BEST PORTABLE AIR CONDITIONERS | NOVEMBER 2017
Portable air conditioners provide a convenient and efficient way to cool down your home without having to commit to keeping the unit in a single room. These air conditioners typically have wheels for easy transport and include a window kit that connects the air conditioner to a window via a hose. If you’re not sure what kind of portable air conditioner to purchase, take a look at our buying guide for help about what features you should consider to get the best air conditioning experience possible. Read more about our methodology.
Portability and cooling power are the main draws of the Whynter ARC-14S. With a 14,000 BTU rating and three different modes of operation, you can expect to easily cool down or dehumidify any room in your home with this portable air conditioner.Read full review.
Cooling on a budget can be difficult, but the SPT WA-8070E makes it easy. This portable air conditioner offers plenty of cooling modes and a powerful 8,000 BTU rasting. Combine these features with easy maintenance and it's clear why this is our best value pick.Read full review.
Portable Air Conditioners BUYING GUIDE
The cooling power of the portable air conditioner you purchase should be one of the first features you should consider. Not every air conditioner is created equal, and some are more powerful than others. Cooling power is measured in BTUs. A higher BTU rating means the air conditioner can cool down larger rooms. However, a low BTU rating doesn’t necessarily mean an air conditioner is a less efficient unit. Portable air conditioners with low BTU ratings are perfect for cooling down smaller spaces.
Ease of Use
Portable air conditioners are all about convenience and portability. If you constantly have issues trying to operate the unit, the point of having one is diminished. Most portable air conditioners have a control panel on the unit itself, but many will offer extra features such as LED displays and remote controls that contribute to an easier operation. The best portable air conditioners are easy to use and simple to set up.
If the portable air conditioner you purchase has humidifying or dehumidifying functionality, there will be a level of upkeep and maintenance that you need to consider. Moisture removed from the air needs to go somewhere, and air conditioners typically have a tray that stores it. This tray will need to be emptied every so often. The opposite is true for humidifying air conditioners. These add moisture to the air from a container full of moisture in the unit. This container will need to be filled. Consider how large these storage containers are for both humidifying and dehumidifying air conditioners, depending on how long you want that feature to run. High-end dehumidifying air conditioners will often offer a self-evaporative feature that automatically gets rid of the water so you don’t have to.
A variety of extra features and functionality may be included with the portable air conditioner you purchase. Features like programmable timers, different fan speeds, and high energy efficiency ratings can all add to the overall experience of using a portable air conditioner. These features can vary widely between models, so determine what you want out of your air conditioner and then consider if the extra features improve that experience for you.
For less than $300, you can buy a budget portable air conditioner. These air conditioners are typically smaller and have lower BTU ratings, usually under 10,000 BTUs. They also may not include extra features such as programmable timers and different fan speeds. In the $300 to $500 range, you can get a portable air conditioner that offers most of the features the average consumer will need. These typically offer an easy-to-use control panel, higher BTU ratings and extra features like programmable timers and different cooling modes. Portable air conditioners over $500 are considered high-end and offer advanced features like a heat mode, automatic evaporation and anti-microbial filters.
FULL product reviews
We research hundreds of products in order to bring you a final, unbiased list of the very best. We also use a proprietary algorithm to score each product in terms of quality, value, and brand reputation. These subscores are then weighted to calculate our overall scores. Read more about how we calculate our scores.
The Whynter ARC-14S is a portable air conditioner with a high BTU rating and three operational modes. This air conditioner is powerful and efficient at cooling small and large spaces alike and offers plenty of features that make operation easier. You can also expect a lower level of maintenance with a washable filter and large dehumidifying capacity. These features make the Whynter ARC-14S our top choice for portable air conditioners.
Why We Recommend It
- Three modes of operation. The Whynter ARC-14S offers three different modes of operation: air conditioner, fan, and dehumidifier. Having three different modes gives you greater freedom and flexibility when using this portable air conditioner.
- High BTU rating. With a BTU rating of 14,000 BTU, you can use this portable air conditioner to cool down rooms of up to 500 square feet. This high BTU rating works in tandem with a double hose set up to provide the efficient cooling. The unit also includes a patented auto-drain technology, which uses the moisture it collects from the air to produce the cold air it emits.
- Easy to use. The Whynter ARC-14S provides a simple control panel located directly on the face of the unit. This panel only contains a few buttons that are clearly marked and simple to understand. You can also use the included remote to operate the air conditioner from a distance.
- Easy to maintain. This portable air conditioner has a dehumidifying capacity of up to 101 pints per day and even includes a self-evaporative system that will exhaust most of the condensation during the day. The unit uses a carbon air filter and a washable pre-filter for the best air filtration throughout the day.
- Loud operation. The Whynter ARC-14S is a powerful air conditioner, which can lead to some noisy operation at times.
The SPT WA-8070E is our choice for best value portable air conditioner because of the number of features included for a much lower price than the competition. This air conditioner offers a good BTU rating and plenty of extra features like multiple fan speeds and cooling modes.
Why We Recommend It
- Customize your cooling experience. The SPT WA-8070E gives you a greater level of flexibility when it comes to cooling your space. First, it offers two different fan speeds and even includes directional air discharge louvers, allowing you to choose where the air from the unit is blown. You can also choose between air conditioning and fan modes. While on the air conditioning mode, the unit automatically dehumidifies the air it circulates.
- Power and efficiency. This portable air conditioner offers a BTU rating of 8,000 BTUs, making this a fairly powerful unit capable of cooling spaces up to 350 square feet. The unit is also energy efficient, with an EER rating of 8.9, meaning that it uses less power than other comparable models.
- Easy to maintain. Maintenance comes easy with the SPT WA-8070E with a self-evaporating system that reduces the need to manually drain moisture that has been collected within the unit. The air filters are also washable.
- Large and heavy. Some portability may be lost with the SPT WA-8070E because it is larger and heavier than many comparable models on the market.
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Best Portable Air Conditioner for Small Spaces
Portable air conditioners for small spaces come in small, but powerful packages. These air conditioners are best at efficiently cooling spaces smaller than 300 square feet. They typically don’t offer as many bells and whistles as larger air conditioners, but they still offer plenty of features that allow for easy and efficient operation, such as remote controls and 2-way air directions. Some of these air conditioners may also double as dehumidifiers, depending on the model you purchase.
The Della 048-GM-48266 is small and extra portable, making it the perfect choice for cooling smaller areas. It operates powerfully and quietly, which is crucial for operation within smaller spaces. It doesn’t offer a lot of advanced features, mostly because it doesn’t need to. The multi-directional air flow and easy operation also make this unit ideal for cooling small spaces.
Why We Recommend It
- 8,000 BTU rating. The Della 048-GM-48266 offers a BTU rating of 8,000 BTUs. That rating makes this portable air conditioner able to cool down spaces of up to 300 square feet. While this isn’t the most powerful air conditioner, it’s perfect for efficiently cooling smaller spaces.
- Quiet operation. Using a portable air conditioner in a small room can get noisy, which can be annoying, especially if you’re using the unit in your bedroom. This unit operates quieter than many other comparable models. It isn’t completely silent, but you’ll likely find the noise level comfortable, much like softer white noise.
- Flexible operation options. With adjustable fan speeds, thermostat, remote control and simple control panel, this portable air conditioner is easy to use and offers flexible cooling options. Simply use the on-unit control panel or remote control to adjust these settings with ease.
- Durable and high quality. The Della 048-GM-48266 is made from high-quality, durable materials. This extends the life of the unit, especially if you are constantly moving it around from space to space.
- Bright control panel. The LED display on the unit is very bright, which might get annoying during nighttime use.
Best Portable Air Conditioner for Large Spaces
Cooling large spaces can be quite the chore, especially in the heat of summer, but portable air conditioners for large spaces offer features that can easily and efficiently cool a large room. They’re powerful and often include dehumidifying functionality along with advanced features like self-evaporating technology and timers. If you have a space larger than 500 square feet that you want to cool, you’ll want to consider purchasing a portable air conditioner for large spaces.
The Whynter ARC-142BX is a powerful portable air conditioner that is capable of efficiently cooling down large spaces. It’s also easy to set up and operate, with washable filters, a simple control panel and self-evaporating system. If you have a large space you need to cool, the Whynter ARC-142BX is a solid and reliable choice.
Why We Recommend It
- Powerful. With a BTU rating of 14,000 BTUs, the Whynter ARC-142BX is one of the more powerful portable air conditioners on our list. That makes it particularly suited for cooling larger spaces with power and efficiency. The overall build quality of this unit is also suited for heavy-duty applications, making this a choice that’s hard to ignore.
- Easy to set up. More power doesn’t have to lead to a more complicated set up. This portable air conditioner is easily assembled and installed. The installation instructions included with the air conditioner are easy to follow and understand.
- Flexible operation. The Whynter ARC-142BX offers plenty of different modes of operation. It also provides an easy-to-use control panel and remote control. You can set the unit to air conditioning, fan or dehumidifying modes, depending on what application you need. You can also set the air conditioner on a programmable timer for greater flexibility.
- Quiet operation. More often than not, the more powerful air conditioners are a lot noisier than the less powerful models. Fortunately, the Whynter ARC-142BX is quieter than most, and while it still makes noise—especially on the higher speed setting—it’s at a much more comfortable level than other models.
- IR remote. The remote control included with the unit is an infrared remote, which means you’ll need a direct line of sight to the unit in order to operate it with the remote.
Best Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier
Areas that have high levels of humidity add an additional level of discomfort, which only gets worse when temperatures rise. Portable air conditioners with dehumidifiers actively cool the room while pulling the moisture out of the room at the same time. These air conditioners typically also offer the standard air conditioner features such as different fan speeds, remote controls and programmable timers. The higher-end models may offer advanced features that automatically evaporates the moisture collected during dehumidifying.
The Costway portable air conditioner with dehumidifier is a great choice for spaces that need to have moisture removed from the air. Dehumidifiers need to be powerful enough to efficiently remove that moisture, and the Costway portable air conditioner with dehumidifier does well at that function. With a BTU rating of 10,000 BTUs, it can also easily cool down an average sized space.
Why We Recommend It
- Efficient dehumidifying feature. The Costway portable air conditioner with dehumidifier excels best with its dehumidifying feature. It is able to easily remove the moisture from the air in the room where the unit is located. This portable air conditioner also includes an auto-condensate circle to more efficiently remove and recycle the moisture in the air.
- Powerful cooling solution. With a 10,000 BTU rating, this portable air conditioner is also efficient at cooling down a room. You can also set the fan speed between a low and a high setting for more flexibility in how you cool your room. The unit features a two-way up/down air deflection feature that circulates the air in a more efficient manner for even cooling.
- Flexible operation options. The Costway portable air conditioner with dehumidifier allows you flexible options with programmable timers, a Sleep mode and an intelligent temperature sensor that accurately measures how hot or cold the air in your room is. You can also operate the air conditioner with the included remote control.
- Noisy. The unit can get loud during operation, especially when you have the fan speed set to the higher setting.
Best Evaporative Portable Air Conditioner
If you’re looking for an air conditioner that can add humidity to the air in a room, consider purchasing an evaporative portable air conditioner. These types of air conditioners act as mini swamp coolers, cooling an area while also adding moisture to the air. These air coolers typically feature a water tank from which the moisture is pulled and distributed throughout the room. These air conditioners can vary greatly in size, capacity and power.
The Honeywell CO60PM is a powerful air conditioner that adds moisture to the air around you, making it a perfect choice for dry and hot climates. It features a large moisture container capacity and can even be used outside. This portable air conditioner is a versatile and reliable choice for evaporative air conditioners.
Why We Recommend It
- Efficiently adds moisture to the air. The main selling point for this portable air conditioner is its ability to add moisture to the air in an efficient way. The unit features a 125-pint water storage tank and built-in overflow protection so you can use it for longer periods of time without needing to watch it.
- No permanent installation. Unlike traditional portable air conditioners, the Honeywell CO60PM doesn’t require a permanent window installation. Instead, it’s better to use this in spaces where there are open windows and doors. This makes it incredibly portable and even more convenient.
- Can be used outdoors. This evaporative portable air conditioner is manufactured using durable and sturdy materials that can be used outdoors. It’s also weather resistant, meaning it won’t get ruined by a little rain or the wind.
- Powerful cooling solution. The Honeywell CO60PM is a powerful cooling solution that can keep any area up to 850 square feet cool, whether indoors or outdoors. The fan on the unit blows air at a rate of 1540 CFM, which is much higher than most of the models on the market.
- Doesn’t cool as well as traditional air conditioners. This evaporative air cooler doesn’t cool in the same way as traditional portable air conditioners and therefore doesn’t create as cold of air.