Best Portable Air Conditioners (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Consider these portable air conditioners to cool down while traveling.
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BY Zach Faulds / LAST UPDATED ON September 30, 2021
Some say that you can’t put a price on being cool and comfortable, but it’s not always practical to invest in an extensive air conditioning system. It can be particularly tough if you are renting or living out of an RV. In these cases, a portable air conditioner is a good choice. A portable AC unit can be superior to a traditional window unit. They’re compact enough for traveling, and you can move them from room to room without having to disassemble and reassemble them in the window. We list some of the best portable air conditioners, so you can get the cool comfort of an air conditioner without having to deal with a cumbersome contraption (dare you to say that five times fast).
Rated at 14,000 BTUs, it can cool a 25-foot by 25-foot room. Its dehumidifier function can clear 100 gallons of moisture per day.
- User-friendly, with a digital thermostat that ranges from 61 to 89 degrees Fahrenheit
- Compared to a lot of other units, this is one pretty quiet
- Runs on a single hose, which keeps this AC from being even more efficient
- Air leaks are rare but possible. Test the hose for leaks before using
A simple and quiet portable air conditioner that connects to the window with a hose and sets just under the frame.
- Portable A/C comes with a remote control for easy access
- Cools rooms quickly and efficiently
- Perfect for 350 square foot rooms
- Acts as a humidifier
- Hose can be annoying to attach,
- Can’t move it all that far from the window
At 12,000 BTUs, it cools rooms up to 275 square feet. It’s a 3-in-1 unit, including a dehumidifier and fan along with its portable AC.
- You can control it using a remote, Alexa, or Google Assistant
- Has a fan and a dehumidifier
- Easy to install
- Comes with the exhaust hose and window kit
- Draining it can be a hassle
- Ambient temperature does not display on the unit
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Benefits of Portable Air Conditioners
- Convenient. Due to their compact size, portable air conditioners are extremely convenient. Most units can easily be wheeled from room to room throughout your home. They are typically lightweight and easy to carry as well.
- Energy-efficient. Portable air conditioners are much more energy-efficient than regular air conditioning units. These compact units typically have low operating costs and allow you to focus on cooling down specific rooms or areas of your home.
- Low maintenance. Portable air conditioners are extremely easy to use and require very little maintenance or installation. To use, place your unit near a window, attach the exhaust hose, plug it into a wall outlet, and it is ready to go.
Types of Portable Air Conditioners
Single hose portable air conditioners use the same hose for both intake and exhaust. This type of portable air conditioner is still extremely energy efficient compared to regular air conditioning units, but it takes more power to cool your space or room. For this reason, it is not as energy-efficient as the dual hose portable air conditioners.
Dual hose portable air conditioners feature two hoses, one intake hose, and one exhaust hose. Dual hose air conditioners are more energy-efficient than single hose air conditioners. This type of portable air conditioner can cool your room or small area very quickly. It is the most common type of portable air conditioner.
Most portable air conditioners are either drip air conditioners or partial drip air conditioners, which deposit all or most of the water collected into an internal bucket or drip pan. This water will need to be emptied regularly. No drip air conditioners release all of the water collected back into the air. This type of portable air conditioner is extremely popular and convenient because you don't have to worry about emptying anything.
Whynter is a very trustworthy company that has built a reputation over the years for its heating, cooling, and lifestyle products. In addition to portable air conditioners, Whynter also manufactures portable dishwashers, portable freezers, wine fridges, and more.
Founded in 1910 and headquartered in Towson, Md., Black+Decker Inc. is one of the biggest American manufacturers of power tools and home improvement products. In addition to portable air conditioners, Black+Decker also produces power tools, lawn equipment, car accessories, home appliances, and more.
Best Choice Products
Best Choice Products has become one of the top manufacturers of a variety of household products and more. The company is known for its excellent customer service, help center, and support team. In addition to portable air conditioners, Best Choice Products also produces holiday décor, children’s toys, musical instruments, home furniture, kitchen appliances, and more.
Portable Air Conditioner Pricing
- Under $300: Portable air conditioners in this price range provide excellent value. Make sure to double-check the size space it will cover before purchasing, as this price range usually features fewer BTUs.
- $300-$500: This is the most common price range for portable air conditioners. Products at this price point are high quality and will typically cover larger areas of your home than lower-priced models.
- $500 and up: This is the premium price range for portable air conditioners. Products at this price point offer the highest cooling power and special features like remote controls, programmable thermostats, and dehumidifiers.
Not only the physical size but also the room size that your portable air conditioner will cover, are extremely important features. In general, the higher the number of BTUs, the larger the amount of space your air conditioner will cool. Make sure to measure the size of your space before purchasing to determine the square footage that your portable air conditioner will need to cover.
While all portable air conditioners will produce some type of noise, it is important to consider the decibel levels produced by your unit before purchasing. Depending on what room or area of your home you will be using your portable air conditioner will determine your noise level tolerance. Some portable air conditioners even offer a silent mode feature for use in your bedroom at night.
Portable air conditioners will vent out hot air through an exhaust hose. For this reason, portable air conditioners need to be kept near a window in your home. Most models come with a window exhaust kit that allows it to vent properly. Some models even include an extension hose kit that allows you to move the unit around to a more convenient spot in your room away from the window.
- Thermostat. Some portable air conditioners include a programmable thermostat, which allows you to set your air conditioner to the exact temperature that you want. The unit will shut off once the room is cooled to the set temperature of your thermostat. This is a convenient feature that allows you to preset your temperature without having to manually turn the unit on or off.
- Settings. Some portable air conditioners feature additional settings like heat and dehumidifier. An air conditioner that can also be used as a heater is extremely convenient for the winter months. A dehumidifier feature will help you to remove moisture and dampness from the air in various rooms of your home. Controlling the humidity in your home is an extremely important feature.
- Warranty. The length and type of warranty that is included with your portable air conditioner is an important consideration. Most reputable companies will include some type of warranty with their products that covers manufacturing defects. Look for at least a limited warranty to be included with the purchase of your portable air conditioner.
Best Portable Air Conditioners Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Although portable air conditioners are easy to install, make sure to place it near a wall outlet and window so that you do not need to use an extension cord and exhaust hose.
- Make sure to determine the amount of space you want your air conditioner to cover. Look specifically at the advertised BTUs and square footage coverage of the unit before making your purchase.
- Ventilation is an important factor to consider. Check your exhaust hoses for potential leaks if your portable air conditioner is not cooling properly or as advertised.
- If price is not a huge factor for you, consider a portable air conditioner featuring a dual hose design, as that type is much more efficient than single hose air conditioners.
- If your portable air conditioner contains air filters, make sure to either change them or clean them regularly if they are the reusable type of filter.
Q: What is a portable air conditioner?
A portable air conditioner is a self-contained unit that is ideal for cooling small areas or single rooms. They typically sit on the floor and are easy to install. Most models also have wheels so you can easily move them from room to room.
Q: Do all portable air conditioners need to vent?
Yes, all portable air conditioners need to be vented in some way. Portable air conditioners pull in warm air, cool it, and let the cooled air out of the front of the unit. The remaining warm air and moisture need to be vented out of the back of the unit.
Q: Can I use a portable air conditioner to cool my server room?
Portable air conditioners can be used for emergency cooling. A server room should have central air conditioning for primary cooling, but portable units can be installed in the server room as a backup option.
Q: Are portable air conditioners energy efficient?
Yes, portable air conditioners are extremely energy efficient. Compared to regular air conditioners, they use much less energy. Dual hose types are more energy-efficient than single-hose types of portable air conditioners.
For a high-quality portable air conditioner, consider the Whynter ARC-14S 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner, which can cool 25-foot by 25-foot rooms, or the Black+Decker BPACT14WT Portable Air Conditioner, which can cool rooms between 200 and 300 square feet.
Drop us a comment and let us know what your favorite portable air conditioner is and what you love about it.