The best portable air conditioners you can buy

  • Portable air conditioners are sometimes the only option to get the cool air you need, but they tend to be expensive.
  • The LG 14,000 BTU Portable AC stands out from the crowd because it’s powerful, relatively quiet, and you can control it with an app or your voice.
  • You can also check out our guides to the best window air conditioners and the best electric fans.

Whether you endure hot weather all year long or only for a few months, when it is hot, humid, and sticky, air conditioning (AC) can become necessary to keep your home comfortable. To get the proper amount of AC, people often turn to portable air conditioners, which, like central and window units, can cool your house down.

Portable ACs are easy to move and install. In some cases, portable air conditions are the only option in homes or apartments where there is no central AC and window units are not allowed, or simply won’t fit. As an added bonus, out of all the types of air conditioners you can buy, portable units generally save you the most in your electrical bills.

Most portable air conditioners are broken into two categories based on their configuration: Single hose and dual hose.

  • Single-hose AC units use the same hose as both intake and exhaust for air. While single-hose units will still cool the space you’re using them in, they will have to work harder to do so, meaning they are not as efficient as a dual-hose air conditioner. On the plus side, they tend to be cheaper and are a perfectly adequate solution for smaller rooms, such as a small bedroom or studio apartment.
  • Dual-hose AC units have one intake hose and one exhaust hose. Because you have to two separate hoses, these types of portable air conditioner are usually more energy efficient, generally cooling a room approximately 40% quicker than single-hose units, and they are the preferred choice if you’re looking to cool a larger room.

All portable ACs come with window venting kits to help you ensure that the cold air stays in and the exhaust stays outside with all that heat. You’ll also need to look for ACs with self-evaporating technology that gets rid of the condensation produced by the unit. Otherwise, you’ll have to empty a tank regularly.

With portable units, you hear noise from the pumps, fans, and motors that make up the unit’s moving mechanical components. Since all portable AC units make some sort of noise, it’s just a matter of deciding how much noise is comfortable to you. Most manufacturers are continually making upgrades to decrease the noise level of their units and if it’s an especially quiet unit, this information will be a highlighted selling point in the product description.

The picks below are based on testing, online research, ratings from tech analysts and experts in the field, authoritative, reliable product testing and ranking sites, along with Amazon ratings and customer reviews. We took price into consideration to accommodate various budgets, as well.

Here are the best portable air conditioners in 2019:

Updated on 07/12/2019 by Malarie Gokey: Added a 14,000 BTU LG portable AC based on testing. Note that this time of year, ACs sell out quickly, so if you don’t see a pick in stock, keep checking back.

Keep scrolling to check out our top picks.


The best overall

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LG

The LG 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner can cool a 500-square-foot room with easy, runs quietly, works with Alexa and the Google Assistant, and you can control it from anywhere thanks to Wi-Fi support.

My living room, entryway, kitchen, and hallway are all somewhat connected, and in the summer, it all gets unbearably hot. It’s a fairly large space of about 500 to 600 square feet give or take. I’ve been using LG’s 14,000 portable AC to cool that big open space, and it makes a huge difference.

The AC was fairly easy to unbox and connect. I have a large window in my living room that has two smaller side panels that open and close, but the big section in the middle does not open. We had to saw part of the included window vent off to get it in the small window, but once that was done, it was easy to fit the cylindrical vent to the plastic window piece. You do have to click it in very firmly, so it’s good to have a helping hand when you do it.

To enable smart features like remote control via Wi-Fi and voice control with Alexa and the Google Assistant, you need to download the SmartThinQ app. It’s very easy to use, thanks to the simple interface. I had the AC connected to our Wi-Fi in about 10 minutes. After that, I could turn it on when I was on my way home to be greeted by a cool home or turn it on and off with my voice.

The remote control is also easy to use, and there are controls on the top of it, so if you aren’t into the smart aspect of the AC, you can still use it just like you would any other AC.

It runs quietly, thanks to LG’s Dual Inverter technology. LG says it runs at 44dB, which is 20dB quieter than the noise you experience in a car. Although I did not measure the decibels, I can confirm that it runs very quietly even when it’s cooling a large, hot space.

It has a sleep mode that you can set for 1 to 7 hours, which is a nice feature if you end up using it in your bedroom or just want it to turn off automatically after a set time.

The Wirecutter also chose this AC as its top pick. – Malarie Gokey

Pros: Quiet operation, cools effectively in large rooms, 14,000 BTU, easy to vent out a window, works with Alexa and Google Assistant, sleep mode, control remotely with Wi-Fi

Cons: Pricey


The best with smart features

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Frigidaire

The Frigidaire 12,000 BTU Smart Portable Air Conditioner is Wi-Fi ready, sends you notifications, and works with smart home systems and Alexa voice controls.

Although portable air conditioners haven’t been hit by the smart home wave as much as other appliances, the Frigidaire 12,000 BTU Cool Connect Smart Portable Air Conditioner has some advanced features that make it a top pick among smart home enthusiasts. This model is a Wi-Fi ready connected portable air conditioner that can be controlled with the Frigidaire smart app.

You can turn the unit on or off, change temperatures, control modes, adapt fan speeds, and create custom schedules all from your smartphone. The app also keeps you informed with specialized alerts, such as clean filter indicators. This smart portable AC unit works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, so you can change the temperature and turn it on and off by simply speaking your temperature requests.

The Frigidaire Cool Connect Smart Portable Air Conditioner can also be controlled manually with the included magnetic remote. The portable AC unit has a unique 360-degree airflow that circulates cool air in an upward, continuous spiral so it more easily reaches all areas of a room. It has an Eco mode in which the unit turns on and off at different intervals while remaining at your set temperature, which ends up saving you energy and cutting back on utility costs.

Other programmable settings can further help you with energy bills and comfort, including an auto cool function and a sleep mode. Finally, it has an internal, electronic air purifier that is energized to remove pollen and impurities from the air, ensuring the air you breathe is clean.

The Frigidaire Cool Connect Smart Portable Air Conditioner has a 3 out of 5-star rating in PCMag, and Technicious calls it one of the best smart ACs. Popular Mechanics considers it one of the best portable ACs, too.

On Amazon, the unit has an average 3.5 out of 5-star rating. Amazon reviewers like that it’s aesthetically pleasing and say the app and scheduling tools work well. Critical reviewers mention that it’s best for smaller rooms and that it eats a lot of energy.

Pros: Built-in air purifier, stylish design, Wi-Fi connected, various programmable settings, smart notifications

Cons: Consumes a lot of energy, best for smaller rooms


The best for small rooms

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LG/Home Depot

The LG 8,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner is easy on the eyes and your wallet, but it keeps your 200 sq. ft. room nice and cool.

If cool air is a necessity, but you don’t want to spend an arm and leg on an AC, then the LG 8,000 BTU 115V Portable Air Conditioner is your best bet. The air conditioner cools rooms up to 200 square feet in size, so it’s best for bedrooms and smaller spaces.

It features two fan speeds and two cooling speeds for more flexibility in your cooling, along with a top inclined air discharge with auto swing louvers that help eliminate hot spots. The auto-swing air vent technology makes sure you enjoy every bit of cool air possible by circulating the cool air more efficiently so no crevices are left uncooled.

The portable air conditioner has a convenient built-in LED display panel along with an LCD remote control. It has an auto evaporation system that allows for continuous use and a programmable 24-hour on/off timer so you can control the temperature even when you’re not at home. It has a sleek white coloring and freestanding design that isn’t intrusive to your existing room decor. It also has a dehumidifier function with up to 1.8 pints per hour dehumidification functionality.

The LG 8,000 BTU 115V Portable Air Conditioner is recommended by Popular Mechanics. On Amazon, it has a 3.6 out of 5-star rating based on more than 350 customer reviews.

Amazon reviewers comment that it’s a good value. One reviewer writes, “Dollar for dollar, an excellent value.” Critical reviews cite shipment issues, such as this reviewer, or that it doesn’t supply enough cool air, such as this reviewer.

Pros: Price, easy to install, easy to move, aesthetically pleasing

Cons: Multiple shipment issues reported, may not provide enough cool air


The best with a dual-hose design

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Whynter

The Whynter 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner can keep a 700 sq. ft. room cool with little noise or upkeep, thanks to advanced self-evaporating tech.

The Whynter 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner gives you full thermostatic control with temperatures between 61 and 89 degrees Fahrenheit. It comes complete with a digital readout, remote control, three fan speeds, a carbon air filter, and a washable pre-filter.

Maintenance is easy with the advanced self-evaporating technology, which consists of an upper and lower direct drain option for continuous operation without excess condensate accumulation or the need to dump out a tank every now and then.

The AC unit can also be used as a fan or dehumidifier, and it has a higher than average dehumidifying capacity of 101 pints per day. It can be programmed with a 24-hour timer to turn on or shut-off at pre-set times. It also features an auto-restart function, which is triggered in the event of a power outage. The AC uses an environmentally friendly coolant called R-410A. Unlike alkyl halide refrigerants that contain bromine or chlorine, R-410A contains only fluorine and thus does not contribute to ozone depletion.

The Whynter 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner was a pick in The Wirecutter’s guide to the best portable ACs, and it has a 9.3 out of 10 rating from Portable-ac-experts.com. It’s listed in Popular Mechanics and Consumer Search as one of the best portable ACs around. On Amazon, the unit has an average 3.8 out of 5-star rating.

Many Amazon reviewers state that the portable air conditioner works well, such as this reviewer who writes, “I have ZERO trouble with it.” Another buyer states that it is made of high-quality materials and is easy to setup, while some others remark that it has lowered their energy bills. The critical reviews tend to center around the fact that the customers aren’t satisfied with the amount of cooling the unit provides, or that the unit is larger than expected.

Pros: Cools large areas, programmable unit, specialized filters for cleaner air, dual hose, self-evaporating technology, environmentally friendly

Cons: Takes up a lot of room, cooling isn’t as powerful as other types of AC units (such as window and central)


The best with 12,000 BTU

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Whynter

The Whynter Elite 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner makes cooling easier with 24-hour programming and wheels for enhanced mobility.

The Whynter Elite 12,000 BTU Dual Hose Digital Portable Air Conditioner is top-of-the-line. The air conditioner has a compact size, but it offers powerful performance with a dual hose system to provide optimal space utilization and more efficient cooling. The unit is portable and easy to set up.

It’s ideal for providing cooling relief for any area where excess humidity and heat exist. In addition to cooling, the unit has a fan and dehumidifier built in and it’s equipped with a remote control so you that easily control the speed, temperature, and dehumidifier settings from a distance.

It has a carbon air filter and washable pre-filter, as well as a non-ozone-depleting R410a refrigerant. Using both an upper and lower direct drain, you can run it continuously without excess condensate accumulation and cleaning needed. The self-evaporative system exhausts most condensate under average ambient conditions, plus it has a unique LCDI (Leakage-Current Detection and Interruption) plug. The 24-hour programmable timer means you can program it to meet your needs, while caster wheels allow for easy mobility.

The Whynter Elite 12,000 BTU Dual Hose Digital Portable Air Conditioner was the runner-up pick in The Wirecutter’s buying guide. It also holds a 9.3 out of 10-star rating on Portable-ac-experts.com. On Amazon, the unit has an average 4 out of 5-star rating.

Amazon reviewers say it’s a premium product at an affordable price and it’s relatively quiet. Critical reviews cite issues that the product was delivered with missing pieces, such as this reviewer.

Pros: Dual hose system, compact yet powerful, self-evaporation system, quite, strong cooling system, environmentally friendly

Cons: Shipment issues, price


How many BTUs do you need?

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LG

How many BTUs do you need to cool your room?

When you’re shopping for portable AC units it’s best to prioritize the size of the area you wish to cool, rather than the size of the actual unit. To pick the most appropriate model, you’ll want to match the British Thermal Unit (BTU) requirements to the room size you plan to use it in.

BTU is the international measure of energy, and a BTU is the amount of heat needed to raise one pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. When it comes to air conditioners, manufacturers use BTUs to indicate the quantity of heat a conditioning unit can remove from a room per hour. (One BTU per hour is equal to 0293 watts.)

As the BTU rating increases so do the weight, size, and cost of the air conditioner, but you have to make sure you get the right cooling capacity for your space. If you purchase a unit that has a higher BTU rating than the room requires, it will cycle off too quickly and won’t remove the humidity from the air properly. On the other hand, if you purchase a portable air conditioner that has a lower BTU rating than the room requires, it will run continuously and never cool the room adequately. Check out the breakdown below:

  • A 150 sq. ft. room requires 5,000 BTUs
  • A 250 sq. ft. room requires 6,000 BTUs
  • A 350 sq. ft. room requires 8,000 BTUs
  • A 450 sq. ft. room requires 10,000 BTUs
  • A 550 sq. ft. room requires 12,000 BTUs
  • A 700 sq. ft room requires 14,000 BTUs

Check out our other guides for window ACs and electric fans

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Rowenta

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A good air conditioner can help make those hot summers much more bearable. These are the best window air conditioners you can buy, no matter your needs:

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