Best Air Conditioning Units for the Money! 2020 - HVACify

Best Air Conditioning Units for the Money!

If you want to demonstrate the power of the best air conditioning units, Singapore is the place to start. This island nation is the financial powerhouse of Asia, and that's because the founding father, Lee Yew, considered air conditioning essential to prosperity. In his view, true development wasn't possible in tropical climates without air conditioning since people could only really work hard during the few cool hours in the morning.

With Lee's decision to put air conditioning everywhere was one factor in making Singapore one of the most productive nations on earth. And Lee was right: we're much less productive when things are hot and sultry. Having the best air conditioning units in your home makes it possible to keep up with life; and if you have very young or very old people living with you, air conditioning is even a serious health concern. Come with us, then, as we explore some of the best air conditioning units out there for your money.

Product Comparison Table

Air Conditioning FAQ

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1. What Types of Air Conditioning Units Are There?

2. What Does “BTU” Mean?

3. How Many BTUs Do I Need?

4. What Should the Best Air Conditioning Units Have in Common?

How We Reviewed

We took a look at many of the air conditioner units out there and came up with a final list of six. There are two of each type of unit: central air, window units, and split units. We looked for units that were readily available and come at a competitive price. Then we looked at how well they cool, what features they have, and what warranty you get with each one. We also spent some time reading what buyers of these units have to say about how well they perform in order to narrow the choice to the best two in each category available.

Overall Price Range

If you're looking to buy a mini split system, expect to pay in the neighborhood of $600 to $800 per unit. If you want a window unit, prices will range from $150 to $400 per unit, depending on size and strength. Central air conditioner systems run from around $1500 to nearly $4000.

With all these units, the big factors that affect prices are size, power, and brand. More expensive units will cool larger areas of your home more efficiently. Name brands with a reputation to protect and a lot of research behind their products will cost you more.

What We Reviewed

  • Goodman 120,000 BTU-Central Air
  • Rheem 70,000 BTU-Central Air
  • Pioneer 12,000 BTU-Mini Split
  • Senville 12,000 BTU-Mini Split
  • Frigidaire 5,000 BTU-Window Unit
  • GE 6,000 BTU-Window Unit

The Goodman 5 ton air conditioner unit is a central air con you install outside or in an attic. It has a two-fan system designed to cool the house down faster than single fan systems. This unit will also heat your home in the winter using electricity, but you can have it adjusted to work with gas for an extra price. Goodman has been in the business for years and has an excellent reputation.

  • Cooling Power
  • Warranty

This unit puts out 120,000 BTUs of air conditioning power. If you're in need of the best air conditioning units for very large spaces, this is the biggest unit we reviewed. It should be enough for 5,000 sq ft of space.

Pros

  • Value leaders in the market
  • Good warranty
  • Energy Star qualified
  • Easy to get repairs and find maintenance parts
  • Uses modern refrigerant

Cons

  • Not as reliable as some other brands
  • Not as efficient in the very hottest climates

The Rheem is another Energy Star qualified unit, this time just 2.5 tons for a smaller space. This unit also offers a heating system. These are some of the quietest units around made by a well-respected brand in the air conditioning world. Rheem are known for building a durable air conditioner.

  • Cooling Power
  • Warran​​​​ty

If the unit is installed by a qualified professional, you'll get a 10-year warranty from Rheem.

Pros

  • Very efficient
  • One of the top ten brands for reliability
  • Panel construction makes for good ventilation and fin protection
  • Uses modern refrigerant
  • Energy Star qualified

Cons

  • Must be installed by a qualified contractor
  • Slightly less efficient than the most expensive models
Pioneer Air Conditioner WYS012A-19 Wall Mount Ductless Inverter+ Mini Split Heat Pump, 12000 BTU-110/120V
  • Save money all year-round with a highly efficient ductless mini split inverter+ heat pump system
  • Ultra-silent and beautifully built perfect for home or light commercial use

Now we move to the mini split air conditioners, and Pioneer is one of the most popular brands. A best-seller on Amazon, this unit is quiet and powerful with a good energy rating and free tech support for life. It has a heating function, fan function, and works as a dehumidifier. It comes with a remote to make it easy to control from anywhere in the room.

  • Cooling Power
  • Warra​​​​nty

Pioneer gives a 5-year warranty on the compressor and lifetime tech support over the phone.

Pros

  • Very energy efficient
  • Excellent warranty
  • Quiet and powerful

Cons

  • Very costly for the number of BTUs
  • Installation is difficult
Senville SENL-12CD Mini Split Air Conditioner Heat Pump, 12000 BTU 19 SEER
  • Mini Split Ductless Air Conditioner and Heater - 19 SEER
  • 4-in-1 Design - With air conditioning, heating, dehumidifier and fan.

Senville's design offers cooling, heating, fan, and dehumidifier options. It's very quiet, and, unlike many similar units, it can still be used on cool mode even when outside temps are as cold as 5 degrees Fahrenheit. However, be aware it doesn't come pre-charged with coolant, so you'll need to have that done before you can use it.

  • Cooling Power
  • Warranty

Senville offers a five-year warranty on the compressor and two years on parts.

Pros

  • Excellent energy efficiency
  • Quieter even than other mini splits
  • Good warranty
  • Relatively easy installation

Cons

  • Does not come pre-charged with refrigerant
  • May have to buy accessories to properly install
Frigidaire FFRA0511R1E 5, 000 BTU 115V Window-Mounted Mini-Compact Air Conditioner with Mechanical Controls
  • 5,000 BTU mini-compact air conditioner for window-mounted installation uses standard 115V electrical outlet (Window mounting kit included)
  • Quickly cools a room upto 150 square feet with dehumidification upto 1.1 pints per hour

Frigidaire's window units are considered some of the best air conditioning units for smaller spaces or occasional air conditioning. This Energy Star qualified unit is very quiet, for this type of air conditioner, and provides a humidifying function, two fan speeds, and six degrees of cooling.

  • Cooling Power
  • Warranty

The parts are covered by a two-year warranty and the sealed inner bits, like the condenser, have a five-year warranty.

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • Energy efficient
  • Quiet for the type
  • Excellent price

Cons

  • Cannot cool a larger room
  • Will be loud compared to a mini split or central air
  • Doesn't last more than a few years

This unit also has an Energy Star qualification and uses modern, non-polluting refrigerant. While it does not have a dehumidifying function, it is very efficient and well made. It is also compact enough to be easy for the average person to install. Oddly, GE doesn't offer much of a warranty on this; yet the units are known as some of the best air conditioning units of the type for durability.

  • Cooling Power
  • Warranty

You get a one-year warranty from GE for this model.

Pros

  • Good cooling power for price
  • Very energy efficient
  • Lightweight and easy to install

Cons

  • Poor warranty
  • Louder than many window units

The Verdict

Once you've made the decision about whether you want a central air, mini split, or window unit, there are still plenty of options to choose from. Here's what we liked:

Best for a Large Space

Best for a Small Space

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