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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom line
Best of the Best
Whynter ARC-14SH 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner, Dehumidifier, Fan & Heater
ARC-14SH 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner, Dehumidifier, Fan & Heater
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Cools & Heats Big Rooms
Bottom Line

Cool or heat a large room quickly with this dual-hose portable air conditioner.


Offers 14,000 BTU cooling power and 13,000 BTU heating to tackle rooms up to 500 square feet. Dual hose system cools or heats a room more efficiently than a single hose. Washable carbon-activated filter cleans air. CFC-free refrigerant is eco-friendly. Comes with remote and timer.


Expensive. On the large size. Properly fitting the hoses to a window can be challenging.

Best Bang for the Buck
BLACK + DECKER BPP10HWTB Portable Air Conditioner
BPP10HWTB Portable Air Conditioner
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Dual Performance
Bottom Line

A combination cooler and heater unit with powerful performance at both.


Offers 10,000 to 14,000 BTUs of cooling and 11,500 BTUs heating for rooms up to 450 square feet. Obviates need for separate heater. Smooth, streamlined design is easy to move and live with. Evaporates condensation to avoid frequent draining. Noise level 57 decibels.


Some complaints that the included window kit doesn’t fit easily.

De’Longhi Pinguino 12000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
Pinguino 12000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
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Thoughtful Design
Bottom Line

This large and powerful choice can cool larger rooms based on the location of its remote control.


Rated at 12,000 BTUs to cool rooms up to 500 square feet. Dehumidifier function can run independent of cooling. Innovative remote senses temperature where the user is, not the unit, for targeted comfort. Washable antibacterial filters.


Larger unit up to 32 inches tall. Some reports of condensation leakage.

Honeywell HF8CESWK5 8,000 BTU Compact Portable Air Conditioner
HF8CESWK5 8,000 BTU Compact Portable Air Conditioner
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Small Space-friendly
Bottom Line

For small bedrooms and spaces, try this unit from a trusted brand in home heating and cooling.


Compact unit at 28 inches tall and weighing 10 pounds. Rated to 8,000 BTU to cool small to medium-sized rooms up to 350 square feet. Includes a remote. Washable filter is simple to clean. Noise level of 56 decibels is not too loud.


Not designed for medium to large rooms.

De'Longhi PACEM370 WH Penguino Portable Air Conditioner
PACEM370 WH Penguino Portable Air Conditioner
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Easy to Control
Bottom Line

In our testing, we found it works well for medium-sized rooms and has intuitive controls.


Offers 11,500 Btu of cooling power for rooms up to 500 square feet. Also works as a fan and dehumidifier. Easy-to-read controls. Comes with pop-up remote control. Rated at 53 dB of loudness. Comes with window kit and preassembled wheels.


At 4 feet, the hose can be a little short. Unit needs draining, especially in humid climates.


We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for best portable air conditioners

There are plenty of reasons to love summer, but they all seem to revolve around warm weather. Who doesn’t love spending time out in the sun, under an umbrella at the beach, or floating in the pool?

There is one place, though, where the heat isn’t welcome: your home.

A hot home makes it unpleasant to work, relax, or even sleep. In many parts of the world, air conditioning is a must for at least a few months of the year. Unfortunately, not everyone is in the position to enjoy a central air conditioning (AC) system, which regulates the temperature throughout their entire home regardless of how hot it gets outside.

Window air conditioners have been the answer for a long time, but many apartments and local ordinances don’t allow window ACs that protrude from a window.

Portable air conditions are an ideal solution because they can cool your space as effectively as a window-mounted unit without being visible from the outside.

Finding the right portable air conditioner can be challenging with many factors to take into consideration. Aside from getting the size right, you want an energy-efficient model that won’t devour electricity—one with effective ventilation and an acceptable noise level that won’t require frequent laborious maintenance.

Man using remote to turn on a portable air conditioner
The number of heat-related deaths in the U.S. between 1960 and 2004 dropped by 80% compared to the number between 1900 and 1959—due to air conditioning.

How does a portable air conditioner work?

While a portable air conditioner doesn’t stick out of a window like a window unit does, it does still require a window for operation.

The good news, though, is that it doesn’t take up the entire window. Portable air conditioners come with a window kit that usually features one or two ventilation hoses that attach to a panel that is placed in the window. Warm air enters the unit through an intake, is chilled by the compressor, and is returned to the room, while the heat is vented outside through the hose and window kit.

The kit is easy to install and usually doesn’t require any specialized tools.

Benefits of a portable air conditioner

With a portable air conditioner, you don’t have to worry about building or city ordinances that forbid units that protrude outside your home. Because the air conditioner doesn’t take up the entire window, you probably won’t lose the whole view or natural light.

A portable air conditioner can also help cut energy costs by supplementing a central air conditioning system. If you only need to keep one or two rooms cool, you can raise the central AC’s temperature and turn the portable unit on in the space you want to be cooled.

Person using remote to turn on portable air conditioner
Testing portable air conditioners
We spent 12 hours researching over 80 different portable air conditioners before choosing our top pick. We then brought in one of our top models for testing to make sure it lived up to its positive reviews.

Key considerations when choosing the best portable air conditioner for your home

Room size

Just as with a window air conditioner, the most important decision to make when shopping for a portable air conditioner is what size to get. The best portable air conditioner for your room is one designed to cool the room size. Room size is often measured in square feet (or sq. ft.).

Air conditioners are rated in British Thermal Units (BTUs) as measured by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, or ASHRAE. Models with a higher BTU rating cool larger room sizes more easily.

Poor insulation and other factors in your home can affect how powerful a portable air conditioner you need in a given space. However, there are some general guidelines that can help you decide.

  • An 8,000-BTU portable air conditioner should cool a space of 200 square feet, such as a dorm room or small bedroom.
  • A 10,000-BTU model is effective in a space of 300 square feet, such as a bedroom or home office.
  • A 12,000-BTU unit is usually sufficient in a space of 400 square feet, like a den or small living room.
  • A 13,000-BTU portable air conditioner can usually cover a space of 450 square feet, like a living room or main bedroom.
  • A 14,000-BTU model is typically enough to cool a space of 500 square feet, enough for a large living room or small apartment.

Single-hose vs. dual-hose ventilation

While all portable air conditioners need to be vented through a window to remove the warm air from your home, there are two different vent hose configurations: a single-hose and a dual-hose setup.

A single-hose setup uses the same hose for both the intake and exhaust. Because a single hose is doing all the work, the air conditioner doesn’t cool as efficiently as possible.

A dual-hose setup has separate intake and exhaust hoses. As a result, it can cool a space more effectively and is more energy efficient.

Energy efficiency

Air conditioners are well known for their energy consumption. Running an air conditioner usually means a higher energy bill. That’s why it’s important to choose a portable model that is as energy efficient as possible.

Look for models that have the Energy Star label because they’re rated to meet energy efficiency standards. It’s also a good idea to look for a portable unit with a programmable thermostat and inverter or energy-saver mode. That way, it will automatically slow or stop its cooling function when a desired temperature is reached.

Dehumidifier and fan modes

Any portable air conditioner will remove some moisture from the air. However, certain models are equipped with a dehumidifier mode. Dehumidifier mode allows you to reduce the humidity in your home without adding any cold air, so it works well on humid days that aren’t necessarily hot enough to require the AC.

Practically every portable air conditioner can also be operated as a fan without involving the compressor. This can save a lot of electricity on days when a fan is enough to cool you off.

Noise level

It’s inevitable that your portable air conditioner is going to make noise—all AC units do when they’re working. However, some models are louder than others and can add more than white noise to your home. Most models offer multiple fan speeds that vary in strength and noise level.

Some models offer a nighttime or sleep mode that lowers the fan speed and changes the compressor settings for quieter functioning.

If you’re concerned about the noise level, your best bet is a unit that’s been designed for quiet operation. You can compare the decibel (dB) levels of models you’re considering to see how they stack up. The quietest portable air conditioners fall in the 45-decibel range.

A portable air conditioner, though heavy, can be moved from one room to another so you can easily adjust your cooling setup based on your needs.



You’d expect a portable air conditioner to be ... well, portable, but the truth is that they’re usually very heavy. They can weigh up to 100 pounds, so while they’re easier to move around than a window unit, it can be tricky to get them from room to room.

Generally, the size and weight of a portable air conditioner are directly proportional to its power and BTU rating. Small units usually have enough power only for small rooms.

If you want to use your AC in multiple rooms, choose a model that has casters or wheels to make the process easier. Pay careful attention to the weight if you plan to move the air conditioner up and down flights of stairs, too.


You want your portable air conditioner to be as easy to use as possible, so you should opt for models with user-friendly controls. Those with digital displays like LEDs are typically the easiest to use, but look for a model with an LED display that isn’t too bright, or it may disturb you when the lights are off. Budget-priced portable air conditioners sometimes have control panels with physical buttons or switches rather than touch panels or screens.

A remote control can also be handy if you’re using your AC in a large room or don’t want to get out of bed to adjust it. Look for one that allows you to turn the unit on and off and change the speed at the very least. A 24-hour timer that allows you to turn a portable AC unit off after a certain time is also helpful.

Smart portable air conditioners offer Wi-Fi connectivity and can be controlled by a smart home network and digital assistants like Amazon Alexa or Apple’s Siri.


A portable air conditioner is going to take up some space in whatever room you put it in—and be hard to miss—so you should take its appearance into account when shopping. Units are available in a variety of aesthetic styles, though they do tend to put function over form. In most cases, you’ll be choosing from basic colors like white, gray, or black.

Required maintenance

When you’re choosing a portable air conditioner, you should think about the maintenance that’s necessary to keep the unit cooling properly.

The moisture that your air conditioner removes from the air is often stored inside it. Some units require that you empty a pan, connect a hose, or pump out the water to remove the moisture on a regular basis.

Decide how you prefer to dispose of the water, taking into consideration where the unit will be and how you’ll access the water it collects.

If that seems like a hassle, look for a self-evaporative model. That means it will evaporate the moisture that it removes so you don’t have to get rid of it yourself. Self-evaporative models still need to be fully drained at the end of every cooling season, such as in the fall.

Portable air conditioner next to chair in living room
Did you know?
Currently, approximately 87% of the homes in the United States have some type of air conditioning system.

Pricing for portable air conditioners

Portable air conditioners tend to be more costly than window models. In general, they range in price from $300 to $650.

If you are only looking to cool a small area, you can usually find an effective portable air conditioner for $350 to $400.

For a top-of-the-line unit that can cool a large area, expect to spend about $550 to $650.

portable air conditioner
A basic AC unit cost $350 in 1940. Today, that’s equivalent to approximately $3,500.


Q. What are the power requirements for a portable air conditioner?

A. Most portable air conditioners operate on 115/120-volt power, which is standard household voltage. Nearly all have a grounded, three-prong plug. Keep in mind that 14,000-BTU and higher units may require special wiring and outlets, though.

Q. What type of windows can you vent a portable air conditioner through?

A. Most models are easy to install in traditional double-hung windows using the window kit accessories included with the portable air conditioner. In many cases, you can use the same kit to vent the air conditioner through a sliding window, too. Always consult your owner’s manual for proper installation.

Q. Can a portable air conditioner cool multiple rooms?

A. A portable air conditioner is typically more effective in the immediate area you place it in. In an open floor plan, though, it’s possible for nearby spaces to experience a slight cooling effect, too. Using a fan in conjunction with the air conditioner can help circulate the cool air.

Q. Can a portable air conditioner replace an air purifier?

A. The filters on a portable air conditioner are not as good as those on a dedicated air purifier. You can purchase higher-quality filters for your portable air conditioner, but for removing smoke particles, allergens, or viruses, an air purifier is more effective.


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