With summer just around the corner and temperatures begin to rise, most of us are anticipating how enjoyable that warm weather is going to be. Who doesn’t want to spend some time under the warmth of the sun after those long cold winter months? Especially if you plan to do all that while relaxing by the pool, at the beach, or your local park. Of course, it goes without saying that you don’t want all that heat following you inside the home. Which means that if you don’t have central air conditioning or misting/pedestal fans, you’re going to need something that’ll keep your home at a comfortably cool temperature during the hottest days of summer. This is where portable air conditioners come in. If you’re in the market for best portable air conditioners, then check out the 6 best in the market below.
Top 6 Portable Air Conditioners Of 2020 Reviewed
1. Whynter ARC-14S 14000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air ConditionerBest Portable Air Conditioners For Large Rooms
The Whynter ARC-14S our number one pick. It’s also the number one for a lot of other trusted review sites. Why? Because it’s has everything you’re looking for in a portable AC. This 14,000 BTU model has three operational modes – air conditioner, fan, and dehumidifier. It can easily cool an area as large as 500 square feet.
It provides you with full thermostatic control and features a digital readout, a programmable 24-hour timer, 3 fan speeds, a remote control, and a patented auto drain function so you don’t need to do it yourself. Also, the unit uses eco-friendly CFC-free Green R-410A refrigerant as well as a washable pre-filter and an activated carbon filter. Plus, it comes with dual-hose ventilation which allows it to still be effective even during hot, muggy weather.
However, the unit is heavy so take that into consideration if you plan it place it on the second floor of your home. The remote control is not backlit which makes it ineffective if you want to use it in the middle of the night without turning the lights on. And it takes up a lot of space.
- Three operational modes
- Eco-friendly refrigerant
- Dual hose ventilation
- Very heavy
- Remote control is not backlit
- Large footprint
2. BLACK + DECKER BPACT08WT Portable Air ConditionerBest Portable Air Conditioners For Small Room
If you only plan to cool a small area, then the BLACK + DECKER BPACT08WT Portable Air Conditioner is a good option. It features easy-to-use programmable, electronic controls that include a 24-hour on/off timer and sleep mode. It also has an LED digital display that’s easy to see, a remote control, a slide-out filter, and 4 caster wheels for easy portability. The unit also uses environmentally friendly R410a refrigerant. This is so easy to install that you’ll be cooling yourself soon after you take this thing home. However, for a small unit, this can get very noisy. It is heavy as well which makes it difficult to lift up the stairs.
- Easy to use
- Remote control
- Cools a small room significantly
- Very noisy
3. SPT WA-1420E Portable Air ConditionerBest Portable Air Conditioners For Humid Climates
This portable AC has a 14,000 BTU rating which makes it an excellent option for cooling large spaces. But that’s not all it does. This SPT model can also dehumidify a room without cooling or heating it up. Aside from these two operational modes, the unit also comes with a fan mode for air circulation. There are a lot of other features to love about the SPT WA-1420E. It has an intelligent auto restart function that stores your settings and restarts the unit at the previous setting after a power outage.
It also has a self-evaporative system, a programmable timer, three fan speeds, and a user-friendly control panel and remote. What makes this unit stand out, even more, is the use of a non-ozone depleting refrigerant that is free of harmful chemicals. However, it does use up a lot of power which has been reported to trip breakers. It is noisy and you need to insulate the exhaust tube because it can get very hot.
- Dehumidifier function
- Self-evaporative system
- Intelligent auto restart function
- Large power consumption
- Exhaust tube can get very hot; requires insulation
4. EdgeStar AP12000S Portable Air ConditionerBest Portable Air Conditioners For Allergies
The EdgeStar AP12000S is a 12,000 BTU portable air conditioner that can cool an area measuring up to 425 square feet. It comes with a patented Auto-Drain system which exhausts most (if not all) of the condensate automatically. It features 3 fan speed, a dehumidifier function, a programmable timer, an adjustable digital thermostat, a remote control, and caster wheels.
The unit also comes with a washable pre-filter and a replaceable carbon filter to help reduce the contaminants and improve the indoor air quality of your home. The EdgeStar also features an intelligent design auto restart function which remembers your last selected settings in the event of a power outage. Once the power comes back on, the unit will restart automatically just as before. However, this unit can get loud which can be inconvenient if you’re a light sleeper. The exhaust hose is very short which can be problematic if you have a high window or a slider type window.
- Dehumidifier function and auto-drain system
- Comes with filters
- Remote control
- Very short exhaust tube
5. Frigidaire – FFPA1222U1Best Portable Air Conditioners For Apartments
This 12,000 BTU portable air conditioner from Frigidaire is one of the most user-friendly models we’ve come across. The controls are very intuitive. You can choose between four modes and four fan speeds. You can also set the precise temperature and even use the built-in timer to make the unit turn on and off in half-hour increments. Even better, you can control the unit from across the room using the remote control.
The unit also comes with a filter reduces bacteria, room odors, and other airborne particles to help improve the indoor air quality of your home. However, it isn’t a quiet unit. You do need to frequently drain the water that the unit accumulates when the unit is set to “cool” or “dry” using a hose and bucket. Not exactly aesthetically pleasing to look at. Also, it is not Energy Star certified.
- User-friendly controls
- Built-in timer
- Filter for improving indoor air quality
- Requires you to empty out the reservoir using a hose
- Nowm wheels
- Not Energy Star certified
6. LG – LP1218GXR
The LG LP1218GXR is a portable AC with 12,000 BTU which is enough to effectively cool a space of up to 400 square meters. The oscillating air vent ensures that every inch of that space feels the cool air. The unit comes with a programmable 24-hour timer so you can control the room’s temperature even if you’re not there. There are multiple fan speeds to choose from including auto cool. Even better, this unit is a self-evaporative model so there’s no bucket of water to empty out. However, it is heavy at 77 lbs. And some users found the unit a little noisy.
- Self-evaporative model
- Programmable 24-hour timer
- Oscillating air vent
- Slightly noisy for some
- Not Energy Star certified
How to Choose the Best Portable Air Conditioner: The Ultimate Buying Guide
Don’t let the heat get to you if you can’t get central air conditioning or a window AC inside your home. There are quite a number of affordable and effective portable air conditioners that you can use to keep you cool during hot summer days. Of course, choosing the right portable air conditioner isn’t as easy as it sounds. Some models will be more suitable to your needs than others. To help you figure out which portable air conditioner will work best for your home, we’ve constructed this fairly in-depth buying guide.
How Does a Portable Air Conditioner Work?
A portable air conditioner is a self-contained portable system cools a room by removing heat and moisture from the air and releasing it outside through an exhaust hose. It is able to do that through chemical refrigerants that flow through a series of coiled tubes which absorbs the heat from inside the room. Take note that most portable air conditioners have their vents installed through a window with a single or dual hose. Some models are vented through a drop ceiling or wall.
You’ll notice that one of the main differences between a window AC and a portable AC is that the former has a portion of the unit outside the house where it releases the heat absorbed from the room. This is why window ACs are more efficient AND quiet. In addition, because portable air conditioners need an exhaust hose for venting, they aren’t really all that portable (though they do have wheels).
What Size Should You Get?
The most important factor you should consider when choosing a portable air conditioner is the size. These units are rated in British Thermal Units or BTUs which shows you how much heat it is able to remove from the space in an hour. The higher the BTU rating, the more capable a portable AC is in cooling a large room.
Of course, there are other factors that can affect how a portable AC will be able to cool a given space such as poor insulation, the temperature outside, etc. That being said, you can use the guidelines below to figure out how much cooling capacity you need in a portable AC:
- For a room measuring 200 square feet, an 8,000-BTU portable air conditioner like the BLACK + DECKER BPACT08WT Portable Air Conditioner should be sufficient.
- For a room measuring 300 square feet, a 10,000-BTU model like the BLACK + DECKER 10000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner is recommended.
- For a room measuring 400 square feet, a 12,000-BTU unit like the EdgeStar AP12000S Portable Air Conditioner is effective in cooling the space.
- For a room measuring 450 square feet, a 13,000-BTU unit is usually sufficient.
- For a room measuring 500 square feet, a 14,000-BTU model like the SPT WA-1420E Portable Air Conditioner is usually enough to cover the entire space.
Do You Get Single or Dual Hose Ventilation?
All portable air conditioners need to be vented in order to be able to remove the hot air from inside your home. There are two types of setups used to do this – single hose and dual hose ventilation.
Single-Hose ventilation is pretty simple. The hose that takes in the fresh air is also the same hose that exhausts hot air. This makes it easier to install and look at. The Frigidaire – FFPA1222U1, for example, has single-hose ventilation.
A dual-hose setup, on the other hand, uses two hoses – one for intake and the other as the exhaust. For this reason, a portable AC with dual-hose ventilation like the Whynter ARC-14S 14000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner is often more effective at cooling a space during hot, muggy weather.
Is the Unit Energy Efficient?
Using an AC, even a portable one, means higher energy costs which means that you should make sure that the model you choose is as energy efficient as possible. To do this, look for models that are Energy Star certified. In addition, you may want to look for features such as Eco mode (a.k.a. energy-saver mode) or a programmable thermostat that will cause the unit to turn off once it has reached your desired temp.
Does It Have a Dehumidifier Function?
As we’ve already mentioned, portable ACs remove moisture from the air. But some units like the SPT WA-1420E Portable Air Conditioner take it a step further. On days that do not require you to run the AC, the unit can just function as a humidifier – taking the moisture out of the room and reducing its humidity level without adding cool air.
How Noisy is It?
It’s a given that portable ACs will be noisier than window ACs. However, that doesn’t mean that you won’t find a unit that’s relatively quiet. To check the noise level of a unit, look at the manufacturer’s noise rating. Anything that is rated at 56 dB or higher may be too noisy.
Is There a Warranty?
Most portable ACs come with a one-year warranty. Some budget-friendly ones don’t. High-end models usually come with a five-year warranty. When choosing a unit, make sure that your models come with one so your investment is protected. More importantly, check to see what is covered by the warranty. Some warranties only cover replacement parts but not the labor.
How Portable is It?
We have also mentioned that portable ACs are not really all that portable. These units require the installation of a vent. Plus, the units themselves can get quite heavy (up to 100 lbs). But if you want to be able to use your unit to cool whichever room you happen to be in, you can make moving it easier by choosing a unit that features casters or wheels. Weight is also a factor that you should consider if you plan to move the unit up or down the stairs. If so, you should opt for a lightweight unit.
How Easy is it to Use?
You should look for user-friendly controls. Check how intuitive it is to use. Does it come with a remote control? This can make it convenient for you to adjust the speed without having to leave your bed. The Frigidaire – FFPA1222U1, for example, comes with a remote control that allows you to change the fan speed and temperature from across the room. Digital displays are great and user-friendly but the lights may be too bright for sensitive sleepers.
Aside from use, you should also look at how easy the unit is to maintain. Since it will be capturing moisture from the air, it will have a storage space for it inside which will need to be emptied from time to time. Depending on the unit, you may have to empty out a pan or pump the water out. Some models like the LG – LP1218GXR don’t require emptying out at all because they are self-evaporative.
What’s Your Budget?
Portable ACs range from around $300 to $650. For a small area, you can find a suitable unit for $300 to $400. For a large area, you’ll need to shell out around $550 to $650.