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The 5 Best Portable Air Conditioners (2021 Review)

Portable air conditioners act as supplemental cooling to make you more comfortable when it’s hot and humid outside. In this review, the Old House Reviews Team researched the five best portable air conditioners on Amazon to help you find the product that’s right for you and your home. The products included in this article are available at various home improvement stores, local home centers, and online retailers like Amazon.

Portable Air Conditioner Courtesy Amazon

A portable air conditioner quickly and efficiently cools your space during the summer. The This Old House Reviews Team has researched the best portable air conditioners on Amazon to keep the heat at bay. Here are our top picks.

Best For Small Rooms: BLACK+DECKER Portable Air Conditioner

The small size and low weight of this portable air conditioner make it perfect for dorm rooms, cabins, campers, and other spaces up to 150 square feet in size. It’s also easy to install; simply wheel it into your room and attach its hose to the included window adapter.

Key Features

  • 52.9 pounds
  • 5,000 British Thermal Units (BTUs) of power to cool up to 150 square feet
  • Remote control
  • Top-facing control panel
  • Cool, fan, and dehumidifying modes

What Customers Are Saying

This portable air conditioner has an average of 4.4 stars out of 5 stars from over 8,000 global Amazon reviews. Eight percent of Amazon customers gave this product a 1- or 2-star rating, while 86% of customers gave it a 4- or 5-star rating.

Positive reviews said that this portable air conditioner was easy to set up. Many also liked the soft sound it created because it acted as white noise. However, some customers were concerned about this model’s fire safety because the plug would sometimes smoke while the unit was on.

Best For Large Rooms: Whynter Dual-Hose Portable Air Conditioner

You can cool rooms up to 500 square feet in size using this 14,000-BTU portable air conditioner that can also function as a dehumidifier or a fan. Additionally, this unit is an eco-friendly choice because it uses a CFC-free R-32 refrigerant.

Key Features

  • 80 pounds
  • 14,000 BTUs of power to cool up to 500 square feet
  • Remote control
  • Front-facing control panel
  • Cool, fan, and dehumidifying modes

What Customers Are Saying

Nearly 6,000 Amazon customers have reviewed this dual-hose portable air conditioner. Out of these customers, 83% gave it 4 or 5 stars, and 10% gave it 1 or 2 stars for an average of 4.3 stars out of 5 stars.

Customers were happy with the quality of this portable air conditioner, with many saying that it was long-lasting. Other positive reviews noted that the window kit made installation easy. Unsatisfied customers said that the unit struggled to keep their home cool and that it was noisy.

Best Smart Unit: Midea Three-in-One Portable Air Conditioner

This lightweight, portable air conditioner offers 10,000 BTUs of power for cool, dehumidifier, and fan modes. This unit also has Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing you to control it with a voice assistant or smartphone in addition to its body panel and remote.

Key Features

  • 67.9 pounds
  • 10,000 BTUs of power to cool up to 200 square feet
  • Wi-Fi-enabled for voice assistant or smartphone control
  • Remote control
  • Top-facing control panel
  • Cool, fan, and dehumidifying modes

What Customers Are Saying

Over 2,900 Amazon customers have reviewed this product to give it an average rating of 4.3 stars. Eighty-one percent of reviewers gave this portable air conditioner a 4- or 5-star rating, while 10% of reviewers gave it 2 stars or less.

Satisfied customers said that this portable air conditioner cooled their room effectively year after year. Other reviews pointed out that it had a pleasant white noise, especially on its auto setting. Negative reviews said that it was weak and could only cool small rooms.

Best Multifunction Unit: SereneLife Four-in-One Portable Air Conditioner

You can heat and cool a room with this four-in-one portable air conditioner that offers 10,000 BTUs of cooling power and 9,000 BTUs of heating power. It can also be used as a fan or dehumidifier. In addition to this, the SereneLife portable air conditioner has wheels for easy mobility and a coverage area of 400 square feet for medium-sized rooms.

Key Features

  • 56.48 pounds
  • 10,000 BTUs of power to cool up to 325 square feet
  • Remote control
  • Top-facing control panel
  • Heat, cool, fan, and dehumidifying modes

What Customers Are Saying

This portable air conditioner has a 4.2-star average rating from over 1,300 Amazon customer reviews. Eighty-two percent of customers rated this portable air conditioner model at 4 stars or more, and 13% rated it at 2 stars or less.

Positive reviews highlighted that this portable air conditioner was easy to maneuver and install. Other reviews praised this portable air conditioner for its practical remote control and energy efficiency. In contrast, negative reviews said that it was loud and didn’t effectively cool their space.

Quietest Unit: Whynter Elite Portable Air Conditioner

This portable air conditioner, heater, and dehumidifier provides 12,000 BTUs of power and features a dual-hose system. It also produces 52 decibels of sound to keep it quiet while you’re working, sleeping, or lounging.

Key Features

  • 60 pounds
  • 12,000 BTUs of power to cool up to 400 square feet
  • Remote control
  • Front-facing control panel
  • Cool, fan, and dehumidifying modes

What Customers Are Saying

This portable air conditioner has a 4.2-star average rating from close to 1,000 reviewers. Eighty percent of these reviewers gave this model 4 stars or more, while 12% gave it 2 stars or less.

Positive reviews noted the usefulness of the included remote control and the quiet nature of the motor. Many customers also enjoyed the dual-hose system because it was more efficient than single-hose models. Negative reviews mentioned that their model failed within a year of use and that Whynter customer service was difficult to communicate with.

Buyer’s Guide

This buying guide will help you find the best portable air conditioner to keep every room in your house cool and comfortable.

Cooling Power

The cooling power of a portable air conditioner is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs). Portable air conditioners typically have a cooling power between 7,000 and 15,000 BTUs. The larger a room, the higher BTU output your unit will need to cool it.

Noise

Portable air conditioners can be noisy while they’re running, especially when compared to permanent central air conditioning systems. If you’re easily distracted by noise, purchase a portable air conditioner that features noise-suppression technology to keep it running below 60 decibels.

Settings

Some portable air conditioners can do more than cool a space. Many feature fan, dehumidifier, and heater settings. This makes them useful all year round.

Filter

Most portable air conditioners feature a filter that removes contaminants from the air they’re cooling. Common filter types include:

  • Activated carbon: This type of filter removes smoke and odor from the air. It has to be replaced every few weeks because it can’t be cleaned.
  • Antimicrobial: This filter traps small molecules, such as pollen and dust, and prevents bacterial growth. It can be cleaned, but it should still be replaced three to four times per year.
  • Electrostatic charge: These filters also trap small molecules, but they must be replaced every two to three months.
  • Pre-filter: This filter traps large pieces of debris, such as pet hair. It can usually be cleaned.
  • Silver ion: These filters remove allergens and other irritants in addition to breaking down larger pieces of debris. However, they have to be replaced more frequently than the other types of filters.

Other Features

Additional features that can improve the effectiveness of a portable air conditioner include:

  • LED displays
  • Temperature control settings
  • Exhaust hoses
  • Storage bags
  • Remote controls

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know what size portable air conditioner I need to cool my room?

Start by measuring the area of your room in square feet. From there, you can calculate the needed power using this chart:

  • 200 square feet or smaller = 8,000 BTUs
  • 201–300 square feet = 10,000 BTUs
  • 301–400 square feet = 12,000 BTUs
  • 401–450 square feet = 14,000 BTUs
  • 451–500 square feet = 16,000 BTUs

How often do I have to clean or replace the filter of my portable air conditioner?

It depends on the type of filter that your portable air conditioner uses. Activated carbon and silver ion filters can’t be cleaned, so they have to be replaced every few weeks. Electrostatic charge and antimicrobial filters can be cleaned to extend their lifespan, but they should still be replaced every three months.

Where in the room should I put my portable air conditioner?

Place your portable air conditioner in a spot where it can effectively cool the entire room. Many units include installation kits for placing them on windowsills or underneath windows. Other popular locations include in corners and against walls.

To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews Team at reviews@thisoldhousereviews.com.