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BTUs are the name of the game when it comes to the best air conditioners. BTUs (British thermal units) are the measure of cooling power, and the best 12000 BTU air conditioner is the second most powerful home unit widely available on the consumer market.
While the best 10000 BTU air conditioners are more than capable of cooling large spaces, they still have some limitations when it comes to large kitchens and other nonstandard room types. 12000 BTU units, however, are often powerful enough to cool entire apartments with enough speed and efficiency to make them a practical choice, budget allowing.
Following EPA’s minimal standard of “20 BTU per square feet,” 12000 BTU air conditioners are capable of efficiently cooling spaces between 400 and 600 square heat. Models in this class are a great choice for very large rooms, kitchens, large spaces with high spaces, and mid-sized apartments, depending on their EER and Energy Star status.
Many models in this class also have features like remote control, LED display, automatic mode, sleep mode, eco mode, and Wi-Fi connectivity. These features are worth considering when looking for the right fit for the room you want to cool.
Keep reading our buying guide to learn more about the best 12000 BTU window air conditioners and what they offer.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: This model delivers user-friendly indoor climate management with a simple setup, an elegant display, and responsive onboard buttons. With smart connectivity and powerful fans, users will love staying relaxed and comfortable while working or watching TV.
The GE AHEK12AC air conditioner is an excellent pick for users needing granular control over their climate and comfort in a small apartment or mid-sized office environment. This model features a durable design ideal for regular maintenance, and the installation process is easy for most users. The EZ Mount installation kit features a fixed chassis and accordion-style side panels to lock in cold air. While the LED display isn’t very bright, users will love the responsive and numerous onboard controls.
In addition to a simple setup and durable side panels, the GE AHEK12AC air conditioner delivers next-level comfort and control for users needing advanced cooling. This AC unit works with the SmartHQ app that allows users to monitor, schedule, and control the unit from anywhere. Additionally, this model works with services like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control and improved smart home integration. Lastly, this model features multiple fan speeds to dial in a user’s desired temperature.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: This model features a novel design and an excellent coverage range for homes and offices that need minimal noise for focus or sleep. Additionally, this model makes it simple to monitor your indoor conditions with smartphone app connectivity.
The Midea MAW12V1QWT air conditioner is a fantastic choice for users wanting hands-on control of their indoor climate and comfort. This model features a striking U-shaped design that lets users close their windows while delivering cold air into their homes. Additionally, this model cools up to 550 sq. ft., and the cooling power can be felt up to 20 ft. away from the unit. While the MideaAir app requires some unorthodox permissions, users can monitor their indoor temperatures from anywhere they have service.
In addition to excellent cooling power and novel design, the Midea MAW12V1QWT air conditioner features ultra-quiet operation for families with children or office spaces where workers need to concentrate. Due to the curved design, users can shut their windows without removing the AC unit and still enjoy the cool air. Additionally, this model works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, so users can easily integrate it into their smart home.
Award: BEST FOR OFFICES
WHY WE LIKE IT: This free-standing model features strong performance and multiplier operating modes that help users attain year-round comfort in their homes or office. With smooth-rolling fans and a sturdy handle, users can quickly move this unit to where it is needed most.
The SereneLife SLPAC12.5 air conditioner is a fantastic choice for users who want to cool multiple office spaces or rooms in their workplace. This free-standing AC unit features a slim design that makes it easy to fit in small spaces, and the smooth-rolling wheels are great for transporting the unit from room to room. While this model is loud on the highest power setting, users will love the fast cooling power and the simple installation of the venting system.
In addition to quick cooling and an easy-install vent, the SereneLife SLPAC12.5 air conditioner keeps users in control with excellent onboard controls and robust remote control. The fully-featured remote control allows users to change the temperature, switch the operating mode, and set cooling timers. Additionally, users can change between three working modes: AC mode, dehumidifier mode, and fan-only operation for basic air circulation. Lastly, users will love the mounting system that’s easy to install.
Award: BEST FOR GARAGES
WHY WE LIKE IT: This durable unit features an included mounting kit and easy installation for users needing quick relief during the hot summer months. This model can keep your home dry and comfortable during sweltering weather with multiple fan speeds and operating modes.
The AMANA AMAP121BW air conditioner is a compelling option for users needing fast relief from sweltering summer weather and humid conditions. This AC unit features multiple operating modes that cool and dehumidify a room up to 550 sq. ft. Additionally, this model features three cooling speeds so users can dial in their preferred indoor temperature. While the remote control misses the occasional input, users will love having complete control over the AC unit from their couch, bed, or desk.
In addition to multiple operating modes and powerful cooling, the AMANA AMAP12BW air conditioner features straightforward onboard controls and a brilliant LED display that keeps users informed. This model features a removable filter that keeps dirt, dust, and large particles from filtering into their home. Additionally, the filter is easy to clean with soap and water, and users only need to maintain it every few weeks. Lastly, the ECO mode provides energy savings while maintaining a comfortable temperature.
Award: BEST FOR EASY INSTALLATION
WHY WE LIKE IT: This model features a lighter weight than other brands and an easy installation kit that makes it simple to cool your home or office. Additionally, this model delivers a great coverage area that will keep families and workers free from hot or stuffy indoor conditions.
The TOSOT GJC12BR-A3NRNJ1C air conditioner is an excellent pick for users needing a lightweight and straightforward installation process to cool their home, office, or large family room. This model features a multi-speed fan and an efficient compressor to deliver strong cooling and air circulation for 550 sq. ft. Additionally, the swing function evenly distributes cold air to the entire family. While this model features a limited LED display, it still showcases the indoor temperature and current operating mode.
In addition to easy installation and a good coverage range, the TOSOT GJC12BR-A3NRNJ1C air conditioner delivers room-cooling comfort with premium parts and top-class efficiency. This model has an Energy Star certification, and the strong compressor ensures lower energy costs and usage. Additionally, the remote control features a temperature sensor that automatically senses indoor conditions and delivers AC to maintain the desired temperature. Lastly, this AC unit works as a dehumidifier to keep your home from feeling stuffy or humid.
Award: BEST FOR APARTMENTS
WHY WE LIKE IT: This model delivers a user-friendly and efficient method for regulating indoor temperatures and keeping an entire small apartment or office space cool and comfortable. Additionally, users will love the easy installation that doesn’t damage the walls.
The ROVSUN RS-AC air conditioner is an excellent pick for users needing room-scale air conditioning and circulation for small studio apartments or crowded office spaces. This model offers 12000 BTUs to cover up to 550 sq. ft. thanks to an efficient and high-power compressor. Additionally, users will love the simple setup and included installation kit that is kind to walls and uses a standard power cord. While the filter isn’t excellent, it is removable and easy to clean.
In addition to a good coverage area and simple installation, the ROVSUN RS-AC air conditioner offers multiple operating modes to meet a user’s unique needs. This model features a crisp and bright LED display with the target temperature and the current operating mode. Additionally, this model features a 24-hour timer so users can schedule cooling cycles or limit unnecessary energy costs. Lastly, users will love the full-featured remote to change the temperature from their couch, bed, or desk.
12000 BTU air conditioners are the second most powerful class of window and wall air conditioners widely available on the market. While 12000 BTU models don’t have the same cooling power as the best 15000 BTU air conditioners, they’re designed to offer energy-efficient, fast cooling performance for very large rooms, kitchens, and spaces with high ceilings. They’ll even cool entire small to midsize apartments or building floors if you select the highest quality models.
In this BTU class, however, the price and impact on the power bill are more than many budgets can absorb. Still, their quiet performance, variety of more advanced features, and overall cooling power make them worth considering for the largest spaces.
The primary difference between a 12000 BTU air conditioner and other models is, of course, its cooling power as measured by BTUs. This measurement determines how large a space an air conditioner can cool at maximum efficiency and speed. A 12000 BTU unit is designed to easily handle a 400-600 square foot space.
The lower the BTU rating, the more efficiency and relative savings you can expect on your power bill when it comes to air conditioners. This means that while a 12000 BTU unit offers far more cooling power than an 8000 BTU model, you’re paying more for cooling power per square footage.
If your budget allows for it and you’re not as concerned about higher power costs, choosing a BTU class somewhat higher than what the space typically requires can give you a bump in cooling speed. You’ll also have extra features available to you, like remote control, WiFi, economy setting, 24-hour timer mode, and mobile device connectivity. Some even feature an innovative design that allows a window to be opened even if the AC unit is currently installed in it.
Ultimately, understanding your cooling needs based on the size of your space and considering that against your budget will yield the best fit for you. A 10000 BTU model has a range of 300-500 square feet for maximum efficiency. Still, if you’re cooling a standard space that’s 525 square feet, the lower cost might make it a better pick than a 12000 BTU unit whose efficiency range starts at 400 square feet like the unit in our Avallon dual hose portable air conditioner review.
12000 BTU air conditioners function the same way all air conditioners do. They draw heat and moisture from a room’s air and replace it with cooled air.
Air conditioners use a refrigerant chemical and three primary components: a compressor, a condenser, and an evaporator coil. These three parts turn the refrigerant from a gas to a liquid, then again into a gas.
The compressor pressurizes the refrigerant and sends it to the condenser. It then turns the refrigerant into a liquid and sends it to the evaporator coil. Here, the refrigerant is changed back to a gas, cooling the evaporator coil. The fan then sends indoor air into the cooled evaporator, and the cooled air is sent back into the room again.
Finally, the heated refrigerant goes back into the compressor and returns to a liquid state. This entire cycle continues until the room is sufficiently cooled.
At maximum efficiency, a 12000 BTU air conditioner is designed to cool a 500-600 square foot space with an average ceiling height.
For kitchens where ovens and other appliances create extra heat and areas that are generally harder to cool, this BTU class loses some efficiency and cooling speed in the middle and top of that size range. Similarly, rooms with high ceilings or shapes that make air circulation more difficult will force a 12000 BTU unit to work a little harder to do the same job.
You can somewhat compensate for this if the specific model has a high EER score and is Energy Star certified, which is why those factors are essential. While the loss of efficiency in such spaces may not be significant, if you’re budget-minded, you’ll want to pay attention to this potential issue because it will show up in your power bill.
The inverse is true for kitchens and nonstandard or high-ceiling spaces with dimensions below 500 square feet. If your budget allows for it, a 12000 BTU unit might be a good choice for these areas. Otherwise, you’ll want to look at 10000 BTU models, which usually come at more affordable prices.
Lastly, it’s good to remember that the higher the BTUs, the more likely a unit is to have a large selection of advanced features. A digital display may seem like a common feature, but they’re more often the standard for these types of air conditioners. High-BTU air conditioners are also generally the quietest models if quiet operation is important to you.
Most air conditioners have a lifespan of around ten years with normal use. In general, manufacturers provide a 5-year warranty for select models. The same goes for evaporative coolers where some get 5-year warranties like what the unit in our Cool-Space 36 VD review gets. Still, high-BTU models can often last longer than ten years if properly cared for. That said, there are a few factors that contribute more than most to a unit’s lifespan.
For starters, a unit that’s only used for three-four weeks per year will have a longer life than one used for three or four months each year. A unit that’s used continuously for many hours every day will similarly have a short life span than one used for shorter periods.
Keeping your air conditioner clean and giving it regular maintenance will also extend its life significantly. A washable filter clogged with grease or dust doesn’t provide sufficient airflow, making all the components work a lot harder to cool a space. You can have the most durable model like the one in our HomeLabs 12000 BTU portable air conditioner review, but maintenance is key to elongating its lifespan.
Dust-filled air can also clog the evaporator coil, making it harder for it to absorb heat. Regularly cleaning filters or replacing disposable ones will make a unit perform better and last longer.
Continued exposure to direct sunlight will shorten an air conditioner’s lifespan by overheating the unit and making components work harder.
If you can, install your unit in a north-facing window and give it as much shade as you can. A little direct sunlight won’t do any real harm, but direct sunlight all day will.
Now that you’ve decided to purchase a 12000 BTU air conditioner, let’s take a look at the factors and features that will help you choose the right model.
12000 BTU air conditioners are the second most powerful models widely available and are designed to cool 400 to 600 square foot spaces with optimal efficiency. You won’t want to use them in kitchens much larger than 400 square feet. You can also check out our LG LP1415WXRSM Portable Wi-Fi Air Conditioner review for a 14,000 BTU option.
2. How much power will the unit draw?
Once you go past 10000 BTUs in an air conditioner, the demands on your electrical system become a very important consideration. 12000 BTU units require circuit breakers of at least 20 amps (20A). Running such a unit on a lower-amperage circuit could result in power loss and damage to appliances, among other things.
3. How efficient is it?
Energy efficiency in air conditioning units generally lowers while BTU ratings increase. A 12000 BTU window unit has far greater cooling capacity but is far less efficient than even an 8000 BTU unit. Efficiency can vary quite a bit within classes, however. Two measures are used to rate efficiency in air conditioners:
Higher-BTU AC units tend to have more extra features than lower-BTU models. Things like remote control, mobile device connectivity, and even designs that allow windows to be freely opened while the AC unit is installed are among the things you can find in more powerful models, though prices scale accordingly.