The Best Portable Air Conditioners for Summer 2024, According to HVAC Experts

Because a ceiling fan just won't cut it this yearIn This ArticleIn This Article If the windows in your home are oddly shaped or unconventional sizes, you often can’t use window air conditioners, but that doesn’t mean you have to sweat it out all summer long

Published Time: 01.07.2024 - 13:31:09 Modified Time: 01.07.2024 - 13:31:09

Because a ceiling fan just won't cut it this year

In This Article

In This Article

If the windows in your home are oddly shaped or unconventional sizes, you often can’t use window air conditioners, but that doesn’t mean you have to sweat it out all summer long. A portable air conditioner is a convenient alternative to a that can be used to cool down your home on hot summer days, and they’re much easier to install than a traditional AC.

Portable air conditioners have a freestanding design that you place on the floor, much like the best fans, and they’re vented out a nearby window using hoses. These units come in a variety of sizes to suit different spaces, and because they’re mounted on wheels, they’re easier to move around as needed.

If your house is too hot for comfort, the Whynter Portable Air Conditioner is on sale for $100 off on Amazon. It’s powerful enough for large rooms and helps control humidity as well.

To find the best portable air conditioners to beat the summer heat, we spoke to two HVAC experts and searched for today’s top-rated products.

This portable air conditioner from Whynter is a powerful and efficient option to cool spaces up to 500 square feet. It has a dual hose design that allows it to cool your home more quickly, and it also doubles as a dehumidifier for humid days, removing up to 71 pints of moisture from the air every day. Plus, it even has an automatic drain, so you don’t have to manually remove the moisture it collects. 

You can set this portable AC to any temperature between 61 and 89°F, and it has three fan speeds and a 24-hour programmable timer. Its powerful cooling abilities will keep your home at a comfortable temperature, even on the hottest summer days, and the only real downside is that the design is a bit bulky. 

Dimensions: 19 x 16 x 35.5 inches | Weight: 73 pounds | BTU: 14,000 (ASHRAE) | Coverage Area: 500 square feet | Noise Level: 51 dB

"This is abeast. I have had others...do yourself a favor and spend a little more for this. You will not regret it." — Amazon Reviewer

For smaller spaces, this portable AC from LG is an unbeatable value. It has a basic design that cools and dehumidifies, and it also has an oscillating air vent that distributes air more evenly around the room. This single-hose model offers 250 square feet cooling coverage, as well as two fan speeds and a 24-hour timer. You can adjust its settings using the included remote, and the washable filter makes for easy long-term maintenance. 

Dimensions: 13.3 x 17.3 x 27.4 inches | Weight: 54.2 pounds | BTU: 6,000 (ASHRAE) | Coverage Area: 250 square feet  | Noise Level: 53 dB

This model from Midea is the quietest option we found, with a noise level of around 42 decibels — perfect for a bedroom, nursery, or home office. It’s less noisy than most other portable ACs thanks to its inverter technology, which allows the compressor to run at a lower power level.

This unit has a dual-hose design that vents out hot air, and it’s packed with useful features, as well. It’s Wi-Fi enabled and can be controlled from your smartphone, and it even has a heating function, in case you want to leave it setup all year-round. 

Dimensions: 16.7 x 19.5 x 34.5 inches | Weight: 77.2 pounds | BTU: 14,000 (ASHRAE) | Coverage Area: 550 square feet | Noise Level: 42 dB

LG is a trusted brand for smart gadgets, and this portable air conditioner from the brand is Wi-Fi connected, allowing you to control it right from your smartphone. This means you can adjust its settings even when you’re away from home, and you can even sync it up to a digital assistant like Alexa to control the unit using voice commands. Its single-hose design is powerful enough to cool mid-size rooms, and its air vent automatically oscillates to spread cool air all around your space. 

Dimensions: 15.6 x 17.7 x 29.3 inches | Weight: 76.1 pounds | BTU: 10,000 (ASHRAE) | Coverage Area: 450 square feet | Noise Level: 50 dB

If you need to cool a room that’s under 350 square feet, this inexpensive unit from SereneLife will get the job done. It has a smaller footprint than many other portable AC units, and it’s one of the most lightweight options on this list, as well. It has an oscillating air vent, 24-hour timer, and designated sleep mode for use at night, but keep in mind that it is a bit louder than other units, so it may not be the best choice for your bedroom. 

Dimensions: 13.8 x 14.6 x 27.2 inches | Weight: 53 pounds | BTU: 8,000 (ASHRAE) | Coverage Area: 350 square feet  | Noise Level: 55 dB

This dual-hose air conditioner from Whynter is powerful enough to use in spaces up to 600 square feet, such as open-concept living areas. It uses inverter technology to cool down your room up to twice as fast as other units, and despite its powerful performance, it operates much more quietly, generally around 42.5 decibels.

You can hook it up to your home’s Wi-Fi network if you want to control the unit from your smartphone, and through the connected app, you can put the AC on a set schedule so you don’t have to adjust it manually. 

Dimensions: 16.75 x 19.5 x 32.5 inches | Weight: 78 pounds | BTU: 14,000 (ASHRAE) | Coverage Area: 600 square feet  | Noise Level: 42.5 dB

You can leave this Black and Decker Air Conditioner set up year-round — with its multiple operation modes, it can cool down your home in the summer and provide supplemental heating in the winter. It has a simple, yet effective single-hose design, and it’s easy to move around your home thanks to built-in handles and caster wheels.

This unit has an auto-swing vent, 24-hour timer, and a slide-out washable filter, but its water tank holds less than a liter, so it does need to be emptied regularly in humid climates. 

Dimensions: 14.1 x 16.5 x 27.1 inches | Weight: 57.6 pounds | BTU: 12,000 (AS -

HRAE) | Coverage Area: 550 square feet  | Noise Level: 52 dB

One common complaint about portable air conditioners is that they’re hard to install, but reviewers say this model from Toshiba is easy to set up thanks to its snap-together window kit, which can be used in horizontal or vertical orientations. A new model from Toshiba, this unit can be connected to your smartphone or synced up with a digital assistant for voice commands, and it even has a sleep setting that makes it less disruptive at night. Its vent is able to swing to ensure even air distribution around the room, as well. 

Dimensions: 14.4 x 17.9 x 37.6 inches | Weight: 61.9 pounds | BTU: 13,500 (ASHRAE) | Coverage Area: 450 square feet  | Noise Level: 54 dB

Many of the units on this list weigh upwards of 70 pounds, and if you’re looking for a more compact portable air conditioner, this model from Honeywell is much more manageable. It weighs around 45 pounds and is significantly smaller than most other models, yet it can still cool spaces up to 400 square feet. Additionally, it has larger fan louvers to push air across a wider area, and while it automatically evaporates moisture while dehumidifying, you can also hook it up to a garden hose for drainage, if desired. 

Dimensions: 13.5 x 14.6 x 27.2 inches | Weight: 45 pounds | BTU: 9,000 (ASHRAE) | Coverage Area: 400 square feet  | Noise Level: 52 dB

Portable air conditioners use quite a bit of energy, and if you want to minimize operation costs, this model from LG is one of the most energy-efficient options out there today. The brand claims that its inverter technology is 40 percent more energy efficient than other units, and it’s also significantly quieter, making it a top choice for your bedroom. Plus, you can control the air conditioner from the LG app, creating a personalized cooling schedule for your home. 

Dimensions: 18.1 x 19.4 x 30.4 inches | Weight: 71 pounds | BTU: 14,000 (ASHRAE) | Coverage Area: 450 square feet | Noise Level: 44 dB

Air conditioner or no, you can stay comfortable on hot summer nights with the help of the best cooling sheets that PEOPLE Tested.

These eucalyptus sheets have a wonderfully smooth, soft feel, and they stay cool to the touch, even on hot days. The cooling sheets also wick away moisture, helping to regulate your body temperature all night long. 

Portable air conditioners can be vented with either one or two hoses, and there are notable differences between the two styles. 

To find the right air conditioner size for your space, it’s important to consider the BTU rating. “Choosing the correct size is crucial for effective cooling,” explains Garner. “The cooling capacity of air conditioners is measured in British Thermal Units, or BTUs.” 

As you look at air conditioners, however, you’ll likely see two different BTU measurements: ASHRAE and SACC.  ASHRAE stands for American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, and it is the classic BTU measurement that’s been used for many years. SACC, or Seasonally Adjusted Cooling Capacity, is a newer BTU measurement that takes into account the AC’s performance at various temperatures and humidity levels.

When selecting the right BTU for your space, the main consideration should be room size. “Rooms between 300-400 square feet might need a 12,000 BTU unit, and for 400-500 square feet, a 14,000 BTU unit is ideal,” says Garner. “Additionally, consider factors such as ceiling height, sun exposure, and the number of occupants, which can affect cooling needs.”

Air conditioners are notorious for being energy hogs, and portable air conditioners often use even more electricity than window units. To keep costs down, you may want to compare the Energy Efficiency Ratio, or EER, of different units. EER is the ratio of the AC’s cooling capacity in BTU per hour to its power input in watts, and a higher number indicates a more efficient unit. 

If you’re looking for an energy-efficient portable AC, an EER score of 8.5 or higher is ideal. You may also want to look for a model with inverter technology, which helps conserve energy by adjusting the power level of the condenser based on the indoor temperature.

If you live in a climate with high levels of humidity, you’ll want to think about how you’ll drain your portable AC. “A portable unit in a high humidity U.S. state will fill up with water quickly and subsequently need to be emptied periodically from the reservoir,” explains Anthony Weinburg, HVAC program director at Fortis College, noting that window ACs are a better choice in these climates: “A window unit drips water outside without needing to be drained.”

Some portable units have self-evaporating designs to minimize drainage needs, but they still may need to be emptied on particularly humid days. Other models, like the Honeywell Portable Air Conditioner, can actually be hooked up to a garden hose for continuous drainage.

The price of portable air conditioners ranges from $300 to $700. Small, single-hose units tend to be the most affordable, while larger dual-hose models will fall at the higher end of this range. In general, you can expect to pay between $400 to $500 for a mid-size portable air conditioner with modern features. 

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Camryn Rabideau is a freelance writer and product reviewer who specializes in home, kitchen, and pet products. In her over six years of experience as a product tester, she's reviewed hundreds of items firsthand, and her work appears in publications such as PEOPLE, The Spruce, and Better Homes & Gardens. For this article, she spoke with heating and cooling experts for insights on choosing the right portable air conditioner for your home.

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