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Best Portable Air Conditioners: Stay Cool on the Move

Consider these portable air conditioners to cool down while traveling.

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BY/ LAST UPDATED ON July 20, 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

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
  • 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
  • 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 Value

Black+Decker BPACT08WT Portable Air Conditioner

Summary
A simple and quiet portable air conditioner that connects to the window with a hose and sets just under the frame.
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
  • Hose can be annoying to attach,
  • Can’t move it all that far from the window
Honorable Mention

Midea Smart 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner

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
  • 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
  • Heavy
  • Draining it can be a hassle
  • No ambient temperature display
Best Portable Air Conditioners: Stay Cool on the Move

Summary List

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Our Methodology

To choose the best portable air conditioners on the market, I employed The Drive’s comprehensive research methodology and evaluated dozens of air conditioners before choosing the top contenders. Although I haven’t personally tested these products, my selection is informed by consumer testimonials, expert reviews, and discussions on relevant online forums.

Best Portable Air Conditioners Reviews & Recommendations

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.

Specs Make: Whynter Model: ARC-14S Weight: 73 pounds Pros 14,000 BTUs User-friendly Digital thermostat that ranges from 61 to 89 degrees Fahrenheit Quiet Cool a 500-square-foot room Cons Runs on a single hose

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.

Specs Make: Black and Decker Model: BPACT14WT Weight: 68.3 pounds Pros 14,000 BTUs Comes with a remote control Perfect for 350-square-foot rooms Acts as a humidifier Cons Relatively short hose

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.

Specs Make: Midea Model: MAP10S1CWT Weight: 67.9 pounds 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 Draining it can be a hassle No ambient temperature display

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.

Specs Make: SereneLife Model: SLACHT128 Weight: 70.3 pounds Pros 12,000 BTU Built-in dehumidifier Four operating modes Includes remote Cons Heavy

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.

Specs Make: De'Longhi Model: PACEX390LVYN-BK Weight: 83 pounds Pros Cools rooms up to 700-square-feet Energy efficient mode Quiet Includes remote Built-in dehumidifier Cons Heavy Pricey

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.

Specs Make: Shinco Model: ‎SPF1-10C Weight: 61.6 pounds Pros Lightweight Quiet on low speed Includes remote Built-in dehumidifier Cons Only suitable for use with sliding windows

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.

Specs Make: GtTech Model: ‎ Portable Air Conditioner Weight: 1.92 pounds Pros Extremely lightweight Very quiet Includes remote Works as humidifier For individual use Cons Battery operated Not very powerful

Our Verdict

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. 

Things to Consider Before Buying a Portable Air Conditioner

Power and Room Size

You need to know the size of the room that you need to heat or cool before deciding on the best unit for you. In general, the higher the number of BTUs, the more square footage an air conditioner will cool. Most manufacturers state the maximum square footage their units can cover.

Noise

While all portable air conditioners will produce noise, it is important to consider the decibel levels produced by your unit before purchasing. Some portable air conditioners offer a silent mode feature for use in your bedroom at night.

Thermostat

Some portable air conditioners include a programmable thermostat, which allows you to set it to the temperature you want. The unit will shut off once the room has reached the set temperature. This is a convenient feature allows you to preset a temperature without having to manually turn the air conditioner on or off.

Portable Air Conditioner Pricing

For less than $300, you can pick up a portable air conditioner suitable for small spaces, as these units usually have a relatively low BTU rating. The majority of portable air conditioners are on sale for between $300 to $500, and these units will be suitable for cooling and heating medium to large rooms. If you spend over $500, you should bet a portable air conditioner that's suitable for use in large rooms, has a programmable thermostat, and features a dehumidifier.

FAQs

You've got questions. The Drive has answers.

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.

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