3 Best Portable Air Conditioners. When the heat hits hard, your thing is to have climate control or air conditioning at home … but this is not always possible. The classic AC splits are a good proposal, but they are expensive and require installation work, something that involves asking for permits and extra investment. Also, if you are in a rental home, the owner may not want to take over that investment.
So what can you do The solution to your problems is a portable air conditioner for three basic reasons:
- It is much cheaper than the fixed installation AC .
- If you install it in the window, you do not need to do work .
- If your lease ends, or you are going to spend a season in another house, you can take it with you.
If you are thinking of buying a portable air conditioner, we have prepared a comparison of the best models on the market to help you make a good decision. To give you more options, we have also included an air cooler.
At the end of this article, you will find a complete buying guide that we recommend you read so that you are very clear about what features you should assess before buying your portable air conditioner.
Guide to buy the best portable air conditioner
Are you preparing your home or office for when the high temperatures start? Buying a device that helps you get through the warmer weeks of summer is usually the solution. But which?
Portable air conditioners are a good option basically for three reasons:
- They are reasonably priced (fixed devices are much more expensive).
- They do not require work for their installation (although some adaptation is required).
- You can move them when you need it (with some nuance that I explain below).
Another option that many users choose is air coolers, also (mis) called air conditioners in some guides. It is not the same as a portable air conditioner and sometimes confusion occurs.
To make your task easier, we will explain what you have to take into account when choosing the portable air conditioner you need (and not screw up with the purchase).
Is it a portable air conditioner for you?
It is the device you need if:
- Your apartment is for rent and you don’t want to do a fixed installation.
- You have a limited budget.
- You need it for a second residence that you don’t frequent much, where you don’t need an air with better benefits.
- You have a small office or commercial premises.
- You live in a building where the community does not allow the installation of the compressors outside.
In any of these cases it is a good option.
Types of air conditioners
To buy well the first thing you have to decide is what you want. So I’m going to give you a quick summary of the types of air conditioning you can find on the market:
- Split : Composed of two pieces, a quieter and more compact interior, and an external compressor that produces cold (or heat) and where noise is generated. They need professional installation and have a higher price. They also have more cooling capacity.
- Window: composed of a single piece. They are cheaper than the split and also noisier (the compressor is integrated). To install them you have to make a hole the size of the device to fit it, usually under a window.
- Laptops: they are the protagonists of this guide. They consist of a single mobile device (they usually have four small wheels), plus a hose with an outlet to the outside. They are compact and economical and their main advantage is that they do not require installation.
There are also other, more complex, types of air conditioners that use hidden ducts in walls or in false ceilings, but we won’t go into them in this guide.
Finally, I want to name air coolers (also called evaporative coolers ) because they are another option that you can shuffle. These are devices that cool the air by evaporating water.
And why do I put them apart and not with the others? Well, because, and this is important, the air cooler is not an air conditioner, but a kind of fan with a humidifier.
Portable air conditioner vs Air cooler (or evaporative cooler)
Indeed, they are two different types of apparatus. However, it is quite common for users looking for a device with portability to confuse them … and then take the disappointment.
When in doubt, there is a basic key to avoid mistakes:
An air conditioner always has an outlet to the outside. If the device you are going to buy does not have it, then it is NOT an air conditioner.
And what is? Well, another type of device that, in all probability, fulfills its function, but does not cool as much as an AC.
What is an air cooler
It is an appliance whose exterior appearance is quite similar to a portable air conditioner. However, for it to work we just have to plug it into the electrical network. Nothing else.
Unlike a normal fan, which does nothing but set the air in motion, the cooler cools the air using steam.
It has a tank, usually in the back, which must be filled with water. It can get very cold or you can even add some ice cubes so that they break apart and maintain the temperature.
The fact of vaporizing water makes it especially interesting in very dry climates, where simply by increasing the environmental humidity we will already notice an improvement in comfort.
In addition, a quality cooler has filters to purify the air before expelling it , which does not have a fan of those of a lifetime.
What are the main differences with an air conditioner ? The air cooler:
- It has a lower energy consumption .
- It can work with open windows to renew the air (this is interesting at night).
- You don’t need an outside outlet.
- And lastly, it does not provide a level of ambient cooling that is close to (far from) an air conditioner.
So they don’t work? Yes, they work … at your level. That is, you have to know what you are buying.
A cooler improves the thermal sensation thanks to the circulation of humid air, but does not make the temperature of the room drop a few degrees .
But if those features are enough for you, it can be a great purchase.
What is a portable air conditioner
A portable air conditioner is usually the choice of those who cannot or do not want to carry out installation works or who allocate a tight budget to this expense.
The truth is that it is a very good solution because, unlike coolers, these devices ARE an air conditioner. In addition, it is much cheaper than a split .
Its operation is this: the device takes the air from the room (the windows must be closed), then cools it inside and expels it to cool the room.
In this process, a quantity of hot air is generated that must be expelled through a hose that must have a path to the outside, normally through a window or the door of a terrace.
There are several ways to install that output, they are all quite simple:
- You can install a rigid panel on the door or window frame , with a hole for the hose. It is a recommended method for sliding sheets, which will simply close to the panel.
- For openable windows (with a hinge on one side) or tilt-and-turn windows, there are insulating textile covers that are very easy to install.
- Another possibility, only if you are going to leave the appliance in a fixed location, is to cut the glass and seal the edges when you have adjusted the air outlet hose.
This is important: the appliance is portable, has transport wheels and can be moved from one room to another. But expect that it is not as simple as unplugging in one place and plugging in another, because you are going to have to move the exhaust hose installation .
How to install a portable air conditioner
Before buying, you should consider two basic things:
- Study the system that you are going to use for the external route before buying your device and do not leave it until the end. This way you will avoid surprises.
Some models include the exhaust hose, window adapter, and installation kit, but not all. So check yours and, if it doesn’t include it, go choosing your adaptation system.
So, when you have your new device at home you can put it to work right away (and you will avoid scares if you are missing any part).
- Put the device as close as possible to the window where you are going to install the external path so that the tube has the shortest possible path.
Keep in mind that it is going to expel high temperature air (if you have ever passed in front of an air conditioning outlet, you will know what I am talking about) and you are not interested in having a hot tube inside a room that you want to cool .
To make it clearer, here is a video that explains the simple assembly of the window kit of a portable ac:
Features to consider when buying your portable air conditioner
If you have already started to choose your portable air conditioning equipment, consider these 5 key features:
It is the first thing you have to look at: how many square meters does the room you want to refrigerate have? The answer already serves as your first filter to start discarding models.
In the market you can find simpler devices for rooms of less than 15 m 2 up to much more powerful ones that guarantee you more than 25 m 2 refrigerated.
It is a concept that you will familiarize yourself with immediately as soon as you enter the world of air conditioners.
To put it briefly, it is a unit of measurement (fridges / hour) that indicates the capacity of the appliance to absorb heat and cool a room in one hour .
Therefore, the more fridges, the more cooling capacity (and also the appliance is usually more expensive).
How do you know how many fridges you need? It depends:
- The square meters that you have to refrigerate influence . Logically, if the room is bigger, you will need more cooling capacity.
- The orientation of the house or the room. If you look south it will be warmer and you will need more fridges. And if the sun touches you directly for several hours a day.
- The number of people there will usually be (calculates increasing on average about 150 fridges for each person).
There is a standard to help you calculate. It is usually established as a reasonable average of 100 fridges per square meter. Therefore, if you are going to put it in a 12 m 2 room, you will need 1,200 fridges.
From that generic number, you have to study your particular conditions (and the number will surely rise).
Important: some air conditioners measure refrigeration in BTUs, and not in refrigerators. It is the most widely used measurement system in Anglo-Saxon countries. Approximately 1 frigory = 4 BTU .
This is important especially if you plan to use it in the bedroom or in a room to study or work. You will notice that the splitters are much quieter because they have the compressor outside. But a portable air conditioner, having the main motor integrated, will make more noise.
Keep this in mind before buying. Still, you can try choosing models with few decibels. Most are around 65 dB .
4. Energy label
Consumption is important, because you are sure that your electric bill will go up. Therefore, the recommendation is always to choose one with an A or A + energy rating .
Normally, new models are already energy efficient, but look at it the same in the specifications. Sometimes there are offers of old appliances to withdraw stock and then the scares come on the invoice at the end of the month.
Something that can help you cut down on spending is using the timer. Most models have it and it is practical to limit consumption, since you will not leave the device on if you lose yourself for a long time.
5. Extra: with heat pump
Not all appliances are also used for heating, so if you are interested in this dual use, you have to look for models that include it. They tend to be somewhat more expensive, but perhaps what you spend on one side you save by not having to buy a radiator.
It’s also a good idea if you need to save space at home by having the two functions on one device instead of having them on two separate devices.
Finally, take care of your portable air conditioner so that it is in optimal condition for many years.
For this, the best thing you can do is follow the manufacturer’s instructions, the instruction manual will tell you everything you have to do for good maintenance.
However, as a general rule, always keep these two things in mind:
- Clean the filters regularly.
- Prevents moisture condensation, especially by monitoring for mold growth, emptying the reservoir often, and occasionally ventilating the room.
Find Below 3 Best Portable Air Conditioners of 2020
Enjoy a comfortable home climate with this versatile BLACK+DECKER unit. It cools, dehumidifies, and circulates air to stand up to summer heat. Offering immediate, uninterrupted comfort, this Portable Air Conditioner features easy-to-use LED electronic controls and is quiet while you sleep (75dB on high setting). This unit comes with rolling castors and side carrying handles for easy-to maneuver mobile comfort and everything needed for an effortless installation. Keeps a room, home, bedroom, apartment, dorm or garage that is approximately 100 – 150 square feet or 10 x 12` foot room pleasant and comfy during the summer months when the heat sets in. Works in double-hung or sliding windows only, no crank windows.To minimize noise and vibration, the air conditioner should be placed on a firm floor.For safe and secure positioning, place the unit on a smooth, level floor strong enough to support the unit.For a better Cooling – Make sure all the windows and doors are Closed,Connect the duct and make sure it can function properly and Clean the air filter. Also note that, mirco processor control delays the compressor from operating until 3 mins have passed.
- QUIET & POWERFUL – Our 8,000 BTU compact air conditioner (16.5 x 11.5 x 26 in,) will keep you cool and comfortable all summer. An adjustable fan speed cools the air to 65°F at the coolest setting. Sleep mode makes it extra quiet while you rest
- PERFECT FOR SMALL ROOMS – This floor-standing portable AC unit provides steady, fast, effective cooling for rooms up to 200 sq. ft. It’s the ideal small air conditioner for dorms, apartments, cabins, campers, offices, bedrooms, or living rooms
- SIMPLE & QUICK TO INSTALL – Just wheel this portable air conditioner into any room with a double hung or sliding window. Attach the included hose (4’ 11”) & window adapter, & plug it in to an outlet! At the end of the season, just unhook & store
- EASY TO USE & CLEAN – The simple remote control & top-mounted LED display with 24-hour timer allow you to precisely control the air temperature. To clean the filter, just slide it out twice a month, rinse it thoroughly under running water, & put it back
- 3-in-1 FUNCTIONALITY – Combines 3 energy efficient functions for all of your cooling & ventilation needs with cool, fan, & dehumidifying modes all in one machine. Bucket-less, self-evaporating operation makes your living space cool, clean and dry
A key feature of this portable air conditioner is its compact size and dual-hose system which facilitates better space utilization and more efficient cooling. The Whynter ARC-122DS portable air conditioner is the ideal solution for the warm spots in your home, office, server room or other constrained area. Portable and easy to set up, this portable air conditioner offers cooling relief for any area where excess humidity and heat cannot be remedied by traditional air conditioning. The unit can be easily setup in almost any indoor location and is most commonly used in data closets/server rooms, bedrooms, classrooms and garages or workshops. The Whynter ARC-122DS portable air conditioner provides 12,000 BTU cooling output while maintaining a compact and portable profile. The dehumidifier mode allows you to extract 76 pints of excess moisture during a 24-hour period. Equipped with an intake and exhaust hose, this system allows for more air intake, cooling power, and constant air pressure, which results to a faster cooling rate compared to single-hose units (can be operated as single hose as well). save energy and money by setting the unit to run only when you need it. Using the 24 hour programmable timer, the ARC-122DS can efficiently cool your space before you even get there. The timer allows you to set the unit to cycle on automatically, or once it is on, you can set it to automatically turn off. Equipped with a remote control that can easily control the Speed, temperature, and dehumidifier settings even from a distance, the Whynter ARC-122DS also comes with rolling casters that will allow you to move the portable air conditioner room to room. Its programmable features, operating modes, and adaptable design make this unit the perfect option for keeping rooms up to 400 square feet cool and comfortable (ambient temperature and humidity may influence optimum performance).cooling power:12000. Upgraded Plastic window kit included.
- * AWARD WINNING : 1. Good Housekeeping’s “Best Portable Air Conditioners to Buy in 2019” 2. The New York Times Wirecutter named “the most efficient and fastest cooling portable AC”
- * Three operational modes: air conditioner, fan or dehumidifier. This unit can cool up to a 400 square feet space (ambient temperature and humidity may influence optimum performance)
- * Full thermostatic control (61°F – 89°F) with digital readout, 24 hour programmable timer; Eco-friendly CFC free Green R-410A refrigerant; Patented auto drain function fully exhausts all condensate automatically in most environments
- * Remote control, activated carbon air filter, washable pre-filter, and product manual packaged inside exhaust hose; Noise level (dBA): <52
- * Full installation set includes extendable exhaust and intake hose (up to 60″) and window kit (up to 46″) Max. window kit length = 46″ , Min. window kit length = 20″.
- * Maximum power consumption: 1000W / 9.0A. Power supply: 115 V / 60Hz / 1 Phase; Dehumidifying capacity of 76 pints per day; 3 fan speeds; Air Flow (at high speed): 264m3/h / 155CFM
- Compatible with 5.9″ and 5.0″ diameter hoses
Features: – Metal Control Box to Prevent from Fire and Exploding – Rotary Compressor – Universal Castors for Moving Freely – Wifi function – Lightweight & Portable A/C Unit – Compact Freestanding Room Air Conditioner – (3) Operation Modes: AC Cooling / Dehumidifier / Fan – Hassle-Free, Quick Setup Cooling – Simple Electric Plug-in Operation – Convenient Wide-Area Climate Control Room AC Coverage – Push Button Control Panel with LED Display – Time, Temperature & Fan Speed Adjustment Settings – Includes Universal Window Mount AC Exhaust Kit – Removable & Washable Air Filter Screen – Modern Style, Sleek Body Housing – Energy Efficient: Low Power Consumption – Low Noise Level Motor – Rolling Wheels for Easy Portability – Used for Home, Office, School & Business Rooms What’s in the Box: – AC Unit – Exhaust Hose – Window Installation Plate – Remote Control Technical Specs: – Power Supply: 115V/60Hz – Rated Power: 920W – Refrigerant Type: R410a – Cooling capacity (ASHRAE): 10, 000 Btu/h – Cooling capacity (DOE): 5, 500 Btu/h – Coverage Area: Cools Rooms up to 300 Square Feet – Air Flow: 360 Cubic Meters / Hour – Operating Modes: Cool / Fan / Dry (Dehumidifier) – Moisture Removal / Dehumidifier: 1. 2 Liters / Hour – Operating Noise Level: 57 dBA – Fan Speed Settings: Two Level, Low/High – Temperature Unit Selectable: °C / °F (Celsius / Fahrenheit) – Adjustable Timer Settings: Up to 24 Hours – Construction Material: High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) – Battery Operated Remote Control, Requires (2) x ‘AAA’ Batteries, Included – Power Cable Length: 5. 6’ ft. – Product Dimension (L x W x H): 27. 6” x 12. 8” x 11. 6” -inches
- 10, 000 BTU COOLING POWER: With 920W rated power and 10, 000 BTU cooling power, the cold air can cover a room up to 300 sq ft! Air flow is rated at 360 m3/hr, moisture removal/dehumidifier at 1. 2 liters/hr w/ an operating noise level of only 57 dBa
- 3 OPERATING MODES: The ac unit portable room air conditioner features a simple electric plug-in operation and has 3 modes – cooling, dehumidifier, and fan. Also features automatic swing mode w/ moving wind vent for maximum air circulation
- BUILT-IN DEHUMIDIFIER: Aside from the cooling effect, this mobile air conditioner also helps reduce humidity levels, acts as a purifier to makes your home less hospitable to allergens such as dust mites, mold, mildew by selecting dehumidifier mode
- REMOTE CONTROL: This stand up air conditioner portable AC unit features push-button control panel w/ led display & comes w/ a remote control so you can easily adjust the mode, time, temperature & fan speed & select the temperature unit (°C / °F)
- FREE STANDING DESIGN: The portable air conditioning unit features a free-standing design w/ modern style, sleek body housing & can be used in any bedroom, living room or garage at home or office. Also has rolling wheels & includes window mount kit
- Power Source Type: Corded Electric