Best Portable AC Units Reviews - Photo Credit Expert Reviews

Summer is my favorite time of the year. I get to wear my flip flops and relax at the beach while sipping on a cold smoothie drink. Not to mention hosting and attending backyard BBQs and pool parties. What a time to be alive! I’ll tell you what I don’t like though, the blazing nighttime heat!

Before discovering the beauty of owning a portable AC unit, sleeping at night used to be a nightmare. I’d toss and turn for hours before finding any sleep, then wake up in the middle of the night in a pool of my sweat and be unable to go back to sleep. I’m not kidding when I say that it was an absolute nightmare.

If you’re also don’t like excessive heat and sweating like me, and you’re looking to buy a portable AC unit, then, you should know that there are a couple of factors and features to take into consideration, and all that information can seem daunting at first. This is why I’m going to give you a breakdown of all these factors, along with well-researched reviews of some of the best-selling portable AC units currently in the market (2018 Edition).

Let’s get started !

Top 5 Portable AC Units 2018 List

  Brand Cooling Capacity Cooling Range Dehumidif. capacity Noise Level Weight  
Whynter-14,000-BTU Whynter
 Best Pick 
14.000 BTU ~ 500 sq. ft. ~ 100 pints/day 56 dB 80 lbs Check Price
BLACK+DECKER-BPACT08WT Black&Decker 8000 BTU ~ 300 sq. ft. ~ 4 pints/day 53 dB 52.9 lbs Check Price
Honeywell-MN10CESWW Honeywell
 Reasonable Price 
10.000 BTU ~ 400 sq. ft. ~ 66 pints/day 53 dB 61.7 lbs Check Price
Quilo-QP112WK Quilo 12.000 BTU ~ 450 sq. ft. ~ 80 pints/day 52 dB 66.1 lbs Check Price
Madoats-Mini Madoats Mini N/A ~ 3 ft. N/A 58 dB 1.3 lbs Check Price

Cooling Capacity (BTU): British Thermal Unit (BTU) measures the quantity of heat a conditioning unit can remove from a room per hours. More info about BTU.

Cooling Range: refers to the room’s square footage to be cooled using the AC unit.

Dehumidifier’s Size (capacity): it’s the unit’s total capacity to remove moisture. it’s rated in pints of moisture removed per 24-hour.

Noise Level: presents the loudness of sound and it’s measured in decibels (dB).

#1 Whynter ARC-14S –  Best Portable AC Overall

The two-tone design of this portable AC is sleek and elegant, but this appliance does not just look good, it also performs quite impressively. With 14,000 BTUs of cooling power, this is among the best portable air conditioners you are going to find in the market, and it can cool spaces up to 500 sq. ft. Making use of dual hose operation, you will appreciate the fact that this portable AC unit is not only powerful, but it also offers fast cooling. I found this to be quite impressive, but it is not the only amazing feature in this model from Whynter®.

Are you particularly concerned about global warming and are interested in reducing your carbon footprint? If you are, then this is the one for you. This environment-friendly appliance uses CFC-free ozone-safe R-410A refrigerant as well as components that are lead-free and RoHS compliant. At the same time, this unit consumes minimum energy thus saving you money in the process.

I always find that a reliable portable AC is all about the tiny details included in the appliance and that’s just what makes this Whynter unit the best portable AC unit I have come across so far. This AC has been designed to make your life easier by incorporating features such as the adjustable digital thermostat control, the auto-drain function, the 24-hour programmable timer and the remote control function.

Whynter ARC-14S also comes with three operational modes: air conditioner, dehumidifier or fan. The fan option which has three fan speeds comes in handy if you want to save on your electricity bill or during times when you do not need much cooling. For easy maintenance, this portable AC has a washable pre-filter.



Has airflow of 222 CFM when at high speed

 It is eco-friendly

It has multiple operating modes

✓ It has a dehumidifying capacity of 101 Pts/day

✓ The unit auto-restarts after a power outage

 It comes with a protective cover storage bag

Not suitable for rooms larger than 500 sq. ft

 It does not have a heater option

 At 100 lbs the unit is quite heavy

#2 BLACK+DECKER BPACT08WT – Best Mobile Portable AC Unit

If you are always on the go and enjoy the convenience of having your mobile air conditioner with you, then this unit will perfectly suit your needs. One thing you should know about portable ACs is that BTU capacity would influence the weight and physical size of the device. Well, that’s why this 8,000 BTU unit is lighter than the 14,000 BTU Whynter ARC-14S.

At 52.9 lbs, this mobile cooling appliance is probably as light as they can get, without compromising the efficiency of the unit, of course. 8,000 BTU should be good enough for a 250 sq. ft. room and the portability of this unit allows for convenient repositioning of the air conditioner in different spaces as your cooling needs change through the day. Mobility has been enhanced further by the four caster wheels attached to the base so that you do not necessarily have to lift the unit every time you wish to move it to another room.

Similar to the Whynter reviewed earlier, this stand up air conditioner also comes as a 3-in-1 unit: air conditioner, fan, and dehumidifier. Its cooling unit is also bucket less and instead, uses an auto water evaporation function to get rid of condensate automatically. As for the washable filter, it makes use of a simple slide-out technology and can be cleaned easily by rinsing it under a running faucet. This feature makes maintenance of the unit less tedious for the user, and so you can you can set up the air conditioner and completely forget about it, save for the occasional cleaning.

This stand up air conditioner makes use of vertical motion of airflow that is steady and powerful to ensure cooling of the entire room as well as its occupants. Another convenient feature is the top-mounted LED digital display that also comes with programmable electronic controls. There is also a remote control as well as a sleep mode and a 24-hour on/off timer.



It uses ozone-safe R104A refrigerant

 It is lightweight and mobile

It has side carrying handles for lifting and carrying

 It has three operating modes

 The filter is easy to remove and easy to clean

Because of its small size, this unit requires constant cleaning to ensure optimum performance

It is a single hose configuration

#3 Honeywell MN10CESWW – Best Cheap Portable Air Conditioner

Finding the perfect balance between good quality and superior performance while still looking for a cheap portable air conditioner can be a little hard. Of course, cheap yet good quality air conditioners do exist but keep in mind that when it comes to appliances, “cheap” can be a rather relative term. You have to gauge it against the performance of the AC unit, and I can gladly say that this Honeywell® portable AC is the best cheap portable air conditioner for those working with a tight budget.

At 10,000 BTU, this unit can efficiently cool spaces up to 400 sq. ft. and it comes with three operating modes. The dehumidifier has a capacity of 70 Pts/day, and the fan has three speeds to choose from. Moreover, the unit comes with a fan-only option whereby you can opt to run just the fan.

This feature guarantees circulation of air even when the air conditioner is not running, and I particularly found this to be an impressive feature for an appliance in this price range. Not to mention that it also features an auto-evaporation system allowing it to run for hours without needing any water to be drained. Suppose there is too much humidity in the room though, the unit also conveniently has a continuous drain option whereby you can drain the water using a standard garden hose.

With a noise level of 53dB, this might not be the most quiet portable air conditioner in the market, but it is quieter than most. This is an essential feature for those who are particularly sensitive to noise. Other convenient features are the 24-hour timer and the full-function remote control which allows you to operate the device remotely without needing to get up from your seat.



✓ It is a Budget Friendly AC with amazing high-end features

 It comes with a washable dust filter

It has both a self-evaporative feature and a continuous drain option

✓ It has three operating modes with a fan-only option

 It is a fairly quiet portable air conditioner

At 174 CFM the airflow is not very powerful

For most windows, the window kit might need some adjustment for you to achieve a proper fit

#4 Quilo QP112WK – Best Design Portable AC Unit

More often than not, portable air conditioners will be out in the open, right next to your window so you should not have to be stuck with an eyesore. I loved this cooling appliance the minute I saw it, probably because I prefer buying appliances which will blend in with my apartment’s existing decor. Of course, there are more important features to look for in air conditioning units but if you are keen on aesthetics; you deserve to get a unit with a beautiful sleek design. This Quilo® AC features elegant curves, and the compact nature allows you to store this small portable air conditioner in the closet when not in use.

With a capacity of BTU 12,000, this unit can cool rooms of up to 450 sq. ft. and it also comes with three operating modes. If design and look is your primary AC’s feature then I highly recommend looking to LG portable air conditioners.

Besides performing as expected, this unit is also energy efficient thus saving you money. This energy efficiency is further enhanced by the programmable 24-hour timer that allows you to set the AC’s running time. There is no reason the unit should keep running if the room has already been cooled to your desired temperature.

Another handy feature is the auto-evaporation feature which automatically gets rid of condensate. If you happen to live in an area with a lot of humidity though, this feature might not function optimally, taking this into consideration, therefore, this portable cooling appliance additionally comes with a convenient continuous drain hose. Still, on maintenance, this unit comes with durable dust filters that are washable.



It has a compact body

 It has both a self-evaporative feature and a continuous drain option

It has an energy-saving sleep mode and 24-hour programmable timer

 It has automatic louvers for an even distribution of cold air

Though compact, this portable cooling appliance is quite heavy

The AC exhausts quite a lot of heat

#5 Madoats – best Mini Portable Air Conditioner

A portable air conditioner has to be small in size, and Madoats® have mastered this design by coming up with the most adorable mini portable AC unit on the market! At less than 10” tall and weighing just 1.3 lbs, this stand up air conditioner is extremely mobile, and you can conveniently take it with you wherever you go. Let me start by saying that, you obviously cannot expect this unit to compete with the other Bulldogs in the market. It does a satisfactory job as a personal air conditioner though, and if this is what you are looking for, I guarantee you will enjoy owning one.

How does it work though? Well, you add some water to the little water tank located at the back of the unit. The mini portable AC will then release misting air which sprays continuously for 4-6 hours at a rate of about 70ml/hour.

My favorite feature, when it comes to using it, is the fact that you have the option of adding essential oils or ice cubes to the unit. This not only results in more cooling but it delivers an overall refreshing environment filled with the aroma of your favorite essential oils. The experience is quite relaxing actually. I loved it.

Besides that, you have the option of choosing from 3 operating modes: air circulator, desk fan or spray air humidifier. The fan has three speeds: low, medium and high and two modes: fan and fan+ humidification. Also, similar to most other air conditioners, this one also gives you the option of adjusting the wind outlet blades 120° up or down.



Ideal mini portable fan for personal use, with a range of about 3.2 ft

✓ It has a humidification feature

It has a tank refill indication light for when the water gets depleted

✓ It has an adjustable drip tray

✘ The plastic exterior looks a bit cheap

To reset the fan speed from high to low, the unit first has to power off before reconfiguring to low speed

Portable Air Conditioning Units: Features To Compare 

portable AC unit buyer's guide
Energy Efficiency

Generally, a small portable air conditioning unit will be more energy efficient as compared to central AC systems. However, this will also depend on the brand and model in question.

If in particular, you would like to save on your energy costs, then perhaps go for an AC with a high (EER). EER indicates how many BTUs are used for each watt of energy, therefore the higher the EER, the more energy efficient the unit.

Still, on energy efficiency, you could also prioritize going for a AC unit that has a programmable thermostat which automatically switches off the unit when the set room temperature is reached. Keeping your portable AC clean and well maintained also enhances its energy efficiency.


From experience, I have come to find that all air conditioners make noise, even mini portable air conditioners. This is because some noise will be produced by not only the fans but by the compressors as well. The point, therefore, is not to get a completely quiet portable air conditioner, but to find one that makes the least amount to noise.

One way of gauging the noise level of the unit you are interested in buying, is by comparing the indicated decibel levels of different units. On average, you should opt for a unit that operates at 77dB or lower when on maximum and 55-60dB when on low or medium fan settings.


When I first started looking into buying a portable AC, I would take the size to mean the physical dimensions of the unit, but this is not entirely the case. When looking to buy your cooling device you should also consider its capacity (BTU). Therefore, you not only consider whether the unit will fit in the space you intend to put it, but you also consider whether the unit will be able to cool the room efficiently. I already explained the effects of going with a wrongly sized AC, and so you do not want to make that mistake.

When thinking of size, also consider whether you intend to move the unit around much or if you would rather have it stay in one spot. Keep in mind that a small portable air conditioner will weigh less than a larger unit. Also, quiet portable air conditioners tend to be smaller in size.


As I already mentioned, the best portable AC units with not only cool indoor air but also dehumidify it. So what happens to the condensate water? Typically, it collects in a drain bucket which you, in turn, would have to empty. This can become quite tedious though, which is why there is now auto-drain technology.

In an automatic drain system, all of the liquid from condensation is turned into fine mist hence you never have to worry about emptying anything. Keep in mind though that this feature may come at the expense of less energy efficiency and a higher noise level.


The lighter the unit, the more portable it will be. Therefore when purchasing a portable AC, keep in mind whether you intend to move the unit around often. Will it fit in your car? Can you comfortably lift it alone? Portability is perhaps one of the most significant features of a portable air conditioner, but not all units will be as mobile as the name suggests.


AC units require very little maintenance, even the cheap portable air conditioners. Most of them are the kind of appliances you can set up and completely forget about. However, this is not the case if you get one with a bucket that requires manual draining of the condensate. When it comes to handling the condensate, you are better off going for an AC with self-evaporative, gravity drain or condensate pump features.

Even for the more technologically advanced ACs however, there are still a couple of measures you could take to make sure you do not compromise the lifespan of your unit. For instance, you should place the unit away from dust and dirt and make sure you clean it regularly. Failure to do this will hamper the operation of the unit thus forcing it to use up more energy than it should. You should also wash and replace the filters regularly, and regularly clean the condenser coils as well.


A lot of AC units come with an exclusive setting allowing them to work solely as a dehumidifier. Such units are more suitable for use in areas with moderate humidity levels such as the basement, for instance. One advantage of the dehumidify feature is that it keeps humidity to levels the room’s occupants would be comfortable with. Dehumidifying also rids the rooms of bad odors and prevents the formation of fungi.

Timer Function

You should opt for a unit that comes with a 24-hour programmable timer. This energy-saving feature allows you to set the operating schedule of your portable AC and customize it as needed.

For instance, since I do not like my cooling appliances running all night as I sleep, I prefer setting a specific duration of operation after which the unit automatically shuts off. I found that 2 hours often does the trick unless it happens to be an unusually warm night.


While making a cost comparison of various portable AC units, I always make sure I know what I’m getting for the price. This is because portable AC units will vary in price depending on several factors such as the BTU capacity, noise levels or even the mere appearance of the appliance. What will be the point of getting a cheap stand up air conditioner that doesn’t cool your bedroom efficiently?

Besides the price, also consider the cost of running the portable air conditioner. This will mostly be influenced by the BTU capacity, the brand and the model of the unit.

Benefits of a Portable Air Conditioner

a) Ideal for Small Spaces

I don’t know about you, but I find that a window is too critical an element to sacrifice when living in a small apartment. Views and natural light can be crucial in a studio or one bedroomed apartment, and so a portable AC is a convenient alternative to window ACs. Not to mention a portable AC is quicker and easier to install and they can be hidden from plain sight.

b) Convenient for Rental Apartments

Many apartment buildings, city ordinances, and Homeowners’ Associations do not allow tenants to have a window air conditioner. This limitation can be a great inconvenience especially when the weather gets warmer, but this is where a small mobile AC unit comes in handy.

c) Easy to Install

The majority of portable air conditioner offers easy and hassle-free installation. You will not need any ductwork, screws or other fixing materials. All you have to do is provide an exhaust vent as instructed in the manual and you are all set.

d) Cools and Dehumidifies

Besides cooling the indoor air, some portable air conditioning units also dehumidify the room at the same time. The result is a comfortable space that’s both cool and dry, and this is particularly important for those who suffer from allergies.

e) Mobility

Portable room air conditioners have built-in casters or wheels attached to the base which help the unit be moved easily from one room to another. As a result, a portable unit is, therefore, more reliable because it can be used to cool any room depending on the occupancy and the time of day.

Just as well, a portable AC can be used on the go for RVs, trailers, and campers. I always carry mine whenever we go vacationing in the cabin.

f) Cost Effective

When it comes to comparing a portable AC to a central AC system, spot cooling a single room will always be cheaper than cooling an entire house. Also, most portable ACs will cost less than high-end window..

How Do Portable Air Conditioners Work?

If you are like me who previously thought air conditioners work by sucking in the warm air and bringing in cold air, let me start by setting the record straight: this is not at all how ACs work. Instead, they work by processing the warm air and pumping it back into the room as cold air. How?

Mobile AC units, in general, operate on the principle of converting gas to liquid form and back to gas again. This exchange is made possible by the use of refrigerants/coolants such as Freon gas. Initially, the coolant starts off as a cold low-pressure gas. It is then compressed by a compressor whereby it undergoes rapid pressurization, thus converting it into a heated high-pressure gas.

The hot gas then passes through insulation coils whereby it dissipates its heat while flowing. In a portable AC unit, this heat is funneled outside through an exhaust pipe.

The reduced temperatures result in the conversion of the gas into liquid form, but still at high pressure. The liquid coolant then passes through evaporator coils whereby pressure drops rapidly, and the coolant is once again converted to a cold gas. The cooled gas goes back to the compressor, and the process starts all over again.

How portable AC works - Image credit Relenergy

Past the evaporator coils, hot indoor air is brought in and cooled then it gets pushed back out into the room by a blower. This cold air/ warm air exchange goes on until the reaction within the air conditioner cools the room temperature to the specified preset value.

In addition to cooling the indoor air, portable air conditioners can also work as dehumidifiers. Excess water taken from the air is used to cool the insulation coils, then it gets discharged through a hose and is recycled.

Portable Air Conditioner BTU’s: What Are They & What Do They Mean?

Rating of AC units is done in British Thermal Units (BTUs) per hour. Essentially, this value refers to the amount of heat the air conditioner can eliminate from a room. At first, I was tempted to go for the AC with the highest BTU rating because I assumed this meant the AC would work faster and be more efficient. I soon learned that this is not the case.

Ideally, portable AC units with a higher BTU rating are capable of cooling larger rooms, but you have to choose the BTU in proportion to the exact square footage of the room. Generally speaking, the Department of Energy advises to allocate 20 BTU per square foot of the floor space to be cooled.

While, a very small AC unit will be unable to cool the space efficiently to your desired temperature, an oversized unit will be unable to remove humidity efficiently. As a result, the air will end up feeling damp.

Another disadvantage of going for a portable AC with a BTU rating that is too high is that the unit would cool quickly then cycle off. Then it would have to cycle back on soon after, to maintain your desired temperature. This cycling on and off within such a short span of time would result in an overworked compressor which then shortens the AC’s lifespan.

Besides square footage of the room, there are other factors which influence your choice of BTU rating: • How high is the ceiling? • Is the room heavily shaded?

• Is the room extra sunny?

• How many people regularly occupy the room?

• Is the AC to be used in a kitchen?

Ideally, anything that makes the room warmer than a standard room will lead to a higher BTU than that arrived at during the standard calculation. The same applies to factors that increase the volume of air requiring cooling.

Single Vs. Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner

As I already explained, portable AC units work by venting hot air outside. For this to be possible, you will find that AC units come in two ventilation configurations: single-hose and dual-hose.

On the one hand, single hose units are designed to use the same hose for both intake and removal of air. The AC intakes the warm indoor air and cools it, then releases the majority of that air back into the room as cold air. I use the word “majority” because not all the drawn air gets recirculated back into the room.

Part of it gets siphoned off and used to pull heat from the air conditioner’s evaporator. In the process, this air gets warmed considerably, and so it has to be vented outside using the single exhaust hose.

On the other hand, dual hose portable AC units are designed to have separate intake and exhaust hoses. One hose pulls in outdoor air to cool down the air conditioner and the other hose vents hot exhaust air back outside.

When it comes to efficiency, a dual hose AC will cool the room faster than single hose designs by approximately 40%. Also, because it uses the same air in the room for everything, a single hose AC will create negative air pressure in the room. This is not the case with dual hose units. The tradeoff is that dual hose units make use of two internal fans and this can result in slightly higher energy usage.

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