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Published Oct. 5, 2021

In many parts of the country, living without air conditioning is an uncomfortable proposition to say the least. Fortunately, even those without central air or a window unit can keep cool with a portable air conditioner.

Many different companies make portable air conditioners, and not all of them are created equal. To find the best portable air conditioner for your needs, you’ll need to look at a number of different criteria in determining what will work best for your situation.

Read on to learn all you need to know about the portable air conditioners on the market and update yourself on the information you need to choose the best air conditioner for you and your family.

How We Picked the Best Portable Air Conditioners

Methodology 

While most portable air conditioners seem similar at first glance, the big differences are between their features and capabilities. To make our selections, we looked at a number of different criteria that helped us pick the few from the many.

  • Reach: The size of room a portable air conditioner can cool is one of the most important considerations. You can’t skimp and get a unit that is designed to cool a 150-square-foot room and expect it to cool a 500-square-foot living room.
  • Features: This category really sets the best portable air conditioners apart from the rest. Units that have easy-to-use controls, multiple settings, and are simple to set up and operate got higher marks than those that didn’t display those traits.
  • Value: We considered a price range to suit any budget, so you can be sure to get all the cooling power whether you want a premium pick or an affordable option. 

The Best Portable Air Conditioners: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Whynter Dual HosePortable Air Conditioner

Two-in-One

This powerful combination air conditioner/dehumidifier can cool down a room faster than many comparable units. Whynter

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Why It Made The Cut: This award-winning portable air conditioner is powerful, energy-efficient, and purifies the air, making it an easy choice to top our list.

Specs:

  • 14,000 BTU
  • Three modes
  • Cools up to 500 square feet

Pros: 

  • Very powerful fan
  • 5-Star energy rating
  • Activated carbon filter
  • Uses eco-friendly refrigerant

Cons:

  • Fairly heavy at 80 pounds

This powerful 14,000 BTU portable air conditioner will get the job done in the hottest weather, even in large spaces. In fact, this unit by Whynter will cool a room sized up to 500 square feet!

This unit has three operational modes—air conditioner, dehumidifier, or fan. It features advanced auto drain technology, which uses and recycles moisture collected during the cooling process to produce chilled air. The dual hose operation provides faster cooling than many comparable units.

A washable pre-filter and activated carbon filter ensure you are breathing clean, cool air. Other features include a 24-hour programmable timer, full thermostatic control (61° to 89° F), remote, and an auto drain function that fully exhausts all condensation automatically.

Best for Humid Climates: Midea Air Conditioner/Dehumidifier

Compact Pick

This super-compact portable air conditioner can cool rooms up to 150 square feet and is easy to store when not in use. Midea

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Why It Made The Cut: This small portable air conditioner has plenty of power to cool small rooms, while also offering many of the same features as comparable units that command a much higher price.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 13 x 17.1 x 28.3 inches
  • Weight: 24.3 Kilograms
  • Space: 150 Square Feet

Pros: 

  • Powerful cooling
  • Quiet operation
  • Easy to clean
  • Also works as a dehumidifier

Cons:

  • Not powerful enough to cool larger spaces

This Smart Controlled Midea Easy Cool 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner cools or dehumidifies home or office spaces quietly, quickly and efficiently. Auto-swing air flow louvers move air while cooling, making all parts of your room more comfortable. 

With three fan speeds and five modes, you can choose your desired combination of settings from either the control panel or included digital remote. Multi-function control panels let you quickly set desired temperature and fan speed for optimal comfort. An energy-saving SLEEP/ECO option automatically adjusts the temperature overnight. 

Thanks to its four-wheel design and handles, it can be easily moved to another room. The unit is also extremely quiet, producing less sound than a household refrigerator, even when on high.

A built-in hose and installation kit make setting up the unit a cinch. Plus, unlike some comparable units, it works with both hinge and sliding windows.

Best for Dry Climates: Evapolar Portable Air Conditioner/Humidifier

Cools and Humidifies

This Evapolar portable air cooler is super lightweight but strong enough to cool small areas efficiently. Evapolar

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Why It Made The Cut: Not everyone needs a big, expensive portable air conditioner that can cool 450 or 500 square feet of space. We included this super-small unit for those who just want to cool the area around their desk or other small spaces.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 8 x 8 x 10 inches
  • Weight: 3 pounds
  • Space: 45 square feet

Pros: 

  • Super easy to move from room to room
  • Energy efficient 
  • Whisper-quiet operation
  • Freon-free cooling unit

Cons:

  • Not powerful enough to cool large rooms

For the person who has a small area to cool quickly and efficiently, this model from Evapolar might just be the best portable air conditioner. It’s a cost-effective alternative to larger, more expensive units.

Along with cooling, this unit also purifies and humidifies the air, making it particularly useful if your house or room is very dry—a common cause of allergies. It’s also a full-spectrum LED light that will spruce up the appearance of any room.

One of the best things about this unit is it is small enough and light enough that you can take it anywhere you might need it with minimal effort. Evapolar coolers work with a power bank, so this pick can also be used to cool tents and hunting cabins. Additionally, this unit is very simple to use: Just plug it in and you’re set to go.

Best for Large Rooms: Black + Decker 10,000 BTU with Remote

Heavy Duty

This super powerful unit will cool rooms up to 450 square feet, making it suitable for nearly any room in your home, and even most garages. BLACK+DECKER

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Why It Made The Cut: Black & Decker makes top-quality products, and this portable air conditioner—which is easy to use and powerful enough to cool a large room quite quickly—is no exception. 

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 13.2 x 17.3 x 27.2 inches
  • Weight: 65 pounds
  • Power: 10,000 BTU

Pros: 

  • Quiet operation
  • Quick installation
  • Dehumidifies up to 90 pints in 24 hours

Cons:

  • More expensive than many comparable units

If you want to keep your room cool without installing a large air conditioner, this AC unit from Black + Decker is the answer. Just roll it into the room, attach the included hose and window adaptor to a double hung or sliding window, and start cooling.

This powerful 10,000-BTU portable air conditioner is made for cooling fairly large spaces, including rooms up to 450 square feet. A full-function remote controls lets you adjust the temperature from your couch or bed without having to get up. And a self-evaporating function means no buckets or drain pans are required, meaning no mess.

Additionally, the unit’s compact size, integrated carry handles and four wheels make it extra portable. You can even take it with you on camping RV trips or to college dorms. At the end of the season, it’s easy to store and fits in most closets.

Best Value Pick: Air Choice Mini Air Conditioner

Quiet Comfort

For those on a budget with just a small space to cool, this affordable portable air conditioner from Air Choice might be just the right fit. Air Choice

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Why It Made The Cut: Since not everyone needs to cool an entire large room or has an extensive budget for their portable air conditioner, this unit is a good budget alternative that will get the job done at an affordable price.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 7 x 7 x 7.4 inches
  • Weight: 1.83 pounds
  • Power: 14,000 BTU

Pros: 

  • Three speeds
  • Cools, humidifies and purifies air
  • Eco-friendly energy saver
  • Extremely quiet when running

Cons:

  • Not made for large areas or rooms

Make no mistake: This ultra-small portable air conditioner from Air Choice isn’t going to cool your 400-square-foot living room in the heat of summer. But if you’re on a budget and looking to cool a small area, this might just be the unit for you. Simply pour some ice water in the water tank, turn on the personal air cooler and it will cool the hot air around you within seconds. The evaporative air conditioner is designed with three fan speeds, so you can choose the perfect airflow for you.

Unlike many portable air conditioners, this micro unit’s power is supplied via a USB connection. And, just a single refill of water can last more than four hours. With its portable and compact design, this USB air cooler can be easily moved from room to room, and storage is a snap during the winter months. Additionally, it can be used just about anywhere that needs cooling, from your travel trailer to your tent.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Portable Air Conditioner

Before buying a portable air conditioner, first determine exactly what your cooling needs are. If you’re trying to cool an entire house, you may need to look into central air, or possibly a window unit or two. But if you’re just trying to cool a small to medium-sized area, a portable air conditioner might be just what you need.

BTUs

BTUs or “British Thermal Units” measure the amount of energy your air conditioner requires to take heat out of the air over the course of an hour. Higher BTU’s will route more energy to the task at hand, meaning more cooling power but higher energy bills. Look for air conditioners with about 20 BTUs for every square foot you intend to cool.

Space

Above all other considerations, determine how much space you plan to cool. Figure out the square footage you intend to cool and use that as your starting point.

Size

Another consideration is size. Unless you’re living in the desert, you may need to store your air conditioner for the off season. Smaller units are easier to move around and easier to store when not in use. So looking for a smaller unit that will cool the same amount of space is a good idea.

Price

Lastly, consider price. If you can find a very small, very powerful unit that will cool the amount of space where you are intending to use it, you’re on the right track. Take the short list of portable air conditioners that meet your criteria and compare them to your budget, that way, you’ll know you chose the best portable air conditioner for you.

FAQs

Q: Are portable air conditioners effective?

They can be effective depending on the amount of space you want to cool. If you have a fairly small space, a portable air conditioner is a great and cost-effective way to cool down. But a solo portable air conditioner is not equipped to cool down an entire house, so keep your space in mind. 

Q: Can a portable AC cool a living room?

That depends on the size of the living room. If you have a powerful portable air conditioner that will cool off a room measuring 500 square feet and only a 300-square-foot living room, you’ll be cool in no time. But if your room is much larger than the capacity of your portable air conditioner you might be disappointed—and probably warmer than you’d like to be.

Q: Is a portable air conditioner better than a window unit?

Typically, window units are both more energy efficient, and cool a room better than a portable air conditioner could. However, if budget is a big concern, and you are trying to cool a fairly small room, or if you want to take your air conditioner with you on the road, a portable air conditioner might be your best choice.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of good portable air conditioners on the market. Whether you need a full force option to keep your space cool like the Whynter Dual Hose, or a desk-friendly pick like the Air Choice Mini for stuffy days at the office, there’s a portable air conditioner for you. If you don’t want to install hefty and expensive full AC units, a portable option can be a great alternative for keeping cool.

Before starting your portable air conditioner shopping spree, be sure and check out our recommendations. They’ll put you on the way to finding the best portable air conditioner for your space.

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