The 2 Best Window Air Conditioner Brackets of 2023 | Reviews by Wirecutter

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The 2 Best Window Air Conditioner Brackets of 2023 | Reviews by Wirecutter

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We’ve revised this guide and included new competitors, and we remain confident in our picks.

For any generic window air conditioner with missing or mis-fitting installation hardware, the Top Shelf TSB-2438 air conditioner bracket is a far better option than a stack of bricks.

This expensive but foolproof bracket requires no drilling and can be assembled in less than five minutes.

If you’re okay with installing some hardware, this model is the best of the brackets that require drilling.

This expensive but foolproof bracket requires no drilling and can be assembled in less than five minutes.

Of all the AC brackets we’ve tested, the Top Shelf TSB-2438 is by far the easiest to install. It requires no drilling or hardware installation—you simply click the parts together, adjust them by hand, and then lock the bracket into place behind your window frame. The weight of the AC itself is enough to securely anchor the bracket into place, and it can support ACs of up to 200 pounds, which should cover even the heftiest models. Because no drilling is involved, you can quickly and easily remove and reinstall this bracket, too. That’s a big plus if you plan to store your AC indoors during the cooler months, or if you expect to move with some frequency (renters, take note).

If you’re okay with installing some hardware, this model is the best of the brackets that require drilling.

The Frost King ACB80H is the best bracket we tested that requires drilling to install, and we think that’s a fair trade-off considering that this Frost King model is less than half the price of our top pick. It’s made of sturdier materials than most other AC brackets, too, and its included instructions are clearer than what you get with the competition. You need to drill into your windowsill and tighten several screws and a bolt, all of which means that you must have access to the necessary tools (and the confidence to use them while leaning out the window). Note that this Frost King bracket is rated to support ACs of up to 80 pounds—much less weight than our top pick can handle, though it should still work for most window units rated up to 12,000 Btu.

Many people have spent summers with their ACs balanced on bricks. This guide is for anyone at the point in life where they’re looking for a better brick.

In our guide to the best air conditioner, we offer advice on how to select a used air conditioner, since it’s often the best value as a budget pick. But there’s little chance that a secondhand find will come with all its installation hardware. The primary benefit of any bracket is making the unwieldy process of installing and removing a window AC a lot easier. (And before you put your AC in, here’s how to clean it up.)

Brackets add a measure of security once the machine is installed, too. You might sleep easier knowing that your AC won’t fall out of the window in the middle of the night (although that is a shockingly rare occurrence to begin with).

A fan or AC caked in dust is less efficient and can pose health risks. Here’s how to keep yours clean.

The criteria for a good window air conditioner bracket are pretty simple: It should be widely available, easy to install, and stable enough to support most window ACs. We scoured the limited options available at online retailers including Amazon, Home Depot, and Lowe’s, prioritizing models with positive reviews, as well as those that included all the necessary installation hardware right in the package.

Once we assembled the candidate brackets, we tested them by simply installing them and then removing them from our windows. Along the way, we took notes on the ease of the installation process and our general feelings of safety as we worked to secure each model to the window ledge. We also scrutinized the instructions (if any) that came with each of the brackets. Most of the brackets, we found, needed at least three deep pilot holes drilled into the windowsill for stable mounting. This requirement poses a problem for a number of people, including renters who may lack the tools or authority to punch holes in the building.

This expensive but foolproof bracket requires no drilling and can be assembled in less than five minutes.

The Top Shelf TSB-2438 bracket makes the annoying task of installing an AC support bracket delightfully simple.

It doesn’t require any drilling (or tools, really). Instead, you assemble it, adjust it to fit, and lock it into place by hand with a set of spring-loaded buttons. The fact that it is not permanently screwed into your window frame makes it easier to remove and reinstall, too. That’s a big help if you plan to store your AC indoors during the off-season, or if you expect to move to a new place (renters, take note).

It works with single- and double-hung windows up to 38 inches wide. The Top Shelf bracket has a horizontal frame that lets you easily set your AC in place and slide it out the window—a pair of wide-set rails is much more stable than a single rail, as on our budget-pick bracket, and requires no balancing act. The bracket can accommodate walls of varying thickness, as it allows you to adjust the frame to any of 40 different positions, and you can finely adjust its angle to the proper, slightly downward tilt to let condensation drain. No other AC bracket we tested offered so much versatility; even our budget pick is mostly just a single, narrow shelf that holds up the center of the air conditioner and not much else.

It can support air conditioners up to 200 pounds. That’s far more than most residential window ACs weigh. It should be able to comfortably accommodate any AC rated under 12,000 Btu, which is typically the largest-size unit that you would install in your home or apartment anyway. By contrast, our budget pick, the Frost King ACB80H, is rated to support only 80 pounds at most—which, to be fair, is also ample capacity for most residential ACs.

The instructions that come with it aren’t that great. Neither are the instructions on the Top Shelf website. The illustrations neglect to show details of the window frame, leaving you to guess the proper placement of the bracket on the sill. (The bracket should sit in the same slot where the window rests when it’s closed.) An installation video from Top Shelf does a better job of demonstrating the process.

If you’re okay with installing some hardware, this model is the best of the brackets that require drilling.

If you don’t mind drilling into your windowsill, you can save some money by getting the Frost King ACB80H. Of all the brackets we tested that required drilling, this model came with the most comprehensive instructions and the highest-quality materials.

Its simple but versatile design works with a wide range of windows. The Frost King bracket has a pivoting adjustable leg that helps lock the air conditioner shelf into place in a level position. We tested several other air conditioner brackets with similar designs, but none of them felt as sturdy as the Frost King model. It still requires mounting on the outside of your home, but the blockers and spacers that assist you in mounting the bracket are all made from a more resilient material than you get with the competition, so it should be able to withstand the elements (and the weight) a little better than those other AC brackets. The rubber-padded feet help protect the siding, too, although you may need to add an extra screw to secure them into place.

It supports air conditioners up to 80 pounds. That’s enough for this bracket to handle an AC as big as 12,000 Btu from most of the top brands, including all of our window AC picks. An AC of that capacity can cool a room as large as 550 square feet, so you’re very unlikely to need anything bigger. If that is the case, however, Frost King makes an even larger version of the bracket that works with ACs weighing up to 160 pounds.

Frost King’s instructions are straightforward and easy to follow. They include a useful parts checklist and detailed diagrams accompanying each step, along with written directions in both English (PDF) and Spanish (PDF). We tested some similar AC brackets, such as the Jeacent PC01A-1, that had the exact same language as this bracket in their instruction manuals but formatted things in confusing ways and presented clunky drawings that made the steps difficult to follow. If you find yourself struggling to install the Frost King bracket, we recommend consulting this how-to video from the manufacturer or this DIY perspective from an installer.

This model costs less than half as much as our top pick. The Frost King bracket typically retails for about a third of the average price of our pick from Top Shelf. The larger, heavy-duty version of the Frost King bracket doesn’t cost much more on average.

You need tools to install it. Putting in the Frost King bracket is a far cry from the simple installation process of our top pick. But installation is still easier than for most of the other, similar AC brackets that require drilling. The hardware is included, but tools are not. Here’s what we recommend:

The Ivation Window Air Conditioner Mounting Support Bracket is a newer model that looks a lot like our top pick and claims to be able to support air conditioners up to 200 pounds. We think it looks like a safe bet, and we plan on testing it later this summer to confirm.

The AC Safe AC-160 and Jeacent PC01A-1 brackets look nearly identical to our budget pick but are made of flimsier materials and come with much more frustrating instructions (or, in the case of the AC Safe bracket, no instructions at all).

The Frost King ACBNT2 is an intriguing design, being no more than a pair of bent tubes that clip together, locking against the inner and outer walls. However, it’s limited to walls less than 10 inches thick. That may work on wood- or vinyl-sided homes, but the masonry walls of many apartment buildings are thicker, and this bracket didn’t come close to fitting on either of our test apartments in New York, in a large modern co-op and an old brownstone townhouse.

The AC Safe No Tools Needed 2 bracket is identical to the tubular Frost King ACBNT2 we tested, and it has the same problem of fitting only narrow walls of 10 inches or less.

The AnyMount (formerly Universal) KT-04S is a bracket much like our budget pick from Frost King. We were turned off by numerous reports of customers receiving used brackets instead of new, as well as claims that the bracket was arriving with hardware in metric measurements instead of the fractions-of-an-inch standard used in the US.

The Smart Choice 80-pound bracket appears identical to our top pick, but with only a smattering of vague, dated reviews at Home Depot to go by, we looked elsewhere.

Most brackets like our top pick also come in heavy-duty versions, usually rated to 160 pounds. This group includes models from AC Safe and Smart Choice, which we dismissed for reasons similar to those for their smaller counterparts.

This article was edited by Harry Sawyers.

Thom Dunn is a staff writer at Wirecutter reporting on heating, cooling, and other home-improvement topics. Sometimes his curiosity gets the best of him, such as when he plugged a space heater and a Marshall guitar amp into the same power strip. Pro tip: Don’t do that.

The 2 Best Window Air Conditioner Brackets of 2023 | Reviews by Wirecutter

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