The 9 Best Portable Air Conditioners to Buy in 2018

Cool off your home with out the need for a window unit

black-decker-air-conditioner
Courtesy of Amazon

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It is almost impossible to underestimate the usefulness of a good air conditioner. Anyone who lives in a state or city with hot summers can attest to the fact that air conditioners can be literal lifesavers. Beyond keeping the climate comfortable, air conditioners keep inside temperatures safe for everyone, especially children and pets. Unfortunately, they also tend to be large and difficult to install or upgrade.

If you want a more portable solution to keeping cool, portable air conditioners are the perfect purchase since they don’t require the need for a window unit which isn't always an option. But just because they are portable, doesn't mean they don't need to vent outside — you'll still need to hook them up to your window, usually with an included kit so you'll need outdoor access to use (meaning you still need a window). You can use them in many different areas of the house, car, RV, or even outside on the patio or campgrounds. When using one to cool off the outdoors you'll need to look for an evaporative cooler which works better in drier climates.

Pay attention to BTU ratings to determine how powerful an air conditioner is since higher ratings will work better for larger spaces, but bigger isn't necessarily always better so it is best to do your research to see what works best for your space and needs. 

To help you out, here are the best portable air conditioners to consider for a wide variety of needs.

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  • 01 of 09

    Best Overall Portable Air Conditioner: Honeywell MN12CES Air Conditioner

    The best air conditioner is something that provides the best all-around coverage. While some portable conditioners excel at small or large spaces, a general-purpose air conditioner needs to be at home in a variety of conditions. This way, you can move the conditioner around to different areas of the house without sacrificing performance and temperature control.

    Rolling around on a set of four durable casters, the Honeywell MN12CES Air Conditioner is the perfect choice when you want to fine-tune the positioning of your portable AC. The unit is rated for 12,000 BTU which will handle most small-and-medium bedrooms up to 450 square feet. Three speeds, an automatic timer, and included remote control will give you plenty of control to set the temperature to your liking while in use. Plus, this clocks in at 55 DBAs giving you a fairly quiet option compared to other models. 

  • 02 of 09

    Best Budget Portable Air Conditioner: LG Electronics 8,000 BTU Air Conditioner

    All air conditioners can get expensive when you start to pile up the features and performance specifications. Even portable air conditioners can threaten your grip on your wallet. When you need a budget air conditioner that has the same capabilities as premium options, your list of possibilities quickly shrinks. Thankfully, there is one portable air conditioner that doesn’t sacrifice perfect climate control for the smaller price tag.

    The LG Electronics 8,000 BTU Air Conditioner offers the same features and capabilities as larger air conditioners for a fraction of the cost. The main difference between this one and more expensive options is the area of coverage. Pumping air into spaces up to 150 square feet, this air conditioner is better suited for small bedrooms or hallways. The air conditioner also comes with an exhaust tube and window vent kit to pump hot air out of the home.

  • 03 of 09

    Best Large Portable Air Conditioner: Black+Decker 14,000 BTU Conditioner

    Large rooms like living rooms and master bedrooms are notoriously difficult for portable air conditioners. More space requires more power to adequately push the cool air through the entire room for proper circulation. If you find yourself requiring a good portable cooler for a larger space, you need a device with more BTUs than the average small air conditioner can provide.

    For larger spaces, Black+Decker’s 14,000 BTU Conditioner will handle rooms up to 22' x 25'. The unit relies on water evaporation to provide cool air, eliminating the need for pricey and dangerous coolants. Best of all, the air conditioner also turns into a heater with a single switch for rooms around 10' x 20'. Finally, the head pivots up and down to keep the air circulating for long periods of time.

  • 04 of 09

    Best for RV: Frigidaire 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

    More and more people are turning to recreational vehicles as a way to experience the outdoors without sacrificing the usual creature comforts. Unfortunately, RVs don’t often prioritize the best climate control, which means they can easily heat up in summer months when sitting out under a hot sun. If your RV lacks the necessary cooler to keep the temperatures comfortable, a portable air conditioner might be a good solution.

    Using a unique, circular design, the Frigidaire 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner keeps cool air flowing around an entire room of up to 550 square feet. Working well in both home spaces and large RVs, you can power the air conditioner with any standard wall outlet using an extension cord for reach. Maintaining the air conditioner is simple since the internal filters are accessible and easy to replace in just a few minutes.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Best for Outdoors: Honeywell Powerful Outdoor Portable Evaporative Cooler

    While not a traditional air conditioner, evaporative coolers have the same goal in mind — to cool down the air. Evaporative coolers are a great option for when you want to cool off an open space say your patio, garage or deck. They cool off the temperature by giving off a moist, cool breeze that will instantly refresh you. Since these essentially use humidity to keep you cool, they aren't recommended for high humidity climate and are better suited for folks in the west and south of the country. 

    Reviewers in hot arid climates have said this had made temperatures of more than 100 degrees bearable outside and that this unit is easy to use and operate. ​

  • 06 of 09

    Best Personal Portable Air Conditioner: Evapolar Personal Air Cooler

    What do you do if you are away from home and need to cool yourself off? Perhaps a wet rag, bag of ice, or a personal misting device come to mind. If so, there is a better alternative you should consider. A personal air conditioner like the Evapolar Personal Air Cooler will help to circulate the air around you, keeping the temperature in check and the air quality high for your health.

    This personal cooler helps to circulate and treat the air around you in different ways. First, it uses several different built-in filters to keep the air free of dust and germs that often lead to illness. Second, the built-in water tank evaporates the water, releasing a stream of cool air out of the vents. The tank lasts up to six hours before needing a refill.

  • 07 of 09

    Best Quiet Portable Air Conditioner: Honeywell 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

    Whisper-quiet and contained in an unassuming case, the Honeywell 10,000 BTU single-hose portable air conditioner can quickly and quietly cool up to 400 square feet of space. This model has an auto-evaporation system that recycles the condensation, making it less of a hassle to have to remove and clean out the water tray, which can grow bacteria if not cleaned regularly. The 3M electrostatic filter inside also significantly cuts down on the bacteria and dust in the air. If you want some extra air circulation but don't need active cooling, you can use the fan-only function, which has three different speeds and is nearly noiseless.

  • 08 of 09

    Best Portable Air Conditioner for Apartments: NewAir 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

    NewAir Ultra Compact Air Conditioner
     Courtesy of Home Depot

    Weighing in at just 50 pounds, the NewAir 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner is easy to move from room to room throughout the warm season, bringing the temperature down quickly in a 325-square-foot space. It has a small footprint and can dehumidify as well as cool you down. The two fan speeds offer an alternative cooling option when the weather isn't so hot, and the remote control allows you to program and switch the a/c on or off from the comfort of the couch. The NewAir uses environmentally-friendly R-41A coolant and runs efficiently by using the water from the air to cool down the compressor coils. 

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Best Ventless Portable Air Conditioner: Honeywell 525 CFM Indoor Outdoor Portable Evaporative Cooler 

    It’s a bit of an oxymoron, but ventless air conditioners don't use "air conditioning" in the conventional sense. Most are actually evaporative air conditioners, or "swamp coolers," that use evaporating water to cool the air. The Honeywell 525 CFM works like this, and it can be used indoors or out to cool down an area of up to 320 square feet. It comes with a remote control that allows you to switch it from cooler to fan mode, and also has an energy saving timer and low water alarm.

    The 525 CFM doesn’t eat up a lot of electricity, making it one of the more wallet-friendly options on this list. But if you live in an area with high humidity, you may want to look for a non-evaporative air conditioner model. These machines add water to the air while they cool, making them a lot less effective — and less pleasant to be around — when the humidity is above 50 percent.