Best Portable Air Conditioner Reviews 2018

If you’re out for the best one, the LG 12,000 BTU 115V was the Quietest unit with superior energy savings. How people in hot climes used to manage without air conditioning is a mystery… but one you don’t have to deal with. Even if your budget’s limited. Ditto if you’re renting a place that won’t let you cut holes in the wall to mount a regular AC unit. Or if it has one that won’t fit what you have. The solution’s a portable air conditioning unit because it’s well… portable. So that’s great savings right there.

Best
overall
pick!

Best Overall Portable Air Conditioner

Best overall: LG 12,000 BTU

Like many LG products, this one isn’t cheap. But it sure looks good with its gray and black graphite cover! Many have found that it performs as well as Whynter’s 14000 BTU, but is far quieter and a lot more energy efficient.

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Top 5 Portable Air Conditioners

Name Cooling Capacity Best at
Whynter 14,000 BTU 500 square feet Power and speed at cooling large rooms Check Price
Whynter ARC-122DS Elite 12000 BTU 400 square feet Compactness and better value compared to competitors Check Price
Honeywell MN10CESWW 10,000 BTU 400 square feet Price value Check Price
EdgeStar AP12000HS 12,000 BTU 425 square feet Cooling and heating Check Price
LG 12,000 BTU 115V 400 square feet Quietest unit with superior energy savings Check Price

1. Best in Cooling Power

1. Whynter 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner

Whynter 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner

Product Rating
5/5




The people at Consumer Reports (a non-profit operation that’s been around since 1936) have pretty good things to say about the Whynter 14,000 ARC-14S. Its dual-hose venting system can quickly cool a room of up to 500 square feet. If you can’t imagine what a room that size looks like, then think in terms of living rooms and classrooms to give you an idea.

If you’ve used a portable air conditioner before and are now rolling your eyes in disgust over the mess, there’s good news: it comes with a drain pump regulated by an auto drain function. Goodbye condensation! And since the unit uses that excess moisture to produce cool air – goodbye frequent clean-ups, as well.

Non do-it-yourselfers rejoice — Whynter also comes with a window kit. Just find a window to stick the exhaust hose out of, stick the kit in, adjust, and enjoy blessed coolness.

And don’t bother with a humidifier. This unit comes with a dehumidifier function, so they’ve got that covered, as well. The ARC-14S also uses a pre-filter air filtration system to reduce the pollution it sucks in. Even better, it also has an odor-neutralizing carbon filter to freshen the air you do get.

If the environment’s your thing, then great news. The ARC-14S uses R-410, a CFC-free refrigerant approved by the Restrictions of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS).


Pros and Cons

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Can quickly cool large spaces
  • Comes with an air filtration system
  • Dual hose system eliminates negative air pressure caused by single hose systems
  • Pretty noisy at 56 dBA
  • No built-in heat pump
  • Very heavy

2. Best in Portability and Performance

2. Whynter ARC-122DS Elite 12000 BTU

Whynter ARC-122DS Elite 12000 BTU

Product Rating
4.5/5




Compared to over 100 other portable ACs out there, the Whynter ARC-122 Elite comes out ahead.

The ARC-122DS Elite cools rooms a lot faster than its competitors. Assuming said room is no bigger than 400 square feet, that is. Even better, it’s a lot quieter than the ARC-14S despite being cheaper.

And it does this with the least amount of energy despite being smaller and lighter than most. What impressed them the most was that it works like a champ even in the hottest weather — something all portable air conditioners struggle with.

Like its more expensive counterpart, it comes with its own patented continuous and manual auto drain technology. Which means you don’t have to dump out the water as often compared to other portable ACs.

If you get cold spells where you live, then great news – it comes with a heater option. And yes, this one also uses an RoHS-compliant coolant for you environmentalists out there.


Pros and Cons

  • Quieter than most other units
  • Smaller and more compact
  • Comes with a heating unit option
  • Not as easy to install
  • Fans don’t idle when ideal temperature is reached
  • No room temperature option to let you know how cold your room’s become

3. Best in Price

3. Honeywell MN10CESWW MN Series 10,000 BTU

Honeywell MN10CESWW MN Series 10,000 BTU

Product Rating
4.5/5




Most Amazon customers usually have something good to say about Honeywell, and this product is no exception. Honeywell isn’t into style or beauty, but the catchy-named MNI10CESWW gets kudos for sturdiness and quality if you want to cool 400 square feet of space.

Besides the cold factor, it also has a fan and dehumidifier option. The specs claim that it can remove 79.2 pints of moisture in 24 hours – further reducing that muggy feeling ACs were built to fix. Unlike most portable units (and even regular ACs), however, this one does it quietly.

Best of all, there’s no need to regularly empty out the water. This one comes with an auto evaporation system, so there’s far less mess to deal with.
If you love pushing buttons, then good news. The MNI10CESWW comes with a remote control system that allows you to do your thing, which includes turning it on and off at preset times.

Do note, however, that some users have complained about the short hose – meaning it has to be kept close to a window. Others have also had issues with the window kit – meaning it doesn’t adjust well to all sizes.


Pros and Cons

  • Easy to install
  • Cools and dehumidifies a 400 square meter room quickly
  • Quiet
  • Short hose requires keeping it close to a window
  • Window kit doesn’t fit all windows

4. Best in Value and Performance

4. EdgeStar AP12000HS 12,000 BTU

EdgeStar AP12000HS Portable Air Conditioner and Heater

Product Rating
4/5



EdgeStar’s latest model received praise for being a lot quieter than its predecessor – belting out a reasonable 52 decibels at its quietest, and up to 54 dB at its loudest. That’s about the same output as many regular wall-mounted ACs.

Unlike the EdgeStar Extreme Cool 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner, the AP12000HS also has a built-in heater and can cool or warm up to 425 square feet. And despite this dual function, it’s also a lot cheaper.

The other improvement to the AP12000HS model lies in its automatic restart function. If you lose power, it remembers your original settings when it restarts. Unlike Whynter’s ARC-122DS, it has a room temperature monitoring option.

It also uses a single-hose system, making it easier to set up. To help you there, they include a window kit that fits into standard those measuring 28.5” up to 56”. The downside is that if you have bigger windows, you’ll need to shell out extra for another kit. They make up for it with a washable pre-filter and give you a freebie replaceable carbon filter.

Its dehumidifier also boasts the ability to filter about 81 pints of air moisture a day, and up to 90 if you keep it on dehumidifier only mode. They also have a patented auto-drain system, so there’s another plus.


Pros and Cons

  • Air conditioner and heater
  • Quick and easy to install
  • 3-year warranty on compressor
  • Quiet
  • Need to buy an extra kit if your windows are bigger than 56” in width

5. Best in Energy Savings

Best Overall Portable Air Conditioner

LG 12,000 BTU 115V Portable Air Conditioner

Product Rating
5/5




Like many LG products, this one isn’t cheap. But it sure looks good with its gray and black graphite cover! Many have found that it performs as well as Whynter’s 14000 BTU, but is far quieter and a lot more energy efficient.

Do note, however, that this one only cools up to 400 square feet. Keep that space sealed and the 115V can reduce temperatures by up to 0.034°F a minute. Another bonus is that LG is a lot quieter than even Honeywell (a company renowned for making quiet portable ACs).

LG actually has a reputation for producing the quietest units. This one measures at 70 decibels at its highest point – meaning it’ll never wake you up.

On the downside, LG’s dehumidifier isn’t so good – 67.2 pints/day on average. That’s lower than all the others listed here. Which means that if you live in a humid climate, this isn’t the best option for you unless you like dumping water out on a regular basis.

On the upside, the 115V has an energy efficiency rating of 11.2 – one of the highest. This means it takes about 1320 watts per hour to run. Since the average electric company charges around 40 cents per kilowatt hour, that comes up to roughly 53 cents per hour of use.


Pros and Cons

  • Very quiet
  • Most energy efficient
  • Gorgeous design
  • Lousy dehumidifier
  • Expensive

Why use a portable air conditioner?

They’re far from perfect. Unlike wall-mounted ACs which can vent heat out of a room, portable ACs stay inside, so you begin to see the problem. Even with the use of venting hoses, portable ACs aren’t as efficient as regular ones because they suck hot air out creating negative pressure in the room – a sort of vacuum, if you will.

As a result, outside air seeps in to equalize the pressure. So if it’s a 95° day outside, and given that nature abhors a vacuum… well, you see where this is going, don’t you? Goodbye cold air. There are many more problems we don’t need to get into, but you begin to see why portable ACs can never be as good as regular ones.

That matter dealt with, portable ACs are a far cheaper option if you don’t have a central cooling system or if you can’t use a regular wall-mounted AC, for some reason. They’re ideal for small to medium spaces, in mild climates that experience only a few months of heat, or for a guest bedroom that’s rarely used.

But only if you make the right choices.

What to Look For in a Portable AC

With so many choices out there, this review looked at what cools the fastest, received the best reviews, and costs under $600. If you’d rather go window shopping and make your own choices, however, here’s what you need to know.

British Thermal Unit (BTU) rating

Put simply, find out how much power you need to cool your room down. Pick a unit that’s too small, and it won’t do you any good. Might as well use an electric fan. Choose one that’s more powerful than you need and you might as well get a regular AC.

Use this quick rule of thumb:

  1. 250 square feet needs 10,000 BTU
  2. 400 square feet needs 12,000 BTU
  3. 500 square feet needs 14,000 BTU

Noise

Here’s another rule of thumb: the cheaper the unit, the louder it tends to be. If you can sleep through a rock concert, this shouldn’t be a problem. But if you’re a more sensitive sort who needs a cold room to sleep in, then prepare to shell out a lot more.

Single or dual hose?

The jury’s out on this one. While many swear that a dual-hose system is superior because it reduces negative pressure and keeps a room chilled longer, others aren’t quite as convinced. It depends on so many factors, such as how well a room is sealed, product quality, etc.

While everyone wants convenience, those hoses are complete eyesores. So it all depends on what you’re willing to put up with.

Installation

Besides hoses, you also have to consider what kind of window kit comes with the portable AC. To keep your room cold, you need to seal it properly, so window kits aren’t just things that keep the other end of your hose attached to a window or sliding door.

Before you go out and buy one, first measure your window or sliding door properly. Then find out if the unit has a kit that fits or can sell you one that does.

Auto Drain

You know how wall-mounted ACs drip on the outside? In portable ones, the problem is a lot worse. And since the entire unit stays inside, there’s nowhere for that water to go except your floor. Or into a tray you need to keep emptying before it overflows onto your floor.

Although all the units in this review have an auto drain feature, that doesn’t mean you’ll never have to empty it out. It only means you’ll have to remove the water a lot less than far cheaper models require. It all depends on how humid the climate is and how well the unit’s been assembled.

Portable vs Light

Don’t confuse “portable” with “light.” Units can weigh between 50 to 100 pounds. If you work out, then no problem. But while many “portable” ACs come with wheels, that’s not going to help you much if you need to lug it up or down a flight of stairs.

References:

  1. http://www.lg.com/
  2. http://www.popularmechanics.com/
  3. http://homeenergypros.lbl.gov/