The best portable air conditioner

Kailey Fralick

Don’t place your portable air conditioner in a sunny spot or else the unit will have to work harder. This may shorten the lifespan of the air conditioner.

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 that you choose one that can handle the demands of your space. Here's a short guide on how to find the right portable air conditioner for you. We recommend checking out our favorite portable AC from Whynter that has 14,000 BTU.

Considerations when choosing portable air conditioners

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


Here are some other features you need 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.


Q. How do I 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 windows. Otherwise, you may have to make some modifications to get it to fit.

Q. Can I 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.

Portable air conditioners we recommend

Best of the best: Whynter 14,000 BTU Dual-Hose Portable Air Conditioner and Dehumidifier

Our take: 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 we like: 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 we dislike: It's a larger unit, and it is noisier than some comparable models. Some users have reported difficulty attaching the exhaust hose to their window.

Best bang for your buck: Honeywell Indoor Portable Evaporative Air Cooler

Our take: Consider this model if you're looking for an affordable portable air conditioner to help combat dry heat.

What we like: 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 we dislike: It's not recommended for use in areas with high humidity because it could make the problem worse.

Choice 3: LG Portable AC with Remote

Our take: A hard-working portable AC unit that's easy to set up and move from room to room.

What we like: Includes a remote. User-friendly and effective.

What we dislike: It's pricier than some other choices, and it does make some noise.

Kailey Fralick is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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