Portable air conditioners are taking center stage amid a hot and humid summer on the horizon. From extreme temperature spikes to scorching heatwaves, portable AC units have captured the imagination of consumers during the summer of 2020 for their rapid cooling benefits and on-the-go travel-ready compatibility.
In order to review the most popular portable air conditioning units to buy right now, ample amounts of research were used in compiling the list of the top-rated personal AC fans ranked below. But first, covering the basics of why portable ACs are essential and maybe even vital to the summertime survival is first up.
Why Personal Air Conditioners are a Must-Have in 2020
School's (been) out, and the strong summer sunshine is here in full effect. And as technology and innovation continue to collide in time, an incredible invention in the form of portable air conditioners is starting to sweep the country and world at-large.
The advent of these new standalone air conditioning units for ultimate portability has been paramount and is very easy to see why it is a hot commodity in comparison to the high-electricity costs of traditional central home cooling systems or overly pricey, noisy window AC units.
The growing demand for a compact, lightweight, yet powerful personal air conditioning unit to beat the hot and heavy humid summer heat no matter where you go or where you reside has been quite impressive. But this should come as no shock, yet it is easy to grasp why these air cooling, purifying and even humidifying devices are flying off the online shelves and into the homes of tens of thousands of people as the summertime heat reminds us all who is the boss when it wants to be.
That said, air conditioners aren’t just convenient: they’re life-savers. As temperatures rise during the summer, air conditioners keep you safe, sane and give you the ability to stay cool and comfortable to avoid overwhelming heat, fatigue or exhaustion, dehydration or even heat strokes.
Today, technology has made it easier than ever to find a good, affordable air conditioner. You can buy a portable air conditioner today capable of cooling an entire room and even some homes.
And the best part is, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good price on a personal air conditioner for portable use anymore. Whether you want to spend $50, $500 or $5,000 on a portable air conditioner, you can find an effective unit for your budget and will be better than nothing at all by opting to use an innovative alternative to ACs or fans.
Ranking the Top 25 Best Portable AC Units of 2020
The time it took to research, review and recommend the best portable air conditioners of 2020 was well worth the cause as it now stands as one of the most comprehensive portable AC guides online.
After reviewing the top portable AC units list, the set of criteria used in formulating the rankings is laid out and revealed to assure all are on the same page. Finally, through aggregating analysis and curating consumer complaints, feedback and demands, there is a complete frequently asked question and answer section to help deliver the 4-1-1 about using portable air conditioners versus home AC systems or window air conditioning units.
Today, we’re highlighting the best portable air conditioners of 2020, including portable AC units, neck air conditioners, and other convenient ways to stay cool.
- 1 Why Personal Air Conditioners are a Must-Have in 2020
- 2 Ranking the Top 25 Best Portable AC Units of 2020
- 2.1 Blaux Portable AC
- 2.2 Black + Decker BPACT10WT
- 2.3 UV Cooler
- 2.4 Black + Decker BPACT08WT
- 2.5 Ultra Cool Portable AC Personal Air Conditioner
- 2.6 ArcticBreeze
- 2.7 CoolAir
- 2.8 Black + Decker BPACT14HWT
- 2.9 OBERLY Mini Fan
- 2.10 Control Future Neck Hanging Fan
- 2.11 Zomma Air Cooler
- 2.12 Vremi Portable Air Conditioner
- 2.13 SereneLife SLPAC105W
- 2.14 Kuuote Portable Air Conditioner
- 2.15 KLOUDI Portable Air Conditioner Fan
- 2.16 Midea Smart 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner
- 2.17 COSTWAY Portable Air Conditioner
- 2.18 GREATSSLY Air Conditioner Fan
- 2.19 Hobby Colin Hand Free Personal Fan
- 2.20 SHINCO Portable Air Conditioner
- 2.21 JHS 8,000 BTU 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner
- 2.22 Fresh-R
- 2.23 WOWGO Hand Free Mini USB Personal Fan
- 2.24 Koldfront PAC1201W Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier
- 2.25 Spice of Life Hands-Free Portable Neckband
- 3 How We Ranked the Top Portable AC Units
- 4 Who Should Use a Portable AC Unit?
- 5 How Do Portable AC Units Work?
- 6 FAQs About Portable Air Conditioners
- 6.1 Q: What is a portable air conditioner?
- 6.2 Q: Are portable air conditioners energy efficient?
- 6.3 Q: Do all portable air conditioners need to be vented?
- 6.4 Q: Do portable air conditioners really work?
- 6.5 Q: What is a window vent kit?
- 6.6 Q: How does a portable air conditioner work?
- 6.7 Q: What is a neck portable air conditioner?
- 6.8 Q: Do I need to install a window mount for my portable AC unit?
- 6.9 Q: Can a portable air conditioner cool multiple rooms?
- 6.10 Q: How large of a room can a portable air conditioner cool?
- 6.11 Q: What happens if I can’t vent my AC unit?
- 6.12 Q: Can I vent my portable AC through a dryer vent?
- 6.13 Q: How long is the portable AC unit exhaust hose?
- 6.14 Q: What’s the difference between a single hose and dual hose unit?
- 6.15 Q: Are portable air conditioners safe?
- 6.16 Q: Do portable air conditioners release carbon monoxide?
- 6.17 Q: What’s the difference between a portable AC unit and an evaporative cooler?
- 6.18 Q: Are portable air conditioners loud?
- 6.19 Q: Can I reduce sound from my air conditioner?
- 6.20 Q: What type of electricity do portable AC units use?
- 6.21 Q: Will portable AC units cool a garage?
- 6.22 Q: Is a portable air conditioner the right choice for me?
- 6.23 Q: Where can I buy a portable air conditioner?
- 6.24 Q: How much should I spend on a portable air conditioner?
- 6.25 Q: What happens to the moisture pulled from the air?
- 6.26 Q: Can I use a portable air conditioner in a room without a window?
- 6.27 Q: What should I consider when shopping for portable air conditioners?
- 7 Final Word
Blaux Portable AC
Blaux Portable AC is an ultra lightweight portable air conditioner that cools and humidifies the air. With cord-free operation, it’s one of the most portable options on this list. At $125, it’s significantly more expensive than competing portable AC units of this size, although it also offers more features.
Blaux Portable AC also has a feature we don’t see with most other portable AC units here: it filters the air. You get cleaner, cooler air wherever you place Blaux Portable AC in the home. It’s not large enough to compete with some of the more powerful portable AC units on this list, but Blaux Portable AC makes up for it with portability and clean air, among other features. As a bonus and why Blaux is a leader in portable air conditioning units, they also offer a personal Wearable AC too.
Black + Decker BPACT10WT
Black + Decker appears on this list multiple times – and for good reason. The company makes a range of affordable, high-quality electronics and appliances, including portable air conditioners. The BPACT10WT is a portable air conditioner with 10,000 BTU of compact air conditioning power.
The unit is ideal for small rooms. It stands on the floor, providing effective cooling for rooms 150 to 250 square feet. If you just want to cool a single room of your home – like an office, a cabin, a dorm, or an apartment, then the Black + Decker BPACT10WT may be the right choice. And, at under $370 on Amazon, it’s surprisingly affordable given its cooling ability.
UV Cooler is a portable air conditioner that cools down and purifies any room. The device uses a water and ice-based system to cool incoming air and expel cold air. With up to 12 hours of battery life per charge, UV Cooler can easily cool a room overnight or during the day without needing to be plugged in.
Like other high-ranked options on our list, UV Cooler does more than just cool down a room: it also purifies the air. The device claims to use UV filtration to remove bacteria from the water. That means you get cool and clean air in your home. It’s also one of the best-looking systems on this list, featuring a futuristic design suited to any home, office, or dorm.
Black + Decker BPACT08WT
The Black + Decker BPACT08WT is slightly more expensive than our top-ranked option, yet offers less cooling power. With 8,000 BTU of air conditioning power, the BPACT08WT will cool most small and medium-sized rooms without much trouble. The air conditioner has a top-mounted LED display with a 24-hour timer, allowing you to precisely control the air temperature.
If the BPACT10WT air conditioner is sold out or not on sale, then the BPACT08WT is a strong alternative. You sacrifice some power, but you get an effective portable air conditioner at a reasonable price – all with Black + Decker’s strong reputation and manufacturing quality.
Ultra Cool Portable AC Personal Air Conditioner
The Ultra Cool Portable Air Cooler is a mini personal air cooler that pulls warm air from the room, then uses an evaporative water filter to humidify the air while it cools. The unit cools, humidifies, and cleans dust particles from your air with one convenient system.
Like other cheaper, multi-function models listed here, Ultra Cool Portable works best for tiny areas – like the area around your desk in an office or dorm. It will not significantly cool a larger room, and it may not sufficiently cool a bedroom. However, it provides basic cooling in an easy-to-use system. Just pour water into the tank, plug it in, and enjoy cooler air.
Price: $99 (low as $65 per for bulk)
ArcticBreeze is a 3-in-1 portable air conditioner. As a 3-in-1 device, the unit cools the air, cleans the air, and humidifies the air. Whether you want cooler temperatures, a more humid environment, or cleaner air to breathe, ArcticBreeze can do it all.
ArcticBreeze comes with a 380mL water tank. Like other top-ranked units on this list, it’s also ultra portable: you can run it without a cord for up to 8 hours (low setting) or 3 hours (high setting). You can easily carry ArcticBreeze wherever you need to go – regardless of whether there’s a power outlet. ArcticBreeze is a mid-sized portable AC unit. It’s not as large as some of the high-powered portable AC units on this list, and its not as tiny as some of the lightweight options. It’s a good mid-sized option for a smaller or medium-sized room.
CoolAir is a portable, personal cooler fan with a 3-speed controlled fan, USB-power, and built-in water tank, among other features. You fill the tank with water, and it lasts up to 8 hours.
Like other lightweight portable AC units listed here, you power CoolAir using a USB port. The device cools, purifies, and humidifies the air around you. There are even mood light settings with 7 different color options, allowing you to customize your CoolAir experience.
Black + Decker BPACT14HWT
The Black + Decker BPACT14HWT Portable Air Conditioner is the highest-powered Black + Decker portable AC unit on this list. With 14,000 BTU of air conditioning power, this unit can comfortably control the temperature in a small or medium-sized room.
The BPACT14HWT is also one of the few units on this list with a combination of heat and air conditioning power. The dual unit can heat your home in the winter and cool it in the summer. Black + Decker claims the unit is ideal for rooms up to 350 square feet, making it perfect for dorms, apartments, cabins, campers, offices, or bedrooms. It may not be powerful enough to cool an entire home, but its 4-in-1 functionality makes it ideal for most. At less than $420, it’s surprisingly affordable given the power.
OBERLY Mini Fan
Oberly’s Mini Fan is a hands-free, personal fan with a 2000mAh battery, giving you 12 hours of cooling capacity at the office, gym, or at home. The unit has 360 degree cooling power and 3 adjustable speeds. You can wear it around your neck – like other neck AC units on this list. Or, you can place it in front of you or prop it against something to cool you wherever you are.
At under $30 per unit, OBERLY’s Mini Fan provides basic cooling power without breaking the bank. If you want a cheap, functional miniature fan, then the OBERLY Mini Fan may be the right choice. However, this unit simply uses a fan to cool you – it does not contain any type of cooling system. If the air around you is hot, then the unit will simply blow hot air towards you.
Control Future Neck Hanging Fan
Control Future’s Neck Hanging Fan is a portable fan system that blows air against your body and neck, although it does not actually cool the air in any way. The USB rechargeable system is priced under $25, making it one of the cheapest options on our list.
The unit claims to be ideal for work, the gym, travel, and more. It has 3 adjustable speeds to stimulate natural wind direction. The 360 degree rotating design covers your entire body.
Zomma Air Cooler
Zomma isn’t one of the best-known air conditioner brands on this list. However, the company is one of the top-selling AC brands on Amazon. At just $40 for a portable AC unit, the Zomma Air Cooler is the most value-packed option on this list. And, with 2,200+ reviews and an average rating of 4.4 stars out of 5, the Zomma Air Cooler has surprisingly good reviews at this price range. The unit has a 3 gear speed, LED night light, humidifier function, and other features that rank it among the best portable AC units of 2020.
The main drawback of the Zomma Air Cooler is its output. Even at high speed, it won’t cool a larger room or space. However, if you’re looking for an affordable way to cool a dorm room, office, or bedroom, then the Zomma Air Cooler may have enough power to get the job done.
Vremi Portable Air Conditioner
The Vremi BTU Portable Air Conditioner claims to cool rooms 200 to 350 square feet. Starting at $350 per unit, Vremi is available in 10,000, 12,000 and 14,000 BTU options, depending on how much air conditioning power you need. The unit is designed to cool dorms, offices, and other small or medium-sized rooms.
The Vremi Portable Air Conditioner is programmable for your needs. You control everything via the convenient LED panel, which includes a compact remote control, temperature and time settings, speed settings, and more. You can create a 24-hour adjustable schedule, for example, to run the air conditioner throughout the day.
Price: $350 to $420
SereneLife’s SLPAC105W is a compact, freestanding portable air conditioner with features we don’t see on many other units – including Wi-Fi. The smart portable air conditioner delivers 10,000 BTU of cooling power, making it ideal for rooms up to 300 square feet.
SereneLife offers multiple air conditioners, including an 8,000 BTU, 10,000 BTU, and 12,000 BTU option. You can get a portable AC unit with Wi-Fi or without Wi-Fi. You can also get a portable AC unit with heating functionality. As of June 2020, SereneLife’s SLPAC105W is the #1 best seller in Amazon’s ‘Portable Air Conditioners’ category, and it’s ideal for those who want a portable AC unit with smart features attached.
Kuuote Portable Air Conditioner
Kuuote’s Portable Air Conditioner is an affordable ($60) air conditioner with an evaporative cooler, 7 night light colors, and a humidifier function, among other unique features.
It’s not the most powerful air conditioner on this list, nor is it the most effective. However, the Kuuote Portable Air Conditioner makes up for it by packing multiple features into one convenient unit at an affordable price. The Kuuote Portable Air Conditioner will cool a small-sized room, although it won’t be as effective if cooling higher temperatures.
KLOUDI Portable Air Conditioner Fan
The KLOUDI Portable Air Conditioner Fan is a personal, oscillating air cooler and desk fan that humidifies the air, similar to other $40 to $60 options on this list. It’s ideal for the bedroom, office, or home. Like other sub-$100 portable AC units, the KLOUDI won’t cool a large room. It won’t even cool a medium-sized room. However, if you want basic cooling power directly beside your computer or workstation, then the KLOUDI Portable Air Conditioner Fan is one popular option – especially at this price.
The unit has features we normally see on higher-end devices, including a 2h/4h/6h timer, an oscillator, and ultrasonic atomization technology, among other features. If you want a cheap portable air conditioner that looks a lot cooler than it functions, then the KLOUDI Portable Air Conditioner Fan is a great choice.
Midea Smart 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner
Midea’s smart air conditioner is a 3-in-1 unit ideal for smaller rooms. The company offers multiple versions of its smart portable air conditioner, including a 150 square foot, 200 sq ft, 275 sq ft, and 350 sq ft option. You can buy an Alexa-enabled portable air conditioner – or a non-smart AC unit. At $200 to $500 per unit, the air conditioner is a competitively-priced smart air conditioner ideal for high-tech homes.
You can control the Midea Smart 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner using the included remote control. Or, you can control it with your smartphone or Alexa. There’s also a high-end option for larger rooms with 12,000 BTU of cooling capacity.
Price: $300 to $470
COSTWAY Portable Air Conditioner
The COSTWAY Portable Air Conditioner is an 8,000 BTU air conditioner with a remote control, a dehumidifier, sleep mode, 2 fan speeds, and other useful functions. Priced at $300 per unit, it’s a high-powered, cost-effective portable AC unit capable of cooling small and medium-sized rooms.
COSTWAY isn’t the best-known brand on this list, and you may not get the same build quality as you would with the Black + Decker AC units above. However, it’s a cost-effective air conditioner that could provide basic cooling power.
GREATSSLY Air Conditioner Fan
The GREATSSLY Air Conditioner Fan is a portable air cooler and desktop fan with 3 changeable angles and an evaporative air circulator cooler. At under $60, it’s similar to other budget options on this list, offering limited cooling power at a competitive price, making it ideal for smaller offices and dorms.
The unit has 3 wind speeds. And, as a humidifier, it also increases the humidity around it. Just add 400mL of water into the tank, then activate the unit to start cooling and humidifying the air. The LED has 7 colors, allowing you to customize the appearance for any setting.
Hobby Colin Hand Free Personal Fan
The Hobby Colin Hand Free Personal Fan is a rechargeable, miniature USB-powered neck fan. It has 3 fan speeds. Like other neck air conditioners, this unit is extremely portable: just wear it around your neck anywhere you go. It’s popular for use in the home or office. Some people even wear it during sports.
The neck fan uses a semiconductor cooling technology to create a cool breeze. The current generated by the semiconductor cooling chip creates a temperature difference, providing instant cooling within two seconds. The unit is made from soft, silicone material, making it comfy to wear around your neck. And, at $64, it costs less than many high-end neck AC units – although it also provides less cooling capacity.
SHINCO Portable Air Conditioner
SHINCO offers 2 versions of its portable air conditioner, including an 8,000 BTU and 10,000 BTU option. At under $400, both units offer effective cooling at a competitive price.
SHINCO advertises its Portable Air Conditioner for mobility, although it comes with a window mounting and exhaust kit, allowing you to place the AC unit in a more permanent setting. The unit is lightweight enough to carry with you from room to room, but it can easily be installed in any room. The 55 dB quiet mode is nearly silent, although it’s not as effective at cooling as some of the higher-ranked options on our list.
Price: $320 to $400
JHS 8,000 BTU 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner
The JHS 8,000 BTU 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner covers up to 200 square feet with cooling power. Like many other units on this list, it’s’ a combination of an air conditioner and a humidifier, with 2 fan speeds and 31.7 pints per day of dehumidifier capacity.
The unit comes with a digital LED panel and remote control system, making it easy to control the air conditioner from anywhere in your house. You can program a 24 hour cycle, setting the unit up to cool and humidify your house automatically any time of day or night. We also appreciate the portability: the unit has all-direction stainless castors and handles, allowing to roll easily from one room to another.
Fresh-R is a 3-speed personal air conditioner that claims to cool and purify surrounding air for just pennies per day. It’s a compact, lightweight unit you can plug into any standard electrical outlet or USB port, giving you fresh, cool, comforting air indoors or outdoors.
You pour water into Fresh-R, and the unit humidifies, cleans, and cools the air. It uses 3 speeds, and you select your desired temperature using the built-in thermostat control. Overall, it provides basic, portable cooling from a small model. It won’t cool anything larger than a small room, although it’s ideal for dorms, offices, and other small environments.
WOWGO Hand Free Mini USB Personal Fan
WOWGO’s Hand Free Mini USB Personal Fan is a rechargeable, portable headphone-style fan ideal for outdoors, sports, office, and home use. The unit has 3 levels of air flow, 7 LED lights, and 360 degree coverage.
Overall, the WOWGO personal fan is similar to other options on this list, although the price sets it apart from competitors. At $23 per unit, the WOWGO fan is the best-value option on this list. It has no built-in cooling system, so don’t expect ice-cold air; however, it provides basic fan blowing capacity at an affordable price.
Koldfront PAC1201W Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier
The Koldfront PAC1201W Portable Air Conditioner claims to cover rooms up to 300 square feet in size. It features a remote control, 12,000 BTUs (or 7,500 BTU in quiet mode), and a temperature range of 62 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit. The dehumidifier has a capacity of 107 pints per day.
The unit has a control panel with a digital display, a 3 speed fan, sleep function, washable pre-filter, 24-hour timer, and an exhaust hose that extends up to 48”, among other features. Your purchase also comes with a window installation kit, allowing you to make the portable air conditioner more permanent.
Spice of Life Hands-Free Portable Neckband
The Spice of Life Hands-Free Portable Neckband is similar to the fans further up this list – but it’s priced slightly higher. While the other basic cooling units are priced at $25 to $30, the Spice of Life portable fan is priced at $37.
However, it is available in seven fancy colors, ranging from light blue to red. The unit is fully charged in 3 hours, then lasts for 2.5 hours (high setting) to 6 hours (low setting). Overall, there are better options on this list at this price range – although some might like the unique color options and styles.
How We Ranked the Top Portable AC Units
Our editorial team considered all of the following factors when building our rankings:
BTUs: Portable AC units range in size from 8,000 to 14,000 BTUs, which means they cover rooms ranging from 200 to 500 square feet. We featured models with all different sizes for different needs.
Cooling Power: Some portable AC units cool rooms more effectively than others. Some claim to offer a certain power output, yet struggle to cool a medium-sized room. We considered cooling capacity in our rankings – after all, that’s why you’re buying a portable AC unit.
Portability Features: Some portable air conditioners have rolling wheels. Others are lightweight. This guide is specifically for portable air conditioners, and we emphasized air conditioners that were easy to use in multiple rooms.
Usability: Some portable AC units have remote controls. Others have touch panels or dials. Some smart AC units even have Wi-Fi connectivity or a smartphone app. You want to use your portable AC unit, so we emphasized air conditioners with strong portability.
Appearance: Your portable AC unit takes up significant space in your room. Most units are large, so it helps when they have a nice appearance or design. Some portable AC units are ugly, while others look sleek, minimalistic, or futuristic.
Modes & Speeds: Good portable AC units have multiple modes and speeds, making it easy to customize cooling however you like. You can have maximum cooling
Noise: It’s easy to design a loud portable air conditioner. It’s hard to cool air and run quietly. Good portable AC units do both.
Price & Value: The portable air conditioners above range from as little as $25 to over $600. We featured a range of products for all different prices, although we emphasized good value at every price.
Charging & Power: Some portable AC units use battery power. Others can be recharged. Some plug into normal electrical outlets.
Filtration: Most air conditioners do not filter the air. They just cool it. If you live in an environment with clean air, then that’s fine. However, if you live in an environment with dirty air, or if your air conditioner is sucking air from outside, then you may want added filtration. Some of the top-ranked portable AC units on our list came with UV filtration or other filtration systems.
Humidification: Some portable AC units do more than just cool the air. They also affect the humidity of the air. Some are dehumidifiers that remove moisture from the air, while others are humidifiers that raise humidity of the air. Depending on whether you live in a dry or humid climate, you might pick one or the other.
Extra Features: We considered extra features in our rankings. Yes, the primary goal is to cool a room, but we appreciate added features like lights, roller wheels, LED displays, and remote controls.
Energy Efficiency: Energy efficiency isn’t just about the environment: an inefficient portable AC unit could add hundreds to your electricity bill every month. Many are surprised to buy a lower-quality portable AC unit to cool their home, only to discover they weren’t willing to spend $400 extra per month to cool the home. For maximum efficiency, look for an Energy Star label on your portable AC unit. This label means the unit is rated to meet certain energy efficiency standards.
Warranty: Good portable AC unit companies stand behind their products, offering strong warranties and coverage. A higher-end portable AC unit may have up to 5 years of warranty coverage. Some of the units listed above have 6 to 12 months of warranty coverage. Others have limited warranty coverage at all. Generally, we preferred portable AC units with lengthy, full-featured warranties.
Who Should Use a Portable AC Unit?
People use portable AC units for all different reasons. Generally, however, people use portable AC units because they want to stay cool.
Some people buy a portable AC unit because it’s a smarter option than installing a complete HVAC system or central air conditioning system. You might be renting a room, for example. You can’t install a complete home air conditioning system, but you can buy a portable air conditioner.
Portable AC units are also popular for dorm rooms, offices, and similar settings. If you spend a lot of time in one room and want to keep that room cool, then a portable AC unit may be the best option.
Portable AC units are also ideal for bedrooms. Your home might be comfortable during the day but a little too hot at night. Many people install a portable AC unit in a bedroom to keep the room cool all night long.
Others install a portable AC unit if you spend a lot of time in one room of your home. Your needs might not justify a full AC system, but a portable AC unit is ideal for an office, living room, bedroom, or other room in your home where you spend most of your time.
In other homes, a portable AC unit is simply the most economical option. You might have a large home – but you only spend time in one or two rooms. Installing and running an air conditioning system isn’t worth it, and a portable AC unit is better.
Others buy a portable air conditioner for working out. If you overheat when working out, for example, then you might buy a portable neck air conditioner. It’s ideal for indoor or outdoor workouts in any environment, and it’s discreet enough to place under your shirt without anyone noticing.
Some people just run hot. If you find yourself getting hot and sweaty every time you leave the house, for example, then you might just run hotter than other people. There’s nothing wrong with that – but you might want to invest in a portable neck air conditioner to make yourself more comfortable.
How Do Portable AC Units Work?
Portable AC units cool the air in different ways.
Some of the basic units above simply blow air onto your face or body. They don’t cool the air at all: they simply blow air towards you, which could provide some relief on a hot day.
Other AC units take things further. They use condensation evaporation systems and other technology to cool incoming air and expel colder air.
A traditional AC unit is part of your home’s heating and cooling system. It draws energy out of your house and transfers it to the outside air. The air conditioner changes the temperature, humidity, or general quality of the air. It makes your home cooler, transferring warm air outdoors and replacing it with cooler air.
To cool your home, an air conditioner uses either a split system or central air:
Central Air: A central heating and cooling system provides cool air through ductwork inside your home (your HVAC system). The system draws warm air inside, then expels that air outside to remove its heat.
Split System: With a split system, a compressor condenses and circulates the refrigerant through the outdoor unit, changing it from a gas to a liquid. The liquid is forced through the indoor evaporator coil or cooling compartment. A fan inside the unit circulates the inside air across the evaporator fins. The fins exchange the thermal energy with the surrounding air, and the refrigerant turns from liquid into vapor, removing heat. The end result is cool air, and the unit sends that cool air back into the home. Once this process is complete, the system turns the vapor back into a liquid, removing heat. The cycle begins again.
Portable air conditioners work in a similar but more straightforward way. A freestanding portable air conditioner works like this:
Single hose portable air conditioners pull stagnant air from inside the room, using a motor inside the unit to cool the air and circulate it throughout the space; these units also take excess warm air and moisture, funneling it through the hose and out the window
Dual hose portable air conditioners pull fresh air from outside through one hose, then circulate cool air throughout the space; the unit pulls excess warm air and moisture through the unit, exiting through the opposite hose
Most portable air conditioners have a window venting kit to expel exhaust (just like the venting system of your clothes dryer)
Some portable AC units have water reservoirs to dehumidify the room; you need to empty the reservoir periodically (although some units come wit a drainage hose)
Other models are self-evaporative, which means they evaporate much of the moisture and direct the exhaust through the air duct, reducing the number of times you need to empty the container
Some portable AC units come with window mounts. You place the AC unit on a window, then use one or two ventilation hoses to ensure safe operation. Most kits are easy to install without specialized tools or DIY skills.
Some portable AC units are more portable than others. Some portable AC units have rolling wheels and other portability features. Others have wall or window mounts for more permanent use.
The most important thing to consider when buying a portable AC unit is size. Portable AC units vary widely in terms of size, ranging from 8,000 to 14,000 BTU models. Depending on the size of your home or room, you may need a smaller or larger model.
8,000 BTU: Cools a room of about 200 square feet
10,000 BTU: Effective for rooms up to 300 square feet.
12,000 BTU: Generally sufficient for 400 square feet rooms.
13,000 BTU: Covers space up to 450 square feet.
14,000 BTU: Typically large enough for a 500 square foot room.
Consider the size of your room before buying one of the portable AC units above.
You also need to consider single hose vs dual hose ventilation. Most portable AC units need to vent exhaust through a window to be effective. Some units come with a single hose setup, while others come with a dual hose setup. With a single hose setup, you have the same hose for both the intake of fresh air and the exhaust of fresh air. That may sound good – but the AC unit is less efficient because the hose is doing twice the work. With a dual hose setup, you have one hose for input and one hose for output, leading to more efficient operation.
All portable air conditioners remove some moisture from the air. That’s just how air conditioners work. However, certain portable AC units have a dedicated dehumidifier, allowing you to reduce humidity in your home without adding cold air. If you live in a humid environment and want to reduce humidity, then get a portable AC unit with effective dehumidification.
Noise also plays a crucial role in portable AC units. Cheap, poorly-designed portable AC units sound like jet engines. Higher-end models provide similar air conditioning – but without the loud noise. Noise level isn’t important to everyone. However, we appreciated portable AC units that had multiple modes for different speeds and noise levels.
Portable AC units are designed with minimal maintenance in mind. However, the moisture collected by your portable AC unit needs to go somewhere. The unit removes moisture from the air, and you have to get rid of this moisture. Some portable AC units come with a pan or hose. You may need to empty the pan regularly to avoid leaks. Some AC units are self-evaporative, which means they eliminate moisture on their own without a hose or pan.
FAQs About Portable Air Conditioners
The world and its people are on the hunt for the best portable ACs during these overly hot summer days filled with humidity and dry heat. The following is the most comprehensive set of question and answers pertaining to portable air conditioners found on the Internet. Enjoy and please be sure to leave a comment or suggestion for anything we have missed about using portable AC air conditioning units.
Q: What is a portable air conditioner?
A: A portable air conditioner is a device that cools a home while still being portable. It works similar to a traditional central air conditioning system but can be carried wherever you need it to go.
Q: Are portable air conditioners energy efficient?
A: A good portable AC unit is energy efficient. Look for the Energy Star logo for maximum efficiency. Bad portable AC units can suck up energy, costing you hundreds.
Q: Do all portable air conditioners need to be vented?
A: Most medium to high-end portable air conditioners need to be vented, although lower-end or cheaper models may not need a window vent kit. Some models above require venting systems, while others do not.
Q: Do portable air conditioners really work?
A: Yes, portable AC units work as advertised to cool a room. They won’t cool an entire 2,000 square foot home, but if you have reasonable expectations for your AC unit, it should get the job done.
Q: What is a window vent kit?
A: Many portable air conditioners come with a window vent kit. These kits are typically made from plastic. They’re a piece of equipment that sits on the windowsill, connecting to the exhaust hose of the AC unit.
Q: How does a portable air conditioner work?
A: Portable air conditioners work in different ways. Generally, they extract moisture and hot air from a room, replacing it with cool air. Some use single or dual hose systems to ease this process.
Q: What is a neck portable air conditioner?
A: Some devices market themselves as neck portable AC units. These units aren’t technically air conditioners: they’re just fans worn around the neck. They can blow air against your body, cooling you during a workout, at home, or at work.
Q: Do I need to install a window mount for my portable AC unit?
A: Some portable AC units come with window mount kits. You can install this kit for better operation. Or, you can use a hose system for similar effect. Generally, portable AC units are designed to be portable, and you should not have to install anything if you don’t want to.
Q: Can a portable air conditioner cool multiple rooms?
A: A good portable air conditioner (14,000 BTUs) cools rooms up to 500 square feet. Most portable AC units aren’t designed to cool multiple rooms at once. However, with the right fan setup or circulation, it’s possible some cool air could circulate.
Q: How large of a room can a portable air conditioner cool?
A: A good portable air conditioner cools rooms up to 500 square feet. An average-sized air conditioner effectively cools rooms of 200 to 300 square feet. That’s enough power for any office, bedroom, or dorm room. At the higher end, it’s enough power for a living room, kitchen, or other large rooms in your home.
Q: What happens if I can’t vent my AC unit?
A: If you have a portable AC unit that requires venting, then you need to find a venting option. Otherwise, the air conditioner will not cool your home efficiently.
Q: Can I vent my portable AC through a dryer vent?
A: You should be able to vent your portable AC unit through a dryer vent, although it may or may not be a good idea. If the diameter of the AC hose fits the dryer vent perfectly, then there should be nothing wrong. However, most dryer vents have a much smaller diameter (4 inches) than a portable air conditioning system.
Q: How long is the portable AC unit exhaust hose?
A: Most portable AC units come with an exhaust hose 3 to 4 feet long. You can buy longer hoses or extender hoses at any hardware store – say, if you’re not close to a window.
Q: What’s the difference between a single hose and dual hose unit?
A: A single hose unit moves air in and out of the device through a single hose. It uses less energy, but it’s also less powerful for cooling a room. A dual hose unit moves air in through one hose and out through another hose, using more energy but cooling rooms more efficiently. Generally, dual hose options are the better option for cooling larger rooms.
Q: Are portable air conditioners safe?
A: Portable air conditioners are safe. Portable AC units do not emit carbon monoxide. The only time a portable AC unit could be dangerous is if you live in a toxic city with bad-quality outside air. The portable AC unit could draw toxic outside air into your home. Otherwise, however, portable AC units are perfectly safe to use when installed correctly.
Q: Do portable air conditioners release carbon monoxide?
A: Portable air conditioners do not release carbon monoxide. The only time a portable AC unit could create carbon monoxide is if the intake air (the air coming from outside your home) is rich with carbon monoxide (say, if the hose is next to a grill, a portable generator, a running car, or another source of carbon monoxide). All of these are extreme scenarios, and portable AC units are generally safe to use.
Q: What’s the difference between a portable AC unit and an evaporative cooler?
A: Portable AC units and evaporative coolers achieve the same effects but in different ways. An evaporative cooler, also known as a swamp cooler, uses water and evaporation to make a room feel cooler. You add water for the cooler to work, and the cooler does not require ventilation. They’re popular in garages and workshops.
Q: Are portable air conditioners loud?
A: All portable air conditioners make noise. Good portable AC units cool a home without making much noise, although some models are excessively loud.
Q: Can I reduce sound from my air conditioner?
A: You can lower the noise on your air conditioner in several ways. Start by lowering the fan speed. Or, place the AC unit on a softer surface instead of a hard floor (like carpet instead of hardwood). This lowers the vibration of the compressor.
Q: What type of electricity do portable AC units use?
A: Most portable air conditioners use standard home electricity: you plug them into an electrical socket. Others use lithium ion batteries or other battery power.
Q: Will portable AC units cool a garage?
A: Portable AC units are not ideal for garages, although a higher-end model may provide some level of cooling. A 14,000 BTU portable AC unit can cool a 500 square foot space, for example, which may be large enough for a smaller garage.
Q: Is a portable air conditioner the right choice for me?
A: Portable air conditioners are the right choice for certain people in certain situations. If you live in an apartment, rent a room, or just want to cool a single room of your home (like a bedroom), then a portable AC unit may be the right choice for you. Some HOAs do not allow window AC units, which means you need to buy a portable AC unit or install a central air conditioning system. Millions of homes around the world use portable air conditioning systems to effectively cool homes.
Q: Where can I buy a portable air conditioner?
A: You can buy a portable air conditioner through any standard electronics retailer, appliance store, Amazon, Walmart, and other stores.
Q: How much should I spend on a portable air conditioner?
A: A lower-end portable air conditioner costs $200 to $300, while mid-range models are priced at $300 to $500. At $600 and above, you can get a high-end portable air conditioner capable of cooling a 500 square foot room or larger.
Q: What happens to the moisture pulled from the air?
A: Most high-end portable AC units have self-evaporative technology, which means any collected moisture is evaporated and expelled out the back of the unit. Some portable AC units have pans where water collects, and you need to empty these pans periodically.
Q: Can I use a portable air conditioner in a room without a window?
A: Portable air conditioners, like any AC units, need somewhere to release heat. A window is the best and most convenient way to release heat, although there are other exhaust options. If you’re in a room with no window, then you could install a small vent leading outside or buy a longer exhaust hose.
Q: What should I consider when shopping for portable air conditioners?
A: The three main things to consider when shopping for personal air conditioners including size (like number of BTUs), single or dual hose design, and noise level.
A good portable air conditioner cools your home without the cost or installation of a full home air conditioning system.
Standalone air conditioning units are nothing new, but they're growing quickly in popularity. It isn't hard to see why; the ease-of-use and cost effectiveness of portable units make them hard to ignore as a cooling option. Traditional methods of cooling a home can be excessively expensive, and the noise generated by window AC units can be very off-putting.
Today, you can buy effective portable air conditioners for $300 to $500. These AC units comfortably cool rooms up to 500 square feet. You can also buy cheaper neck air conditioners, smaller portable units, and other options for under $100.
With this in mind, it's clear why there's a skyrocketing demand for a compact, lightweight, and powerful personal AC unit. These devices can help you to beat the heat no matter where you go during the summer. Tens of thousands of models are flying off the shelves this summer, making their way into the homes of consumers who have grown tired of the high cost and maintenance work associated with traditional AC units.
While you can't flip a switch and turn off the scorching sun on a hot summer day, an affordable portable AC unit can help to minimize the heat in your home or workplace without breaking the bank.
Whatever or whenever you’re trying to cool, one of the top 25 best ranked portable AC units listed above may be the right choice for you. As always, the research above is an ongoing effort to find the most popular portable air conditioners and review how these mini standalone personal AC devices are the perfect choice to stay cool and comfortable with on the go convenience. This overview will be updated as more information, innovations and advancements take place in this emerging and exciting arena of portable air conditioners.