Best Portable Air Conditioners 2022

Erin Browne

As the dog days of summer approach, there are a number of reasons you might be looking to invest in a portable air conditioner. Maybe your windows aren’t large enough for a window-mounted air conditioner or your favorite tower fan needs some assistance. No matter your reasons, portable ACs can help make hot days much more bearable, cooling down spaces up to 600 square feet or more. Some also do double duty, serving as a dehumidifier and space heater.

But how do you find the right portable air conditioner for your home? “The most important things to consider in your choice are the room size you need to cool, the location of ventilation and drainage,” says Chris Forbus, owner of Choice Air Care, an air conditioning and heating services company based in Frisco, Texas. The power of air conditioners is measured in BTUs, or British Thermal Units, and the higher the BTU rating, the more space the AC can cool down.

However, BTUs are measured using two different standards—there’s ASHRAE, which stands for the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, and DOE for the Department of Energy. The DOE number is generally a more accurate gauge of how well a portable air conditioner will perform, as it better accounts for how portable units operate inside a room. (For more details, on how to choose a portable air conditioner, make sure you scroll at the bottom of the post.) No matter the size of your space or your budget, the following are the best portable air conditioners to keep your home comfortable and cool.

Best Portable Air Conditioner Overall

A Well-Priced, Dual-Hose Option For Rooms Up To 400 Square Feet

You’ll find the slightly beefier Whynter ARC-14S elsewhere on this list, but the Whynter Elite ARC-122DS earns its place as the best overall portable air conditioner by offering most of the same capabilities at a more affordable price point. The 12,000 BTU ASHRAE (7,000 BTU DOE) cooling engine can accommodate rooms up to 400 square feet and has three operating modes: cooling, fan-only and dehumidifier-only.

Unlike most air conditioners in this price range, this is a dual-hose system; one hose serves as an input and the other as an exhaust, which makes it run more efficiently by cooling a room without drawing in warm air. It has a 24-hour programmable timer and an automatic drain to clear out accumulated moisture.


  • Three operating modes
  • Dual-hose system
  • 24-hour programmable timer
  • Automatic drain


  • Window kit doesn’t seal well

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Best Portable Air Conditioner For Small Rooms

A Low-Maintenance Model That Can Cool Up To 250 Square Feet

While you don’t want an underpowered air conditioner, one that delivers too many BTUs is wasteful. With 10,000 BTU ASHRAE (6,000 BTU DOE), this model from Black+Decker is well suited to small rooms up to about 250 square feet. (Though, it will do much better with rooms up to about 150 square feet.)

It can operate as an AC unit, fan or dehumidifier, and more importantly, its bucket-less design evaporates condensation from the air conditioner without the need to dump water, keeping maintenance simple. Pretty much the only thing you need to do is clean the filter about twice a month.

The BPACT10WT rolls around on casters for easy placement and features an LED display with controls on the top panel, but you can also operate this air conditioner using the included remote control. You’ll also appreciate the fact that it’s largely autonomous; it’ll run for 24 hours at a time with an automatic sleep timer.


  • Ideal for small rooms
  • No drainage required
  • Automatic sleep timer


  • Window kit is complicated to install

Best Portable Air Conditioner For Large Rooms

An Oversized Unit With Dual Hoses For More Efficient Operation

Have a large space you’re trying to cool? The Whynter ARC-14S Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner is near the top end of what portable AC units can do. That said, you should probably be sure you need this much air conditioning before you invest in the ARC-14S; it’s a bit of an investment, weighs a formidable 80 pounds and the lack of handles makes it challenging to move on anything but smooth flat surfaces (where the casters can help out). However, this unit means business.

Unlike most portable air conditioners, this is a dual-hose model, with one hose serving as an input and the other as an output. That makes it more efficient and better able to cool your space without unintentionally sucking more warm air into your room. It has an impressive 14,000 BTU ASHRAE (9,500 DOE) that can cool a 600-square-foot room with ease, moving 253 cubic feet per minute. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a portable unit able to cool a room faster.

Better yet, it can dehumidify an impressive 101 pints of water per day from your home. And if you’re concerned about air quality, it has a washable pre-filter and activated carbon air filter to keep your air fresh. Unlike some of the other options in this roundup, the Whynter air conditioner has a temperature setting between 61 degrees Fahrenheit and 89 degrees Fahrenheit, allowing you to set your desired temperature and let the device do its work.


  • Cools rooms up to 600 square feet
  • Dual-hose system
  • Multi-stage filtration system
  • Adjustable temperature setting


Quietest Portable Air Conditioner

An Unobtrusive Model That’s Ideal For The Bedroom

Portable air conditioners can be loud, and many models don’t even mention how much noise they generate. If you’re looking for something that won’t interrupt your sleep, the Frigidaire Portable Air Conditioner can be as quiet as 52dB, which is akin to the sound of a refrigerator running.

Even so, it produces 13,000 BTU ASHRAE (8,000 BTU DOE), able to cool as much as 600 square feet. That makes it a good choice for a bedroom where a reasonably subdued AC can help you get a good night’s sleep.

In addition to being quiet, the unit offers 7,500 BTU of heating capacity, which means it can be used to warm your room as well. It has three fan speeds and a rear drainage tube to accommodate captured moisture. It also has a simple set of controls on the AC unit itself, as well as a remote control for operation from across the room. It’ll run for up to 24 hours at a time before automatically going to sleep, and you can preset it to turn on or off in half-hour increments to customize its cooling schedule.


  • Cooling and heating abilities
  • Quieter than most models
  • Programmable schedule


  • Heat function isn’t the most effective

Best Desktop Portable Air Conditioner

A Compact, Hose-Free Unit That Doubles As A Desk Lamp

Evapolar’s Personal Evaporative Air Cooler is, as the name directly implies, an evaporative cooler. Evaporative coolers are less expensive than traditional air conditioners, but they’re also less efficient because they work by pulling air through a moist environment to lower the temperature instead of using refrigerants. That’s how the Evapolar Personal Evaporative Air Cooler works; it slowly evaporates its small tank of water over a period of about six hours.

Even so, it’s actually surprisingly good at cooling a small space. Evapolar simply can’t cool an entire room, but it is more than capable of cooling roughly a 45-square-foot area around the device, such as a workspace or around your sofa in the living room. It’s incredibly small—6.7 x 6.7 x 7 inches and weighs just 4 pounds—so it will fit comfortably on a tabletop or desk, and it’s powered by a USB cable, which again makes it a smart cooling solution for a home office. If you’re only concerned about keeping your personal space cool rather than the entire room and want a cooler that looks like it belongs on a space ship, the Evapolar is a tremendous value.


  • Affordable
  • Built-in LED lights
  • Extremely quiet


Best Affordable Portable Air Conditioner

A Well-Priced Model That Comes In Several Sizes

The SereneLife SLPAC10 earns its status as the best affordable portable air conditioner thanks to its moderately powerful cooling abilities and its overall versatility. Not only does the SereneLife SLPAC10 operate as a simple air conditioner, but it can be used as a circulating fan (the fan automatically swings around to spread the airflow) and a dehumidifier. It comes in a variety of capacities from 8,000 BTU to 12,000 BTU. This particular model is rated for 10,000 BTU ASHRAE (6,000 BTU DOE); it’s able to keep rooms up to about 270 square feet cool with an airflow of 290 cubic meters per hour.

The SereneLife stands just under 3 feet tall and has a 17 x 13-inch footprint. It has easy-rolling casters, though, and the sides are easy to grip, making it a snap to move around the house. Don’t expect it to be the quietest air conditioner on the market—with a rated noise level around 57 dB, it can seem louder in actual operation, sometimes whining like a vacuum cleaner. Nonetheless, it’s fairly compact and comes with a remote so you can operate it from across the room, though there’s also a simple control panel on the top of the unit as well.


  • Good value
  • Several sizes available
  • Easy to move


Best Portable Air Conditioner For Camping

A Battery-Operated Unit That Will Cool Down Your Tent Quickly

Most portable air conditioners look like dehumidifiers with an upright body, vents on the top or side, and one or two ports in back for running hoses to the window. However, the Zero Breeze Mark 2 is something else altogether, with an appearance more like an oversized handheld vacuum. It’s expressly designed for the outdoors—especially for use in a tent on a camping trip—and as such, it’s fully battery operated.

Zero Breeze describes the Mark 2 as “revolutionary,” and this is one of those times when the marketing hype isn’t that far off the mark. You get up to five hours of runtime on a charge with one battery (you can stack a second optional battery, which adds about $300 to the price tag) and a powerful cooling mechanism that can quickly cool down a confined space like a tent, even at the height of summer.

If there’s a wall outlet or generator available, you can plug the in the Mark 2 for continuous power, and the battery will recharge from a car adapter when you’re on the road. Yes, it’s a little heavy (it weighs 16.5 pounds) and noisy (you’ll feel like you’re trapped in the tent with a vacuum cleaner), but it’s handheld, rechargeable, waterproof (IPX4) and works as advertised—a nice luxury to take camping.


  • Battery-operated
  • Runs for up to five hours
  • Waterproof
  • Recharges via car adapter


  • Extremely expensive
  • Noisy

Best Portable Air Conditioner And Space Heater

A 3-In-1 Unit That’s Ideal For Mid-Size Rooms

Multi-purpose devices are always handy, which is why it’s great to get an air conditioner that can do double-duty as a dehumidifier. This portable air conditioner from Black+Decker does one better, though: You can use it year-round, since it works as both an AC and heater—and you get formidable cooling power in the BPACT14HWT.

It’s rated at 14,000 BTU ASHRAE (7,500 DOE), which can competently cool about 300 square feet. It’s worth noting that this air conditioner has the same ASHRAE rating as the Whynter ARC-14S but a lower DOE rating and smaller max room size. That’s the advantage of Whynter’s dual hose system—it can make a substantial difference—but if you are okay with Black+Decker’s more modest specs, you get the ability to heat a room up to about 81 degrees in cooler weather. However, as a heater, it has slightly less reach, only good for about 250 t0 300 square feet.

You can run the unit as a dehumidifier, choose multiple fan speeds, and set a 24-hour timer for automatic all-day operation. It’s also simple to move around thanks to large, free-spinning casters and an easy-to-grip handle, and Black+Decker puts a simple set of controls on top of the unit in addition to providing a handy remote.


  • Cooling and heating abilities
  • 24-hour timer
  • Easy to move


Best Mini Portable Air Conditioner For Your Car

An Inexpensive Unit With Two Rotating Fans

First, the bad news: Don’t expect to cool your car with virtually any portable air conditioner. You can find a lot of inexpensive, rechargeable evaporative cooler-style AC units for sale, and these have a few key shortcomings when it comes to cars. They don’t usually include a car adapter, and even if they did, they’re woefully under-powered and will generally have little effect on your car’s temperature. They can also be something of a safety hazard; filled with water for evaporative cooling, a sudden stop can topple it, splashing water everywhere.

Our advice? If you absolutely need to add additional cooling to your car, an affordable option is a plug-in fan like this one from FiveJoy. It moves the air around in your car and can run continuously thanks to a car power cord. You can select from two speeds and place it on the dash or on the center console between the seats, and its two fan heads can be rotated 360 degrees to blow air where you need it.


  • Affordable
  • Fans rotate 360 degrees
  • Includes car power adaptor


Best Smart Portable Air Conditioner

A Wi-Fi Connected Model You Can Control Via App Or Voice Commands

If your house is filled with smart devices, you may come to expect all your appliances to be app- and voice-operated. Good news: Your portable air conditioner can be just as smart as your doorbell, thermostat and alarm system if you choose the LG LP1021BSSM Portable Air Conditioner. Equipped with Wi-Fi and compatible with LG’s ThinQ app, you can control the AC from anywhere—at home or while on the road.

The app allows you to start and stop the cooling, set the temperature or change the fan mode. It’s also Alexa- and Google Assistant-compatible, so you can command the AC by voice. It’s certainly not a necessity, but this feature is a great convenience, especially if you’re already used to turning lights and other appliances on and off by voice.

LG has packed this model with a fair amount of cooling power; it is rated at 14,000 BTU ASHRAE (10,000 BTU DOE) and it can effectively cool rooms up to about 450 square feet. The 3-in-1 operation includes cooling, fan-only and dehumidifying-only modes with two fan speeds and an auto-swing vent mechanism to spread the cool air around the room automatically.

In addition to the smart device controls, it has a 24-hour sleep timer (handy if you just want to control it from the remote control and not worry about the mobile app) and an auto-restart feature in case you lose power while it’s running.


  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • 24-hour sleep timer
  • Auto-swing air vent


Best Portable Air Conditioner Without A Hose

A Large Evaporative Cooler For Spaces Up To 320 Square Feet

True portable air conditioners require a hose that vents out a window, and if you don’t have the space for this ventilation (or simply don’t want the eyesore), you might want to consider an evaporative cooler, or swamp cooler, like this one from Honeywell. The indoor/outdoor unit works by pulling air over ice that you load into the appliance, and it creates a cool breeze that can cool spaces up to 320 square feet.

Despite not being a true portable air conditioner, this product is surprisingly effective, especially in hot, dry climates. It has three humidity settings and a programmable timer that can run for up to 7.5 hours, and it comes with a convenient remote control, as well.


  • No ventilation required
  • Three humidity settings
  • Indoor/outdoor design
  • Programmable for up to seven hours


  • Works best in dry climates
  • Not a true air conditioner

How Do I Choose A Portable Air Conditioner?

There are several important factors that will help determine if a portable air conditioner is suitable for your space. In particular, you’ll want to pay careful attention to each unit’s BTU rating and ventilation requirements.

BTU Rating

The most important criteria to consider when shopping for a portable model is the product’s cooling rating, usually expressed in BTUs (British Thermal Units). The more BTUs, the more square footage it can accommodate, but that doesn’t mean you should just buy the highest-rated unit possible. “More does not mean better, you need the correct rating for your room size,” explains Forbus. “A rating too low will run constantly and possibly not cool effectively. A rating too high may cool quickly and then cycle off, which won’t allow it to dehumidify the air, causing you to still feel uncomfortable.”


True portable air conditioners need to be vented out a window, as this is how they’ll remove heat from your home. “Ideally, you’ll want the unit close to a window for easiest installation,” says Forbus. “Shorter ventilation hoses are easier to manage.” If you don’t have a window available, you may need to opt for an evaporative cooler, which don’t require ventilation.


If the portable air conditioner you choose helps to remove humidity from the air, all that moisture will need to be drained out somewhere. Forbus notes that models with a drain line to the outdoors are the best low-maintenance option, but other models may need to be emptied by hand.

Noise Level

If you’re planning to use a portable AC in a living space or bedroom, it’s important to consider its noise level during operation. These appliances can be quite loud, especially on high settings, so you should look at its decibel rating before you buy.


Once you’ve decided on the basics, there are other conveniences to consider. Does the unit come with a remote control? Can it be programmed to operate on a schedule? Is it a “smart” appliance that works with an app? These programming features will make a portable AC more convenient to operate in your home.

Frequently Asked Questions About Portable Air Conditioners

What Is A Good BTU For A Portable Air Conditioner?

The right BTU rating for a portable air conditioner depends wholly on the room you’re using it in. “BTUs for portable units usually range from about 8,000 to 15,000,” says Forbus, and you’ll want to select a model that’s appropriately sized for the room where you plan to put it. If you choose an AC that’s too small, it will struggle to cool down the space, but if your model is too powerful, it may not work properly.

Do Portable Air Conditioners Have To Be Vented Out The Window?

Portable AC units require some form of venting, either through a window or a duct system in the wall. If the warm air doesn’t have a place to go, it will collect in the room, defeating the purpose of running an air conditioner to begin with. Some compact or travel-friendly options work differently and don’t require venting, but they likely won’t be strong enough to cool down a standard size room.

How Long Do Portable Air Conditioners Last?

A portable air conditioner can last anywhere from five to 10 years. Unfortunately, most brands only offer 1- or 2-year warranties on these types of appliances, so it’s important to keep up on recommended maintenance to get the longest possible lifespan out of your purchase.

Do Portable ACs Work Well?

While they’re not always the ideal cooling solution, portable air conditioners are a happy medium between a fan and window AC—in other words, they’re a compromise between convenience and comfort. If you don’t have the space for a window unit, portable ACs are an excellent way to cool your space in the dog days of summer. However, they generally take more BTUs (and therefore more electricity) to cool down the same amount of square footage as a window unit, so keep that in mind when choosing one for your space.

Which Is Better: Portable AC Or Window Unit?

Window units are usually more efficient than portable ACs, but there’s no clear cut answer to which one is “better.” It all depends on your space and your needs. The obvious benefit of portable ACs is that you can easily move them from window to window or room to room. While window units are typically more powerful and can cool down a space with fewer BTUs, they’re more fixed than portable ACs—and substantially harder to install.

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