Smart air conditioners — like a lot of other smart products including thermostats, kitchen appliances, and workout equipment — are essentially ACs that can connect to your home Wi-Fi system and be controlled via an app. Like many of their “intelligent” cousins, smart ACs might seem a little gimmicky at first, but some experts say there’s nothing quite like getting cool air flowing through your home before you set foot in the door after a full day at work or a long trip. “It’s a matter of convenience,” according to Allen Schuster, general manager of Manhattan appliance specialist Gringer & Sons. “This way, you’re walking into an environment that’s comfortable, you don’t have to sit there and wait three hours for it to cool down.”
Chris Koehner, owner of Nashville-based HVAC service and repair company Halo Heating & Cooling, seconded that sentiment, saying that smart ACs and smart thermostats, which can be used with older units, “give you the power to control your home’s temperature from anywhere, anytime,” which can be helpful whenever you’re working late and traveling with auto-away options. For pet owners, that can be a huge plus when your dog or cat is alone at home on a hot day. Whereas a window fan or portable AC might take much more of a while to warm up, a smart AC offers energy efficiency. “Your clothes dryer, stove, water heater, and air conditioner are the biggest energy users in your home, but only your air conditioner is likely to be on 24/7,” Koehner says. That can take up a big block of your monthly energy bill — and that’s also where the addition of a smart thermostat can help “to control the most expensive appliance in your house,” Koehner explains.
While the market might have been relatively new a few years ago, as experts explained to us before, there’s much more out there to choose from now. Still, they generally recommend going with smart models from time-tested manufacturers Friedrich and Frigidaire (two brands that also topped our more general list of expert-recommended ACs). The market is a-changing as well — broadly, the hottest trend when it comes to ACs is making them “as noiseless as possible,” and being able to connect to smart-home devices is really starting to pick up more recently, says Justin Edwards, an HVAC contractor with Contractor Advisorly. Read on for our experts’ favorite smart air conditioners, including a handful of window units, a portable one, and a products they say you can use to make most “dumb” ACs smart.
Best overall smart air conditioner
Three out of our four experts recommended the Friedrich Kühl series by name when it came to the best smart ACs you can buy. Like with regular ACs, you’ll need a smart one with more BTUs — or British thermal units — to cool a larger room; this chart can help you find the right size for your space. Schuster actually thinks the Kühl is the best window unit, whether or not you get it for its “smart” features (two other home-cooling experts suggested a slightly larger Kühl model as the best AC for a studio apartment). “If someone comes in and they want the best, we sell them the Friedrich, so they get the Wi-Fi regardless.” Vladmir Galashev, the owner of AC installation and maintenance service Air Conditioner NY, agrees, highlighting the line’s design and quiet operation. But he notes that it’s best to have these ACs professionally installed as they’re on the “heavier” side.
Once you get everything up and running, the Friedrich app and the air conditioner itself are both “very user-friendly,” according to Jamie Kaltner, head of HVAC at contracting company NYC Brownstone, who says he has installed a bunch of them. Aside from using the app to turn the air conditioner on remotely, you can also use it to set a schedule for your AC usage. It’s admittedly an expensive unit, but Schuster says you’re paying for quality. The Kühl, unlike other similar styles, is “built to last with high-quality materials and components,” he says.
[Editor’s note: ACs are particularly difficult to find right now because of all the supply-chain issues happening. This model is only available on Amazon through third-party sellers, so you might be better off buying from a reputable appliance dealer like AJ Madison, which is offering the same price you’ll find on Amazon.]
Best less-expensive smart air conditioners
In the past, Schuster says he couldn’t keep the Frigidaire Gallery Cool Connect AC in stock during the summer rush. “Every day, I get someone calling for one of these,” he says, pointing to the “low-profile design” and good price as reasons for its popularity (especially among city dwellers in smaller apartments). Unlike a lot of other units, “it’s not a bulky thing in the window,” Schuster explains. Still, he and our other experts admit that choosing between this and the Kühl is tough; the two offer “very similar functionality” as far as smart features, and both get consistently positive feedback from customers. It often comes down to a question of budget and design preference — a lot of Schuster’s customers prefer the look of this model, which he says is more “streamlined” than the Kühl.
While the Kühl line is Friedrich’s premier offering, the brand also offers two more budget-friendly options: Chill Premier, its mid-tier range, and Chill, the most affordable of the three. This model offers a lot of the same smart features as the higher-end Kühl, but features a lower price because some of its mechanical components might not last as long, according to Schuster. But in terms of functionality, he says it’s comparable to the Cool Connect unit just above. Joe Lakin, the manager of Brooklyn’s Best Air Conditioning, previously pointed out this AC in our list of the expert-recommended window ACs. If you have a few Wi-Fi-enabled Friedrich units, you can connect them through the brand’s app for a central-air-like experience, Lakin suggested.
[Editor’s note: While you can find this model on Amazon, it’s available only in limited quantities and through a third-party seller. While it’s slightly pricier at P.C. Richard & Son and AJ Madison, they are more established retailers than third-party sellers.]
Edwards points out its ability to connect to Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit. He also mentions how this AC is Energy Star–certified, meaning you’ll “get an amazing rate of power while expending less energy, which helps with your bills.” And if you’re not particularly an expert in installing tech or using tools around the house, not to worry: Edwards calls this one “easy to install.”
Best portable smart air conditioner
Okay, so portable ACs aren’t as popular as window units, primarily because they take up space and are louder. Most experts will tell you that a portable air conditioner unit simply isn’t going to cool as efficiently as a window unit, but sometimes this type of setup is the only option (and still effective at warding off excessive heat). “This would be great for someone with an irregular window size that a window unit won’t fit into,” says Eugene Fiks, president of Fiks Consultants, which integrates smart products into clients’ homes. “The flex-tube connection (or hose) will fit into any window that opens,” he adds, so it really “simplifies installation.” Just like the Cool Connect, you can control this through Frigidaire’s app to turn it on and off remotely and set a custom program.
[Editor’s note: At both Amazon, which has limited inventory of this model, and Walmart, this model is only available through third-party sellers. You can also find the slightly less powerful but more affordable 10,000 BTU version on Amazon for $650.]
Best less-expensive portable smart air conditioner
This AC can cool up to 450 square feet, “which is more than enough for any size room in a typical home,” according to Edwards. And don’t be fooled by all the features like Alexa compatibility and fan speeds; in spite of its “high-tech features, it offers a friendly user design so that anyone, no matter what their technical skills, can easily use it,” he says. It, too, is meant to be quieter, using what Edwards describes as “dual-motor technology” to keep noise levels low, which will come in handy “if you plan on keeping one in your room when you’re sleeping.”
Best quiet smart air conditioner
Another pick that was previously recommended to us in our guide to the best ACs, this model is ideal for those looking for more peace and quiet. That’s what Shirley Hood, appliance specialist at Abt Electronics and Appliances, told us, calling it “extremely quiet” and “very easy to use,” with the bonus of integrated Wi-Fi.
Best smart air conditioner adapter
If you have a regular, non Wi-Fi–enabled air conditioner and are feeling a little envious of all these programmable options, Fiks calls the Sensibo controller a great “retrofit solution.” As he explains, this basically “replaces the remote control that comes with most air conditioners.” You program it to “shoot a little infrared signal” just as the remote would, but the Sensibo is a remote that connects to the internet, so you can control it through an app even if you aren’t home. It’s not perfect; since it is essentially mimicking a remote, it will need to be installed in the same room as the air conditioner, but once it’s all set up — which Fiks says is a pretty simple process — you basically have a “smart” air conditioner that can integrate with Alexa, Google Home, or Siri.
Best smart air conditioner thermostat
Like the aforementioned adapter, a smart thermostat can help “make any unit you have work smarter,” especially for those spots in your space that stay too hot or cold, according to Koehner. For those spots, he recommends placing a smart thermostat there. Another option that can help update an old unit, Koehner points out this Ecobee smart thermostat as “user-friendly,” working with Alexa and syncing with Spotify. But the feature that’s probably most useful? This thermostat comes with cameras to keep an eye on pets, babies, or “elderly relatives who need extra help,” Koehner says.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.