Noisy and poor room temp control
By: Alex on 10/25/2012
I just got this unit as a replacement for an 8 year old Frigidaire 10k btu unit. Two differences between the units is this model is significantly narrower and uses R410A refrigerant instead of the "ozone unfriendly" R22. I believe both of these factors have resulted in the noise increase others have reported on various review sites. And make no mistake, this is a loud unit you wouldn't want to sleep in the same room with.
This next paragraph is really for engineering types: There's a big push within the AC industry to increase efficiency. However the change from R22 to R410A results in a efficiency decrease (due to the higher operating pressures of 410A vs "freon", causing the compressor to have to work harder = more power for the same cooling). To compensate, manufacturers have redesigned the condensers (the "hot" radiator) to be larger to help keep the high side pressure as low as possible (directly related to how hot the radiator gets). You see this in central air units where the outside component is massive compared to 20 years ago. However, this window unit is smaller than my older unit. If you make the unit smaller, you can't have a large radiator. Also the fan size goes down, the volume of air for a given fan speed is lower. So the only other option to stop the efficiency tanking is to increase the volume of air moving through the condenser (spin the smaller fan much faster). But you get a lot more fan noise by doing this, and that's exactly what you get with this unit.
Now, when you run the fan on the lowest speed, it's far more reasonable. With a sound meter you get the following sound levels at a few feet away:
Fan max 61db
Fan min 53db
Unit off 21db (ambient room noise)
On max fan, the minimum noise level was 55db anywhere at the furthest distance in my room. For those not so familiar with db sound levels, an increase of 3db is approximately twice as loud. So 53 to 61 makes it about 2.5x as loud on high as on low.
The lowest fan setting is much more tolerable, but because the fan is quieter you do hear water splashing sounds from the (deliberate) design of the fan kicking up condensation and splashing it over the condenser. The cooler your condenser, the lower your AC bill, but again at the cost of some extra noise. Lower fan speed also means less efficiency, so when it's blazing hot outside, you'll probably be forced to run it at the higher speeds. The high fan speed is so loud, it masks the water splashing for the most part.
Another problem is the temperature control permits wide swings in room temp. The interior room temp today was 79.5F and the unit would not turn on to cool at a setting of 69. I had to take it down to 67 to get it started. Once it does switch on it then overcools the room because of the low setting. I'm not sure how much better other units do at this, but this is pretty poor.
All in all, I would weakly recommend this AC unit (it does cool the air) but it can only go in an environment where there isn't a need for quiet and where you don't mind frequently tweaking the controls.
I would not recommend this unit for a bedroom (for noise and comfort reasons), and I'd have reservations about it in a living room, especially for a hot climate where it has to work at the high fan speeds. I'd encourage you to preview the unit in person before buying if you can and hear it for yourself.