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Without central AC, keeping your home cool during the summer can feel impossible. The best solution? A great portable air conditioner.
An overheated home is annoying at best and downright oppressive at worst. Simple chores like cooking and cleaning become dreaded tasks while working in your home office can become very unproductive. The best portable air conditioners effectively cool (and dehumidify) your home but can also be moved from room to room (either carried by hand or with its built-in wheels) for more targeted cooling. This means you can chill your office during the day, the living room in the evening, and the bedroom at night. Portable air conditioners are far better than any noisy fan or bug-inviting open window, creating a cool haven from the heat, without the annoyances.
If you’re ready to upgrade your home with one of the best portable air conditioners, read on. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite portable air conditioners and compiled a few key features to take into consideration when shopping.
What Are the Best Portable Air Conditioners?
The best portable air conditioners deliver fast, efficient cooling in tiny units that can be easily positioned and moved from room to room. Here’s what you need to know before buying one.
Noise Level: We don’t want to give up peace and quiet for a cooler home. This is why a low noise level is one of the most desirable features of a portable air conditioner. Without an annoying whir, you’ll be able to sleep better, watch TV, and work from home sans distractions.
Size: The best portable air conditioners are compact and easy to squeeze into small rooms. Size doesn’t vary too much between our picks, but it’s a good idea to measure floor space near windows in your home to make sure an air conditioner will fit.
Power: Air conditioner power is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units) and typically ranges from about 8,000 to 14,000. We’ve chosen high-powered models that can quickly cool down large rooms in minutes.
Coverage: The amount of space that a portable air conditioner can cool is related to its power but still fluctuates depending on the design and extra technology. Get a sense of how much space your new portable air conditioner needs to cover and check each model for the closest fit. Once you plug in the unit, you’ll want to position the portable AC so that cool air blows directly into the area you want to chill.
Design: Although portable AC units serve an important functional purpose, they’re still a decent-sized appliance going in your home. For this reason, the best portable air conditioners are elegantly designed to avoid being an eyesore.
1. De’Longhi Pinguino 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner
This portable air conditioner from De’Longhi is the best of the best. It packs 14,000 BTUs in a sleek, compact unit capable of cooling a whopping 700 square feet.
The De’Longhi is actually a 3-in-1, dehumidifying and circulating air, in addition to normal cooling. This quickly eliminates humidity, which is often the real culprit during uncomfortable summer days. Controlling all this is very easy thanks to De’Longhi’s SMART remote which can sense temperature and humidity to cool and dehumidify accordingly.
Plus, despite all its power, the De’Longhi is also whisper-quiet thanks to additional technology to reduce the noise level.
2. BLACK+DECKER Portable Air Conditioner
BLACK+DECKER is a leading source for some of the best portable air conditioners. Their units are easy to use, compact and effective for cooling any room.
This model boasts a dehumidifier and a very respectable 12,000 BTUs, ensuring enough power to chill a 150-square-foot room. The dehumidifier also comes with a handy Self-Evaporation system that means you’ll rarely have to empty the water bucket, if at all. Noise level is reported as fairly solid – the dedicated “sleep mode” is certainly quieter than a busy street.
You’ll get four energy-efficient modes, but the biggest draw to this air conditioner is that it can convert into a pretty powerful heater to keep your home toasty in the winter (up to 81°F). While having heating and cooling in one unit can save you some cash, features like a mode that regulates temperatures at night and a 24-hour customizable timer will also keep your energy costs low.
3. Midea Duo
Midea’s Duo is a 3-in-1 portable air conditioner that’s an excellent choice if you want to control your room’s climate whether you’re home or not.
We’ve tested the unit out for ourselves, and found it very easy to set up and manage. You can install the Duo in either a hung window (one that opens vertically) or a casement window (one that opens horizontally). Midea includes a fair amount of insulation, which keeps cool air from escaping, and warm air from entering your room.
In our experience, the Midea Duo was able to replace two traditional in-window air conditioners when used at maximum power on the lowest temperature setting. Midea says the 14,000 BTU air conditioner is capable of cooling spaces up to 550 sq. ft, and that was true in our case.
While the air conditioner made a fair amount of noise on full blast, it was never a nuisance and worked very quietly on lower settings. If you don’t want to run your air conditioner all day, the Midea Duo also has a dehumidifier and a fan setting if you’d like to cool your room.
You can control the Midea Duo’s settings using buttons on its face, or an app available on iOS and Android, which allows you to turn the air conditioner on and off, and change its cooling settings. Having this level of control allows you to use the air conditioner as efficiently as possible instead of constantly running it on a lower setting all the time.
4. Whynter ARC-14S Portable Air Conditioner
Another premium portable air conditioner worth considering is this Whynter ARC-14S. It uses a top-of-the-line 14,000 BTU system that cools, dehumidifiers, and circulates air. This is ample power for bringing a 500-square-foot room to 61 degrees Fahrenheit while a built-in thermostat keeps the room at your desired temperature.
The Whynter is also one of the better-looking portable air conditioners on the market with a sleek front panel. Noise level is decent at 56 dB, although some might find the AC unit to be a tad loud. But with a little more noise comes more power, and this air conditioner features a dual hose system (most portable ACs only have one) that cools a room faster than all the options on this list, so you’ll never have to wait to chill out.
5. Evapolar evaCHILL Personal Portable Air Conditioner
This mini portable air conditioner from Evapolar is one of the most truly portable picks, giving you a targeted blast of cooling air that’s great for just aiming at your couch (or your face) on a hot, summer day. Small but mighty, it’s several steps above keeping a hand-held fan on you when you go camping or on road trips—the stylish design is not only sleek but ultra-lightweight, at just 1.7 pounds.
Since the cooling area is as compact as its size, around 45 square feet, this device is truly for personal cooling. Perch it on your desk while you work from home, or at the foot of your bed to sleep a little more comfortably (bonus: it also functions as a nightlight). The 3-in-1 system cools, humidifies, and purifies the air, all while being whisper quiet compared to bulkier AC models.
What we like: the evaCHILL uses Evapolar’s patented inorganic nanofibers, which the company stays more sterile after continuous use, so you won’t have to worry about breathing in excess bacteria and mold.