Best Portable Air Conditioner on the Market 2021 (Reviews and Guide)

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In this Portable Air Conditioner Buying Guide, we first provide overview picks and full top portable air conditioner reviews. There are 10 models in different niches, so you can quickly choose one with the right size and/or features like WiFi or Heat that you want.

The best of the best: Our guarantee to you is that we have truly chosen models with the top ratings in their class, and we think that is unique to our list compared with others. We have no idea why other sites compile lists with poorly rated units.

The Buying Guide that follows is designed for you to research your options, compare portable air conditioners to window air conditioners and to central cooling options like a central AC, heat pump or mini split / ductless heat pump. Links throughout are available for exploring those other options, so you can make an air conditioning decision you will be happy with in the years ahead.

Quickly find the info you want with the Navigation list of topics, or read it all.

The Best Portable Air Conditioners: Quick Takes

Here are the best portable air conditioners with bullet-point strengths. You won’t find a better “rated” list anywhere else. We do the research, so you can choose the right model for your needs and get back to more important things!

The list allows you to quickly find a unit that’s right for your purposes, check the price and buy it if you’d like to, and get on with your day. Choose the links for further research on their product page too and to see what verified buyers have to say about each model.

Note on square foot coverage: We give square foot coverage estimates based on US DOE ratings, explained later. This gives a more accurate idea of how many square feet the unit can serve. Most descriptions over-estimate coverage area.

Note on Availability: Global shipping and supply chains are still undergoing corrections following the pandemic. If the portable AC you want isn’t available, wait a few days - or better yet, choose another Top Portable Air Conditioner from the list, and get it sooner. 

      Image                    Product

Ivation 12,000 BTU

  • Up to 350 square feet
  • LCD Panel & Remote Control
  • Best in Class Features
  • Evaporative Exhaust & Drain Hose

Best Overall

Ivation IVAPACWIFI12K

Ivation 12,000 BTU with Wi-Fi

  • Up to 350 square feet
  • WiFi controlled with app
  • AC, Dry and Fan Modes
  • Loaded with Features

Best Overall with WiFi

BLACK+DECKER BPACT08WT

BLACK+DECKER BPACT08WT 8,000 BTU

  • Up to 225 square feet
  • Track Record of Dependability
  • Compact Size/Small Footprint
  • 24-hr Timer, Remote

Best for Small Room

TECCPO Portable Air Conditioner TAK04C

Teccpo 8,000 BTU

  • Cools up to 200 square feet
  • 24-hr Programmable Timer
  • AC, Dry and Fan Modes
  • Great Ratings

Best for Bedrooms

Quilo 14,000 BTU

  • Best for up to 450 square feet
  • Quietest 14K BTU Model
  • Super-quiet Sleep Mode
  • Auto-evaporation

For Large Room

Whynter ARC-143MX

  • AC, Fan, Dry Modes
  • No Drain Needed for AC
  • Carbon Filter for Odors
  • 3M Antimicrobial Filter

Best Dual Hose

SereneLife 12,000 BTU

  • Best for 350 square feet
  • Top Quality
  • Evaporative Condensation
  • Free Standing
  • Remote, 24hr Timer, More

Top Premium

Hessaire-MC37M

Hessaire MC37M

  • Cools up to 950 square feet
  • Technically an Evaporative Cooler
  • Portable on Locking Casters
  • 3 Fan Speeds, Oscillating

Best Portable AC Without Hose

SereneLife SLPAC8 8,000 BTU

  • Cools up to 200 square feet
  • 55dB
  • Full-feature Remote
  • Click for Other Sizes

Best Quiet Portable Air Conditioner

Whynter ARC-14S 14,000 BTU

  • Up to 450 square feet
  • Dual Hose for Fast, Efficient Cooling
  • AC, Dry, Fan-only Modes
  • Ecofriendly R32 Refrigerant

Best Portable Air Conditioner for Garage

Best Portable Air Conditioners: Full Reviews

These reviews offer more detail and a fuller description of each of the best portable air conditioners and evaporative air coolers.

Quick distinction: A portable AC is a true air conditioner. It uses refrigerant to collect heat indoors and dump it outside, cooling the inside air by removing heat from it.

An evaporative air cooler does not remove heat from the space. Instead, it cools people in the room through evaporation – just as moisture evaporating off your skin makes it feel cooler. The technology is fully explained below in the Portable AC Buying Guide.

Our Rating System: Here is what we looked at in choosing our list of the Top 12 Portable Air Conditioners & Coolers. We rate each category from 1-5 Stars, though the units in this list are all 4 to 5 stars since they are top products.

  1. Quality: We looked for hardworking, durable models built with quality parts. The units chosen have a track record of reliability.
  2. Performance: Fast cooling, removal of a high volume of moisture, various modes in addition to AC such as Dehumidify Mode, Fan-only Mode and/or Heat Mode. When Dehumidify Mode, aka Dry Mode, is used, moisture is removed from the air. Heat is removed too, but instead of it being exhausted from the room, which would cool the room, it is returned to the room. Air temperature doesn’t drop. Dry Mode is ideal for cool days with high humidity that makes the air chilly, damp, clammy. You wouldn’t want colder air, but getting rid of the damp makes the room more comfortable.
  3. Features: Most of the portable air conditioners on the list are evaporative units. This means that the moisture removed from the air is evaporated out the exhaust hose. Again, this is regarding the ACs. The Evaporative Coolers use the term too, but in a different manner, which is explained below. In addition, most ACs on the list have 24-hour timers, remotes with all the unit functions, multiple-speed fans
  4. User Reviews: We look at ratings and reviews from many platforms including Amazon. It is useful to see what actual users of the products are saying about them. Fakespot is occasionally used to analyze whether the reviews seem legitimate or are faked. We do not consider reviews on the manufacturer sites. 
    Best Pro: This is the user review that best summarizes those with a positive experience. 
    Best Con: This is the user review that best summarizes those with a positive experience.
  5. Overall Rating: The ratings from the categories above are averaged for an overall score.
  6. Best Use: This is where the best fit for each AC/cooler is defined.
  7. Size and Performance Options: Portable ACs are not one-size-fits-all. That’s why we give you great options in various sizes, performance and cost. 

OK, on to the Full Reviews. 

Best Overall

#1 Ivation 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner – Powerful AC Unit & Dehumidifier

This is the best portable air conditioner available today. It is loaded with features, has 5 modes that allow you to customize indoor comfort and delivers outstanding performance and quality. On top of that, it is a really good value, given its competitive cost.

The noise level on this unit is about average. It runs at 55 decibels on high and estimated 52 dB on the lowest setting. There’s a normal amount of “buzz” when the compressor kicks on.

If quiet operation is your top priority in a good portable air conditioner, see the Quilo and JHS models below. They are the quietest portable ACs on this list. We’ve also completed a Review and Buying Guide of the Quietest Portable Air Conditioners.

  • Quality: 4.5 – Very good build. The unit has a solid feel. Caster wheels, window kit and hose should last indefinitely.
  • Performance: 5 – This unit’s modes are Air Conditioning, Humidification (drying the air without chilling it), Fan-only for moving air, Sleep Mode for saving energy while sleeping and Auto Mode – set the temperature you want, and the unit will automatically run in the right mode to hit that temperature based on the conditions in the room.
  • Features: 5 – It is an evaporative portable air conditioner, so most of the condensation evaporates out the exhaust hose. If you’re using the unit as a dehumidifier, then you might want to attach a garden hose and run it to a 5-gallon pail or, if available, a floor drain. This Ivation portable air conditioner has the other ‘bells & whistles,’ a full-feature remote, 24-hour timer and one of the longest exhaust hoses available at about 5 feet. The long hose gives you a little more flexibility in placing the AC where it won’t be in the way or where it delivers the best cooling for the room.
  • User Reviews: 4.5 Reviews are 80% to 83% positive across the platforms. Does that seem low? They are quite good for a portable AC.

One of the truths about portable air conditioners is that window air conditioners are generally rated higher. We cover that issue below when the two appliance types are compared.

  • Best Pro: “This AC cools our south-facing bedroom pretty quick in the evening and doesn’t wake me up tho I’m a light sleeper.”
  • Best Con: “Does not effectively cool my 425 square foot insulated garage. On a 95 degree day in Scottsdale AZ I’m lucky if it gets it to 85.” [Editor's Note: This is a common concern for all portable air conditioners, that they are overrated for how much space they can cool. The section below on ASHRAE vs. DOE/SACC BTU ratings clarifies it. Plus, outside temperature and how well the room is insulated are major factors in how well any air conditioner can perform. Garages, even insulated garages, often don’t have the level of insulation a home does.]
  • Overall Rating: 4.75 out of 5
  • Best Use: Bedrooms, offices and other enclosed rooms (vs on open floor plan) up to about 350 square feet. It’s also a good budget portable air conditioner, even though it’s features and performance are excellent.

Did you know? Fakespot is a website that analyzes the truthfulness of ‘user reviews’ online. The site gives this portable AC page an ‘A’ rating for genuine reviews.

Best Overall with WiFi

#2 Ivation 12,000 BTU with Wi-Fi

This unit is much like our Overall Best Unit – same brand and performance, but with WiFi that offers comfort and convenience. Rather than run the AC “all day,” use the app and your smart device to make sure the space is cool and comfortable when you get there.

Ivation IVAPACWIFI12K
  • Quality: 5.0 – Proven parts and workmanship has produced a unit with a dependable track record.
  • Performance: 4.7 – All the modes you might want – AC, Dry/Dehumidify, Fan-only to move air. No heat though.
  • Features: 4.8 – WiFi enabled for convenience and energy savings, full-feature remote, 24-hour timer, pull & carry handles.  Single-hose operation.
  • User Reviews: 4.8 – The WiFi unit, this one, is new. But the Ivation above has been around with proven performance and outstanding reviews.
  • Best Pro: “Cools great, and the WiFi app is so easy to use.”
  • Best Con: “Took a while to get the WiFi to connect – but all set now and working as expected.”
  • Overall Rating: 4.8 out of 5
  • Best Use: It is perfect for households with a busy lifestyle – when you’re in and out of the house. Use the WiFi app for ultimate comfort and energy savings.

Best for Very Small Room

#3 BLACK+DECKER BPACT08WT 8,000 BTU

Black & Decker has improved overall quality in the last few years to once again compete with the best brands in the industry. This is an Amazon’s Choice unit, FWIW.

BLACK+DECKER BPACT08WT

  • Quality: 4.7 – Excellent dependability across tens of thousands of units sold.
  • Performance: 4.6 – Powerful cooling for an 8000 BTU unit (5000 by DOE standards).
  • Features: 4.5 – Full remote, AC/Dry/Fan modes. Washable filter. Self-evaporation mode exhausts most of the moisture, so you won’t have to empty the reservoir very often, if at all.
  • User Reviews: 4.7 – Consumers appreciate the reliability and quick cooling this unit offers, plus the convenience of self-evaporative performance and WiFi.
  • Best Pro: “Quickly cools a 10x12 home office. I turn it on when the room is hot, and return in about 15 minutes to a pleasantly cool room.”
  • Best Con: “It won’t cool more than about 200 square feet. Tried in in a 360 s.f. living room, and it helped but couldn’t really make it cool.”
  • Overall Rating: 4.6 out of 5
  • Best Use: Ideal for a small bedroom, home office, den or similar space.

Best for Bedroom

#4 Teccpo 8,000 BTU

This brand doesn’t have the name recognition of LG, GE or Whynter, but consumers that have tried a Teccpo (or TECCPO) portable air conditioner give them high marks.

TECCPO Portable Air Conditioner TAK04C
  • Quality: 4.8 – Very nice design and quality parts.
  • Performance: 4.6 – 2-speed fan and adjustable louvers allow you to send air where you want it – or allow it to evenly disperse around the room.
  • Features: 4.6 – Full-feature remote, 24-hour programmable timer, AC/Dry/Fan modes.
  • User Reviews: 4.5 – About 90% of users recommend this Teccpo and/or would buy it again.
  • Best Pro: “The display panel is bright and clear, easy to read and use.”
  • Best Con: “A 3-speed fan would be nice, instead of a 2-speed.” [Few 8,000 BTU units have them.]
  • Overall Rating: 4.6 out of 5
  • Best Use: It is ideal for smaller rooms like a home office or small bedroom.

Best for Large Room

#5 Quilo 14000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

This unit is one of the Quietest Portable AC Reviews and Buying Guide. The Sleep Mode noise level is 45 decibels, the lowest noise level available in a portable air conditioner.

Overall, it is a very quiet AC with a top operating noise level of just 52 decibels. Adapting an old saying, if you can find a quieter portable air conditioner, buy it.

  • Quality: 4 – Reliability is well above average. You should get 7+ years of durability from this unit.
  • Performance: 4.5 – This 14000 portable air conditioner has Air Conditioner mode, Dry/Dehumidification mode, Sleep Mode that lowers the fan speed while keeping the air cool and Auto-evaporation.

The Auto-evap means you don’t have to empty a bucket while the AC removes about 10 gallons of moisture per day. That’s a lot of humidity being removed from your living space.

  • Features: 5 – This unit has everything but heat and WiFi: Full-function remote, 24-hour programmable Timer for energy efficiency and convenience, Evaporating exhaust and a Sleep Mode that is second to none.
  • User Reviews: 4 – Between 70% and 80% of users would buy this unit again. That’s higher than average for portable air conditioners.
  • Best Pro: “This AC keeps our bedroom very cool in Missouri summers and is the quietest of the 3 Portable ACs we’ve owned. Recommended.”
  • Best Con: “My 600 square foot apartment is 2 degrees cooler after running this thing or 4 hours – 84 down to 82.” [Editor’s Note – That’s not surprising. Regardless of what the manufacturer says, a 14000 BTU portable air conditioner is right for about 350 square feet of space. Sizing a portable AC is discussed in detail in the Portable AC Buying Guide below. It is one of the most important factors when choosing the best portable air conditioner for your home.]
  • Overall Rating: 4.375 out of 5
  • Best Use: This unit will do the job best in large bedrooms, large offices, insulated 2-car garages and enclosed space to about 350 or 400 square feet.

Best Dual Hose

#6 Whynter ARC-143MX 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner

A dual hose portable air conditioner is more efficient because it doesn’t suck in warm outside air as it exhausts air from indoors. The potential is up to 30% more cooling power and efficiency.

This unit and other top Whynter portable air conditioners made Consumer Reports Top portable AC list and was chosen #1 by Good Housekeeping.

See our Best Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioners Reviews and Guide for picks for the best dual hose models in various niches including different sizes.

  • Quality: 4 – This is a well-built, quiet AC that should give you 5-10 years of dependable service.
  • Performance: 5 – Besides AC Mode, this unit gives you Dry/Dehumidify mode for damp, cool days and Fan-only mode that is often used as white noise in addition to improving airflow and air filtering.
  • Features: 4.5 – Whynter patented its drain-free Auto-drain function. It fully exhausts all the condensate except in extremely humid climates. You’ll rarely have to empty the drain tank. It has the basics you’d expect: 24-Hour programmable timer, Full-function Remote and two filters – a carbon filter for odors and the main filter that is coated for antimicrobial performance.
  • User Reviews: 4 Reviews are 70% to 80% positive, which is solid for a dual hose portable AC.
  • Best Pro: “I returned the first unit I bought because it couldn’t noticeably cool our 325 square foot bedroom in 10 hours. I replaced it with this one, and the room’s temperature began dropping after an hour. Powerful AC and quiet too.”
  • Best Con: “We bought this because of the CR Magazine report and put it in our 350 s.f. bonus room above the garage (which gets really hot in summer). It cooled the room down but had to work really hard to do it. The compressor never seemed to stop. Finally during the second summer it quit. Planning to replace it with a big window AC.”
  • Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5
  • Best Use: Enclosed rooms up to about 350 square feet. It is a popular choice for bedrooms, offices and living rooms.

Editor’s Choice - Top Premium

#7 SereneLife 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

The two SereneLife portable air conditioners on this list are the highest rated models available. They get high marks from users for quality and performance.

  • Quality: 4.5 – This is a durable, hard-working portable AC. It should deliver 7-10 years of dependable air conditioning.
  • Performance: 4.5 – The four modes are AC, Dry/Dehumidify without cooling, and Fan-only mode for moving the air. This is an evaporative AC, so most of the moisture is exhausted.
  • Features: 4.5 – This, like most on the list, is an auto-evaporative unit. This means that it will rarely if ever have to be emptied. Most of the moisture that is removed from the air is vented out the hose attached to the window kit. It’s got the other features you’d expect – Timer, Remote, air filter and multispeed fan.
  • User Reviews: 4.5 – 85% to 90% of those that have bought this unit recommend it and give it high marks.
  • Best Pro: “The unit quickly cools a 250 square foot home office in warm weather. I use it to dry the air in damp, cool weather, and it does a great job too.”
  • Best Con: “I shopped around. This is one of the most expensive models. The great review scores influenced my buying decision. Let’s hope it lives up to the hype.”
  • Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5
  • Best Use: A 12,000 BTU unit will adequately serve up to 300 square feet unless the room is very warm, and then it’s right for up to 225 square feet.

Best Portable Without a Hose

#8 Hessaire MC37M

Many readers don’t have a usable window for their portable air conditioner. So we’ve included a model that doesn’t require a window. It is an evaporator cooler that takes in warm air, runs it through a wet membrane using a fan, and expels it into the room with much of the heat removed.

Hessaire-MC37M
  • Quality: 4.7 – Well built and reliable.
  • Performance: This compact evaporative cooler, aka swamp cooler, has the power to chill the air in almost 1,000 square feet.
  • Features: 4.7 – A powerful 3-speed fan, water pump for continuous performance, hose fitting for easy/ongoing filling, 3-sided rigid HARDWOOD pads speed evaporation and cooling, 115V for use in most outlets.
  • User Reviews: 4.6 – This is one of the highest rated evaporator coolers we’ve researched. Users appreciate the large area it serves.
  • Best Pro: “We use this in spring and fall to add needed moisture to the air and to take out some of the Arizona heat! Works great!”
  • Best Con: “We looked at this unit, but learned that evaporative coolers, or swamp coolers, aren’t a good fit for humid climates like ours.”
  • Overall Rating: 4.6 out of 5
  • Best Use: To chill large spaces in dry climates. The drier the climate, the better the evaporation, and that’s the key to effective evaporative coolers.

Best Quiet Portable Air Conditioner

#9 SereneLife SLPAC8 8,000 BTU

SereneLife has become a top 10 portable air conditioner brand with well-built, dependable machines in a range of sizes. This is a quiet portable air conditioner suitable for bedrooms, nurseries and home offices where it won’t disrupt normal communication.

This is the 8K BTU model. Click the price check for 10K and 12K models without heat and those with heat.

  • Quality: 4.6 – Good quality and dependability. One of the most reliable 8,000 BTU portable air conditioners.
  • Performance: 4.7 – Very quiet unit that has AC, Dry and Fan-only modes for climate control. 
  • Features: 4.6 – It covers all the basics, but nothing out of the ordinary like WiFi or Alexa voice. It has a remote, programmable timer, etc.
  • User Reviews: 4.6 – Users are happy with the sound levels and quality of this unit.
  • Best Pro: “I have this running in my home office while I Zoom with students, and it doesn’t disrupt us.”
  • Best Con: “You’ll need to use a hose in Dry mode – rather than emptying the reservoir every few hours. It takes a lot of water out of the air, but can be a hassle.”
  • Overall Rating: 4.6 out of 5
  • Best Use: Install this quiet portable air conditioner where you need to keep down the noise level

Best Portable Air Conditioner for Garage

#10 Whynter ARC-14S 14,000 BTU

Garages are hot, humid places in summer, especially when the insulation is poor.

When you need a powerful portable air conditioner that removes a lot of moisture from the air, this Whynter is as good as it gets.

  • Quality: 4.5 – Good build, especially for a large unit.
  • Performance: 4.8 – This unit is on the prestigious Consumer Reports “Highest Score” list, a very impressive testament to its high performance, powerful cooling and dehumidifying ability.
  • Features: 4.7 – 3 fan speeds, R32 refrigerant which is much better for the environment than other options, full-feature remote, timer, activated carbon filter for better odor control in the garage (or anywhere) and all the features you expect from what many pros consider the #1 brand of portable air conditioner. If it had WiFi or voice control, it would be perfect.
  • User Reviews: 4.7 – Users appreciate the quality, powerful cooling action and the features that make it easy to use.
  • Best Pro: “I love the carbon filter that removes gas smells and other chemical odors from the garage.”
  • Best Con: “My garage is 400 square feet with only a little overhead insulation, and this will cool the immediate area, but not the entire garage.”
  • Overall Rating: 4.7 out of 5
  • Best Use: It is the best portable AC for garage use – but you’ll appreciate its performance anywhere.

Portable Air Conditioner Buying Guide

In this Buying Guide, we’ll cover several important topics that should assist you in your buying decision.

Portable vs Window Air Conditioners with Pros & Cons

portable vs window ac

In general, homeowners give higher ratings to window air conditioners than to portable air conditioners.

Perhaps these portable air conditioner pros and cons will shed light on why this is true.

Portable Free Standing AC Pros Compared to Window Air Conditioners

  • They can be moved around a little bit, as their hoses are 3.5 to 5.5 feet in length
  • They are easier to move from room to room since they have caster wheels
  • They take up less window space, so the view isn’t as obscured
  • There no risk of them falling out of the window and causing injury or damage
  • Homeowner Associations do not object to portable AC window kits, but many object to window air conditioners

Portable AC Cons Compared to Window Air Conditioners

  • Portable ACs cost more for units that are the same size
  • They do not cool as effectively, since they pull warm air into the house (See BTU Ratings – below)
  • They have a higher rate of mechanical failure than window ACs 

Portable ACs vs Whole-house ACs

If you have central AC, is there a place in your home for a portable air conditioner?

Potentially yes. Here’s what a portable AC can do for you. The same advantages apply to a window AC.

  • These units can cool rooms that aren’t adequately reached by central AC – those rooms that face west or south, or second-floor rooms, rooms that always seem warmer than the rest of the house.
  • Cooling just the room you’re in, such as a bedroom at night or home office during the day, allows you to turn up the thermostat on the central AC with the result of using less energy at less cost and still remain comfortable.

Portable AC vs Evaporative Air Cooler

Evaporative air coolers are sometimes called mini air conditioners or personal air conditioners. They are not air conditioners. Here’s an overview of how they work.

1. Water is poured into a tank (and some also have garden hose connections for constant operation).

2. The water is wicked up or absorbed by absorbent material.

3. A fan pulls air through the material which has the effect of causing heat in the air to evaporate water out of the absorbent material. As you likely know, evaporation removes heat, and that makes the air cooler. Think about water evaporating off your skin – it makes your skin cooler. The cooler air is blown out of the unit. A good evaporative air cooler can lower the temperature of the air by 8 to 20 degrees.

Portable AC Advantages

  1. They remove moisture from the air. An evaporative air cooler adds moisture.
  2. They remove heat from the room. An evaporative air cooler blows cooler air in one or two directions, but the heat removed remains in the room, just not in the air you feel blowing your way. In other words, in an enclosed room, the temperature cannot be lowered using an evaporative cooler.
  3. They work in any region of the country, including very humid areas. Evaporative air coolers are effective where humidity is relatively low. Where humidity is high, the water won’t evaporate as well, if at all, at evaporation is necessary for removing heat from the air.

Evaporative Cooler Advantages

  1. They generally cost less than a portable AC.
  2. They are lighter and easier to move from place to place.

BTU Ratings: ASHRAE vs US DOE Ratings

This is the so-called elephant in the room that some portable AC manufacturers don’t like to discuss.

These units simply are not as efficient as other AC types. Here is why – and why there are two separate BTU rating systems.

The problem: When air is exhausted out the window hose, it creates negative air pressure indoors.

The result: As air goes out, air is sucked indoors through any drafty location. No home is airtight. The air drawn in is warm, humid air.

The bottom line: The effectiveness of a portable AC is significantly diminished by the air infiltration.

Two Rating Systems

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) tests the basic effectiveness of air conditioners of all types, as it has done for decades. One test – How many BTUs of heat can a unit remove from the air per hour. The test does not factor infiltration – how much heat is sucked back into your home.

This infiltration is not a factor with a window AC or central air conditioning.

At some point, this built-in inefficiency came to the attention of the US Department of Energy. For the sake of giving an accurate rating to consumers, the DOE developed the Seasonally Adjusted Cooling Capacity (SACC) that does account for infiltration.

While there isn’t a formula that covers all portable air conditioners, the DOE SACC rating is usually 50% to 60% of the ASHRAE rating for how many BTUs the unit can remove per hour. Examples included for models we’ve reviewed are:

  • 14,000 ASHRAE = 7,500 SACC
  • 12,000 ASHRAE = 6,500 SACC
  • 10,000 ASHRAE = 6,000 SACC
  • 8,000 ASHRAE = 4,500 SACC
  • 6,000 ASHRAE = 3,000 SACC

Not all product pages list the SACC rating. Many list them both. Only a few list just the SACC rating. If there is only one BTU rating given, it is probably the ASHRAE rating and you should consider that the SACC rating is about half.

You can also go by the chart in the next section. 

Sizing your Portable Air Conditioner

It is important to buy a unit rated to serve the amount of space you have – or more. With central air conditioners, you should not choose one that is too big for your home. But because of efficiency issues with portable free standing air conditioners, going a size up isn’t an issue.

This chart is a starting point. See the addition points below it for properly sizing a portable AC.

ASHRAE BTUs

Square Feet

6,000

100-200

8,000

150-250

9,000

200-300

10,000

250-350

12,000

300-400

14,000

350-450

We recommend that you choose a unit that is 1,000 BTUs larger than the chart recommends for each of these issues:

1. Ceilings higher than 8 feet.

2. The room faces south or west and isn’t shaded by trees.

3. Is a room often occupied by 3 or more people.

4. Is for a kitchen, since cooking makes the room hotter and more humid.

How to Make a Portable AC More Efficient & Effective

These home efficiency tips will help you air condition and heat your home more efficiently.

1. Make sure your home’s attic has the appropriate amount of insulation.

2. Use weather stripping around drafty doors and windows.

3. When you upgrade windows and doors, choose those with better insulation values.

Specifically for portable air conditioners:

1. Choose one with a programable timer, so you can determine when the unit comes on and shuts off. That way, you don’t have to leave it on while you’re away to have the space comfortable when you get home. Program the AC to come on an hour before you arrive.

2. Consider a unit with WiFi. It is the surest way to reduce unused air conditioning. When you’re on your way home, use the app to turn on the air conditioner or to turn down the unit’s thermostat to a more comfortable level.

3. Use the foam that is included with your window kit to create as airtight a connection as possible.

Additional Resources

This Buying Guide is just one of many we’ve created for portable free standing air conditioners. These might be of use too.

Portable AC Brand Reviews:

Portable AC Buying Guides with Top Picks in each:

Quietest Portable Air Conditioner

Small Portable Air Conditioner

Best Portable AC that Doesn’t Need a Window (Evaporative Coolers)

Cheap Portable Air Conditioner Options on the Market

Best Tent Portable ACs for Camping

Best Portable Air Conditioner and Heater Combo

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