19 Best Portable Air Conditioners (Review) In 2021
- The Best Portable Air Conditioner
- 1. Whynter GREEN ARC-14S 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner
- 2. AireMax 10,000 BTU 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner
- 3. Honeywell HL12CESWG Contempo Series Portable Air Conditioner
- 4. Whynter ARC-143MX 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner, Dehumidifier, and Fan
- 5. LG LP1017WSR 115V Portable Air Conditioner
- 6. NewAir Portable Air Conditioner
- 7. Black+Decker BPACT08WT Portable Air Conditioner
- 8. SHINCO 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier and Fan
- 9. Frigidaire 12,000 BTU Cool Connect Smart Portable Air Conditioner
- 10. RolliCool Alexa-Enabled Portable Air Conditioner
- 11. SPT WA-1420H 14,000BTU Portable Air Conditioner + Heater
- 12. NewAir 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Heater and Remote
- 13. Keystone KSTAP14B 115V Portable Air Conditioner
- 14. Honeywell MN10CESWW 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner, Dehumidifier, and Fan
- 15. Whynter Elite ARC-122DHP 12,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner and Heater
- 16. Haier HPC12XCR Portable Air Conditioner
- 17. Whynter ARC-12S 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner, Dehumidifier, and Fan
- 18. Della 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Heater
- 19. JHS 14,000BTU 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner
As the weather warms up and we start packing away our sweaters and coats in favor of lighter clothing, we might be excited for days spent lounging around in the heat of the sun, but when you've had enough of the hot weather, you're going to want a nice cool home environment to kick back and relax in.
There are a number of choices available to those who want to install a room air conditioner at home to keep the hot air under control. A hugely popular decision many people make is to invest in a portable air conditioner unit that can be moved around whether you want to cool your bedroom, kitchen, RV, or anywhere else.
Below, we're going to look at some of the best portable air conditioner units available, as well as help you establish some key features to look for, and we'll also be answering some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to shopping for a portable AC unit. So read on if you're interested in finding out more about our best portable air conditioner recommendations.
The Best Portable Air Conditioner
Full thermostatic control with digital readout, 24hr programmable timer, and remote control
Uses eco-friendly CFC-free Green R-410A refrigerant
Comes with extendable exhaust and intake hoses, window kit, and accessories
Filtration system also purifies the air as the portable aircon/dehumidifier/fan works
The winner of Good Housekeeping’s “2019 Best Overall” and “can cool down a room faster than other portable units” as well as the Consumer Reports’ “2019 Highest Score”, the Whytner Green ARC-14S is one of the best portable air conditioner units available. The air conditioning mode can cool up to 500 square feet with a full thermostatic control system allowing you to choose the optimum temperate between 61’F – 89’F. The unit also offers a dehumidifier and fan mode to keep you comfortable even when cooling isn’t necessary.
Benefitting from Whynter’s patented advance auto drain technology, this room air conditioner recycled moisture collected during cooling to help maintain a cool temperature similarly to a cooling tower fan (you can see our buying guide for the Best Tower Fans here), and with a washable pre-filter and activated carbon filter, you’ll even notice an improved air quality when using this portable aircon. Control your unit easily with the included remote control or the 24hr programable timer and enjoy an environmentally-friendly cooler space.
Auto drain technology means you don’t need to empty water tanks
Not too noisy
Cannot control cool air direction
Clip-in areas may allow air leaks
10,000 btu can cool rooms up to 300 square feet
3 operating modes, 2 fan speeds, 2-way adjustable front louvers, and dehumidification up to 25 pints a day
Single hose with 4 rolling casters and mobile window installation kit makes it a fully portable AC
Dual washable filtration system purifies the air as the unit works
Designed to provide the maximum cooling power in a compact unit, this AireMax 10,000 btu mini air conditioner is able to cool up to 300 square feet with its 3 operating modes (cool, fan, dry) and 2 fan speeds. You can easily move it from room-to-room thanks to the 4 rolling casters, and integrated side handles to make this a truly portable AC unit. The dual filters are able to catch anything from pet hair to dust and other particles to clean the air as it cools, and the soft-white LED display screen is great to let you keep an eye on what’s going on and control the settings. The single hose system makes this a great, quiet portable air conditioner, and thanks to the 2-way adjustable front louvers, you can even alter the direction of the cool air!
Comes with remote control
Quiet portable air conditioner
Evaporator system means you don’t need to empty water tanks very often
Vents only offer minimum alteration to airflow direction
May get noisy when working hard
Able to cool rooms up to 550 square feet with thermal overload protection
Dual filtration system purifies air as it cools
Portable AC system comes with 3 fan speeds, an intelligent sleep mode, digital controls, a 24hr energy-saving timer, and remote control with digital display
Auto evaporation and built-in dehumidifier
The Honeywell HL series has been designed to offer a portable aircon system with a reliable dehumidifier and 3-speed fan as well as a washable dual filter system to ensure the air in your home is as cool, clean, and fresh as you deserve. The intelligent sleep mode and 24 hr energy-saving timer ensures you don’t waste energy cooling your home when you’re not using it and the auto evaporation system means you don’t need to worry about emptying water tanks (unless you’re in a particularly humid area). The stand-up air conditioner can cool rooms up to 550 square feet and incorporates thermal overload protection for your safety and peace of mind. There’s also an automatic vertical wind motion to help distribute cool air evenly around your room (a ceiling fan will double the power of this airflow, check out our buying guides for the Best Ceiling Fan now).
Moves on wheels
No need to empty water
Quiet portable air conditioner
Useful remote control included
Sleep mode gradually raises/lowers the temperature as you fall asleep/awake
Can be difficult to roll over carpet
Not a particularly stylish design
Relatively short venting tube
Uses CFC-free GREEN R-410A refrigerant
Able to cool up to 500 sq ft
Auto-drain and 24hr timer allows minimum maintenance
Noise level is under 56dBA
Comes with extendable intake and exhaust hoses, window kit, remote control, and dual washable air filters
This Whynter ARC-143MX indoor air conditioner has been specifically designed with commercial applications in mind and was created to combine the maximum cooling power with the minimum air conditioner maintenance possible, so you can quickly set this portable room air conditioner up and let it cool, dehumidify, and filter the air without needing to check on it. The 24hr programmable timer and full thermostatic control allow you to leave the stand-up air conditioner to do its thing, and with an auto drain function that fully exhausts all water, you won’t need to worry about a thing. The 14,000 btu power has been designed to work particularly well in typically hot rooms such as server rooms, data centers, wiring closets, etc., so you know it’s going to have plenty of cooling power in rooms up to 500 sq ft.
For even more comfort, when using this in an office, why not pick up one of the Best Desk Fans to add some extra airflow? We have all the best choices in our buying guide that you can read here.
Fairly quiet portable air conditioner
Auto-drain; good reach on the remote control; great in hot rooms with PCs or other heat-producing appliances
Can take a lot of power to run
Mesh lining on hoses can allow small bugs to slip through
10,000 BTU (ASHRAE-128 Standard) / 6,000BTU (DOE 2017 Standard)
Cools up to 300 sq ft and dehumidifies up to 2.5 pints of water per hour
Inclined air discharge with auto-swing louvers eliminates hot spots
Has a programable 24hr on/off timer and remote control
When it comes to portable air conditioner this powerful LG LP1017WSR benefits from a top-of-the-range auto evaporation system and 10,000BTU (ASHRAE-128 Standard or 6,500 BTU DOE 2017 Standard) to effortlessly cool your room with minimum maintenance required. The stand-up air conditioner unit is able to cool rooms up to 300sqft swiftly and doubles as a dehumidifier that removes up to 2.5 pints of water per hour. The inclined air discharge vents at the top of the unit use unique auto-swing louvers to help eliminate any hotspots in the room and encourage a more even spread of cool air and with a programable 24hr timer, you can easily set the portable AC unit to run all day long.
Moves on wheels
Quiet portable air conditioner
Fast cooling; auto-drain function
May need to empty water tank occasionally in high humidity
Compressor can be noisy
8,000BTU (ASHRAE) / 4,600BTU (DOE SACC)
Comes with caters, remote control, and window venting kit plus exhaust hose storage compartment
24hr programable timer and sleep setting
Adjustable louvers allow you to alter horizontal and vertical airflow
Measures 13.5” (D) x 26.9”(H) x 14.6” (W)
This small portable air conditioner is able to cool and dehumidify up to 200sqft with almost instant cooling powers thanks to the 8,000BTU rating and integrated fan. The mini air conditioner is incredibly lightweight and designed to be as portable as possible, so you can easily move it from room-to-room to provide the ultimate comfort all day long and even has an inbuilt exhaust hose storage to keep everything tidy when not in use. The NewAir portable air conditioner has 2 adjustable fan speeds and a 24hr timer, both of which can easily be controlled from across the room using the included remote. With adjustable louvers, you can customize the horizontal and vertical airflow to reduce hotspots, and the washable filters purify the air in your home as it cools.
Cools almost instantly; lightweight
Adjustable louvers ensure even cooling
Moves on wheels
Compact, small portable air conditioner
Good reach on remote
Wheels may struggle on carpet
Small air conditioner measures 16.5″ (W) x 11.5″ (D) x 26″ (H)
Features a 24hr timer and sleep mode that automatically controls the air temperature at night
Uses environmentally-friendly R410A refrigerant and 8,000BTU cooling power
75dBA operating noise on high setting
A powerful and quiet portable air conditioner, this Black+Decker BPACT08WT is designed to provide maximum cooling power in a compact machine to keep you comfortable even on the hottest days. With an adjustable fan speed, sleep mode, and 24hr timer, this mini air conditioner can easily be controlled to offer the perfect air temperature and can easily be stored away over winter. The remote-controlled small portable air conditioner combines 3 energy-efficient functions, including cooling, fan, and dehumidifying, as well as washable filters to purify the air. The self-evaporating function means you don’t need to worry about emptying buckets of water while enjoying your cool, clean, dry space.
Quiet portable air conditioner
Long-reaching remote control
Not too bulky; the auto-drain system works well
Large window vent may need to be modified
Will need to buy more foam insulation if you want to be able to move to a different window.
10,000 btu cools up to 300sqft
3 functions: portable room air conditioner, 3 fan speeds, dehumidifier
Self-evaporative cooling technology uses water collected from the air to cool the condenser coils
Can be controlled via the LED touch display or remote control
This SHINCO 10,000 BTU indoor air conditioner system offers an impressive 10,000BTU to deliver faster and more effective cooling in spaces up to 300sqft and has been fitted with self-evaporating cooling technology that cools the condenser coils with the water removed from the air to not only increase efficiency but also reduce the frequency you need to empty the water tank. The LED display and controls are incredibly easy to use and understand, and the 24hr timer, speed mode, and function changing can be simply adjusted either using the control panel or via the helpful remote control. 4 castor wheels and a super quick assembly make it effortless to move this small portable air conditioner between rooms, and the 75 pint dehumidifying capacity per day ensures your room stays dry and mold-free all year round.
Good remote control
Fan speed options actually make a difference
Efficient air filtration system
Self-evaporating so no need to empty water tanks
Lightweight (under 50lb); compact size
May be too loud for sleeping for some users
Doesn’t come with tape or foam to secure to window
12,000 btu cool up to 550 square feet with 3 pints per hour dehumidification
360′ airflow circulates cool air upwards
3 cooling speeds, 3 fan speeds, and 24hr on/off timer plus auto-cool, sleep mode, and energy saving
Connect to Wi-Fi and control via the Frigidaire smart app
Connect this best portable air conditioner unit to your Wi-Fi and open the Frigidaire smart app to effortlessly control your room temperature from your smartphone. With the Frigidaire 12,000 BTU, this small portable air conditioner can cool up to 550sqft and removes up to 3 pints of water per hour with a quiet portable air conditioner noise level of just 53dBA. The 360′ airflow intelligently circulates cool air upwards to ensure every corner of your room is evenly cooled, and you can adjust the settings with 3 cooling speeds, 3 fan speeds, and a 24hr on/off timer. There’s even an auto-cool function, sleep mode, and energy-saving mode to choose from. What’s more, the LED display, mesh grill, and a modern shape make this stand up air conditioner unit an attractive addition to any room.
Moves on wheels
Water reservoir rarely needs emptying
Quiet portable air conditioner
Efficient cooling; well-designed remote control
May need an extension for hose if you have large windows
Difficult to move over carpet
Control via Alexa voice-control, the RolliCool mobile app, or remote control
12,000BTU cools up to 550sqft
Works as a portable air conditioner, heater, dehumidifier, and fan
3 preinstalled, washable filters help remove particles and odors from the air
Uses environmentally-friendly R410A refrigerant
Featuring a heater, dehumidifier, and fan, this is much more than a stand-alone air conditioner unit and can even be connected to Alexa and controlled with your voice or via the RolliCool mobile app. The powerful 12,000BTU RolliCool indoor air conditioner is able to cool, heat, dehumidify, or simply circulate the air in rooms up to 550sqft, and thanks to the sturdy, portable design you can easily roll the stand-up air conditioner to another location if you want to cool somewhere else. It’s easy to switch between the 3 fan levels, and there’s even a convenient sleep mode that you can activate when dozing off. If that’s not enough, the washable dust filters help improve the air quality in your home, and the included remote control is really handy while your phone charges.
Easy installation and setup
Works with Alexa
Fast cooling; sturdy
Can be controlled via a smart app from anywhere
Window installation kit may not fit every window type
14,000BTU cooling power / 11,000BTU heating
Can be used as a stand-alone air conditioner, heater, dehumidifier, or fan
Features an LED digital display and includes a remote control
Uses environmentally-friendly R410 refrigerant
With four operational modes, including cooling, heating, dehumidifying, and fan, the SPT WA-1420H is arguably the best portable air conditioner when it comes to offering the ultimate room coverage as the 14,000 btu of cooling power can easily cool 550 square feet + and the ventilation is great for getting every corner of the space. The stand-up air conditioner unit itself features an attractive LED display that shows the current temperature of your space, and the included remote control means you don’t need to get up to adjust the settings. You can easily set up the 24 programable timer to choose when you want the machine on/off or leave it on continuously in any of the 4 modes. You can also connect a drainage system to allow the dehumidifier to automatically expel collected water.
Fairly quiet portable air conditioner
Noise levels louder in heating mode
Can be difficult to move over carpet
Small portable air conditioner unit measures 31.1″ (H) x 16.5″ (W) x 16″ (D) and weighs 62.95lb
Can be used as a portable AC unit, heater, dehumidifier, or fan
Includes window adapter, thermostat, remote control, and air filters
Uses environmentally friendly R-410A refrigerant
With automatic temperature control, remote, timer, and sleep mode, it’s easy to create the perfect atmosphere in your home with this NewAir 14,000 BTU portable air conditioner unit. The 14,000BTU cooling power can easily cool up to 525sqft, or you can adjust the settings to have this stand up air conditioner function as a heater, dehumidifier, or ventilator to enjoy year-round comfort. With no permanent installation required, this portable room air conditioner can be installed or disassembled almost effortlessly, and thanks to the portable AC unit weighing just 62.95lb, it’s really easy to move around the home. The self-evaporating technology means you won’t need to empty the drip tray every 5 minutes, and the small air conditioner unit only needs to be vented out of a window in cooling mode.
Fast, efficient cooling
Impressive air filter system
Multi-use; drain plug automatically pulls out humidity
Easy installation; reasonable noise levels
Plastic latch to hold the door lock containing water tank isn’t particularly secure
Heater can be noisy
The thermostat isn’t 100% accurate
14,000BTUs cool up to 550sqft
Auto-swing top airflow louvers move cool air around the room, and the “Follow Me” thermostat
built into the remote allows the unit to direct cool air towards you
Includes extra insulation and sleep mode for peaceful nights
Works as a stand-alone air conditioner unit, dehumidifier, and fan
Perfect for cooling large rooms up to 550sqft thanks to the 14,000BTUs this stand up air conditioner possesses, this portable Keystone KSTAP14B AC unit has been carefully designed to provide the maximum air circulation with auto-swing top airflow louvers that move cooled air around the room to ensure even cooling. With additional insulation to keep the unit quiet and a sleep mode that gradually increases the room temperate to save energy overnight, this unit is great for ensuring minimum disturbance to your life. In addition to being a great indoor air conditioner, this unit also works as a dehumidifier and fan and uses an intelligent “Follow Me” thermostat build directly into the remote control so the portable AC unit will automatically focus most of the cool air towards you, no matter where you are in the room. Simple setup and omnidirectional casters allow you to easily roll the entire unit from room-to-room, and the 3 fan speeds plus 3 cooling speeds can be optimized using the remote or 24hr timer.
“Follow Me” uses the remote position to adjust the temperature to the perfect level
Casters allow the unit to be rolled around
Easy to use and install
Can be loud
Front-facing, “feather-touch” display, and control panel plus remote control allows you to adjust settings
10,000 btu rating cools up to 700sqft
Comes with washable dual filtration system, 3 fan speeds, 24hr energy-saving timer, and dehumidifier capabilities
4 caster wheels allow easy mobility
Able to cool up to 450sqft with thermal overload protection for added safety, this Honeywell MN10CESWW is easy-to-install stand-alone air conditioner also acts as a dehumidifier and fan to ensure the ultimate comfortable atmosphere in your home. With 3 fan speeds and a 24hr energy-saving timer that can be easily controlled from the included remote control, this mini air conditioner is designed to make your life easier. With a self-evaporation and continuous drain system, the portable AC unit requires minimum maintenance, and its small size plus easy maneuverability makes it incredibly easy to store away during cooler seasons. The dual-motor technology works to minimize noise levels, and an easy-clean dust filter prevents dust, pet hair, or other particles from entering the unit as well as improving the overall air quality in your home.
Weights under 70lb
Caster wheels work well even on carpet
No need to empty water trays (except in high humidity areas)
Washable air filters
May need an extension to attach the hose to your window
Compressor can be loud when turning on/off
Can be noisy if filters need cleaning
12,000 btu cooling power / 10,000BTU heating works in rooms up to 400 square feet
Uses environmentally-friendly R410A refrigerant and made of RoHS compliant components
4 Operational modes: cooling, heating, fan, dehumidifier
Comes with full thermostatic control (61’F – 89’F), 24hr programable timer, air filtration system,
AutoPump function, and remote control
This stand-alone air conditioner is a brilliant 4-in-1 option for anyone looking to save space and keep their home at a comfortable temperature. With an activated carbon filter in addition to a washable pre-filter, this Whynter Elite ARC-122DHPP portable AC unit doesn’t just cool, heat, dehumidify and circulate air, but it also actively works to improve the overall air quality in your home and even removes bad odors. The unit can cool up to 400sqft and is capable of extracting up to 76 pints of moisture from the air in 25 hours! The internal condensate Auto-Pump automatically pumps out excess moisture, so you don’t need to empty any drip trays, and the environmentally friendly R410A refrigerant will enable you to sleep soundly knowing you’ve chosen a model that’s doing good for our ozone layer. The dual hoses allow for additional air intake, cooling power, and consistent air pressure to provide the fastest possible cooling power, and the included remote control makes changing between the different settings easier than ever. To make this a really portable room air conditioner, the unit sits on rolling casters that glide over any type of flooring, and the compact size ensures the small air conditioner doesn’t take up too much space in your room or in storage.
Award-winning portable AC unit
Automatic drain system means you rarely need to empty water tray
Fans and compressor can be loud
Check instructions to ensure a secure hose connection
Unit measures 27.75 in H x 16.88 in W x 14.25 in D
3 cooling fans and 2-way air direction plus dehumidifier mode
Easily controlled by the remote or digital display on the face of the unit
With 12,000 btu’s, this Haier HPC12XCR electric home air conditioner is more than powerful enough to tackle the heat in any room in your home. The 3 cooling fan speeds and 2-way air direction can be easily adjusted using the included remote control, and the digital display/control panel allows you to easily check the temperature, turn the machine on/off, and set the 24hr timer. With a top air discharge, this portable AC unit blasts cool air upwards for an even allocation of cool air throughout the room, and in dehumidification mode from a dehumidifier, you can remove up to 76 pints of water from the air per day!
Easy to move around the house
Compact; simple digital display
Ability to change airflow direction
No assembly required
Can be difficult to roll over carpet
Can be loud when compressor switches on/off
12,000 btu able to cool up to 400sqft and remove up to 91 pints of moisture per day
Features a self-evaporative system and Leakage-Current Detection and Interruption Plug for
safety and minimum maintenance
Comes with a carbon air filter and washable pre-filter
Uses environmentally-friendly R410A refrigerant
With the ability to effortlessly transform from a stand-alone air conditioner to a dehumidifier or fan, this Whynter ARC-12S is an incredibly quiet portable air conditioner with noise levels below 52.5dBA and full thermostatic control enable you to find the perfect temperature between 61’F – 89’F. The digital readout means you always know what temperature is set, and you can also set up your machine to turn on/off automatically with the 24hr programable timer. The included remote control enables you to control your portable AC unit from anywhere in the room, including switching between the 3 fan speeds. The dehumidifier capabilities all this unit to remove up to 91 pints of water from the air in a day and the carbon air filter plus washable pre-filter actively improves the air quality in your home every day.
Well designed and robust
Not too noisy
Minimum draining required
Ventilation only required in cooling mode;
Noise levels increase when the compressor turns on/off
May need hose extension
Cannot adjust vents to blow air upwards
14,000BTU can cool up to 700sqft or heat up to 500sqft
Comes with remote control, window adaptor, thermostat, air filter, and hose
Digital LED display feature “feather-touch” control panel
Caster wheels allow easy mobility
This simple mini air conditioner by Della Portable Air Conditioner offers a powerful 14,000BTU to cool spaces up to 700 square feet, or you can switch it to heating mode to warm up to 500sqft. The digital LED display allows you to effortlessly adjust the settings with “feather-touch” controls, or you can use the include remote to control the unit from anywhere in the room. The portable AC unit also acts as a dehumidifier, removing excess moisture from the air as it cools or heats.
Easy to use
Multi-purpose for year-round use
Needs regular draining
May need hose adaptions to reach the window
14,000 BTU cools rooms up to 500sqft
Change from a portable air conditioner to a 3-speed fan or dehumidifier
24hr programable timer, adjustable thermostat, LED digital control panel, and remote control
Self-evaporation system recycles most condensed water to enhance cooling efficiency
With a powerful cooling system of 14,000BTU and a top air outlet design, this JHS 14,000 BTU stand-alone air conditioner is designed to spread cool air wider and faster throughout your room up to 500 square feet. Working as a portable air conditioner, 3-speed fan, and dehumidifier that can remove up to 63.4 pints of moisture per day, this indoor air conditioner is everything you’ll need during hot summer months. Fitted with stainless steel casters for easy mobility and a user-friendly LED digital control panel plus remote control, this unit makes controlling temperature easy and convenient every day.
Mini air conditioner doesn’t take up too much space
Fast cooling; easy installation
3 fan speeds make a noticeable difference
Washable air filters
Easy to adjust temperature settings
Will need to empty water tank when full
Condenser can be noisy when turning on/off
Features To Consider With Portable Air Conditioners
Naturally, there are a number of features to consider when getting the best portable air conditioner for your needs. This list is by no way exhaustive but should give you a good starting point with some of the most common concerns addressed. Whether you're looking at window units, portable units, or even thermal units, we've got the basics covered.
A portable air conditioning unit simply draws air in from one vent and expels it from another part of the machine. A portable room air conditioner, therefore, usually has 2 hose types: single or dual. A single-hose indoor air conditioner works by pulling air in from the room, sending it past coils that are cooled by the refrigerant capabilities of the portable AC, and then sends any hot air and moisture out of the house via the hose. A dual-hose portable AC unit draws warm air into the unit to be cooled and released back into the room. The intake hose works by pulling air from outside the home into the unit to cool the mechanisms down, while the second outlet hose sends any hot air outside. Dual hose systems don't tend to need to work as hard as single hose ACs, but they are likely to be more expensive and are less convenient if you're looking for a truly portable air conditioner.
Of course, it's important to get the right-sized AC unit for your room. Portable air conditioner units are measured in BTUs which stands for British thermal units, with higher BTU ratings giving more cooling power for larger rooms. That said, you don't necessarily want a huge machine for a small room as this will cause the machine to constantly switch on/off, thus reducing energy efficiency and even the lifespan of the model. What you really want is something that is energy efficient. As a rough guide, an 8,000 BTU (British thermal units) portable room air conditioner should be able to cool a standard 200 square feet room with 8ft ceilings. If your room runs heat-releasing devices such as a cooker or even mini-fridge or is open-plan, you should aim for a higher BTU machine.
Many of the best portable air conditioner units will actually work as a dehumidifier as well as a mini air conditioner by condensing hot air in the unit as it cools. That said, if humidity is a particular problem in your home, you might want to keep an eye out for a stand-alone air conditioner that has a specific dehumidifier option as these will be more efficient, and you could even use it as just a dehumidifier over the colder months too! If you want a humidifier without the air conditioning feature, you can check out our buying guide for the Best Humidifiers.
Manual/Auto Drain: Whether your portable AC unit needs to be manually drained will depend on the model you have and how humid the room you're cooling is. Many will simply expel any moisture along with the hot air through the exhaust pipe, and may even shut off to protect the internal mechanisms when it can't automatically drain fast enough. Other ACs may have a reservoir that fills with water as it's removed from the air that you will need to empty manually when the tank is full. You may prefer to go for something with an exhaust hose or a window air conditioner.
According to the US Department of Energy (DOE), using a portable air conditioner can help you save heaps on your energy bills as they only cool one room rather than the entire building, making them much more energy-efficient than standard indoor air conditioner systems. As with any type of device, the energy efficiency will vary between machines, and the best way to get the most efficiency out of your portable AC unit is to use it in an enclosed room at a power level suitable for the size and heat of the room.
Amount Of People In Room
Humans generate heat constantly, so if you're using your portable aircon to cool a room with 2 or more people, you will need to consider the extra heat being produced that needs cooling. Adding approximately 600 BTUs for every additional person who will be in the room should ensure you have plenty of power to keep your room air conditioner working at peak performance.
If you're looking at portable air conditioners, you might fancy controlling it with a remote control so you can sit back and relax while your mini air conditioner makes your home more comfortable. Plenty of small air conditioner units can be controlled via a remote or by using the control buttons on the unit.
Getting the right adaptors for your stand up air conditioner is essential to ensuring it can be set up and run properly. There are a variety of adapters available to suit a wide range of rooms and fittings and ensures your portable room air conditioner can easily be transferred to different spaces and vented properly without too much hassle.
Even the best portable air conditioner isn't going to be quite as effective as a central unit in cooling down your home, but most will be able to keep the room at a comfortable 78'F when you've got the correct placement and power for the size and use of the room.
Simply put, an indoor air conditioner can fairly easily be transformed into a heating system by reversing the cooling process to take in cold air and release warm instead. You can usually do this by flipping the reversing valve to change the direction of the flow of refrigerant through the system, although many models have an easy button or switch you can hit to change cooling into heating. Remember, the portable AC will still need to be vented outside, and if you have a manual drain, you will still need to empty this periodically whichever mode you have your AC in.
Even small air conditioner units will usually offer a timer function so you can set up your room air conditioner to run at specific times without needing to turn it on/off yourself. This can generally be set on the remote or by using a 'Timer' button on the unit itself.
Similarly, many portable aircon systems will have an automatic on/off function that can be set up to allow the unit to run by itself. Smart air conditioner units may even be able to sense the temperature of the room and switch themselves on/off to an appropriate level to cool the room to a temperature you're happy with, without you needing to do a thing! See our buying guide for the Best Smart Air Purifier systems here.
The best portable air conditioner display really comes down to your personal preference. Do you prefer an LED touchscreen, or are physical buttons more your thing? There are display options for a huge range of preferences, and you can shop around until you find the display that works best for you.
Most portable AC units will offer the ability to alter the fan speed to help you find the right amount of power to cool your room. This may take some trial-and-error to get right as there's, unfortunately, no concrete answer as to whether a fast or slow fan speed is best for cooling as it will depend on the aeration of the room, humidity, and other factors.
Maximum Air Flow
When shopping for the best portable air conditioner, you're also going to want to take stock of the maximum airflow your unit can deal with. Making sure your portable AC unit is away from any walls or furniture will increase the available airflow. You can also increase the airflow by adding an electric or high-velocity fan to move the air around the room. We've got detailed buying guides on the Best Electric Fans and Best High-Velocity Fans available for you to have a look at if you want to increase the airflow and cooling power of your portable aircon!
As with room size, ensuring your stand-alone air conditioner is capable of dealing with the amount of space available is essential to enable it to operate as designed. If you have an open-plan space, you'll need to consider the square footage of the entire space, as this will all be part of the coverage area. Be sure to pick a portable AC unit with enough BTU power to cool the space.
One of the reasons portable air conditioner units are so popular is because they don't take up too much real estate in your window when compared to wall or window AC units that are fitted into the window itself. You may need to consider installation to an extent as the ventilation hoses will likely lead out of the window, but overall they are much smaller and less intrusive than alternative systems. If you want to compare the different styles, take a look at our buying guide on Through Wall Air Conditioners: generally more powerful but take up a greater space.
Most small portable air conditioner units will have some sort of air filter to help eliminate airborne particles as they cool. These filters will need to be cleaned and/or changed on a regular basis, so check out what type of filter is being used in your machine. If allergies are a problem for you, you might want to check out our Best Air Purifiers buying guide to compliment your small air conditioner.
Indoor air conditioner systems are compression cooling devices that work similarly to your standard refrigerator: warm air is sucked in and cooled, with the cool air being expelled via one outlet and the warm air being released elsewhere. There are 2 common types of refrigerants used in residential AC units; Freon and R410A (sometimes called Puron). The second of these is generally considered to be the best as it is a more environmentally friendly option. Freon was previously the most common refrigeration option, but as this has been linked to the Ozone depletion, it is no longer legal to manufacture.
The best portable air conditioner units that have been kept in good condition should last around 10 – 15 years, even under regular use. Regular cleaning and infrequent use can double this lifespan, so although they might seem expensive, a quiet portable air conditioner really can be worth the money! That said, when you're spending a lot of money on a unit that should last a decade or more, you're going to want to check that the company selling the product offers a decent warranty, so you're protected should any air conditioner problems come to life.
When you're shopping for the best portable air conditioner, you're going to come across the acronym "BTU." This stands for British Thermal Unit and is the value used to measure thermal energy. Put more simply: the BTU is the amount of energy required to heat or cool 1lb water by 1'F at sea level. A higher BTU means the room air conditioner can cool (or heat) space more swiftly and is more suitable for a larger room, but you don't necessarily just want to go for the highest possible BTU as getting this level higher than necessary may cause your small air conditioner to cycle off/on too regularly; taking up excess energy and overworking the compressor. Equally, having a BTU that's too small will mean your portable AC isn't able to deal with the amount of heat in the room and won't work efficiently. Getting the right BTU for the space is really the only way of ensuring maximum energy efficiency from your unit.
Other Factors to Consider
How to install portable air conditioner in push-out windows
Now you know a bit more about portable air conditioners, the next thing to establish is how to install your new stand-alone air conditioner. The installation process will vary a little depending on the type of window you're using for the exhaust vent and the kind of exhaust hose it's fitted with.
The process is usually incredibly simple and should only take 10-15 minutes with minimum tools. Different models may have slightly different methods for installation, so be sure to check the instructions that come with your portable air conditioner carefully before starting the installation process. Window air conditioners, in particular, can vastly differ to say regular air conditioners so pay particular attention if you are installing one of the popular window units available.
You'll find plenty of online resources and YouTube videos that will easily take you through the process of how to install portable air conditioners in push-out windows.
However, for a more permanent AC system, why not also check out our buying guide for the best window air conditioners? It might be the case that portable air conditioners just aren't for you.
How to install portable air conditioner in a sliding window
Some of the best portable air conditioners are suitable for use with sliding windows. Again, there are some excellent video tutorials available that will walk you through the process. They're not the prettiest solution but if you do have sliding windows, there's no need to be left out when it comes to creating the perfect climate-controlled environment. You'll basically need to build yourself a frame from plywood scrap that you can mount one of our best portable air conditioners to. Or, if you plan on making your portable acs more of a permanent fixture, then use a large piece of Plexiglas instead.
Portable Air Conditioner Unit FAQ
Q: Do you have to empty water from a portable air conditioner?
Many portable air conditioner units will have some form of condensation exhaust system to expel any water collected during the cooling process. However, you may need to empty water collected in the reservoir from time-to-time to prevent this overfilling and ensure your unit runs as efficiently as possible.
Q: Is it safe to leave portable air conditioners on all day?
Most small portable air conditioner units are completely safe to be left on all day and will usually have some kind of automatic shut-off system should the unit get too hot. That said, it is recommended to switch off your portable aircon if you're going to be away for an hour or more.
Q: Can I use a portable air conditioner in a room without a window?
As with any room air conditioner systems, a portable air conditioner unit needs a place to expel heat. The most convenient way to do this is to have the exhaust hose coming out of a window, although you could also use an air vent or perhaps make a small hole in your wall to allow the hot air to escape outdoors.
Q: Are single or dual hose portable air conditioners better?
There are pros and cons to both hose styles when it comes to portable aircon systems, so what's right for someone else might not be right for you. Single hose systems tend to draw less power and be quieter than dual systems, whereas dual systems don't cause negative pressure in the room, and so are more power-efficient, although they are likely to be more costly to run. Dual hose systems will also be less portable as you need to have 2 hoses going outside while single systems you will only need to connect one.
Q: Do portable air conditioners work well?
Although even the best portable air conditioner units won't be as powerful as a standard room air conditioner system, they are a great option for anyone who wants to cool (or heat) one room at a time on occasion. Nearly all portable aircon systems should be capable of cooling to at least 78'F.
If you would prefer a mini air conditioner that you don't need to move, you might also want to consider a mini-split air conditioner. We've reviewed some of the best available in our Best Mini Split AC buying guide to make life a little easier for you!