Reviews

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).

Best Overall
Whynter ARC-14S 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner
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Summary
Summary

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.

Pros
Pros
  • 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
Cons
Cons
  • 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
Best Overall
Whynter ARC-14S 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner
Best Value
Black+Decker BPACT08WT Portable Air Conditioner
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Summary
Summary

A simple and quiet portable air conditioner that connects to the window with a hose and sets just under the frame.

Pros
Pros
  • 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 
Cons
Cons
  • Hose can be annoying to attach,
  • Can’t move it all that far from the window
Best Value
Black+Decker BPACT08WT Portable Air Conditioner
Honorable Mention
Midea Smart 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner
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Summary
Summary

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.

Pros
Pros
  • 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
Cons
Cons
  • Heavy
  • Draining it can be a hassle
  • Ambient temperature does not display on the unit
Honorable Mention
Midea Smart 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner
Best Portable Air Conditioners
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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

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

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.

No Drip

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.

Top Brands

Whynter

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. 

Black+Decker

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.

Key Features

Size

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.

Noise

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.

Ventilation

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.

Other Considerations

  • 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

Best Overall
Whynter ARC-14S 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner

Not only can the Whynter ARC-14S cool a room extremely fast, but it's also a very portable AC unit that has a lot to offer. At 14,000 BTUs, it can cool a 500-square-foot room and make the space 10 to 20 degrees cooler than the outside temperature. 


Its dehumidifier function can clear 100 gallons of moisture per day. It’s a little heavy and bulky but easier than you’d think to move from room to room. It’s also highly user friendly with a digital thermostat that ranges from 61 to 89 degrees Fahrenheit. Noise is a problem with most portable air conditioners, but compared to a lot of other units this one is pretty quiet. 


Our main complaint is that it runs on a single hose, which keeps this AC from being even more efficient. Also, air leaks are rare but possible. Test the hose for leaks when you first turn it on, and patch any you find with duct tape.

Best Value
Black+Decker Portable Air Conditioner

Black+Decker is a reputable name when it comes to power tools and equipment, and its Black+Decker Portable Air Conditioner is a great machine. It provides up to 14,000 BTU and is quiet yet powerful. 


One of its best features is how small and compact it is, allowing you to move it around your home with ease, especially with its easy-gliding castor wheels. Another great feature of this portable air conditioner is its ability to sit inside the house next to a window. You don’t have to worry about installing it inside of the window frame as it can easily be placed a few feet underneath the frame. It even comes with a convenient remote control, so you can change the settings without getting up.


However, it can be annoying to connect and attach the hose to both the window and the machine. It is also rather difficult to move the air conditioner around once it is set in place as the hose isn’t very long.

Best Alexa Enabled
Midea Smart 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner

This Midea Smart 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner is designed for rooms up to 276 square feet and is Alexa enabled.  Midea also has several other options available to suit smaller or larger spaces. This 12,000 BTU air conditioner also includes a fan and can be used as a dehumidifier in your bedroom, office, or other area in your home.


You can control the unit using a smartphone app and voice control as it easily pairs with Alexa and Google Assistant.  Other features include an LED display and a remote so you can control the temperature, mode, etc. The air conditioner is easy to install and includes the exhaust hose and window kit. The air filter is removable and reusable for convenience. Overall, it functions very well and is a little quieter than some rival brands. It cools off the room rather quickly, and it works well with the remote, app, and Alexa devices.


While it's compact, the unit is a little heavy. Also, draining it can be a little awkward. Another downside is the ambient temperature only displays on the app and not on the unit or on the remote.

Most Convenient
SereneLife SLACHT128 4-In-1 Air Conditioner and Heater

The SereneLife SLACHT128 is one of our favorite AC and heater combinations. It presents a super-convenient solution for controlling the climate of any room year-round. 


This one is especially great for rooms that are more sensitive to the temperature outside, like bathrooms or garages. The SLACHT 128 cools at 12,000 BTU, which puts its room-size sweet spot at around 450 square feet. You should have no trouble setting up or using the control panel, which fits all of its many settings — cooling and heating temperature, fan speed, dehumidifier choices — into a single digital readout. Plus, with its quick evaporative drying setting, you’ll never have to empty any water from this AC.


The biggest issue is the weight. While it’s easy to fit this unit into many places, it’s harder to carry it to those places. It’s also one of the less energy-efficient AC products on our list. Whether heating or cooling, you might see your electric bill go up.

Best for Large Rooms
De'Longhi 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner

The De'Longhi 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner is a reliable product that features smart technology capabilities. This portable air conditioner uses Bluetooth technology to detect the climate settings in your home and automatically adjusts to its surroundings. 


Featuring 14,000 BTUs, this unit will work in rooms as large as 700 square feet. It also works as a fan and a dehumidifier. Despite its high power, this portable air conditioner is an extremely quiet option, perfect for use in the bedroom while sleeping. This model is extremely energy efficient and claims to save users up to 30 percent in energy consumption. It features heavy-duty wheels that allow you to easily move it around.


One downside of the De'Longhi 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner is that it has a premium price point. Although it is a bit more expensive than comparable models, this price point can be justified by the number of special features and smart technology capabilities.

Honorable Mention
Shinco 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

The Shinco 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner cools spaces up to 300 square feet and is designed for a bedroom, office, camper, and other small spaces. It features three modes: cool, fan, and dehumidify. 


Once the room reaches your desired temperature, you can lower the speed on the unit so it runs a little quieter. It features self-evaporating operation with a 36-liter-per-day dehumidifying functionality. Other features include an LED display, a 24-hour timer, and four caster wheels that help you move it around your home. It includes an exhaust hose and window mounting kit and fits windows that are 25 to 51 inches. It cools down a room quickly and is easy to install. The company also provides a warranty and lifetime tech support should you experience any issues.


One downside is that the power cord is a little short. There have also been some complaints that the vent hose doesn't seal very well, so you may need to adapt it to fit better.

Honorable Mention
GtTech Portable Air Conditioner

If you’re looking for one of the most portable air conditioners available, then consider the GtTech Portable Air Conditioner. It may not be the biggest unit, but it can provide a breath of fresh cool air when you need it most. Best of all, you don’t have to open windows or connect a hose to it for it to blow refreshing air inside your space.


All you need for power is a USB port. Just add water and wait for it to cool down. It’s lightweight and capable of being carried around the house, car, or anywhere you need it. It also doubles as a humidifier, desk fan, and air purifier if you ever need to clear the air around you. Another great thing about this little device is it's inexpensive.


However, you will find that it is not capable of cooling down larger rooms. It works best as a personal A/C unit or for smaller rooms with closed doors. It also may not last that long, but you can leave it plugged in while it’s on.

Honorable Mention
GE 10,500 BTU (14,000 BTU Ashrae) Heat/Cool Smart Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier

This Smart Portable Air Conditioner delivers 10,500 BTU / 14,000 BTU Ashrae cooling capacity with heat for medium rooms up to 450 square feet (15' x 30'). It integrates with the SmartHQ app, allowing you to monitor, schedule, and control your smart air conditioner from anywhere. 


It has three fan speeds, and dehumidifying capabilities. Under most room conditions, the AC will evaporate any water the unit collects, so there’s no need to drain excess water. It installs easily in double-hung or sliding windows with no cutting required. 


LED controls with included remote make it easy to manage your settings from anywhere in your room. Additional features include a washable filter, 24-hour on/off timer, auto-louver, and easy-roll wheels. This unit requires a 115v outlet.

Honorale Mention
Hisense 6,500 BTU (10,000 BTU ASHRAE) Portable Air Conditioner

The Hisense AP1019CR1G Ultra-Slim Portable Air conditioner is only 13.3" wide and ideal for smaller spaces. It can cool rooms up to 300 square feet and comes with an easy, snap-assembly window kit, for windows 18 to 50 inches wide. 


The caster wheels enable you to roll it from room to room and the airflow is powerful yet quiet, with a noise level of just 51 dB. It can operate in cool, dehumidify, or fan mode and includes a remote. A removable, washable air filter keeps the air you breathe fresh and clean, and the programmable 24-hour on/off timer cools on your schedule.


The easy-to-install window kit features convenient parts that snap together—no cutting required. The compact size makes it ideal for a small garage or shop.

Tips

  • 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.

FAQs

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.

Final Thoughts

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.