Buying a cheap portable AC doesn’t mean you have to settle for an inferior product.
Cheap and good: We’ve put together a list of top rated but affordable portable air conditioners that are brand new, no used (renewed or refurbished) models – which are hard to find anyway and usually priced about the same as new units.
Your options include portable ACs of various sizes for bedroom, living room, office, kitchen use and rooms of similar size.
Our picks for the best cheap portable air conditioners are below.
But the first sections on this page are designed to help you make a choice you will be happy with because it fits your specific needs.
Are There Any Budget Brands for Portable AC?
Yes there are. You’ll find the best deals from Costway, Euhomy, Zafro, Haier, Keystone and Della.
Those brands combine budget prices with quality that is at least 4 out of 5 stars.
They don’t make our list if they are reliable. The combination of cost that is lower than average plus quality that is quite good is the definition of value – you get a lot for your money.
Don’t Buy An Undersized Portable AC To Save Money
If you spend $250 to $300 on a portable air conditioner, but it doesn’t make the room cool and comfortable, that’s not a bargain, right?
Be sure that the unit you buy is rated to cool and dehumidify the amount of space in the room.
1). Measure the room – length x width = square feet
2). Determine the right size portable air conditioner for your room using this chart.
|Portable AC Size||Room Size|
|5000 BTU DOE (SACC)||150 sq ft|
|5500 BTU DOE (SACC)||200 sq ft|
|6000 BTU DOE (SACC)||250 sq ft|
|7000 BTU DOE (SACC)||280 sq ft|
|7500 BTU DOE (SACC)||320 sq ft|
|8000 BTU DOE (SACC)||350 sq ft|
|9000 BTU DOE (SACC)||400 sq ft|
|10000 BTU DOE (SACC)||450 sq ft|
|12000 BTU DOE (SACC)||550 sq ft|
Note: This chart is specifically for portable air conditioners and based on the 2017 Department of Energy SACC ratings which must be used for portable units – but it does not apply to window air conditioners. Yes, SACC ratings are lower than ASHRAE ratings, but they are more accurate for portable ACs.
3). Buy a portable AC that is big enough. Too big is OK, but you’ll waste your money if you buy one that is too small. It won’t do the job, and you won’t be happy.
Caution: Make sure you know the DOE SACC rating before you buy. Many portable AC information pages are deceptive. They give the old rating, the ASHRAE rating, and you either can’t find the SACC rating or it is buried in the fine print. Do a “Control F” search of the page for “SACC” or “DOE” to find the information – if it is there at all.
Why is this so important? Because the SACC rating can be as little as half of the old rating. For example, you could buy a portable air conditioner thinking it was a 12,000 BTU model – but it really only moves 6,000 to 8,000 BTU of heat per hour. That’s a drop of 33% to 50%! And that will make a huge difference in indoor cooling and comfort.
The Best Affordable Portable Air Conditioners
Here are reviews of the highest rated affordable portable air conditioners available today. We could call them the best cheap portable ACs because they don’t cost as much as most – but they are built with quality components and should provide good reliability. So, in that respect, they aren’t cheap.
Midea 8,000 BTU DOE (5,300 BTU SACC) Portable Air Conditioner Portable Air Conditioner
This unit is ideal for a bedroom, office or small to medium room.
- Serves up to 175 square feet
- Remote control included
- AC/Dry/Fan modes 3-season comfort
- Other sizes and options available
Midea is a global leader in AC technology and quality. And this series gives you options in sizes from 6,000 to 14,000 BTU (ASHRAE) plus models with inverter compressor technology and one with WiFi control. Costs vary, and not all are super-affordable.
Choose the link to research the right model for your home.
SACC Size and Coverage: 5300 BTU, up to 175 square feet
Features: Remote control. 3 Modes are AC, Dehumidify/Dry and Fan-only. Dry Mode is ideal for cool, humid days when you’d like drier air but not AC. Casters make it easy to roll from room to room. It has a 24-hour timer for convenience and energy savings
Buy this AC for: Quality. If you want the top affordable portable AC brand – Midea – with proven reliability and quality, this is it.
ZAFRO Portable Air Conditioner 8000 BTU (5,000 BTU SACC) with Remote Control, Portable AC
The ratings are excellent, and this is the cheapest portable AC on the list. You’ll save money and stay cool and comfortable all summer with this Zafro portable AC.
- Cools up to 150 square feet
- AC/Dry/Fan Modes for climate control
- Makes the air feel dry and comfortable
- Great for bedroom, dorm, office, camper
This affordable portable air conditioner is effective and quiet enough for bedroom, nursery or home office use when you need to focus on getting work done.
SACC Size and Coverage: 5000 BTU, up to 150 square feet.
Features: Air conditioning, Dehumidifying and Fan Modes for indoor comfort. 24-hour timer and remote control. Self-evaporative, so you won’t have to empty the tank very often – if ever. Sleep mode is super-quiet.
Buy this AC for: Cost savings. You want to save money on a cheap portable air conditioner that works very reliably.
EUHOMY 8,000 BTU (5,000 SACC) Portable Air Conditioner
Euhomy calls this a floor air conditioner, another name for a portable AC. This one is loaded with convenience features at a very competitive price.
- Serves up to 150 square feet
- Perfect for a bedroom, office, kitchen
- Evaporates moisture – doesn’t fill a tank
- Follow Me – Temp sensing remote
One of the best features of this cheap room AC is the Follow Me sensor in the remote. Instead of just making sure the air right around the unit is the right temperature, the AC won’t stop cooling until the sensor in the remote is satisfied. So, keep the remote near you, and the AC will run until you are as cool as you desire.
SACC Size and Coverage: 5000 BTU, up to 150 square feet.
Features: Remote control with Follow Me temperature sensor ensures comfort. Most moisture removed from the air evaporates and is exhausted out the window hose – the tank won’t fill up. Handles and casters for easy moving. Cool/Dry/Fan modes.
Buy this AC for: Comfort! The temperature sensing remote ensures that the air around you is properly cooled when you keep the remote control near to you.
COSTWAY Portable Air Conditioner 9000BTU (SACC:6500 BTU)
This is a cheap portable air conditioner that does a great job cooling and drying the air in the room, so you’ll be more comfortable.
- Up to 150 square feet of cooled space
- 4 Modes – AC/Dry/Fan/Sleep
- Most convenience features
- Easy-to-use digital display and remote
This Costway portable air conditioner has the most features of any on this list. If you like comfort and convenience, this is an ideal choice for your living room, bedroom, office, kitchen, dorm room or RV.
It runs at just 55 decibels, so you won’t have trouble sleeping, concentrating on work or having a conversation.
SACC Size and Coverage: 5000 BTU, up to 150 square feet.
Features: 4 Comfort Modes, 24-hour Timer. Remote control. 2 fan speeds. Clear, easy-to-use digital LED display and controls. Compact size, so it doesn’t take up a lot of floor space.
Buy this AC for: Love – If you love appliances with lots of cool features that are really easy to use, this portable AC should make you happy.
Keystone 13,000 Portable Air Conditioner
This large portable AC delivers 7,600 BTU of cooling according to its SACC rating. That makes it the most powerful room AC on the list.
- Cools up to 325 square feet
- Follow Me remote
- Heats too!
- Only 52 decibels – very quiet
For the size, this cheap portable AC is very quiet, so it won’t affect your sleep, work, school, conversation or listening to your favorite media.
A heating element is included for supplemental heat on chilly days. Tip: You don’t need the window kit in the window for heating mode.
And Keystone makes quality appliances you can trust. Multiple sizes of this AC are available. Click the Price link, and choose the size and options you want.
SACC Size and Coverage: 7600 BTU for up to 325 square feet.
Features: Heat mode in addition to AC/Fan/Dry Modes. 3 fan speeds. Follow Me remote with a temperature sensor. 24-hour timer. Handle and wheels.
Buy this AC for: 4 season comfort! It gives you AC for summer, heating for any chilly season and dry mode for days when the air is damp, but you don’t want to cool the air with AC.
Buying Guide and FAQs
Here are a few more topics of interest to those shopping for a cheap portable air conditioner that will reliably do the job.
Inverter Technology Is The Feature That Is Really Worth The Money
There are two types of portable air conditioner compressors – standard compressors and inverter compressors.
Let’s put aside the question of buying a cheap portable air conditioner for a minute.
If you want the quietest, most efficient portable AC available, then a cheap unit won’t deliver what you want. Here’s an overview of the standard compressor vs inverter compressor comparison.
Standard compressors – Cost less, but they are louder and less efficient
Inverter compressors – Just the opposite: They cost more, are quieter and more efficient
How much more does an inverter compressor portable AC cost?
Expect to pay $150 to $250 more for an efficient, quiet inverter portable AC.
Are you looking for suggestions?
The Midea Duo 12,000 BTU (10,000 BTU SACC) HE portable air conditioner is a highly rated, very efficient model designed for up to 450 square feet.
The Dreo TwinCool Inverter portable AC is a large, efficient model that cools up to 450 square feet with a SACC rating of 10,000 BTU. And it runs at a noise level as low as 42 decibels, about 10-15 decibels less than most portable ACs with standard compressors.
While not in everyone’s budget, if you’re able to spend more to get an inverter model, then you will see lower energy bills and enjoy a more comfortable indoor climate.
Is There a Cheaper Alternative to a Portable AC?
A window air conditioner might be cheaper, and one should be considered if the room has a window large enough to hold a window AC. And you don’t have to consider the difference between the old and new BTU ratings.
So, is there a much cheaper alternative to a portable AC?
Yes, but the question is, will it do the job?
The most effective, cheap alternative to a portable AC alternative is an evaporative cooler.
Evaporative coolers have their advantages and disadvantages.
- A cheaper alternative to a portable air conditioner
- Portable – Personal sized evaporative coolers have rechargeable batteries, so they don’t have to be plugged in and can easily be carried from room to room or outside
- Larger evaporative coolers can cool larger spaces
- Evaporative coolers only work in dry climates like those found in the Western US
- While an evaporative cooler can lower the temperature in a room, it won’t cool it off as much as a genuine AC
- Evaporative coolers add moisture to the air, they don’t remove moisture, like a portable air conditioner does
Where to find a cheap portable air conditioner?
Here’s our strategy for finding a cheap portable AC:
1). Use the list above! We have done the research already to save you time. And we’ve put together a list of cheap portable air conditioner models that also deliver reliable cooling for your home, so they aren’t cheap junk.
2). Follow the links to each model on the list. Review its size, features and price to determine which one is right for you.
3). If you decide to keep looking, use Amazon search filters:
- Sort By: Price: Low to High
- Choose Eligible for Free Shipping to eliminate units with shipping fees, which can be $25 to $75 or more on a portable air conditioner.
4). Avoid low-rated portable air conditioners – you certainly don’t want to spend $250 to $350 on a unit that breaks down.
5). Don’t buy a portable AC that is too small for your room. It won’t do the job – and you’ll consider it a waste of money no matter how cheap it is.
Can I Buy A Used Portable AC?
Yes – or at least maybe.
There are a few used portable ACs around. Not many. If there are any available on a site you are shopping on, you might find them by searching “used,” “renewed” or “refurbished.”
Refurbished and used portable AC units are sold on eBay and Amazon. Locally, try Facebook Marketplace for portable air conditioners sold “as is.”
Is a Dual Hose Portable AC Better?
They are more efficient because more of the heat removed from the air gets exhausted outside rather than mixed with incoming air. They have a higher SACC rating relative to their ASHRAE ratings, a sure sign they do a better job.
The best dual hose portable air conditioners are made by Whynter.
Is there a cheap dual hose portable AC?
They cost more, but the dual hose Whynter ARC-126MD portable AC is reasonably priced. It delivers outstanding energy efficiency compared with other models and offers premium comfort and climate control.