The Best Portable Air Conditioner
If you are looking for The Best Portable Air Conditioner, it should be Honeywell MM14CHCS. After over 17 hours of research, Honeywell is our clear winner. For a reasonable price, it packs quite the punch at 14,000 BTU. It’s sleek, stylish, efficient and eco-friendly. And the great thing about it is that you can also use it as a portable heater during winter.
Here is a handy “top 10 portable air conditioners” list if you want to quickly scan through:
We also talk about a few other alternatives below, but for most people who are looking for a reliable portable air conditioner, Honeywell MM14CHCS is our top pick.
At 14,000 BTUs, Honeywell MM14CHCS easily cools areas up to 550 square feet.
It’s a 4-in-1 portable unit that combines air conditioner, dehumidifier, fan and heater all into one single unit. It also comes with a full-function remote control for use from across the room.
You’ll love the Digital LED display and precise-feature touch controls. The fan runs 3 speeds and the automatic shutoff timer ranges from 1 to 24 hours.
4 castor wheels let you easily move it around and from room to room.
When you purchase Honeywell MM14CHCS, the box comes with everything you need -- which includes a flexible exhaust hose and an easy-to-install window venting kit. You can easily remove the window vent when the AC is not being used.
It has fairly powerful air flow at 265 CFM (Cubic Feet Per Minute).
Despite being a fairly heavy-duty portable air conditioner, Honeywell MM14CHCS runs pretty quiet. It’s sound output is only 54 dbA.
It’s no bucket, no-drip design uses auto-evaporation system -- which lets you continually operate the AC for hours without having to drain water or empty a bucket.
It’s 12,000 BTU heat pump will keep you warm during the winter as well. The heat pump covers area up to 400 square feet.
What “power” portable air conditioner do I need?
Before we move on to exploring other alternatives to Honeywell MM14CHCS, I want to briefly talk about how the “power” of an air conditioner is determined and what size/power air conditioner you need.
The cooling power of an air conditioner is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs). Generally speaking, a BTU is the amount of energy needed to cool or heat one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. In air conditioner (AC) lingo, however, a BTU measures the amount of heat an AC unit can remove from the room. Therefore, the size of your area determines how many BTU- air conditioner you will need.
You don’t want a very low BTU -- since it will be running constantly to get to your comfort zone. When an AC is underpowered for space, it’s not only not-energy-sufficient but it will not quite cool the space to your comfortable range. And, the air conditioner unit might burn out sooner too from the constant uphill battle.
On the other hand if the unit is too large, it will cool the room quickly, but only remove some of the humidity. This leaves the room with a damp, clammy feeling. It is important to get a properly sized unit that will remove humidity effectively as it cools.
In order to figure out the right size portable AC unit for your space, do the following:
1. Find the square footage of the area to be cooled. To get the square footage, simply multiply the length of the space by its width. So, if my space is 10 feet wide and 16 feet long, your area is 160 sq. ft.
2. Then measure your square footage against the following chart from Energy Star. So, in my case (160 sq. ft. ), I will need a 6,000 BTU unit.
|Area To Be Cooled (Sq. Ft.)||Capacity Needed (BTUs)|
|100 up to 150||5,000|
|150 up to 250||6,000|
|250 up to 300||7,000|
|300 up to 350||8,000|
|350 up to 400||9,000|
|400 up to 450||10,000|
|450 up to 550||12,000|
|550 up to 700||14,000|
|700 up to 1,000||18,000|
|1,000 up to 1,200||21,000|
|1,200 up to 1,400||23,000|
|1,400 up to 1,500||24,000|
|1,500 up to 2,000||30,000|
|2,000 up to 2,500||34,000|
You also want to adjust your capacity based on the space occupancy and environment. For example, if the room is very sunny, you should increase the BTU capacity by 10%. Similarly, if the room is very shaded, you can reduce the capacity by 10%. However, there is no need to get too hung-up on getting exactly right. As long as you are not too off, you should be good to go.
Other Top Rated Portable Air Conditioners
Portable Air Conditioner Reviews
LG Electronics LP1214GXR Portable Air Conditioner (12,000 BTU)
LG Electronics LP1214GXR Portable Air Conditioner is a 12,000 BTU unit that you can use to cool a fairy decent sized room (about 450 sq. ft.).
It has the oscillating air vent technology which circulates the dispersed air more efficiently. That means, no hot spot will be left untouched.
It also comes with the programmable 24-hour on/off timer, LCD and a remote control.
The only beef I have with this unit is -- the noise is a bit louder than I expected but it isn’t terrible -- it’s a consistent white noise that you start tuning out in no time.
Honeywell MN10CESWW Portable Air Conditioner (10,000 BTU)
Honeywell MN10CESWW is a 10,000 BTU portable air conditioner that works well with space around 350-400 square feet.
It’s comparatively quiet, and has sleek, modern look.
It comes with the digital LED display, feather-touch controls, and a full-function remote control.
The auto-evaporation system allows for hours of continuous operation (without having to empty water / bucket).
The installation is a breeze. You’ll get the unit up and running in 10 minutes.
Whynter ARC-08WB Portable Air Conditioner (8,000 BTU)
If you are looking to cool smaller area, then 8,000 BTU Whynter ARC-08WB is a great solution.
It also comes with self-evaporative system that self-controls condensation -- so you will not need a bucket to drain the water out.
Its compact and easy to setup in smaller / tight spaces.
It’s a single hose venting system with three operational modes -- air conditioner, fan or dehumidifier. A full functional remote control and window kit is included.
Honeywell MN12CES Portable Air Conditioner (12,000 BTU)
Now, if you are looking for slightly better strength from a Honeywell brand, Honeywell MN12CES will get the job done for you.
This 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner has a sleek, modern design and cools and dehumidifies areas up to 450 square feet.
It includes other Honeywell standard features such as full-function remote, digital LED display, precise feature-touch controls, automatic on/off timer from 1-24 hours and comparatively quieter operation.
The no-drip design and auto-evaporation system offers hassle-free continuous operation for hours without having to worry about water-drips.
Frigidaire FRA053PU1 Portable Air Conditioner (5,000 BTU)
The Best Small Portable Air Conditioner
If you have a fairly small area, such as a home office room, Frigidaire FRA053PU1 will get the job done for you.
With the capacity of around 5,000 BTU, it’s ideal for around 200 square foot of space. The multi-speed fan features three different fan speeds for more cooling flexibility.
The design is sleek and it looks rather cool. Integrated side handles and caster wheels making it easy to move your unit from one room to another.
The clean air ionizer removes pollen and impurities from the air providing relief for allergy sufferers . It also has the antibacterial filter which reduces bacteria, room odors, and other airborne particles.
Keep in mind, this unit is for a very small area. If you think you might need something more, splurge a little bit and get a higher BTU portable AC.
If Frigidaire FRA053PU1 is not availabe, we recommend getting Honeywell MF08CESWW.
NewAir AC-10100E Portable Air Conditioner (10,000 BTU)
NewAir AC-10100E is another great 10,000 BTU model, great for spaces around 325 sq. ft.
It’s compact, sleek and highly energy-efficient. The auto-evaporative system ensures hours of continuous operation without having to drain water out.
It has a standard electronic control panel, an on-board air purification system, a 12-hour timer, sleep mode and adjustable fan speeds.
The only issue I have with this unit is that the exhaust does not tilt as much as I would like to. But that’s not a dealbreaker.
De'Longhi PACAN140HPEWC Portable Air Conditioner (14,000 BTU)
De’Longhi PACAN140HPEWC is a great alternative to our top pick Whynter ARC-14SH. It’s just a little too pricey.
It works as an air conditioner, dehumidifier, fan, and heater all-in-one, so you can use it year-round. The 24-hour programmable timer allows you to operate the unit only when you need it.
It has a Whisper Cool function specifically designed to reduce noise by as much as 50 percent -- so it’s fairly quiet.
A patented condensation system ensures air is being recycled for maximum efficiency and drain-free operation. The BioSilver air filter inhibits the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew.
Besides the price, an issue that I have with De’Longhi PACAN140HPEWC is that it does not have movable vents so you can’t redirect the air without moving the machine itself.
Portacool PAC2KCYC01 Portable Air Conditioner
The Best Evaporative Cooler
When you need something heavy-duty, and if you are in a drier climate, Portacool PAC2KCYC01 is your portable Air Conditioner. It can lower temperatures up to 30-degrees Fahrenheit and works well up to a 700 sq. ft. space. That is pretty chilled!
It is an evaportive cooler, which means that it cools air through the evaporation of water. In other words, it reduces the temperature of dry air through the phase transition of liquid water to water vapor (evaporation).
Keep in mind that evaporative cooling increases humidity and is well suited for dry climates.
The unit is made of a durable one-piece, rust-free, leak-proof molded polyethylene housing.
It is maintenance-free for the most part. However, evaporative coolers require a constant supply of water to wet the pads. There is a convenient water level sight tube and sump drain, as well as a 3/4-inch water hose connection for longer running.
Whynter ARC-14SH Portable Air Conditioner (14,000 BTU)
Whynter ARC-14SH Portable Air Conditioner cools really well. At 14,000 BTUs you can easily cool your average 500 sq. ft. of space.
You can operate it in three different modes -- air conditioner, fan or dehumidifier.
It has 24 hour programmable timer that lets you control temperature to your desired comfort zone. You may also program the unit to activate or shut off at preset times using the timer. The cooling range is 61°F -- 89°F and heating is 61°F -- 77°F.
It’s equipped with Dual Hose Exhaust for Optimal Airflow and Efficiency.
The “Dual Hose” system is an extremely important part of portable air conditioning. You can buy a portable Air conditioner with either a single or dual hose system. A single hose system uses just one hose to pump hot air out of the building. The problem with this is that this reduces the air pressure inside your home, and, as a result, hot air from the outside to come in through cracks in doors and windows.
On the other hand, dual-hose units like Whynter ARC-14SH, cool the hot air that’s already inside the house and return it to the room from where it came to begin with. So, it is essentially recyling the indoor air and not dealing with cooling the outside air. To keep itself from overheating, a second intake hose draws in air from the outside to cool the unit and then pumps it right back out again.
Whynter comes packed with everything you need to get it installed and running right out of the box including -- a remote control, plastic window kit, two exhaust hoses, carbon air filter and washable pre-filter.
Read what customers have to say about Whynter ARC-14SH here.
How to install a Portable Air Conditioner
Portable Air Conditioner Maintenance
Read the instructions carefully regarding cleaning and replacing your air conditioner’s filter. Regular cleaning not only helps your filter last longer but also allows the air conditioner unit to work more efficiently. You might have to clean the filter more often if you live in a dusty environment or have pets and kids.
Even though portable air conditioners do not require permanent installation, they do need to vent out the condensed hot air. Most portable air conditioners come with an easy-installation window kit or venting kit.
You want to pay attention to the environment of the room where you are placing your portable air conditioner. A dirty or dusty room has small particles that can find their way into the units motors, eventually clogging them -- or causing mechanical or electrical problems. Also, if you live in a very humid area, the air conditioner unit will absorb all the excess moisture thereby producing excess liquid. You might want to consider installing a drain tube so that you don’t have to drain the air conditioner often.
You should make the habit of cleaning the exterior of your portable air conditioner unit with a clean, damp cloth on a regular basis. Be sure to turn off an unplug the unit before you wipe off the exterior. Avoid chemicals and detergents that can be abrasive.
Your portable AC unit will work more efficiently if you keep its condensor coil free of grime, dirt and grease. If the coil is looking grubby, use coil cleaner to keep it nice and clean. Also, if you see any ice build-up on the coil, it needs to be defrosted. Some units come with self-defrosting mechanism that will prevent any frost build-up. But if you keep seeing frost build up, it might indicate an issue with the unit itself -- you need to get it checked out.
At the end of the season, be sure to store your portable AC unit properly. Drain all water from the unit and make sure that the unit is completely dry. Pack it in a box and store it in a dry location where water or moisture is not likely to cause any damages.
How Is The Water Handled?
Portable air conditioners remove moisture from air thereby producing water that needs to be drained in some way. Depending on the type of unit you purchase, there are several ways the extra water gets managed.
Common portable air conditioner units have buckets inside them that collect excess water. This bucket needs to be emptied on a regular basis based on manufacturer’s guidelines and your usage. You will have to plug in the stopper or turn the unit off, empty the bucket and then replace it before the cooling process starts again.
Most of the portable AC units come equipped with a drain port where you can attach a drain hose and dump water continually into a drain or some other location.
Some models are equipped with condensation pumps to pump the water out. The pumps force the water through the hose to drain out of the window.
Fully self-evaportive models evaporate all moisture themeselves -- so there is no need to drain any water out. These units are very popular since their operation is hassle-free and they can be left unattended for a longer period of time.
Our pick for The Best Portable Air Conditioner is Honeywell MM14CHCS. It’s a solid, durable, multi-purpose AC unit that you can use year-round by using it as a heater during the winter months.
If, for some reason Honeywell MM14CHCS does not fit your needs, our next best pick, Whynter ARC-14SH, is an excellent choice.
In this article we have reviewed several top rated portable ac units -- from smaller models to evaporative coolers. The information and reviews presented in this guide should help you analyze different models and their features to make the right choice for your needs. Stay cool!
Frequently Asked Questions
Do all portable air conditioners have to be vented out a window?
Most portable air conditioners do require hot air be veneted out through a wall or a window. In order to make sure that the room does not heat up, you must position your portable air conditioner near a window or a wall and install the exhaust hose to vent hot air out of the room.
What “power” portable air conditioner do I need?
The cooling power of an air conditioner is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs). The size of your area determines how many BTU- air conditioner you will need. You don’t want a very low BTU – since it will be running constantly to get to your comfort zone. If the unit is too large, it will cool the room quickly, but only remove some of the humidity. It is important to get a properly sized unit that will remove humidity effectively as it cools. As a general rule, an air conditioner needs 20 BTU for each square foot of living space. So if your room is 400 square foot, you would need around 8,000 BTU.
Is there a portable air conditioner that doesn’t need venting?
Portable Air Conditioners cannot be without vent because as part of the heat exchange process they need to exhause hot air as they produce cold air. The hot air will cancel the cold air and actually increase the room temperature if it is not vented out of the room.
What size portable AC unit do I need?
As a general rule, an air conditioner needs 20 BTU for each square foot of living space. In order to get the BTU capacity for the portable air conditioner, simply multiply the square footage of your room by 20. So, if your room is 500 sq. ft., you would need around 10,000 BTU.
Do all air conditioners have to be vented?
The most straightforward answer is ‘Yes’. As part of the heat exchange process they need to exhause hot air as they produce cold air. Portable air conditioners pull in warm air, cool it down, and push out the cold air from the front of the unit. However, the byproduct of this process is hot air, which needs to be vented out of the room.
Does a portable AC use less electricity?
Portable Air Conditioners use significantly less electricity than central air conditioner. They are especially useful if you need to cool only a certain section of the house or just a room. There are energy efficient portable air conditioners which cut down your electricity costs even further.
Is portable AC good?
Why you should choose Portable Air Conditioner over others depends on multiple factors. Portable Air Conditioners are very good at conveniently cooling a certain area where installing traditional air conditioners is a hassle. Now, there are energy efficient portable air conditioners which cut down your electricity costs significantly and are very good at cooling your room down.
What size room will a 12000 BTU air conditioner cool?
A 12,000 BTU air conditioner will cool between 450 sq.ft and 550 sq. ft. of living space. As a general rule, an air conditioner needs 20 BTU for each square foot of living space. A 12,000 BTU unit will be just the right size for a room that is 25 feet long and 20 feet wide (500 sq. ft.).
What size room will a 15000 BTU air conditioner cool?
As a general rule, an air conditioner needs 20 BTU for each square foot of living space. A 15,000 BTU air conditioner will cool between around 750 sq. ft. of living space. For example, a 15,000 BTU unit will be just the right size for a room that is 30 feet long and 25 feet wide (750 sq. ft.).
Is it safe to leave portable air conditioner on all day?
It is technically safe to leave your portable air conditioner on all the time. Most of the new Portable Air Conditioners come with “Smart Energy Save” option that lets you set a desired temperature and automatically shuts itself off once that temperature is reached.
How do portable air conditioners handle water?
Portable air conditioners remove moisture from air thereby producing water that needs to be drained in some way. Depending on the type of unit you purchase, there are several ways the extra water gets managed. Fully self-evaportive models evaporate all moisture themeselves – so there is no need to drain any water out. Some models are equipped with condensation pumps to pump the water out. “Gravity Drain” portable AC units come equipped with a drain port where you can attach a drain hose and dump water continually into a drain or some other location. “Bucket” ACs have an in-built bucket that needs to be emptied on a regular basis based on manufacturer’s guidelines and your usage.