The best portable air conditioners
To keep cool when it’s hot outside, air conditioners help in a big way. While central air conditioners help cool homes, certain places without such a central system — such as a dorm room or recreational trailer — benefit more from a portable air conditioner.
Once the temperature rises, getting work done in your workplace or even just relaxing in your home will be hard to do because you’ll be uncomfortable. A portable air conditioner is a great option when you’re always moving between rooms so you don’t have to rely on static air conditioner units that only cool one room. Most designs are easy to use and can cool a room in a matter of minutes. These leading portable air conditioners in our list can keep the cool air flowing wherever you need it.
BLACK+DECKER Portable Air Conditioner
BLACK + DECKER’s portable air conditioner is a silent yet potent machine that can cool a small room to up to 61-degrees Fahrenheit. The wheels let you easily roll the air conditioner into any room with a window, while the simple installation lets you set it up in a matter of minutes. You can slide out the reusable air filter once it’s caked with dust and grime to clean it up to help maintain your air conditioner’s performance.
There’s also air purification with an included filter and a dehumidifier to help draw water from the air to keep rooms cool and dry — although note that the dehumidifying feature does require a non-permanent window vent, so it won’t work in a fully sealed room. There aren’t any smart features with this model, but it does come with a handy remote that shows you the current temperature and allows for programming, fan adjustments, and more.
Why we love it:
- Energy-efficient settings
- Self-evaporating operation
- Eco-friendly refrigerant
BLACK+DECKER BPP05WTB Portable Air Conditioner with Remote Control, 5,000 BTU SACC/CEC (8,000 BTU ASHRAE), White
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|Low noise with powerful cooling|
You can relax in comfort with this portable air conditioner’s quiet and powerful operation.
SereneLife Portable Air Conditioner
You can keep yourself cool without spending top-dollar with this portable air-conditioner from SereneLife. The body of this air conditioner is lightweight, and with its wheels, you’ll be able to roll it into any room without a hitch. An integrated dehumidifier keeps the moisture level low to keep the air in your room crisp and light while also having the added benefit of purifying your space as a dehumidified climate isn’t friendly for allergens. Along with the dehumidifier, the air conditioner also has two other modes that you can change into depending on the room conditions.
Why we love it:
- Can be operated with a remote control
- Low-noise levels
- Timer settings
SereneLife Portable Air Conditioner, 3-in-1 Floor AC Unit with Built-in Dehumidifier, Fan Modes, Remote Control, Complete Window Mount Exhaust Kit (8,000 BTU)
$309.99 & FREE Shipping
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|Versatile cooling modes|
You won’t be sweating in a stuffy and allergen-laden room with this portable air conditioner.
Whynter Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner
Best Dual Hose
When you need something heavy-duty to cool down a big room, Whynter’s portable air conditioner should do the trick. With a cooling capacity of 9,500 SACC BTUs, you can ensure that the temperatures will drop in a matter of minutes. The dual hose operation allows it to maintain a dehumidifying capacity of 71 pints per day and maximum airflow of 430 cubic meters per hour. While it is heavy-duty, it uses an R-32 refrigerant that is CFC-free to help reduce your carbon footprint.
Why we love it:
- Multiple fan speeds and three operational modes
- Cools up to 500 square feet of space
- Activated carbon filter
|Best Dual Hose|
Whynter ARC-14S 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner, Dehumidifier, Fan with Activated Carbon Filter Plus Storage Bag for Rooms up to 500 sq ft, Platinum and Black
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|Great for large rooms|
Keep a room full of people comfy and cooled down with this robust and portable air conditioner.
Midea Smart 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner
Midea’s smart and portable air-conditioner provides you with a fast and efficient way to cool a room as big as 275-square feet. The user-friendly design makes it easy to adjust the temperature and cooling modes. The LED display lets you read the settings with a glance, while the remote lets you control it even when you’re sitting on the couch. You can even connect the air conditioner to your WiFi and control it via an app right from your smartphone. For even better integration to a smart home, you can link it up to your Google Assistant or Alexa to enable voice control.
Why we love it:
- Adjustable timer
- Easy installation
- Easy to clean air filter
MIDEA 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner, Dehumidifier, Fan, for Rooms up to 275 sq ft Enabled, 12,000 BTU DOE (6,500 BTU SACC) Control with Remote, Smartphone or Alexa
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|Control through app|
Bring your home into the future with this easy-to-use and WiFi-enabled portable air conditioner.
Features to consider
Picking the right size for the room or area you want to cool is the most important factor in choosing a portable air conditioner. If you buy a unit that’s too small for your room it will run longer and more often, which wears out appliances prematurely, cost more to operate, and likely never adequately cool the space. Overbuying isn’t a good idea either because larger units are more expensive to run plus, because they cool adjacent air very quickly, shut off prematurely which causes the unit to restart more often than properly-sized appliances.
Portable air conditioner cooling capacity, like window units, are rated in BTUs, (British Thermal Units). BTUs are a standard measure of heat change — in air conditioners, BTUs represent cooling power. Most portable air conditioners include maximum rated room size in feature lists or specifications tables. You’ll find variations in how manufacturers rate room capacities, however. Here’s a quick guide:
- 5,000 to 6,000 BTU — Small to medium-sized rooms from 100 to 250 square feet and normal ceiling heights
- 6,500 to 8,000 BTU — Medium to large rooms from 250 to 400 square feet and normal ceiling heights
- 8,000 to 12,000 BTU –Medium to large rooms from 250 to 400 square feet with high ceilings
Note, however, that rooms on the sunny side of your home, rooms with many windows, rooms with many people, and kitchens will all need more cooling power.
Portable air conditioners are primarily used for cooling, but many room-sized units can also function as fans or as dehumidifiers without changing the air temperature. Air conditioners remove humidity while they cool the air, but on temperate rainy days, the ability to switch to a “dry” mode with no cooling is convenient. Similarly, if you just want to air out a room, switching to “fan” mode can do the trick quickly and relatively quietly.
Controls and ease of use
All portable air conditioners should have controls mounted on the unit itself to select modes, desired temperature, and fan speed. Many also come with remote controls so you don’t have to get up to change a setting. 24-hour timers are common, as are automatic restarts after power failures. For the ultimate in portable air conditioner management, look for a unit that connects to your home Wi-Fi network so you can access and control the appliance remotely with an app or via a digital voice assistant such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
Window air conditioners can be noisy, but, depending on their size and design, portable air conditioners can be even noisier. Window units extend the major loud parts outside the house but portable air conditioners are entirely inside the house. Portable air conditioners don’t consistently list their noise levels in decibels, but if noise will be a factor, look for decibel ratings or noise reduction or mitigation features.
About the author
Jessica Smith owns and operates a staging company that helps reimagine spaces for people who are looking to get top dollar for their home or space without spending a ton on everything needed to do so. With this background she’s gained a really good understanding of what the best couches, beds, tables, and general decor are, and is able to pull various pieces together to make a cohesive design without any issues. Let her knowledge help create a better space for you in your home or office.
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