Consumer Reports tests window, portable air-conditioning units

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- If your home doesn't have central air conditioning, or if you've got some warmer rooms that don't get cool enough, a window unit or portable air conditioner might do the trick.

Consumer Reports latest tests reveal which models cool the best, and which ones are a lot of hot air.

Window air conditioners aren't the most aesthetically pleasing appliances, but when temperatures are warm outdoors, they're often the only option if you want to keep cool.

Consumer Reports just tested dozens of air conditioners and said while not much has changed in how they're installed, a newer AC with a u-shaped design allows you to open and close your window without a heavy unit falling out.

But installation is a little different from a traditional window AC.

"It still does need a special bracket to be installed. First, once you do that, you can slide the AC into place in your window, and the window closes down into this u-shaped groove," said Chris Regan of Consumer Reports.

Just note you might not be able to fit the window and the actual screen.

And now the important question: Can it cool a room?

Testers cranked up the air temperature in a chamber to 90-degrees Fahrenheit, then measured how long it took a window AC to cool the room by 10 degrees.

"Most of the window air conditioners do a pretty decent job when it comes to cooling a room. The best can do it quickly and quietly," said Regan.

And that's where two of the u-shaped units from Midea stood out, earning top scores for cooling and noise in CR's tests.

Consider the MAW08V1QWT for medium-sized rooms about 250-400 square feet. It retails for $360.

And for larger spaces, CR recommends the Midea MAW12V1QWT u-shape, which retails for about $470.

If you only need to cool down a small space, anything under 300 square feet, the LG LW6019ER will get the job done for about $280.

If your space can't accommodate a window AC, CR did also test portable air conditioners.
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