A way to stay cool this summer without a full window unit.
If you don't have central air and need to cool a room ASAP, the first question you have to address is whether you want to buy a portable AC unit or a window air conditioner. A portable air conditioner is the best route if you can't install a window air conditioner in your space because of design limitations or building restrictions. It’s also a better pick if you’d like a mobile air conditioning unit that can be moved from room to room or stored away at the end of the season.
The experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute rounded up the best portable air conditioners on the market based on categorical expertise from brands we trust, love, and use. They are efficient at cooling and cutting down on high humidity and easy to use and install. These are the best portable air conditioners you can buy:
Best Overall Portable Air Conditioner: Whynter Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner
Best Value Portable Air Conditioner: Honeywell Portable Indoor Evaporative Air Cooler
Best Portable Air Conditioner for Large Rooms: Frigidaire Cool Connect Smart Portable Air Conditioner
Best Portable Air Conditioner for Bedrooms: Black + Decker BPACT08WT Portable Air Conditioner
Quietest Portable Air Conditioner: Honeywell Contempo Series Portable Air Conditioner
Best Portable Air Conditioner with Heat: Whynter Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner with Heater
Best Portable Air Conditioner for High Humidity: Whynter ARC-12SDH Portable Air Conditioner and Heater
Best Portable Air Conditioner and Air Purifier: Dyson Pure Cool Me Personal Purifying Fan
When deciding whether or not to buy a portable air conditioner, the experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute are often asked a host of questions related to how well they perform, how efficient they are, and whether they are easy to use. Here, the answers to all your questions about portable air conditioning units:
If you have the ability to window-mount, you’re likely going to have more success cooling a room. You may be able to find comparable portable AC units to those that have to be wall or window mounted, but you’re likely going to pay more for them. While portable air conditioners are meant to be easier to move about (they're on wheels after all), they do tend to be louder and can be larger than their counterparts. And because of the exhaust hose necessary for venting, they’re not as portable as one may imagine.
Portable AC units take up floor space, so it’s important to make sure you have the extra square footage for one. You want to place the unit away from walls so the airflow isn’t restricted, but that will likely mean a longer hose and more space taken up. Which is another drawback, as they require an exhaust tube to be removed and re-installed each time it is moved to another space. For proper efficiency, you need to make sure the exhaust hose is as straight as possible as kinks can limit the effectiveness.
Yes. A portable AC does not work without an exhaust hose. They have to be vented to the outside because they are extracting the hot air that you want released outside of the room. You can choose to vent through a window (most common), wall, ceiling, or even door in theory.
Since there are no portable ACs without an exhaust hose, you may want to consider an evaporative cooler if you want a portable unit with no venting to the outside. They require a large amount of water to cool the space and are ideal in dry climates where humidity levels are low and the air is hot.
Most importantly, you'll have to find a portable air conditioner with the correct BTU capacity. Too strong and you’ll waste unnecessary power, too weak and you’ll likewise use too much energy continuously running the machine on full power and still likely feeling too warm. Air conditioner capacity is measured in BTUs (British thermal units), which will equate to a particular room size for cooling. You may have to size up if your room is atypical, such as having high ceilings or being in a particularly sunny place.
Beyond capacity, there are a handful of features that may be enticing to you, such as buying a “smart” unit that can be controlled via your phone or a remote, or one with a “follow-me” function that can measure the temperature both on the unit and the remote to get a more accurate estimate of the room’s temp.
Overall, our top portable air conditioner recommendations are: