10 Best Portable Air Conditioners | December 2016

10 Best Portable Air Conditioners
Best Mid-Range
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Best High-End
★★★★★
Best Inexpensive
★★★
We spent 36 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. If your home, office or workshop doesn't currently have a central AC system, a hot summer can make things unbearably uncomfortable. Fortunately, it's easy to place one of these portable air conditioners in any room to keep things cool. Skip to the best portable air conditioner on Amazon.
10
The highly energy efficient SPT WA-8070E will keep your interior space feeling comfortably cool, and can also help to keep the air free from harsh chemicals, thanks to its air filters. Unfortunately, it's a bulky and unsightly unit.
  • auto restart stores settings
  • adjustable fan speeds
  • noisier than other units
Brand SPT
Model WA-8070E
Weight 65.9 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0
9
The versatile and powerful De'Longhi Whisper Cool Portable air conditioner is equipped with a "real feel" mode feature that delivers the perfect blend of temperature and humidity year-round, always ensuring your home is comfortable.
  • whisper cool cuts noise in half
  • automatically recycles moisture
  • water collects quickly on humid days
Brand DeLonghi
Model PAC-AN120EW
Weight 82.1 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
8
The non-permanent venting kit on the Whynter ARC-10WB allows you to move it from room-to-room with greater ease, which is especially welcome if you spend the bulk of your day in one part of your house or apartment, and still suffer from a blisteringly hot bedroom at night.
  • r-410a refrigerant
  • self-evaporative condensate removal
  • not ideal for larger living spaces
Brand Whynter
Model ARC-10WB
Weight 67.2 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
7
Stay cool with the affordable Global Air NPA1-08C. It's operated by an intuitive three-function digital control panel that can be conveniently adjusted with the included remote or right there on the unit itself. Its exhaust tube, however, is obscenely large.
  • reusable air filters save money
  • compact size body
  • must be vented to the outside
Brand Global Air
Model NPA1-08C
Weight 66.2 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
6
The Honeywell MN10CESWW portable air conditioner delivers optimum cooling and dehumidification for rooms or smaller suites up to 350 square feet, and it does its job quietly enough to operate in the background unobtrusively.
  • feather-touch digital controls
  • dehumidifies nearly 80 pints per day
  • confusing temperature display
Brand Honeywell
Model MN10CESWW
Weight 94 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0
5
The ultra-compact NewAir AC-10100E is ideal for small spaces, with 10,000 BTUs of cooling power. It's also easy to use for most consumers, thanks to its simple, intuitive controls and its quickly washable activated carbon filter.
  • adjustable fan speeds
  • generous 59-inch hose
  • weak exhaust coupling
Brand NewAir
Model AC-10100E
Weight 60.8 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
4
The powerful Whynter ARC-14S boasts 14,000 BTUs of cooling capacity. The unit is effective both at drawing warm air out of a room while simultaneously blowing chilled, freshened air back in via its smart dual exhaust design.
  • hose is easy to extend
  • lcdi plug reduces the risk of fire
  • window kit is far from universal
Brand Whynter
Model ARC-14S
Weight 100 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
3
The sleek and environmentally-friendly Whynter ARC-143MX provides high-efficiency cooling and cleaner air using ozone-safe refrigerant and lead-free components. It's pricier than similar units, but it's also a quality, durable model.
  • patented auto-drain function
  • can be modified to fit any window
  • power button is too small
Brand Whynter
Model ARC-143MX
Weight 100.2 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0
2
Achieve rapid, evenly distributed cooling of rooms as large as 300 square feet in size with the Shinco YPL310C. Its four-way air direction channels and upward facing vents help cold air fill and circulate throughout interior spaces.
  • ul and csa approved
  • precise temperature controls
  • over-cold protection function
Brand Shinco
Model YPL310C
Weight 64.3 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0
1
The 4-in-1 ZoneAire PH14B offers an air conditioner, heater, dehumidifier and fan with a dual hose design for 40% faster cooling. And you get all those features for less than the price of some units that are merely air conditioners.
  • easy to use self-evaporative system
  • quick start-up with snap-in hoses
  • convenient 24-hour timer
Brand Friedrich
Model PH14B
Weight 97.3 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

Beating The Heat

Let's face it. Depending on where you live, the summer can get hot. Without a way to cool off indoors, you become susceptible to dangerous levels of dehydration, among other health risks. So what do you do if you live in an apartment complex without central and/or window air conditioning? Even in a large home, how would you cope with rising energy costs associated with maintaining central air conditioning for every room?

This is where the portable air conditioner (PAC) comes in handy. Much like its name suggests, a portable air conditioner is a mobile air conditioning system that is ideal for cooling single rooms. Most PACs stand approximately 28-34 inches tall and include built-in caster wheels for easy transport between rooms. Unlike central and window air conditioners, the PAC does not require permanent installation, so if you spend a majority of your time in your bedroom or living room, moving the unit is fairly easy.

The process by which a portable unit cools the surrounding air involves altering the humidity and temperature levels of the outside air (which is processeed by the PAC unit) such that the thermal comfort level reflects more optimal indoor living conditions within single rooms. PACs are either evaporative or refrigerative in design. The compressor-based refrigerant PACs are air-cooled, meaning they use air to exchange heat. During this process, the air is being cooled and dehumidified. Condensed water is also collected, which produces hot air that needs to be vented. By contrast, evaporative air conditioners do not have compressors or condensers and instead use evaporated water to cool the air, much like humans and animals do during the sweating process to cool their bodies.

PACs are measured in British Thermal Units or BTUs. A BTU is equal to the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. But wait, I'm trying to cool my room, not make it hotter by increasing the temperature of water. Let's cool off for just a second, as we need to think of BTUs as a measurement of energy. For the purposes of portable air conditioners, this measurement is used to describe how many BTUs per hour your PAC can remove from the air. The BTU measurement is directly proportional to the size of the room in which the air conditioner is placed. For example, a PAC that has 7-8,000 BTUs of energy can cool small rooms up to 250 square feet with 8-foot ceilings. Larger rooms would require a PAC with a higher BTU measurement.

PACs can also be single or double-hosed with respect to their cooling and venting processes. PACs expel warm air through an exhaust hose that is typically installed as part of a window kit. Single-hosed PACs use air from within the room to cool their condensers and then vent the warm air outside. Double-hosed PACs not only expel warm air and moisture, but they simultaneously pull more air in to cool, making them more efficient than single-hosed units.

Getting The Most Out Of Your Portable Air Conditioner

When choosing a PAC, selecting the appropriate BTU measurement is important. A high BTU doesn't always mean that the PAC is better than one with a low BTU rating. For example, if you're using a PAC with a BTU that is higher than necessary for cooling a small room, you may find the unit cycling off more often than it really needs to. If the PAC continually cycles on and off over time in that fashion, its compressor could wear out more quickly than anticipated. For that reason, finding the right balance between BTUs and room size is a good question for a salesperson for pointing you in the right direction as you shop.

Think about where the unit will be placed. Even though PACs accommodate more than one type of room, some rooms will get more direct sunlight than others. You need to make sure that your PAC is powerful enough to adequately cool a room that receives direct sunlight for extended periods of time, even if the room is small.

If you suffer from allergies and live in very humid climates, a big selling point for your PAC is its ability to operate as both an air conditioner and/or a dehumidifier, since high humidity promotes the growth of allergens like mold.

Some PACs also come with built-in digital displays, adjustable fan speeds, and convenient remotes for easy monitoring and adjusting of their controls.

Portable Air Conditioning: From Deserts To Interior Decor

The concept of air conditioning dates all the way back to the times of ancient Egypt, even before the development of electricity. The ancient Egyptians used a primitive form of evaporative cooling technology by hanging reeds or wet cloth in both windows and doorways to cool the surrounding air from a breeze.

The ancient Romans also used rudimentary aqueduct routing systems through the walls of their homes to promote circulation of water with evaporative qualities to cool the air.

Fast forward to 1758 when Benjamin Franklin and John Hadley discovered that the evaporation of volatile liquids (i.e. alcohol) can cool an object to the point of freezing water.

In 1902, Willis Carrier developed the first modern electrical air conditioning unit. Residential air conditioners became more common by the 1950s followed by popularized central air conditioning systems by the 1970s.



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Last updated on December 15, 2016 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.


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