Best Portable Air Conditioner 2017 – Buyers Guide

Best portable air conditioner 2017

No one likes the heat and with climate change over the horizon, many locations will get hotter.

Not only will we see an increase in temperature but also an increase of how long that heat will last. That also means summer isn’t going to be the only issue in due time. So what can you do about it?

Well, turn on the AC. Easy right? But not everyone can do such a thing. Many apartments might not have enough cooling or maybe you just need to cool one room.

That’s where the best portable air conditioner comes in. Instead of relying on a central cooling unit that heats up your whole home why not use a portable air conditioner? They’re portable and in most cases, actually ascetically pleasing unlike those ugly window units we all dread. What’s more, they can be easily stored away with their popular rectangle design.

*Disclaimer: Links below are Amazon Affiliate links.

 Whynter ARC-148MSWhynter ARC-14SWhynter ARC-14SHHaier HPN12XCMHoneywell HL12CESWKLG LP1217GSRHoneywell HL10CESWKGlobal air 10,000 BTULG LP0817WSRHaier HPB08XCM
Best portable air conditionerBest portable air conditionerBest portable air conditionerBest portable air conditionerBest portable air conditionerBest portable air conditionerPortable Air conditionerBest portable air conditionerBest portable air conditionerBest portable air conditioner
BTU's14,000 BTU14,000 BTU14,000 BTU12,000 BTU12,000 BTU12,000 BTU10,000 BTU10,000 BTU8,0008,000 BTU
# of HoseSingleDualDualSingleSingleSingleSingleSingleSingleSingle
Room size500 sq. ft.500 sq. ft.500 sq. ft.450 sq. ft.450 sq. ft.400 sq. ft.350 sq. ft.300 sq. ft.200 sq. ft.250 sq. ft.
Remote controlYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Dehumidifying capacity71 pints / day101 pints / day101 pints / day100 pints / day86 pints / day62.4 pints / day80 pints / day62 pints / day74.4 pints / day48pints / day
Drain/ CondensationSelf-Evaporative SystemFull EvaporationFull EvaporationSelf-Evaporative SystemSelf-Evaporative SystemSelf-Evaporative SystemSelf-Evaporative SystemCondensation HoseSelf-Evaporative SystemSelf-Evaporative System
Heat modeNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Power consumption1370W / 11.9A1250W / 10.5A1250W / 10.8A1250W /
10.5A
1250W / 10.8A1270W / 12A1100W / 9.5A1050W / 10.2A1040W / 9A630W / 8A
EER8.8611.211.29.59.69.49.099.599

Whynter ARC 148MS 14,000 BTU

Whynter ARC 148MS review

The Whynter ARC 148MS has some of the best specs in the portable AC unit market. This is one of the best portable air conditioner if you’re looking for a 14,000 BTU unit. Not only is this cheap compared to all the others but it’s also very compact and lighter than others. Still, there are some downsides to the alternatives.

While this portable AC unit comes with a dehumidifier capable of removing 71 pints a day, its not that amazing of a number. Other competitors can remove more than 71 pints a day. Furthermore, this unit has a self-evaporation system.

A self-evaporation system isn’t a full evaporation system and some 14,000 BTU units have that function instead. Since its not a full evaporation system, the ARC 148MS might require some water removal here and there. Still, this largely depends on location. If you live in a slightly humid location then you won’t face this problem. On the other hand, if you live in very humid locations then you might need to remove some water or install a drain hose.

Unlike most 14,000 BTU portable AC units, this one features a Single Hose design. This is yet another reason why you may not consider buying this product. Now that doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, having a single hoses design at 14,000 BTU can be a plus. Especially if it’s a really compact room around 350 square feet that receives a lot of sunlight from outside and is a computer room. In such a situation, this would be a huge plus

Important features

14,000 BTU – This portable AC unit comes with a cooling power of 14,000 BTU. As with such a large number, you can expect this to cool a room with 500 square feet.

Single Hose Design -This can be a downside or not, depending on the situation. I would recommend using this in a small room that receives an excess amount of heat both from within and outside.

Dehumidifying – Whynter equipped this portable AC unit with a capability of removing 71 pints a day.

Self-Evaporation System – The Whynter ARC 148MS does not feature a full auto evaporation system. Although not full auto evaporation, it will still remove most of the water. Of course, maintenance will depending on the environment it is in. A very humid location will require maintenance while a less humid, not so much.

Compact Design – The dimensions of this product are 18.5(w), 30.25 (h) and 15.75(d) making it one of the smallest 14,000 BTU units on the market.

Pros

  • Casters for Mobility
  • Very Low Price for 14,000 BTU unit
  • Remote Control
  • Auto Restart after power outage
  • 3 speed fan

Cons

  • Single Hose 14,000 BTU unit
  • No full evaporation system
  • 8.86 Energy Efficiency Rating

Whynter ARC-14S 14,000 BTU

Whynter ARC-14S review

Another product from Whynter is the ARC-14S 14,000 BTU portable AC unit. This one is an older model compared to the ARC 148MS but it’s a still a much better unit in terms of power to performance ratio. To top it off, it has better features as well.

Among the many features the ARC 14S unit has, the ones that stand out the most are EER, Dehumidifier and the BTU. For starters, let’s talk about the fantastic energy efficiency ratio. Usually, most units range around 8.0-9.5 EER which is really good. However, when it comes to the Whynter ARC 14S, it’s much higher at 11.2. That is by far one of the best energy efficiency ratios for a portable AC unit.

As for the dehumidifier, it can remove an outstanding 101 pints a day. Furthermore, you don’t have to worry about water accumulating as this unit has a full auto evaporation system. Eliminating the need for constant maintenance if you happen to live in a very humid area.

Lastly, unlike the ARC 148MS, this unit has a dual hose system. With such a system this unit can easily handle 500-700 square feet depending on the external in internal heat. Which also means, as a dual hose system, you don’t have to worry about negative air pressure in the room.

Important Features

Auto-Evaporation System – Having a full auto evaporation system makes the Whynter ARC 14S one of the best units to have in humid climates. It eliminates the need of draining the water.

14,000 BTU – Having this many BTU, you can expect there to be little to no problems with cooling a room of 500 square feet.

Dual Hose System – Unlike many portable AC units, the ARC 14S has a dual hose system. Making it perform more efficiently above 400 square feet compared to a single hose unit.

Dehumidifier – This unit can remove up to 101 pints a day. Making it one of the best dehumidifying units to have in such locations.

Pros

  • Dehumidifier removes 101 pints a day
  • Dual Hose
  • Auto-Evaporation system
  • Auto Restart after power outage
  • 11.2 Energy Efficiency Rating

Cons

  • Quite heavy at 80lb
  • No sleep setting

Whynter ARC-14SH 14,000 BTU

The final best 14,000 BTU portable air conditioner unit is another from Whynter. The Whynter ARC 14SH shares a very similar design to its brother the ARC 14S. A direct copy one might say. While this unit is alike, there is a key difference which we’ll talk about in a moment.

For starters, the most important functions they share happens to be the dehumidifier. Both the ARC 14SH and ARC 14S are capable of 101 pints per day. You can also expect this portable AC unit to have a full auto evaporation system like its duplicate. Lastly, both units are rated at 11.2 energy efficiency ratios. So they’re almost duplicates but after this, they veer off just a little bit. A slight difference really, but its a huge difference.

So what is it? Well, this unit has a heater mode. Having a such a function is unique in portable AC units as not many can do a good job at both. Thankfully, the ARC 14SH can and its heating is also rated at 13,000 BTU. As such, you can expect this unit to have little trouble heating rooms that are 500 square feet and below. Also, this function benefits from its dual hose system so don’t worry about negative air pressure keeping your room cool.

Important features

Auto-Evaporation system – Just like the ARC 14S, this AC unit has a full evaporation system. So you can kiss draining the water good bye.

14,000/ 13,000 BTU Heater/ Cooler – If you’re looking for a portable AC unit that can both heat and cools your room then this unit is for you. Its able of cool or heating rooms that are 500 square feet with no issues.

Dehumidifier – This unit can remove 101 pints per day and is a solid buy for locations with extreme humidity.

Dual Hose – Having this system increases its efficiency in large rooms. They prevent negative air pressure from sucking in hot air from the outside.

Pros

  • Heat Mode
  • Dual Hose
  • Auto-Evaporation system
  • Auto Restart after power outage
  • 11.2 Energy Efficiency Rating

Cons

  • No sleep setting
  • Quite heavy at 83lb

Haier HPN12XCM 12,000 BTU

Moving on to the 12,000 BTU best portable air conditioners we have the Haier HPN12XCM. Designed to suit a room with 450 square feet, this 12,000 BTU unit has no problem keeping the room cool.

Not only can this portable air conditioner keep your room cool, but it can keep it cool with high efficiency. In fact, its energy efficiency ratio is 9.5. That’s one hell of a score considering this costs less than a 14,000 BTU unit. The only problem with this unit, much like the rest that are 12,000 and below, is the single hose. So don’t expect it to have the highest efficiency of Whynter’s products. Nonetheless, Haier’s HPN12XCM can outperform many of its competitors with ease.

As for its dehumidifying capabilities, this portable AC unit can easily remove up to 100 pints a day. Impressive for its price range and gives Whynter a run for its money. However, the downside to this amazing function is the self-evaporation system. It’s not a full evaporation system so, in very humid areas, you should expect to drain the water. Thankfully, there is a drain hose connection so you don’t have to worry if you have the right setup.

Important Features

12,000 BTU – With 12,000 BTU, you can expect great things when cooling a room with a 450 square feet size.

Single Hose – Keep in mind, single hose units are best for compact rooms with the least amount of open space. Reducing the risk of allowing air from outside to enter the room will improve its efficiency.

Dehumidifier – The Haier HPN12XCM can easily remove 100 pints a day.

Decibel Rating – This portable air conditioner is much more quiet than a 14,000 BTU unit. In fact, its one of the more quiet 12,000 BTU units at 49 dBA.

Pros

  • Self-Evaporation system
  • Casters for mobility
  • 49 dBA noise level
  • Auto Restart after power outage
  • 9.5 Energy Efficiency Rating

Cons

  • Single hose
  • No sleep setting

Honeywell HL12CESWK 12,000 BTU

Honeywell HL12CESWK review

One of the most well-known companies, Honeywell, have upgraded their previous lineup of portable air conditioners. Among these new upgrades, we have the Honeywell HL12CES.

So what do these new AC units bring to the table compared to their predecessors? First off is the beautiful makeover from the previous lineup of units from Honeywell. I have never seen a more aesthetically appealing portable air conditioner ever. Usually, most AC units are horrendous unaesthetically pleasing, blocky objects. Sure, some aren’t so bad but when compared to this beauty they don’t stand up too well.

Anyways, enough about the aesthetics and let’s get back to what this is capable of. The Honeywell HL12CES is barely above the Haier 12,000 BTU unit in terms of performance but is at a higher price. For example, the Haier unit has an energy efficiency ratio of 9.5 but the Honeywell unit has a 9.6 rating. Thus, making it better but only by a little bit. So you can expect this portable air conditioner to cool a 450 square foot room with ease just like the Haier AC unit.

Lastly, the dehumidifying capabilities of this are great. While it might not compete at the same level as Haier’s or Whynter, the Honeywell HL12CESWK can still dish out a lot. It’s able to remove up to 86 pints a day so this product is still amazing in its own right. The only issue, much like Haier, is the evaporation system. Honeywell hasn’t blessed this portable air conditioner with a full auto evaporation system. As such, if you live in a very humid area then you might need some maintenance here and there. There’s also a drain hose option if you want to set that up so it’s a plus.

Important Features

Modern Design – The Honeywell HL12CESWK has a much more modern look to it than traditional portable air conditioners. With its beautiful design, you can easily match this with any modern home style.

12,000 BTU – This AC unit is capable of cooling rooms of 450 square feet with little to no problems.

Dehumidifier – If you need a dehumidifier and live in humid locations, then pick up the HL12CESWK. It can easily remove up to 86 pints a day with ease.

Digital Control – Honeywell does a great job designing and crafting their units with a satisfying digital touch screen. From here, you can make precise temperature adjustments.

Pros

  • Self-Evaporation system
  • Casters for mobility
  • Modern Design
  • Auto Restart after power outage
  • 9.6 Energy Efficiency Rating

Cons

  • Heavier than most 12,000 BTU units
  • Very expensive

LG LP1217GSR 12,000 BTU

LG LP1217GSR review

The last on our list for the best 12,000 BTU units has to be the LG LP1217GSR. Which is also the latest update and, much like the Honeywell ones, this too is a revamp of the old models. The model this portable air conditioner replaces is the LG LP1215GXR which is another 12,000 BTU unit.

Unlike its older model, the new one has a more modern look and seems to be the answer to Honeywell’s HL12CESWK. However, in my personal opinion, the Honeywell one looks much better. Still, this portable AC unit shines in its own right and can really blend in with many rooms. Especially if you would rather have a square shaped AC unit than an oval shaped.

Anyways, besides a makeover, the LG LP1217GSR doesn’t have anything extra when compared to its older brother. Both share the same intrinsic features like oscillating air vents. Which is actually a neat feature as it adds a different flow of cool air when it’s on. Think of it like having a small fan moving left to right.

Lastly, this unit has dehumidifying capabilities and can remove up to 62.4 pints a day. Which isn’t all that great when compared to Honeywell’s. However, on the offset, this portable air conditioner is much cheaper than its competitors. As such, if humidity isn’t a huge issue then this can be a great buy.

Important Features

Modern Design – If you’re worried about buying an ugly looking portable air conditioner than check this out. With its modern style, you won’t have an eye sore in the back of your room.

Dehumidifier – This unit can remove up to 62.4 pints per day. While not impressive, it still has much value in many homes.

Self-Evaporation system – While it’s not a full evaporation system, this unit can still remove a majority of its water without a hassle. If you’re worried, you can set up a dedicated drain hose to reduce maintenance.

Oscillating fan – The LG LP1217GSR features an oscillating fan that can move air in more than one direction. This can help created a better fan experience than usual.

Pros

  • Casters for mobility
  • Modern and Compact Design
  • Auto Restart after power outage
  • Oscillating fan feature
  • 9.4 Energy Efficiency Rating

Cons

  • Single hose
  • No sleep setting

Honeywell HL10CESWK 10,000 BTU

Honeywell HL10CESWK review

Starting off with the 10,000 BTU best portable air conditioners is the Honeywell HL10CESWK. Much like the 12,000 BTU unit, this too is an update of Honeywell’s older models.

This portable AC unit has a solid modern design that can be mixed and matched in many homes. As a 10,000 BTU unit, it can easily cool rooms that are 350 square feet and below with no problems. Furthermore, because this being a step down from the 12,000 unit, you can expect a quieter operation at 52dBA. Not impressive when compared to the Haier portable AC unit, but still great in the end.

An interesting feature of the HL10CESWK is its dehumidifier. The reason why I say this is because unlike most products, this one doesn’t have a huge slump in its performance. Sure it’s a 10,000 BTU AC but it has a great performing dehumidifier despite it. For example, the 12,000 version can remove 86 pints a day which is great. On the other hand, this portable air conditioner can remove 80 pints a day and is impressive for a 10,000 BTU unit.

The only downside to this great portable AC unit is the dimensions. Despite this being a 10,000 BTU unit, it’s still as large as the 12,000 and 14,000 BTU variations. On top of this, it only weighs 2 pounds less than the 12,000 one. So don’t expect a more compact or lightweight design.

Important Features

Modern Design – The HL10CESWK features a modern design by Honeywell and can be matched with many designs. Also, there are a few other color schemes like white and blue or white and black to chose from.

10,000 BTU – This AC unit is capable of cooling rooms of 350 square feet with little to no problems.

Dehumidifier – Looking for a mid ranged BTU unit that can remove 80 pints a day? Then this portable air conditioner is just what you need.

Decibel Rating – With a dBA of 52, you can expect a much more quiet operation when at its maximum fan speed setting.

Pros

  • Self-Evaporation system
  • Removes 80 pints a day
  • Modern Design
  • Auto Restart after power outage
  • 52 dBA rating

Cons

  • Quite heavy for a 10,000 Unit
  • Very expensive

Global air 10,000 BTU

Global air 10,000 BTU Review

Here we have the Global Air 10,000 BTU. This portable air conditioner is a bit of an older model as you can probably tell by visual design. Still, despite its lackluster design, this unit does have its perks.

However, before that, we’ll focus on the big downside to this portable AC unit – the dehumidifier. Unlike its competitors, the Global Air 10,000 BTU unit does not have a full or even a self-evaporation system. Due to this, you will have two options when using the dehumidifier. The first is using a drip pan after the unit becomes full of water.

If you settle with this the portable AC unit will turn off whenever it’s full and make a fairly loud beep. As for the second option, there is a drain hose function so you can hook that up. With this installed, the dehumidifier can work continuously throughout its use without turning off.

So what makes this portable AC unit great? I know having no evaporation system can suck for many but this unit is still a great option. For starters, it’s much cheaper than its alternatives. Second, the energy efficiency rating is a great 9.5. Lastly, it’s more compact than other units and lighter than most. That means it’s easier to move and, due to it being rather skinny and large, can fit all most anywhere.

Important features

10,000 BTU – This portable air conditioner can cool rooms that are 300 square feet.

Dehumidifier – The Global Air 10,000 BTU unit can remove 50.7 pints a day.

Compact Design – Due to the design of the unit, it can fit in cramped areas. It’s also much lighter than other units so it can be moved easier.

Air Direction – Standard portable ac units have a 1 way or two way circulation system. Meanwhile, this has a 4 way system.

Pros

  • Costs less than most
  • Removes 50 pints a day
  • Compact design
  • 4 way air circulation system
  • 9.5 Energy Efficiency Rating

Cons

  • No evaporation system
  • No auto shutoff system

LG LP0817WSR 8,000 BTU

LG LP0817WSR review

Moving on to the best 8,000 BTU portable air conditioners we start off with the LG LP0817WSR. This fantastic unit holds many intrinsic features from its higher tier models just like Honeywell’s versions. So we shall start with that.

Just like its other variations, the LG LP0817WSR has a dehumidifier. With it, this unit can remove a whopping 74.4 pints a day. Furthermore, it’s a dehumidifier and has a self-evaporation system so you don’t need to worry much about draining your unit. Similar to Honeywell’s versions, the LG LP0817WSR also keeps the same overall dimensions of the others. So it’s going to be rather large for an 8,000 BTU portable air conditioner. Of course, I’m also talking about its weight coming in at a ridiculous at 65.2lb. Due to this weight, it’s much heavier than the average 8,000 BTU unit.

Important Features

8,000 BTU – This unit can cool a room of 200 square feet with no problems.

Modern Design – With an updated modern look, this portable AC unit won’t be a sight for sore eyes.

Dehumidifier – The LG LP0817WSR can removing an impressive 74.4 pints a day.

Self Evaporation system – This unit can remove a majority of its water without the need of a drain hose or drip pan.

Pros

  • Modern Design
  • Removes 74.4 pints a day
  • Oscillating Fan
  • 53 dBA at max
  • 9.2 Energy Efficiency Rating

Cons

  • Rather heavy for an 8,000 BTU

Haier HPB08XCM 8,000 BTU

Haier HPB08XCM review

The last best portable air conditioner we have is the Haier HPB08XCM. This 8,000 BTU unit still holds many great functions from its higher costs alternatives. Yes, it’s an 8,000 unit but it still has a dehumidifier and all the functionalities you would expect from Haier.

With a self-evaporation system, the Haier HPB08XCM can remove 48 pints a day with. Of course, depending on your humidity levels, you can keep this running constantly. While 48 pints a day may seem a lot less than the higher priced units, keep in mind it’s only 8,000 BTU. The reason why I say that is because this unit can only cool a space of 250 square feet. So it’s a lot less space and therefore less air and water.

Another great aspect of this portable air conditioner is the dimensions and weight. The Haier HPB08XCM weighs in at a low 44.1lb and is much smaller than the Global Air 10,000 BTU. Thus, it’s a more portable air conditioner by far and can be moved much easier than the many other units on this list. In fact, it’s the lightest we have on the list so if you’re looking for the most portable unit then this is your choice.

Important features

8,000 BTU – Suitable for a 250 square foot room

Dehumidifier – The Haier HPB08XCM can remove up to 48 pints a day.

Lightweight and compact – This portable AC unit can fit in smaller areas and is much easier to move.

Three modes of fan speed – Users love this feature because they can control the speed of the breeze as they want.

Pros

  • Removes 48 pints a day
  • Light Weight
  • 9 Energy Efficiency Rating

Cons

  • Fairly loud for a 8,000 BTU unit
  • No self diagnostic tools

Some advantages of a Portable Air Conditioner

The Sun and the Summer heat

The summer heat can be devastating to not only your health and comfort but also your electric bill. Running a central air conditioning unit can easily drive your bill up, especially during the summer. The reason why is because of where the sun hits your house and the long summer daylight hours. Those two combinations can keep certain rooms above comfortable temperatures and in turn trigger your central unit constantly.

When that happens your air conditioning unit begins to cycle the air from every room slowly, and cools it down. Now, cooling down each room to the same temperature isn’t what you call efficient because not all rooms need to be cool down. Some might be high while others are at moderate temperatures and this is the true issue. Since you don’t need them cool why should they be cooled? What you really need is just those hot rooms cooled down and that’s unachievable by most central cooling units. So instead you use a portable air conditioner which is easy to install and targets only that specific area. Thus becoming more efficient in both speed and temperature precision.

They have dehumidifiers

Many portable air conditioners come with a dehumidifier function. This isn’t something you should overlook as just an extra feature because there are several benefits to adding a dehumidifier to your home, apartment or even office. For example:

  1. Dehumidifiers reduce humidity levels, and as a result, they make your home less hospitable to allergens like mold, mildew and dust mites.
  2. Less mold and mildew means reduced odors accompanied by them.
  3. Removal of mold keeps clothing, furniture, curtains and other linens cleaner and fresher.
  4. As a result of cleaner air, you will see improvements in your respiratory system and comfort.
  5. By reducing humidity levels, foods such as bread, fruits and cereals will remain fresh for a longer period of time.
  6. Lower humidity levels also include reduction of rusting or corrosion of metallic materials such as electronics and tools.
  7. Dehumidifiers also help reduce dust in your home, which means you won’t need to clean as often.
  8. Having cleaner air means the portable air conditioner (or central unit) will run more efficiently because of the reduced moisture in the air.

Of course, these benefits from humidity vary on the location you might live in. Some areas are less humid than others and vice versa. Regardless of that, their filtration ability is still a benefit in any location you live.

Some can even heat your room

While not all portable air conditioners can both cool and heat your room, those that can bring some benefits. These benefits are to an extent, similar to the heating issue during summer. The big key difference is of course that the sun has little impact during the winter.

Which is mostly due to weather patterns, daylight hours and distance our planet has moved away from the sun during its orbit. However, you don’t need to heat up the whole house, apartment or area you use/live in. You could instead just heat up the area you occupy and waste less energy.

Anyways, this isn’t something everyone could benefit from because of location. But for those that do its an option, you should consider when shopping for your portable air conditioner.

They’re portable and fit anywhere.

One of the great aspects of a portable air conditioner is what it has over traditional window air conditioners. Unlike window units, portable air conditioners can be easily moved from location to location. As they should be because that’s what you should expect of a portable unit. They should be easy to move and installation shouldn’t be a hassle. Which is great because you don’t need a professional to install your unit, saving time and money.

Also, unlike window units, they aren’t ugly. In fact, some are rather small and take up very little room. They’re minimalistic tools as when you don’t need them you can put away. That’s a big plus when the rain season rolls in and temperatures stay great for a short time. When that happens I could easily remove it for a few weeks and store it in the closet. In there, it’s out of sight out of mind and when the weather picks back up I can just roll it out and run it again. Whereas with window units it’s almost impossible to do that on a constant basis.

A Portable air conditioner is cheap

Price is always a factor when deciding to buy any type of item. Such a thing is especially true when considering buy any type of AC unit. Thankfully a portable air conditioner isn’t so pricey, unlike conventional central AC units. There are two reasons why this is true. The first is because of the price difference, while the second is installation fees. A portable air conditioner cost anywhere from 200-700 and no installation fees. Whereas traditional AC systems cost range anywhere in the thousands to tens of thousands. That’s not even including installation fees which can easily add hundreds depending on the amount of work needing to be done.

Portable air conditioners are great for

best portable air conditioner

Homeowners

There are some homeowners who lack functioning air conditioning. Some may be considering buying a new home and installing a dedicated unit just doesn’t sound worth it. While others just have a few vacant rooms so cooling or heating them is a waste of electricity. However, you don’t need to wait that extra year to buy your new home or spending all that money on your electric bill. You could buy a portable air conditioner.

If you’re thinking of still waiting out, there are more functions where a portable air conditioner might be suited for. For example, maybe you have a guest staying over? You could set up the portable air conditioner in that room for their comfort. What about your library room? Or the garage? maybe the AC breaks for a few days? These are just a few examples of possibilities where a portable air conditioner could come in handy.

Overall they’re good backups and have a wide scope of use for homeowners.

Apartment Tenants

Portable air conditioners or most notably window AC units were made specifically for apartment tenants. I’m sure everyone has seen an AC unit sticking out of an apartment window sometime in their life. The reason why many apartment tenants always buy portable air conditioners or window AC units is because many landlords don’t make it easy to install appliances or any sort of permanent electronic. This is especially true if you’re living in a basement apartment because the windows there are too small for any window air conditioner.

As such, instead of going through the hassle of getting a replacement or upgrade you could instead just install a portable air conditioner. It’s portable, it doesn’t change any fixtures or harm anything so there are zero problems. To top it off, if you move it’s easy to take with you.

People who work at home

With technology and the internet steadily progressing, it’s becoming more and more common for many people to work from home. This is a good thing, working from home can be something many of us dreamed of since we were children. Being able to wake up whenever you want and get your work done at your own pace. It’s all fine and dandy but working from home can have its consequences. One of them is working in an office at home. As we know, offices are notorious for festering heat which can affect your performance. So instead of just turning down the temperature just roll a portable air conditioner up during summer. With it, you can enjoy cool temperatures and remove it during winter where you want the PC to do all the space heating.

What to consider

Like most electronics, there are a lot of specifications or factors you need to consider before buying. So why don’t talk about those specifications below to help you get acquainted with them and see how they can affect you.

BTU & what are they

BTU or British Thermal unit is the traditional unit for the measurement of thermal heat energy. More specifically, it’s the amount of energy needed for 1 pound of water to raise 1°F at sea level.

How does this affect a portable air conditioner? Well generally in most heating or conditioning systems, the measurement (BTU’s) indicates how much a product can remove or add to the air. What that means is, the higher the BTUs the better the cooling capacity a product can achieve efficiently. It also means that the product can cool down larger sums of space better than a unit with lower BTUs.

In most cases, higher is always better but in a portable air conditioner, it’s not entirely the case. You see, having high BTUs can be a hindrance on the product if the space you need to cool down or heat is a small area. The reason why I say this is because if the product is too good at reaching your desired temperatures then it will simply turn off. After that, the product will cycle back on once the temperature raises again. This causes the portable air conditioner to over exert itself which can cause wearing on the electrical systems.

Of course, when the situation is reversed then the effects are the same. For example, if you buy a portable air conditioner with less BTUs required for your space then the unit will forever be attempting to cool the area. This can be more disastrous in some cases because your electric bill will run higher and higher as the unit chugs its maximum to keep up. Which in turn will also cause wear on the product at a much faster rate.

So how much BTUs do I need for my space?

Most products will provide this info but for the sake of this guide lets go over a few just in case they don’t. To start, the general rule of thumb is 300 square feet requires 8,000 BTUs. Then its 400 square feet for 10,000 BTU. So every 50 square feet is 1,000 BTU. However, don’t take it at face value as this can vary depending on the full specs of the product. For example, an 8,000 portable air conditioner that can also heat will generally only support a 200 square foot room.

Now, if you aren’t too sure how much square feet are in your room then don’t worry. All you have to do is measure length times width (LxW) and that’s all. Really simple and not much to it. Make sure you also factor in the TOTAL open space. For example, kitchen, dining room, and living room. All three of those spaces are generally open so you will need to factor in all that open space. Otherwise, if you don’t chances are you’re not getting the appropriate portable air conditioner needed for space.

Factors to keep in mind for BTU

We’re still not quite past the importance of BTUs and there are a few more factors you must keep in mind. For starters, if you’re looking to heat a room that receives a lot of sunlight then you need an extra 1,000 BTUs. Especially if it’s on the top floor of your house. Of course, if the opposite is correct and you want to cool a room on the bottom floor with less sun then you want 1,000 BTUs less. Now, let’s say you want to cool the kitchen then you will need 2,000 BTUs over the normal requirement. The reason is because the large amount of heat that is generated in the kitchen from cooking or baking.

With all that being said, generally, you want a little more than you need. I know I stated that you shouldn’t get more than what you need but by that statement, I was talking about going overboard. For example, a 14,000 BTU unit cooling a room with 300 square feet with no sunlight hitting it constantly or no internal heat being generated by appliances. In this situation, with no internal or external heat a factor, you shouldn’t need a 14,000 BTU unit. It’s just overboard at this point.

Anyways, I can’t tell list exactly how much you will need. I can only give you the scenarios and situations where one might require a bit extra. So ultimately, it’s up to you to go the extra mile to measure your room and consider your options.

Noise Level or (dB)

Noise level is always an important specification to almost everyone. No one wants to have a helicopter in their room and no one has to. This is especially true for those who want their portable air conditioner in their bedroom. Having a loud portable air conditioner will only keep you up at night. So you’re going to want the lowest noise generating portable air conditioner for these situations.

How loud is too loud? The way decibels (dB) works are different than speed or height. For example, 50 vs 60 dB, you’re amplifying intensity by 1,000x. Whereas 10 vs 20 miles per hour is just 10 or 10 x 2. The difference, therefore, is much bigger when you increase the decibels but anything below 85 is safe Anyways if you want further information or if I confused you then check out the wiki page as they have a nifty chart for this.

With that said, generally, I would suggest anything below 60 is good in a portable air conditioner. There is also one last thing I must mention about the sound and that’s fan speed. Fan Speed is an important factor in sound and most portable AC’s will have at least 3 fan speeds. They range from the low, normal or fast speeds and the loudness jumps greatly from each setting. Because of that, the stated dB on a product is how loud it will be at max and not how loud it will always be.

EER (Energy Efficiency Rating)

In a portable air conditioner, EER is very important of how efficient the portable air conditioner is. Not only does it show the impact on your electric bill but it also determines how good it’s at using the electricity that it needs. The higher and higher EER is the more efficient the cooling or heating system is. Ideally, you want to shoot for 10 EER but considering we’re talking about a portable air conditioner then usually anything above 9 is ideal.

Single Hose Vs Dual Hose

best portable air conditioner

Single Hose

Right off the bat, the biggest difference between the two options is that one unit has a single hose while the other has two. A single hose portable air conditioner will pull warm air from the room, run it by the coils cooled by a refrigerant and then remove it through the exhaust hose. Which leads the outside.

The issue this creates is called negative air pressure. For those who don’t know what negative air pressure is let me explain. When you remove air from a room and push it out through a window it creates a vacuum. This vacuum effect forces air from small cracks between windows, rooms or walls and pulls it to fill the space.

Think of it like leaving your window open by a little crack. Warm air will be sucked in which will reduce the performance of a portable air conditioner. Keep in mind, the larger the area the more room there is for air to enter. This means that larger areas will have a greater effect but smaller areas less so.

Here are a few benefits of a single hose unit:

  1. A single hose unit is meant to be more portable than a dual hose. With fewer parts, it’s easier to pack up/move and the same goes for installation.
  2. Much more efficient to cool a small area.
  3. They’re cheaper than a dual hose unit and usually have equal features like a dehumidifier.

So, while they’re not perfect, they can still be good. Especially if you’re looking for a cheap portable AC unit to cool your small room down. It not exactly cheap to buy an efficient and good dual hose unit.

Dual Hose

Now, a dual hose unit works a little bit different than a single hose does. First off, air is pulled from both the inside of your room and outside of the house. After that, the air from your room is cooled down and returned to your room. Meanwhile, the air from outside passes by the air conditioner which cools it and returns outside even hotter.

Due to this function, there are benefits it brings:

  1. Because there is both an intake hose from the outside and an exhaust hose, there is no negative air pressure.
  2. Due to having neutral air pressure, the unit can cool the area without being impacted by space.
  3. In other words, they’re better at cooling larger areas compared to single hose units.

Of course, the downside to having a dual hose unit would be installation and efficiency. Yes, they’re much better at cooling large areas but only because of their neutral air pressure they keep. With that, they can compete on a higher level than a single hose unit but only in larger areas. In smaller areas, single hose is king because they have higher energy efficiency due to having only one hose.

Unit Dimensions and weight

Being a portable air conditioner, one must keep an eye out for dimensions and weight. They’re both important if you want less hassle and require it to be a certain size. Otherwise, you might not have enough room or in some cases have a hard time moving it. Especially considering some units might weigh up to 84.5 lb like the Haier 14,000 BTU portable air conditioner. Thankfully these units have wheels and that’s what makes them easy to move. If you want to move this upstairs and back every now and then, pick your choice wisely.

Speaking of which, if you’re considering moving the unit upstairs, I would recommend on removing any water the unit has beforehand. Since it could easily add an extra 20 pounds to it.

Draining and Condensation options

A portable air conditioner can have many options on how to discard their water. So let’s list them below for easy viewing.

  • Containers: Few portable air conditioners can have a container that handles the water. With a container, you have a plug you must remove so you can drain the water.
  • Gravity Drain: Some units that use a gravity drain that will drain water continuously on the floor. Most owners hook up a hose that drains the water into another location. This option is only viable for basements with a floor drain because gravity is the big player here.
  • Self-Evaporating: Many portable air conditioners come equipped with moisture evaporating mechanisms that expel the water contained via the exhaust pump. With a system such as this, you might need to drain the fluids here and there.
  • Full Evaporation: A portable air conditioner with a full evaporation mechanism will never need to be drained. All of the water is not collocated and instead is removed. This function is a great choice for those who want little maintenance.
  • External Pump: An external pump works by pumping the water via a Condensation Hose. It’s the alternative to Gravity Drain, as the pump, can easily drive water up through your window to the outside. Making it a good choice for homeowners.

Placement, maintenance and more

There are quite a bit of issues you should consider that will affect the maintenance of your portable air conditioner. For example, placement, dehumidifier and so on. So let’s get into this.

Placement

As I said a moment ago, you need to be mindful of where you place your portable air conditioner. There are two reasons why: Ventilation and power source.

Ventilation is an important factor because it can greatly affect the performance of your unit. If you don’t give it enough space then it can’t work. That means you need to be mindful whether your portable air conditioner has sufficient space to cycle the air. So make sure nothing is blocking the intake fans. Also, make sure you keep the area around clean so you can reduce dust build up on the ventilation. This will, in turn, help you reduce maintenance.

Now, a power source is extremely important. You need to be careful not to plug in your portable air conditioner into an outlet that shares the same source of energy as let’s say your computer and TV. The reason why is it can cause a power short. This is because when you plug in a unit with 1,000 watts into the same outlet as another energy guzzler that you use constantly it’ll short. It won’t necessarily happen often but if you were to plug in something else like a vacuum cleaner then you’re going to get a short right away.

I’m not trying to scare you with any of this, my only goal is to inform you. In fact, I once shorted my house a few times, all that happens is the lights go off in that area and you flip the switch off and on then it’s back to normal

Maintenance

Like with everything, you’re going to need to maintain your appliances and in the case of AC units because they can gather dust and grease. The dust mostly collects on the filters and around the unit. If you fail to clean your dust filters, then the coils are going to perform sub-optimal and reduce performance. Furthermore, accumulation of dust on filters will lead to overheating issues and that can severely damage your portable air conditioner. So take appropriate steps to make sure that doesn’t happen.

As for the grease, it usually builds up around the condenser coils along with some grime and dirt. If these stay dirty it reduces cooling capacity as well so clean them after a while. Speaking of which, these coils can be some work when cleaning. Especially if they’re really dirty. In the case that it’s true, I recommend buying some coil cleaner or grease remover to quickly restore them back.

Don’t use extension cords

I’m sure this isn’t the first time you hear this but do not daisy chain any appliance. This is especially true for a portable air conditioner. There are two reasons why: First is, daisy chaining can cause fires at any point of the connection(s). The second is because of the large amount of watts a portable air conditioner uses. With that amount, there isn’t any safe extension cord that supports its energy usage and will lead to electrical problems or fires.

Do you need a surge protector?

Some of you may be wondering if you need a surge protector. While with many common electronics like computers, most suggest hooking it up to a surge protector. However, surge protectors aren’t necessarily needed. The reason why is because many portable air conditioners already come with surge protection. They have safety nets in place that instantly shuts off and protects your appliance when a power outage happens.

For that reason, I wouldn’t suggest plugging it into any surge protector because there’s no need to. Still, if your portable air conditioner doesn’t have any safety nets in place then I would suggest buying a surge protector that has a high joules rating above what the unit is rated for. A good example of one would be any surge protector rated above 2,000 joules with a decent warranty that covers your unit in case of a faulty product.

Storage

Portable air conditioners are very delicate little (big) objects. So before you store it away for the winter or don’t have any use for it, make sure you do these three things. First, make sure you remove all the water in the portable air conditioner. You don’t want it to rust or get moldy while it’s stored away. Second, don’t store it away in an area like the attic or garage where the temperatures vary wildly place it in a temperature controlled room. Third, place a plastic cover over to keep it dust free while it’s not in use.

This concludes all the necessary info you need. Now you should understand what to expect when buying a portable air conditioner.

Final Notes on the Best Portable Air Conditioner

Wow, this took much longer than I expected. Finding the perfect portable air conditioner proved to be a bigger challenge than I expected it to be. There are just so many different functions and specifications set by the manufacturers that it can be overwhelming to keep track of. It also didn’t help that there were so many new releases and updated models hidden among the highly renowned ones.

Anyways, I hope you found this review insightful and I hope you found the right one on in this review.

Featured image by Christopher Barson.

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Nidhogg

2 Comments

Ryan

Just wanted to make a correction. The LG lp0817wsr 8000 btu unit does have a sleep setting but can only be accessed through the remote control,also how the timer and “swing ” for the vents features are used.

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Nidhogg

Thanks for the feedback! I really appreciate it, and I have corrected the error.

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