When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more
When shopping for the best air conditioners, most people are understandably just concerned about keeping their home cool. But cooling costs can add up, and most units block the entire window, preventing you from opening your window on a nice day. The Midea U-Shaped Inverter Window Air Conditioner (MAW08V1QWT) addresses these secondary concerns while providing good cooling.
In my five years of testing air conditioners professionally, I haven't found an AC as unique as the Midea U. It has a U-shaped design (hence the name) that allows you to open your window without uninstalling it. It was among the first ACs to earn Energy Star's "Most Efficient" rating. Plus, the Midea is the quietest AC I've tested, making it ideal for bedrooms.
Shop at Amazon
Shop at The Home Depot
Design and specs
While most air conditioners are a basic rectangular prism, the Midea U has a portion missing where the window would typically rest on top of the AC. Instead, your window can almost close in the U section between the two main bulky sections of the unit. This means you need less insulation to fill gaps left by the open window.
Additionally, rather than relying on the window to keep it in place (like most ACs) the Midea U comes with a support bracket, so you can open your window with the AC installed. The support bracket is a nice feature if you have a nagging fear of your AC falling out and squashing people down below.
These two design features make the Midea U a game changer. When the AC is installed, you can open your window all the way. This feature is great if you live where the temperature fluctuates drastically during AC season. For instance, if you have 90-degree days and 60-degree nights, you can run the AC during the hottest part of the day. When the temp drops, turn off the AC, open the window, and enjoy the cool breeze.
I liked it in Michigan, where we might have freezing temperatures one week and a heat wave the next, as summer gives way to fall.
If you have a screwdriver, 25 minutes, a hung window, and a strong back (or someone to help), you can install the Midea U Inverter window AC. For the most part, the installation process was a breeze. However, the instructions were confusing at times. For instance, the directions referenced a "side arm hinge" that I couldn't seem to locate, but that didn't impact the installation.
First, you install the support bracket. Then, you position the AC on the bracket. Once installed, you close the window and seal any gaps with the provided foam. If you don't plan on opening the window once the Midea is installed, you can use the included window security bracket to keep intruders out.
The Midea U has a remote control, but I found the Midea Air app was more user-friendly and connected seamlessly to my Android phone.
The Midea U has an inverter compressor with a variable-speed motor that makes slight adjustments to stay at the target temperature. Most ACs just cycle on and off. The constant low-level operation of the inverter compressor is much more efficient. That's why it earned Energy Star's "Most Efficient" certification; one of the first ACs to earn this designation.
I used a smart plug to measure how much energy it consumed over 24 hours. Running on high, it consumed 9.6 kWh, which works out to 0.4 kWh per hour. This was better than most of the ACs I've tested. If you run the Midea on high for eight hours daily all summer, you can expect to pay about $49 for electricity based on the current US average. That's pretty reasonable.
To test cooling performance, I run an air conditioner on high for an hour in a 650-square-foot room. Then, I compare the before and after readings of a digital thermometer positioned on the opposite side of the room.
The Midea U Inverter AC lowered the room's temperature by 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit, which is impressive considering its minimal energy use, but only average among the units I've tested. Keep in mind, in cooling mode, the Midea U also removes moisture and circulates the air, which makes the room feel even cooler. As you run it longer than an hour, the room's temperature will continue to decrease, though at a slower pace.
The Midea U is the air conditioner to buy if you want silence while sleeping. A sound meter positioned 6 feet from the unit registered 48 decibels while it ran on high. This is a little lower than a refrigerator running, and it's the best I've tested.
As most compressors shift between off and on, they will make a startling sound. The Midea U didn't have this issue. The inverter compressor shifted seamlessly between speeds. It wasn't noticeable.
While the Midea U's control panel and remote control offer basic functions, like cooling mode, temperature, and fan speed adjustments, the Midea Air app offers much more. For instance, you can tap the LED button to turn off the control panel's lights at night. If you don't want the panel's buttons to make sounds as you press them, click the sound button in the app.
These options complement the standard fan speed, mode adjustment (including cool, fan, auto, and dehumidify modes), and scheduling. I liked using the scheduling feature to power down the unit when my utility company imposed surge pricing during peak power usage hours.
It was easy to pair the Midea with Alexa to enable voice control. It also works with Google Home, but I didn't test that.
The app notifies you when it's time to clean the filter, a fortnightly task. Just vacuum or rinse the filter with water and allow it to dry thoroughly before reinstalling. This will ensure optimal performance.
Cons to consider
I would have liked to have seen the Midea U do a better job of cooling. It performed about average. Still, we tested it in a 650-square-foot room. It will do better in the 350-square-foot room it's rated for.
While most ACs feature louvers that let you send the cool air right where you want it, the Midea U only offers horizontal adjustment, directing the air to the right or left side of the room. This isn't a big deal if you want to cool a full room, but it's not optimal if you want all the cooling air to go right where you're located in a room.
The Friedrich CCF08A10A Chill Premier Smart Window Air Conditioner is the top overall pick in our guide to the best air conditioners. In our tests, it did a much better job of cooling, while only using a little more energy. It's priced similarly and is the best bet if you're primarily concerned about cooling. However, you can't open the window while it's installed, it runs louder, and the app isn't as user-friendly.
If your room can't accommodate a window air conditioner, a portable unit may be your best bet. Check out our guide to the best portable air conditioners for recommendations, and browse our portable air conditioners vs window air conditioners article for details on why window units are superior.
The bottom line
The Midea U-Shaped Inverter Window Air Conditioner is energy-efficient with an uncommon design that lets you easily open your window for fresh air. It comes with a support bracket and a useful app. With its quiet operation and ability to cool rooms up to 350 square feet in size, we recommend this for bedrooms and other quiet areas. It's the quietest you'll find.
Pros:Unique U-shaped design, Energy Star "Most Efficient" certification, easy to install in a wide array of windows, comes with a support bracket, quiet 48-decibel operation, smart connectivity that works well
Cons:Can only change airflow direction horizontally, more involved installation, only average at cooling
Shop at Amazon
Shop at The Home Depot
Senior Reporter, Insider Reviews
James is a Senior Reporter for Insider Reviews, specializing in sleep, HVAC, vacuums, and kitchen appliances. He has tested more than 70 mattresses from startups like Casper and legacy brands like Tempur-Pedic, using his background in experimental psychology to develop objective tests and evaluate comfort, support, motion transfer, and more. He authors our guide to the best mattresses. In addition to being Insider Reviews' mattress expert, James has extensively covered vacuums, air conditioners, air purifiers, and more within the HVAC space. He's tested more than 40 vacuums from brands like iRobot and Dyson and is no stranger to keeping his house at a chilly 60 degrees Fahrenheit for weeks on end, all in the name of testing air conditioners. He's a multifaceted writer who has covered everything from health and fitness to consumer technology. His mission is to help people get the most value for their money by guiding them in making informed buying decisions. James lives in Lansing, Michigan with his wife, two kids, a tabby cat, and a rambunctious rat terrier.When James isn't testing products and writing for Insider, he helps run a popular local Facebook group, Lansing Foodies, and plans the Olive Burger Festival. See below for some of his work:
- The 16 best mattresses for a good night's sleep, tested and reviewed by sleep experts
- The 7 best vacuum cleaners for every type of mess, budget, and floor type
- Travel guru Rick Steves never checks a bag. Here are the 25 things he always packs in his carry-on.
- I toured 8 distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail – here are the 16 best whiskeys I tried and where to buy them
- The 10 best bourbons we recommend after tasting over 100 bourbon whiskeys and talking with experts
- The 6 best air fryers that are actually worth the counter space
Contact info: email@example.com Learn more about how our team of experts tests and reviews products at Insider here. Learn more about how we test kitchen products.