Stay cool, calm, and collected with these portable air conditioners.

By Brittany Loggins
June 23, 2020
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Summertime has arrived—along with sweltering heat and uncomfortable humidity. If you're suddenly finding that the garage, basement, or attic space that you've been using as a home office or gym is getting a little musty or feels like a sauna (and not in a good way), it may be time to invest in a portable air conditioner.

But why go for a portable unit over a window air conditioner? For starters, it can be moved from room to room—or around one large room (like a bedroom or living room)—as long as it's near a ventilation source, such as a window or sliding glass door. If you don't have a space large enough for a window unit or if you're not keen on having one monopolize your window space or sill, a portable air conditioner is ideal. You can also avoid installation headaches and handyman fees since they don't need to be installed into the window—plus, they can be stuffed into a closet at the end of summer to free up precious space. (Related: The 6 Best Dehumidifiers to Keep Summertime Humidity at Bay)

There are two main types of portable air conditioners: single and dual hose. A single-hose AC vents hot air out through a single exhaust source, while the dual-hose AC uses one hose to vent and one to pull in air to be cooled—which will help cool the air faster and is perfect if you're trying to cool a larger space or a studio apartment. Also great? The dual hose is better for removing condensation along with the hot air, which helps decrease humidity within your home.

Another thing to pay attention to? Filters. Many air conditioners come with a reusable and washable pre-filter, which will grab all of the large particles like a magnet. Some units come with activated carbon and 3M filters, which help to filter out smaller particles like dust, lint, smoke, and even mold. And more advanced filters come with a built-in air purifier, which is super beneficial for those with allergies or asthma. (Related: The 7 Best Air Purifiers to Keep Your Home Clean)

Lastly, you'll want to take into consideration the unit's British Thermal Unit (or BTU), which refers to the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of a pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. The larger the room or the more space you have, the more BTU's you need.

Ready to shop for a unit to keep your space cool and refreshed during the hot months ahead? Here, the best portable air conditioners, according to customer reviews.

Best Mini Portable Air Conditioner: EvaPolar evaChill Portable Air Conditioner

HOME DEPOT

This 3-in-1 device cools, humidifies, and cleans the dust particles from air to make your office, home gym, or kitchen feel a lot healthier. It uses evaporative technology to cool your space (up to 45 square feet), has an enlarged water tank so it can function up to nine hours, and is leak-proof, so you'll never have to worry about any water damage to your home. Plus, the nano cartridge is made from mineral fibers that keep bacteria and mold from growing inside. It's so small that it can easily fit on your desk, nightstand, or kitchen counter.

One reviewer raved: "Love this little air conditioner! It is very easy to use and compact. It comes with a usb cord to plug into your computer - anywhere with a USB port. It has one button at top that you control by pressing short one, two or three for power speed and one long to turn off. I have it facing me while working on my computer. Love the air. Much better than a traditional fan that blows everything around. This gently blows cool air and if it also humidifies the air even better! I can see this in the car too! or even on your night table."

Best Cheap Portable Air Conditioner: LG Electronics Portable Air Conditioner

HOME DEPOT

Priced drastically lower than other models on the market, this cost-effective 3-in-1 air conditioner still manages to cool down smaller spaces up to 200 square feet. Acting as an AC unit, dehumidifier, and fan, it boasts two fan speeds, two cooling speeds, a nifty timer, a washable mesh filter, an auto-swing air vent, and easy-to-roll wheels, making moving it from room to room a breeze.

"This AC works great! Easy Set Up! My room is very cold, not cool but “cold within 15mins at the lowest setting and highest speed and it’s 81degrees 35% humidity outside today! I totally recommend this AC! Just make sure BTU are correct for your space! I got 10,200 works great for my small upstairs bedroom remember the bigger the space the more BTU you should get for full performance!" wrote a shopper.

Best Quiet Portable Air Conditioner: Emerson Quiet Kool

AMAZON

Ideal for light sleepers and even nurseries, this portable unit operates very quietly, thanks to the fact that it's a single-hose unit and uses high efficient compressors and motors to help reduce noise. It has 8,000 BTUs—which is good for around 200 square feet of space—and also includes a reusable washable filter. It sits on wheels so it's easier to move around within your home.

"This is an overall excellent product. Easy to install, very quiet, works great, looks good. What else could one want. Would give 6 stars if allowed," shared a customer.

Buy It: Emerson Quiet Kool, $360, amazon.com

Best for Small Rooms: Costway Portable Air Conditioner

AMAZON

Perfect for bedrooms, offices, and other small rooms, this 10,000 BTU air conditioner includes a quick-install window kit for exhausting the unit through any horizontal or vertical opening window. It has two-way up and down air deflection to circulate air evenly to get rid of hot spots, a 24-hour programmable timer, and a sleeping mode to create a quiet, peaceful environment while you snooze.

One reviewer raved: "I've been using this air conditioner for about a week now. So far, it's great! I'm very happy about this purchase. It was easy to remove from the box & easy to set up. I also like how you can direct the air up, down, left, and right. A lot of others I've seen just have a vent on top of the machine. The remote is a nice bonus too. I'm using it in a small apartment to cool the living room, but the cool air even reaches the kitchen area."

Best for Large Spaces: Black + Decker BPACT14HWT Portable Air Conditioner with Heat

AMAZON

This big guy boasts a whopping 14,000 BTUs, making it perfect for larger spaces, and it comes with a remote control so that you can easily set the temperature from across the room. Other perks: It has a reusable filter, a self-evaporating operation (great for draining condensation since it's only a single-hose machine), and it acts as a dehumidifier to reduce humidity in your home. But the best part is that it not only cools your home, but also doubles as a heater, making it ideal if you're looking for a year-round heating and cooling solution. Amazon reviewers love it so much that it's maintained a solid four-star rating.

"This is one nice machine! It does everything as advertised. Very happy with the A/C cooling more than expected. The dehumidifier is excellent!! Have not used the heater but I ran it to test it and it is definitely going to work for taking the chill off the room it is in. I have used the fan a lot as the temps have come down. Not too noisy and the filter is easy to clean," shared a customer.

Best Smart Option: Midea Smart 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner

AMAZON

Functioning as an air conditioner, dehumidifier, and fan, this unit has 10,000 BTUs and can cool spaces up to 500 square feet. But the coolest part is that it's Wifi-enabled, so you can switch modes or set a timer from anywhere using the app on your smartphone. Plus, it can also be controlled with voice commands once you pair your unit with Alexa or Google Assistant, so you don't have to even mess with a remote.

"I love this air conditioner! It is relatively quiet, it's not silent, but it creates less noise than other A/C units I own and have owned. The wifi option is great! Easy to set up and use. I love that the front closes up when you turn it off so it doesn't collect dust. My favorite part is that you can turn off all the lights on the display so they don't light up your room when you are trying to sleep!!! I've always had to cover other displays to get rid of the light," said a buyer.

Best Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner: Whynter ARC-14S Portable Air Conditioner

AMAZON

Designed with dual hoses to faster cooling, this portable air conditioner has three functions—air conditioner, fan, and dehumidifier—to help you stay comfortable indoors when temps skyrocket outside. It features 14,000 BTUs (great for large apartments or studios), a washable pre-filter and an activated carbon filter to improve the air quality in your home, and an auto drain button that fully exhausts all condensation automatically (so there's no bucket to empty).

"I wish I had known about dual hose air conditioners like this one when I bought my first one," wrote a shopper. "The dual hose cools faster and is more efficient than the single hose style. This model was super easy to install and the quality seems to be excellent."

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