Midea U-Shaped Window Air Conditioner Review (2020)

The window air conditioner in my apartment is loud. Its droning hum is speckled with the chattering of plastic components vibrating, like teeth on a freezing cold day. The baffles—those plastic wings that stretch out to the window frame to close the gaps—they’re in tatters. I’ve covered them up with duct tape, but no amount of tape can keep the sounds of New York City’s endless sirens and loud motorcycles from seeping through. The window has to stay clamped down on it, holding it steady as it collects dust during the colder months of the year, because my tiny home doesn’t have space to store the AC unit during the winter months.

That rickety old AC still cools my room fine, but I’ve been testing the Midea U-Shaped Air Conditioner, a new unit that promises to solve all of the problems I’ve had with almost every traditional window AC while offering the same (or brisker!) temperatures. It’s made this hot summer so much more bearable.

Born from an Indiegogo campaign, the Midea has an unusual shape that allows you to open and close your window even when the unit is still in the frame. You don’t have to remove it to open your window in the cool months of the year, and it does a great job of keeping the street sounds out.

Confusingly Easy Setup

Photograph: Midea

Whatever you do, don’t use the setup instruction booklet that comes with the Midea U-Shaped AC. The steps are vague and make the entire installation process seem confusing and overwhelming. In reality, it’s not too difficult. It does take a lot more time than normal window AC units, which you can just plop down and plug in within a few minutes of unboxing. I recommend watching this YouTube video from Midea. It’s more detailed and easier to follow than the booklet. I was also able to install the unit myself, but it is heavy, so having someone around to help mount it is a good idea.

You’ll want to check if your window is compatible first. Midea says it will work for windows between 22 and 36 inches wide, and the minimum window opening height is about 14 inches. Next, you have to use the included bracket to install this window AC, so don’t think you can toss it aside; and you will need a screwdriver to secure some components into place, but that’s about it. The bracket is capable of supporting the AC without the need for screws, but Midea says using screws is a mandatory part of the process since all windows are a little different and it ensures safe installation. I didn’t as the AC is over my balcony. It still feels very secure, but you should screw it in.

What makes this air conditioner special is its U shape. By that I mean there’s a big notch between the front and back. It allows you to slide your window down into the unit—not all the way—but enough to greatly minimize the gap around the sides. There’s less open space for your cool air to leak out (or hot air to seep in), and that also means better soundproofing than traditional window ACs.

Mind you, there’s still a small gap since the window doesn’t slide all the way down. Thankfully, Midea includes a good deal of foam padding in the box. You’ll need to measure and cut the foam pieces (a kitchen knife will do) and squeeze them into the side gaps. There’s plenty of other sash foams included as well, so look around the unit for tiny gaps, use a scissor to cut the foam, and force it into any of these spaces for an improved seal.

You’re not going to get the kind of seal you had before with the window fully closed; I still hear some ambient sounds from the street below. But it’s much better at blocking outside noise than any other unit I’ve tried. The AC mechanism itself doesn’t make a lot of noise, either—most of the loud components are housed in the back. My apartment usually sits at around 38 decibels (similar to a library), and with the Midea AC on, it jumps to about 48 decibels. That’s a lot quieter than my older window AC, which blared at 68 decibels (akin to a noisy restaurant or a vacuum).

You can also slide your window open without worrying about the AC unit falling out of your window and crushing some poor soul on the street. That’s thanks to the bracket, which manages the AC’s load by leaning against the outside wall. I routinely opened my window on cooler summer days when I didn’t need to run the AC. Window access is especially handy if you don’t plan on removing and storing the unit somewhere during the colder months, either because you’re short on space or you’re too lazy. I’m both.

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