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Which portable air conditioner is the most energy-efficient?

Summer is the perfect season for fun in the sun, but the heat and humidity can make life indoors uncomfortable for those who don’t have central air. A portable model is a great option when a standard fan doesn’t provide adequate relief, and installing a window air conditioner is not practical.

Portable air conditioners are simple to install, and you can relocate them from room to room. They also do a good job cooling specific areas. It’s a good idea to select a model that can cool the size of the room, includes your preferred features and, most importantly, is energy-efficient. 

How to operate a portable air conditioner

Portable air conditioners are easy to set up and operate. Although they don’t require placement in an open window like window air conditioners, they must be vented. Each model includes a kit with a panel and one or two hoses. Simply place the hose or hoses on the air conditioner, attach them to the panel and place the panel in a window to ventilate the unit. 

To operate the air conditioner, set the controls to the desired settings based on your cooling needs. Controls vary from model to model, but each one comes with an instructional pamphlet to guide consumers in proper operation. 

Pros and cons of portable air conditioners 

When considering a portable air conditioner, assessing the pros and cons of these appliances will help you decide if it’s the best option to keep your place cool when the weather gets hot. 

Pros of portable air conditioners

  • Portable air conditioners produce more air than a basic fan. Although fans are great for producing a nice breeze and moving air around a room, they don’t produce a cooling effect like an air conditioner. 
  • When window air conditioners are not permitted in some apartments, condos or neighborhoods, portable models are ideal in these situations. 
  • No complicated tools are required to install a portable air conditioner. 
  • Portable models have controls for customizing the cool air temperature and flow to fit your living space and save money on energy bills. 
  • Most portable air conditioners also work as fans and dehumidifiers. Some models also have a heating function for use in cold weather. 

Cons of portable air conditioners

  • Some portable air conditioners are bulky and awkward to move. 
  • Unlike a central air HVAC system, a portable model won’t cool huge areas or an entire house.
  • Some models have filters that require cleaning. 
  • If a portable air conditioner isn’t self-evaporative, you’ll have to dispose of the water it collects by using a pan, pump or hose. 
  • Similar to window air conditioners, portable models can be noisy to operate. 

How to choose an energy-efficient portable air conditioner

Before you buy a portable air conditioner, it’s also essential to factor in features that make certain models suitable for your living space. You’ll also want features that maximize energy efficiency during operation. 

Consider room size and power

How large is the area you need to cool? This is a crucial factor, as different models cool specific dimensions. These measurements are listed in square feet. While smaller air conditioners may only cool small rooms of about 200 square feet, large models can cool areas up to about 550 square feet. 

Every air conditioner has a British Thermal Units rating. Most portable models range from about 8,000 to 14,000 BTUs. The higher the rating, the larger the room the air conditioner will cool. For example, a model with a 12,000 BTU rating will cool about 400 square feet of space. 

By choosing a model that matches the area you want to cool, you won’t be increasing your energy use with excessive power you don’t need. 

Choose a model with energy-saving controls

When it comes to eco-friendly operation, check out the controls of a portable air conditioner. 

Functions such as variable temperature settings and dehumidifying capabilities help cool a room efficiently. Some models even have smart technology that senses the environment and adjusts cooling and dehumidifying accordingly. What’s more, most portable air conditioners have a timer for auto-shutoff, so you can set it and be assured that the unit will stop running at a designated time, and you won’t have to pay for unnecessary use.  

Look for an Energy Star rating

Many modern appliances have an Energy Star rating, indicating they meet federally-set standards for energy efficiency. However, not all portable air conditioners meet these requirements. The good news is that if you choose a model with modern functions and operate it as recommended, you’ll still be able to use your new portable air conditioner efficiently. 

Best energy-efficient portable air conditioners

Whynter Dual-Hose Portable Air Conditioner

This powerful model will cool a room up to 500 square feet and is powered by eco-friendly CFC-free refrigerant. The dual-hose system also works as a fan and dehumidifier. It comes with a convenient remote control.

Sold by Amazon, Wayfair and Home Depot

DeLonghi Pinguino Portable Air Conditioner

It’s the smart technology that makes this model a good choice for the eco-conscious shopper. Not only does it have a remote that senses the surrounding temperature to help it cool efficiently, but it also controls humidity for a more comfortable environment. Additionally, you can use it as a dehumidifier or fan.

Sold by Amazon 

Black+Decker Portable Air Conditioner with Heat

This versatile model is ideal for year-round use and doubles as a heater. It also dehumidifies for improved comfort. It includes a remote control.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

GE 3-in-1 Portable Air conditioner

This air conditioner is rated at 8,000 BTUs and is suitable for small to medium spaces. Auto evaporation function helps it cool and dehumidify efficiently. Two fan speed settings and remote control are part of its feature set.

Sold by Home Depot

Dreo TwinCool Smart Portable Air Conditioner

Dual hoses give the TwinCool an advantage when distributing cool air throughout a room. Smart sensing technology, easy-to-use variable temperature controls and a remote add to its efficiency.

Sold by Amazon

Frigidaire Wi-Fi Connected Portable Air Conditioner

Consumers with larger areas to cool will appreciate that this portable air conditioner is designed to cool up to 550 square feet. In addition to remote control, it has built-in Wi-Fi so you can control it with your phone so it’s never left running when you aren’t at home. It also has a dehumidifier and two-speed fan settings.

Sold by Wayfair

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

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.

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