Choosing the Best Portable Air Conditioner: What Should You Consider?
Between tasty backyard BBQs and sunbathing on a favorite beach, there are so many fun activities that are unique to summer. But the sunny skies do more than offer opportunities for merry-making, they also remind us that we need to have the right appliances for the season, so finding the best portable air conditioner is essential.
While the summer heat makes it nice to splash around in water and enjoy the outdoor breeze, it’s a lot less fun when your house is stifling with unbearable heat. And since central air conditioners are not always affordable or ideal, a portable one may just be what you need for this and every coming summer.
Best portable air conditioners 2018 comparison chart
Brand & Model BTU Accommodate Room Size Check Company Price
Whynter ARC-14S Black & Decker Honeywell MN12CES Global Air LG LP0817WSR Honeywell Contempo LG LP1215GXR Whynter ARC-12S EdgeStar AP8000W
What Is a Portable Air Conditioner?
The name tells it all, a portable air conditioner is an air conditioning unit that can move from one location to another. It works by taking in air from a room, cooling it down and then directing it back into the room. On the conditioner is an exhaust hose that vents warm air outside, typically through the window.
Although it’s designed to cool just one room at a time, the best portable air conditioner is versatile and easily movable. For that reason you can move it from one room to another, depending on where you need it at any given time. That portability is what makes the unit ideal for cooling any room you want on a hot summer day.
Just in case you need to know, there are 5 other major types of air conditioning systems. The most common is the central air conditioner, popularly known as the A/C unit. It’s found in many homes and is fit within the house’s structure. Others are mini-split, window, hybrid and geothermal air conditioners.
Benefits of a Portable Air Conditioner
You may still need a portable air conditioner even if your house has a central A/C unit. While the latter cools the entire house (or at least several rooms) at a time, a portable one focuses on the one room where you and your loved ones spend a lot of time in. As long as you are all together you won’t need to start the main A/C. That should help you save a few bucks on energy costs.
If you don’t have a main A/C unit then a portable air conditioner becomes even more important. Rather than having to endure extremely high temperature (which could be dangerous for your health), you can use the portable unit to lower the temperature and enjoy a cooler environment.
Regardless of why you need it, you must ensure that you only choose the best portable air conditioner. The next part of this article covers that.
How to Choose the Best Portable Air Conditioners
#1: Size of the unit
Size refers to dimensions as well as weight. Now, if you’re planning to keep your portable air conditioner in one room then its size is not extremely important. Just make sure that the unit can fit in the spot you’ve set for it.
If you’re planning to move it from room to room then the ‘portable’ part becomes very important. Your A/C system should be one that you can move around easily. In addition to being able to lift it, consider one that can pass through all your doors and perhaps fit in your car’s trunk, just like the portable washer that you keep in your utility room..
Nowadays there are units with wheels. Having one of those will make portability a breeze.
#2: Room size
The size of the room you plan to use you’re A/C matters just as much as the size of the unit itself. Of course not all rooms are the same size, so perhaps consider the ones you spend the most time in.
The best portable air conditioners will cool those rooms efficiently. Keep in mind that if the unit is undersize the room will remain hot. Conversely, if the unit is too large then it won’t be able to remove enough humidity and that will leave you with a damp room.
To find the ideal air conditioner you will need to match its BTU rating with the size of the room. BTU is short for British Thermal Unit and it basically indicates the amount of heat that an A/C system can remove from a room. Generally, the higher the BTU rating the bigger the size of a room that the air conditioner can cool.
Although many manufacturers usually specify the recommended area to use a portable air conditioner in, some don’t. In case you find a unit with no guidance please use the chart below:
|Room Size||Recommended BTU|
|200 sq. ft.||5,000 BTUs|
|400 sq. ft.||9,000 BTUs|
|600 sq. ft.||12,000 BTUs|
|800 sq. ft.||14,000 BTUs|
|1,000 sq. ft.||18,000 BTUs|
|1,200 sq. ft.||21,000 BTUs|
|1,400 sq. ft.||23,000 BTUs|
|1,600 sq. ft.||25,000 BTUs|
|1,800 sq. ft.||28,000 BTUs|
|2,000 sq. ft. or more||36,000 BTUs|
Remember that portable A/C units vent out hot air, so make sure yours is stored in a room that has a window or venting hole for that purpose. The best portable air conditioners usually come with an easy-to-fix venting kit.
#3: Noise level
Every air conditioner makes noise. However, for the most part, the noise made by a portable A/C system will be minimal. Having said that, it’s worth noting that some portable air conditioners are a lot quieter than others. You may want to read real customer reviews to see what users are saying about the noise level of the unit you are interested in.
#4: Single-hose vs. double-hose
As mentioned already, portable air conditioners work by taking in air, cooling it and then directing it back into the room. At the same time, they vent warm air out of a room. A typical portable A/C system uses a hose configuration for both intake and exhaust of air. The setup can either be single-hose or dual-hose.
A single-hose air conditioner uses just the one hose for intake and exhaust of air. While it still gets the job done, such a unit usually needs to work harder than a dual-hose.
On its part, a dual-hose air conditioner has two separate hoses; one for taking in air and the other for venting out hot air. The duality not only accounts for its ability to cool a room quicker but also makes it more energy efficient. In short, the best portable air conditioners are those with a dual-hose configuration.
The best portable air conditioner is one that has additional features that bring more convenience and versatility to the table. Today there are units with a dehumidifier that removes moisture from the air. Others feature a fan that circulates cool air throughout a room. The more versatile ones are fitted with a heater. You can use the appliance all year round, including the cold seasons when you need a hotter room rather than a colder one.
Like any other appliance, the more add-ons you get the higher the cost of your portable air conditioner. You may want to find the perfect balance between functionality and your budget.
Speaking of budget, how much should the best portable air conditioner cost? A unit made for home use should set you back anywhere between $150 and $500. So why the wide margin? It really boils down to the features that you get. For example, an air conditioner with a high BTU rating will cost you more than one with a low rating. Similarly, a unit that has several add-ons will be costlier than a basic one. Even so, you don’t need to go way beyond your budget to get a decent portable air conditioner, there are some very reliable models that cost less than $200.
#7: Energy use
If you are conscious about the environment (which you should be) then you may want to consider getting an energy efficient portable air conditioner. The units are usually rated based on their energy efficiency ratio (EER). An air conditioner with a high EER is more efficient than one with a low EER.
Also, it wouldn’t hurt to get one with a programmable thermostat. That feature basically ensures that the A/C automatically switches off when the room attains a pre-set temperature. It not only saves you energy costs but also prevents the air conditioner from running when it shouldn’t, which adds to its durability.
# 8: Maintenance
Portable air conditioner are generally easy to maintain. In addition to regularly wiping the unit itself, you will also need to drain its water and clean the air filter. While the filters may need cleaning after every two weeks or so, draining water should happen as needed. And that’s it, no complicated maintenance procedures!
Our Picks For Best Portable Air Conditioners
Introduction to the Honeywell MN10CESWW
Honeywell is one of the most renowned makers of consumer products, including domestic electronic appliances like portable air conditioners. In fact, the company is publicly traded, that’s how large of a brand it is.
One popular model in Honeywell’s line of air conditioning products is the MN10CESWW, which is the best rated portable air conditioner on the market. You’re probably here because you want to know what this particular unit has to offer in terms of functionality and performance, so how about we get straight to that.
- Dimensions (inches) – 15.2 x 18.1 x 29.4
- Weight (pounds) – 61.7
- Cooling capacity (BTU) – 10,000
- Cooling speeds – 3
- Built-in dehumidifier – Yes
- Built-in fan – Yes
- Noise level (dBA) – 50
- Timer – Yes
- Remote control -Yes
- Warranty -1 year
- Recommended room size – 400 square feet
Design and Construction
First of all, the Honeywell portable air conditioner is small and compact for portability. It has dimensions of 15.2 x 18.1 x 29.4 inches and a weight of 61.7 pounds when fully assembled. With that size it would be accurate to say that most people can move the MN10CESWW from one part of a house to another quite comfortably. Just to enhance mobility, Honeywell added caster wheels on this unit.
On the front of the air conditioner is a control panel and display unit. While the control panel enables customization of settings, the display unit allows you to view those settings. For convenience purposes, the unit comes with a remote control. It has 3 speed settings in addition to a sleep mode and energy saving timer.
As far as setup, the install is easy and quick on a vertical or horizontal window. It comes complete, including a window kit whose bracket adjusts from 19.9 to 47.25 inches.
#1: 10,000 BTU rating
The honeywell 10,000 BTU portable air conditioner has the capacity that can cool up to 400 square feet efficiently in about 3 hours. Note that if the room is well ventilated the air conditioner will get the job done faster.
#2: 3-in-1 functionality
When you buy the Honeywell you not only get an air conditioner, but also a dehumidifier and fan. While both add-ons (dehumidifier and fan) are important, the humidifier is perhaps the handier one. It has a capacity rating of up to 80 pints a day. That’s enough to regulate humidity, eliminate certain odors and prevent mold from growing.
#3: Washable filtration system
Inside is a washable filtration system that removes such debris as dust, hair and pet dander. You can clean the filter easily by running it under a faucet.
#4: Venting kit
Included in the package is a window venting kit that fits in any standard window. You can also put it in any other opening that’s available (apart from a window) provided it fits. The kit is detachable so you can remove it any time the air conditioner is not in use. Also in the Honeywell box is an exhaust hose for expelling hot air from a room.
While most other portable air conditioners require a collecting bucket for accumulating water, this particular unit doesn’t. Instead, it uses auto-evaporation to prevent condensate from forming. So basically there won’t be any water to collect, unless the room is extremely humid.
Pros of the Honeywell MN10CESWW
- Installs easily, won’t take more than 30 minutes to setup
- Comes with user manual with guide on how to install and use
- Has 3 functions in one unit, i.e. air conditioning, dehumidifier and fan
- Fairly quiet when running
- Can cool a room as large as 400 square feet
- Comes with a one year warranty
- Not the most durable air conditioner from Honeywell. You may notice quality issues after just a year of use
- Exhaust hose is too short and not well insulated
Who Is The Honeywell MN10CESWW Suitable For?
Despite the two drawbacks, this air conditioner is an excellent buy for anyone who is looking for a unit that can cool air in a small to medium room. It does a great job in such places as bedrooms, living rooms, studio apartments, small offices and dens. And the best part is that you can move it from one room to another or even from one building to another.
In sum, it is one of the best mid-priced portable air conditioners for use in rooms that don’t exceed 400 square feet. As long as you have a window or suitable opening for venting you can bet that it will deliver.
Best dual hose portable air conditioner: Whynter ARC-14S
The Whynter ARC-14S is a sleekly designed portable air conditioner that packs a wide array of features. Besides a high cooling capacity, the unit features four operational modes, an auto drain system, dual-hose design and remote control.
Those are just but highlights of what this Whynter portable air conditioner brings to the table. Want to know more about this A/C system? Read on, we have a comprehensive review that covers both design and functionality.
- Dimensions (inches) – 16 x 19 x 35.5
- Weight (pounds) – 80
- Cooling capacity (BTU) – 14,000
- Built-in dehumidifier – Yes
- Built-fan – Yes
- Noise level (dBA) – 56
- Timer – Yes
- Remote control – Yes
- Warranty – One year
- Recommended room size (sq. ft.) – 500
Design, construction and installation
First things first, the Whynter ARC-14S is a nice looking A/C unit. Built with lead-free components, it is an eco-friendly machine that features a nice blend of platinum and black colors. It can upgrade the look of pretty much any room effortlessly.
But more importantly, it is in fact designed for portability. With a weight of 80 pounds and dimensions of 16 x 19 x 35.5, it’s by far one of the easiest air conditioners to move from place to pace. The fitted multidirectional wheels make it even more portable.
On the front side of the machine is a display screen for managing controls. It has fully customizable settings, that you can easily change using control buttons. For convenience purposes, this Whynter portable air conditioner comes with a remote control that you can use to change settings at your comfort.
Also included in the package is a complete installation kit. Being a portable air conditioner, you don’t need to mount it permanently. But you need to install it on a window for efficient performance. The venting kit features two extendable exhaust hoses that measure up to 60 inches, a slide bar and fixtures that secure the hoses to the machine and the slide bar.
It’s worth noting that the two exhaust hoses increase the cooling capacity and efficiency of this unit. Compared to single-hose A/C systems, this particular model expels hot air a lot faster and easily.
Still on matters installation, the unit hooks to a single phase power outlet with 115V/60Hz and maximum 10.8 A.
#1: 14,000 BTU cooling capacity
The Whynter ARC-14S delivers an impressive 14,000 BTUs and is rated to cool up to 500 square feet with ease. While that is a general rating, the air conditioner’s ability will be affected by humidity levels, ambient temperature and ventilation.
#2: 3-in-1 functionality
Besides an air conditioning system, this unit also features a built-in dehumidifier and fan. The dehumidifier has a capacity of up to 101 pints per day while the fan has a 3-speed setting.
A noteworthy capability of this Whynter portable air conditioner is its outstanding ability to not only cleanse air in a room but also distribute cool, clean air evenly. That primarily boils down to the conditioner’s pre-filter, carbon filter and fan. The first two (pre-filter and carbon filter) do a thorough job cleaning the air. The fan then distributes that air to all areas in a room.
#3: Auto-drain system
Portable air conditioners usually accumulate water moisture collected during the cooling process. If not properly drained, the condensate build-up can leak and affect the conditioner’s performance and durability.
This Whynter portable air conditioner employs a highly effective auto-drain mechanism to get rid of the condensate. First, it uses the moisture to clean and cool air. Any excess condensate is then evaporated. Unless the room has high humidity, you won’t need to drain the water manually.
For a device of its sophistication level, the Whynter ARC-14S is surprisingly straightforward. It has a simple control panel for adjusting settings and a 24 hour ON/OFF timer.
The button selections allow you to change such things as mode, fan speed and temperature while viewing your selections on an LCD display. You, however, don’t need to walk to the machine in order to adjust settings, you can do that using a remote control.
Pros of the Whynter ARC-14S air conditioner
- Efficient in cooling air thanks to high BTU rating
- Easy to install and use
- Highly portable on account of fairly light weight and wheels
- 3-in-1 design that includes dehumidifier and fan in addition to air conditioner
- Has a stylish and modern design
- Doesn’t have the best window mount. The exhaust and air intake hoses are too close together. That setting means that the intake hose will occasionally suck in some hot air from the exhaust hose.
- Only covers room size of up to 500 sq. ft. For a bigger room you will need a bigger air conditioner.
- Fairly noisy compared to some other portable air conditioners.
Who is it suitable for?
It may not be flawless but the Whynter ARC-14S is a solid and top-performing portable air conditioner. With its cooling capacity of 500 sq. ft. you can use it in a small apartment like a studio or in one room of a bigger house. It can also serve you well if you’re looking for an air conditioner for a classroom, office, server room or workshop.
Black & Decker Portable Air Conditioner Review
What is the best portable air conditioner on the market? Well consider the Black & Decker portable air conditioner as one of them. It is a versatile appliance for cooling and heating small to mid-sized rooms. Built with rolling castors and carrying handles, this unit is portable and can be moved from one place to another quite easily. It’s fairly small size and light weight also contribute a great deal to its movability.
But how does it perform? Below is a comprehensive review of this mid-range portable air conditioner.
- Dimensions (inches) – 17.1 x 13.8 x 28.1
- Weight (pounds) – 68
- Cooling capacity (BTU) – 14,000
- Built-in dehumidifier – Yes
- Built-in fan – Yes
- Noise level (dab) – 75
- Timer – Yes
- Remote control – Yes
- Warranty – N/A
- Recommended room size (sq. ft.) – 250
This Black & Decker portable air conditioner comes complete with everything you need for an effortless installation. That includes a window venting kit that fits in standard sliding or double hung windows.
In case your window is too small you can cut the window panel to make it fit. Alternatively, you can vent the air conditioner through an alternative outlet like door or any other available opening. The 4-foot 11-inch exhaust hose is long enough to allow you install the venting kit at a relatively far outlet. So finding a way to vent the machine will certainly be the least of your worries.
With a power rating of 115V/60Hz and 9 amps, the Black & Decker is compatible with the standard power supply found in homes, offices and even garages.
#1: Air conditioning
This air conditioner has a 14,000 BTU rating and cools air in a room of up to 250 square feet. It’s built with a washable air filter that cleanses air before it is released to the room.
In addition to air conditioning, the Black & Decker can keep a 325-sqare foot room warm thanks to a built-in heating system. Besides keeping your summer days cool and enjoyable, this unit is also capable of warming a room in the cold winter days.
#3: 4-in-1 functionality
Air conditioning and heating are not the only functions you get when you buy this portable A/C system. It also features a dehumidifier and fan. While the dehumidifier keeps humidity at the desired level, the fan spreads cool air across the room. In moderately warm temperatures you can use the fan alone instead of the air conditioning system.
Programmable controls are conveniently placed on the air conditioner to help you customize settings. It has a sleep mode as well as an ON/OFF 24 hour timer. There’s an LED digital display that shows your selections. For more convenience, the unit comes with a highly sensitive remote control that you can use from the comfort of your bed, couch or chair.
Pros of the Black & Decker
- Energy efficient, will not increase your electric bill significantly
- Comes complete, including venting kit, user manual and remote control
- 4-in-1 functionality means you won’t need to buy fan, dehumidifier or heater
- Easy to install and operate
- Small, compact and made for portability
- Cools a room faster and effectively
- Could use a better instructions manual, especially the installation bit
- LED light is too bright and will light up an entire room during the night
- Relatively noisier than some other portable air conditioners
Who is it suitable for?
If you want an air conditioner to use in a small apartment or one room like living room or bedroom then this is it. It not only cools a room but also filters air, works as a heater and dehumidifies air when called upon. That’s money saved that you would have otherwise spent on a dedicated heater, dehumidifier or fan.
Equally important is its portability. In addition to easy movement from room to room, the machine can fit in a trunk very easily. That makes it ideal for anyone looking to buy a portable air conditioner that they can travel around with.
Honeywell MN12CES Portable Air Conditioner Review
Introduction to the Honeywell MN12CES
We all love a room that has a cool ambience, don’t we? Besides being very uncomfortable, a heated room can be a threat to your health and even life. That’s why we have A/C units – to lower uncomfortably high temperatures.
But not all houses have built-in A/C systems. If yours doesn’t have one you may want to consider buying a portable air conditioner. And as far as those go, the Honeywell MN12CES is one of the most reputable models on the market today.
Honeywell MN12CES Package and Installation
The Honeywell MN12CES comes complete with all accessories, including a window vent kit. Specifically, you get the A/C unit, its remote control, a window bracket panel adapter, a hose, a hose connector and two plastic pins.
The venting kit fits on vertical or horizontal windows thanks to the bracket that adjusts from 19.7 to 47.2 inches. Installation is a breeze, simply setup the window kit and position the air conditioner in your preferred location.
Built with an adjustable exhaust hose (from 12 to 47 inches), you can place the air conditioner a safe distance from the window. Not that it will be affected by direct sunlight, but you need it somewhere where the cool oil won’t escape through the window easily.
Design and Construction
This unit measures 15.7 x 16.5 x 29.3 and weighs 68 pounds. It’s not exactly the lightest portable air conditioner, but it does have wheels that make it easy to move from one place to another.
The front part features a touch-sensitive control panel for customizing settings. Equally important is the washable filtration system that cleans easily under the faucet. The filter prevents dust, pet dander, hairs and other debris from entering the Honeywell MN12CES, and by doing so it enhances the unit’s durability and performance.
Overall, this portable air conditioner is a very sleek unit that can complement the décor of any room.
Honeywell MN12CES Functional Features
There’s no question that the Honeywell MN12CES is a well-built unit. But the construction of a portable air conditioner is secondary to its performance. Luckily the Honeywell MN12CES is not a letdown in that regard either. Here’s a breakdown of its functional features:
12000 BTU Rating: rated for 12000 BTUs, the Honeywell MN12CES can cool a room as big as 550 square feet. That’s enough to create a cool ambience on a hot summer day.
3-in-1 Functionality: besides an air conditioner, this unit also features a dehumidifier and fan. The dehumidification function is particularly important when you need to remove excess moisture from a room. It has a capacity of 69 pints per day.
Auto-evaporation system: the MN12CES is a bucket-less air conditioner. That means it neither has water accumulation nor condensation. Instead, water vapor is expelled through a self-evaporation system.
Pros of the Honeywell MN12CES
- Portable and can be wheeled from place to place or from room to room easily
- Comes with a remote control that you can use to change settings from anywhere in the room
- Has intuitive control panel that makes customizing settings simple
- Sleek and well-constructed for durability
- Built with a 24-hour auto ON/OFF timer
- Although the 54-decibel rating of the MN12CES is not too loud, it may still give you a sleepless night when placed in the bedroom.
- The unit lacks handles. They would have made transportation a lot easier.
Where Can You Use the Honeywell MN12CES?
The few flaws do not make this portable air conditioner less attractive. You can use it in pretty much any medium to large room. That includes the living room, entertainment room, office, den etc. It’s also suitable for the bedroom if you can tolerate a tiny bit of noise.
Global Air Portable Air Conditioner Review
Introduction to the Global Air Portable Conditioner
Many portable air conditioners have come and gone, but a few of the best continue to enjoy a run of good reviews from users. One of them is the Global Air YPL310C portable air conditioner.
This affordable unit is easy to use and cools an average-sized room regardless of the external temperature. It makes a great addition to any home and may come in handy when the summer heat sets in. in this review we look at the main features of the Global Air YPL310C, including the pros and cos.
Installing the Global Air
One reason why the YPL310C is popular is because it’s simple to install. The package includes a complete window venting kit. Once you hook it to the air conditioner it will be good to go. The accompanying adapter can fit a window as small as 4 by 13 inches.
The most important thing in any portable air conditioner is its performance. In that regard, the Global Air YPL310C has a pretty decent set of features. Below are the main ones.
10,000 BTU Capacity:this unit quickly cools a mid or large-sized room thanks to its 10000 BTU rating. While the recommended room size is 300 square feet, it’s still capable of cooling a larger room. But anything beyond 400 square feet will need a more powerful A/C unit than this.
4-way Venting: this portable air conditioner is designed with 4 vents. Together they work to ensure that cool air reaches every corner of the room.
3-Mode Operation: in addition to an air conditioner, the Global Air YPL310C also features a built-in fan. For that reason, it offers three modes of operation. The first is air conditioning which regulates air temperature and humidity. The second is fan-only mode which is ideal for cooling a room that is not too hot. Finally there’s an “Automatic Mode” that works both the fan and air conditionally simultaneously depending on the room temperature.
Self-evaporative system: the Global Air YPL310C exhausts condensed moisture through the venting system. In doing so it saves you the trouble of having to drain the condensed moisture/water using a bucket. But every once in a while, especially when there’s high humidity, you may have to do the draining manually. Otherwise the air conditioner is likely to start leaking. Luckily it gives a warning reading “FL” to indicate that it’s time to drain the water.
Usability of the Global Air Portable Air Conditioner
This portable air conditioner is one of the most practical. For starters it plugs to the standard 110v power source. Secondly, there’s a control panel found at the top of the machine. It contains all the setting you need to control functionality.
The “Mode” button selects the function you need (cool, fan or auto). UP and DOWN buttons are for changing units from C to F and vice versa. They also increase or decrease temperature to the level you want. There’s also a “Speed” button for alternating between high and low speeds. Finally, the unit allows you to set a timer, after which it will switch off automatically.
In short, the Global Air YPL310C is a straightforward A/C system that any adult can use. For convenience, it comes with a remote control.
- Offers the option to install carbon filters for cleaning air
- Compact and lightweight. It measures 17 x 13 x 31.3 inches and weighs 54 pounds
- Has wheels for easy movement from one place to another
- Easy to use. Has intuitive control functions
- More affordable than most other portable air conditioners of the same BTU rating
- Prone to leaking when water is not drained frequently
- Produces somewhat high noise and may not be suitable for the bedroom
Where Can It Be Used?
This air conditioner is suitable for any room whose size is below 400 square feet. It could be a living room, office, den or any other room that you need cooled. If you don’t mind a bit of noise while you sleep you can use the machine in the bedroom.
That’s about everything you need to know about portable air conditioners and how to purchase the best on the market. It may seem a lot to keep in mind but every time you turn your A/C system on during a hot summer day you will remember that it was well worth the effort and money.