We live in an age of wonders, and our daily lives are defined by technological marvels. So why is it so hard to keep our homes at the right temperature? If you’re tired of shivering under your bedsheets or waking up covered in sweat, then the time has come to upgrade your HVAC appliances. But that doesn’t’ mean you have to invest in central air or a bulky air conditioning unit. The best portable air conditioners put climate control in the palm of your hands.
There are two primary types of portable air conditioners. First, there are personal air conditioners or personal air coolers. These desktop-sized air conditioners use a refrigerant like a regular AC unit. You can place them on your desk when the office temperature becomes intolerable, and then easily tuck them away out of sight when things cool down. Unfortunately, these so-called personal chillers aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, and are rarely a better alternative to a desktop fan.
Instead, we recommend more traditional window-vent air conditioning units. Unlike window air conditioners, which are installed in the window frame, these portable appliances are placed on wheels so that they can be moved from room to room as needed. A small vent connects the unit to the outside air, and they effectively act as an air cooler and sometimes a humidifier and fan all in one.
Whether you’re overheating in the office or at home, we’ve got some great products for you. From desktop-sized air conditioner fans to portable air coolers and dehumidifers the size of R2D2, here are our favorite personal air conditioners.
A Note on BTUs…
Most air conditioning units are advertised based on their BTU, but most people aren’t familiar with this unit of measurement.
BTU stands for British Thermal Unit, and it’s a good indicator of how much cooling power an air conditioner will provide. This measurement is almost exclusively used in HVAC equipment. So what is a BTU? One BTU is equal to the amount of energy needed to increase the temperature of a pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.
Therefore, a 12,000 BTU unit can provide more cooling power than an 8,000 BTU unit. However, that also means that higher BTU units will use more energy, and thus increase your energy costs. In general, if you need to cool a room greater than 450 square feet, you will need a 12,000 BTU unit or higher.
1. Whynter ARC-148MS 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
Whynter is one of the most trusted makers of portable air conditioners, and the brand’s products tend to cost more than budget options. Typically, a 14,000 BTU unit will cost $500 or $600. However, the Whynter ARC-148MS model is marked down on Amazon to $400, which is a fantastic value. It’s rare to find a premium air cooler and humidifier product like this at the price, which is why we’re recommending this particular product. This air conditioner can cool and dehumidify a room up to 450 square feet and features an easy-to-use programmable timer. An advanced air filter cleans the evaporative air as it cools.
Pros: Extra-long window hose makes it easy to install. Powerful unit for a great price.
Cons: Not all customers will require 14,000 BTUs of cooling power. Uninspired, all-white design.
2. BLACK+DECKER Portable Air Conditioner
BEST BUDGET BUY
Great for bedrooms, dorm rooms, studios and any other small-to-medium-sized room in the house, this Black+Decker air conditioner unit is a portable powerhouse that utilizes a vertical cooling motion to provide better airflow. The cooled evaporative air helps keep you cool during those hot spring and summer months. While it may look like a heavy unit, it comes with four caster wheels built-in for easy portability, making this a great unit to have on hand.
Pros: Comes with a washable double-layered air filter that removes dust and dander from the air.
Cons: The unit’s air compressor can sometimes run loud. Short exhaust hose limits where the unit can be placed.
3. Whynter 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
BEST PREMIUM PICK
This portable unit is an all-in-one fan, air cooler and dehumidifier and comes equipped with a remote to easily switch between settings. The fan has three different speeds, and it can cool up to a 450-square-foot radius, making it a great option if you’re looking to cool off a larger room. The fan comes with three different speeds to choose from and the temperature is adjustable between 62-88℉. It also has a 24-hour programmable timer to keep your space comfortable all day.
Pros: Programmable timer, large temperature range, four different modes and three different fan speeds.
Cons: Some reviewers claim it’s too noisy.
4. Honeywell – 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
Like the Whynter model listed above, this is a premium personal portable air conditioner with extra cooling power. While there are more affordable air conditioners on this list that still offer a lot of cooling power, this is a high-quality unit that packs 12,000 BTUs of cooling power into a small, portable product. We love the black-and-silver frame with its sleek LED displays. This air conditioner can cool spaces up to 600 square feet and dehumidifies up to 79.2 pints of water from the air per day
Pros: Modern design will blend into your home decor. Longer exhaust hose makes it easier to install where it’s needed.
Cons: Premium product with a higher price tag. More cooling power than is needed for smaller rooms and studios.
5. Frigidaire 8,000 BTU Portable Room Air Conditioner
This Frigidaire 8,000 BTU air conditioner is a cost-effective personal air conditioner from a trusted brand. It can quickly cool a 350 square foot room. This unit features three fan speeds, a remote control, programmable timer and built-in dehumidifier. An antibacterial filter will keep mold and allergens from building up in the filter over time. And thanks to its compact design (it’s only 27 inches tall and 17 inches wide), it’s a great choice for studio apartments with limited space.
Pros: Antibacterial filter and built-in dehumidifier. Compact design is ideal for small spaces. Affordable price.
Cons: Only cools rooms up to 350 square feet.
6. De’Longhi 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner
As a portable air conditioner, a powerful dehumidifier and a fan, this De’Longhi model is arguably one of the most versatile portable AC units on the market. It comes with its own Bio Silver Filter, which is designed to help prevent mold and mildew, and smart drip-free technology helps to recycle condensation buildup within the unit. Best of all, installation only takes a few minutes and requires zero outside tools.
Pros: Multifunctional design helps provide added comfort, making it more than just a traditional air conditioner.
Cons: Higher AC settings may not be as powerful as some of the other portable AC units.
7. Vremi 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
BEST NEW RELEASE
Portable, powerful and incredibly quiet, this durable air conditioner fan unit is a great choice for larger spaces due to its bulked up cooling abilities. Its 10,000 BTU cooling capacity is perfect for rooms around 450 square feet, and the built-in swing function lets this unit evenly distribute cold air throughout the room. With a built-in dehumidifier and easily programmable control panel, you’ll be well on your way to cooling down in no time.
Pros: Modern LED display. Comes with a double-layered filter that removes dust and dander from the air.
Cons: The unit’s air compressor can sometimes run loud.
8. hOmeLabs 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
BEST FOR HOTTER AREAS
For when you need a little more cooling power to help beat the heat, this hOmeLabs personal air conditioner unit features 12,000 BTUs for added power. Complete with a built-in dehumidifier, it’s able to remove up to 100 pints of water from the air a day. Easy to assemble and even easier to use, it’s designed to quickly cool rooms ranging from 300 to 450 square feet.
Pros: Includes a fully functional remote control so you never have to leave the couch.
Cons: Fan speeds aren’t as fast as some other models.
9. Global Air 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
Sometimes basic isn’t a bad thing. This portable AC unit features 10,000 BTUs and is perfect for rooms up to 400 square feet. Unlike other options, this one requires the least amount of upkeep. Because it comes with its own built-in self-evaporative system, it doesn’t use a water tank, making it extra efficient. It also features a two-speed cooling fan and a smart (and bright) LED display for ease of use. And because it comes packed on wheels, you’ll have no problem moving this baby from room to room.
Pros: The simple, straightforward design is easy to assemble and even easier to use.
Cons: Higher cooling options tend to run a bit louder.
10. AmazonBasics Portable Air Conditioner
The AmazonBasics program offers affordable, mid-range products, and the brand is a common fixture in homes around the country. Amazon’s take on the portable air conditioner is a solid option for a room up to 450 square feet. Basically, it’s more than enough air conditioner for most rooms, offices and apartments. The temperature can be adjusted or programmed with the controls on the top of the unit or via remote control. Even better, it’s one of the best portable air conditioners under $400.
Pros: No-frills air conditioner from Amazon. Compact design measuring 27 inches tall and 14 inches wide.
Cons: Less powerful humidifier than other options. Uninspired black-and-white design.