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For a long time, I lived in New York City unbound to any particular air conditioning unit, using whatever the previous tenant left. And every summer, I would sweat through the heat, regretting not finding an upgrade as my cheap unit blew lukewarm air my way. This past week, Europe — and the United States — faced serious heat waves with forecasts of 105 degrees, hotter than 98% of the planet’s surface, according to NBC News’ reporting. It made me thankful that when I got my own place last year, I prioritized buying an air conditioner that actually cooled my home.
Though a departure from the thriftiness my mom prioritized throughout my life, my search for a quality air conditioning unit began with online product recommendations and countless Amazon reviews. My demands — something quiet, sleek and relatively affordable — landed me at the Midea U model because it checked off all my boxes. I also liked that I could still open and close my window as I pleased, a feature I hadn’t seen before.
While it would run me more than I’d ever spent on an air conditioner, I took the plunge. As temperatures reach 97 degrees in New York as I write this, I don’t regret it.
The Midea U boasts 8,000 BTUs — on average, an AC unit needs about 20 BTUs to cool a square foot, which we explain more in-depth in our guide to air conditioners — meaning it can cover just about 400 square feet. It also equips smart home capabilities, which makes it easy to use from your smartphone. It’s earned a 4.5-star average rating from more than 9,500 customer reviews on Amazon.
The Midea U emits a low humming sound when it’s powered on and that’s it (seriously). Other ACs I’ve used would ebb and flow with loudness that would sometimes jolt me from my sleep. As far as I’m concerned, the Midea U has come the closest to sounding like it’s not even there.
It conserves energy. If you care about your air conditioner’s environmental impact, the Midea U’s inverter compressor adjusts its efficiency to avoid overworking when there’s no need to do so. It’s also Energy Star-rated.
- The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that it uses around 38% less energy than the federal standard.
- And the United States Department of Energy gave it an energy-efficiency ratio of 15 (the higher, the better — the high-end Friedrich model that we recommend in our guide to air conditioners, for comparison, is rated a 12.
It’s relatively more affordable than other inverter air conditioners. Let me be clear: It’s not inexpensive. But other inverter air conditioners, like this Frigidaire Gallery, cost more than $400 and offer similar BTUs.
It doesn’t obstruct the window it lives in and is designed so you can open and close your window even after it’s installed. If it ever gets a little cool and you’d like to save some energy, simply open your window and turn it off.
It’s smartphone compatible. Instead of having to mess around with buttons, the Midea U is Wi-Fi-enabled and comes with an easy-to-use app (iOS and Android) — it feels more futuristic than any AC I’ve ever used.
It looks good. Simply put, the Midea U is cleaner, softer and smoother-looking than most ACs I’ve seen on the market.
I haven’t had any issues with the Midea U, even though I’ve read complaints about the installation process — for example, its instructions aren’t very thorough. That said, I have a charitable maintenance man in my building who helps me put in my air conditioning unit when it starts getting hot.
In order to actually get the thing into my window, we had to go to YouTube, where experts have filmed themselves installing the machine with the included window bracket. If your super isn’t generous like mine (or you don’t have one), consider hiring help through a service like TaskRabbit or Fiverr — and keeping the Youtube video loaded for everyone’s sake.
Other air conditioners to consider
There are a ton of air conditioners out there at different price points and in different styles — maybe you’d prefer a non-inverter air conditioner, for example, or more BTUs. To give you an idea of what’s out there, I laid out a couple highly rated options below, including one that we’ve previously recommended.
If the Midea U is sold out or otherwise unavailable, the Frigidaire Gallery GHWQ083WC1 that I mentioned earlier is an inverter air conditioner, too. It’s a great option that just costs a little more. Frigidaire says it has quiet performance, it’s Energy Star-certified, it similarly uses 38% less energy than the federal standard according to the EPA and it’s also smartphone compatible. It has a 4.4-star rating from more than 190 customer reviews across The Home Depot.
If you don’t want an inverter air conditioner and you’d prefer something more traditional for less money, the LG LW8017ERSM — which we recommended in our guide to air conditioners — is a great option. Like the other air conditioners mentioned here, it has low noise performance, it’s Energy Star-certified and because it’s a smart window air conditioner, it can be controlled via Wi-Fi. It has a 4.4-star rating from nearly 900 customer reviews on Amazon.