You might be used to window-mounted air conditioners, but there are plenty of benefits to portable air conditioners, as well. “A portable unit can be on wheels and rolled from room to room and includes a tube to exhaust heat out of a window or through an opening in a wall,” explains Chris Roth, CEO and owner of National Technical Institute. He adds that they're usually easy to store and very versatile. To find the best portable air conditioners, we researched a wide range of models from top brands, taking into account factors such as their cooling abilities, energy efficiency, noise level, installation requirements, and other features.
The best option you can buy today is the LG Electronics LP1419IVSM Portable Air Conditioner, which is extremely quiet and has Wi-Fi capabilities, so you can control it right from your phone.
The following are the best portable air conditioners to keep your home cool this summer.
LG Electronics LP1419IVSM 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
Easy to install
Storage tray for accessories
Fairly short vent hose
The LG LP1419IVSM 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner is a top choice thanks to its surprisingly quiet operation, smart capabilities, and energy-saving design. Its dual inverter technology uses 40 percent less energy than similar portable air conditioners, and on its lowest setting, the unit is only 44 decibels—significantly quieter than many other units, so it won't disrupt your sleep. This portable AC is suitable for spaces up to 500 square feet, which is roughly 20 by 25 feet, and it’s rated at 10,000 BTU DOE. Also, its sleek outer shell won't be an eyesore in your home.
This portable air conditioner offers three cooling and fan speeds, as well as an auto cool setting, and you can control it via the digital control panel, LCD remote, or your smartphone via the LG ThinQ app. Thanks to its Wi-Fi connectivity, the unit can even be connected to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, so you can give it voice commands to turn on the AC while you're cooking or working out. It’s mounted on easy-rolling casters for simple movement, and it has an auto-swing air vent that ensures air is distributed throughout the whole room. Other features include a 24-hour on-off timer, auto-restart after power failure, and a filter check light.
In terms of installation, the AC comes with a window vent kit that’s easy to install, but keep in mind that the vent hose is fairly short at just 35.5 inches, so the unit has to be close to the window. When it’s time to pack the air conditioner back up, there’s a storage tray on the back of the unit where you can easily stash the window kit and hose, making it simple to keep everything together.
Price at time of publish: $740
Type: Single hose | Cooling Area: 500 square feet | BTU: 10,000 DOE/14,000 ASHRAE | Filter Type: Washable | Noise Level: 44-53 decibels | Energy Star Certified: No
SereneLife SLPAC8 8,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
Easy to use
Cooling, dehumidifier, and fan modes
Comes in higher BTU versions
Only cools rooms up to 225 square feet
If you're looking to quickly cool down a small room without spending too much money, consider the SereneLife SLPAC8 Portable Air Conditioner. This 8,000 BTU unit operates at a quiet 55 decibels, so it won't interrupt your sleep or phone conversations, and if you need to turn it off, a remote control makes the process straightforward. This unit has a built-in dehumidifier as well as cooling and fan modes; plus, its compact size and small wheels make it a breeze to move around your space.
While this SereneLife unit only cools rooms up to 225 square feet, it comes in five different versions, so you can opt for a higher BTU version or one that includes a heat setting if that better suits your space. However, customers note that the noise level significantly increases as the BTU increases.
Price at time of publish: $320
Type: Single hose | Cooling Area: 225 square feet | BTU: 4,000 DOE/8,000 ASHRAE | Filter Type: Washable | Noise Level: 55-57 decibels | Energy Star Certified: No
Best for Large Rooms
Honeywell MN4CFSWW9 Portable Air Conditioner
Continuous drain option
Can be installed in casement windows
The Honeywell MN4CFSWW9 Portable Air Conditioner is a top choice for rooms up to 700 square feet thanks to its powerful cooling and dehumidifying abilities. It’s rated at 10,000 BTU DOE, and it’s able to remove up to 53 pints of moisture from the air per day, helping to reduce the humidity in your home on hot summer days. Plus, it can be hooked up to a garden hose (not included) for continuous draining, making it more low-maintenance than many other portable ACs.
This portable air conditioner comes with a window venting kit, complete with insulation tape and an adjustable bracket, and while the kit is designed for standard single-hung windows, the brand also offers instructions on how the AC can be installed in casement windows. The unit is mounted on caster wheels for portability, and it has a digital display and remote that make it easy to adjust the settings. You can choose from high, medium, or low fan speeds, and there’s even a programmable timer for automatic operation. The main drawback of this unit is its noise level, though—it operates at 58 decibels, which is loud enough to disrupt a normal conversation, but still quieter than your average vacuum cleaner.
Price at time of publish: $650
Type: Single hose | Cooling Area: 700 square feet | BTU: 10,000 DOE/14,000 ASHRAE | Filter Type: Washable | Noise Level: 58 decibels | Energy Star Certified: No
Best for Small Rooms
Midea 6,000 BTU DOE Portable Air Conditioner
Multiple sizes available
Long ventilation hose
Requires frequent draining
If you only have a small space to cool, this moderately priced Midea Portable Air Conditioner offers 6,000 BTU DOE, which is suitable for spaces up to 150 square feet. If you're looking to cool a larger space, it also comes in several additional sizes, ranging up to 14,000 BTU. The unit has a 3-in-1 design that operates as an air conditioner, dehumidifier, or fan, and it offers a variety of settings, including a quiet Sleep Mode that’s ideal for use in your bedroom.
The window bracket that comes with this air conditioner fits openings between 19.4 and 62.2 inches, and the unit has a 5-foot vent hose that lets you arrange it further away from the window, if needed. It has an LED display, as well as a remote control, and you can have it operate automatically with its 24-hour timer. However, this portable air conditioner does require regular draining, especially in humid climates, and this requires emptying the collected water into a bucket (not included), your sink, or shower.
Price at time of publish: $319
Type: Single hose | Cooling Area: 150 square feet | BTU: 6,000 DOE | Filter Type: Washable | Noise Level: Not listed | Energy Star Certified: No
GE Appliances 9,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
Window kit included
Simple LED display
Installation tricky for some
For a sleek look with a powerful chill, opt for the GE Appliances 9,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner. This AC has a simple and unobtrusive design that would blend well with any bedroom, living room, or office space decor. It features an LED display for easy viewing, and it comes with a remote control, so you can switch between the two cooling modes and two fan modes from the comfort of your bed. This 9,000 BTU unit can cool rooms up to 250 square feet, and reviewers report that even on its lowest setting, it can quickly chill a medium-sized room.
At 53 decibels, this AC is relatively quiet, although some report hearing a loud noise when changing modes. There is an included window kit for easy installation, and most customers said that installation was straightforward, while some noted that fitting their specific window was tricky.
Price at time of publish: $419
Type: Single hose | Cooling Area: 250 square feet | BTU: 6,250 DOE/9,000 ASHRAE | Filter Type: Washable | Noise Level: 53 decibels | Energy Star Certified: No
Hisense 6000-BTU Portable Air Conditioner
Dimmable control panel
Snap-in window assembly
Requires frequent draining in humid weather
If you’re looking for a quiet way to cool down your bedroom, the Hisense Portable Air Conditioner is the way to go. This compact unit operates at just 47 decibels on its lowest setting, so it won’t interrupt your sleep, and it also gives you the option to turn off the lights on its control panel if you prefer to sleep in darkness. The AC is rated at 6,000 BTU DOE, and it can cool up to 250 square feet, making it ideal for small to medium-sized rooms.
The Hisense AC has cooling, fan, and dehumidifier modes, and it offers a 24-hour programmable timer that you can adjust to fit your schedule. It has a snap-in window assembly that expands from 18 to 50 inches so it should fit almost any window, and you’ll be able to install it without any cutting or drilling. The AC has multi-directional air flow to cool down your space quickly, but it does require fairly frequent draining when it’s operating in humid weather.
Price at time of publish: $329
Type: Single hose | Cooling Area: 250 square feet | BTU: 6,000 DOE/8,000 ASHRAE | Filter Type: Washable | Noise Level: 47–49 decibels | Energy Star Certified: No
Best with Heater
BLACK+DECKER 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Heat
Multiple sizes available
Self-evaporating in cool mode
Display can’t be dimmed
Installation can be tricky
You’ll be able to use this BLACK+DECKER Portable Air Conditioner for more than just the summer thanks to its 4-in-1 operation, which includes a heat setting. The 6,000 BTU DOE unit is able to cool a room up to 300 square feet, and it can heat spaces up to 200 square feet when the weather gets chilly. Plus, if you have a larger room, the unit is available in a size up, rated at 7,700 BTU DOE.
In addition to heating and cooling, this air conditioner has dehumidify and fan modes, and it offers sleep, max, and air swing functions that adjust the air flow to meet your needs. It has a remote control and top-mounted LED display where you can change the settings, but unfortunately, the display can’t be dimmed or turned off, so it’s highly visible at night. The AC has a self-evaporating design when in cooling mode, meaning there’s no need to drain off any water, and it has a 24-hour timer, to boot. The window installation kit works in horizontal or vertical window openings between 20.5 and 59 inches, but it can be somewhat tricky to secure, as the included foam isn’t the best quality.
Price at time of publish: $430
Type: Single hose | Cooling Area: 300 square feet | BTU: 6,000 DOE/12,000 ASHRAE | Filter Type: Washable | Noise Level: 51 decibels | Energy Star Certified: No
Best Dual Hose
Whynter ARC-14S 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner
Powerful cooling abilities
Activated carbon filter
The Whynter ARC-14S Portable Air Conditioner has a dual hose design, which means it features one vent hose to bring in fresh air from the outside and a second hose to expel hot air. This design allows it to cool down spaces up to 500 square feet more quickly, and it's also a powerful dehumidifier, removing up to 101 pints of moisture from the air in 24 hours. Plus, its auto-drain technology recycles moisture in the air, saving you from having to drain a water tank on humid days.
This dual-hose air conditioner is fairly large, and it weighs 80 pounds, so you may need help moving it. However, it is mounted on caster wheels so once it's in your home, you can push it from room to room as needed. In addition to a washable pre-filter, this air conditioner has an activated carbon filter to help remove odors from the air, and it also offers a 24-hour timer, convenient remote control, auto restart after power outages, and more. Plus, it comes with a protective cover that will keep the unit free of dust and dirt when it’s not in use.
Price at time of publish: $600
Type: Dual hose | Cooling Area: 500 square feet | BTU: 9,500 DOE/14,000 ASHRAE | Filter Type: Washable pre-filter and activated carbon filter | Noise Level: 56 decibels | Energy Star Certified: No
Best Evaporative Cooler
Hessaire MC37M Portable Evaporative Cooler
Indoor or outdoor use
Manual or continuous fill
Large coverage area
Easy to operate
Not effective in high humidity
An evaporative cooler like the Hessaire MC37M is a more affordable cooling option for those who live in low-humidity areas. Instead of using a refrigerant to cool down your space, this swamp cooler pushes air through a water-soaked filter, lowering the temperature and adding humidity to the air. The technology uses significantly less energy than traditional air conditioners, and this model has a 10.3-gallon water tank that can run for several hours at a time, cooling an indoor or outdoor living space of up to 950 square feet.
One of our favorite evaporative coolers, the Hessaire MC37M has a manual design with three fan speeds and optional oscillation. For continuous operation, you can hook it up to a garden hose, which will automatically refill the water tank when it gets low. The unit is mounted on heavy-duty locking casters and is fairly lightweight when empty, making it easy to move around your home, but it does have a fairly large, bulky appearance. Also, keep in mind that swamp coolers are only effective in low-humidity climates—they won’t do much if you live somewhere with hot, humid weather.
Price at time of publish: $371
Type: Evaporative cooler | Cooling Area: 950 square feet | BTU: Not listed | Filter Type: Not listed | Noise Level: 59 decibels | Energy Star Certified: No
The LG Electronics LP1419IVSM 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner is a top choice thanks to its powerful cooling and dehumidification abilities, as well as its quieter-than-average noise level. It can be used in spaces up to 500 square feet, and it even has smart features, so you can control it from your phone. If you're looking to spend a bit less, the SereneLife SLPAC8 Portable Air Conditioner is quiet, easy to use, and quickly cools down small areas.
What to Look for in a Portable Air Conditioner
There are several styles of portable air conditioners that you may want to consider as you shop. First, there are classic air conditioners, which use a refrigerant to cool down the air in your home. These units are ideal for both lowering the temperature and removing humidity from the air, but they tend to use more energy and cost more upfront.
There are also single and dual-hose options. Single hose options pull air from the interior of your home, cool it down, then expel excess heat through a single hose vented out a window or door. Dual-hose models, on the other hand, use one vent hose to pull in fresh air from the outside and a second to expel heat, allowing them to work more quickly and efficiently. Dual-hose air conditioners are typically larger and more expensive than single-hose options.
Alternatively, those who live in low-humidity climates may want to opt for an evaporative cooler. These less-expensive models work by pushing air through a water-soaked filter, which cools down the air while increasing humidity. Also called swamp coolers, these units can often be used both inside and outside, and they typically require less energy to run. However, they need a steady supply of water to operate—some can be hooked up to a garden hose, while others require manual refills.
One of the most important factors when choosing a portable air conditioning unit is the recommended room size. “Load calculation helps to determine the appropriate size of the AC your home will require,” explains Roth. “It is done by matching your home’s thermal characteristics with cooling capacity in BTUs.”
Generally speaking, a higher BTU rating means that the unit can cool a larger room, but as you look at different portable air conditioners, you’ll notice that there are often two BTU ratings—a DOE or SACC rating and an ASHRAE rating—which can make things a bit more confusing.
BTU ratings were traditionally calculated based on criteria from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), which evaluated their ability to cool a room at 80 degrees Fahrenheit and 51 percent humidity. However, in 2017, the Department of Energy (DOE) introduced the concept of Seasonally Adjusted Cooling Capacity (SACC), which evaluates a portable AC’s cooling abilities in multiple conditions to more accurately depict real-life use. As you may have noticed, DOE BTU ratings are always lower than ASHRAE ratings, and the former is typically considered more accurate.
Unlike window air conditioners, which are able to drain moisture to the exterior of your home, portable air conditioners collect moisture from the air inside the unit, and this liquid needs to be removed periodically, especially during humid weather. Some units have a water tank or tray that must be manually emptied, while others have a drain hose attached to allow continuous draining. More advanced units sometimes offer self-draining systems that recycle moisture back into the air to eliminate the need for drainage. The best setup for you will depend on your climate, how much condensation your air conditioner collects, and the layout of your room.
When should you choose a portable air conditioner over a window unit?
While window-mounted air conditioners are excellent long-term cooling solutions, they tend to be heavier, harder to install, and less versatile than their portable alternatives. Portable air conditioners tend to be the better option if you need to be able to move your unit from room to room, or even between buildings.
How do you install a portable air conditioner?
Non-evaporative portable air conditioners will need to be set up near a window or vent so that their exhaust hose has somewhere to pump hot air out of your home. These units usually come with a window adapter that will create an air-tight opening for the hose. Installation generally shouldn't take longer than 15 to 20 minutes.
Evaporative portable air conditioners don't need to be hooked up to a window or vent, but they work best in a well-ventilated area. Keeping yours near an open window will prevent the room from getting too cold or clammy.
How do you empty a portable air conditioner?
When the time comes to drain your portable air conditioner (which will vary depending on your model and how often you use it), you can empty the water tank manually by placing a pan under the unit and letting the water drain into it. If your unit comes with a drainage hose, you also have the option of attaching the hose and running it down a floor drain.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Camryn Rabideau, a freelance writer and product tester for The Spruce. While researching portable air conditioners, she spoke with Chris Roth, CEO and owner of National Technical Institute and a licensed HVAC technician, for insights on selecting the best air conditioner for your home.
Using his suggestions, she vetted each model for its cooling power, noise level, settings, and energy efficiency, and she scoured dozens of user reviews for insights on the installation and operation of different portable units from top brands. She also spoke to her parents, who have owned the LG LP1419IVSM 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner for several years, to get their opinion on the top-rated model.