The Top 5 Portable Air Conditioners Reviewed
Many areas of our country get hot for a portion of the year, but not long enough to justify installing central air conditioning in your home.
Others spend time in a camp or cabin, and need an AC unit that they can take with them. In either of those instances a single room AC unit that can easily be moved room to room makes more sense than central air to beat the heat on hot days.
But some rooms can’t accommodate a window-mounted air conditioner due to window limitations.
In other cases it would be helpful to be able to move an air conditioner between rooms, without having to install multiple window air conditioners.
In both of those scenarios, the solution is a portable air conditioner.
Unlike window AC units, portable air conditioners typically have castor wheels so that they can easily be moved from one area of your home to another without heavy lifting. And instead of lifting them up into a window they stay on the floor, and vent the hot air via an easy to handle exhaust hose.
So if you are looking to cool a few different areas in your home without breaking your back, then a portable AC unit might be just what you need.
The good news is that there are a variety of different makes and models of portable air conditioners, as well as different sizes for cooling small or large rooms. And the better news is that we’ve combed through those options to save you time, and have come up with what we think are the best 5 portable AC units for your money.
For those of you in a hurry, our choice for the Best Portable Air Conditioner is the Honeywell Portable Air Conditioner.
|Honeywell 10000 Btu Portable Air Conditioner for Rooms Up to 350-450 Sq. Ft with Remote Control||465 Reviews||from $379.99||More Details|
Its combination of features, positive reviews, and reasonable price earned it our top pick.
But the competition was stiff, and the other models in our roundup are worth considering. We review each unit in detail in our buying guide below, but here is a quick comparison table of the AC units we looked at:
Best Portable Air Conditioner
There are a number of different portable AC units to choose from, but below are our picks for the best portable air conditioners on the market:
From a feature standpoint the Honeywell portable AC is excellent. It has a built-in dehumidifier that can remove up to 80 pints of moisture per day from the air, which makes for a very comfortable environment. At the same time it also has an auto-evaporation feature that will keep you from having to continually empty a water bucket in all but the most humid environments. That makes for cool comfort without the hassle.
Despite the excellent feature set, this air conditioner is priced right in the middle of our pack of competitors. That means you can get an excellent portable AC unit that drains the heat from your room without draining your budget at the same time. For that reason we think it is the top all-around portable air conditioner you can buy.
- Stylish, powerful & dependable - cools rooms 350- 450 sq. Ft. Thermal overload protection for added safety & peace of mind. Automatic vertical wind motion helps distribute powerful cool air evenly for fast & consistent cooling
- Dual filters designed to protect from dust & hair to extend product life & performance. Filters clean easily under a faucet for easy maintenance. Full set window kit included for quick & easy installation for vertical and horizontal windows (max. Hose length is 4 feet)
- Designed for comfort with 3 fan speeds, sleep mode, digital controls, 24 hour energy saving timer & remote control with digital display included
- Stress-free auto evaporation - no bucket to empty (except in areas with high humidity). built-in dehumidifier removes up to 80 pints/24 hours with continuous drain option for long unattended operation
- 10000 btu (ashrae-128 standard)/5500 btu (doe+ 2017 standard)
While this machine can’t compete with the Honeywell unit that took our top spot in the visual design category, it still has an impressive array of features. It can pump out 8,000 BTU’s of cooling power, which is enough to effectively cool a 10’x12′ room in hot weather.
It also doesn’t come with a remote like the Honeywell, but Black + Decker did equip the unit with programmable electronic controls and a digital LED display on the control panel, which is more than enough for most applications.
Another primary selling feature of this portable air conditioner is the price – it is significantly less expensive than other comparable models. If you need to keep cool but are short on available funds, then the BPACT08WT may be the perfect solution.
- COOL AS A CUCUMBER: Keeps a room, home, bedroom, apartment, dorm or garage that is approximately approximately 15 inches x 20 inches and keeps the room pleasant and comfy during the summer months when the heat sets in. Works in double hung or sliding windows only, no crank windows
- DESIGN ENGINEERING: Vertical motion creates a steady and powerful airflow that provides consistent temperature in any room in the house. Slide out filter that rinses easily under a faucet for a fresh air feel. 4 caster wheels included for easy movement and compact portability
- TOP TECHNOLOGY: Enjoy the simplicity and precision of programmable, electronic controls and the clarity of an LED digital display and a 24 hour on/off timer and sleep mode. 115 volts, 950 watts and 60Hz.Operating Condition : Room Temperature -64 ̊F (18 ̊C) - 95 ̊F (35 ̊C) for Cold and Dry Mode.(Unit performance may be affected when in use outside of these operating temperatures)
- 3-IN-1: Bucket less designed cooling unit combines cooling, fan and dehumidification modes with a simple quiet and noiseless operation (approx. 75dB on high setting). Environmentally friendly R410a refrigerant. Slide out washable filter & large front vented airflow outlet( 4 Direction)
- WHAT'S INCLUDED: The maximum length of the exhaust hose is 4 feet and 11 inches; window kit included for easy installation and a manual guide for set up. BONUS: Remote control included so you never have to get off the couch to change the temperature. Important to note: according to the 2017 DOE testing standard, this unit carries a 5000 BTU cool but according to the ashrae 128 this ac is a 8000 BTU cool
This air conditioner is feature packed, starting with the whopping 14,000 BTU’s of cooling performance. That is enough to effectively cool a 500 square foot space – the equivalent of a 20’x25′ room. Given the popularity of open floor plans in modern homes, that is a very necessary feature for many people.
The ARC-14S has a dual-hose design, to allow it to effectively cool larger areas. It also functions as a high-level dehumidifier, with the ability to take up to 101 pints of moisture out of the air in a 24-hour period.
It also comes with an advanced self-evaporative system that can handle the condensation generated during normal cooling, so that there is no need to continually empty a drain pan. And it also has a washable filter, and can be controlled either on the unit or with the included remote control.
This air conditioner has received numerous awards, and is one of the top of the line units in the field. Not surprisingly, those premium features command a higher price, but not prohibitively so. If you need a high quality portable AC unit to cool a large space, this may be the right choice for you.
- AWARD WINNING : 1. Good Housekeeping's "2019 Best Overall" and "can cool down a room faster than other portable units" 2. Consumer Report's 2019 Highest Score
- Three operational modes: air conditioner, fan or dehumidifier. This unit can cool up to a 500 square feet space (ambient temperature and humidity may influence optimum performance)
- Full thermostatic control (61°F - 89°F) with digital readout, 24 hour programmable timer; Eco-friendly CFC free Green R-410A refrigerant; Patented auto drain function fully exhausts all condensate automatically in most environments
- Remote control, activated carbon air filter, washable pre-filter, and product manual packaged inside exhaust hose; Noise level (dBA): <56
- Full installation set includes extendable exhaust and intake hose (up to 60") and window kit (up to 46") Max. window kit length = 46" , Min. window kit length = 20".Upgraded Plastic window kit included
This unit provides 12,000 BTU’s of cooling force, which is right in the middle of the spectrum of machines we reviewed. That makes it great for cooling rooms in your home, office, or even cabin that are approximately 400 square feet (or maybe a little more).
It has many of the features our other top units offer – like a remote control, dehumidifier function, and a variety of dehumidify modes. Among them is a lower setting that is relatively quiet – under 52 decibels – which is ideal if you want to sleep with the unit running.
A major selling point for the SPF2-12C is its price – it is the second lowest priced unit in our roundup, while at the same time generating 50% more BTU’s than the least expensive air conditioner. That means if you need to cool a larger area on a smaller budget, this might be your best option.
- 【KEEP-COOL】- Compact 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner Unit Delivers Fast, Effective Cooling for Spaces Up to 400 - 550 Sq.Ft in Home, Office, Cabin or Camper. When the room is cool enough, switch to the first speed level,this air conditioner will become quiet(Noise ≤52dB), enough to maintain the temperature while you are sleeping.
- 【MULTI-FUNCTION MODES】- 3 functions in one machine. Air conditioner cools your room quickly; 3-speed fan satisfies your needs. With 90 pint dehumidifying capacity per day, the dehumidifier function is a quick fix for stopping the growing of bacteria and mold in hot and humid environment, keep your room cool and dry!
- 【SELF-EVAPORATIVE SYSTEM】- The portable ac is built with self-evaporative cooling technology that cools the condenser coils with water from the air. This not only increases cooling efficiency, it also reduces the water that collects in the tank, so you won't have to empty it as often.(R410a refrigerant)
- 【EASY-TO-USE】- LED display and simple selections control panel,full-featured remote, 24-hr timer, plus a quiet ＜52dB output on Low speed mode for disturbance-free nights.Four castors wheels make it easy to move from place to place, You can place it on bedroom, study, living room, kitchen, small office, RV, party and etc.
- 【QUICK INSTALLATION】- An exhaust hose and window kit is included, and no extra tools are needed for assembly. Installation instructions are simple, and can be done by anyone in 5-10 minutes. For any questions, please contact Shinco support at email@example.com. We will respond within 24 hours.
That attractive design is paired with a 14,000 BTU cooling unit, making it pretty and powerful. It can easily cool a 500 square foot room in your home or office.
It comes with all the features you would want in a portable AC – variable speed, sleep timer, remote control, and a digital display. It also has an amazingly powerful dehumidifier function, and can remove 160 pints of moister per day from the air.
That rich feature set and innovative design does command a higher price than some of the more utilitarian models. But if you are in the market for powerful cooling in a handsome package then you can’t go wrong with the Colzer portable air conditioner.
- POWERFUL REFRIGERATION CAPACITY - Compact 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner Unit Delivers Fast, Effective Cooling for Spaces Up to 350 - 500 Sq.Perfectly Fit in Home, Office, Apartment,Cabin or party and etc.
- 4-IN-1 FUNCTION - Auto mode will select operating mode and wind speed based on detected ambient temperature; Air conditioner cools your room quickly, Heating Can be adjust Temperature Range From 17-32℃，Dehumidifier for humid days，keep your room cool and dry!
- EASY TO USE -Digital LED display and Simple selections control panel,full-featured remote, 24-hr timer.fan(3 Speed Selesctable), 4 Mode (cooling,Heating,dehumidification,fan),Child Lock Safe Mode,Temperature, and Power Functions,Easy to Operate.
- EASY INSTALL & PORTABLE DESIGN - TWO Washable Filter Keep The Ac Outputing Fresh Clear Air, Full set window kit included for quick & easy installation for vertical and horizontal windows,Equipped with 4 highly reliable, all-direction stainless castors ease of movement
- PACKAGE INCLUDED- With one exhaust hose is around max 5 feet ; window kit included for easy installation and a manual guide for set up.one Remote control(Battery not included),and one drain pipe for heating and Dehumidification,PLEASE NOTE: the drain pipe higher position must for Dehumidification,the drain pipe bottom position must for heating
Why Use A Portable AC Unit
As the thermometer starts to creep up at the end of Spring, you might find yourself dreading installing a window-mounted air conditioner, or your current residence might not allow you to have a window or wall-mounted AC unit. Instead of putting off installation until the next heat wave, it might be time to invest in a portable AC unit.
Portable AC units allow you to move your air conditioner from one room to another, so long as there is a ventilation area and takes the hassle out of setting up your air conditioner come summertime. They are easy to use and don’t require you to strain yourself by trying to fit your old window unit into the wall. Plus, while window air conditioners block the natural lighting and can be an eyesore outside of your house, a standing AC unit is sleeker, more modern, and with many designs to choose from can fit in with almost any decor.
Another positive for standing air conditioners are that they are much quieter than their window-mounted counterparts. While of course there is always going to be a steady hum to any electronic, portable air conditioning units are prone to be much quieter than other air cooling systems, and don’t let in as much of the outside street noise as a window AC would.
Speaking of bringing the street inside, portable AC units vent the hot air out of your apartment and into the outside, making sure you’re not bringing any smells, fumes, or any other unpleasant situation from the outside while still allowing you to stay as cool as possible. Without further ado, here are some of the pros of portable air conditioners.
Keeps the Outside Out
Unlike wall-mounted air conditioning units, and window air conditioners, portable air conditioning units do not need to be weatherproofed like other units to prevent moisture from collecting. This means it’s easier than ever to install a standing AC unit in your office or home without having to worry about being on the 3rd, 4th, or 20th floor.
It also means that the exterior of your home or business–and the interior of your windows–will benefit from a longer life thanks to your new standing air conditioning unit.
No mess, no fuss, no drilling a hole in the wall needed, unlike wall mounted air conditioning models, portable units just require you to find a bit of floor space and an area to vent through. With wall mounted or even window-mounted air conditioning units, you need to find a room with a sizable window or have a space cut in the wall to allow the air conditioning unit to be installed correctly.
Not only do these mess with the aesthetic of your living or working space, but they can also put a strain on certain structural integrity of the building itself, and, in the case of needing to upgrade or replace a wall mounted air conditioning unit, you may find yourself in for more carpentry than you expected. On the other hand, portable air conditioning units can be moved from one location to another so long as there’s a vent area, and are relatively light and easy to move.
They are also designed with user-friendliness in mind, making them easy to transport, and less obtrusive than other air conditioning units. Who can say no to not having to do a little more work to stay cool, after all?
No Rain On Your Parade
Water damage is one of the biggest concerns that comes with an air conditioning unit, especially wall mounted and window units. While some portable air conditioning units do need to be drained, compared with the drip and leak hazards posed by wall mounted and window mounted units, the threat of water damage with portable units is kept at an all-time low. Another concern that comes from having any form of wall or window air conditioning unit is the possibility of water coming into the building, whether that be by leaking around the sides, by a faulty seal, or even the unit falling out somehow (though this is incredibly rare).
Once again, with a portable air conditioning unit, the only thing you have to worry about is where you would like to put it.
Same Cool Air, Less Electricity
Because portable air conditioning units are made to focus on a concentrated area, without any of the bulk that comes from other units, not only are you reducing your energy bill, you’re also reducing your impact on the environment, all while staying cool even in the hottest day of the year. Plus, portable air conditioning units allow you to move the cool air where you need it most, instead of having to run your air conditioner 24/7 to compete with a larger space.
Portable Air Conditioning FAQ
As you can see, there are many pros to portable air conditioners. We’ve gone ahead and answered some of the most popular questions about portable air conditioners so you know what you’re in for before making the investment.
How to Set Up a Portable Air Conditioner
Before choosing where to set up your portable air conditioning unit, you’ll need to make sure you have a location to vent the hot air. If you’re looking to cool a room without a window or any other source of ventilation, you may be better suited to invest in another form of air conditioning. However, once you have located a suitable ventilation location, set up is as easy as following the directions provided with the unit.
In most cases, portable air conditioning units come with an installation kit that helps you fit the host into any window or another venting area without an issue. Once you have this setup and make sure that the seal around the hose is tightly fitted, you should be all set to start using your air conditioning unit.
If you’ve never used a portable air conditioner before, here is a good YouTube video that walks through the process:
Portable Air Conditioner V.S Central Air
If you’re trying to cool a large household, you may think of investing in central air or another fixed air conditioning system. However, this may cost you a pretty penny, and while central air can be incredibly efficient at keeping your home perfectly climate-controlled, you may not want to make such a large investment at once, or may not get your money’s worth.
Portable air conditioning units allow you to focus on cooling the room you’re most active in, instead of cooling the entire house. This allows you to prioritize high-use areas, without having to cool down unused space. Plus, portable air conditioning units are much more energy efficient then they are fixed counterparts, making them perfect for lowering your electric bill and raising your comfort levels during the heat of Summer.
Compared to wall mounted units, portable air conditioning units are much more energy efficient and can cool the same area without raising your electric costs. While the actual energy efficiency of your portable air conditioning unit depends largely on what make and model you choose from, there are plenty of options in the market to help you make the best choice to help minimize your impact on the environment, and your pocketbook as well.
Keep in mind, the energy efficiency of an air conditioning unit can also depend on how well insulated your home is, so when investing in a new heating or cooling system is always a good idea to double-check to make sure that all of your windows are properly sealed. You also want to make sure that your air conditioning unit is properly installed, as a poor seal can impact how well it cools down a room.
But, even with all of these things in mind, portable air conditioning units are an effective option for anyone looking to invest in an energy efficient way of cooling their home. Portable AC’s with good energy star ratings can be less expensive to operate than you might think.
Dual and Single Hose Units
While this may seem like a minor difference between units, single and dual hose units do have some different pros and cons along with them. While single hose units are smaller, and a bit easier to install with simpler venting kits, dual hose units are ideal when it comes to cooling larger areas, and while you may find installation a little more difficult for these units, the added bonus of not having to have multiple units running at once in a large space can outweigh the installation difficulty.
When choosing between a single or dual hose portable air conditioning unit, it is always a good idea to do your research and check the recommended square footage capacity each portable unit before making your final decision. For example, the Frigidaire Cool Connect Smart Portable Air Conditioner is a singlehose portable that can cool over 550 square feet thanks to its 12K BTU cooling capacity. Although this model didn’t make it into our top 5, the Cool Connect series is very popular with many reviewers.
Larger Households, More Air Conditioners
Keep in mind, human beings are amazing in the amount of body heat that they can produce on a daily basis, but it may not feel as amazing when you have multiple people in the same household trying to stay cool during a heat spike. For every person in your household or in a main living area, you’ll want to accommodate for the added heat.
This means that while a single air conditioning unit may be perfect for your large game room when no one is there, in the middle of a party you may find yourself sweating bullets, and it has nothing to do with cheering for your favorite team! Always check out the energy and BTU ratings (British thermal unit) output of any air conditioning system you’re looking to invest in, to make sure that you are covering the most floor space without competing with dozens of heat signatures to try to stay cool.
Portable air conditioning units are by far one of the most convenient forms of air conditioning for many different living and working situations. They take the hassle out of installing wall or window mounted units, and can be used in spaces like apartments, workplaces, or even small bedrooms to add that bit of extra comfort even when the weather outside is far from delightful.
No matter your cooling needs, a portable air conditioning unit can help take some of the stress out of staying cool during the summer heat, and can also help save you on your electric bill in the long run.