigidaire FFRE0633U1
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frigidaire ffre0633u1

Best Air Conditioner for Small Rooms Under $300
Est. Price:$190 | Buy it from Abt

- Runs quietly and delivers 6,000 BTUs to chill rooms up to 250 square feet, users report.
- 3 cooling plus 3 fan-only speeds; auto, eco, and sleep modes.
- Electronic controls with remote; 24-hour timer; auto restart.
- 8-way air direction control beats competing models.
- Washable antibacterial mesh filter; clean-filter alert; built-in ionizer.
- Energy Star and 12.1 EER; very low cost to operate (estimated at $47 per year).
- 5-year warranty on the sealed system; 1 year on parts and labor.

- At 18.5 inches wide and 45 pounds, it's slightly larger and heavier than the other compact, small-room ACs we recommend.
- Newer model, so no information on longer-term performance and durability.

Takeaway: An enthusiastic testing-based endorsement from TopTenReviews, plus strong reviews for its predecessor, the FFRE0633S1, earn the Frigidaire FFRE06SSU1 a top spot on our list. This full-featured model comes in a relatively small package but manages to provide significant cooling relief on sweltering days. It's also easy to install, users say. Features like the 8-way airflow and sleep mode are unusual in this price bracket, as is the five-year warranty on the sealed system. The built-in ionizer, which catches airborne contaminants with positive and negative ions, is another extra that may appeal to allergy sufferers. Use of the ionizer is optional, which is good, as some experts aren't convinced of the efficacy or overall health safety of such devices.

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lg lw8016er

Good Cheap AC for Midsize Rooms
Est. Price:$219 | Buy it from

- Cools quickly, holds consistent temperature, pulls lots of moisture from the air, and runs efficiently, according to reviews.
- 8,000 BTUs; coverage up to 340 square feet.
- 3 fan speeds; cool, dehumidify, fan-only, and energy-saver modes.
- Electronic controls with remote; built-in thermostat and 24-hour timer; auto restart.
- 4-way air direction.
- Washable filter; filter-check light.
- Energy Star and 12.1 EER suggest a low operating cost.

- 4-foot power cord is 2 feet shorter than most competing models.
- 1-year warranty on parts and labor is relatively short.
- Some complaints about noise.

Takeaway: The LG LW8016ER has been kicking around for a few years and continues to claim strong support from users for overall performance. Once a room arrives at the desired comfort level — a state quickly reached — reviewers say it stays that way. For the price, the feature set on this LG AC is fairly generous, though standard for the category overall, and it includes a dehumidify function that users appreciate. About the only outstanding issue concerns the noise; some reviewers consider it fairly loud even as others assert that this model is the quietest ever. For those who want the very latest edition and 8,200 BTUs, you'll pay about $290 for the LW8018ER.

Frigidaire FFRE0833U1
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frigidaire ffre0833u1

Best 8,000-BTU Air Conditioner Under $300
Est. Price:$240 | Buy it from Best Buy

- 8,000 BTUs for coverage up to 350 square feet.
- 3 fan-only speeds plus 3 cooling speeds; auto, eco, and sleep modes.
- Electronic controls with remote; built-in thermostat and 24-hour timer; auto restart.
- 6-way air direction control bests many other models.
- Washable anti-bacterial filter; filter-change alert; optional ionizer.
- Energy Star; 12.1 EER.
- 5-year warranty on the sealed system; 1 year on parts and labor.
- Weighs just 53 pounds, 5 pounds less than our other 8,000-BTU pick.

- Newer model with few reviews.
- Scattered griping about excessive noise.

Takeaway: An updated model in a line of Frigidaire ACs that are longtime top sellers, the FFRE0833U1 seems on track to deliver the same high level of performance. It's also loaded with features while bearing a price tag well under $300. Users report that it cools bedrooms in a flash (even at the apex of an A-frame house) and performs well in large rooms even on eco-mode. It also removes more moisture from the air than its predecessor. The ionizer gives the filter a boost by actively pulling contaminants from the air, which may be a boon to allergy sufferers (although some doubt the claimed benefits of this technology). Durability is impossible to assess at this stage, so risk-averse shoppers may prefer to go with the earlier — although not quite as feature-rich — FFRE0833S1 (est. price: $249; buy it from Home Depot).

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ge ahs10ax

Good Cheap Large-Room Air Conditioner
Est. Price:$299 | Buy it from Lowe's

- Blasts chilled air and pulls out plenty of moisture, leaving rooms feeling comfortably cool, reviews say.
- 10,000 BTUs for coverage up to 450 square feet.
- 3 speeds, with auto cool; 3 fan-only settings; energy-saver mode.
- Electronic controls with remote; thermostat and 24-hour timer; auto restart.
- 4-way air direction control.
- Washable mesh filter; alert light signals filter should be changed.
- Energy Star; 12.2 EER is the highest among our top picks.
- Lightweight for a higher-capacity model (just 60 pounds).

- Too loud for some users.
- Some reports suggest the thermostat is not entirely precise.
- 1-year warranty.

Takeaway: The GE AHS10AX packs a surprising punch, many reviewers say, cooling off a large space with a force greater than its 10,000 BTUs would suggest. Some tell of saving on utility costs by running this unit rather than the whole-house AC. Others laud the efficiency of the energy-saver mode. Despite a bit of grousing about the noise level and a thermostat that doesn't always register the room temperature accurately, this new addition to the GE air conditioner lineup delivers solid performance at a value price. It's offered exclusively at Lowe's.

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lg lw1016er

Best 10,000-BTU Air Conditioner Under $300
Est. Price:$299 | Buy it from Home Depot

- Leaves a chill in the air even on low, and beats the competition for quiet operation, according to reviewers.
- Cools rooms up to 450 square feet.
- 3 cooling speeds and 3 fan-only speeds; auto-cool, dehumidify, and energy-saver modes.
- 4-way air direction.
- Electronic controls with remote; thermostat and 24-hour timer; auto restart.
- Energy Star and 12.1 EER; comparatively low operating costs (estimated at $80 yearly).
- Washable filter with light to alert when it needs cleaning.
- Slide-out chassis to aid in installation and removal.

- Some owners gripe about unclear instructions presenting setup challenges.
- Heavy, at 74 pounds.
- Short 1-year warranty on parts and labor.

Takeaway: User reviews indicate that this 10,000-BTU LG window AC is the one to buy if relatively little noise from the fan and compressor is a high priority. Quick and effective cooling, coupled with low cost, are additional criteria that the LG LW1016ER satisfies. The few blemishes on an otherwise strong record involve installation struggles and spotty reports of a very short lifespan. For the most part, however, hundreds of owners have been more than happy with their purchases; 5-star ratings constitute more than half the responses across retailers.

Honeywell MN10CES
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honeywell mn10ces

Bonus: Good Cheap Portable Air Conditioner
Est. Price:$349 | Buy it on Amazon

- Provides good, fast, and relatively quiet cooling on hot days, users say.
- 10,000 BTUs for coverage up to 450 square feet.
- 3-in-1 functionality: air condition, dehumidify, and fan-only settings (3 speeds).
- Continuous drain option for the dehumidifier and auto evaporation — no drip pan or water tank required.
- Electronic controls with remote; thermostat and 24-hour timer.
- Washable filter; filter-check light.
- Mounted on caster wheels and weighing 66 pounds, it's fairly easy to maneuver.
- 5-year warranty on the sealed system; 1 year on parts and labor.

- Scattered complaints about product failure after a couple of seasons.
- Lacks some desirable features for the price, including sleep mode, energy-saver mode, and auto-restart.
- No Energy Star certification or energy guide documentation; portable air conditioners tend to be much less energy efficient than window units.

Takeaway: Convenience and a user-friendly design are the greatest strengths of this Honeywell portable air conditioner, along with its chilling chops. Setting up the Honeywell MN10CES (which comes with a window venting kit and hose) is a breeze, reviewers say, and doesn't deter them from moving the unit into and out of rooms or storage as needed. They also report that large rooms cool down without a struggle. The MN10CES is cool on style, too, and available in a variety of colors, including white, black, and black/silver. But, buyer be warned: While most owners award points for dependability, some tell of breakdowns after just a few years of service.

Friedrich Chill CP08G10B
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friedrich chill cp08g10b

Bonus: Good Cheap Wall Air Conditioner
Est. Price:$369 | Buy it on Amazon

- 8,000 BTUs provide very cool and efficient chilling for midsize rooms (up to 325 square feet), reviewers write.
- 3 fan speeds; cool, dehumidify, fan-only, and money-saver modes.
- Electronic controls with full-function remote; thermostat and 24-hour timer; auto restart.
- 4-way air direction control, with auto-swing louvers for even better circulation.
- Slide-out chassis with anti-intrusion design (unit cannot be kicked in); easy installation in window or wall (comes with wall sleeve), reviews say.
- Washable anti-microbial filter.
- Energy Star; 12.2 EER is among the best in class.
- Quieter than many other ACs, according to users.
- 5-year warranty on the sealed system; 1-year limited warranty on parts.

- Scattered reports of malfunctions, most dating back several years.
- Lots of exclusion clauses and caveats in the warranty, and some owners have found manufacturer support lacking.

Takeaway: This 8,000-BTU Friedrich air conditioner stands out for unusual versatility, at least for the price. The Friedrich Chill can be mounted in a window or set up as a through-the-wall air conditioner and features a power cord that runs out of either side, an arrangement that overcomes outlet location constraints. Reviewers also welcome the anti-intrusion design and the option of using this model as a dehumidifier. Quiet operation and effective cooling are performance highlights and hallmarks of the Friedrich brand, while the build quality merits special mention in many users' reviews.

Frigidaire FGRC0844U1
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frigidaire fgrc0844u1

Bonus: Good Cheap Smart Air Conditioner
Est. Price:$329 | Buy it on Amazon

- 8,000 BTUs for cooling up to 350 square feet.
- Wi-Fi enabled for control with mobile devices and Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, in addition to a remote.
- Programmable and customizable for individual scheduling.
- 3 cooling speeds and 3 fan-only settings; auto-cool, eco, and sleep modes.
- 4-way airflow with slanted louvers (for circular direction).
- Washable antibacterial mesh filter with filter-check light; built-in optional ionizer.
- Energy Star and 12.0 EER; comes with insulated side panels for greater energy conservation.
- Comparatively lightweight, at 53 pounds.
- 5-year warranty on the sealed system; 1 year on parts and labor.

- New model with limited reviews.
- Complaints about inaccurate thermostat and temperature display in reviews of this model's predecessor.
- Scattered reports about a weak wireless receiver.

Takeaway: Users say it's hard to resist the stylish, svelte appeal of the Frigidaire FGRC0844U1, especially when coupled with smart functionality. Although a few users report that connectivity may be hit or miss, most say the ability to program this Wi-Fi AC to suit their needs and control it from afar makes warm-weather days so much more tolerable — as does strong, quick, and quiet cooling. Because reviews for this new model are sparse, it's hard to know whether the wonky thermostat that was an issue with the previous model has been improved, but shoppers keen to build out their homes' smart capabilities while sticking to a budget might give Frigidaire's Cool Connect smart AC serious consideration.