The best portable air conditioners will take care of any summertime woes! Easy to move, efficient, and incredibly effective, portable AC units are a must-have in the warmer months. Furthermore, they’re super versatile, and you can use them just about anywhere!
Out of all the units we looked at, the Whynter 14,000 Btu Arc-14S Portable Air Conditioner was an easy choice as an overall favorite. This model features a dual hose exhaust that helps it run more efficiently, and it’s not just an air conditioner — it also works as a dehumidifier and a fan. It’s a bit on the larger size when it comes to portability, but it can rapidly cool a room as large as 500 square feet without any trouble. However, if you’re looking for something with a different cooling capacity or you’re working with a tighter budget, we’ve got plenty of other options in our lineup to suit your needs.
Our Top Picks
If you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick peek at our 10 favorite portable air conditioners.
|Best Overall: Whynter 14,000 Btu Arc-14S Portable Air Conditioner.|
This is one of the best rated portable air conditioners across the board, and it uses a dual hose exhaust that makes it incredibly efficient at cooling rooms as large as 500 square feet.
|Best Eco-Friendly: SPT WA-1420E 14,000 Btu Portable Air Conditioner.|
With its low energy efficiency rating of 8.9, this unit is a perfect choice for anyone searching for an air conditioner that can cool a large room without breaking the bank.
|Best Budget: AmazonBasics 10,000 Btu Portable Air Conditioner.|
This budget option is perfect for spaces under 400 square feet, and it comes with way more features than other units in this price range.
|Best Quiet: Frigidaire 10,000 Btu Portable Air Conditioner.|
This quiet unit can cool areas as large as 450 square feet and comes with an auto mode and sleep timer.
|Best for RVs: Honeywell 8,000 Btu w/ Dehumidifier.|
So long as you have a way to vent the exhaust, this model is perfect for an RV because it only uses 6.3 amps.
|Best Value for Large Rooms: SereneLife 10,000 Btu 3-in-1. |
This is one of the most affordable options for larger spaces — it also works as a dehumidifier and a fan.
|Best Air and Heat Combo: Black+Decker 14,000 Btu w/ Heat.|
If you want a powerful unit that will keep you comfy all year long, this unit is your best choice.
|Best Value for Small Rooms: LG 8,000 Btu Portable 115V AC.|
If you only need to cool a smaller space, this feature-packed unit comes at a great price from a reliable brand.
|Best Self-Evaporating: Honeywell MN12CES 12,000 Btu.|
This unit can cool rooms as large as 550 square feet without requiring you to worry about hooking up a drain hose or emptying a water pan.
|Best for Camping: Emerson 1,000 Btu Portable Air Conditioner.|
This lightweight unit is just the perfect size to take along on your next camping trip, and you won’t have to figure out how to rig up an exhaust tube in a tent because it’s ventless.
Best Portable Air Conditioners: A Closer Look
Here, we take a closer look at our top picks.
1. Whynter 14,000 Btu Arc-14S Portable Air Conditioner
The best portable air conditioner overall
Brand: Whynter | Cooling Area (sq. ft.): 500 | Exhaust: Dual Hose | Modes: AC, Dehumidifier, Fan | Remote: Yes | Price: 💰💰💰
The Whynter Arc-14S is a portable AC capable of cooling rooms up to 500 square feet. Even more, it features dual hoses for optimum performance, earning it the title of best dual hose portable air conditioner.
This unit comes with a washable air filter and has three operation modes: air conditioner, fan, and dehumidifier. It also features an intuitive digital control with a 24-hour sleep timer. This model’s installation process is just as easy as putting in a single hose unit, but the dual hose system offers quite a bit more efficiency. This unit is truly one of the best available!
- Strong fan
- Cools rooms quickly
- The air filter is washable
- The blue backlight is too bright for sleeping
2. SPT WA-1420E 14,000 Btu Portable Air Conditioner
The best eco-friendly portable air conditioner
Brand: SPT | Cooling Area (sq. ft.): 750 | Exhaust: Single Hose | Modes: AC, Fan | Remote: Yes | Price: 💰💰💰
The SPT 14,000 is perhaps the best portable air conditioner for apartments due to its high power and perfect size. With the ability to cool up to 750 square feet, this is the only unit you need to keep large spaces icy cold!
This unit has an energy-efficient rating of 8.9 — making it the best in its class for savings in your pocket and the environment. It comes with a cooler, fan, and dehumidifier and an intuitive electronic control board for ease of use. This model’s high power makes it one of the best 14,000 Btu portable air conditioners for general purposes.
- Fantastic dehumidifier
- The hose is thin and leaks hot and cool air
- It remembers your settings after a power outage
- Weak fan
- The filter is difficult to access
3. AmazonBasics 10,000 Btu Portable Air Conditioner
The best budget portable air conditioner
Brand: AmazonBasics | Cooling Area (sq. ft.): 400 | Exhaust: Single Hose | Modes: AC, Dehumidifier, Fan | Remote: Yes | Price: 💰
We tried to find the best portable air conditioner under 200 dollars. However, all the options we found in that price range weren’t much better than setting a bowl of ice cubes in front of your fan. So, instead we searched for the best portable air conditioner under 300 dollars, and this AmazonBasics 10,000 Btu Portable Air Conditioner is the best budget option we found.
This unit is relatively small making it easy to move around. It works as a dehumidifier in addition to an air conditioner and fan. Even though this unit is inexpensive, it still offers an automatic timer, LED light display, and remote control.
- Easy to move around
- Maintenance is simple
- You can adjust the vent to direct the airflow
- Fan only works on low or high
- Water drainage is poorly designed
4. Frigidaire 10,000 Btu Portable Air Conditioner
The best quiet portable air conditioner
Brand: Frigidaire | Cooling Area (sq. ft.): 450 | Exhaust: Single Hose | Modes: AC, Fan | Remote: Yes | Price: 💰💰💰
Frigidaire makes powerful appliances, and the Frigidaire 10,000 is no different. This is the best brand portable air conditioner offering powerful cooling for rooms up to 450 square feet.
This 10,000 Btu air conditioner is the perfect choice for big family rooms or apartment spaces. Frigidaire makes incredibly durable products, offers exceptional support, and maintains their status as a top AC manufacturer. This unit is low in noise without sacrificing on power — making the Frigidaire 10,000 the quietest portable air conditioner of 2021.
- It has a timer option
- It has four fan speeds
- It lets you know when to clean the filter
- The power cord and exhaust hose are short
- The plastic clips that hold the exhaust are weak
5. Honeywell 8,000 Btu w/ Dehumidifier
The best portable air conditioner for RVs
Brand: Honeywell | Cooling Area (sq. ft.): 350 | Exhaust: Single Hose | Modes: AC, Dehumidifier, Fan | Remote: Yes | Price: 💰💰
The Honeywell 8,000 is a small but powerful workhorse! The summer heat is never a problem when it’s around — it will keep rooms up to 350 square feet icy cold. This is one of the best home portable air conditioners on the market, and it only uses 6.3 amps.
This small and compact unit won’t take up much space, and it’s perfect for apartments and smaller rooms. It comes with a built-in dehumidifier that removes excess moisture with less hassle. The simple digital controls include an onboard smart home thermostat and energy-saving timer. Although this model doesn’t measure up against more powerful portable ACs, it’s an excellent choice for smaller spaces.
- It’s not very big
- The exhaust hose is easy to attach
- You can set the timer to turn it on or turn it off
- Not very powerful
- Some water leakage issues
6. SereneLife 10,000 Btu Portable 3-in-1 Air Conditioner
The best value portable air conditioner for large rooms
Brand: SereneLife | Cooling Area (sq. ft.): 450 | Exhaust: Single Hose | Modes: AC, Dehumidifier, Fan | Remote: Yes | Price: 💰💰
SereneLife’s 10,000 Btu Portable 3-in-1 Air Conditioner offers a lot of cooling power at a decent price point. Beyond just air conditioning, this unit also works as a fan and will dehumidify your room at a rate of 1.5 liters per hour. Dehumidifiers can help reduce allergens that grow in humid environments.
This model will let you adjust the vents to control the airflow, and you can choose between low, medium, or high fan speeds. It comes with a 24-hour timer, sleep mode, and a digital remote for your convenience.
- Easy setup
- Works quickly
- Stands up to humid climates
- Very loud
- Vent tube sometimes comes off the machine
7. Black+Decker 14,000 Btu Portable AC Unit w/ Heat
The best portable air conditioner heater combo
Brand: Black+Decker | Cooling Area (sq. ft.): 375 | Exhaust: Single Hose | Modes: AC, Heat, Fan | Remote: Yes | Price: 💰💰💰
The Black+Decker 14,000 is a powerful unit that cools your room in the summer and keeps it warm in the winter months! Because of the dual-action performance, this unit is perfect for year-round versatility. Suitable for large rooms up to 375 square feet, the B+D 14,000 is the best portable air conditioner with heat pump on the market.
This unit’s programmable controls give you full management over the temperature of your room. It features a 4-in-1 system that integrates coolers, fans, dehumidifiers, and a powerful heating element. This model is optimized for versatility with undercarriage wheels and a uniquely engineered airflow for perfect performance.
- It’s functional all year
- Heats and cools quickly
- All the features can be handled by the remote
- Heavy unit
- The condensation tank fills up fast
8. LG 8,000 Btu Portable 115V AC
The best value portable air conditioner for small rooms
Brand: LG | Cooling Area (sq. ft.): 200 | Exhaust: Single Hose | Modes: AC, Dehumidifier, Fan | Remote: Yes | Price: 💰💰
The LG 8,000 is a dynamic and reasonably priced air conditioner that offers quality performance for less. Coming in at a great price point, the LG snags the spot for the best cheap portable air conditioner on the market.
This unit uses a standard 115V electrical socket for ultimate ease of use and simple installation. It can cool a room up to 200 square feet while removing up to 2 pints of humidity per hour. The adjustable fan allows you to precisely aim the airflow for ultra flexibility.
- It doesn’t require a drain tube
- The sleep timer is a nice feature
- The unit has adjustable directional airflow
- Not very powerful
- The fan and compressor are noisy
9. Honeywell MN12CES 12,000 Btu Portable Air Conditioner
The best self-evaporating portable air conditioner
Brand: Honeywell | Cooling Area (sq. ft.): 550 | Exhaust: Single Hose | Modes: AC, Dehumidifier, Fan | Remote: Yes | Price: 💰💰💰
The Honeywell 12,000 offers dual-speed cooling and can cover up to 550 square feet of space! Equipped with a dehumidifier and multiple fans, this model is one of the best 12,000 Btu air conditioners around. Also, this unit has auto evaporation when it’s in cooling mode (except for in environments with high humidity) — this means you won’t have to worry about emptying the water catch or setting up a drain hose when you’re only using the cooling mode.
Its digital display offers an immersive LED touch control for easy temperature adjustment. The 3-speed, ultra-quiet, 55 dBA fan gives off the perfect amount of air without sacrificing its noise dampening abilities. This model’s sleek and small dimensions make the Honeywell 12,000 one of the best small portable air conditioners.
- Easy to drain
- Good dehumidifier
- It has an automatic timer
- Struggles with high temperatures
- The temperature light is bright and doesn’t turn off
10. Emerson 1,000 Btu Portable Air Conditioner
The best portable air conditioner for tent camping
Brand: Emerson | Cooling Area (sq. ft.): 85 | Exhaust: Ventless | Modes: AC, Fan, Bluetooth Speaker, LED Light | Remote: No | Price: 💰💰💰💰
Unfortunately, this unit will still require a power supply because it doesn’t run on batteries. However, at less than 20 pounds, it’s a lightweight unit that you can easily carry around with you. This unit is only capable of cooling areas up to 85 square feet, but that’s perfect for keeping a tent cool. Also, unlike other portable air conditioners, this one doesn’t require any venting, so you won’t need to worry about rigging up an awkward exhaust tube in your tent.
Besides its small size and weight, something else that makes this unit perfect for camping is that it works as a Bluetooth speaker, LED light, and it has USB ports to charge your other devices. Even though this unit isn’t powerful enough for larger spaces, it might just be the perfect companion for your next camping trip.
- Nice extra features
- Not very efficient
- Minimal cooling capacity
What to Look for in the Best Portable Air Conditioners
There are a ton of different options when it comes to choosing the best portable air conditioner for your space. You’ll have to look at the size, features, and — most noteworthy — the cooling capabilities of the unit you’re thinking about installing.
How do portable air conditioners measure power?
Powering Portable AC Units
Btu (British thermal unit) is the measurement of power for most types of air conditioners. The Btu measurement indicates how much heat the air conditioner can remove from a room. Generally speaking, the higher the Btu, the more powerful the AC.
We’ve put together a few recommendations for choosing the right portable air conditioner for your space. Keep in mind that these are base stats, and you may want to go a little higher for some wiggle room (and be sure to keep in mind ceiling height). We don’t recommend going any lower than 6,000 Btu unless it’s for an extremely small area because even the best 5,000 btu portable air conditioners often aren’t very effective at cooling spaces over 100 square feet.
Here’s a rough comparison guide for Btu and square feet.
- 6,000 Btu will cover roughly 150-200 sq/ft
- 8,000 Btu will cover roughly 300-350 sq/ft
- 10,000 Btu will cover roughly 400-450 sq/ft
- 12,000 Btu will cover roughly 450-550 sq/ft
- 14,000 Btu will cover roughly 550-700 sq/ft
However, suppose you’re interested in something more powerful, like the best 18,000 Btu portable air conditioner. In that case, you’ll probably need to search for industrial portable air conditioners or consider a more permanent solution to cool your air.
Aside from the actual power of your unit, it would help if you also considered energy efficiency. Low Btu units usually take up less energy. In contrast, some high powered ACs are built to be easy on your wallet (and the environment). Energy Star certification is always a good starting point.
Noise can play a huge factor as well. Always check out the reviews to make sure that the noise level is tolerable.
What is a Portable Air Conditioner?
Now that we’ve had a look at the best portable air conditioners of this year, let’s talk a little more about the technical details behind these units.
In short, a portable air conditioner is a detached and self-contained air cooler that is perfect for cooling areas of varying sizes. But how does it work?
Most residential models attach to your window via a hose. This hose collects the air from outside and runs it through a conditioning process.
The conditioning process, or refrigeration cycle, requires several components to function.
- condensing coil
- expansion valve
- evaporator coil
With all these components working together in unison, the air conditioner’s internal chamber gets icy cold as the air starts to circulate inside. Once the air is sufficiently chilled, the AC unit pumps it out into your room.
It only takes a few minutes for small rooms to start to cool down. Plus, many ACs will automatically maintain the atmosphere once they reach the perfect temperature!
How to Use a Portable Air Conditioner
One of the main selling points of a portable air conditioner is that it moves around from room to room without much hassle. Compared to other types of coolers, such as window ACs, this gives you much more freedom and flexibility.
Portable air conditioners work wonders for bedrooms, offices, living rooms, and other spaces around the house. However, if you want the best portable air conditioner for a garage, keep in mind that these units work more efficiently in insulated spaces. And, you’ll still need a way to vent the unit for it to be effective.
Setting up portable air conditioning units is a breeze due to the simple installation process of attaching the hose exhaust to the window opening. If you follow the instructions correctly, it will most likely only take a few minutes to get up and running.
Plus, most portable air conditioners will cool your room in just a few minutes! That’s hard to beat.
What is the Best Portable Air Conditioner?
We’ve looked at many portable air conditioners, all with varying specifications and features. But the question remains: which is best?
The truth is, there isn’t any best portable room air conditioner. You have to consider all your requirements when making a final decision. One household may do well with an 8,000 Btu unit, while the mansion at the top of the hill might well need a 20,000 Btu behemoth!
Finally, it’s about finding what works for you.
The best portable air conditioner that meets your needs is out there! Do your research, shop around, and above all — remember to stay cool!
For this guide on the best portable air conditioners, our team spent 9 hours researching the most popular options from over 16 brands and manufacturers, big and small. We then read about one hundred user reviews (both positive and negative) to discover what shoppers thought about each unit. After comparing this data, we narrowed our list down to the top 10 portable air conditioners on the market. You can count on this research to guide you to a mindful purchasing decision.
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