3+4 New Saddle Air Conditioners Explained (Over-The-Sill AC Units)

Look out of the window. Do you like that view and sunlight? That’s the view the old clumsy window air conditioners will likely destroy. This is precisely why the new-age saddle air conditioners like Midea U Inverter and Air Soleus saddle air conditioners are becoming so wildly popular. In fact, they are one of the best-rated window AC units in 2023. They are:

  • Extremely energy-efficient; more than 35% more efficient than conventional window units.
  • Quieter than conventional window units (by far).
  • Have up to 80% lower profile.
  • Piece of cake installation.

Over-the-sill air conditioners are the new revolutionary types of AC units. It’s not a far-fetched dream that in 10 years, everybody will replace their existing window AC units with new saddle air conditioners.

What is so special about Midea U Inverter and Soleus Saddle AC units?

For one, the standard window air conditioners are, on average, 20 inches wide and 15 inches high. If you mount it on the window sill, you will effectively lose:

  • 300 sq ft inches of window.
  • More than 30% of natural light (average window size).
  • Interior design will be negatively affected by the box-shaped window AC.
soleus air window ac dimensions window inches
Window dimensions of the Soleous Air “saddle” window air conditioner.

In contrast, the saddle air conditioners are installed over the window sill. They are also extremely energy-efficient (electricity-saving) and quieter than any other window AC unit.

In this article, we will explain what over-the-sill window air conditioners are, what are the 5 advantages of installing them and exactly how energy efficient they are.

On top of that, we’ll look at 2 brands – Midea and Soleus Air – that were the first ones to design and introduce the saddle design for air conditioners. We will also quickly go over all their 6,000 BTU to 12,000 BTU models, explain the differences, and head you in the right direction if you’re thinking of purchasing them right away.

If you’re in a hurry, you can just skip to the comparison of the new-age window AC unit and where to buy them here:

Skip To The “Saddle” Soleus Air AC Units Here

Skip To “U-Shaped” Midea AC Units Here

Let’s look at the few distinct advantages the over-the-sill air conditioners offer:

5 Key Advantages Of Saddle Air Conditioners Vs. Window Air Conditioners

When the over-the-sill Midea U Inverter and Soleus Air air conditioners hit the market, everybody realized they will in time replace the old clumsy window air conditioners.

The advantages of saddle-designed air conditioners are quite apparent. In this ‘saddle vs window air conditioner’ table, we’ll focus on the main differences, and later on, we’ll explain in detail what these differences actually entail.

Here is why saddle air conditioners will likely surpass the conventional window ACs:

Feature New Saddle AC Units Old Window AC Units
Profile: Low-Profile (Less Window Covered) High-Profile (More Window Covered)
Installation Difficulty: Easier Harder
Energy Efficiency: Very High (EER Rating = Over 10) Average (EER Rating = About 10)
Noise levels: Below 51 dB Over 55 dB
Aesthetics: Appealing Clumsy And Boxy
Overall Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars 3.5 out of 5 stars

Let’s look at each of these advantages of the saddle air conditioners over conventional window AC units individually:

1. Over-The-Sill AC Units Have Low Profile

The first thing we see is that saddle AC units are over the sill low profile air conditioners. Windows are the main source of natural light; nobody really likes to reduce the total window space.

Conventional window AC units are about 15 inches high. All of that height restricts the natural light that comes through the window. It also restricts you from having a clear and natural view through the window.

Low-profile is what saddle air conditioners are primarily known for. Midea U Inverter U-shaped AC units cover less window space but the difference between U-shaped AC vs. window AC is not drastic.

Soleus Air, on the other hand, are the absolute best saddle air conditioners with the lowest profile. Here is all the profile that overlooks the window (just compare it with the conventional window AC):

soleus air over the sill lowest profile air conditioner
Soleus Air air conditioners have the absolute lowest profile. The red arrows indicate the total window coverage; it’s minuscule compared to conventional window AC units.

You can see that the saddle design of the air conditioner (Soleus Air) covers about 80% less window space than old window AC units.

That’s just the beginning of the advantages U-shaped air conditioners have:

2. U-Shaped Air Conditioners Are Far Easier To Install

If you’ve even installed an AC unit on the window, you know that you have to deal with the installation kit. That’s because a high-profile AC unit installation results in a big opening in your window. Kits are used to cover that big hole.

The advantage of low-profile saddle air conditioners is that the window hole that is created is many times smaller. In fact, the opening on the left and right side of the over-the-sill installed air conditioner can be up to 80% smaller than with conventional units.

With the saddle design you simply either:

  • “Saddle” the over-the-sill AC unit over the sill (simple enough). Example: Soleus Air air conditioners.
  • Pull down the window in the U-shaped hole in the air conditioner. Example: Midea U Inverter.

If you check the hole on the left and the right of the AC units, it’s much smaller. Only this hole has to be covered by the saddle air conditioner or U-shaped air conditioner installation kits:

With Midea U Inverter, you simply pull down the window and wedge it in the U-shaped casing. The open area on the left and right is up to 80% smaller than with conventional units.

You can imagine that window AC installation kits provide less isolation than the window. The bigger the area kit has to fill, the bigger the cool air loses. The saddle-designed minimized that area, and by doing that, it minimized the loss of cool air from within the house.

Note: When installing a U-shaped unit, you can to correctly size the over-the-sill air conditioner sleeve.

In short, everybody can DIY saddle AC installation. Not everybody can DIY a conventional window AC unit, and calling an HVAC technician for help incurs additional unnecessary costs.

3. Over-The-Sill Air Conditioners Are More Than 35% More Energy Efficient

If you ask any HVAC technician, he or she will tell you that energy-efficiency is the single most important specification of an air conditioner. The difference in electricity costs over 10 years between a high energy-efficiency and low energy-efficiency can be more than $1,000.

Here is where the U-shaped air conditioner’s superb engineering is most evident. Conventional window AC units have, on average, an EER rating of about 10. Fairly energy-efficient but not out of extraordinary. CEER rating (Combined Energy-Efficiency Ratio rating) is about 9-10.

Soleus Air over-the-sill units have an EER rating of 12.1. Impressive, right?

Now check the CEER rating of Midea U Inverter (8,000 BTU model):

Midea U Inverter is more energy-efficient than any other window air conditioner.

This saddle air conditioner has an Energy Star certified CEER rating of 15. This is not a mistake; 15 CEER rating. How much does that mean in electricity savings?

If you check the EnergyGuide label above, you can see that, on average, the 8,000 BTU Midea U Inverter will use $39 in total. That’s record level low electricity expenditure.

If you focus on the scale itself you will see it starts at $65 and goes to $127 for 8,000 BTU units. Not only is the energy-efficiency of over-the-sill air conditioner lower than the lowest energy expenditure limit. It’s lower by a huge margin.

No other window AC is that efficient. The reason for the record-level energy efficiency is in the saddle-design as well as in the Midea’s inverter compressor (hence the ‘Midea U Inverter’) because that inverter is of utmost importance. Inverter tech alone makes the Midea U-shaped air conditioner more than 35% energy-efficient than comparable window units.

All in all, due to extreme energy-efficiency, the U-shaped air conditioner can save you about $1,000 on electricity bills alone in 10 years (compared to old clumsy window AC units).

4. Noise Levels: U-Shaped AC Units Are Much Quieter Than Old Window ACs

As we have written in the article about the quietest window air conditioners, it’s important to keep the noise levels of window ACs down. These units are elevated, they can create vibration, and the goal of that article is to find (wasn’t easy) window ACs with below 60 dB noise levels.

Now, the Soleus Air over-the-sill air conditioners are ultra-quiet. That means that their whole noise level range is below 50 dB. These are exceptional specs.

Midea U Inverter, however, is the record-breaking quiet saddle air conditioner. At the low setting, it will generate a grand total of only 42 dB. Sitting next to this U-shaped AC sounds almost as quiet as sitting in the library:

Midea U Inverter has a record-breaking super silent operation. Library level noise levels.

The low noise levels are the results of the whisper silent operation of the inverter compressor Midea uses. What is even more important, the operating compressor makes less vibrations that could potentially result in noisy sounds.

All in all, the saddle air conditioners are quieter than conventional window air conditioners by a good margin.

5. Aesthetics: Which Units Look More Appealing To You?

How the air conditioner looks is important. It can make or break your interior design. Aesthetics is not an objective measure – we don’t have a specification for how good-looking saddle or window air conditioners are. It’s a subjective parameter, and everybody needs to look at the unit and decide which one he or she prefers to see on the window sill.

If you look at the Midea U Inverter or Soleus Air over-the-sill air conditioner and visually compare it to standard window AC units, you can tell which one you prefer. Most homeowners would probably say that the modern design of saddle air conditioners is more appealing.

In general, window AC units can have a boxy and old-school design. Looks don’t matter; it only matters if the cooling effect is adequate.

With an over-the-sill air conditioner, the next technology went hand in hand with the new design preferences. So much so that it’s hard to call these units ugly. There are a number of people that are more than willing to call the conventional window ACs ‘ugly boxes’.

With all that in mind, we think it’s a good idea to look at the 2 brands that first introduced saddle air conditioners to the world. Today, everybody who buys the over-the-sill air conditioners chooses either Midea U Inverter units or Soleus Air units.

The ultimate choice is, of course, yours but as we’ll see in the ‘Midea U Inverter vs Soleus Air’ section below the two comparison table, Midea has an edge as far as the extreme energy-efficiency is concerned.

In these 2 comparison tables, you will also find information about where to buy the units right away (row: Availability):

Comparison Of Soleus Air Exclusive Over-The-Sill Air Conditioners (4 Models)

Soleus Air Saddle AC: #1 Soleus Air B085P27VNF #2 Soleus Air B08HPJFYYX #3 Soleus Air B085P28D2S #4 Soleus Air B08HSQC984
Cooling Capacity: 6,000 BTU 6,000 BTU with WiFi 8,000 BTU 8,000 BTU with WiFi
Max. Coverage: Up to 275 sq ft Up to 275 sq ft Up to 375 sq ft Up to 375 sq ft
EER Rating: 12.1 12.1 12.0 12.0
Airflow: 170/230/270 CFM 170/230/270 CFM 165/223/264 CFM 165/223/264 CFM
Noise Levels: 38/49 dB 38/49 dB 38/49 dB 38/49 dB
Power, Voltage, Amps: 495W (115V, 4.5 A) 495W (115V, 4.5 A) 667W (115V, 6.5 A) 667W (115V, 6.5 A)
Price: $$$$ $$$$ $$$$ $$$$
Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars 4.8 out of 5 stars 4.8 out of 5 stars 4.8 out of 5 stars
Availability: Check Price Check Price Check Price Check Price

Soleus Air Exclusive are the quietest over-the-sill air conditioners. The whole range of noise levels is below 50 dB; that’s absurdly quiet. No other window air conditioner can even begin to compare.

You can choose between two capacities; 6,000 BTU units for 275 sq ft, and 8,000 BTU units for 375 sq ft. Each capacity has an option without or with Wifi. Wifi is quite useful but it adds about $20-$30 to the overall price.

Here are the window dimensions requirements to install the saddle AC unit:

window dimensions for saddle air conditioner
The main thing you need to check is if your window sill is less than 11-inches wide.

The most important advantage of the Soleus Air over-the-sill air conditioners is the extremely low profile. You will most likely not even notice the change in natural light you get; these low profile over-the-sill units are up to 80% lower than conventional window profiles.

Here are all the advantages of Soleus Air units neatly summarized:

soleus air over the sill air conditioner review
Summary of Soleus Air advantages: Low profile, super-quiet operation, and easy installation.

Comparison Of Midea U Inverter Window Air Conditioners (3 Models)

Midea U-Shaped AC: #1 Midea U MAW08V1QWT #2 Midea U MAW10V1QWT #3 Midea U MAW12V1QWT
Cooling Capacity: 8,000 BTU 10,000 BTU 12,000 BTU
Max. Coverage: Up to 400 sq ft Up to 500 sq ft Up to 600 sq ft
CEER Rating: 15 15 15
Airflow: 111/476 CFM 147/464 160/423
Noise Levels: 42/47 dB 42/51 dB 42/52 dB
Power, Voltage, Amps: 710W (115V, 8.78 A) 890W (115V, 9.97 A) 1140W (115V, 12.17 A)
Price: $$$$ $$$$ $$$$
Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars 4.8 out of 5 stars 4.8 out of 5 stars
Availability: Check Price Check Price Check Price

Midea U Inverter air conditioners are 1st class U-shaped AC units. 3 models are available:

  • 8,000 BTU for up to 350 sq ft spaces.
  • 10,000 BTU for up to 450 sq ft spaces.
  • 12,000 BTU for up to 550 sq ft spaces.

Here is the representation of the coverage areas for all 3 models:

coverage area that midea u shaped air conditioners can cool
Midea U-shaped air conditioners have a coverage area of 350 sq ft (8,000 BTU unit) to 550 sq ft (12,000 BTU).

They are the ultimate best U-shaped air conditioners because they have:

  • Record-level energy-efficiency.
  • Record-level quiet noise levels.

On top of that, these are reliable units that will last for more than 10 years.

Midea U Inverter vs. Soleus Air Saddle (Which Is Better)

If you have to choose between Midea U Inverter vs. Soleus Air saddle-design, which one would you choose?

Well, both brands have tremendous units. You can choose either one and will get a much better unit than any other conventional window air conditioner.

The biggest difference between Midea U Inverter and Soleus Air saddle units is this:

  • Profile. Soleus Air has a much lower profile and allows more natural light to enter your home.
  • Energy-efficiency. Midea U Inverter has absurdly high energy-efficiency (CEER rating = 15) while Soleus Air has very high energy efficiency (EER rating = 12.1).

If you want an air conditioner that doesn’t restrict your window in almost any way, choose Soleus Air.

If you want an extremely high energy-efficiency air conditioner that can save $1,000s in the next 10-20 years in electricity bills, go for Midea U Inverter.

If you have any additional questions about the saddle air conditioners, you’re most welcome to use the comments below and we’ll try to solve everything together.

59 thoughts on “3+4 New Saddle Air Conditioners Explained (Over-The-Sill AC Units)”

  1. Can i put the saddle Soleus Air Exclusive in a wall, instead of a window? and any idea how much to pay someone to make the hole and all that, might cost? (ball park estimate… I’ve never paid anyone to do anything, ever)

    • Hello there, Soleus Air Exclusive main advantage is the very low window profile. It’s not designed to be used as through the wall air conditioner (you can check these through the wall AC units to give you an idea about how those kinds of AC units look like).

      Ballpark estimate for a thru-the-wall AC installation is anywhere from $400 to $1000. You could potentially – because no one really likes to pay for stuff – do it yourself. Just make sure about the piping and wiring in that wall you’re making a hole in.

  2. Can you explain the 11″ maximum sill dimension better? Does the unit have a a U-Shape ‘handle’ of sorts that must fit over and ‘grasp’ the far edge of the sill?

    • Hello Ronald, of course. The Soleus Air units don’t have to ‘grasp’ the far edge of the sill. They have to sit on the sill; and it the sill in wider than 11″, the units will be too narrow to sit on the sill. Hope this helps.

  3. please explain about the refrigerants and who makes the two saddle type air conditioners, soleus and midea. also cost of operation and repair center location and process of repair are of interest. thank you.

    • Hello there, some additional information is always helpful. Midea U Inverter uses R32 refrigerant (you need 78% less refrigerant compared to R410A, for example), and Soleus Air Exclusive uses R410A refrigerant. Midea U Inverter has a record-level low cost of operation ($58 yearly operating cost for the biggest 12,000 BTU unit), and Soleus Air Exclusive has a cost of operation of about $70 for the 8,000 BTU model. Both can be repaired by pretty much every HVAC technician; it’s a common window AC unit and you don’t need additional certification to repair it. Hope all of this additional info helps.

  4. Can someone please tell me the EXACT depth measurements of the unit. They are impossible to find. What I’m specifically looking for on both the 6000 and 8000 over the sill are the depth / side measurements. The width and Height are easily found as is the overall depth dimension but not what each module measures.
    What is the:
    – Size of back piece outside the window sill
    – Size of space over the window sill
    – Size of front piece inside window sill
    Thank you

    • Hello Kevin, you’re right, those dimensions are missing. Thank you for point it out; we have included the photo with window dimensions in the article to help everybody out a bit. The most important figure is the max. depth of the window sill; it should be 11 inches or less. If you have a broader window sill, the Soleus Air Exclusive unit won’t fit. Hope this helps.

  5. I have a sill size of 13inches ..it’s a brick home built in the 50’s. Would the unit fit in my window with a 13 inch sill? I hope so bcs I really love it

    • Hello Toni, these saddle units are something else, right? The maximum window sill clearance the 8,000 BTU Soleus Air will fit is 11 inches. Sorry to say, yours is 2 inches too wide. Reducing the window sill clearance is not all that difficult; that could be one option but, honestly, it’s not a piece of cake neither.

  6. The dimensions in the picture are helpful, but you still didn’t include the back piece that sits out the window. This is important as well because some people have bars or vegetation close to the window. Please advise.

    • Hello David, you’re right. Those dimensions are sadly not included in the specification sheets. Judging from the photos alone, the piece that sits out of the window is quite broad; about 10 inches (this is an estimate, not a specified figure). If you have vegetation there, that may represent quite a problem.

    • Hello Denise, if you run Soleus Air Exclusive for 24h at 100% output capacity, it needs to be drained 1-2x per day. Hope this helps.

    • Hello Thomas, that ‘U’ opening is 2.93 inches wide. You shouldn’t have problems installing the unit if you have 2-inch thick windows.

  7. Dan here: my window height with the vertical slider in is a 7″ opening.Will the saddle unit fit? If I take the vertical slider out I have 10 3/4″. Will the saddle unit fit either way?What is the net height I need ?

    • Hello Dan, Midea U Inverter won’t fit; it has above 13″ height above the windowsill. The Soleus Air Exclusive, however, will fit perfectly. The part over the sill is about 3″; you won’t have a problem installing it with a 7″ window height.

  8. I’ve seen complaints regarding the Soleus and needing frequent draining, but unclear why-does it have drain outside like a standard AC does ? Also, does the Midea have this same issue ? I love the concept for both but do not need to deal with have to monitor their condensation. My state is hot and humid year round so this is a concern

    • Hello KZ, the frequent draining is certainly an issue. For a hot and humid climate, it’s a perfect unit. Both Soleus and Midea U Inverter are new-age air conditioners; prototypes, let’s say. There are some things that they do need to take care of in the future, with the draining being on the top of the list. The outdoor draining like a standard AC would, as you’ve neatly figured out, at least reduce if not outright solve the problem.

    • Hello Danielle, not really. Soleus Air Exclusive and Midea U Inverter are the first over the sill units; in the future, it’s likely other AC companies will follow this successful example and will start producing units with 11″+ clearance but for now, this is it.

  9. Hi, I have a pop up camper I would like to add this to. I would just play it on top of the hard wall under the canvas top. The wall it will sit on is about 1″ thick. Is that wide enough to support the “saddle”?

    • Hello Jerry, 1″ will probably support the weight but you will have issued with stability. You will have to support the unit somehow; on it’s own, it won’t be stable enough.

  10. How many inches does the back of the saddle AC stick out? I am concerned that the unit will comply with fire laws about installing an AC on a fire escape window.

    • Hello Dorothy, the complete length is 28.9″. Now, we can’t figure out how many inches exactly it sticks out from the specification sheet. From the look of it, it’s about 12″ to 13″.

  11. Joe, I read several complaints on the Soleus unit regarding condensed water running out the front onto the floor. Can you discuss this problem and advise of any solution to route the water to the outside? I don’t want to simply put a bucket under it inside my house.

  12. I am very interested in the Soleus unit but have very old fashioned jalousie type windows in the 2nd floor apt I rent. Will the Soleus unit work on this type of window sill?

    • Hello Pat, the Soleus unit can be installed pretty much on any window sill like any other window AC unit. Just keep in mind that the window sill’s width should be less than 11 inches.

    • I’m thinking you might have to remove at least one slat on your jalousie window since you can’t raise and lower the glass.

  13. How is drainage for the overflow handled on the Midea U Inverter unit. Looking to use in a small bedroom on a rental but do not want tenants to have to mess with the drainage.

    • Hello Judy, much the same way as with standard window AC units. The drainage hose is channeled outdoor; all the accumulated water is drained via that hose.

  14. Please explain how you empty/drain the condensation on the soleus 6000. Is it done from the inside? Can a hose be added to drain to the outside?

    • Hello Renee, Soleus air AC units can have issues with drainage at high temperatures and high relative humidity levels. Here is how you drain a Soleus Air units: Remove the pre-installed drain cap located at the bottom of the unit. Then attach the clamp with the provided screw. Then you have to attach the drain hose to the drain port using the drain hose clip. You can drain it outside, you would just need some additional hose (usually 3/4 inch hose does the job well). Hope this helps.

  15. Do you have any suggestions on work-around or other models for people with brick extending past the sill? I live in an old brownstone and the total width from interior to exterior is 17”! Is there any hope for my situation? Thanks for your help.

    • Hello DL, thick window sills are a problem. In this case, you will have to go with a standard window AC unit that is installed on top of the window sill.

  16. My bedroom is 270 sq ft. I’ve decided to get the Soleus saddle AC.
    Should I get the 6000 BTU Soleus or the 8000 BTU Soleus?


    • Hello Anita, for a 270 sq ft bedroom in a colder climate, a 6,000 BTU unit should do. A safer choice for warmer climates is the 8,000 BTU unit.

  17. Thank you for the comparison article; however, it omitted to examine the one question I still have – installation and safety. With the Soleus, it uses clamps/stabilizers to brace against the walls. The Midea requires that you build the shelf brackets to hold it. Maybe someone will combine the ease of the pressure clamps with the Midea. Soon as I see a platform to build, I have nightmares about missing hardware. Is it likely either Soleus or Midea will include heat pump technology soon? Thanks

    • Hello Mitt, the installation can be a bit more difficult, especially compared to standard window AC units. These saddle window AC units do have a future; I hope the example set by Midea and Soleus will be successful and we won’t have to have big boxes on our window sills in the future. Heat pump tech? My pick would be on Midea. Hopefully, we see an over-the-sill window heat pump soon.

  18. What are the cord lengths for these units? I have a sash window located too far from the nearest outlet for most window AC units to be usable without an extension cord — a HUGE fire safety hazard — so I’ve been going without.

    Re. the innovative “saddle” design, this looks to be the best invention since sliced bread.

    • Hi Steph, the power cord that comes with the unit is 6 feet long. Yes, using extension cord is usually advised against due to fire safety hazard.

  19. Thanks. That’s still a bit too short, but it would come closer than 6-foot cords on other ACs with a conventional configuration, because the drop lowers the cord to an elevation closer to the outlet.

    Window AC manufs should make their products with varying cord lengths (boldly differentiated on their boxes). As longer cords would likely reduce their energy efficiency slightly, they should be tested for that as well, with that energy eff. data also posted.

    • Hi Steph, completely agree with varying cord lengths. I think that the percentage of customers that need 6+ foot cord is very limited, and thus manufacturers have little incentive to engineer window AC units with longer cord lengths.


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