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The summer I moved to New York City was a hot one, and coming from Texas where everything is air-conditioned, I wasn’t prepared to adjust to life without central AC. When I was searching for my first apartment, like most people starting out in the City, central air was just a pipe dream. The place I ended up moving had an in-wall sleeve for an AC unit in each room, but being on a budget, we decided to just buy one and make it work. And make it work we did — for over three hot and sticky years.
Until last year, on the Fourth of July, I had a breakdown. Waking up drenched in sweat is not fun, a fan wasn’t sufficient, and I was miserable. So I marched myself to Home Depot and finally splurged for a portable AC unit for my room. And it was the best decision I’d made in years.
Now I’m here to tell you that you can find an affordable air conditioner solution to keep you cool and fresh as the summer months start to crank up the heat. Whether you need a window unit for an apartment or just something to cool down a backyard shed, air conditioners are more affordable and adaptable than ever. They’re also more cost-effective, use less energy, and are less harsh on the environment, meaning you don’t have to feel guilty about keeping cool as long as you use your new unit responsibility.
So here, before the heat really settles into your home, check out the best air conditioners you can order online for less than $200.
For under $200, most window units on the market are 5,000 BTU, which, according to Lowes, “indicates the amount of heat it can remove from a room.” On average, a 5,000 BTU air conditioner will effectively cool down a room that’s about 150 square feet. The higher the BTU the larger the room the unit can cool down, but it’s important to note that increasing the BTU also means an increase in the price.
It’s also important, before you start looking, to know if you want a window unit or portable unit. For a window unit, know the measurements of your window to find the right fit, and double-check you have the right power outlets near the window you want to use. Most smaller air conditioners will plug into a standard three-prong outlet. For a portable unit, you’ll most likely have to vent through the window, so keep that mind as well.
1. This simple AC from a trustworthy brand
According to Walmart, GE is the number one air conditioner brand in the United States — and you can have your very own starting at just $139. This 5,000 BTU unit has two cooling and fan speeds and an easy temperature control that uses a minimum to maximum cool ranking between 1 and 10 to easily select the right temperature. It comes with a kit to easily mount the unit in the window and a slide-out chassis so it fights perfectly. One 5-star Walmart reviewer says these units “are reasonably quiet and can quickly cool a large bedroom.”
2. A solid unit from a surprising company
Toshiba is a brand that we all know and trust, but you probably didn’t realize they make air conditioners. This moderately priced unit has a contemporary design that gives it a sleekness you don’t usually find from something like an air conditioner. It has a two-in-one ac/ventilation mode so you can either run cold air or simply recirculate air within a room. The filter is washable and reusable, saving you money in the long run. Plus, it’s easy to install and comes with a one-year warranty. According to one promising review, “This is a great little ac that works well and cools my room to perfect condition. Also it is not very noisy when it's on. I would highly recommend to all.”
3. Another great AC unit from GE
Another solid GE unit, this one actually increases the BTU from the standard 5,000 we’ve been talking about to 5,100. This doesn’t necessarily mean you can cool a much larger room, but you can trust that it’s working harder to keep your 150 square foot bedroom as cool as possible. This unit has two fan and cooling modes, works with a standard three-prong outlet, and even works as a dehumidifier. Easy installation and a one-year limited warranty round out this product, making it a pretty solid — and affordable — way to cool your home.
4. A small and mighty air conditioner
At $129, this 13-inch window unit will cool down a room quickly and efficiently. It has a two-in-one air condition and fan functionality, seven temperature settings, and can direct air two different ways for maximum comfort. Its clean design will look sharp in any home and the washable filter will keep you and your family healthy. It's easy to install and it fits in a 23-36 inch window.
5. An impressive AC unit at an impressive cost
When it comes to name recognition in the AC game, Frigidaire is high on the list. This unit, which aims to cool a room of up to 150 square feet, operates quietly, and has two fan and cooling speeds with seven different temperature settings. Adjustable panels keep it secure in the window and its washable, slide-out filter reduces bacteria and odor. “I was expecting it to cool the room, but now I am freezing!!!” wrote one extremely satisfied reviewer.
6. A Frigidaire favorite
Another solid and affordable unit from Frigidaire, this 5,000 BTU unit has two fan speeds and an energy saver mode that will turn the unit on and off to maintain the perfect temperature for your room throughout the day. It uses an antibacterial mesh filter to keep the air around you healthy and clean, and comes with an adjustable panel to make it easily fit your window. One five-star reviewer on Walmart even said they were “very happy” with how the unit cooled their 190 square foot room.
7. A unit that's both sleek and useful
Evaporative coolers aren’t your typical air conditioner units. Designed for hot places with low humidity, these units, according to the manufacturer, “work by passing water through a 3D cooling pad and using a fan to dry hot air across the soaked pad to cool it.” It doesn’t use chemicals like freon to cool, so it’s better for the environment. It’s important to note, though, you should research beforehand to see if an evaporative unit, also called a swamp cooler, is right for your area. This particular unit uses 75% less energy than a traditional AC, has three fan speeds, and is on wheels so you can easily move it around your home or office.
8. This portable unit that comes with a remote control
Another evaporative cooler, this one takes things up a notch by serving as a four-in-one device — air conditioner, heather, humidifier, and fan — that’s perfect all year long. This unit has an eight-hour timer, three different fan modes, and even comes with a remote so you don’t have to get up to change the temperature of your room. Since it’s on wheels it’s easy to move around and store when you’re not using it. Though, this guy will probably always be out considering it can cool in the summer and heat in the winter. Just remember to double check if evaporative coolers are effective where you live before purchasing.
9. An adorable unit that costs less than $30
Okay, this little machine isn’t your typical air conditioner, but it might be just what you’re looking for to keep you cool at your desk or to tide you over while you’re searching for a regular AC unit. At $29.99 this device can sit near your bed or desk and uses evaporative technology to turn a glass of water into a few hours of cool, direct air. All you have to do is plug it in to a USB charger, pour in some water, and BAM! refreshing air to create your own personal climate. And with over 2,000 reviews on Amazon, you can trust that people love this little product.
10. This desk-friendly USB air conditioner
Again, not an air conditioner that will cool an entire room, but something to keep you comfortable in your own contained area — and at $51.99, why not? This compact system uses an evaporative water feature with just a glass of water, you can even add essential oils for a more therapeutic cool down. Use it at home by your bed then easily transport it to work for a personal AC in your office.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
This article originally appeared on Reviewed.com: 10 air conditioners you can buy under $200