When the heat of the summer hits, demand for air conditioners spikes. With people spending a lot more time at home, including working from home, home comfort is becoming more of a priority. There are many options for cooling your home from central air conditioning systems, mini-split ductless systems that are less costly to install, swamp coolers, to window air conditioners, and the most convenient of all, portable air conditioners.
Portable air conditioners are a great option for people who need to reduce the temperature of a room. They can be used in a home office during the day to provide a more comfortable working environment and then moved to a bedroom at night to allow for better sleeping conditions. They’re also an excellent option for people who rent and plan to move as you can simply pack up the portable air conditioner and take it with you to your next home.
When portable ACs first hit the market, they weren’t as effective as the other options as they weren’t powerful enough to cool a room. But newer, modern models are as effective as window air conditioners with the added benefit that they won’t damage your window frame and don’t look unsightly as window ACs generally do.
Portable ACs are easy to install and can cool rooms up to 500 square feet in size. They won’t be particularly effective at cooling the main living area of open plan homes but they will provide the relief you need in rooms that can be closed off to the rest of the house such as a bedroom or home office.
Quick Picks: Small Portable Air Conditioners Compared
|Portable Air Conditioner||FEATURES|
|Honeywell MO08CESWK||Check on Amazon|
|Black & Decker BPACT08WT||Check on Amazon|
|EdgeStar AP8000W||Check on Amazon|
|LG LP1017WSR||Check on Amazon|
|Haier HPC12XCR||Check on Amazon|
|Whynter ARC-122DHP||Check on Amazon|
|Honeywell MM14CCS||Check on Amazon|
|Luna Comfort||Check on Amazon|
*All links above will take you to the latest prices on Amazon.com or you can read our best small air conditioner reviews below.
Our top pick of the list here is the Honeywell MO08CESWK. This gets our vote for the most outstanding model regarding its ultra-performance.
With a fantastic EER, which is Energy Efficiency Ratio, of 14.3, this unit can cool areas measuring 250 to 450 square feet.
An industry favorite, this unit is considered a quiet runner. This makes it ideal for use throughout the day or night in any room. What’s more, as a lightweight model, at just 43 pounds, it can be wheeled around the home with ease.
Furthermore, the Honeywell can deliver on such cooling power alongside a host of beneficial features also. These include a remote, an LCD, a selection of cooling speeds, a dehumidification process, and a 24-hour timer for added convenience.
Next on our list is the Black & Decker model. This is slightly smaller in design and, therefore, fantastic for those homes who really do struggle with limited space. It’s also a practical choice for those living in apartments.
With an EER of 8.69, this model works well to cool those areas of around 100 to 150 square feet.
Emitting a steady but powerful airflow, the BPACT08WT encourages a steady temperature. This then remains constant throughout use.
Complete with remote control for ease of use, this wheeled portable unit also offers the use of a three in one feature. This allows you to combine the cooling fan alongside a dehumidification process if required.
A most competitively priced unit on our list, the Black & Decker model is also sold with a five-foot-long exhaust pipe.
Claimed to be the easiest and smallest of AC units in the industry, the Edge Star AP8000W cools up to an amazing 250 square feet in total.
One of the shorter designs in height, at just 25″, and with an EER of 9.5, this incredible unit requires a simple three-step process in operation.
Complete with filters, casters, a window kit, and remote control as standard, this unit benefits greatly from a 24-hour programmable timer.
Also, users can access the dehumidifying process of this model, which claims to absorb as much as 50 pints of moisture every day!
Best of all, due to the smaller stature of the AP8000W, customers can choose any place around the home to position it. Then, when it’s not needed, storing the EdgeStar is the simplest of tasks.
Chosen for its pleasing aesthetics as well as its powerful performance, this LG model is a sleek and shorter portable AC unit.
Though its build is minimal, it efficiently still rates well, with an EER of 8. Better still, this smaller model can cool areas of up to 250 square feet.
A relatively lightweight unit, the LP1017WSR, is perfect for those smaller rooms in the home and areas where placing such units and in fact, storing them away is often problematic.
Complete with some amazing features, the LG boasts a dehumidifying function, remote control access, reduced hotspot performance, and two cooling speeds. This is all alongside the added knowledge of LG’S outstanding reputation in the marketplace.
Offering a washable air filter in its design, this unit is perhaps the easier of models on the list to maintain.
Because of its reduced size and indeed energy use, customers can also keep their utility bills extremely low when using this appliance.
Combining those all-important features of performance and reduced size, the Haier model gets our thumbs up for the most modern of portable AC designs.
With a good EER of 9.5, this HPC12XCR unit can deliver a cooling performance for areas up to 450 square feet!
Customer ratings on this model are promising, especially when the appliance is implemented in those smaller rooms such as home offices.
But what makes the Haier stand out for us more so is its impressive technology. Though this may be the sleeker and minimalist of portable AC’s, this boasts of three cooling speeds alongside a selection of digital settings via its panel.
With fully functioning remote access, and a 24-hour timer to utilize, besides a dehumidification process, this model can be wheeled from room to room and swiftly stored away when necessary.
A thoroughly modern and flexible AC, the Haier sits unobtrusively in any room in the home while delivering powerful specs in the process.
Selected as one of our top of the range products, the Whynter model may be one of the slightly heavier and taller of AC units – but this a firm favorite portable model with many satisfied customers.
With the ability to cool areas of up to 400 square feet, this unit relies on a double-hose unit. This means it can ensure less cooling waste while drastically increasing the efficiency of the energy used.
With a huge difference in EER’s, the ARC-122DHP has a rating of 12! Therefore, it can deliver on all-year-round comfort because of such higher specs.
Complete with a washable carbon filter, three fan speeds, and an auto-evaporative system, this is certainly a modern and impressive AC unit.
Easy to set up and then use continuously, the Whynter is said to cool down a room much faster than similar models.
Alongside a digital control, timer a host of other handy features, this top-selling portable AC unit sets the bar high.
Ensuring we include a portable AC unit that caters for those larger rooms and apartments, the Fredrich makes our list for both its power and massive coverage area.
Though still a small portable AC unit, the design of this model makes it able to cope with cooling areas of up to no less than 700 square feet!
With a good EER of 9.5, despite its incredible power, it’s said to operate extremely quiet in the process.
Ideal for those areas in the home, such as living rooms, this self-evaporating model certainly lives up to the reputable Fredrich name.
What’s more, as an added bonus, the PH14B offers a heater function. Therefore, this is the one model that you can, in fact, use all year round.
With three fan speeds, an automatic restart function, and a 24-hour smart timer, this model can also be controlled remotely for added convenience.
Including everything you need to get started with your purchase, this unit may be the heavier at 95 Ibs. But for a portable system, you won’t be moving too often, it really is worth that extra investment.
Yet another model from the Honeywell range, this is the MM14CCS, which is also a great choice for those looking at cooling larger rooms within the home.
Ideal for large bedrooms, office space, and indeed bigger living areas, this may deliver high on performance, but it’s still a shorter and reduced size appliance.
Easy enough to move around, this unit has an EER of 10 and can offer an impressive cooling function of up to 700 square feet.
A well-received AC unit by most customers, this Honeywell model boasts of a dehumidifier, a vent kit, LCD Display, a 24-hour timer, remote control, and a selection of cooling speeds.
With running noise suggested as average, this AC unit also works on an auto-evaporation system.
So, if it’s increased power you’re after without compromising on portability, the MM14CCS is well worth considering.
Our final portable AC unit is what is referred to as a swamp cooler.
For those unfamiliar with such a device, this works as a small air cooling unit with a humidifier. This is made possible by the use of a 3D cooling pad in which water passes through.
A natural process, the Luna model can accommodate up to 250 square feet.
Though it doesn’t have the power or performance of the models reviewed above, this is an environmentally friendly product and extremely cost-effective.
A quiet operator, this is refillable and ideal for specific certain areas in the home, such as desks or countertops.
The Luna is the better choice for those not yet ready to commit to an actual AC unit at this time, but still want to access such cooling properties.
What To Look For The Best Portable Air Conditioner
One of the first things to consider is what size you will need. Each unit is rated by BTUs (British Thermal Units) per/hr. Depending upon your room size, you will need to calculate the size you will need of the appropriate system. The following is an example given for a standard room with 8-foot ceilings:
- 8,000 BTUs will cover 200 sq. ft. (1,600 cubic feet)
- 10,000 BTUs will cover 300 sq. ft. (2,400 cubic feet)
- 12,000 BTUs will cover 400 sq. ft. (3,200 cubic feet)
- 13,000 BTUs will cover 450 sq. ft. (3,600 cubic feet)
- 14,000 BTUs will cover 500 sq. ft. (4,000 cubic feet)
Another thing to remember is that mini ACs are very powerful, and because they work so hard to cool your space, they are not going to be completely silent.
If you are bothered by loud noises, consider the decibel level that you opt for. If you live in a climate that has cold winters but you still want the cooling for the summer, a heat pump might just be an effective alternative.
However if you still like the idea of AC, the noise can vary amongst different models of AC units so some are better than others on that front.
If energy efficiency is also a concern, each unit has an EER (energy efficiency rating) that will give you an idea of how many BTUs are used for each watt.
Air Conditioner Energy Efficiency
There’s also the energy efficiency ratio off the air conditioner to consider as this shows you just how much energy the device is consuming in comparison to its overall cooling performance.
The EER (energy efficiency ratio) and SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) values are applied to all cooling units, but for small air conditioners, EER is more strictly use as they operate in a closed environment that is unaffected by seasonal change.
You can read more about this in our article: EER vs SEER
Will A Mini AC Require Professional Installation?
Selecting a solid wall that is not prone to vibrations or tremors is a must, because you will need a strong foundation for your unit. You must also make sure to keep the unit away from any heat or flammable gas.
It is also suggested to install the best small air ocnditioner unit in a place where it will not be in direct sunlight. Depending on your level of experience with DIY home improvement, it is possible to install a mini AC on your own.
If you opt to do this without help, it is essential that you have some experience with drilling and use of power tools. The installation also requires some knowledge of wiring and running the refrigeration lines.
For the sake of safety and ease, it is still recommended that no matter how much experience you already have, you should hire a professionally licensed contractor to do the installation for you. This will save you time, and the professional’s knowledge will also be useful in determining the best placement of the unit itself.
How Do ACs Work?
AC units generally operate by taking outside air through one hose, and then cooling it within the unit to create the chilled air that is meant to regulate the temperature of your room.
There is a second pipe where the hot exhaust air is pushed through and expelled. To break this process down technically, a refrigerant gas is utilized inside of the compressor to cool the air down.
The pressurized gas travels through tubes that turn it into liquid, and then it is turned back into a gas again as the pressure is reduced rapidly.
This does one of two things – it provides you with a cool breeze and it also causes the heat in the gas to rise, thus the need for a second pipe to get rid of that warm air. If you’ve ever stood behind an AC unit, you have probably noticed that it is warm.
The air that is being drawn into the room is passed over the evaporative coils that have trapped this chilled air, and with the help of the fan, it is distributed around the room. As you can see, ventilation will be necessary.
Now to keep your AC unit working to full capacity, its good practise to keep them maintained the best you can. Many call in the professionals to perform routine maintenance every so often but tasks like cleaning your AC coils can be done by yourself.
What Is A Ductless AC?
This style of AC is often referred to as a mini-split AC. It is comprised of a small unit that is to be mounted on your wall that blows out cool air, and an outdoor condenser that pulls air inside with refrigeration tubes that connect the two.
The installation is simple, and the results are energy efficient. The final result is similar to that of a traditional central AC unit, except in this case, you do not need to install ducts into the walls.
These ductless AC units are great for those who suffer from allergies. With central AC, there is often the possibility for dust and allergens to get trapped in the ducts, no matter how frequently you clean them. That risk is virtually eliminated when you decide to go for a ductless model.
On the downside, they can be higher in price range than most ACs. You can expect to pay between $1,000-$5,000. Keep in mind that there is also likely going to be a cost to install your unit, unless you already know how to do this by yourself.
The Advantages And Disadvantages Of All Types Of ACs
To review, here is a summarized look at all of the pros and cons of each type of AC unit:
Pros: Remains out of sight and has a thermostat for optimal temperature control, can evenly cool your entire home, the air output is filtered and clean
Cons: Complicated installation that must be done by a professional, maintenance will be required, pricey
Pros: Great on energy, can be quieter than most AC models, suitable for allergy sufferers, greater control of temperature (can be used to cool one room or multiple), simple installation
Cons: Can be costly, some larger models require higher voltage
Pros: Easy to install and fits almost any window, suitable for small or large rooms
Cons: It takes up window space, can rack up your electricity bill if you leave it running all the time
Pros: All in one system for heating and cooling, it is self-contained, efficient and durable
Cons: Involves ductwork, must be installed through a wall
Pros: Freestanding and usually comes on wheels for ease of movement, no installation required other than plugging into an outlet and properly venting, models can often come with a heat setting as well
Cons: Not as energy efficient, some people find them to be noisy
How Much Does A Mini AC Cost To Run?
In most households, running an AC makes up of about 50% of the electric bill. To break this down, a few calculations must be made. It is important to know the definitions of the following:
- BTU (British Thermal Unit) – number used to measure cooling power of AC
- Ampere – measurement used to calculate how many electrons pass through a certain point
- Watt – one Joule of energy per second, amount of energy transferred over time
- Volt – measure of electric potential between two points on a wire
- Kilowatt-Hour – side of the house contains a meter displaying your usage
Calculate your amps (usually a 2-ton AC creates 15 amps, 3-ton creates 18 amps, and 4-ton creates 21 amps). Multiply this number by the voltage of your outlet. Next divide this number by 1,000 to figure out your Kilowatt-Hours.
The chart above can assist you with figuring out how much you will have to pay per Kilowatt-Hour in your given location (bare in mind, this will show you the cost to run the AC as if you were running it non-stop):
How To Make The Most Of Your AC
For the most efficient and effective portable air conditioner, always remember to keep it clean and stay on top of the routine maintenance. Your AC was likely an investment, so always treat it as such. If the temperature is easily controlled by opening a window, opt for this instead of blasting your AC 24/7. This will save you money and keep your unit working well.
As stated by Snowflakeair.com try to set the temp around 75-degrees and avoid adjusting it frequently. This will provide you with a comfortable room temperature without wearing out your unit. Finally, try to go for an AC that is Energy Star rated, because this means that it will be as energy efficient as possible.
About the Author
Dave Miller is a HVAC technician with over 10 years in the industry. Dave created HeatTalk with the ambition for it to become a resource for individuals looking for answers, whether they be a layman, student or a professional.