For those who don’t have a central air system in their home, portable air conditioners are an excellent choice for cooling down when the temperatures outside heat up. Portable AC units offer flexibility for cooling different areas in your house, making moving them from room to room easy. Learn more about the best portable air conditioners to help you find the perfect unit for your cooling needs in 2023.
Why Invest in the Best Portable Air Conditioners
Portable air conditioners make any room in your home more comfortable. They are self-contained units that can easily be moved to any room. Their portability makes them the perfect choice for meeting spaces, offices, and dorm rooms, and they can easily be stored in a closet when not in use.
Understanding Different Types of Portable Air Conditioners
Whether you have no air conditioning or are looking to supplement what you have, investing in a portable AC unit makes sense. Before taking a closer look at the best portable air conditioners, it’s important to understand the different types to help you understand which is the best for your needs.
Single Hose Portable Air Conditioners
Portable air conditioners use the same basic design principles as other types of AC units, and they vent heat and moisture as a by-product of the cooling process. The main difference in various portable units is how they vent exhaust, and in single-hose portable air conditioners, there is only one hose, which is used to vent heat outside through a window.
Single-hose portable ACs are more affordable and easier to install than dual-hose units but are less efficient. Since air is constantly being pumped out of the room without being replaced, the negative pressure in the room causes air to come in through cracks and leaks, resulting in less efficient operation.
Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioners
Although they cost more upfront, dual-hose portable air conditioners are more efficient and less expensive to operate. They draw in fresh air from the outside through one hose, cool it, and then emit the warm air back outside through a separate hose. This process allows them to cool the area more effectively, making it trickier to install.
Ventless or Evaporative Air Conditioners
While ventless portable air conditioners use refrigerant, they don’t require an exhaust hose or ducting system, and no installation is required. They are cheaper to install and maintain, and they are smaller and more portable than other types of AC units, but they are less efficient.
Also known as swamp coolers, evaporative coolers use a different process to cool air in a room. Instead of using a cooling system with coils and a refrigerant, evaporative coolers use water and a fan to cool the air. They have a water tank, but they don’t require an exhaust hose or vent. Unlike other portable ACs, evaporative coolers can be used outdoors, but they are ineffective in regions with high humidity.
Top Rated Portable Air Conditioners: In-Depth Reviews
Portable air conditioners are an increasingly popular cooling solution, but it takes time to choose with so many different models on the market. To make it easier, here’s an in-depth review based on consumer reports with details about the key features of top-rated portable air conditioners.
LG LP1419IVSM Dual Inverter Portable AC
- Dual inverter technology for energy efficiency
- Connects with a smartphone app for easy control
- Has a dehumidifier function
- Quiet operation
- Retail price approximately $699
Dual inverter AC units have a twin rotary compressor that offers faster cooling and increased efficiency. Dual inverters in this model adjust the compressor speed, making it 40% more efficient than other LG models. The dual inverter is also more stable, so it vibrates less and operates more quietly at less than 44 decibels.
This unit is designed to cool about 500 square feet, but the automatic shut-off feature will turn it off if you use it in a smaller space. It uses LG ThinQ smart technology, which can be controlled in various ways, including the LED display and remote. You can also control it with an app on your smartphone or by voice using Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
The 3-in-1 feature gives the LG Dual Inverter Portable air conditioner maximum flexibility because you can switch between cool, fan, and dry modes to operate any time of year. The cool mode has a dehumidifier for added comfort and increased efficiency, and for cleaner air, this model has a removable, washable filter with a “check filter” reminder light.
Whynter ARC-14S 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner
- Dual hose operation for efficient cooling
- Comes with a storage bag for easy transport
- Can cool rooms up to 500 square feet
- Environmentally friendly with lead-free RoHS-compliant components
- Retail price approximately $599
When heat and humidity are an issue, the Whynter ARC-14S is one of the most versatile units you can buy. With four operational modes, including cool, dehumidify, heat, and fan, this unit has it all. On top of that, the ARC-14S is CFC-free, making it an eco-friendly choice in terms of energy efficiency and compliance with RoHS (Restriction of Use of Hazardous Substances) regulations.
The dual hose system provides maximum cooling power, and the patented auto drain technology recycles the moisture collected to produce cold air. With full thermostatic control and auto restart after a power outage, it operates efficiently without missing a beat.
Designed for spaces up to 500 square feet, the ARC-14S runs at 54 decibels. It comes with an extendable hose and installation kit and a protective cover that makes it easy to store your unit safely when it’s not being used. Get the ARC-14SH model if you want heating capability.
Honeywell HJ0CESWK7 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner and Dehumidifier
- Can cool rooms up to 450 square feet
- Includes remote control for easy operation
- Has a built-in dehumidifier
- Comes with a washable filter
- Retail price approximately $499
The 10,000 BTU Honeywell Contempo portable air conditioner cools rooms up to 450 square feet, which is perfect for the average-sized living room and most single-room apartments. The sleek design comes with a washable filter, window venting kit, and casters for easy maintenance and maximum portability.
With a special sleep mode setting that controls the cooling levels during the night to conserve energy, the Honeywell HJ0CESWK7 is perfect for large bedrooms. It has a 24-hour timer with automatic shut off and three speeds for maximum comfort and energy efficiency.
In dry climates, there is no bucket to empty because the built-in dehumidifier takes care of excess moisture 24 hours a day. For stress-free operation in areas with high humidity, there is a continuous drain option to prevent leakage, and the adjustable humidistat allows you to control the humidity level in the room.
Black+Decker BPP10HWTB Portable Air Conditioner w/Follow Me
- Compact size for easy movement
- Comes with an easy-to-install window vent kit
- Has a sleep mode for quieter operation at night
- Can cool rooms up to 450 square feet
- Includes heating function
- Retail price approximately $499
The compact size of the Black+Decker 10,000 BTU portable air conditioner is best for home offices, dorm rooms, and server rooms. It cools (and heats) rooms up to 450 square feet, with fast cooling down to 61°F (18°C), and it has a built-in 50-pint dehumidifier with a drain hose connection. It operates quietly at 58 decibels, making it a wise choice for bedrooms and summer cabins.
The large outflow vent and included window kit make this Black+Decker model easy to install. The kit has a foam seal, 5.9″ hose, and a bracket that fits widow openings from 27.5–47.2 inches. There is also a drain hose included.
This portable AC unit is easily controlled with the top-mounted LED display or the full-function remote control. It has a 24-hour timer with three cooling speeds; you can control the fan separately. With rolling casters, side handles, and compact size, it’s easy to move around for installation and storage.
Frigidaire FHPW142AC1 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
- Can cool rooms up to 450 square feet
- Comes with a window installation kit
- WiFi app-controlled
- Quiet 51 dBA noise output
- Retail price approximately $484
With its WiFi connectivity, the Frigidaire 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner is a smart choice. You can control your unit from your phone anywhere with the app and use it to change the temperature settings, turn it on or off, and control the various modes. You can also create custom schedules for optimum comfort and efficiency, and the auto-restart saves your settings when the power goes out.
The Frigidaire FHPW142AC1 has a 6.5-inch diameter exhaust hose to keep up with cooling larger rooms. With the energy saver economy mode, this Energy Star-certified air conditioning unit is easy to install and comes with everything required for installation.
This unit is big enough for your living room, but it has all the features that make it a perfect choice for your bedroom. You can breathe cleaner and easier with the air vent that draws in fresh outdoor air, and you won’t lose sleep with the dimming digital display.
Choosing the Best Portable Air Conditioner for Your Needs
Choosing the best portable air conditioner for your intended purpose starts with identifying the key features to consider. You’ll be more satisfied with your purchase if you consider the size of your room and the unit’s energy efficiency rating. Noise levels are another primary consideration when choosing the best portable air conditioner.
Considerations Based on Room Size
The room size you are cooling is the most important factor in choosing the best unit for your needs. The right-sized AC unit operates more efficiently, which lowers your operating costs.
|Room size||Square feet||BTUs|
|Small||Less than 150 sf||5,000 BTUs|
|Medium||Up to 350 sf||8,000 BTUs|
|Large||Up to 800 sf||12,000 to 14,000 BTUs|
Energy Efficiency Factors
Energy Star certification is one of the most important factors to look for when choosing a portable air conditioner. Other features to look for include automatic shut-off, programmable timers, smart sensor technology, multi-speed fans, and sleep modes.
Excessive noise from an AC unit can be disruptive and distracting, whether you’re trying to sleep, work, or relax. Features that reduce noise, like dual inverters, noise-reducing fan blades, and compressor insulation, result in quieter units. Find one less than 50 to 60 decibels, which is about the same as a quiet conversation.
FAQs about the Best Portable Air Conditioners
How Does a Portable Air Conditioner Work?
Portable air conditioners use the same principles as all air conditioners. They draw warm air in over coils that contain refrigerant. As the liquid condenses, the air is cooled, and the unit pumps it into the air-conditioned room.
Do Portable Air Conditioners Use a Lot of Electricity?
Portable air conditioners use a lot of electricity, but they are more efficient than old, outdated AC units. However, if you only spend time in one part of your house, portable ACs can be more efficient because you aren’t cooling your entire building.
Can a Portable Air Conditioner Cool Multiple Rooms?
Portable air conditioners aren’t meant for cooling multiple rooms, but they can be moved easily, and they are much less expensive than whole-house split systems.
How Often Should I Clean or Replace the Filters in My Portable AC Unit?
You should clean or replace your air filters at least once a month, depending on how much dust there is where you live. Some portable AC units have a “check filter” reminder light for ease of use.
What is BTU and Why Does It Matter?
BTU stands for British Thermal Units, and it’s a measurement of heat. Air conditioners are rated in BTUs according to how much heat they can remove from a room within one hour.
The Difference Between BTU (ASHRAE) and BTU (DOE)
Something interesting happened once the industry started releasing portable AC units. They, of course, needed a way to rate their efficiency. Naturally, they went with the same measurement ratings and specifications used for window units and wall units. That presented some problems.
For one, portable units emit more heat into a room than their window-located counterparts. That meant that units with the same BTU ratings weren’t operating in a way that felt the same in a room of the same size. The industry needed a new ratings system to even the playing field.
In 2018 manufacturers started using a new DOE BTU rating. The number gives a much more accurate sense of the unit’s ability to cool since it takes into account the exhaust heat emitted by the portable air conditioner.
That ASHRAE rating still gives an accurate number for the technical cooling performed, but consumers want to pay closer attention to the BTU (DOE) number in order to understand the unit’s real-world cooling potential.