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April 19, 2024

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    Chances are, your attic doesn’t get a whole lot of use. With some strategic thinking, though, you may be able to turn your attic into a beloved living space.

    The biggest obstacle is temperature. Attics typically lack heating or cooling ductwork, making the space miserably hot in the summer and bitter cold in the winter.

    A standalone air conditioning system can make your attic much more comfortable and turn it into a viable living space. Here are our choices for the best air conditioners for attics, along with our expert advice on choosing the right one for your space.

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    HVAC Installation
    In general, you can expect to pay between $5,540 to $10,980 per HVAC unit, installation costs, and removal of your old unit.
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    Furnace Replacement
    In general, you can expect to pay between $4,000 and $7,000, including installation, old furnace removal, and labor.
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    Heat Pump Installation
    In general, you can expect to pay between $3,000 and $35,000, but most homeowners spend between $5,800 and $7,500.

    What Are the Best Air Conditioners for Attics?

    The first step is choosing the right type of air conditioner for your attic. For most homeowners with an unconditioned attic, a portable AC unit or ductless mini-split heat pump are your best options.

    If cooling is your primary concern, a portable AC unit may be the best choice. On a tight budget, a window unit might be able to do the trick. However, if you want a single unit to be able to heat and cool depending on the temperature outside, a mini-split heat pump may be a more cost-effective option.

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    In some cases, you may be able to add ductwork from your central AC unit to cool your attic. However, this is often not an option. Your home’s central AC is likely not the right size to cool your attic, meaning the temperature throughout your home could suffer. Adding ductwork from an existing AC also usually requires extensive – and expensive – renovations, including you ripping open drywall in your walls and ceiling.

    We put together the top options to cool your attic without requiring you to demolish walls and ceilings to install ductwork or buy a larger central HVAC system. These options are all great choices for keeping the space cool and reducing moisture in your attic.

    Best Portable Air Conditioner: Frigidaire Cool Connect Smart Portable Air Conditioner

    This smart air conditioner is perfect for those seeking a high-tech, portable AC unit. The Frigidaire Cool Connect Smart Portable AC unit offers 10,000 BTUs of cooling power, making it a strong choice for smaller spaces (around 450 square feet). Through an app, you can control the system remotely on your smartphone.

    • Efficiency Ratings: N/A
    • Sound Ratings: 53 dBA
    • Price Range: $550 to $650

    Why We Picked Frigidaire: Frigidaire offers an extensive range of HVAC products, including several portable models. Its models are reasonably priced compared to other brands, making it a more budget-friendly pick. Many of these models are known for their performance, quality, and energy efficiency.

    What We Don’t Like: While this portable air conditioner offers several excellent features, its efficiency ratings aren’t readily available. Without this information, you may choose an air conditioning unit that costs more to operate.

    Best Mini-Split Heat Pump: Rheem Classic Plus Series 12,000 BTU Ductless Mini-Split Single Zone System

    Rheem offers several heat pumps, but this mini-split heat pump is ideal for attics. This handy heat pump offers an excellent heating and cooling solution for year-round comfort. It’s a wall-mounted system, so it won’t consume the precious floor space in your attic. You can easily control the system via remote control, switching to heating or cooling as necessary. The system operates quietly, too — at around 32 decibels, it’s a bit louder than a whisper.

    • Efficiency Ratings: 22 SEER
    • Sound Ratings: 32 dBA
    • Price Range: $2,100 to $2,500

    Why We Picked Rheem: Rheem is known for its budget-friendly HVAC systems. While the prices are relatively low, you get top-notch durability and quality. With 10-year limited warranties on many of its products, Rheem is a solid option for attic air conditioners.

    What We Don’t Like: Although this heat pump is an excellent choice among mini-splits, it isn’t the best option for those seeking a budget-friendly option. At over $2,000 per unit, the cost of a Rheem AC unit is expensive — so it might not be a suitable attic unit for everyone.

    Best Mini-Split Upgrade: Carrier Infinity Mini Split System 40MPHA

    Carrier’s Infinity mini-split system is an exceptional choice if you’re seeking a high-quality AC unit – and you’re willing to pay a little extra for it. The Carrier Infinity is twice as efficient as the Rheem Classic model we just discussed, meaning your energy bills could be a lot lower.

    Like the more budget-friendly pick, this model employs whisper-quiet technology, ensuring it won’t intrude on your day. On top of that, it’s unobtrusive — it sits atop the wall and has a Wi-Fi enabled thermostat so you can control the temperature from anywhere.

    • Efficiency Ratings: 42 SEER
    • Sound Ratings: 29 dBA
    • Price Range: $3,400 to $4,000

    Why We Picked Carrier: Carrier is known as one of the HVAC industry’s leading brands, offering high-quality products with excellent efficiency ratings. It commonly ranks among the top three, stealing the show for a good reason. With its product lineup, high-quality construction, and strong reputation, Carrier is an excellent choice for your HVAC needs.

    What We Don’t Like: While these systems are perfect for smaller attics, they might not be the best fit for larger attics requiring two units. This particular line doesn’t offer a heat pump for multi-zone systems, so it’s better suited to single-zone systems. However, it will sufficiently cool most attics.

    Best Window Unit: LG LW6019ER 6,000 BTU Window Air Conditioner with Remote Control

    If you’re really on a budget, a window unit may be a better choice than a portable AC or mini-split. This window air conditioner is ideal for smaller attics — it offers 6,000 BTU of cooling power, which is ideal for spaces around 260 square feet. It comes with a remote for easy control and offers three cooling and fan speeds for customizable cooling. While it isn’t the most energy-efficient model on our list, it’s a budget-friendly pick.

    • Efficiency Ratings: 12.4 SEER
    • Sound Ratings: 52 dBA
    • Price Range: $300 to $400

    Why We Picked LG: LG is an industry leader in the tech industry. They have combined their knowledge of tech with HVAC products to produce reliable and tech-filled heating and cooling devices for your home.

    What We Don’t Like: This model is somewhat noisy, operating at 52 decibels in low mode. That’s significantly higher than many of the other units on this list. It’s not as efficient, either. However, it is extremely affordable.

    This small portable air conditioner is an excellent option for medium-sized attics. With approximately 13,000 BTU of cooling output, this AC unit is perfect for attics around 650 square feet or smaller.

    The Frigidaire Gallery Cool Connect GHPC132AB1 portable air conditioner features a sleek design that blends seamlessly into the background, ensuring it doesn’t disrupt the design of the space. It offers 13,000 BTU cooling capacity, Wi-Fi control for easy usage, and a convenient 24-hour on/off timer. It stands approximately 31 inches tall, 16 inches deep, and 20 inches wide, so it won’t consume too much space.

    • Efficiency Ratings: 10 EER
    • Sound Ratings: 49 dBA
    • Price Range: $500 to $600

    Why We Picked Frigidaire: Frigidaire offers an extensive range of HVAC products, including several portable models. Its models are reasonably priced compared to some brands, making it a more budget-friendly pick. Many of these models are known for their performance, quality, and energy efficiency.

    What We Don’t Like – While this little air conditioner is a solid choice for an attic, it doesn’t boast the same high EER ratings as some of its competitors. In addition, it can get in the way—especially if you have a uniquely-shaped attic or limited floor space due to other decor and furniture pieces.

    Best for Small Attics: Frigidaire FFRE063WAE

    This small window unit is the perfect solution for small attics, as it offers ample cooling power for rooms between 100 and 250 square feet. It’s affordable and cools quickly, ensuring your attic remains comfortable. The controls are straightforward and easy to use, making this a good pick featuring all of the essentials.

    • Efficiency Ratings: 12.1 EER
    • Sound Ratings: 53 dBA
    • Price Range: $200 to $300

    Why We Picked Frigidaire: Frigidaire offers an extensive range of HVAC products, including several portable models. Its models are reasonably priced compared to some brands, making it a more budget-friendly pick. Many of these models are known for their performance, quality, and energy efficiency.

    What We Don’t Like: While this window air conditioner can be the perfect cooling solution for your attic, it can be somewhat noisy. This model is somewhat loud compared to other options on our list — especially when running on high.

    How Do Top Air Conditioners for Attics Compare?

    The chart below offers a quick comparison of our top air conditioner picks for attics, focusing on key air conditioner ratings like energy efficiency, sound ratings, and price ranges. After reviewing dozens of models, here’s our view on the top picks:

    Brand and ModelOur ScoreSEER RatingSound RatingPrice Range
    Carrier Infinity Mini Split System9542 SEER29 dBA$3,400 to $4,000
    Rheem Classic Plus Series Ductless Mini-Split9022 SEER32 dBA$2,100 to $2,500
    Frigidaire Cool Connect Smart Portable Air Conditioner82N/A53 dBA$550 to $650
    Frigidaire FFRE063WAE8012.1 EER53 dBA$200 to $300
    Frigidaire Gallery Cool Connect GHPC132AB17910 EER49 dBA$500 to $600
    LG 6,000 BTU Window Air Conditioner with Remote Control7812.4 SEER52 dBA$300 to $400

    Which Factors Should You Consider When Shopping for an Attic AC?

    Choosing an air conditioner for your attic is an essential step in regulating the temperature there, but you should consider a few things before picking one.

    Before you purchase an AC unit, insulate your attic and ensure you have adequate ventilation. This will help trap the cold air your AC produces and reduce your home’s energy consumption while keeping the indoor air quality at good levels.

    Unit Type

    A traditional air conditioning system won’t work for your attic, as attics usually don’t usually have existing ductwork. Since central heating and cooling systems depend on ductwork to deliver heated and cooled air, they are typically not a good solution for attics.

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    The best option usually lies in choosing a model that doesn’t require expensive remodeling. Mini-split AC units are a popular pick, especially for attics, as they are durable, quiet, and install easily. They often mount on the wall out of the way, with one portion inside and the outdoor unit outside your house.

    Portable air conditioners are another option. While they’re not as efficient as ductless mini-splits, choosing the right portable air conditioner can certainly help control the temperature in a space. They feature one or two hoses that require venting out a window (via an included window kit) or wall. This allows the system to expel warm air from your attic, keeping it cool and comfortable. If you don’t have a window, you can hire a contractor to install a circular vent for the portable AC exhaust and intake — they are the same sizes as dryer vents — or you can DIY this job.

    Alternatively, you can opt for a window air conditioner. These systems are small and inexpensive, so they work well as budget-friendly and space-saving options. Of course, you’ll need a large enough window in your attic to install these units – and not all attics do. If your attic has narrow or inclined windows, these air conditioners might not be the best pick, as installation becomes complicated. If you don’t have a window, you can hire a contractor to cut a square hole to fit a window AC unit, but this too adds extra costs.


    As you browse through your options, don’t forget to consider your budget. Some AC units are pricier than others, so it’s essential to establish a budget before choosing a model. For example, a single-zone mini-split unit, which is ideal for ductless attic spaces, usually costs between $2,000 and $8,000, with ductless AC unit costs sometimes including the unit price and labor expense.

    Conversely, the inexpensive and budget-friendly window and portable air conditioners often cost much less, with price tags less than $700 for most models. Since prices vary substantially from one type to the next, it’s essential to pin down a budget you want to work within before choosing a model.


    The warranty that comes with your AC unit is crucial. It protects your wallet against unforeseen incidents with the unit within a certain time frame, like a faulty compressor or failed components. Without a solid warranty, these costs will fall on your shoulders, regardless of how long it’s been since you purchased the unit.

    While some companies will offer free replacements for issues that arise immediately after installing the unit, this isn’t always the case — so you can’t rely on their willingness to help. You’ll want a rock-solid warranty to fall back on.

    Many AC units come with five to 12-year warranties on various parts of the system, but it depends on the unit. Remember to pay attention to the warranty as you sift through your options. In addition to noting the warranty length, browse through the terms and conditions surrounding repairs and replacements.

    Sometimes, the company will supply a warranty, but you won’t be able to take advantage of it unless you register the product after purchasing. Another scenario is that you might be eligible for free replacement parts but responsible for labor costs associated with installation and repair. These costs can add up, so take note of the conditions surrounding this aspect.


    As you sift through your options, you’ll notice varying energy efficiency ratings, called SEER ratings. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which represents the energy efficiency of a particular system over the entire cooling season.

    SEER ratings usually apply to larger AC units, while smaller AC units and window units use an EER rating instead. EER stands for Energy Efficiency Ratio and is very similar to SEER.

    The higher the SEER or EER rating, the more efficient the unit. So, pay attention to these numbers as you select your AC unit. 


    Before picking an AC unit, consider the size of the space you’re working with. For smaller spaces, you may want to consider a mini-split system, as these models sit high on the wall and don’t consume any floor space.

    Window air conditioners are another good pick for small attics, as they rest within the window frame. Portable air conditioners aren’t usually the best option for tight spaces, as they require a designated amount of floor space and can detract from the already-limited square footage.

    However, if you don’t have any space constraints and the attic is quite large, you can choose whatever model you prefer. That said, larger attics usually require more to keep them cool, so be sure to select an appropriately sized unit. Without choosing the proper size for the space, the unit will struggle to keep up, potentially overworking the system and sending it to an early retirement.

    According to the Department of Energy, an air conditioner generally requires 20 BTUs of cooling output for each square foot of living space. Of course, other factors can affect the total cooling output you need — such as ceiling height, sun exposure, and insulation. For example, using the DOE’s recommendation, a 10,000 BTU AC unit will offer plenty of cooling output for an attic of up to 500 square feet, while a 15,000 BTU unit offers enough for an attic of up to 750 square feet. Of course, these numbers don’t consider factors that can affect the best size, but they do offer a general idea.

    So, Which is the Best AC for My Attic?

    The best air conditioner for your attic ultimately depends on factors specific to your situation. While we recommend Lennox, Rheem, and Carrier as top air conditioner brands for your attic installation, it’s best to select an option — ductless mini-split, window AC unit, or portable air conditioner — based on your individual needs.

    Don’t forget, you don’t have to tackle this project alone. An HVAC company in your area can help you select and install the best choice for your home. We recommend getting quotes from a few companies and reviewing your best options with them, as they can offer personalized input based on your home.

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    FAQs About the Best Air Conditioners for Attics

    Should I put an AC unit in my attic?

    While placing an AC unit in your attic can be helpful to turn it into a living space, it’s usually unnecessary if you’re not spending time there. So, unless you plan on using the space in your attic for something other than storage, it might not be a cost-effective solution. If you have moisture problems, an AC unit can help prevent mold in your attic since they dehumidify as they cool — which can be useful for storing sensitive items.

    What is the AC in the attic called?

    The AC system in an attic can go by several different names, as there are several types of systems that homeowners can choose for the space. For example, a wall-mounted AC system is usually called a mini-split, while a system mounted inside the window is a window AC system. It all depends on what type of unit you have.

    Can I use a portable AC in the attic?

    Portable AC units can be the perfect option for the attic, as you can move it around as your needs change. Of course, you’ll need to consider floor space, energy efficiency, sizing, and venting needs, but for some folks, portable air conditioning units are the best option. Don’t forget that portable AC units require routine maintenance too.

    What is the difference between AC and air conditioning?

    “AC” is simply short for air conditioning. It’s part of the term HVAC, which stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. Most contractors will refer to the air conditioning systems as AC systems, but they’re the same thing, just shortened.

    Methodology: How We Evaluated the Best Air Conditioners for Attics

    The experts at Today's Homeowner provide only the most transparent and accurate information for all your home improvement needs. Our reviews of HVAC companies focus on what matters most to homeowners, including, but not limited to, installation costs, 24/7 availability, and high-efficiency options.

    To gather our information, our experts review publicly available information, gather quotes, speak with HVAC contractors, and analyze consumer reviews.

    A company can score a total of 103 points across five categories plus a three-point bonus category. This score is then converted into a five-star scale. We studied dozens of HVAC installation companies to develop the following rating methodology:

    • Affordability (20 points): Material and labor costs are the two most important factors in assessing affordability, but we consider more than just these factors and evaluate how HVAC companies accommodate a range of budgets. We review available discounts, such as rebates, maintenance packages, military discounts, and flexible financing options.
    • Company Reputation (15 points): An HVAC company's reputation says a lot about its product. We check consumer reviews and reviews from reputable organizations like the Better Business Bureau (BBB). We also evaluate how long a company has been in business in a particular area, as local expertise and experience are valuable to customers.
    • Customer Experience (20 points): When your heating or air conditioning system breaks down, you want the smoothest and quickest resolution possible. We review each HVAC company's website for ease of use, ways to contact customer service, and how quickly a service provider can be at your location. The best HVAC contractors are available 24/7 and can provide same-day service.
    • Products and Services (25 points): A good HVAC company should offer maintenance, emergency service, repairs, and replacements for all your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning needs. We evaluate the brands a company offers and whether they offer multiple equipment options and high-efficiency units. Companies that offer comprehensive services, such as duct cleaning, air quality testing, and HVAC servicing packages, excel in this category.
    • Warranty and Post-Installation Support (20 points): The best HVAC companies back up their products and services with extensive warranties. We research each company's material and workmanship warranties and evaluate them based on comprehensiveness and length.
    • Products and Services Bonus (3 points): If an HVAC company offers installation, repairs, and maintenance for more unique systems, such as geothermal heat pumps, solar heating systems, or boilers, that company can receive up to three bonus points.

    We monitor company data on an ongoing basis to keep rankings and information up to date.

    Editorial Contributors
    avatar for Jonathon Jachura

    Jonathon Jachura


    Jonathon Jachura is a two-time homeowner with hands-on experience with HVAC, gutters, plumbing, lawn care, pest control, and other aspects of owning a home. He is passionate about home maintenance and finding the best services. His main goal is to educate others with crisp, concise descriptions that any homeowner can use. Jon uses his strong technical background to create engaging, easy-to-read, and informative guides. He does most of his home and lawn projects himself but hires professional companies for the “big things.” He knows what goes into finding the best service providers and contractors. Jon studied mechanical engineering at Purdue University in Indiana and worked in the HVAC industry for 12 years. Between his various home improvement projects, he enjoys the outdoors, a good cup of coffee, and spending time with his family.

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    Roxanne Downer


    Roxanne Downer is a commerce editor at Today’s Homeowner, where she tackles everything from foundation repair to solar panel installation. She brings more than 15 years of writing and editing experience to bear in her meticulous approach to ensuring accurate, up-to-date, and engaging content. She’s previously edited for outlets including MSN, Architectural Digest, and Better Homes & Gardens. An alumna of the University of Pennsylvania, Roxanne is now an Oklahoma homeowner, DIY enthusiast, and the proud parent of a playful pug.

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