Portable, window-mounted, split, and multi-split air conditioning units can be used in rooms that are either too far or too expensive to connect to central air conditioning and provide an easy way for you to control the temperature in the individual room as opposed to the entire home or apartment. The downside, though, is that these units don’t have the benefit of hiding their mechanical functionality behind drywall and paint. The net result is that these units are often considered louder than central AC and can cause some to be too frustrated at their volume.
Most portable and alternative air conditioner unit manufacturers are aware of this problem and have built in certain functionality to either remove the mechanical functionality from the room as best they can or otherwise create products that won’t bother sensitive ears. This article assembles our top five picks for best air conditioner unit with a focus on quiet operation. Afterward, we’ll also be going over what you need to know about a quiet air conditioning unit so that you can find the model that works best for your home.
- Pioneer WYS012GMFI17RL
- When it comes to quiet operation above all else, Pioneer’s Multi-Split unit is one that cannot be surpassed. The included heat pump adds to the all-around functionality of the unit and, provided you’re willing to pay the premium and installation expenses, this product can handle heat and cooling without fuss or volume.
- Haier Serenity ESAQ406T
- This window-mounted unit from Haier maintains low noise pollution while still cooling most smaller rooms. Installation is somewhat of a hassle and dehumidification remains low, but provided your environment is low on humidity and you’re looking for the most efficient air conditioner possible, the Serenity Series is fully digital, customizable, and ready for most cooling needs.
- Friedrich Kuhl SQ06N10C
- Stylish and sleek, this window-mounted unit is perfect for eliminating noises both inside and out. The high-end design warrants a closer look, but the price associated with the aesthetic choices leave us a little confused given the lack of dehumidifier and BTU rating.
- Honeywell Contempo HL10CESWW
- This portable Honeywell unit comes with excellent filtration and is perfect for larger rooms. At 52 decibels, this unit is a bit louder than some of the others and is certainly harder to move around. Still, this portable unit’s strength makes it great for larger rooms and spaces.
- Whynter Elite ARC-122DS
- This powerful portable air conditioning unit uses two hoses to quickly cool rooms both large and small. Effective and quick dehumidification is a plus, but a louder operating volume and large size make it frustrating for some that need to access every square inch of their space without moving the unit.
- Quiet Air Conditioner Units Buyers Guide
- Different AC Units
- Final Thoughts
Multi-Split | 12,000 BTU | 2.5 pts/hr | < 40-57 dB
When it comes to quiet operation above all else, Pioneer’s Multi-Split unit is one that cannot be surpassed. The included heat pump adds to the all-around functionality of the unit and, provided you’re willing to pay the premium and installation expenses, this product can handle heat and cooling without fuss or volume.
- Quietest overall operation
- Multi-Split design more effective in cooling
- Heat pump included adds functionality
- High BTU rating
- Ductless suction
- Complex installation
- More expensive than most other units
- Not easily portable
- Ultra high efficiency inverter and ductless mini plot heat pump
- Wireless Internet remote access programming functionality
- Warranty: 2-year Parts, 5-year Compressor
If your aim is quiet operation above all other features, then you won’t need to look any further than the Pioneer WYS012GMFI17RL. This model capitalizes on a multi-split design, which keeps most of the louder mechanical components of the unit (like the compressor) outside of the room you’re using. Inside, you utilize a large, monolithic bar that produces all of the cooling power (and heat) you need without the noise.
With a minimum noise level of 40 decibels, it’s not going to get quieter than this. Due to the design choice, however, installation is going to be difficult depending on your home’s design, and there’s no real way to use this unit in adjacent rooms without serious work. Still, the multi-split category is perfect for those who need air conditioning that’s built to last and are willing to put in the extra time and cost associated with it. If this sounds like you, and you live in an environment where heating and cooling are equally as important, then this unit should serve you well.
Window-Mounted | 6,000 BTU | 1.5 pts/hr | < 44 dB
This window-mounted unit from Haier maintains low noise pollution while still cooling most smaller rooms. Installation is somewhat of a hassle and dehumidification remains low, but provided your environment is low on humidity and you’re looking for the most efficient air conditioner possible, the Serenity Series is fully digital, customizable, and ready for most cooling needs.
- Window-mounted design easier for maintenance and access
- Great for smaller rooms
- Great included remote and digital display
- Highly energy-efficient
- Weak cooling power for larger rooms
- Weak dehumidification
- Difficult installation
- Energy Star 12.2 efficiency rating
- Full-function remote control and 24-hour on/off timer
- Warranty: 1-year Parts, 5-year Compressor
Window-mounted units like the Haier Serenity ESAQ406T find the middle ground between the silence of a multi-split unit and the portability of a windowless unit. This model performs well while still providing quiet operation and easy access for filter cleaning and maintenance. The Haier Serenity ESAQ406T is one of the quietest Haier units available, averaging about 44 decibels during operation. The included remote control is also quite versatile and makes it easy to program and forget about this unit.
The energy efficiency is sure to appease the more environmentally conscientious, but this does come at the cost of cooling power. We recommend this Haier unit for smaller rooms in drier environments, as this unit will struggle to dehumidify and cool larger spaces enough for comfortable use. Despite these aspects, this is a window-mounted unit that’s fully functional and great for those who don’t want to think about emptying pans or manually adjusting a unit. The Serenity Series is highly versatile, easy to maintain, and certainly worth consideration for a bonus room or detached office.
Window-Mounted | 5,800 BTU | 1.2 pts/hr | < 43 dB
Stylish and sleek, this window-mounted unit is perfect for eliminating noises both inside and out. The high-end design warrants a closer look, but the price associated with the aesthetic choices leave us a little confused given the lack of dehumidifier and BTU rating.
- Sleek, clean design
- Highly energy efficient
- Noise-cancelling design
- Built-in Wi-Fi control
- Automatic fan speed effective for accurate cooling
- Weak dehumidifier
- Struggles to cool larger rooms
- Low BTU rating
- Control unit from your smartphone using the KWIFI accessory
- Auto fan helps to control temperature more precisely
- Warranty: 1-year Parts, 5-year Sealed Refrigerant Warranty
For those who want a window-mounted unit that still offers a sleek, modern design, Friedrich’s Kühl series of air conditioning units offer a happy medium with a few smart features built into the unit. The Friedrich Kühl SQ06N10C air conditioning unit works at a quiet 43 decibels on most settings, thanks to the built-in auto fan feature that ensures the quietest operation at all times. Other features include the KWIFI Wi-Fi functionality that can be purchased separately. Through it, you’ll be able to control the temperature and the fan via your smartphone.
While the sleek design and ease of use are major pluses, the real issue with this unit is a lack of strength. While quiet, this unit will struggle to cool rooms any larger than 250 square feet. Likewise, the high price is a lot to pay for a unit that comes with no heat pump and poor dehumidification. The Friedrich Kühl series is perhaps best utilized by smaller rooms and apartments that need a simple and easy-to-use unit to cool down low-humidity environments.
Portable | 10,000 BTU | 3.33 pts/hr | < 52 dB
This portable Honeywell unit comes with excellent filtration and is perfect for larger rooms. At 52 decibels, this unit is a bit louder than some of the others and is certainly harder to move around. Still, this portable unit’s strength makes it great for larger rooms and spaces.
- Great for large rooms
- 3 fan speeds offer greater control over comfort and volume
- Dual filters provide fresh air
- Easy-to-use remote control included
- Easy installation
- Difficult to maneuver around
- Frustrating condensation removal
- Louder than most units on this list
- Vertical motion produces consistent airflow
- 3 fan speeds and sleep mode built into the unit
- Dual filters for strong performance
- Warranty: 1-year Parts & Labor, 5-year Compressor
The Honeywell Contempo HL10CESWW is a clean and modern take on the standard portable air conditioner unit that uses a single hose connected to a nearby window. For those who need a quiet air conditioning unit that’s easy to move between rooms, windowless portable units like this one offer a consistent, if not somewhat loud, solution. Assembly and installation can almost always be completed with ease, and in less than an hour, you can be cooling your home.
The Contempo unit is also one that puts a special focus on filtration, as the dual filters give homeowners the piece of mind that no allergens or debris are being tossed into the air during operation. We’re a little disappointed in the weight and bulkiness of this unit, and you will be required to empty out the condensation manually. Nevertheless, this is a perfect unit for those who want a budget solution to their air conditioning needs without sacrificing volume.
Portable | 12,000 BTU | 3.2 pts/hr | < 52 dB
This powerful portable air conditioning unit uses two hoses to quickly cool rooms both large and small. Effective and quick dehumidification is a plus, but a louder operating volume and large size make it frustrating for some that need to access every square inch of their space without moving the unit.
- Dual hose design quickly cools rooms
- Quick dehumidification
- Easily programmable
- Easy-to-use remote control needed
- Auto drain eliminates need to manually drain condensate
- Unit is large and bulky
- Dual hose assembly somewhat difficult to install
- Low airflow when compared to other units
- Somewhat loud compared to other units
- Activated carbon filter
- Auto drain fully exhausts condensate
- Premium casters for increased mobility
- Warranty: 1-year Limited
When it comes to portable air conditioners, perhaps there’s none more effective nor quieter than the Winter Elite ARC-122DS. This model uses a dual hose setup to pull in air and release air from different locations, resulting in speedy operation that can compete with the likes of multi-split units like Pioneer.
Humid spaces need not fear as the Whynter unit both pulls humidity out of the air while also dealing with the residual condensate automatically. Other features include an activated carbon filter and easy-to-use remote, which make operation almost as simple as that of the Kuhl Series unit. However, portable air conditioners are not known for their space conservation methods and this unit is no different. You’ll take up a few square feet of space with this unit, which may pose a problem in certain smaller locations. Still, if you’re set on a portable unit and need quick and quiet operation, this is one of the best options in the market today.
Quiet Air Conditioner Units Buyers Guide
Each of these five air conditioning units utilizes different methods for cooling your room without creating unnecessary noise pollution. Still, some products work better than others for certain homes, so if you’re not sure which product works best for you, consider comparing your needs to the following criteria:
Decibels give homeowners the most objective method of measuring noise pollution, but if you’re not sure of how the decibel system works, you may be in for a rude awakening. As we’ve mentioned, the decibel system is exponential. A 50-decibel unit is going to be half as loud as a 60-decibel unit. For example, the Whynter unit, while quiet, is two times louder than the Pioneer unit.
At the same time, each of these units is quiet and shouldn’t be too much of a bother. If quiet operation is your sole concern, then paying close attention to the decibel ratings on each of these units is going to let you to the right product. Just remember that using these units on high settings or with the fan on might yield different decibel ratings than the minimum power setting.
Different AC Units
We’ve gone through units in three different categories: portable, multi-split, and window-mounted. We’ve discussed the pros and cons of each, but for quick reference, consider the following before determining which category is right for you:
Also be aware that some homes and locations will be incompatible with certain categories. For example, a multi-split unit like the Pioneer may be one you like, but if your home has a brick exterior it might be difficult to find a place to burrow a hole to funnel through the external compressor. Be sure to do your research and make sure the category you want is compatible with your home before committing to a purchase and having a rude awakening during the installation process.
Finally, the dehumidification capabilities of each unit is something that needs to be considered. For humid locations, a high dehumidification rating (which is measured in pints per hour) is better than one with less. If you live in a temperate location, you shouldn’t need to worry about the dehumidifier, however it’s worth considering if you live somewhere where the summer months are especially brutal.
Also worth bearing in mind is the cooling power of the unit you’re considering, which is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs). The higher the BTU, the better cooling you can expect. Some categories of air conditioners are better than others, so make sure you consult our table above to be sure of the category you prefer.
While we think any of these five units could be the best quiet air conditioner for some, not all will work in your home. For the best and quietest overall operation, you cannot beat a multi-split unit like the Pioneer WYS012-17. By design, these types of air conditioning units ensure that the compressor and other mechanical parts are kept far away.
Otherwise, units from Haier and Friedrich offer quiet window-mounted operation that works best for bonus rooms and similar locations. Installation may be more difficult than with portable units, but it still considered easier than dealing with a multi-split unit. Finally, portable air conditioners like those form Honeywell and Whynter offer the best price and the strongest cooling power in exchange for louder operation and a bulkier design.
Whichever you might choose, we hope that we’ve pointed you towards an air conditioning unit that will keep you cool while also keeping quiet so that you can focus on the things that are truly important.