Consumer Reports: Quiet AC for Less

Prices of air conditioners have never been lower. You can now find one to cool a small room for one to two hundred dollars and a big room for around three to four hundred dollars. Consumer Reports tested dozens.

Consumer Reports tests air conditioners in this special chamber. Sensors hang from the ceiling. These measure temperature and others measure humidity.

In all, 32 air conditioners were put through their paces. Jim Nanni, who's been testing air conditioners for twelve years, says you get a lot more for your money these days.

"Years past an energy-efficient air conditioner cost a premium price. Today, you can find energy-efficient air conditioners at very reasonable costs."

And most air conditioners now come with conveniences you used to only get on high-end models — remote controls and electronic displays.

A common mistake when people buy an air conditioner is getting one that's too big.

"If the air conditioner is too large, you actually might not be comfortable in the room. It can feel cold and clammy."

To help figure out how powerful an air conditioner you need, Consumer Reports' Web site has a calculator you can use.

"You need to put information such as room dimensions and window size, even the direction that the windows face."

Consumer Reports tested several air conditioners that are good for an average-size bedroom. Some cost $400, but Consumer Reports named one for $160 a Best Buy.

It's the Whirlpool Designer Style, model ACQ 058 MM.

It comes with a remote and electronic controls. And it's one of the quietest, which can be important — especially in a bedroom.

If you need to cool a larger room, Consumer Reports found several good choices for around $300. The quietest is from LG, model number LW 8000 PR. And remember: you can figure out the right size air conditioner for you with the free calculator that's available at

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