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Best portable air conditioner

Which portable air conditioner is best?

Air conditioning can make hot summer days a lot more bearable, but not everyone has the money or the authority to install a whole-home air conditioning unit. In that case, a portable air conditioner is the best option. A good unit can do a pretty good job of cooling down a single room, but it’s important you choose one that can handle the demands of your space. Our top pick is from Whynter, which has 14,000 BTU.

What to know before you buy a portable air conditioner

Cooling power

The first thing you need to figure out is what size portable air conditioner you need. Air conditioners are rated in British Thermal Units (BTUs), and the larger the number, the larger the space it can cool. You should check the product description for exact details on how many square feet the unit can cool, but here are some general guidelines:

  • 8,000 BTU: 200 square feet
  • 10,000 BTU: 300 square feet
  • 12,000 BTU: 400 square feet
  • 14,000 BTU: 500 square feet

What to look for in a quality  portable air conditioner

Here are some other features to consider when choosing a portable air conditioner.

  • Ventilation type: Some portable air conditioners use a single hose for intake and exhaust, but these models are not as efficient as units that have separate hoses.
  • Energy efficiency: If you’re going to be running the portable air conditioner often, you should look for one that doesn’t consume a lot of power so it doesn’t raise your electric bill too much.
  • Noise level: All portable air conditioners are going to make some noise, but some models are noisier than others.
  • Settings: Many portable air conditioners come with multiple settings, and some even have timers so you can program them to turn on and off when you want them to.
  • Humidity levels: Some portable air conditioners cope better with humidity than others. If you live in a humid environment, make sure the unit you choose can handle humidity. You may want to consider a model that doubles as a dehumidifier.
  • Warranty: Portable air conditioners are often expensive, so it’s important to make sure that yours has a good warranty.

Portable air conditioner FAQ

How do you install a portable air conditioner?

A. Your owner’s manual should contain detailed instructions on how to do this, but often, it’s a simple matter of installing the exhaust hose in your window using the included window kit. Make sure the model you choose is compatible with your type of window. Otherwise, you may have to make some modifications to get it to fit.

Can you plug a portable air conditioner into a regular outlet?

A. Most likely yes. Most portable air conditioners use a standard three-prong plug. However, some larger models may have special requirements. Check with your owner’s manual, or read the manufacturer’s instructions online to find out what your unit needs.

What's the best portable air conditioner to buy?

Top portable air conditioner

Whynter 14,000 BTU Dual-Hose Portable Air Conditioner and Dehumidifier

What you need to know: This multi-purpose unit is a good choice for combatting humid heat, but you’ll have to put up with a little bit of noise.

What you'll love: This unit can be used as an air conditioner, fan, or dehumidifier and covers up to 500 square feet. It doesn’t consume a lot of energy, and it comes with programmable settings so you can choose how often it runs.

What you should consider: It’s a larger unit, and it is noisier than some comparable models. Some users have reported difficulty attaching the exhaust hose to their windows.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top portable air conditioner

Honeywell Indoor Portable Evaporative Air Cooler

What you need to know: Consider this model if you’re looking for an affordable portable air conditioner to help combat dry heat.

What you'll love: This portable air conditioner comes with three-speed settings and three modes, plus a remote control so you can adjust it from across the room. It works in spaces up to 280 square feet and doesn’t consume a lot of energy.

What you should consider: It’s not recommended for use in areas with high humidity because it could make the problem worse.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

LG Portable AC with Remote

What you need to know: A hard-working portable AC unit, it's easy to set up and move from room to room.

What you'll love: It includes a remote. It is user-friendly and effective.

What you should consider: It’s pricier than some other choices, and it does make some noise.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Kailey Fralick writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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