Best Portable Air Conditioners of 2019

A portable air conditioner gives you the cooling effects you desire without the expense of a central AC unit. Our shopping guide is here to help you find the best portable air conditioner for your cooling needs.

Shopping Guide for the Best Portable Air Conditioners

Air conditioning can be a real lifesaver on hot, humid days, but central air isn't an option for everyone. If you need air conditioning but thought central AC was your only choice, think again, and consider a portable air conditioner.

A portable air conditioner can keep you cool when and where you need it the most. These units cost far less than a central air-conditioning system, and as the name suggests, you can move them around the house or office to suit your needs.

How do you find the right portable air conditioner for you? BestReviews is here to help. Our mission is to assist consumers in finding the products that suit them. We test products in our labs, consult experts, and gather data from existing customers. Furthermore, we never accept free samples from manufacturers, as we want to remain the honest, unbiased information source you can trust.

So, if you're ready to chill out for a while, please continue reading this guide. We'll give you all the information you need to pick the perfect portable air conditioner for your needs.

A portable air conditioner can be used in any room with a window or sliding door that leads outside.

Why Go Portable? The Benefits of a Portable Air Conditioner

Why should you choose a portable air conditioner over central AC or a window air-conditioning unit?

● A portable air conditioner can deliver cool, comfy air to a room where a window air conditioner isn't practical due to the configuration of the window or building regulations.
● Portable air conditioners live up to their name in that they can be moved from room to room as needed.
● Buying a portable air conditioner requires far less money than installing central air-conditioning in your home.

We're not going to lie: Central air conditioning is more effective at cooling a building than a portable air conditioner. But installing central air conditioning isn't always possible or practical.

About BTU Ratings

A portable air conditioner's British Thermal Unit (BTU) rating indicates how much air it can move around the room. The larger the room, the higher the BTU rating you'll need.

● For rooms up to 200 square feet, opt for an 8,000-BTU unit.
● For rooms up to 300 square feet, opt for a 10,000-BTU unit.
● For rooms up to 400 square feet, opt for a 12,000-BTU unit.
● For rooms up to 450 square feet, opt for a 13,000-BTU unit.
● For rooms up to 500 square feet, opt for a 14,000-BTU unit.


Correct BTU Rating

Make sure you choose a portable air-conditioning unit with an appropriate BTU rating for the size of the room where you plan to use it most.

Portable Air Conditioner Considerations

Dehumidifier Mode

Some portable air conditioners have a dehumidifier mode, meaning they can remove moisture from the air. Not only does this make your home feel cooler and more comfortable, but it also helps reduce dampness and inhibits mold growth.

A top-quality portable air conditioner in dehumidifier mode can remove more than 100 pints of water from the air per day, whereas a more basic unit might only manage to remove 50 or 60 pints of water in that same time frame.


One feature we find exceptionally useful in a portable air conditioner is a timer. A timer allows you to program the air conditioner to switch itself on or off at certain times of the day. For instance, if you want your home to be nice and cool when you return from work, you can program your portable air conditioner to switch on 10 to 15 minutes before you're due back. Similarly, if you need the cooling effects of air conditioning to help you fall asleep—but you find yourself waking up cold in the night—you can program your portable air conditioner to switch itself off an hour or two after bedtime.

If you live in a humid climate, you would probably benefit from a portable air conditioner that also serves as a dehumidifier.

More Air-Conditioner Features


As a portable air conditioner cools the room, water collects in the unit. For units with a dehumidifying function, the amount of water can be significant. This means you must regularly empty or drain the portable air conditioner to remove the water. However, self-evaporating units get rid of the water themselves via evaporation.


Portable air-conditioning units aren't tiny, but they're not going to dominate the room, either. The average unit measures two to three feet tall, 17 to 20 inches wide, and 16 to 18 inches deep. Check the manufacturer's specifications to find the exact dimensions of your chosen model.

Temperature Control

You can set the temperature on a portable air conditioner to keep the room comfortable for you. We've found that 61°F to 89°F is a common temperature range seen on a portable AC unit, but some units may have a slightly larger or smaller temperature range.

Noise Level

Portable air conditioners aren't the quietest of appliances, but they shouldn't keep you awake at night either. Some manufacturers list the unit's noise level on the packaging; most range between 40 and 60 decibels.


Most Portable Air Conditioners Are Fairly Quiet

The noise output of most portable AC units ranges between 40 and 60 decibels. Here are some common comparisons: The babble of a stream puts out about 40 decibels; the hum of a refrigerator puts out about 50 decibels; the murmur of background conversation in a restaurant puts out about 60 decibels.

Portable Air-Conditioner Tips

Stay cool with these tips to get the best from your portable air conditioner.

● Place your portable air conditioner near a window. The reason: A portable air conditioner vents hot air out of the room via a hose.
● If you wish to run your portable air conditioner in your bedroom at night, choose one with a "lamp off" function. This function switches off the lights on the display panel so you're not disturbed.
● Keep nearby doors shut for maximum efficiency. A portable air conditioner is meant to be used in a closed-off space.
● Some units let you add additional air filters, such as antimicrobial filters that trap germs, bacteria, and mold spores.

A portable air conditioner with a built-in dehumidifier can shorten the time it takes to air-dry your clothes indoors. For people without a tumble dryer in their home, this is particularly helpful.

How Much Should I Spend on a Portable Air Conditioner?

Although portable air conditioners can cost a pretty penny, the investment should pay off for years to come. However, it's not always true that the most expensive portable air conditioners are the best. We advise potential buyers to check customer reviews or pick a model featured in our product matrix at the top of the page.

● Entry-level portable air conditioners with few extra features and low BTU ratings usually cost between $180 and $300.
● Expect to pay $300 to $400 for a mid-range portable air conditioner with a BTU rating of 10,000 to 12,000.
● A high-end portable air conditioner with a BTU rating of 13,000 or 14,000 will set you back around $400 to $600.

Portable Air Conditioner FAQ

Q. How do I properly maintain my portable air conditioner?
A. Unless you have a self-evaporating unit, drain your portable air conditioner every one to two days. You must also clean or change the air filter every couple of weeks and wipe down the unit to remove dust so it doesn't end up blowing it back into the room.

Q. Does my portable air conditioner come with a remote control?
A. That depends on which make and model you choose. Though many units do come with a remote control, not all do. To find out for sure, check the manufacturer's specifications.

While not essential, a remote control can be handy at times. For instance, if you're cozy in bed and want to turn your air conditioner off or on, you don't have to bother getting up if the remote control is already beside you.

Q. Can I use my portable air conditioner to warm my room as well as cool it?
A. Some portable air conditioning units also have a "heat" function that allows you to use it as a space heater in the cooler months.

Q. Can I use my portable air conditioner when camping?
A. Certainly. You'll need a campsite with an electrical hookup and an extension cord that can reach it. Also, to operate safely, your portable AC unit must vent to the outside. It's wise to set up your tent at home first in order to determine how to properly ventilate it.

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