If your home isn’t outfitted with a central air or HVAC system, then you may find yourself sweating in the summer months. You have a few different options for keeping yourself cool. While window AC units are unsightly and can cause potential home damage, and fans just blow around hot air, portable air conditioners offer a unique and effective summertime solution.
Our Favorite Portable Air Conditioners:
What is a Portable Air Conditioner?
Portable air conditioners are typically large rectangles with vents on one side that are designed to blow cool air into your room, and hoses on the other end to blow hot air out a window. Usually wheeled, these portable air conditioner units might be heavy on their own, but when you scoot them around, they make for an easy way to get the cool breeze you need, no matter where you are in a building.
7 Best Portable Air Conditioners
Ready to start shopping? Here are seven of our favorite options.
1. Black & Decker Portable Air Conditioner
This compact air conditioning unit comes in six different sizes, so you can pick the best size for your space. The smallest size is ideal for cooling a 100 to 150 square foot room, such as a small bedroom or office.
It features a handy LED control panel and remote, so you can adjust the temperature, set a timer, adjust the fan speed and more. A sleep mode allows for extra quiet, even with the temperature at its lowest setting of 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The machine also dehumidifies and features a filter that is hand-washable.
2. Whynter Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner
This handy portable air conditioner can cool up to 500 sq. ft. It uniquely features dual hoses, so that it can cool a space down faster. The best part, though? It’s not just an air conditioner.
It also can act as a heater and dehumidifier, making it a perfect pick for those who need a climate control solution for all seasons. The handy 24-hour timer allows you to set the unit to run just when you need it to, too.
3. Frigidaire Cool Connect Smart Cylinder Portable Air Conditioner
Hate the clunky look of most rectangular portable AC units? Opt for this futuristic-looking smart portable air conditioner that’s shaped like a cylinder. (It almost kind of looks like a little Dalek robot from the popular sci-fi series, Doctor Who!)
It can cool a space of up to 450 square feet and connects to your smartphone via the Frigidaire app and Wi-Fi, for easy control wherever. You can use the app to turn the unit on and off, change the temperature or change the fan speed.
Reviewers also report that this particular unit is on the quieter side, making it ideal for bedrooms.
4. Midea Three-in-One Portable Air Conditioner
For even more smart features, look to this Midea portable air conditioning unit that works via voice control, thanks to compatibility with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. On the smaller side, it can cool rooms of up to 200 square feet. It features a washable air filter, though it’s recommended you wash the air filter at least every week, while other options only require cleaning about once every month or two months.
5. hOmelabs 14000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
This air conditioner can cool large rooms up to 600 square feet, but do note that it is a little larger than some of the other units on our list, at more than 30 inches tall, and 15 by 17 inches at the base.
Pretty basic, with a remote control, energy-efficient setting and washable filter, the one good thing that this air conditioning unit offers is an alert feature that tells you when that filter needs to be washed, so you never forget about it again.
6. GE 115-Volt White Vented Portable Air Conditioner
This basic air conditioner is a good pick if you’re looking for something on the budget-friendly side. Capable of cooling small rooms that are up to 250 square feet, the air conditioner runs on two fan speeds while featuring a dehumidifier. The easy installation window hose can be inserted into both sliding and double-hung windows as well.
7. Evapolar Personal Evaporative Air Cooler
This isn’t technically a portable air conditioner, but rather, it’s an evaporative cooler. More on the differences below. However, if you need something tiny for a smaller space that has no windows, this option has you covered.
For just under $100, it can cool upwards of 32 square feet. Stylish and sleek, the air conditioner features a small light, and it is compact enough to sit easily on a shelf, table or desk. Do note, though, that since this is an evaporative cooler rather than a portable air conditioner, it includes a water tank that needs to be emptied after approximately eight hours of use.
Related: 9 Best Air Conditioners For Apartments
Is a Portable Air Conditioner Right for You?
Is a portable air conditioner just the solution you’ve been looking for? If you’re still not sure how to answer this question, consider the following factors.
The Upsides of a Portable Air Conditioner
A portable air conditioner’s biggest selling point is, of course, the fact that it is portable. For those who don’t necessarily need to cool their entire home yet often find themselves going from room to room during their days, a portable air conditioner can keep them cool in their home office during the day and in their bedroom while they sleep at night.
Just remove the hose from the window and wheel the AC unit with you wherever you need to go! Even though some users may not like the hose installation that is required for a portable air conditioner, do note that this is much easier and potentially less damaging to your home than installing a window air conditioner.
Window units typically require you to lift a very heavy box into your window’s frames, and then you have to secure it with screws or other hardware. From there, you might always experience the worry that the unit may fall and end up causing further damage.
A portable air conditioner can typically serve your family well for at least five years. If you’re lucky, it might last for upwards of ten years!
The Downsides of a Portable Air Conditioner
But portable air conditioners aren’t all pros and no cons. Some report that portable air conditioners just don’t cool a room as effectively as a window unit or traditional HVAC system.
While this can be true under certain circumstances, it does partially depend on your shopping process. You have to be careful to purchase a unit that’s designed for your type of space and space size. Don’t expect a tiny, more affordable unit to cool a huge open space with high ceilings.
Additionally, portable air conditioners are heavy. If you live, for example, up three flights of stairs and need to get an AC unit up those stairs on your own, you may run into some issues. Getting that 50 to 100-pound box to your apartment may be impossible without the help of a delivery person or a handy friend — and it’s definitely not as easy as just lugging a box fan upstairs.
Portable air conditioners can also be expensive, depending on the size of air conditioner you need, as well as the brand you purchase. Expect to spend at least a few hundred dollars for your most affordable option.
Some buyers may find portable air conditioners to be on the noisy side, as well, especially if they’re accustomed to a noiseless HVAC system.
You also, of course, usually need a window in the room wherein you’re installing the portable AC unit. If you don’t have a window, you have nowhere to run the unit’s hose, so nowhere to deposit your hot air. You likewise need a fair amount of room around the window to set up your air conditioner, as you’ll have to account for not just the size of the unit, but also the length of the flexible hose, which can be around five to seven feet.
Related: How Often Do You Need to Replace Your Air Conditioner?
What To Look For When Shopping For a Portable AC Unit
As you shop around for the perfect portable air conditioner for your home, keep a few factors in mind.
Room Size and BTU Rating
The most important factor to consider is size and cooling power. A unit will list its cooling power in British Thermal Units or BTUs. The higher the BTU, the more cooling power the unit offers. The larger your space, the higher the BTU you need.
Remember that If you purchase a portable air conditioner with too low of BTU, it won’t effectively cool your space, rendering it essentially useless. But if you have a small space of about 200 square feet or less, you can purchase an air conditioner rated around 8,000 BTUs. For larger spaces that are closer to 500 square feet, you’ll want something around 16,000 BTUs instead.
Depending on where and how you plan on using your portable air conditioner, you may want to specifically look for particular settings. For example, if you plan on using the unit in your bedroom, you might want one that specifically features a quiet nighttime setting.
If you know your space is particularly humid, you might want a unit that features a built-in dehumidification setting. Likewise, if you want a unit that’s useful all year round, keep an eye out for one with a heating feature.
If you prefer ease of use and extra convenience, consider buying a portable air conditioner that is compatible with your smart home devices or cell phone, so you can manage it via voice or app controls.
While most portable air conditioners include removable filters that can be washed as needed, the type of filter featured may differ. Some filters can trap allergens, odors, smoke, pollen, dust, bacteria or even pet hair. If any of these are a worry to you, look for a filter that can remove them from your home’s air.
Hose vs No Hose
While most portable air conditioners do feature a hose and window kit that requires you to hook the unit to a nearby window, you can find a few evaporative units that do not require this. In these cases, the unit will usually not be called a portable air conditioner.
Instead, a more appropriate term would be an evaporative cooler. These units are best for those spaces that don’t have any handily available windows. However, do note that these units generally require you to empty out a water tank on occasion.
Related: The 6 Best Window Air Conditioners [Stay Cool As A Cucumber]
Tips for Using Your Portable AC Unit
If you do decide that a portable air conditioner is the best option for you, here are a few tips to get the most dramatic change in temperature.
Add a Fan
While the AC unit will feature a fan mechanism on its front vent, that fan won’t be very powerful. To help better circulate the new, cool air into your room, consider turning on a box fan, standing fan or overhead ceiling fan.
Take Care of That Filter
Follow your unit’s recommendations on how often to clean or change your filter. Not doing so can result in lessened air quality, as well as potential damage to the unit.
Position Your AC Unit Appropriately
You want to get the most air flow from your air conditioner, but you also have to position it so that it attaches to the window. So, the best way to balance these needs is to pick a window that’s near a corner or in the middle of a wall. Then, position the unit so that it faces the largest amount of your space, preferably not facing a doorway.
Try not to put it in a particularly sunny spot, as that extra sunlight coming in from the window can make your unit work harder than it needs to. You also want to position the unit so that the exhaust hose is as straight as possible; this will allow for maximum airflow.
Enjoy a Cooler Summer
Summertime comes with so much fun — you shouldn’t have to dread the season all because it means a hot house. With the right portable air conditioner, you can keep cool even on the hottest days.
You might also be interested in: The 14 Best Conditioners For Color-Treated Hair [Luscious Locks Await]
7 Portable Air Conditioners That Will Keep You Cool:
- Black & Decker Portable Air Conditioner
- Whynter Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner
- Frigidaire Cool Connect Smart Cylinder Portable Air Conditioner
- Midea Three-in-One Portable Air Conditioner
- hOmelabs 14000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
- GE 115-Volt White Vented Portable Air Conditioner
- Evapolar Personal Evaporative Air Cooler