Best Portable Conditioner Reviews

Best Portable Air Conditioner Reviews 2019

After several rounds of testing in Arizona and Texas, each lasting a week, we have come to the conclusion that the Honeywell Eco-Friendly Portable Indoor Air Conditioner is probably the best portable air conditioner on the market at the current time. We seriously recommend taking a look at it if you’re trying to beat the heat in even the hottest climes.

Best
overall
pick!
1.-Honeywell-Eco-Friendly-Quiet-Operation
Best overall: Honeywell Eco-Friendly Quiet Operation

This quiet, powerful unit definitely ended up being our favorite. It included pretty much everything we wanted including programmability which ended up being even more useful than we anticipated. Since it runs at 14,000BTU it can also cool a quite large area.

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How We Selected Products

In this case, our go-to was simply to ask people who have use for them in hotter states like New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. The conditions in those states actually vary quite a bit, especially when it comes to humidity so we wanted to make sure we had a wide range of portable AC units to work with.

We found that for most people just having one can make a big difference. The trouble here was that we wanted to bring you only the best, as usual.

Once that was done with and we had a list of brands and a couple of different models to begin our selection process we relied on online reviews to make sure that we ended up with our final models.

There were a couple of things we learned, namely that in the deep Southern states it’s pretty important to have a really good dehumidifier. We also found that many of the cheaper ones were prone to failure, and these are a device you really want to remain super reliable through the summer months.

Ease of Setup Noise ExtrasWe ended up with the following models:

  • Honeywell Eco-Friendly Quiet Operation 14,000 BTU Portable Indoor Air Conditioner
  • EdgeStar AP14001HS Portable Air Conditioner and Heater
  • Whynter ARC-14SH 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner and Heater
  • EdgeStar 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
  • JHS 10,000 BTUs Portable Air Conditioner WIFI Remote Control with Mobile App

We did end up finding out that most of the better portable AC units had a feature we hadn’t anticipated… a heater. While they’re not useful in all areas, many of the drier climates especially tend to get quite cold at night during the winter.

Considering the reviews and the high regard for all of the companies involved, with the possible exception of JHS, we decided this would be a good selection for us to test out.

How We Tested The Products

Our Selection Process

Once our units had arrived at the various reviewers, we knew that we were going to need to actually test them out.

Keep in mind that most of these units really are only good for one room, which makes sense since they’re considered to be portable. Most of our reviewers had central AC units for their home, so we had to get a little bit creative.

Then we realized something: these units are probably most useful in sweltering areas of the home which may lack the central cooling system.

That meant that all but one of our units, the JHS, ended up being tested in some pretty extreme conditions. Sheds and garages were the name of the game here. Any place where our reviewers tended to run tools were considered priority since no one really wants to sit over a hot saw when the room temperature is reaching over a hundred degrees.

Our units ranged from 8,000-14,000BTU so it was hard to do a direct side-by-side comparison. Instead, we were forced to take a ton of notes. The important thing for us was that it could pull the area it was placed in down to a cool 72 degrees, which is generally accepted as about the middle of the proper range for indoors when central air is used.

We found that all of the units were able to maintain pretty well through most of the day. In order to really stress test the units, however, we were able to use a digital thermometer which recorded temperatures through the day and ran all of the units for roughly a week.

Since we were unable to control for the size of the rooms we just got an approximate and sent our reviewers the unit we felt was best. We seemed to have sized all of them appropriately, since few of the reviewers were unable to keep the desired temperature for testing.

Our Testing Methodology

We also rated the units on the following:

  • Ease of Setup-Despite the portable moniker, most units require at least a window vent. Models with hoses tended to be a bit more difficult to setup, but most of our reviewers had no difficulty with their models.
  • Noise-Without sending out a decibel meter this time around we had to rely on subjective measures, but we do know that many portable units can be quite loud.
  • Extras-Units with fans and heaters had to be tested for this quality. Ease of programmability in the more advanced models was also quite important which required some additional testing for those models.
  • Longevity-None of our tested units failed during the week test, but we have a feeling the JHS model wouldn’t last as long as the others. It would still be our recommendation for those with a smaller area and occasional testing.
  • Price to Value-At time of purchase our units ranged from about $250 to around $600. Obviously if you’re purchasing online you’ll have to account for the normal price fluctuations so we can’t tell you how much they’ll be when you purchase them but we can give an approximate estimation.
  • Moisture Levels-Portable AC units tend to produce quite a bit of water from the air, particularly if they’re running a dehumidifier. Having to empty a tank repeatedly was irritating for most of our reviewers, especially considering how much we were running them.
  • Energy Consumption-Due to the varying prices of power we simply went with the wattage rating given by the manufacturer.
  • Ease of Movement-Caster wheels can vary greatly between products, so we had our reviewers push them around a bit and try taking them up stairs just to see.

After taking all of these into account, we came to our final estimations of each unit.

  1. The Honeywell Eco-Friendly Quiet Operation 14,000 BTU Portable Indoor Air Conditioner performed extremely well, with little variation in temperature over the course of the day. The high BTU rating is great, but the important thing is that it ran quietly and allowed for complete programming for timing. The “no-drip” dehumidifer was also a nice touch, although this unit ended up in Arizona so we can’t tell you how well it would work in super high-humidity areas.
  2. The EdgeStar AP14001HS Portable Air Conditioner and Heater with Dehumidifier seemed to perform quite well but there was a little variation. It was a dual-hose model and a bit more difficult to set-up than our favorite but it was relatively quiet overall and ran quite well.
  3. The Whynter ARC-14SH 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner and Heater ended up having a great heater for those cold desert nights, but it fell a bit short during the day. It still maintained an acceptable temperature range and it did end up in one of our biggest garages so that could have affected it. Programming was quite easy.
  4. The EdgeStar 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner was a bit hard to get our hands on but ended up being a great unit. It was a little bit minimalistic on display options however and we’d mostly recommend it for those who are just trying to maintain an even temperature through the day.
  5. The JHS 10,000 BTUs Portable Air Conditioner WIFI Remote Control with Mobile App had the option of an app to be used and it was also a cheaper unit than most of them. We’d be a bit concerned about it’s durability in the long run, but the app controls and lower price make it suitable for those areas where it’s not required all the time but just during heat waves in the summer in more temperate climes.

Overall, we can solidly recommend each of these units but your price range and personal needs will change which is the best. For most people who need a solid running unit for much of the year we’d still recommend the Honeywell Eco-Friendly Quiet Operation.

Top 5 Portable Air Conditioners

Name BTU Rating Recommended Room Size
Honeywell Eco-Friendly Quiet Operation 14,000 Up to 550sq ft Check Price
EdgeStar AP14001HS 14,000 Up to 525sq ft Check Price
Whynter ARC-14SH 14,000 Up to 500sq ft Check Price
EdgeStar 14,000 Up to 500sq ft Check Price
JHS WIFI 10,000 Up to 220sq ft Check Price

1. Best Overall Portable Air Conditioner

1.-Honeywell-Eco-Friendly-Quiet-Operation

Honeywell Eco-Friendly Quiet Operation 14,000 BTU

Product Rating 5 /5
Reviewed by:

This was our favorite without a doubt. It’s rated for the most space, runs quietly, and was easy to get up and running. The window vent it came with was nice, but during testing we really didn’t have to deal with too many large windows so it’s hard to say how big the window rating was.

It runs at 14,000 BTU, which we feel is an appropriate size for any non-commercial usage. It’s rated for up to 550 square feet, although the space we ran it in was approximately 480 square feet so we can’t say how accurate that is. We were actually surprised it held temperature so well since the lines are filled with R410A which doesn’t have a great reputation with HVAC technicians.

It runs smoothly and the programmable controls are remarkably easy to use.  It was also one of the lighter 14,000 BTU units we found although it obviously can’t compare to a smaller unit.

Our favorite part was the dehumidifier though. It ran smoothly and we had zero issues with it. Since there’s no pan required we quickly found it to be easy to use although we’re not sure how well it would work in an area like Texas or Louisiana where humidity gets extremely high in the summer.

It’s pretty expensive however, and it also lacks a heater which makes it a bit less suitable for areas where it gets particularly cold at night and makes it only really suitable for seasonal usage.

Overall however it outperformed the rest when it came to cooling and we found that it was easily the most advanced of the models that we used.

Pros and Cons
  • Excellent cooling power
  • Quite portable overall
  • Best controls of any we tested
  • Amazing dehumidifier
  • High priced
  • No heater

2. Best Multi-Use Unit

2.-EdgeStar-AP14001HS-Portable-Air-Conditioner-and-Heater-with-Dehumidifier-

EdgeStar AP14001HS Portable Air Conditioner and Heater

Product Rating 4.5 /5
Reviewed by:

With it’s 14,000 BTU and slightly lower rated capacity we found this air conditioner to be one of the best portable options around. It didn’t seem to hold temperature as well as our favorite, but it did have one critical advantage: it had the best heater of all of the units which we tested out.

The unit was a bit loud according to our reviewer, but not deafeningly so. It seemed to mostly come from the compressor and the fan rather than any rattling in the unit which we were told during our selection process can be a big problem.

It’s fully programmable, although not quite as easy to use as the Honeywell model which we tried.

Although it doesn’t seem to hold temperature as well as our preferred model, we feel that the addition of an excellent heater makes it almost as viable of a choice. It really just depends on where you’re living in the end.

The biggest issue we could foresee is that you’ll want to check your preferred window before you bring this one into your home. It’s a bit limited in that respect, with the included vent only fitting up to 36” windows.

For multi-use this is probably the most solid of the units we checked out. It cools and heats quite well and has an included dehumidifier. We can solidly recommend this one for those in more temperate climates who want something they can use year round.

Pros and Cons
  • Excellent heater
  • Great cooling capacity
  • Relatively easy to set up
  • Good controls
  • Included casters are pretty useless
  • Limited venting, not for large windows

3. Best Heating Unit

3.-Whynter-ARC-14SH-14,000

Whynter ARC-14SH 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner and Heater

Product Rating 4.5 /5
Reviewed by:

While respectable in it’s cooling capacity we found that the thermostat was a bit iffy and it was hard to hold a room at a constant temperature with it. What did that mean? The unit kicks off and on a lot which can be rather irritating.

It also produces a decent amount of noise and we found it was a bit hard to set it up compared to… well, everything else on the list. It can fit windows up to 46” right out of the box however, which makes it suitable for almost every room.

The other thing was the heater was great. There were still some issues with the thermostat remaining consistent but as a supplemental heating system it was probably the best of the air conditioners we looked at. While it’s not going to compare to an actual portable heater, it was definitely enough to heat a small room by itself.

The dehumidifier was the highest rated of those we looked at as well, although it doesn’t have a tankless design so you’re still going to have to dump the unit on occasion.

The excellent heater makes it a good choice for areas which have cold nights even during the summer. The Arizona desert for instance would be an optimal place for this. And don’t get us wrong, it still cools very well, it just didn’t quite compare to the rest of the 14,000 BTU units we tested against it.

With a high capacity for both heating and cooling, some people will definitely find this unit to be a superior choice. However if you’re just trying to beat the heat in a particularly hot area then you may want to look elsewhere.

Pros and Cons
  • Excellent heater
  • Good cooling capacity
  • High capacity dehumidifier
  • Quite portable
  • Tanked design on dehumidifier
  • Can’t compare to the other air conditioners in cooling

4. Best Budget High Capacity Portable Air Conditioner

4.-EdgeStar-14,000-BTU-Portable-Air-Conditioner

EdgeStar 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

Product Rating 4 /5
Reviewed by:

For the price, the Edgestar can’t be beat. There’s a problem however… they’re usually sold out so it can be a bit hard to find one. We lucked out and picked one up since it came so highly recommended.

It has excellent cooling capacity, runs quietly, and is fairly minimalistic in design. It was extremely easy to set up as well, possibly the easiest of those that made it into our final running. If it didn’t seem to always be sold out we’d have rated it higher.

But there’s a reason it’s always sold out. For the price it can’t be beat, as long as you’re fine with the minimalistic controls. It’s probably a good unit if you’re planning on just turning it on while you’re in the room but the lack of programming was a bit of a standout.

Only the Honeywell actually outperformed it during our run test when it came to sheer reliability for holding a steady temperature . And honestly, there’s less complication here.

If you can get your hands on one, then the Edgestar 14,000 offers some of the best value for the price of any units we tried, but the minimal interface and availability problems can cause some issues.

Pros and Cons
  • Best value for price
  • Excellent performance
  • Easy to install
  • Quiet running
  • Sell out quickly, leading to limited availability
  • Very minimal interface

5. Best Budget Portable Air Conditioner

5.-JHS

JHS 10,000 BTUs Portable Air Conditioner WIFI Remote Control with Mobile App

Product Rating 5 /5
Reviewed by:

There’s a lot to recommend with this unit, especially since it was the cheapest of those that we tried. Just be aware it has a much lower capacity than the others so it’s limited in the size of room it can be used in.

The JHS is a little bit noisy, but it’s actually quieter than all but the Honeywell due to the smaller compressor and fans compared to the other units. Our reviewer found it more than adequate for the room they used in however.

Apparently the wifi remote and mobile app function quite well. This allows for remote control of the unit, so you can have your room nice and chilled before you even get back. Our reviewer absolutely loved this feature.

It’s also lightweight, our reviewer said they only had minimal trouble bringing it up their second story bedroom. Apparently the dehumidifier works quite well, although it does need to be

Really, the only real flaw is that we don’t know how long we’d trust it for and don’t really think it’s appropriate for year round use. You’ll also need to buy some of the pieces needed for installation separately.

On the other hand if you’re looking for something a little bit cheaper for lighter use during heat waves it’s perfectly serviceable. The integrated mobile app just adds to how useful it is.

Pros and Cons
  • Small and lightweight
  • Easy to use mobile app
  • Good cooling capacity
  • Cheapest of those we tested
  • Not suitable for all rooms
  • Might not have durability of more well known brands

Installing Your Portable Air Conditioner

Portable air conditioners still require a little bit of installation. Without the ducting you’ll find that they’re almost ineffective due to the heat which is being pulled.

For the installation of most of these it’s pretty much self-explanatory. All of the units we reviewed except for the JHS came with everything needed, including window vents and the ducting that needs to be run.

Installation is relatively easy, especially if you made sure to take care when you picked yours out that the window adapter kit will fit with your window.

  1. Find the best spot in the room. You’ll need a place with both the electrical outlet you want to use and a window nearby. For garages and sheds without windows, venting can also be done through the door although this is less convenient.
  2. Using the window adapter kit attach things to the window. In a pinch you can also use cardboard or wood and a hose sealant kit with flex tape for ducting.
  3. Make sure everything is as air tight as possible after attaching your kit.
  4. Use flex tape or duct tape to seal any gaps around the hose or hoses.

And voila, you’re done. While none of our reviewers did it, we’ve also seen them vented through exterior walls and chimneys.

In the case of one shed, with no windows available, our reviewer vented it through the side. They have some serious DIY skills, a lot of tools in the shed, and were already planning on venting a dust collection unit for other tools through the side so we can’t say it would be our preferred method.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way however, just consult with a licensed contractor before making any serious modifications to a home. Venting through ceilings is also possible, but consult an HVAC technician or contractor first to make sure that there’s no risk of the exhaust heat doing anything horrible to your home.

Portable Air Conditioner Maintenance

Due to their closed refrigerant systems, not much maintenance is need for the majority of these units. We recommend that you occasionally check the ducting to make sure it’s completely sealed however.

Those units which have internal air filters should also occasionally be checked. Most portable units have cleanable filters, which usually just means removing the dust from them and replacing the filter. Make sure you check your manual.

Our Portable Air Conditioner FAQ

Can a portable air conditioner with a heater replace a space heater?
In most cases, they will only function for supplemental heating. The specialized units which replicate central air entirely were a bit out of the scope of this article.
Do all models need to be vented?
Yes. The way they function is by removing heat from the air and without a place for it to be vented you’ll be looking at an extreme amount of inefficiency. If you’d prefer a unit without needing venting you’ll be looking for an evaporative cooler, also known as a swamp cooler. These will raise the humidity in a room.
Why do portable air conditioners need to be vented? Aren’t they portable?
They’re referred to as portable since they can be moved pretty easily between different rooms and re-installed with minimal work.
Do I need special skills to install a portable AC unit?
For a window installation with the included kit it’s unlikely most people will have issues. Just follow the manual and you’ll be fine, if you do need help it’s easy to find YouTube videos which can show you exactly how to do it.
Do all portable air conditioners need to be drained?
Most of the more advanced units will be able to evaporate the water themselves. However, these units can still be overloaded in extremely high humidity environments.
Are the room size ratings for these accurate?
This will depend largely on ambient heat in the room and the humidity levels. It’s hard to evaluate exactly what size will work best for you.
Are portable air conditioners safe?
Yes. There’s virtually no risk from them apart from normal electrical risk. The only real risk is the line sets breaking and releasing refrigerant into the room. If this is the case, immediately open the nearest window. The amounts contained within these relatively small units is quite small, just stay away from the unit until it’s done hissing to avoid frostbite.
How do portable air conditioners compare to window mounted units?
Window mounted units tend to be more efficient. However, they’re not nearly as convenient to use, which means the choice is really whether you need a semi-permanent unit or not which window mounts tend to be.
How much do these cost to run?
On average we found that they run between $0.45-0.55 to run. Larger units than those we picked may cost more and smaller ones will usually cost less. If this is a big concern we recommend looking at the JHS model which we picked out.
Can a portable air conditioner be repaired?
Yes, but it’s not a DIY job. No piece of refrigeration or air condition unit is recommended for home repairs due to the closed refrigeration system contained within.

Conclusion

Finding the best portable air conditioner for your home is exactly what we were doing. While other units are available we truly feel that our testing shows precisely why these units are the best for the majority of people. All of the brands we picked are quite reputable, so if you need something bigger or smaller we recommend sticking with the brands and models we picked, most are available in different sizes.

The real question here is can you afford to not beat the summer heat?