The Best Portable Air Conditioner (2024)

The research

  • Why you should trust us
  • How we picked and tested
  • Our pick: Midea Duo MAP14HS1TBL
  • Runner-up: Midea Duo MAP12S1TBL
  • Also great: Frigidaire FHPH142AC1
  • Also great: LG LP1419IVSM
  • Also great: EcoFlow Wave 2 Portable Air Conditioner
  • Budget pick: Black+Decker BPACT14WT
  • What to look forward to
  • The competition
  • Care and maintenance
  • Footnotes
  • Sources

Why you should trust us

We’ve been considering and testing air conditioners in general since 2013 and evaluating portable units in particular since 2016. In that time, we’ve put over 150 hours into researching and testing the full field, spending dozens of hours focused on portables specifically. We’ve considered more than 200 portable models and performed hands-on trials with nearly three dozen of the best options available. We’ve met with manufacturers at trade shows and events, corresponded with sources over years of interviews, and combed through volumes of Department of Energy material about AC efficiency standards.

Staff writer Thom Dunn has written Wirecutter guides to window air conditioners, room fans, space heaters, and more. He has also published articles for The Huffington Post, Upworthy, Vice, The Weather Channel, and other outlets, and in 2019 he was commissioned by Cornell University to create a full-length play about community responses to climate change. He is particularly good at being cool.

This guide builds on earlier work by writer Liam McCabe.

How we picked and tested

Most people look for the same thing from a portable air conditioner as they expect of any home cooling system:

  • It should make the room feel more comfortable.
  • It shouldn’t run up the electric bill (too much).
  • And it shouldn’t be too loud or inconvenient to set up and use.

Historically, this has been a pretty big ask for a portable air conditioner. In recent years, however, the Department of Energy finalized new standards for measuring the seasonally adjusted cooling capacity (SACC) and combined energy-efficiency ratio (CEER) of portable ACs. These new metrics are much more comprehensive and helpful—although the way that certain machines are labeled can still be a bit confusing. (When in doubt, consult the EnergyGuide label on the box.)

For this guide, we limited our search to portable air conditioners that met a minimum SACC threshold of 8,000 British thermal units (Btu) per hour, according to these new standards. We prioritized models with a CEER of at least 7.0, as well.

All portable air conditioners have at least one large exhaust hose that must vent out through your window, and some have two. In most situations, the number of hoses doesn’t have a huge impact on performance, so we didn’t factor it into our decision making; any efficiency lost or gained by an extra or missing hose should be factored into the SACC rating, anyway. The one major exception, however, is if you plan on setting up your portable AC in a room with a furnace or water heater or anything else that uses combustion. We’ve added more details about that below.

With our performance needs met, we set up our finalists in a roughly 250-square-foot space and tested for measurable objective criteria, including:

  • Temperature and humidity changes: We measured over the course of two hours, using an environmental data logger.
  • Power consumption: During our tests, we plugged each AC into an energy monitor.
  • Volume and noise: At each different power setting, we used a decibel meter to track the general volume and an audio spectrum analyzer app to identify any uniquely annoying frequencies.

That data was secondary to our subjective note taking on the overall user experience of living with these things—you learn a lot about these units as you set them up, roll them around, and fiddle with their vent-hose attachments in the window. We focused on details such as:

  • Basic setup process: We examined how easy it was to connect the exhaust tube, whether the window panel required tools or cumbersome construction, and how quickly we could set up any smart-home or Wi-Fi connections.
  • Portability: We evaluated how well the AC moved around on casters, with or without the exhaust hose installed in the window. We also considered the ease of removing the unit and storing it in between seasons, as well as general accessibility considerations for people with limited mobility.
  • Onboard and remote controls: We looked at how intuitive the buttons were, as well as how easy (or difficult) it was to customize settings, and we noted the brightness and convenience of any LED indicator lights. We also considered remote functionality.
  • Other accessories: We noted any extra features, such as cord storage, a remote control, or the ability to connect to an app—minor factors that had an impact on the overall experience but not enough to influence our decisions in a significant way.

Our pick: Midea Duo MAP14HS1TBL

The Best Portable Air Conditioner (1)

Our pick

Midea Duo MAP14HS1TBL

The best portable air conditioner

This portable AC’s powerful inverter compressor and its secondary role as a heater help it dial in a precise comfort level quietly, effectively, and efficiently for most of the year.

Buying Options

$699 from Amazon

With its inverter compressor and its unique dual-hose design, the Midea Duo MAP14HS1TBL is more powerful, more efficient, and quieter than any other portable air conditioner we’ve tested. It’s also easier to set up and generally more pleasant to live with than similar ACs. Plus, the Duo MAP14HS1TBL comes with a built-in heating mechanism, so you may be able to use it for year-round climate control, depending on where you live.

It delivers more powerful cooling than other portable ACs. With an SACC of 12,000 Btu under the new Department of Energy standards or 14,000 Btu according to the older ASHRAE standards, the Duo MAP14HS1TBL is simply one of the most powerful portable air conditioners you can find. It also has the smallest gap we’ve seen between those two measurements—which, without getting too in the weeds, is a good indicator of a high-quality design.

It’s impressively quiet. In our tests, we measured the Duo MAP14HS1TBL running at an average volume of 48 decibels. Though that’s about 2 decibels more than the volume of our also-great pick from LG, this Midea model is still much quieter than most portable air conditioners, and its noise is still significantly below the generally accepted “normal conversation” volume of 60 decibels. Even the compressor was hardly noticeable when it first kicked on, adding about 2 decibels of low rumble to the fan volume on average.

It’s remarkably efficient. The Duo MAP14HS1TBL has a CEER rating, under the current standards, of 10.8, which is the highest efficiency rating we’ve seen on any portable air conditioner. Even our runner-up pick, also from Midea, has an efficiency rating of only 8.9. (Most models we looked at had a CEER rating between 6.8 and 7.3.) Thanks to the inverter compressor on this model, it can gradually fluctuate its power usage, as well. Whereas most similarly sized portable ACs with standard compressors tend to run at 1,300 watts, the Duo MAP14HS1TBL never used more than 970 watts during our tests, and typically it used even less.

It spreads cool air consistently around the room. The Duo MAP14HS1TBL has a rotating cylinder fan on the top that sort of tosses the cooled air up and out in an arc. In our tests, this mechanism worked surprisingly well: This portable AC was able to drop the temperature by 10 degrees in under an hour while maintaining a roughly 1-degree temperature fluctuation across the room. In that regard, it was more consistent than any other AC we tested, with the exception of our also-great pick from Frigidaire. Even the Danby model we tested, which was identical to this Midea AC in nearly every way except for the fan, couldn’t match its uniform cooling prowess.

The dual-hose design makes it easier to wrangle. Portable ACs with two hoses typically have a slight efficiency advantage over single-hose models; unfortunately, they also tend to be more cumbersome, which sort of offsets any benefit. But the Duo MAP14HS1TBL stands out with an unusual design that combines the intake and exhaust hoses into a single tube that’s built directly into the unit—giving you all the advantages of dual hoses without the frustration of having to wrestle with a pair of annoying plastic snakes that keep detaching from your air conditioner.

The installation process is surprisingly simple. Along with that built-in hose-in-hose design, the Duo MAP14HS1TBL comes with a comprehensive window-installation kit that makes it easily adaptable for a variety of homes. The kit accompanying our unit included so many hardware options that we weren’t even sure what kinds of windows they all worked for; suffice to say, there should be a way to make this AC work for almost any setup you might have. The dual hose snaps right into place on the window panels, too—though you might want to cover the cracks with some insulation tape, anyway.

It comes with a comprehensive remote control and all of the smart-home features you might need, which is especially great for accessibility. We found the built-in user interface to be particularly clear and easy to use; by contrast, the Danby model we tested had the exact same button layout with different markings, and it managed to confuse us every time. Even the Alexa voice commands for the Duo MAP14HS1TBL felt natural.

Thanks to its heating mode, this AC can handle climate control year-round. Though this guide is largely focused on portable units’ cooling capacity, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that the Duo MAP14HS1TBL also has a built-in 12,000 Btu heat pump. That’s more than enough power for it to provide some efficient electrical heating in the cooler months.

It’s one of the more attractive portable ACs we’ve seen. To be fair, that’s kind of like saying that R2-D2 is better looking than R5-D4—sure, one is a little more sleek-looking, but at the end of the day, they all resemble trash cans on wheels.1

Flaws but not dealbreakers

At 77 pounds, the Duo MAP14HS1TBL is one of the heavier portable ACs. It’s about 10 pounds heavier than our budget pick and more than 15 pounds heavier than the convertible GE dual-hose model we tested. Carrying any portable AC up and down stairs is a challenge, but this model’s added heft amplifies the problem. Fortunately, its caster wheels and handles make it easy enough to move around on flat, hard surfaces.

Runner-up: Midea Duo MAP12S1TBL

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Midea Duo MAP12S1TBL

Similar cooling, less power, no heat

Just as quiet as our top pick, this version costs less, has a little less cooling power, and does not include a heater.

Buying Options

$599 from Amazon

$599 from Lowe's

If you don’t mind trading some cooling (and heating) power for a bit of cost savings, the Midea Duo MAP12S1TBL is a smaller, stripped-down version of our top pick that works nearly as well.

It has the same inverter compressor and dual-hose design as our top pick. Those are two of the most important factors for energy-efficient performance—and they’re the things that set Midea’s portable air conditioners apart from the rest of the pack. The MAP12S1TBL has all the same smart-home features, too, and it’s just as quiet and consistent at spreading cooled air around the room. Put another way, this Midea model works just as well as the other one, which is also better than almost any other portable AC you’ll find.

It’s about $100 cheaper than our top pick on average. Portable air conditioners tend to cost more in general than their window-mounted counterparts, and overall AC prices fluctuate throughout the season. That said, this model tends to cost around $560, while our top pick from Midea averages about $660.

This Midea AC isn’t quite as powerful, or as efficient, as our top pick. With an SACC of 10,000 Btu by the current DOE standards (or 12,000 Btu according to the older ASHRAE standards), this Midea model is still more powerful than most other portable ACs out there. Its combined energy-efficiency ratio (CEER) of 8.9 is similarly smaller than what you get from our top pick, but it still represents an improvement on almost any other option.

It doesn’t have a heating mechanism, as our top pick does. For some people, this could be a fair trade-off, especially considering the cost savings.

Also great: Frigidaire FHPH142AC1

The Best Portable Air Conditioner (5)

Also great

Frigidaire FHPH142AC1

Powerful, quiet, less efficient

This cooling and heating AC is not an inverter model, but it’s just as powerful as our top pick, and it spreads the air more evenly around the room.

Buying Options

$480 from Home Depot

$486 from Wayfair

Although the single-hose Frigidaire FHPH142AC1 is not an inverter-style portable AC, in our tests it provided even more consistent cooling than our other picks, and it was almost as quiet, too. Like the Midea Duo MAP14HS1TBL, this Frigidaire AC includes a heating supplement (though a cooling-only version, the Frigidaire FHPW142AC1, is also available for $50 less). It also comes with a remote control as well as convenient smart-home features, along with a few unusual perks such as improved filtration and air ionization.

It’s just as powerful as our top pick, and it spreads the cooled air more evenly around the room. With a 10,000 Btu SACC rating under the current Department of Energy standards, the FHPH142AC1 boasts the same cooling prowess as the Duo MAP14HS1TBL. In our tests, it actually did a slightly better job of dropping the temperature in the first half hour, though the two models ultimately worked about the same over the course of two hours. This Frigidaire portable AC was also better at maintaining a consistent temperature, with our monitors measuring less than a half-degree difference between them.

Like our top pick, it also offers a heating option. This Frigidaire model’s built-in heat pump can provide up to 11,000 Btu of warmth during the cooler months—slightly less than the power output from the Duo MAP14HS1TBL but still more than enough for efficient electric heating.

It also has several features that could potentially improve your air quality. While the FHPH142AC1 comes with its own standard air filter by default, you also get the option to upgrade to one of Frigidaire’s MERV-14 PureAir RAC-6 filters, which surpass the COVID-19 filtration levels recommended by both ASHRAE and the CDC. Meanwhile, even if you don’t want to pay the extra cost for an air ionizer, this Frigidaire AC still comes with one built in. We’re skeptical of the health claims of such ionizers, but the ionizer’s presence shouldn’t hurt, either, and it might bring you some more comfort.

It’s a little louder than our other picks but still quieter than most portables. We measured the FHPH142AC1 at an average volume of around 54 decibels, with a louder, low-end rumble from the compressor and a fan that made a slight hissing sound. None of this noise was particularly annoying; even at its worst, it sounded like a gentle white noise machine. Overall, the sound of the FHPH142AC1 is still easier to live with (read: ignore) than the noise from any other standard-compressor portable AC we’ve tested.

It uses more energy than inverter models. The FHPH142AC1 has a combined energy-efficiency ratio (CEER) of 7.8—better than the ratings we’ve seen for most portable ACs out there, but nowhere near as good as the rating for our top pick and its inverter compressor. Running on full blast in our tests, this AC pulled about 1,250 watts of power, regardless of whether it was in cooling or heating mode. Its energy consumption does drop significantly once it reaches its target temperature, but otherwise the range of fluctuation is limited—it’s all or nothing.

It’s a little more frustrating to set up. Like most portable air conditioners, this Frigidaire model requires you to twist the plastic accordion hose onto the back of the machine and then feed that exhaust tube into a plastic panel that fits into your window—a cumbersome process on both ends. Though the end of the hose snapped firmly into place on the window panels, we found that the rest of the extension panels didn’t quite fit the width of the window that we used for testing. As a result, we had to cut some of the plastic pieces in half with a saw. Although the FHPH142AC1 is much less modular and adaptable than some of the other portable ACs we tested, there should still be a way to make it work for your window, even if you need a saw.

It’s not a great choice for rooms with furnaces or gas-powered devices. Single-hose portables like the Frigidaire tend to cause a slight negative pressure, which creates a vacuum effect which equalizes the air by pulling in a backdraft of “infiltration air.” Most people will barely notice this. But in a room with a gas-powered device like a furnace, that draft could potentially bring in gas fumes or carbon monoxide, which could be dangerous. This is true of all single-hose portables, including our recommendations from LG and Black+Decker. If you’re concerned, stick with one of our dual-hose picks from Midea.

Also great: LG LP1419IVSM

Also great


Quiet, efficient, convenient, but only cools

This portable AC has an efficient variable-speed compressor, a built-in hose for easier setup, and a convenient storage pocket—but it lacks a heating mode.

Buying Options

$650 $548 from Abt

You save $102 (16%)

$650 from Best Buy

$660 from Wayfair

The LG LP1419IVSM was our top pick from 2019 to 2021, and it’s still one of the most powerful and efficient portable ACs available. It’s also one of the few portable models that actually feel portable, as it has lots of thoughtful design details that make it easier to store away during the cooler months (which you’ll need to do, since it lacks heating capabilities).

It’s one of the most powerful and efficient portable ACs you can find. Its seasonally adjusted cooling capacity (SACC) of 10,000 Btu matches that of our top pick. It also has an inverter compressor like our top pick, though it has a lower CEER of 7.9. With those numbers, the LP1419IVSM is better than every standard-compressor single-hose portable out there, though it’s still a bit more energy intensive than our top pick. Still, with its average noise output of around 45 decibels, you’ll barely notice this AC even when the compressor is working its hardest.

Its self-contained design makes it easier to live with. The LP1419IVSM comes with a remote control, as well as Wi-Fi capabilities so that you can set up all the standard smart-home features, which all work decently well. But the most convenient thing about it is the way it handles all the other, extraneous hardware. In addition to a built-in exhaust hose, which promotes easier setup and transportation, the LP1419IVSM has dedicated storage compartments for the aforementioned remote control, plus all of its window installation panels. It even has a spot to stash the manual, if you want. It’s the only portable AC we’ve ever tested that doesn’t leave you with a pile of plastic parts and nowhere to put them. You can store everything right there on the AC itself, which means you can just roll it away at the end of the summer without having to worry about losing track of the window panels or the remote control.

Like other single-hose portables, the LG can produce a slight negative pressure in the room. This can create a subtle vacuum effect, though most people probably won’t notice. In a room with a gas-powered device, however, it could be dangerous if it pulls in a draft of gas fumes or carbon monoxide. If you need a portable AC for a space with a running gas furnace, for example, you should stick with one of our dual-hose picks from Midea.

The Best Portable Air Conditioner (9)

Also great: EcoFlow Wave 2 Portable Air Conditioner

The Best Portable Air Conditioner (10)

Also great

EcoFlow Wave 2

Actually portable

This battery-powered portable AC offers a variety of charging options so you can stay comfortable in any situation, though it isn’t as powerful as our other picks.

Buying Options

$1000 $800 from Amazon (battery not included)

You save $200 (20%)

Buy from Amazon

$1,299 from REI

May be out of stock

With a rechargeable battery and a variety of charging options, the EcoFlow Wave 2 Portable Air Conditioner is one of the very few portable air conditioners we’ve found that are actually portable. It’s a great choice for windowless rooms and semi-enclosed outdoor spaces such as seasonal porches, but it’s an even better option for people who need flexibility or want something to take on the road for camping trips or off-grid living. It doesn’t even need to be hooked up to a window (although the exhaust air still needs to go somewhere).

It’s more portable than other portable ACs. Unlike other portable ACs, this EcoFlow model doesn’t need to be plugged into a wall unless you’re actively charging it. That leaves you with a lot more flexibility in its location. The removable battery can last about four to six hours of constant heating or cooling, but if you switch it to fan mode once your space has reached your target temperature, it should run for the rest of the day without a problem. It pulls about 750 watts of energy while charging, too, still less energy than you’d need to run a non-inverter portable AC. Plus, the battery comes with USB charging ports, in case you need them. Still, it’s not a bad idea to keep a second battery as a backup.

It’s ideal for tents and RVs, and it can run on solar panels or a separate generator. In addition to using its removable and rechargeable batteries, the Wave 2 can also work in conjunction with one of the company’s portable power stations, such as the Delta Max 2000, which in turn can run off a car charger, a generator, or a set of solar panels. After testing it, we’re in agreement with EcoFlow’s claims that this model is a good option for RVs or car camping—you can make sure there’s some air conditioning anywhere you go.

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You don’t need to vent it out a window. The Wave 2 comes with a variety of hose connections that you can hook up to any of the air exhausts or intakes. As a result, you have a little more flexibility in where you vent the air, and where you get the air from. For example, you could leave the Wave 2 outside your tent and pump fresh conditioned air inside that stuffy space while you’re sleeping. You can also use it outdoors or in a semi-enclosed space such as a screened-in patio and direct the exhaust air away from you.

To be clear: The unit still produces exhaust air (the opposite of the air that you’re conditioning), and you still need to vent that air away from you somehow. But instead of forcing you to hook your air conditioner up to a window, this EcoFlow model gives you more choices, such as directing the exhaust air toward the ceiling. If you do that indoors, the exhaust air will eventually remix with the conditioned air—thanks, thermodynamics!—but at least you’ll still get some reprieve from the heat or cold.

It’s surprisingly quiet. In our tests, the Wave 2 measured at about 50 decibels with the fan running on high and 37 decibels on low. It’s quieter than any of our other portable AC picks, so you shouldn’t have to worry too much about its possibly destroying the serenity of your wilderness slumber (or whatever you choose to do with it).

But it isn’t nearly as powerful as other portable ACs. With a cooling capacity of about 5,100 Btu along with 6,100 Btu of heating, the Wave 2 has less than half the power output of our other picks. It isn’t so good for broadly heating or cooling down all the ambient air in a room. What it can do instead is make people more comfortable: Aim the Wave 2 at a couple on a couch, for example, or a few folks inside a tent or other small space, and you can focus the air conditioning on those individual people, instead of heating or cooling the entire space. It’s a subtle difference. But in the kinds of situations that the Wave 2 was designed for, it can make a major difference.

It’s also a lot more expensive. At around $1,300, the Wave 2 costs roughly twice as much as our other picks—while offering much weaker power output. (The bulk of that cost comes from the battery, which is $900 on its own.) However, those other ACs aren’t nearly as convenient or portable. If you have the floor and window space for a normal portable unit, you should get one of our other picks. But if you need something that offers more flexibility in how and where it keeps you comfortable, the EcoFlow Wave 2 is worth its markup.

Budget pick: Black+Decker BPACT14WT

The Best Portable Air Conditioner (13)

Budget pick

Black+Decker BPACT14WT

Just as cool, not as costly

This popular model matches our other picks in cooling performance but feels cheaper—it has chintzy buttons and lacks conveniences such as cord storage.

Buying Options

$480 from Amazon

The Black+Decker BPACT14WT is loud and clumsy—and it’s your best bet for a cheapish portable air conditioner that will actually do its job. It isn’t great, but it is the most affordable option that meets our minimum standards. (Plenty of more expensive models failed to even reach our threshold for power and efficiency.)

It’s surprisingly powerful for its price tag. It offers a seasonally adjusted cooling capacity (SACC) of 8,400 Btu and an overall ASHRAE-rated output of 14,000 Btu. Our other portable AC picks are all rated at a minimum SACC of 10,000 Btu under the current standards—but every other lesser AC we considered at the same size as this Black+Decker model was at least $150 more. If you actually want to save money, this Black+Decker AC delivers the best compromise for the cost.

It’s easy enough to set up and maintain. However, you will need a screwdriver to install the window panel or remove the filters. This process isn’t terrible, but it’s also not as easy to deal with as the installation for our other picks. Otherwise, setup of the BPACT14WT involves all the same standard hose-wrangling frustrations as with any other portable AC.

Black+Decker offers a five year warranty on the compressor. It covers the other parts of the BPACT14WT for only one year, the same amount of coverage as on our other picks. But you should be able to sleep easier knowing that you’ll at least have some protection in the event that, well, you can’t sleep because the AC’s compressor broke down. That counts for something.

It’s pretty loud and inefficient, especially compared with our other picks. In our tests, the BPACT14WT ran nearly 10 decibels louder than the Midea Duo MAP14HS1TBL on its highest setting—a volume level that could start to encroach on normal conversation levels in some rooms. The sound of it also reminded us of an amateur White Stripes cover band with a snake on lead vocals, which might not be ideal for everyone. Still, there are worse ways to try to cool down, especially when you’re desperate.

Like other single-hose portable units, it can create negative pressure in a room, resulting in a slight vacuum effect. For the most part, this is harmless (and barely even noticeable). But in a room with a gas furnace or similar device, it could be dangerous, as the negative pressure pulls in other air to equalize the room—which could include gas fumes or carbon monoxide. As long as your bedroom doesn’t have any open gas sources, you should be fine. But if you are concerned, stick with one of our dual-hose picks from Midea.

What to look forward to

Transaera recently announced a new portable unit that uses the condensation that naturally collects during the air conditioning process to improve the system’s overall efficiency. This supposedly reduces the overall energy consumption by about one-third, while also reducing the humidity in the room. We plan on testing it once it’s more widely available.

The competition

If you’re looking for a budget option with smart home capabilities and a nice user interface, the Dreo AC516S could be a good choice. It has the same cooling power as the Black+Decker, but it’s not quite as efficient.

The Coolzy Pro is similar to the EcoFlow Wave 2 in that it’s a smaller portable AC designed for cooling individual people in less conventional spaces. It has an even lower cooling capacity, however, and it still needs to be plugged into a wall outlet.

The Danby DPA100B9IWDB-6 looks surprisingly similar to our runner-up pick, just with a slightly different fan on top. It functions basically the same—all the way down to the fact that it allows you to use your Midea login for the app. Midea wouldn’t comment on that, but the Danby model is a fine alternative overall.

The dual-hose Honeywell HW4CEDAWW0 was so terribly frustrating to assemble that we gave up entirely. It’s supposed to be just as powerful as our top pick, though, and nearly as efficient, even without an inverter compressor.

Similarly, the Honeywell MN4HFS9 has an SACC of 9,000 Btu, as well as a built-in heat pump, and it performed well enough in our tests. It was louder than we would have liked, however, and we’re confident that you can find a more efficient model at a better price.

The Honeywell MO0CESWK7 could have been a potential budget-pick competitor if it had a higher SACC rating. It could still be a decent choice for a smaller room.

The Lowe’s-exclusive GE APWD07JASG works as both a single-hose model and a dual-hose model, with the help of an $80 conversion kit. The conversion process is simple, and we tested the machine in both configurations, both of which proved to be the epitome of “fine.”

The dual-hose Whynter Elite ARC-122DS used to be our top pick; it’s less efficient than our current picks but still a good choice overall. The Whynter Elite ARC-122DHP is essentially the same thing with the addition of a built-in heater.

Care and maintenance

The most important thing to do to make a portable AC perform at its best is to insulate the gaps between the window, the window frame, and the panel holding the AC vent. Foam strips work, and 10 feet of the stuff typically costs a few dollars. The tape helps to prevent warm air from slipping in through the cracks as easily. When all else fails, there’s also duct tape.

When you’re using a portable AC, keep it as close to the window as you can, with as many of the accordion ribs collapsed as possible, so that the hose is as short and straight as you can make it. Clean the filter at least once a month.

Like all ACs, portable models also dehumidify the air as they cool the room. Unfortunately, they can’t just drip the excess water outside like a window model. Most portable units come with a drainage plug, or a water catch tank not unlike the kind you’d find on a standard dehumidifier. You’ll need to get rid of that collected water eventually—though depending on where you live, it could become a chore in a particularly humid summer.


  1. Though R2-D2 is clearly the superior astromech, R5-D4 is the true unsung hero of the Skywalker Saga and deserves more praise for his selfless sacrifice outside the Jawa sandcrawler.

    Jump back.


  1. Daniel Giamatta, senior account executive, LG-One US, email interview, March 18, 2019

  2. Tom Kelly, product senior manager, Haier AC/GE Appliances, email interview, March 13, 2019

  3. Rachel Lee, sales manager, Whynter, email interview, March 12, 2019

  4. Gary Woodruff, residential manager, Hurley & David Home HVAC Services, email interview, March 19, 2019

  5. Zach Claxton, Introducing New Portable AC BTU Guidelines, Sylvane, February 22, 2018

  6. Test Procedure for Portable Air Conditioners (PDF), US Department of Energy, May 5, 2014

  7. Technical Support Document: Energy Efficiency Program for Consumer Products and Commercial and Industrial Equipment: Portable Air Conditioners, US Department of Energy, December 27, 2016

  8. David Morrison, How Do Portable Air Conditioners Work?, Home Air Guides, March 18, 2019

The Best Portable Air Conditioner (2024)


The Best Portable Air Conditioner? ›

The EcoFlow Wave 2 is the best battery-powered portable air conditioner we've tested. You can power it with solar, your car, or a battery, making it a great choice for power outages, camping, and more. The EcoFlow Wave 2 is unlike any portable air conditioner I've tested.

Is portable AC good enough? ›

Is a portable air conditioner worth it? If you can install a different type of air conditioning system in your home, such as a window AC unit, it's preferable to a portable air conditioner. If you have no other options, portable AC units cool down a room more effectively than a fan, particularly in humid climates.

Do all portable air conditioners have to be vented out a window? ›

While portable ACs can be vented through a door, wall, or ceiling, they are most frequently vented through windows. Although it isn't unsafe to run your portable AC without venting, it is counterproductive.

Do portable air conditioners work yes or no? ›

Overall, the answer to whether or not portable air conditioners work is yes. If you have a small apartment or home office and you want to cool it down during the summer months, then these units are an excellent choice. They're portable and easy to install so you can move them around as needed.

Is it OK to run portable AC all night? ›

Yes, it's safe to sleep with a portable AC on. Keeping your bedroom can lead to better sleep, as heat can interfere with the quality of your sleep.

Do portable air conditioners actually cool the room? ›

These systems function much in the same way as window units, but they use a mini-duct or hose to funnel warm air and moisture out the window. Although not a replacement for a traditional climate control system, portable air conditioners can help cool a room that seems to stay hot and sticky.

What happens if you don't vent a portable air conditioner outside? ›

If you do not vent your portable AC properly, it simply will not be able to remove the hot air from the building, leaving you with a stuffy, warm room. Unless the air can move from the inside out, you will not feel the benefit of your portable AC unit.

Can I use a portable air conditioner in a room without window access? ›

FAQs. Q: Can You Use a Portable Air Conditioner Without a Window? A: Yes, it is possible to use a portable air conditioner without a window, but it may require some extra effort and may not be ideal.

Do portable air conditioners use a lot of electricity? ›

The three biggest drawbacks of a portable system are: They're extremely low energy-efficiency. If we just take the sample of an 8,000 BTU (250 square feet of cooling power) portable unit with a standard EER, we can expect the unit to consume between 900 and 1100 watts. That's like a microwave running 24-7!

What is the disadvantage of portable AC? ›

Limited placement & venting issues

Portable AC units produce heat, so they need somewhere to vent the hot air outside, limiting the options for where to place them in your home. This is not only a home decor dilemma, but it can also block lighting in your home.

Why portable AC are not popular? ›

Portable AC units are horribly inefficient compared to window or split AC units. The reason why lies in how they have to vent the heat. A portable unit uses a flexible duct to vent the warm air outside, usually through a window. In doing so, they are using the air in the room to do so.

What not to do with a portable air conditioner? ›

Never put the portable air conditioner in a closed space, such as a closet.

How much can a portable AC cool a room? ›

As stated, cooling capacity can be affected by many things, but in general, an 8,000 BTU unit will cool a room up to 350 square feet, one with 10,000 BTUs will cover up to 450 square feet, and an air conditioning (AC) unit with 14,000 BTUs will accommodate 700 square feet.

Which is better, an air cooler or a portable air conditioner? ›

Low power consumption: Air coolers consume significantly less power than air conditioners, making them a more energy-efficient option. Lower initial cost: Air coolers are generally cheaper to purchase than air conditioners, which can be a significant factor for those on a tight budget.

Are portable air conditioners as good as window units? ›

As mentioned above, portable units are inherently less efficient since much of the heat they remove from the room ends up back in the room as it escapes from the poorly insulated exhaust hose before it makes it outside. Window ACs don't have this problem since the hot air is released directly outside.

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