Best Portable Air Conditioners (Ultimate Guide 2017)

Sometimes you really need to take the edge off of the environment in your home but central air is too much of an investment. Happily there are an array of affordable, incredibly convenient and effective amazing portable air conditioners to choose from today that will fit the bill. These units can easily be moved in and out of different rooms so if, for instance, your city is experiencing a heat wave you can move the portable air conditioner into the baby’s room to keep them safe and comfortable. Or, if you’re having friends over for dinner roll it into the kitchen so everyone can enjoy the evening in air conditioned splendor.

As with most things, however, buying an effective portable air conditioner isn’t as simple as eenie, meenie, minie, mo. You need to do a little homework and find out which ones actually perform as advertised and which are all show and no tell. In this review guide we’re going to take a close look at the portable air conditioner and highlight those we feel are the 11 best portable air conditioners on the market today. We’ll start with our 3 Hall of Fame entrants before moving on to the rest.

Our Top 3 Picks for Best Portable Air Conditioner

We begin, as mentioned, with the 3 portable AC units we feel stand out from the crowd. These units exhibit extraordinary build quality, reliability and cooling power and will serve you well without breaking your bank. So without further ado we present our 3 Hall of Fame selections.

● Will cool up to 250 square feet effectively depending of course on the heat load in the target area.
● Clear, easy to understand control panel features fan speed, 24 hour timer, sleep function and a washable pre-filter.
● Remote control allows you to stay where you are and adjust the unit to fit your particular needs.
● Effective temperature range of 26 degrees (62 to 88 Fahrenheit).
● Can remove up to 61 pints of water per day from the air.
● Extraordinarily quiet for such a hard working portable air conditioner.
● 4 foot vent hose included.

The Koldfront 8,000 BTU portable air conditioner is a compact beast the delivers an extraordinary amount of cooling power. As long as you don’t exceed the operational limits of the unit it will cool your room down in minutes and keep it nice and cool for as long as you like.

Pros
  • Simply roll this portable air conditioner into place, set up the vent hose and engage.
  • A super easy to install kit makes it a snap to run the vent hose through the window in a safe, discreet fashion.
  • The dehumidifier will remove an impressive 61 pints of moisture per day from the air meaning you don’t have to worry about furniture, rugs and artwork succumbing to excessive humidity.
Cons
  • There’s no escaping the need to drain the unit periodically. If the weather is really humid you may have to do so every few hours.

When used within the parameters laid out by the manufacturer this Koldfront 8,000 BTU portable air conditioner will keep any room cool and dry. There’s no need to have the HVAC guys over to set it up and when you move from the living room to the bedroom you can just take it with you. The cooling power of the unit is impressive and it does yeoman’s work as a dehumidifier, removing 61 pints a day. The thing that really seals the deal for us with this unit is the price. At less than $300 it’s a truly affordable portable air conditioner. All in all a great value product.

● A sleek, modern design belies the ability of this portable air conditioner to bring the cool.
●3 speed tower fan with ionizer freshens the air and makes the interior of your home a more comfortable, enjoyable, healthy place.
● 12 hour timer function allows you to control the unit even while you’re asleep.
● Auto shut down when desired temp is reached is another welcome control feature.
● The LCD display is simple to use and easy to read.
● The thermostat on this portable air conditioner is fully programmable.
● Fan automatically oscillates for more comprehensive air distribution.

While it looks like just another portable air conditioner the Honeywell Fresh Breeze is anything but. Using the 3 speed control you can replicate everything from a gentle breeze to a cooling wind. And it can get very cool indeed. Temperature control of the unit is an overlooked feature of the Fresh Breeze but it shouldn’t be. The Fresh Breeze actually does an excellent job cooling down the room as long as that room doesn’t exceed the unit’s specs. Once the desired temperature is reached the unit will switch to fan mode automatically.

Pros
  • An unheralded portable air conditioner as well as air freshener that effectively dehumidifies, refreshes and cools the air in any room.
  • The fan can be set to automatically shut down at 2 hour intervals up to 8 hours.
  • Light, compact, stylish design fits in with any decor and is also easy as pie to move around.
Cons
  • If you try and push it to cool a larger room than it is designed for you’ll be disappointed.
  • Not the quietest fan on the list but not terribly loud either.

The Honeywell Fresh Breeze Tower Fan has all the advantages of an oscillating fan as well as those of a portable air conditioner. Set the unit to your preferred temperature and relax. Within a short time you’ll feel the cool, dry air settle in and the tower will distribute it to all corners of the room. The attractive, sleek design of this portable air conditioner is another big plus and one that’s sure to appeal to those who’ve put a lot of effort into their decor and don’t want it compromised by the presence of a large white or black box. At the end of the day the Honeywell Fresh Breeze is a breath of fresh air due to its looks, its effectiveness and its ultra-affordability.

● Dehumidifier can suck 70 pints of water out of the air every 24 hours.
● Unit utilizes an innovative auto-evaporation system.
● The digital LCD display is clear, easy to read and easy to understand.
● That LCD control panel also has feather touch control.
● No special requirements for the room other than a power source and an outlet for the exhaust hose.
● Built in 3M electrostatic filter.
● Fan only function for those times you don’t need to cool the place down.
● Window vent moves easily from window to window so you can take the unit with you as you move.

The Honeywell 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner features a minimalist design and extraordinary cooling ability. It’s as easy to set up and put to work as it is tough on hot, humid air. This portable air conditioner can handle a room up to 350 square feet and, unlike a fixed window unit, can be taken with you as you go from the dinner table to the living room to the bedroom.

Pros
  • Feather touch control means no more pounding on control buttons. Simply slide your finger over the desired control to initiate it.
  • Will effectively cool a room of 350 square feet (about that size of a good sized living room) provided the space doesn’t have cathedral ceilings or open ends.
  • The remote gives you complete control of your portable air conditioner from across the room and the auto evaporation system means no drainage tank to watch.
Cons
  • Customer service is perhaps not all it should be.

The Honeywell 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner Unit does an outstanding job transforming your hot, humid interior into a cool, dry sanctuary. It’s extremely easy to set up and operate and that ease of operation is enhanced by the fact that there’s no drainage tank to empty. As a dehumidifier it’s capable of pulling an astonishing 70 pints of moisture from the air every 24 hours (although to be sure you’d have to be living in the tropical rainforest for your air to be that humid). All in all a great portable AC that will make summers much more enjoyable and comfortable for everyone in the house and a worthy entry into our Hall of Fame.

Honorable Mentions

● Use it as a fan, a dehumidifier or a first class portable air conditioner.
● 28 degrees of temperature control from 61 to 89 Fahrenheit.
● Crystal clear digital control panel readouts make programming and controlling the unit a snap.
● Dehumidifier capacity of 101 pints per 24 hours is among the best in class.
● 3 fan speeds, flexible and extendable exhaust hose and washable filter.
● R410a non-ozone depleting refrigerant.
● Portable air conditioner rolls effortless from room to room.
● Stylish design fits in with any decor.
● Restarts automatically after power outage.

Winter (or at least a reasonable facsimile) is right around the corner with the Whynter ARC-14S 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner. Don’t spend another day sweltering in the summer heat. The Whynter ARC-14S can turn damp, stuffy air into dry, comfortable air in no time and this portable air conditioner can cool a 500 square foot room as long as environmental parameters are not exceeded.

Pros
  • A true heavy duty portable air conditioner if ever there was one.
  • Designers had mother earth in mind with the non-ozone depleting R410a refrigerant.
  • The 101 pints of moisture per day this unit will extract from the air is among the best of any portable air conditioner at any price.
Cons
  • The unit can generate some noticeable dust if the filters aren’t properly cleaned.
  • At nearly $500 it’s not anyone’s idea of a cheap portable air conditioner.

If you operate this portable air conditioner by the book it will deliver plenty of cool even in the largest of rooms. If you just need to remove humidity from the air to protect furniture and carpets and discourage the growth of mold it will do that too: to the tune of more than 100 pints a day! And on those days when everything is copacetic and you just want a little bit of air movement switch it to fan mode and relax. The unit also sports patented auto-draining technology which turns collected moisture into cool air. If you have some large rooms that could use an injection of cool dry air this is the portable air conditioner for you.

● 12,000 BTUs of cooling power turn 450 square feet of discomfort into a cool and dry 450 square foot oasis.
● The clear, easy to read LCD control panel features a feather touch system for full remote control capability.
● Auto off can be set in 2 hour increments up to 24 hours.
● 3 speed fan lets you control the comfort and cool.
● Dehumidifier can remove up to 79 pints of water from the air in a given 24 hour period.
● Choose from fan only, dehumidifier or portable air conditioner settings.
● Auto evaporation system means no bucket to be emptied.

There’s capable, there’s good and then there’s the Honeywell 12,000 BTU portable air conditioner. The unit is capable of handling 163 cubic feet per minute (CFM) of air and can remove up to 79 pints of water from the air in any given 24 hour period. It’s quiet, efficient and you don’t have to be a football player to move this portable air conditioner around the house.

Pros
  • Designed to cool up to 450 square feet of open space quietly.
  • Uses environmentally responsible R410a refrigerant that won’t destroy the ozone.
  • The innovative auto evaporation system allows for many hours of non-stop operation without having to empty a bucket or drain the unit. A major plus from a convenience standpoint.
Cons
  • Window bracket has been known to be a poor match for some windows.
  • Power cord on this portable air conditioner could definitely be longer than it is.

If you’re looking to keep a large room cool and dry this is the unit. While the advertised 450 square feet might be pushing it a bit the unit will in fact keep a large room of a few hundred feet cool and dry without much effort. We found the remote to be maybe the most important component of this portable air conditioner because in a big room you become aware of how short the power cord is (the exhaust hose too for that matter). And if you’re seated 20 feet away you don’t want to have to keep getting up to adjust the settings on your portable air conditioner. That said performance was right in line with expectations and we found ourselves flipping between air conditioning and fan mode pretty regularly, which indicates the AC was doing its job.

● Can be programmed up to 24 hours in advance so you wake or arrive home to a comfortable room.
● Can effectively cool an enclosed room of approximately 350 square feet.
● Filter is easily removed and cleaned.
● Bucket free auto evaporation means no annoying trips to the portable air conditioner to empty the water.
● Heavy duty casters make moving the unit around a breeze even if you’re not a muscleman.
● Easy to read LCD display lets you stay on top of the unit’s current state.
● 14,000 BTUs of cooling power fights back against summer heat and humidity.
You may not think about Black and Decker when you think about a portable air conditioner but you probably should. This unit will keep even a large room nice and dry and when the AC kicks in the cool it brings to the table is formidable.

Pros
  • Quiet and versatile this Black and Decker portable air conditioner will do its job without generating much in the way of noise.
  • The window venting system is genuinely easy to set up even by non-DIYers.
  • This portable air conditioner is also a first rate dehumidifier that will help save your valuables from the scourge of high humidity.
Cons
  • Fan could be a bit more powerful than it is.
  • While it’s not the most expensive 8,000 BTU unit on the market it’s not too far off.

The Black and Decker 8,000 BTU portable air conditioner kicks out the cold and can easily cool down most standard sized rooms. It’s easy to set up, easy to operate – using either the feather touch controls on the unit or the remote – and can be programmed a full day in advance. From the design to the quiet operation to the effectiveness of the dehumidifier function, this portable air conditioner performs as advertised and that alone can makes it worth the financial stretch.

● Can cool a room as large as 425 square feet without much effort.
● The auto drain system removes most condensate without you having to get out of your cool comfy chair.
● Unit has an effective temperature range of 28 degrees Fahrenheit.
● Unit sports 3 fan speeds so you can fine tune the comfort level in the room.
● Dehumidifier mode capable of removing up to 90 pints in a given 24 hour period.
● Expandable window kit and 4 foot long vent hose included.
● Sleek modernist design with slight retro touches.

Make no mistake about it, this portable air conditioner is not cheap. It redeems itself though by being as effective as all get-out at cooling down your room and transforming it into a cool, dry, healthy environment where the deer and the antelope may not play but you and your kids certainly will. With the dehumidifier pulling an unbelievable 90 pints of moisture a day out of the air you won’t have to spend any more time worrying that the dampness is ruining your furniture.

Pros
  • The nice dry spaces this portable air conditioner creates will discourage the growth of potentially harmful mold making your home a healthier place for all.
  • The venting kit is easy to install even for non-DIY types and can be moved from window to window just as easily.
  • Fully controllable via the included remote which is great when you’re across the room and want just a bit more cool or more fan.
Cons
  • The fact that this portable air conditioner costs north of $500 is not its strong suit, but we understand that quality can be expensive.
  • The feather touch controls are a little too feathery and can often be triggered by just being near them.

The Edgestar has an edgy design that may at first seem a bit self-conscious but will eventually grow on you. The unit itself is quiet and effective, fairly lightweight and easy to move around and the venting system is easy to set up and move with the unit. When set up in a room of appropriate size and environmental conditions this portable stand up conditioner will make short work of the heat and humidity and have everyone in the house breathing a bit easier.

● The unit uses environmentally responsible R410a refrigerant that respects the ozone.
● The SPT WA boasts a robust 14,000 BTUs of cooling power and makes the most of them.
● The manufacturer professes this unit will cool a room as large as 35 x 20 feet.
● The unit has 3 operational modes – fan/dehumidifier/air conditioner – as well as intelligent auto restart in case of power outage.
● While this portable air conditioner is powerful it boasts significant energy saving abilities compared to the competition.
● The control panel is well laid out, easy to read and understand and easy to program.
● Unit can be programmed for up to 24 hours in advance.

This SPT 14,000 BTU portable air conditioner isn’t going to win over many with its somewhat clunky design but it will earn legions of fans once they get a feel for how well it can cool down a substantial sized room. Whether or not the laws of thermodynamics will actually allow such a unit to effectively cool down a 700 square foot room is open for discussion but the fact is the unit does a great job on some great big rooms and for that you should consider buying it for your home.

Pros
  • The intelligent restart is a nice feature by which the unit remembers your most current settings and restarts using them.
  • The unit is powerful but as we mentioned it’s also relatively energy efficient with an EER rating of 8.9.
  • You can program this unit for up to 24 hours in advance so you can leave it off most of the day then have it kick in an hour before you get home.
Cons
  • This portable air conditioner will shut itself down if environmental conditions are too hot for effective use.
  • The exhaust hose can heat up and negate some of the unit’s cooling effect.

While this portable air conditioner has a look only its designer could love it nonetheless works like a charm and that’s all we really care about. You can set things up by running the fan for a while, switch to dehumidifier to dry things out and then switch to air conditioning mode and cool things down to boot. The finished product will remind you of central air effects and you won’t have to wait hours to reap the cool, dry benefits. It’s not the cheapest or the quietest portable air conditioner on our list but it works like nobody’s business.

● 14,000 BTUs of cooling power can effectively cool a room as large as 500 square feet.
● The dehumidifier feature pulls up to 3.1 pints of moisture from the air per hour.
● Auto swing feature assures a more effective distribution of the cool air.
● 2 settings for cool and 2 for fan speed.
● Easy to read and understand LED display.
● Can be programmed up to 24 hours in advance for optimal convenience.
● Window venting kit is easy to deploy.
● Auto restart feature kicks in during power outage.
● 1 year warranty on parts and craftsmanship.

The LG 14,000 BTU portable air conditioner brings the cool to large rooms that used to swelter. It’s designed to effectively cool up to 500 square feet and does so well as long as environmental parameters are not exceeded. Should the weather not call for full on air conditioning switch to dehumidifier and remove up to 3.1 pints of moisture per hour from the air.

Pros
  • Handles the big rooms a smaller portable air conditioner can’t.
  • Fully programmable so you can have a nice cool kitchen or living room waiting for you when you get home without having to run the unit all day.
  • The auto evaporation system means no more getting up to empty condensate buckets.
Cons
  • More expensive than most.
  • Might be a bit too loud for the bedroom.

This portable air conditioner sets to work on your larger rooms and doesn’t stop until they’re cool and dry. It’s a beast of a portable air conditioner with 14,000 BTUs of cooling power so don’t waste it on tiny rooms. Overall the unit is dependable, easy to use and effective. It also has an attractive minimalist design some will find very appealing. If you’ve been at a loss over how to keep your larger room cool on those hot summer days the wait is over. The LG 14,000 BTU portable air conditioner is here to answer the call.

Best Bang For Your Buck

When a portable air conditioner passes muster it winds up on our “Best Of” list. When it clearly stands above the competition it joins our Hall of Fame. And when it stands above the competition and does so for less, it’s clearly an incredible value and winds up as a “Best Bang for your Buck”; like the final 2 entries on our list.

● Mini-compact air conditioner mounts in your window quickly and easily.
● Can remove up to 1.1 pints of water per hour from the air.
● Multiple control options including 2 fan and cool speeds and 2 air directions.
● Exceptionally quiet operation.
● Anti-bacterial filter with access through the unit’s side panel.
● 5,000 BTUs of cooling power.
● Extra-long 6 1/2 foot power cord for a greater number of mounting options.
● Attractive price point.

The Frigidaire 5,000 BTU Window Mounted portable air conditioner is one of only 2 window units on our list. It earned a spot by virtue of its reliable performance, ease of setup, highly effective cooling abilities and the fact that it can be had for just over a hundred bucks. This is not a unit built to cool banquet halls. It’s a bare bones unit built to create a cool, dry environment in your smaller rooms. It will do an excellent job as long as you stay within the parameters laid out in the specs.

Pros
  • Can be set up by any reasonably competent person in about 20 minutes.
  • The window mounting kit is adaptable to a wide range of window sizes.
  • The extra-long power cord means you’re not confined to using only that window with the outlet directly under it.
Cons
  • Not as easy to move around as a rolling portable air conditioner.
  • 5,000 BTUs of cooling power is pretty modest so don’t expect it to work miracles in large rooms.

While our list has been devoid of window units up to now we simply couldn’t ignore the exceptional utility of this portable air conditioner. From the effortless setup to the long power cord that reduces dependence on extension cords to the fact that it does a great job cooling smaller rooms without sending your electric bill into the stratosphere the Frigidaire 5,000 BTU unit will make a believer out of you the first time you use it.

● Frigidaire smart app means this portable air conditioner can join the Internet of things and be controlled from virtually anywhere.
● Excellent efficiency rating from EnergyStar.
● Cools a room as large as 350 square feet with its 8,000 BTUs.
● The humidifier feature is capable of removing 1.7 pints of water from the air every hour.
● Access the unit via your smartphone before you leave work and have a nice cool kitchen or living room awaiting you.
● Costs a little more than some other portable air conditioners but more effective as well.
● Super simple installation can be handled by any competent DIYer.

The feature that really sets the Frigidaire 8,000 BTU portable air conditioner apart from the competition is the smart features that allow you access to the unit from practically anywhere. Imagine being at the airport and realizing you forgot to turn your portable air conditioner off. Most people would be stuck. With this portable window air conditioner though you just pull out your smartphone and turn the unit off remotely.

Pros
  • Having practically unlimited control over the unit via WiFi is a huge plus.
  • The unit is a cut above other, more expensive permanent window units in its design.
  • It’s one of the most energy efficient window units, permanent or temporary, that you can buy.
Cons
  • As with our previous Best Bang for your Buck entry, this portable air conditioner requires a bit of effort to move from room to room.

We love the way this air conditioning unit looks. We love the job it does cooling the room. We love the fact that it can be installed in minutes and doesn’t require the presence of the HVAC guy or electrician. We love that it’s so effective dehumidifying the air. We love that it’s quieter than most every other portable air conditioner. And we love the remote control even though the company could afford to put a bit more effort into the user interface and the app only works on Apple and Android handsets.

Buyers Questions:

The following are common questions related to the portable air conditioner.

Does a portable air conditioner work?

The $64,000 question. The answer is… some of them work beautifully. Others, not so much. It’s nearly impossible to tell just by looking at a portable air conditioner if it’s going to work or not. The key to finding the former and avoiding the latter is to do your homework by visiting sites like this that do the research for you.

Do you have to drain a portable air conditioner?

With some, yes. With others no. If you think this is going to be an issue for you make sure you find out whether the portable air conditioner you have your eyes on requires manual draining or has an auto-evaporation feature.

How do you set up a portable air conditioner?

Setup of a portable room air conditioner is typically very simple and painless. Anyone with the ability to follow directions should have no problem. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that the heat an air conditioner removes from the air needs to be vented somewhere. If it’s simply allowed to escape back into the room the room will never get cool. Because of this a portable air conditioner usually comes with a venting kit that fits in the window and accommodates a flexible hose that runs from the unit. Hot air is vented through this hose to the outdoors. This will take a few minutes to set up but once it is your unit is ready to go.

How do you use a portable air conditioner?

A portable air conditioner is typically controlled either by a control panel on the top of the unit or a remote control device or both. Some, like the last item on our above list, can also be controlled via the Internet. Typical controls on a portable air conditioner include fan speed, temperature settings, fan/dehumidifier/air condition modes, ‘swing’, and power on/off. There’s nothing complicated about the process of using a portable air conditioner. Just pick your mode and pick your settings within that mode.

Portable or fixed air conditioning system?

When it comes to such things as home air conditioning your primary concern should be cost. Installing a central air system may make your home a uniformly delightful place to live but it may also cost so much you can’t afford a night out. One of the great benefits of the portable air conditioner is its low acquisition cost, its free installation and the fact that you’re typically cooling only a single room for part of the day or night and as such your energy bills won’t go through the roof.

Things to Consider When Buying a Portable Air Conditioner

If you’ve decided to buy a portable air conditioner there are a few things you’ll want to consider before you do. These include:

Energy Efficiency – As with any appliance today you’ll want to be sure your new portable air conditioner is as energy efficient as possible. Look for the unit’s EER rating. The higher the EER number the more efficient the unit. While there are exceptions a portable air conditioner usually won’t qualify for an EnergyStar rating.

Noise Levels – Some units are quiet as a door mouse while others are noisy as a Mack truck. If you’re going to use the unit in your bedroom at night you’ll want one that’s the former and not the latter. Look for one that has a decibel level below 60.

Ease of Operation – You want the controls, including the remote, to be simple to understand and use. This isn’t a complex Android TV box. This is a portable air conditioner meant to cool and dehumidify the air. It should have a few settings and they should be easy to use.

Portability – A portable air conditioner should be just that: portable. It should be easy for you to move about, even the heavier units. If you or your significant other aren’t able to relocate the unit to another area at will without throwing out your back then there’s nothing “portable” about your portable air conditioner.

Dehumidifier – With many people their portable air conditioner spends most of its time in dehumidifier mode. That’s because a dry room will always feel cooler than a damp room and dry is good for your furniture, carpets, books, artwork and pets. Make sure your portable air conditioner has a robust dehumidifier.

Warranty – Like any appliance you want to make sure your new portable air conditioner is covered in case of defects in the build, materials or controls. Most units will come with 1 year warranty but there are some less expensive models that don’t offer much of anything. You’re always better off spending a few dollars more and getting a portable air conditioner with at least 1 year of warranty coverage, just in case.

Keep in Mind

The portable air conditioner will need to be set up near a window so that the heat it pulls from the air can be vented to the outdoors. If the room you intend to cool doesn’t have a window you’ll either have to improvise some sort of vent or simply forget about a portable air conditioner. You’ll also want to be sure there’s an outlet near the window. The power cord on most units is not that long so the outlet and window should be near each other lest you need to use an extension cord, which is not such a great idea. Lastly, make sure your new unit has both a washable pre-filter and an additional carbon filter. These filter dust, mold spores and pollen from the air and make the environment healthier.

Conclusion

Like all the best air conditioners a portable air conditioner can change your relationship to your home. Where before it may have been the place you wanted to get away from on hot days it can become the place the family seeks out when the mercury rises. It will also allow you to sleep better and to entertain guests in comfort. If you’d like to buy a portable air conditioner for your home any of the above models will serve you well today and for the foreseeable future.

We hope you found this information helpful and be sure to check back on a regular basis for more timely product review guides.

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