Best Portable Air Conditioners in 2021: Buying Guide

When temperatures rise, it’s hard to stay cool, calm, and collected—especially if your home doesn’t have any cooling system. But don’t sweat it! There’s plenty of affordable, portable air conditioners on the market today to keep you and your family chilled and feeling refreshed.

Unlike other air conditioners, such as window or split air conditioning units, portable versions don’t need to be permanently installed. They can be moved around your home and put to work immediately. There only has to be some form of venting available, such as an open window.

In this article, we’ll look at the pros and cons of using portable air conditioners to keep your home cool and comfortable. We’ll also explore what you’ll need to consider before making a purchase. Read on—with our advice, you’re guaranteed to be one cool customer!

We would like to inform you about portable air conditioners and helping you find the right model to meet your cooling needs. We will provide you with unbiased ratings on each air conditioner, an outline of important features, as well as how each manufacturer stacks up head to head.

Ultimate Portable Air Conditioner Guide

Portable Air Conditioner | Recommended

Our Pick No. 1
LG 6,000 BTU (DOE) / 8,000 BTU (ASHRAE) Portable...
LG 6,000 BTU (DOE) / 8,000 BTU (ASHRAE) Portable...
AUTO SWING AIR VENT - Oscillating air vent circulates air evenly to avoid hot spots.; MULTIPLE FAN SPEEDS - 2 cooling and fan speeds allow you to customize your cooling.

Last update on 2021-12-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Portable Air Conditioner | Recommended

Last update on 2021-12-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


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Introduction

Portable air conditioners are truly unique in that they are portable and can be easily moved from location to location. Though they still have an exhaust tube that must be vented out somewhere, they are truly portable in the sense that they require no permanent installation.

Most portable air conditioners come with what is called a window venting kit. This venting kit easily slides into a window as seen in the diagram to the right.

The exhaust hose is easily fit into the appropriate space in the window kit, and the unit is ready to go.

Portable air conditioners virtually always have caster wheels for portability. They consist of one “box” that holds both the hot and cold side of the air conditioner in one and they use their exhaust hose to expel heat. There are several ways to get rid of the water that the air conditioner condenses out of the air. Most units collect this water in an internal drain bucket, but some units exhaust the water through their drain hose.

Some units have pumps that pump the condensate water out through a tube in their drain hose. Most models that collect condensate water in an internal bucket can also be adapted for direct drain off.

Some Advantages and Disadvantages of Portable Air Conditioners

As with any type of home appliance, portable air conditioners come with their own pros and cons. It’s important to consider all of these factors before going ahead and purchasing one. Here, we’ll turn up the heat on these devices to determine how effective they’ll be in cooling your home.

The Pros

A clue’s in its name—a portable air conditioner can be moved around your home from living space to living space or room to room. If there’s close and easy access to a window (for the back exhaust pipe), the appliance can be placed anywhere. During the times it’s not in use, it can be stored away.

Portable units are an excellent cooling solution for renters who may not be allowed to install (or don’t want to pay for) a permanent model. And when they move out of their accommodation, they can take the air conditioning with them!

It’s often cheaper to purchase a portable version than a conventional cooling system. Plus, you can simply plug in your portable appliance and use it straight away. You have to wait for a split air or window air conditioner to be installed (often by a professional).

Overall, portable air conditioners are a simple, hassle-free way to cool down any area of your home. If you’re on a tight budget or need a quick cooling fix, these appliances can save the day.

The Cons

Brands and models vary, but overall, portable units tend to be less powerful than other forms of air conditioning (except for portable fan coolers).

Although they can be moved around your room or home, they always need to have an outlet for the pipe that expels the heat they create (i.e., a window). This means that they are limited to certain rooms or specific areas within a space (and as far as the outlet hose extends).

Portable coolers aren’t as effective in cooling larger rooms. If you need to cool a big room or adjoining rooms, you usually have to purchase a larger unit. This will entail a higher price tag, and these types of appliances are less eco-friendly.

Regarding their power to price ratio, portable air conditioners are relatively expensive compared to conventional coolers.

Portable air conditioners aren’t as energy efficient as other air cooling systems. They have to use more energy to achieve and maintain the cooler temperatures that you want.

What Portable Air Conditioner features are most important to you?

There are some different features on portable air conditioners that you need to be aware of. There are many features to consider. All portable units must be vented, for example. Some of the main features to consider are listed below. To read up on all of the different features and models of portable ac’s, visit our Portable Air Conditioner Overview.

Once you’ve decided on the above factors, you may want to think about some other features that can add to the convenience of the air conditioner:

Air filtration: all models have some form of air filter. Better models have better filters that can clean your air while air conditioning
Remote control- some units can be controlled from across the room.
Manual vs. electronic controls: manual models can be simpler to use and they often offer superior timers to electronic models, but electronic models usually offer more advanced features.
Noise level: though many of today’s air conditioners are quieter than older models, you still might want to consider their noise level. Often noise levels are given in Decibel ratings. The higher the Decibel level, the louder the unit is, and every 10 decibel increase is an increase in the sound pressure by a factor of ten (60 Decibels is 10 times louder than 50 Decibels and 100 times louder than 40 Decibels, for example).
Timer and sleep function: a timer allows you to save energy by only running the air conditioner at set times. For example, you might set the air conditioner only run when you anticipate being at home- and not wasting energy by cooling your room when no one is in the room. Sleep timers also help save energy by cooling less after the air conditioner has been running for a set time. This way, you set the air conditioner to run while you are going to sleep and it continues running while you sleep, but at a lower level (i.e., the temperature in the room is allowed to rise a bit) while you sleep.
Air output: almost all models have at least two different settings for airflow. You might want more settings to increase the versatility of cooling. Also pay attention to the Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM) rating. CFM is a measure of the volume of air blown. The higher the CFM, the more airflow the unit kicks out.
Heating options: some portable air conditioners can heat as well as cool. This can be useful in the winter time- enabling you to use your air conditioner year-round
Louver adjustability: the more ways you can adjust the louvers (up/down, side-to-side), the more options you have for directing airflow. Also, some units can be set to “swing”, so they blow out cool air from several different positions.
Air conditioner physical size and appearance: some air conditioners are smaller and/or more pleasing to the eye than others.

Our Recommended Portable Air Conditioner in 2021

8) BLACK+DECKER BPACT08WT Portable Air Conditioner

From BLACK+DECKER, we have the BPACT08WT Portable Air Conditioner. With this portable air conditioner, you can easily cool a 200 square-foot space and produce temperatures that are no lower than 65-degrees.

Setting up the BLACK+DECKER BPACT08WT portable air conditioner is very easy. BLACK+DECKER includes all of the components that you need, and this portable air conditioner is completely lacking in complexity.

By using this portable air conditioner, you can cool and dehumidify your space. The dehumidification function is very nice, and it uses a self-evaporative system. That way, there’s no need to empty a bucket of moisture out on a regular basis.

BLACK+DECKER BPACT08WT Portable Air Conditioner...
  • QUIET & POWERFUL - Our 4,000 BTU (8,000 BTU ASHRAE) compact air conditioner (16.5 x 11.5 x 26 in,) will keep...
  • PERFECT FOR SMALL ROOMS - This floor-standing portable AC unit provides steady, fast, effective cooling for...
  • SIMPLE & QUICK TO INSTALL – Just wheel this portable air conditioner into any room with a double hung or...

Last update on 2021-12-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

7) SereneLife 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

The SereneLife 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner is a portable air conditioner that serves many purposes. It is a great purchase if you’re looking for a portable air conditioner that is more than just a portable air conditioner.

By using the SereneLife portable air conditioner, you have access to an air conditioner, a dehumidifier, a fan, and a heater. Because of that, this portable air conditioner serves many purposes, and fulfills them all very well.

Setting up this portable air conditioner is very easy, because SereneLife includes everything that you need. Making use of each mode and setting is easy, due to a very nice remote control.

Portable Air Conditioner and Heater - Compact Home...
  • Lightweight & Portable AC Unit
  • Compact Freestanding Room Air Conditioner& Heater
  • (4) Operation Modes: AC Cool / Heat / Dehumidifier / Fan

Last update on 2021-12-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

6) Whynter Elite ARC-122DS

The ARC-122DS by Whynter is a favorite portable air conditioner for many reasons. The Good Housekeeping Award winner of 2019 is a dual-hose unit, meaning that it can displace warm air with chilled air much more efficiently than simple single-hose models.

It’s a 12,000-BTU that can cool 400-square-foot rooms in a matter of minutes while using much less energy than other comparable models. This unit also doubles as a dehumidifier that removes up to 76 pints per day of moisture. Another thing that customers love about the ARC-122DS is its ultra-quiet operation (around 52 decibels). It also has an activated carbon filter, though its lifespan isn’t the best.

Whynter Elite ARC-122DS 12,000 BTU Dual Hose...
  • 12,000 BTU (ASHRAE) / 7,000 BTU (SACC) cooling capacity
  • Three operational modes: air conditioner, fan or dehumidifier. This unit can cool up to a 400 square feet...
  • Full installation set includes extendable exhaust and intake hose (up to 60") and window kit: 6.5" W x 20"...

Last update on 2021-12-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

5) TOSOT 8,000 BTU

For close to two decades, TOSOT has been supplying homeowners with reliable air conditioners summer after summer. The company’s 8,000-BTU portable AC does well at preserving the company’s good name. Sporting an Energy Star label, the TOSOT portable air conditioner runs on very little power, while also cooling 350-square-foot rooms in mere minutes.

This is a single-hose unit that doesn’t perform as efficiently as its dual-hose counterparts, but customers were surprised by both its cooling capabilities and affordability. This is a 3-in-1 device that serves as an air conditioner, a regular fan, and a dehumidifier that re-condenses as much as 55 pints of water vapor daily.

TOSOT 8,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner Quiet,...
  • Powerful Cooling: Cool spaces up to 300 square feet with an ASHRAE-rated 8,000 BTUs of cool air (5,000 BTU...
  • 1 Product, 3 Uses: This is not only a Portable AC but also a fan and dehumidifier capable of removing 2.3...
  • Sleep Well: Sleep through the night with lower noise mode. You can also use the sleep function to adjust your...

Last update on 2021-12-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

4) MIDEA MAP08R1CWT

The MAP08R1CWT by Midea is an 8,000-BTU, single-hose portable air conditioner on the lower-cost end of the price spectrum. As such, it has a maximum reach of just 150 square feet, so it works best in apartments, bedrooms, and home office units. Like any single-hose portable AC, the MAP08R1CWT can be set up in just five minutes or less.

Simply install the adjustable window bracket (fits windows of between 26.5 and 48 inches), attach the exhaust hose to the unit, plug it in, and you’re all set. While Midea doesn’t provide a PPD rating for the dehumidifier function, customer reports show that it can remove upwards of 50 pints of water per day.

MIDEA 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner,...
  • EasyCool: The Midea Portable Air Conditioner, ASHRAE rating 8,000 BTU (5300 BTU 2017 SACC standard) delivers...
  • EFFORTLESS OPERATION: Enjoy the simplicity and comfort of digital controls. The portable AC features an...
  • EASY INSTALLATION: Roll your air conditioner to the preferred cooling area, attach the 5ft hose and adjustable...

Last update on 2021-12-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

3) BLACK+DECKER BPT05WTBA

BLACK+DECKER isn’t particularly known for its lineup of portable air conditioners, which is a true shame considering how top-notch the BPT05WTBA is. The 8,500-BTU unit is built to bring the temperature down to around 64 degrees in 150-square-foot rooms in under an hour.

The durable casters allow you to easily roll the unit from room to room, wherever you need chilled air the most. One nifty feature in the included remote control is the FOLLOW ME function. The RC doubles as a thermostat, which sends temperature readings to the portable AC and automatically adjusts temperature depending on how high or low the reading is.

BLACK+DECKER BPT05WTBA Portable Air Conditioner...
  • FOLLOW ME FUNCTION - The easy to use remote control includes a FOLLOW ME function, which allows the remote to...
  • QUIET & POWERFUL - Our 5,000 BTU SACC/CEC (8,500 BTU ASHRAE) compact air conditioner (16.5 x 12.2 x 27.6 in.)...
  • PERFECT FOR SMALL ROOMS - This floor-standing portable AC unit provides steady, fast, effective cooling for...

Last update on 2021-12-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2) Whynter ARC-14S

The Whynter ARC-14S is a massive 14,000-BTU stand-alone air conditioning unit equipped with a carbon activated filter, dehumidifying coils (71 pints per day) with self-evaporation, and eco-friendly refrigerants. As a dual-hose air conditioner, it simultaneously removes warm air from indoor spaces while introducing chilled air for quicker cooling performance.

This portable air conditioner has a maximum area coverage of about 500 square feet, making it the ideal cooling solution for large rooms and cabins. Weighing around 80 pounds, the ARC-14S is not lightweight by any standard, but the durable casters beneath the unit should ensure seamless movement from room to room.

Whynter ARC-14S 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air...
  • 14,000 BTU (ASHRAE) / 9,500 BTU (SACC) cooling capacity. Intake / Exhaust hoses: Based on the version of the...
  • Award Winning: 1. Good Housekeeping's "2020 Best Overall" and "can cool down a room faster than other portable...
  • Dual hose operation; Cools up to a 500 square feet space(ambient temperature and humidity may influence...

Last update on 2021-12-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

1) BLACK+DECKER BPACT12WT

The BPACT12WT is another small-sized air conditioning unit by BLACK+DECKER. Although it has a BTU rating of 12,000, it’s designed specifically to cool down rooms of 150 square feet at max. That said, you can expect more efficient cooling capabilities with this unit in your home or apartment. Like most portable air conditioners, the BPACT12WT also has a dehumidifying function to re-condense 50 pints of water vapor daily.

This model isn’t whisper-quiet by any standards, but it doesn’t hum as loudly as most portable cooling systems. The main issue customers have with the BPACT12WT is the somewhat tricky window bracket—some DIY skills required to put it together.

BLACK+DECKER Portable Air Conditioner with Remote...
  • QUIET & POWERFUL - Our 5,950 BTU DOE (12,000 BTU ASHRAE) compact air conditioner (17.1 x 13.8 x 28.1 in,) will...
  • PERFECT FOR SMALL ROOMS - This floor-standing portable AC unit provides steady, fast, effective cooling for...
  • SIMPLE & QUICK TO INSTALL – Just wheel this portable air conditioner into any room with a double hung or...

Last update on 2021-12-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Portable Air Conditioner Buyer’s Guide

One of the great advantages of portable air conditioners is the fact that installation is easy and they can be moved from room to room as needed. portable air conditioners are one of the newest types of air conditioners. Though they still have an exhaust tube that must be vented out somewhere, they are truly portable in the sense that they require no permanent installation.

Portable Air Conditioners are relatively simple units, however there are different features that you might be interested in. The first feature you should consider is the size of the room that you need to cool. We offer a very simple chart in our buyer’s guide section to show a general idea of the size air conditioner needed for different room sizes. Some other features that we feel are important to consider are:

Portable Air Conditioners: Features to Consider

Before we explore portable air conditioners in greater depth, let’s look at how they work. Put simply, the unit uses its fan to draw in hot and humid air from the room. This air is then cooled inside its motor using condenser coils while the moisture is simultaneously extracted onto the coils. The cool air is then expelled and circulated around the room. The extracted moisture and heat are then removed through an exhaust hose placed outside a window.

Most modern portable air conditioning units are self-evaporative, meaning that the collected water vapor is vented to the outside. Some models still require manual emptying of an internal water tank, but this is not as common.

Portable air conditioners generally don’t provide as many features and options as fitted air conditioning units. However, several factors vary from model to model that you’ll need to consider before making your purchase. Not all portable coolers are alike, and certain models may be a better fit for your home than others. When the heat is on, keep a cool head by bearing in mind the following.

Single or Dual Hosed

All portable air conditioners will vent hot air from the unit to outside the home using an exhaust hose located at the back, which is placed outside a window. Where they differ is whether they use one or two back exhaust hoses.

A single-hosed unit draws in air from the room and expels warm air and moisture outside. As the air inside the room is constantly being pushed out, “negative air pressure” is created, which has to be balanced somehow. This means that warm air will seep into the room in any way it can (through doorways, cracks, etc.), which means that the cooling unit has to work harder to keep the room cool.

Dual-hosed units, on the other hand, tend to be more effective and energy-efficient. They use two separate exhaust hoses—one expels warm air and moisture to the outside, and one pulls in air from the outside, which is used to cool the unit’s components as it works. These appliances need less power to cool a room and can do so more quickly than single-hosed versions.

Although they tend to be more expensive than single-hosed units, a dual-hosed portable air conditioner will save you money on energy bills in the long run.

Room Size

It’s essential to determine what size spaces you want the portable air conditioner to cool. An air coolers’ power is rated using British Thermal Units (BTUs). If it has a higher BTU rating, the more cooling power it has and can therefore cover a larger area. If you pick a portable unit with too few BTUs for your room, it won’t be powerful enough to provide the cooling you require. On the other hand, if you select an appliance that’s too powerful for the area you need to cool, you’ll be wasting your money, energy and harming the environment.

The basic rule of thumb for determining appropriate cooling power is it takes approximately 20 BTUs to cool one square foot of space. Use the following figures as a guideline (for a standard room with eight-foot ceilings) when choosing your portable air conditioner:

For 300 square feet or less, use 10,000 BTUs
For 500 square feet, use 10,000 to 14,000 BTUs
For over 500 square feet, use 14,000+ BTUs

Remember that these are only approximate figures. When calculating the number of BTUs most suitable for your space, you’ll also need to consider ceiling height and room shape. Additionally, certain rooms will be inherently warmer than others (e.g., kitchens tend to be hotter than garages). Other factors to bear in mind are the amount of sunlight your room receives, the amount of insulation it has, and the number of room occupants.

All of these elements influence how much power your cooler will need to achieve the optimal cool temperature. Therefore, if a room is fundamentally warmer and with high ceilings, you’ll need to increase the BTU capacity on top of the average calculation.

Energy Efficiency

The energy efficiency of your portable air conditioner is essential—for keeping your energy bills down and for helping the environment. To help you determine a unit’s energy efficiency, look out for its Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER). The higher the EER, the more energy-efficient it is, as it indicates how many BTUs are used per one watt of power. Also, make sure that you choose an Energy Star certified unit. This will ensure that it’s met strict energy-efficient requirements through rigorous verification testing.
The U.S. Department of Energy states that to get the best energy efficiency and save energy bills, you’ll need to use an air conditioner of an EER of at least 10.0.

Wheels/Casters

Unfortunately, “portable” doesn’t necessarily mean that the air conditioning unit will be easily lifted or moveable. In fact, many of these appliances are deceptively heavy and bulky. Therefore, to save you from back pain and effort, make sure to choose a model that includes wheels or casters that allow you to move it easily from room to room or area to area.
Bear in mind, however, that it may be tricky to roll these appliances along any carpeted floor or across floor moldings or doorways.

Dehumidifier

Most evaporative air conditioners also act as dehumidifiers (i.e., they reduce moisture in the room’s air). This means that in humid climates, you’ll be left with cooler, dryer air that feels more comfortable to be in.

However, if you’re already living in a dry environment, it may be worth checking out swamp coolers instead. These portable units work to cool a room by passing warm air over an internal wet pad. The pad’s water evaporates into and cools the air. This air is therefore made moist (humid) before being pushed into the room.

A downside to swamp coolers is that they require more maintenance. They also need a reliable and regular water source. Plus, the amount of water that the unit uses has to be carefully monitored and controlled.

Adjustable Speeds

Adjustable fan speed on a portable air conditioner can be an extremely convenient feature. Cooling appliances with adjustable speeds allow you to choose and control different cooling effects. You can program them to provide quick, powerful airflow when a room needs an immediate cooldown. Or you can adjust the fan for more regular airflow when only a slight cooling effect is required. A low speed can help to maintain the room’s temperature once the optimum temperature has been achieved.

Multiple speeds mean better energy efficiency, as you can adjust the power your air conditioner is using according to your specific needs. This way, you’ll only be spending money on the electricity you actually need to effectively run your cooler.

Temperature Range

Opting for a portable air conditioner with the option of adjusting the cooling temperature allows you to switch up the temperature of a room according to personal preference. Often, rooms on higher levels will require cooler temperatures, while lower floor rooms (such as basements) won’t need to be cooled down as much.

Plus, many people live in areas where temperatures vary widely throughout the day. Therefore, being able to adjust the temperature of your cooling appliance according to altering outside temperatures is a handy feature.

Timer

Looking to schedule your air conditioner to turn and off at certain times of the day? Go for one with a timer option. This will save you time and effort, as well as helping you to reduce your energy bills.

Noise control

Unlike conventional air conditioners, portable air conditioners’ components are contained in one casing, including the compressor. This means that there’s inevitably some amount of noise produced while the unit is operating. However, you can find models (usually on the more expensive side) that incorporate features to help reduce noise levels.

Do your research and find out the manufacturer’s noise rating (in decibels, i.e., dB) for each appliance you’re interested in. Ideally, you’ll want to find a unit that keeps to medium noise intensity or less (55 dB or below).

Suppose the unit has special features such as sleep mode, multiple speeds, and a timer. In that case, any sound it makes will likely be minimized as it won’t be continuously running on a high level. Also, other factors, such as carpeting, wall hangings, wrapping blankets or rugs around the unit, keeping the unit’s nuts and bolts tightly screwed, and covering the appliance in special insulation will help reduce noise levels.

Window Kits

As we’ve mentioned, you’ll need to place the exhaust hose that runs out the back of your unit out of a window. This ensures that any hot air produced by the appliance (and from the room) will be removed safely and effectively. Most portable air conditioners come with window kits that allow you to install this feature simply and quickly.
A downside to this is that you’ll need to repeat this installation process each time you move your portable air conditioner to another area or room. Also, unless you have a window nearby, you won’t be able to use your unit.

Remote Control

You’ll find that most modern portable air conditioning units come with remote controls for convenience and ease of use. This allows you to operate the cooler with just the touch of a button. From fan speed to temperature to timing functions to cooling options (fan only, dehumidifying, etc.), all of these features can be easily adjusted according to your personal requirements.

Wi-Fi

Like many household appliances on the market today, you have the option of picking a portable air conditioner with Wi-Fi connectivity. These units allow you to control them through a smartphone app. Many will even have the option of using voice commands through a virtual assistant. This is undoubtedly an innovative and fresh way of keeping your home cool.

Drip vs. No drip portable AC models

Drip models are generally less expensive, but will have small trays that will need to be emptied every 24-48 hours. No drip portable air conditioners do not produce any excess water. These models generally cost more.

No drip units are very attractive to some people because unlike their limited drip counterparts, the excess water they produce is evaporated into the air. Therefore, if you are in a situation where you need to run the unit for several days straight, you will not have to worry about emptying the water bucket that you have to use in a limited drip unit.

One of the most common uses for no drip models is in a server room where making sure expensive hardware not only stays cool, but stays dry. Generally, no drip units will be slightly more expensive than limited drip models.

Single Exhaust vs. Dual Exhaust portable ACs
Dual exhaust portable air conditioners offer the advantage of circulating cleaner air in the area you are trying to cool as well as cooling more quickly than single exhaust units.

Since portable air conditioners have both the hot and cold sides of the air conditioning cycle contained in one box, they have to cool their condenser coil with air they intake from the room they are cooling, and then this air is expelled through their exhaust hose.

For this reason, portable air conditioners usually create a negative air pressure in the room in which they are run- air is continually seeping into this room from the rest of the house or building to replace the air that the portable air conditioner expels.

Some portable air conditioner units have solved this problem with a two-hose connection to the outside- one hose to intake air to use to cool the compressor and one hose to expel this air. In fact, most industrial portable air conditioners use this type of set up.

Dual hose units will circulate fresh air better than their single tube counterparts. Also, dual tube exhaust units will cool the air more quickly than single hose units.

Portable ACs vs. Portable ACs + heaters vs. Portable ACs + dehumidifiers

Determine if a heater or dehumidifier are important features for you before buying.

Buying the right sized portable air conditioner is the most important thing to consider. However, that does not mean you should automatically buy the largest model possible for your room. You will save money on electricity by finding the right portable air conditioner for your living area.

For a more detailed analysis of BTU requirements visit our section on calculating portable air conditioner size.

Single Hose Exhaust Units

Below you can find listings for all of the single tube exhaust portable air conditioners that we carry. All of the models that you will find on this page will work similarly, but have some important features that you need to consider before purchasing.

Since portable air conditioners have both the hot and cold sides of the air conditioning cycle contained in one box, they have to cool their condenser coil with air they intake from the room they are cooling, and then this air is expelled through their exhaust hose.

For this reason these units usually create a negative air pressure in the room in which they are run- air is continually seeping into this room from the rest of the house or building to replace the air that the portable air conditioner expels.

Some portable air conditioner units have solved this problem with a two-hose connection to the outside- one hose to intake air to use to cool the compressor and one hose to expel this air. In fact, most industrial portable air conditioners use this type of set up.

The models you will find on this page are single tube exhaust units. These units will not circulate fresh air as well as their dual tube hose counterparts. Also, dual tube exhaust units will cool the air more quickly than single hose units.

Please be aware that the dual hose or single hose function does not affect the size of the room that each unit can cool. This is determined by the BTU capacity. Please ask yourself the questions below before buying as well.

Limited Drip Portable Air Conditioner Units

Limited drip models will produce some water accumulation as they cool your room. All units will come with a drip tray that will need to be emptied periodically depending on the model you are interested in.

Most units can run from 24-48 hours before they need to be emptied. You may also want to connect the drip hose to a larger bucket so that you do not have to empty the water as frequently. If you would rather not have to worry about water accumulation, a no drip unit may be attractive to you because the excess water they produce is evaporated into the air.

Therefore, if you are in a situation where you need to run the unit for several days straight, you will not have to worry about emptying the water bucket that you have to use in a limited drip unit.

One of the most common uses for no drip models is in a server room where making sure expensive hardware not only stays cool, but stays dry. Generally, no drip units will be slightly more expensive than limited drip models. Other features to consider include:

What size room do I need to cool? All of our models list the maximum room size they will comfortably cool. You can also user our BTU Calculator to get an estimate.

Portable Air Conditioner Installation

One of the great advantages of Portable Air Conditioners is the fact that installation is easy and they can be moved from room to room as needed. Portable air conditioners are truly unique in that they are portable and can be easily moved from location to location.

Though they still have an exhaust tube that must be vented out somewhere, they are truly portable in the sense that they require no permanent installation.

Most portable air conditioners come with what is called a window venting kit. This venting kit easily slides into a window as seen in the diagram to the right. The exhaust hose is easily fit into the appropriate space in the window kit, and the unit is ready to go.

Portable air conditioners can be vented in a variety of other ways as well. Other ways people vent the units include through a wall or a ceiling tile. These installation methods require a little more work than using the window venting kit, but will allow you to use the portable air conditioner in rooms that may not have a window.

Please note that different brands have different window venting kits that will extend to different lengths

Installation

Portable air conditioners come with installation instructions and kits for installation into windows. Here are a few tips for what a standard installation might entail. Of course, you should follow the installation instructions that come with your portable air conditioner.

Location

This is one of the main advantages of portable air conditioners- they can be installed in many places that other air conditioners cannot. However, the easiest installation is into a standard sliding window. Due to the design of the venting kit, it is equally easy to install one of these units into a standard double-hung window or a side-to-side slider window.

Portable AC Energy Efficiency and BTUS

A few basic concepts to understand when you are shopping for portable air conditioner are BTU, EER, and SEER.

BTU

BTU stands for British Thermal Units. Portable air conditioners (as are all air conditioners) are given BTU ratings to show their cooling capacity. In technical terms, one BTU is the amount of heat needed to bring the temperature of one pound of water up by one degree Fahrenheit. You may have also heard of air conditioner capacity referred to by the ton.

In the parlance of HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning), one ton equals 12,000 BTU.

You can use BTU ratings to determine what size air conditioner you need to cool your space. Generally speaking, you need 20-30 BTU per square foot that you need cooled. However, if the area to be cooled has factors that increase or decrease the load on the air conditioner, you will need to alter your estimate of your BTU requirements. Here is a chart that estimates BTU requirements per square foot:

Here are a few factors that might increase or decrease the BTU capacity that you require:

– Reduce your required capacity by 10% if your room is heavily shaded
– Increase your capacity by 10% if your room is very sunny
– Add 600 BTU to your capacity each additional person (beyond two people) that regularly occupies the room
– Add 4,000 BTU if the room is a kitchen

EER

EER stands for the Energy Efficiency Rating. Essentially, the EER lets you know how much cooling capacity from a given amount of electricity. The higher the EER, the more energy efficient an air conditioner is. If you are comparing two air conditioners with similar BTU capacity, you might check out their EER to help you make a decision. An air conditioner’s EER is found by dividing its BTU capacity by its running wattage.

To put it another way, the higher the EER, the less energy the air conditioner consumes in order to produce cooling. However, portable air conditioner units with higher EER generally cost more up-front than less efficient units. Generally, an EER of 10 or above is considered good, and EnergyStar air conditioners have are rated with a 10.7 EER or higher.

We’ve explored the different features to look out for when purchasing a portable air conditioning unit. You can see how it’s essential to pick out the right cooler for your specific home and requirements. It may be tempting to save money and opt for a cheaper appliance, but you may find yourself losing money through upkeep and energy bills in the long term. By finding the right balance between cost and efficiency, you’re sure to keep a cool head when the heat is on.

FAQs

Now let’s delve into some common burning questions people have about portable air conditioners. These answers will help you to decide if they are effective cooling appliances or just a load of hot air.

What is a portable air conditioner?


A portable air conditioner is an air conditioner that is mobile. Unlike window, through-the-wall, or central air conditioning units, portable air conditioners do not require permanent installation. Commonly, these units have caster wheels for easy portability and are 28″ to 34″ tall.

Do portable air conditioners require venting?


Yes, all portable air conditioners need to vent the hot air they remove from the room. These units commonly come with hoses to vent the exhaust and window filler kits to allow you to properly vent out of most windows.

However, you do not need to vent the hot air out a window. The window venting kits also fit most sliding glass doors, or you may make a custom modification and vent the exhaust through a wall or into a drop ceiling. For these applications, you may have to extend the vent hose.

Can’t I just let the portable air conditioner run without a vent?


Portable air conditioners are designed to operate with a vent. If you do not vent the hot air that the machine is pumping out somewhere (other than the same room that you are trying to cool), the portable air conditioner will not be able to cool very effectively at all.

If one of these machines is run in a room without a vent, the best-case scenario would be that the area immediately in front of the machine would get cooled, but the area behind the machine would get very hot, so the room would not really get cool at all.

How do I use the window venting kit? Does it fit my window?


The window venting kit is essentially a “filler” kit to allow the end of the exhaust hose to vent out the window without allowing hot air from the outside in around the vent hose. The window vent kits fit most windows and glass doors that slide to open (this includes sliding glass doors and windows that slide both vertically and horizontally).

These units do not come with a filler kit to fit casement (crank-out) windows, but with a little ingenuity, you should be able to devise some sort of filler kit.

How long is the exhaust hose that the portable air conditioner comes with?


Exhaust hose lengths vary by model, but generally they are 4-7 feet in length. They are made of a temperature-resistant plastic reinforced with metal.

How Can I Extend the Exhaust Hose?

You may purchase more exhaust hosing at your local hardware store and either replace the hose entirely or connect the hose provided with the portable air conditioner to the new hose. The new hosing must be the same diameter as the exhaust hose provided with the unit. If you cannot find a similar hose, plastic piping can be used. However, you should note that the longer the exhaust hose gets, the less efficiently the portable air conditioner will cool.

Generally speaking, you should avoid making the exhaust hose longer than 9-10 feet unless you devise some sort of exhaust fan to help clear the exhaust hose. Also please note that any 90° or greater turns in the exhaust hose substantially decrease the effective length of the exhaust hose.

Can I vent a portable air conditioner out a dryer vent?


Generally, this is not recommended by the manufacturer, especially if the diameter of the vent hose is greater than the diameter of the dryer vent. A standard dryer vent is 4″. Most portable air conditioners have 5″ exhaust hoses. Some units have smaller diameter vent hoses (the Delonghi units, for example) and these units may be vented out a dryer vent.

However, you should not use the external part of the dryer vent that has flaps, as the compressor is not strong enough to push these flaps open. If you need to cover that exterior opening of the vent, we recommend using a screen.

Why do portable air conditioners collect water?


As portable air conditioners cool the air, they also dehumidify it. The water they condense out of the air is dripped into some sort of internal reservoir or exhausted out the exhaust hose. Most portable air conditioners collect some or all of the water they condense out of the air internally.

These portable air conditioners also have an option to accept a drain line for a continuously draining connection. Another option is the line of portable air conditioners by Delonghi, which use some of the water collected from the air internally and exhaust the rest.

If I use the external drain option, how far can the water drain?


None of the portable air conditioners that we carry come with drain pumps- they all come with gravity drains. This means that the water can drain “down hill”, and as far away from the machine as gravity will take it. Commonly, the drain line is run to the outside or to a large bucket that is then periodically emptied.

If you would like a drain pump so you can drain the water to somewhere farther away or “up hill”, we do offer a separate pump.

What type of electricity do portable air conditioners use?


All of the portable air conditioners that we carry operate on 115 Volt/ 60 Hertz. This is standard household voltage. These units come with a “three prong” grounded plug.

Are portable air conditioners energy efficient?


A good rule of thumb is to look at the Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) of the air conditioner you are purchasing. The higher the EER, the more energy efficient the air conditioner.

To look at energy efficiency another way, consider this: A portable air conditioner allows you to cool one area.

If you have central air and you want just this one area cooled, you would have to lower the temperature of the entire house as well. So, if you have a home or apartment and you want to keep just a single room cool, a portable air conditioner can save a lot of energy.

Do I need a model with the heater or dehumidifier feature?

Drip vs. No Drip: Do you mind emptying a small tray of water every day or so, or would you be willing to pay more for a model that does not require this. Again, all models will state whether they are a drip or no drip model.

There are many other small features to consider as well. Each product you view will have detailed information to help you make your decision.

Do I need a model with the heater or dehumidifier feature?

Drip vs. No Drip: Do you mind emptying a small tray of water every day or so, or would you be willing to pay more for a model that does not require this. Again, all models will state whether they are a drip or no drip model.

There are many other small features to consider as well. Each product you view will have detailed information to help you make your decision.

Can I use a portable air conditioner to cool my server room?


Although these are not industrial machines, this is an excellent use for a portable air conditioner. Even with central air, computer server rooms have more robust cooling needs than other parts of the building tend to require. A portable air conditioner works well to boost the cooling in a server room

Is a portable air cooler the same thing as a portable air conditioner?


No. An air cooler uses water and evaporative cooling to lower the temperature of its airstream, often by as much as 12°F. However, air coolers will not lower the temperature in a room- they only make it feel cooler in the airstream provided by the unit.

Additionally, you must add water to evaporative coolers for maximum effectiveness, and they do not need to be vented.

How can I decide which unit is right for me?


There are many ways to decide. Here are a few things you might want to consider:

What size room do you need to cool?

If you get a unit that doesn’t have enough capacity to properly cool your room, it will probably run all the time and not lower the temperature as much as you would like. On the other hand, if you get a unit that is substantially too powerful, it will run for too short a time, quickly bringing the room to the desired temperature and the compressor will shut off.

Under this scenario, the compressor may not run long enough to properly dehumidify your room, and your room will be the desired temperature, but you may have a higher humidity level than you’d like.

Also please note that the room sizes that each machine is rated for are approximations and high levels of sun, high ceilings, or the presence of people, computers, machinery, and the like will increase the cooling burden in the room. Also, most portable air conditioners have different fan settings to help alleviate the problem of too much cooling power.

Are you going to move the portable air conditioner from room to room?

If you are moving a portable air conditioner often, you should consider the cooling needs of the different rooms that you will be using it in and try to get a model that bridges your needs well.

Consider whether you want a unit that drips all the moisture it collects, a unit that exhausts all the moisture, or one that combines the two approaches.

A portable air conditioner that drips all condensation will need to be emptied more often, but it will exhaust warm, dry air. A unit that exhausts all moisture will never need to be emptied, but the air it exhausts will be moist, and should not be vented somewhere that this moisture would create a problem (such as a dropped ceiling).

These units also tend to be a bit more expensive. Finally, a unit that combines these approaches will not have to be emptied of water as often as a model that drips all its moisture, but it will still exhaust a somewhat moist air stream.

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Is a portable air conditioner the right choice for me?


Portable air conditioners are great for specialized applications where central air or conventional window air conditioners are unfeasible or too expensive. If you have an area that needs cooling, but conventional air conditioners won’t work for you, a portable air conditioner could be the answer you are looking for.

Do Portable Air Conditioners Work As Well As Window Units?


The main reasons for getting a portable air conditioner are ease of installation, moveability, and price. But if you’re looking for a more energy-efficient way to cool your living space, you’re better off purchasing a permanent window or wall-mounted unit. Plus, fitted air conditioners tend to run quieter, cool larger areas, and come with a broader range of features and functions.

Portable units also have other disadvantages. There needs to be nearby access to a window to enable the installation of the exhaust pipe. This also means that it must be uninstalled and reinstalled every time you wish to move the air conditioner to another room or part of a room. Portable models also tend to be quite bulky, so you need to ensure that you have enough space in your room without them getting in the way. Additionally, they need to be placed far away enough from the wall to prevent restricted airflow, and the exhaust hose needs to be kept as straight as possible. Any kinks in the hose will reduce the unit’s effectiveness.

Generally, portable air conditioners are an appropriate cooling solution for those on a budget looking for an easy, temporary, and sometimes supplementary way to cool their living spaces.

When Does A Portable Air Conditioner Make More Sense To Use Than A Conventional, Fitted Unit?


You may be restricted in what appliances you can permanently install in your home (e.g., if you live in rented accommodation) or have limited space. In that case, a portable cooling unit can be the best solution for keeping you refreshed on hot days.

Fitted air conditioners tend to be more energy-efficient, saving you money in the long term. However, they’re also heavier, more complicated to install, can’t be used immediately on purchase, and can’t be moved around. Portable air conditioners allow for more flexibility. You can move them from room space to room space, room to room (provided you have a window), and even home to home.

Are There Portable Air Conditioners for Vehicles?


There are also portable air conditioning options for use in cars, trucks, and motorhomes. These work in a similar way to the mobile units you use in your home or office. You can even opt for battery-operated models if you don’t have an appropriate power source.

These are great coolers to have as backups or if your vehicle doesn’t have a standard air conditioning unit. The only drawback is that they tend to be quite bulky. Plus, depending on the size of your vehicle (e.g., if you have a large RV), you may need to use more than one for effective cooling.

What Is The Refrigeration Cycle in Air Conditioners?


The refrigeration cycle is what every portable air conditioner’s operation is based on. It involves hot, humid air being turned into cool air. This is achieved through several steps:

1. The portable air conditioner’s fan draws in hot, humid air from the room into the unit.
2. This air is then cooled down (and has its moisture removed) as it’s condensed on the unit’s internal cold coils. These coils (also known as evaporator coils) contain refrigerant fluid, then turned into gas when they receive the heat from the hot air.
3. The cool air is then transferred into the room through a vent.
4. The moisture collected inside the unit is then vented outside the window via the back exhaust pipe. If there’s no exhaust pipe for the moisture, it’ll gather in a bucket or reservoir in the tank, which will then have to be manually emptied.
5. On its condenser coils, the unit’s compressor will compress the refrigerant (as a gas). This process produces heat which is then vented through a back exhaust pipe outside of the window.
6. The cycle is repeated until the unit is switched off.

What Are Evaporative Cooling Air Conditioners?

These air conditioners are also known as swamp coolers. They work in a different way to air coolers that use the refrigeration cycle to cool air. Evaporative coolers are ideal for low humidity environments as they add moisture to the air that they’re cooling.

Simply put, they work by using a fan to draw in hot air from the outside. This air is then cooled as it passes over damp, evaporative pads inside the unit. This cool air is then blown into the room by a fan out through a vent. Evaporative cooling air conditioners need to have a regular supply of water to keep the evaporative pads wet.

The main advantage that an evaporative cooling unit has over a refrigeration cycle unit is that it’s much cheaper to run. Another bonus is that it provides humidity to arid areas, making the room it’s operating in more comfortable to be in. One major downside is that swamp coolers require more maintenance and upkeep than other portable air conditioners. Their cooling pads need to be regularly cleaned or changed, and their water supply needs to be constantly replenished.

Are Portable Air Conditioners Worth It?

Portable air conditioners are the coolheaded solution for consumers who need to simply, cheaply, and effectively cool small areas of their home. They’re ideal for people who require flexibility in moving the unit from room to room (provided that there’s a window for the exhaust pipe) or for people who only need a temporary means of cooling. As portable versions tend to be smaller than permanent units, they take up less space, and many can be easily stored away when not in use. Rather than forking out on expensive permanent air conditioning units, buyers have the option of buying this cheaper alternative that’s more efficient than electric fans.

However, portable air conditioners do have their disadvantages. They tend to be less powerful than traditional air conditioning systems and lack the variety of features and functions they provide. Plus, they tend to be less energy efficient, and consumers may find themselves spending more money on energy bills. Another downside is that portable coolers are less effective in cooling larger rooms or spaces.

All in all, if you’re looking for a temporary, quick way to cool a small space, there’s a great range of portable air conditioners to suit your home and the climate you live in. At affordable prices, you can find a nifty unit that’ll keep you cool and refreshed without burning a hole in your bank account.

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Last update on 2021-12-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Portable Air Conditioner | Recommended

Last update on 2021-12-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


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About the author

Hi I’m Alexander, founder of HouseholdMe.com and I’d like to say thank you for dropping by. Like most of you, the first thing I look at before buying something online is reviews or buying guides. By reading what other people say will help me gauge whether or not a product is good or not.  I am trying to help people find answers, solve problems, and get inspired.

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