Portable air conditioners can be as effective as window AC units and can serve as permanent cooling solutions. They offer advantages over window units, such as versatility in placement and no need for permanent installation.
However, improper installation and sealing of the venting system are common issues with portable air conditioners, not their cooling potential. Jesse Mastro, owner of RentAnAC, recommends choosing a slightly higher BTU rating than you would for a traditional window AC to compensate for their slightly lower efficiency.
When purchasing a portable air conditioner, consider investing in a higher-priced model as they often provide better performance, although there are exceptions to this rule.
We have selected the top 10 portable air conditioners in this article.
Table of Contents
- 10 Best Portable Air Conditioners
- How to Choose the Best Portable Air Conditioners
- How Portable Air Conditioners Work
- What Are BTUs?
- What Size Portable AC Do You Need?
- Does Noise Level Matter for Portable ACs?
- Is A Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner Better Than A Single Hose Model?
- Do Portable Air Conditioners Work Better Than Window Units?
- How Much Does A Portable Air Conditioner Cost?
- Why do portable ACs have two Btu numbers?
- What can you do if you are stuck with an AC that doesn’t have enough Btu to adequately cool a room?
- Can I use a portable air conditioner in a room without windows?
- How do I clean and maintain my portable air conditioner?
10 Best Portable Air Conditioners
The Whynter Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner is a versatile cooling device designed for large spaces up to 500 square feet. It operates using a dual hose system, drawing in outside air for cooling, which results in faster and more efficient cooling compared to single hose models.
Additionally, it functions as a heater and dehumidifier, making it suitable for year-round use. Its dehumidifier mode can remove up to 101 pints of moisture in 24 hours. The unit features a programmable timer and digital temperature monitoring for customized climate control. It comes with a five-foot exhaust hose and a storage bag for convenience.
- Efficient cooling for large spaces
- Functions as a heater and dehumidifier
- Programmable timer and digital temperature monitoring
- Portable with a storage bag included
- Cooling may be slightly slower than some competitors
- Requires space for the dual hose system
The Black + Decker BPACT08WT Portable Air Conditioner is an excellent cooling solution designed for smaller spaces up to 150 square feet, such as bedrooms, offices, or small apartments. With an 8,000 BTU cooling capacity, it offers efficient cooling performance.
One standout feature is its quieter operation compared to many other portable air conditioners, ensuring a peaceful environment. It includes a slide-out filter for easy cleaning and maintenance, along with a user-friendly remote control for convenient adjustments.
- Quieter operation for a peaceful environment
- Slide-out filter for easy cleaning
- User-friendly remote control
- Lightweight and compact design for convenience
- Fan may be less powerful compared to larger models
The Honeywell Portable Evaporative Cooler with Fan is a versatile cooling solution designed for smaller spaces in dry climates. Its tower design saves space and offers an effective way to keep a room comfortable without requiring a window connection.
Unlike traditional air conditioners, this cooler operates by evaporating water, making it eco-friendly and cost-effective. It works best in rooms with humidity levels below 45%, providing a refreshing and cool breeze rather than super cold air. The unit is lightweight at just 11.2 pounds, making it easy to move around, and comes with a remote control for convenient adjustment of settings.
- Energy-efficient cooling solution
- Eco-friendly operation using evaporative cooling
- Lightweight and easy to move
- Remote control for convenient adjustments
- Works best in rooms with humidity levels below 45%
- Provides a cool breeze rather than cold air
The TCL 5P93C Smart Series Portable Air Conditioner is a budget-friendly and efficient cooling solution designed for smaller spaces up to 200 square feet, such as bedrooms, offices, or small living areas.
With 5,000 BTUs of cooling power, it quickly reaches and maintains the set temperature for a comfortable environment. The unit features strong air circulation covering a wide area, although it can be noisy on the highest fan settings. It offers connectivity options, including a remote control and smartphone app, allowing convenient adjustment of settings from a distance. Its compact design and reasonable price make it a valuable addition to any room in need of efficient cooling.
- Budget-friendly and efficient cooling
- Precise temperature maintenance
- Strong air circulation covering a wide area
- Remote control and smartphone app connectivity for convenient adjustments
- Can be noisy on the highest fan settings
The DeLonghi PAC-UV Portable Air Conditioner is a high-quality cooling solution designed for larger rooms and spaces, offering powerful cooling, versatility, and energy efficiency. With a 14,000 BTU cooling capacity, it can effectively cool rooms up to 700 square feet, making it suitable for great rooms, studio apartments, or spacious areas. One notable feature is its optional quiet mode, which reduces noise levels, making it ideal for bedrooms.
Additionally, it features a washable filter screen, making it a suitable choice for allergy sufferers.
- Powerful cooling for larger rooms
- Optional quiet mode for reduced noise levels
- Washable filter screen for allergy sufferers
- Effective cooling of up to 700 square feet
- May use slightly more energy compared to some other models
The Whynter ARC-12SDH Portable Air Conditioner and Heater is a comprehensive climate control solution designed for year-round use. It combines the functions of a heater, dehumidifier, fan, and cooler in a single unit.
With a cooling capacity of 12,000 BTUs (ASHRAE), it can effectively cool areas up to 400 square feet, suitable for bedrooms, offices, or smaller living spaces. Its two-hose operation enhances efficiency compared to single-hose alternatives, and it can remove up to 96 pints of moisture in 24 hours, acting as a potent dehumidifier. The unit features a front-facing display for easy temperature monitoring and can be programmed for up to 24 hours for customized climate control.
- All-in-one climate control solution
- Cooling capacity of 12,000 BTUs suitable for areas up to 400 square feet
- Efficient two-hose operation
- Powerful dehumidification capability
- May not be the most energy-efficient option
The LG Smart Portable Air Conditioner is a modern cooling solution featuring advanced features and smart control options. With a sleek design and impressive capabilities, it offers both convenience and performance. It has an 8,000 BTU (DOE) rating, suitable for cooling rooms up to 250 square feet.
While it may take some time to fully cool a space, it operates quietly for its power output, making it suitable for various settings. What sets it apart is its built-in WiFi connectivity, allowing remote control through a smartphone app.
Additionally, it’s compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, offering voice control options for added flexibility. The LG Smart Portable Air Conditioner offers various modes like cooling, fan, and dry mode for customizable indoor environments.
With user-friendly controls, it’s easy to set up and operate, making it a smart and efficient choice for cooling and convenience.
- Sleek design with advanced features
- Built-in WiFi connectivity for remote control
- Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control
- Quiet operation suitable for different settings
- May take some time to fully cool a space
8. GoGo Air Cooler
The GoGo Air Cooler is a portable cooling device designed to provide relief from hot and humid conditions. It operates using thermoelectric technology, where electricity passing through a module creates a temperature difference, resulting in one side becoming cold and the other hot. Warm air is drawn in, passing over the cold side of the module, where it cools down and passes through a water-soaked filter, adding moisture to the air before being released into the space. This process creates a comfortable and refreshing environment, making it suitable for use at home, work, or outdoors.
- Portable and lightweight design for easy transportation.
- Energy-efficient and eco-friendly cooling solution.
- Provides both cooling and humidification functions.
- Offers multiple fan speed settings for personalized comfort.
- Can be powered by rechargeable batteries or USB connection.
- Operates quietly, without disturbing background noise.
- May have limitations in extremely hot and humid conditions.
- Better suited for personal or spot cooling rather than cooling large spaces.
- Requires ice for optimal performance, which may not always be readily available.
To learn more, read the honest review of GoGo Air Cooler.
9. Blaux Portable AC
The Blaux Portable AC is a compact, cordless air conditioning unit designed to provide cooling relief and control humidity on the go. It features a water reservoir that you fill, replaceable water curtains that absorb water, and a fan system with adjustable speeds. The fan draws warm air, which passes through the wet curtains, cooling and humidifying it before blowing it out into the room. You can customize your comfort by adjusting the fan speed and airflow direction with the adjustable louver.
- Portable and lightweight for easy transportation.
- Cost-effective cooling solution compared to central AC units.
- User-friendly setup and operation without requiring technical knowledge.
- Multifunctional design with customizable fan speeds and adjustable louvers.
- Battery-powered for up to five hours of continuous operation.
- Acts as a humidifier and air purifier for healthier indoor air quality.
- Some users have reported occasional water leakage issues.
- Performance may decrease in extremely humid conditions.
To learn more, read the honest review of Blaux Portable AC.
10. Chill Breeze AC
Chill Breeze AC is a portable air cooler that offers relief from hot weather by utilizing evaporative cooling technology. It draws in warm air, passes it through a water filter to cool and purify it, and then releases a refreshing breeze into the room. The compact design makes it suitable for various settings, and it operates using a USB connection for easy powering. Users can customize the LED lighting for added ambiance.
- Provides affordable relief from hot weather
- Compact and portable design
- Uses USB connection for easy powering
- Offers customizable LED lighting
- May have limitations in larger rooms
- Requires regular monitoring of water tank level
- Generates some operational noise
To learn more, read the honest review of Chill Breeze AC.
How to Choose the Best Portable Air Conditioners
Here’s how to pick the right portable air conditioner:
Measure Your Space: Start by measuring the room you want to cool. Consider ventilation and drainage options.
- 150 to 300 sq. ft.: 7,000 to 10,000 BTU
- 300 to 700 sq. ft.: 11,000 to 14,000 BTU
- 700 sq. ft. or more: 14,000 BTU
Cooling Power: Pay attention to the BTU rating based on the DOE (U.S. Department of Energy) standard, as it’s more consumer-friendly and practical.
Noise Level: Consider the decibel rating for noise. Most portable ACs produce 50-60 decibels, but some quieter models exist.
Energy Efficiency: Look for energy-efficient models to save on electric bills. Check the EnergyGuide label for annual kilowatt usage estimates.
Smart Features: While not necessary, smart functions like scheduling and remote control can be convenient. Ensure you have Wi-Fi and a compatible device.
Maintenance: Be prepared to empty the condensate tank periodically. The frequency depends on humidity and tank size. Use plastic tubing or a bucket for draining.
By following these steps, you can find the ideal portable air conditioner for your needs while keeping your space cool and energy-efficient.
How Portable Air Conditioners Work
Portable air conditioners work by taking in hot, humid air and passing it over a cold coil containing refrigerant gas. This cools the air, which is then released into the room, lowering its temperature. At the same time, moisture in the air condenses on the cold coil and is collected in a pan for disposal.
The refrigerant gas, now heated, is sent to a compressor where it changes from a gas to a liquid. A fan blows over the hot coil, releasing the heat energy outside.
The condensed water can be disposed of in various ways, including manual removal, expulsion in the exhaust, or pumping it outside or to a drain.
Some portable ACs have one hose, while others have two. One-hose models use indoor air to cool the condenser and expel heated air outside. Two-hose models use outdoor air for cooling, maintaining indoor air pressure better.
The choice between single and dual-hose models depends on your specific needs. Single-hose models may create a slight pressure drop indoors, while dual-hose models maintain indoor pressure but have two hoses in the room.
What Are BTUs?
BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. It measures cooling strength by quantifying how much heat is removed from the air. Higher BTU ratings indicate greater cooling power.
You might encounter BTU ASHRAE and BTU DOE. BTU ASHRAE is the unit’s output, while BTU DOE factors in cooling loss through the hose and ventilation system, indicating how cool it may feel.
What Size Portable AC Do You Need?
When figuring out what size portable AC to get, focus on the BTU rating for your room’s size. Avoid buying a larger AC unit for a small space, as it can lead to unnecessary power expenses.
Consult the Energy Star square footage chart for BTUs based on room size to ensure energy efficiency.
Does Noise Level Matter for Portable ACs?
Portable ACs are a bit louder than window units as they don’t vent noise outside. To gauge noise, look for the decibel (dB) rating. Most portable ACs are around 56 dB on the highest setting, with slight variations in noise levels.
Is A Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner Better Than A Single Hose Model?
A dual hose portable air conditioner is better if you have an older home or drafts. Single hose models can bring in hot air through leaks. Dual hose models have a dedicated outside air supply hose, avoiding this issue.
Do Portable Air Conditioners Work Better Than Window Units?
Portable air conditioners are convenient and easy to use, but window units are more powerful at cooling and cost less. Portable units can be moved around the house, while window units are fixed to one room. Consider these factors when choosing what’s best for your home.
How Much Does A Portable Air Conditioner Cost?
Portable air conditioner prices vary from $100 to over $1,000. A good quality one costs around $300 to $400, like the Serene Life SLPAC10. Larger cooling capacity models are more expensive due to enhanced cooling power.
Why do portable ACs have two Btu numbers?
Portable ACs have two BTU numbers because of different testing standards. The DOE BTU rating is more accurate as it considers hot air infiltration and heat losses through ducts. ASHRAE and manufacturer’s BTU don’t account for heat released back into the room by the exhaust hose and lack consistent testing standards. We rely on DOE ratings for accuracy.
What can you do if you are stuck with an AC that doesn’t have enough Btu to adequately cool a room?
If your AC doesn’t cool your room enough, follow these tips:
- Keep the filter clean.
- Close curtains and blinds during the day to reduce heat.
- Use a fan to circulate cool air.
Can I use a portable air conditioner in a room without windows?
Yes, you can use a portable AC in a room without windows, but it needs an opening for the ventilating hose to send the hot air outside.
How do I clean and maintain my portable air conditioner?
To maintain your portable AC:
- Clean the filter monthly, more if used frequently.
- Check and clean the evaporator and condenser coils yearly.
- Inspect and clean the water pan and drainage system.
- Ensure the exhaust hose is clear and unobstructed.
- Store it properly when not in use to prevent dust buildup.