Quiet Window Air Conditioner Tips

Shopping tips for buying a quiet window air conditioner, and ways to reduce noise in your window A/C to get the quietest operation.

Identifying Quiet Window Air Conditioners Is No Easy Task

Noise is one of the most common reasons for dissatisfaction with a window air conditioner (A/C). Most people would prefer a quiet air conditioner, but when you're shopping for one, it's not easy to tell how noisy a given model will be. One reason is that noise measurements (decibel readings) are rarely included in manufacturers' product literature. Another problem is that you often don't get the chance to hear an installed unit in operation before buying it.

Types of Air Conditioner Noise

To further complicate matters, there are different kinds of noise that an air conditioner might make:
  • The hum of the fan under ordinary operation
  • Rattling and vibration of the case or internal parts
  • A thunking sound made by the compressor when it switches on
  • Electronic beeping sounds when you adjust the controls
  • Shaking and rattling of the glass or frame in the window where the unit is installed
  • Noise from outdoors that is no longer being blocked, since the window is no longer shut

If a model gets good ratings in independent side-by-side testing for low fan noise, that won't mean much to you if the thunk of the compressor kicking in wakes you up at night. Another example is a model that gets very good reviews for quiet operation as well as for overall quality and value, but which makes a piercingly loud beep every time a control is adjusted, a detail which makes it an unacceptable choice for many consumers.

Some rattling and vibration sounds are created or made much worse if a unit is not installed properly. For quietest air conditioner operation, it is essential that the unit be installed according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Suggested A/C Brands and Models for Low Noise

If you are looking for a quiet window air conditioner to buy, check out these brands and models that are recommended for low noise.

If quiet operation is a very important factor for you, you may want to consider a ductless mini-split system instead of a window A/C unit. These are nearly noiseless, much quieter than any window unit you can buy.

Tips for Reducing Noise in Your Existing A/C Window Unit

If you have a window air conditioning unit and you're not in the market to buy a new one, here are some things you can do to minimize the noise it makes:
  • First, verify that the original installation procedures have been followed properly. Pay special attention to any gaskets. If improperly installed, even a high quality, low-noise unit can rattle mercilessly.
  • For noise originating from inside the unit:
    • Be sure that all the compressor mounting parts are present and are properly tightened.
    • If you identify a part that is rattling against another part, you might be able to eliminate the noise by slightly repositioning it.
  • For vibration noise in the A/C case or the window:
    • Be sure all the mounting screws are present and are tightened properly.
    • If the window frame is vibrating, fill the gap with wooden shims or with foam weatherstripping applied to the A/C frame where it meets the window frame.
    • If the glass panes in the window are rattling, apply window putty to secure the glass panels.
  • Keep the fan blades clean. Dirt on the blades can cause them to become out of balance, prematurely wearing out the bearings.
  • Recognize that new units are quieter than older units, especially compressors. In some cases, with an aging appliance, replacement of the entire unit may be the best option to reduce the noise.

Read more: Recommended brands and models of quiet air conditioners for windows

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