The quietest portable air conditioners have a noise level of 42 to 53 decibels on the lowest decibel setting. They are good options for small quiet portable air conditioner units for bedrooms, a child’s nursery, home office and other locations where it is important to keep noise to a minimum.
How Many Decibels is a Quiet Portable Air Conditioner?
The lowest decibel portable ACs can be as quiet as 42 decibels, but most of them run closer to 50 to 53 decibels. We’ve researched portable air conditioners from 8000 to 14000 BTUs to find those that:
- Run quietly
- Have high ratings for dependability and customer satisfaction
A portable AC, aka a standing air conditioner or room AC, with a noise level in the 40s to low 50s is quieter than the noise level you experience riding in most cars, and the noise should not affect your sleep.
In fact, some consumers consider the sound “white noise” that can block out noise from other sources and make it easier to sleep.
What Are The Main Sources Of Noise For a New Portable Air Conditioner?
There are a few main sources of noise for any AC including portable air conditioners – the fan motor and the compressor.
Here are common sources of portable air conditioner noise.
1). The compressor turning on and off: When the AC begins to cool, the compressor kicks on, and that usually makes a small buzzing or jolting noise. And once the air conditioner has effectively cooled the air to meet the thermostat setting, the compressor turns off, which can also cause a sudden noise.
If you choose a portable air conditioner that isn’t too big for the area you want to cool and it has an inverter compressor, the unit might run most or all of the time. That’s OK. It won’t harm the AC. In fact, an air conditioner compressor that runs all or most of the time will last longer than one that turns on for a while, and then shuts off, and repeats the on/off cycle frequently.
2). The compressor running: The AC is loudest when the compressor is functioning and the unit is in cooling mode. Some refer to it as the compressor humming and buzzing when running. Even though it is a constant noise, it might be loud enough to bother some people or wake up a light sleeper.
3). The fan running. Most portable ACs have at least two fans speeds, though some have three. Setting the fan speed to low or medium rather than high will keep the noise level to a minimum.
Tips for Choosing a Quiet New Portable Air Conditioner
When it is important to have a quiet floor air conditioner, you have a couple good options.
1). Choose an Inverter Portable Air Conditioner
An inverter AC refers to the type of compressor. There are three things to know about an inverter compressor portable air conditioner.
- Run about 7-10 decibels (we analyzed 1,500 portable ACs on the market) quieter than units with a standard compressor.
- Make less sudden jolting or buzzing noises because the compressor runs longer – even most of the time if the unit is properly sized or undersized for the room.
- Are more efficient, so your energy costs will be lower.
- Cost more than portable air conditioners with standard compressors.
So, you pay more upfront, but less in monthly electricity costs. And for the extra money, you also get a quieter unit with a compressor that doesn’t kick on and off as often.
2). Buy An Evaporative Cooler, Which Is Also Called A Ventless Portable Air Conditioner.
These units don’t have a compressor. Instead, they cool the air with evaporation – just like your skin feels cooler as water evaporates off it on a warm day.
Evaporative coolers cost less than most portable air conditioners. They work pretty well in dry climates – not so great in humid climates because water doesn’t evaporate as quickly when the air already has a lot of moisture in it.
They’re called ventless ACs because they don’t use a vent hose to exhaust warm, humid air from your home. In fact, they won’t contribute to an overall cooler room, but if you sit in front of a ventless portable AC, aka an evaporative cooler, the air that the fan blows on you will be noticeably cooler than the surrounding air. They are a cost-effective way to stay cool in a dry climate.
Is a High BTU Portable AC Noisier?
Generally speaking, the larger the portable AC, the more noise it will make. But if the units are pretty much the same size and have the same internal technology, the noise level might increase by only 1 or 2 decibels (as noted, our research team analyzed specs of 1,500 portable ac units) for every 1000 or 2000 BTU increase.
Bigger isn’t always louder. For example, the LG 6000 and 7000 BTU portable ACs have the same noise level – a very quiet 51 decibels.
Noise level really depends on the compressor type.
A small portable air conditioner with a traditional compressor will be noisier than a large unit with inverter technology.
Top Quiet Portable Air Conditioners
Here’s the exciting part! We have done the research to produce a list of the quietest portable air conditioners available today that are also highly rated.
Quiet operation and quality that will last. It’s got to have those two things. What good is being quiet if it is junk?
So, these lowest decibel portable units will do a good job cooling and dehumidifying the space, and they run quietly enough to be used in a bedroom, office, nursery, library, etc.
Shopping Tip: What’s up with the different BTU ratings? We cover this topic in full detail on another page. But basically, portable air conditioners are not quite as effective as window air conditioners.
So, the US DOE came up with a different rating system for them in 2017. It is referred to as the DOE or SACC rating (or sometimes both – DOE SACC). When sizing a portable AC, use the DOE SACC rating. Sometimes you have to read the fine print to find it, but it is important.
Dreo TwinCool Inverter Portable Air Conditioner with Dual Hose (10,000 SACC)
This might be the quietest portable air conditioner available today at just 42 decibels, easily the quietest dual hose portable air conditioner. The low noise level is achieved with an inverter compressor and unique airflow technology. This Dreo TwinCool portable AC is highly rated too and has one of the largest BTU outputs for a portable type.
It has dual hoses, a feature that makes the unit about 40% more efficient than single-hose models. Note, just the old BTU rating is given at the top of the page, but later it is listed as 10,000 BTU by SACC standards.
The hose, at about 4 feet, is a little shorter than other portable air conditioner hoses.
Sound Level: 42-53 decibels
Efficiency, if known: Unavailable
Size & Coverage: 10,000 BTU, up to 450 square feet.
Features: Dual hose efficient design, full-function remote with I Sense sensor in the remote to ensure the air is comfortable at the remote (or where you are with the remote nearby), caster wheels for easy moving, 5 Modes – AC, Fan-only, Dehumidify, Auto and Sleep. Like most portable ACs, it is self-evaporative, so you likely won’t have to empty it – moisture is exhausted through the hose.
Weight: 73 pounds
Best Use: Bedroom, nursery, dorm room, tiny house, office, library. It might be large enough for a small apartment too with an open floor plan. Anywhere you want one of the quietest dual hose portable air conditioner units made today.
TOSOT Aolis Series BTU Portable Air Conditioner (8,000 BTU SACC)
The TOSOT brand is made by Gree, a respected manufacturer or HVAC systems including mini split heat pumps.
The Aolis Series is quiet and effective for cooling up to about 300 square feet. The literature says 450 square feet, but that would be using the old BTU rating, not the SACC 8,000 BTU rating.
Sound Level: 50-53 decibels
Efficiency, if known: N/A
Size & Coverage: 8,000 BTU for up to 350 square feet.
Features: AC/Fan/Sleep/Dry (dehumidifier) Modes, Removes up to 81 pints of water per day, Swing function distributes air in a 90-degree sweep. Self-evaporative, so most of the water is exhausted rather than filling the reservoir. 3 fans speeds plus Auto. 24-hour On/Off timer.
Weight: 76 pounds
Best Use: Medium-sized rooms, 20×16 for example. It is quiet enough for a bedroom, and is a good choice for offices, living rooms and where you don’t want noise impacting your ability to hear conversation or media playing.
LG Quiet Operation Portable AC (6000 BTU SACC)
Even when running at full power, this unit puts out only 53 decibels, and just 50 dB on low.
This small portable air conditioner with low noise output is a good choice in rooms around 250 square feet, or a room about 16×15 feet.
It is an evaporative portable AC, so there’s no tank to empty unless your climate is super-humid. This unit has good features that make it easy to use. Caster wheels and lightweight design make it easy to move from room to room. The LG model number is LG LP0621WSR
Sound Level: 50-53 decibels
Efficiency, if known: 6.51 CEER
Size & Coverage: 6,000 BTU. Up to 250 square feet.
Features: 2 Cooling and Fan settings. – larger portable air conditioners usually have 3 settings. AC/Dry/Fan-only Modes. Auto-swing louvers for better air circulation. Casters. LCD remote and 24-hour Timer.
Weight: 55 pounds
Best Use: Small bedrooms or a nursery.
LG Quiet Operation Portable AC (7000 BTU SACC)
This LG portable air conditioner is the next size up with the same noise levels – 50 decibels on low and 53 on high. That’s about as quiet as you can get for a portable AC with a traditional compressor, not an inverter unit.
LG is a highly rated brand, and this unit should operate durably for many years. It is designed to cool around 300 square feet.
Sound Level: 50 & 53 decibels
Efficiency, if known: 6.88 CEER
Size & Coverage: 7000 BTU, up to 250 square feet.
Features: AC/Dry/Fan-only modes. The Dry mode on a portable AC removes moisture without cooling the air. It’s a good option for cool, clammy days when you want less humidity but don’t want to chill the air. 24-hour Timer. Remote. Casters for moving.
Weight: 57 pounds
Best Use: Medium-sized bedrooms, home office.
De’Longhi Pinguino Portable AC (6700 BTU SACC)
This is an excellent small quiet portable air conditioner, and it is very quiet at 53 decibels.
But its online information demonstrates the problem with using the outdated BTU ratings, which for this one is 11,500 BTU.
The SACC ratings are 6,700, a much more accurate rating. But the information says it will cool up to 500 square feet (based on the old ratings). There is no way this unit will serve that much space.
As long as you understand that, and only expect this unit to cool about 200-250 square feet, then it will serve you well.
Sound Level: 53 decibels on Low setting
Efficiency, if known: 7.3 SEER, which is about half the efficiency of the least-efficient central air conditioners. This is not the most efficient model on our list, but it is good-quality and will perform well for many years.
Size & Coverage: 6,700 BTU, up to 250 square feet.
Features: Quiet setting for lowest-noise output. Just keep in mind that it won’t cool as powerfully on that setting. Remote and 24-hour Timer. 3 Modes – AC, Fan-only and Dry. Caster wheels and handles make it easy to move.
Shopping tip: De’Longhi makes a universal exhaust hose cover that makes the unit more efficient by preventing heat from escaping back into your living space before it can be vented. It will improve any portable air conditioner’s efficiency and make your room more comfortable too.
Weight: 63 pounds.
Best Use: Small spaces – a small bedroom, office or den. Room sizes 15×16, 20×12 and similar.
hOmelabs Portable AC (10,000 BTU SACC)
This is one of the quietest portable air conditioners in its size with lowest decibel operating noise of 51 decibels.
hOmelabs, with the strange spelling, is a newer brand, and it makes high-quality appliances.
Sound Level: 51-53 decibels
Efficiency, if known: 6.8 CEER – one of the most efficient portable air conditioners on this list.
Size & Coverage: Using the 10,000 BTU SACC rating, this unit will cool up to 400 square feet.
Features: Convenient Remote, Wheels, 4 Modes – AC/Auto/Fan/Dry, Dirty Filter indicator light lets you know when it is time for cleaning. Auto-swing function distributes air evenly. A drain hose is included, but this unit is self-evaporative, so most of the moisture will be vented out the window. Casters make this floor air conditioner easy to move.
Weight: 73 pounds
Best Use: Rooms around 20×20 or 25×16. It is quiet enough for most people to be able to sleep with it running.
How to Make a Portable AC Quieter
Running the AC on its lowest setting is the best way to make a portable air conditioner quieter – but of course, the trade-off is less cooling power when it is on low.
Sleep and Eco modes are also quieter modes. All those options run the unit at a lower speed, and thus quieter.
If you are handy, you can take the outer cabinet off of the AC and use insulation materials – foam, cork tape, fiberglass batts – to do two things:
1 – Dampen the noise
2 – Stop vibrations
This video sounds weird with the digitally produced voice, but it does show how this can be done. The video is for a central AC, but the same materials and concepts can be used for how to make a portable AC quieter.
Here are a few more good tips for how to make a portable air conditioner run quieter:
1 – Place it on carpet, which absorbs vibrations and lowers the noise (if all your floors are hard surfaces, then get a carpet square or small throw rug, or fold up a towel or blanket to place the AC on. It will have the same effect.
2 – Wrap a blanket around the AC. The thicker the blanket, the more sound it will absorb. Just DON’T block airflow, or you will stop cooled air from getting into your living space. You might need a roll of duct tape to keep the blanket in place.
Quieter Alternatives to a Portable AC
Generally speaking, the quietest portable air conditioners and window air conditioners have similar noise levels. Those with inverter compressors, either window ACs or portable ACs, will be quieter.
Window ACs – Keep this in mind. The noise-making part of a window AC is partly outside the window, so while the unit might make the same noise level as a portable air conditioner, it usually isn’t as loud indoors.
Units like the Midea U-Shaped window air conditioner are the best in this regard. The window sash comes down between the two sides of the AC, so there is even more insulation against compressor noise.
If you need air conditioning, then there really isn’t a good alternative. Of course, you could upgrade the HVAC system to a mini split AC or heat pump, but they start at more than $2,000 for a single zone system.
Otherwise, fans and evaporative coolers can help reduce how hot the room feels. But they aren’t as effective as air conditioning.