The 5 Best Portable Air Conditioners to Help You Get Through Summer |

The 5 Best Portable Air Conditioners to Help You Get Through Summer

THERE’S NO ELOQUENT way to say this: it’s hot as hell outside. If sweat isn’t already seeping from your pores just reading that, trust us, it will. On those oppressively, exhaustingly, disgustingly hot days, we know the last thing you want to do is, well, anything. And if your landlord has cruelly disallowed all window units for fear of pedestrian-squishing lawsuits, nothing might be exactly what you’ll be doing all summer.

Thankfully, even if central AC and old-school window units aren’t options where you live, there are some really great portable air conditioner alternatives. They keep their cool (and yours) just like their more traditional counterparts, but roll out of the way to let fresh air in when you need it. And there are models available for all budgets and levels of tech-obsession.

Read more: Best Wearable Air Conditioners

Best Portable Air Conditioners

What to Consider

British Thermal Units (BTUs)

The main factor you’ll want to consider when shopping for an air conditioner—be it a portable/standing option or an in-window unit—is the BTU, which measures the cooling capacity. “BTU” stands for “British Thermal Units.” That’s the amount of energy required to raise one pound of water by 1°F. Basically, it tells you how powerful the A/C unit is. Depending on how many square feet you want to cool, BTU ranges can vary. But, higher is not always better.

Your first instinct might be to go for the highest BTU available, but you may end up using more energy than needed (and we all know you don’t need a higher energy bill). So be sure to look at how many square feet a model will cool down within an hour and how it compares to the area of the room you’re shopping for.

Read more: Best Wearable Air Conditioners


Most decent portable air conditioners are truly portable, relying on built-in casters to move them freely from room to room. All of the models we recommended have casters.

Smart Home Features

Most budget to midrange portable ACs are “dumb” models with basic control panels and remotes. Modern premium models (typically north of $500) usually offer built-in smart home features, so they integrate seamlessly with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and other smart home systems. This allows you to program and control the unit from virtually anywhere, via a smartphone app or voice control.

Read more: Best Smart Home Devices


Some portable ACs include minor accessories or features like cord storage, a remote control, or smartphone-enabled app compatibility.


Prices of portable air conditioners vary widely. Evaporative coolers (like the Honeywell 120 CFM Portable Evaporative Cooler above) are available for between $100-$150, although these aren’t true air conditioners. Decent standing ACs typically start at $300 or more, with the best models topping $500. They aren’t cheap, but in our experience, this is one home appliance where you get what you pay for.

How We Selected

Our cool-loving editors and staffers researched, compared, and personally tested dozens of best-selling portable air conditioners over the last year. We included models from well-known brands and top-rated options with stellar buyer reviews on the etailer websites we trust most (like Amazon, Walmart, and Home Depot). We considered every feature and spec, including efficiency, noise level, ease of setup, user-friendliness, smart home features, overall dimensions, price, and more. The list ahead represents our honest picks of the best portable air conditioners of 2024.

Duo 12,000 BTU Ultra Quiet Portable Air Conditioner


Midea Duo 12,000 BTU Ultra Quiet Portable Air Conditioner

Now 15% Off


  • Even, powerful cooling output
  • Quieter than most other models
  • Great smart home integration
  • Easy to setup
  • A little pricey

In many of our tests of standing air conditioners—even the best portable air conditioners—this year, we found most to be very similar. But Midea’s Duo 12,000 BTU model sets itself apart from the pack with better cooling (thanks largely to its high-BTU output) that was more evenly distributed across our test room. Surprisingly, even given its sky-high output (for a portable/standing AC), it’s also among the quietest we tested. It consistently ranked below normal conversation level, providing a nice, ambient white noise that we enjoyed falling asleep to.

This model also boasts many of the smart features you’d expect in a portable air conditioner at this price point. That includes things like seamless integration with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa straight out of the box, allowing you to program or set the unit from just about anywhere. Plus, we like the included remote control that offers more features than most other premium models. It’s a little pricey, but given the long list of features and best-in-class efficiency, it’s still our pick for the best overall portable air conditioner of 2024.

Read more: Best Tower Fans

Maximum Cooling Area450 sq. ft.
Dimensions16.73 x 19.53 x 34.48 inches
Weight72.8 pounds

Dual Inverter Portable Air Conditioner


LG Electronics Dual Inverter Portable Air Conditioner


  • Consistent and efficient cooling output
  • Great smart home integration
  • Easy to setup and use
  • Sleek design
  • Noise output is awkward

This dual-inverter portable air conditioner from LG get high marks for all the same reasons as our best overall pick from Midea above. The 10,000-BTU output is plenty capable of cooling down rooms up to 500 square feet. In our tests, we found this unit to be both consistent and efficient at keeping even a medium-sized room very comfortable.

Setup is dead-simple thanks to the built-in hose at the top, and we found it to be very user-friendly with a simple, intuitive remote and excellent smart home integration features (including Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant), courtesy of LG’s own LG Thin App which controls every last feature and setting from your smartphone or via voice control.

Our only minor gripe is the sound output. It’s slightly louder than the Midea, and the pitch is an unusual “off/on” that almost sounds like this AC is “breathing.” It may not bother some buyers, but it’s something our testers couldn’t help but notice.

The only reason this portable AC isn’t our top pick is that it’s more than $100 above the Midea model above.

Read more: Best Window Air Conditioners

Maximum Cooling Area500 sq. ft.
Dimensions19.41 x 30.43 x 18.11 inches
Weight71 pounds

14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner


BLACK+DECKER 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

Now 33% Off


  • 14,000 BTU max pumps air like no other
  • Efficient cooling
  • Dead-simple design
  • Basic remote with programmable timer
  • Can be loud when set to high power
  • Expensive if you are looking to only fill tiny spaces

Black + Decker might be better known for affordable toasters and coffee makers. But its portable air conditioners are awesome too. This powerful model offers many of the same features of our most premium picks, including a beefy 14,000-BTU output that’s capable of cooling up to 700 square feet (one of the largest in our roundup) at a price that’s lower than almost any other in this class.

The trade-off with is that it is louder than most, one of the loudest we tested in fact. That may not be an issue if you’re planning to set it up somewhere out of the way, like the corner of a large living room or basement. But it won’t go unnoticed in a bedroom. It also lacks the polish of our top picks with a cheap, plasticky feel all around, from the AC unit itself to the basic remote that feels like an afterthought.

Still, it’s more than $100 cheaper than many of the most premium freestanding AC models. If budget is your main concern, this Amazon best-seller is definitely worth a look. If this model is too much for your needs, it’s also available in several outputs as low as 8,000 BTU.

Read more: Best Air Purifiers

Maximum Cooling Area700 sq. ft.
Dimensions17.1 x 28.1 x 13.8 inches
Weight59.8 pounds

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13,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner


Frigidaire 13,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner


  • Ultra-quiet operation
  • Consistent, efficient cooling
  • Plenty of smart home features
  • Lackluster window installation kit

It’s no secret that air conditioners—both window and free-standing models—tend to be loud. If you’re sensitive to such noise, especially in a bedroom, Frigidaire’s 13,000 BTU portable AC is for you. It’s our pick for the quietest model of the year, running at least a few decibels below our top pick from Midea above. A few decibels might not seem like much, but it can make all the difference if you’re planning to set this up where you sleep.

This model was also incredibly efficient at not just keeping our test room cool, but also at circulating the air efficiently. We found it to be well above average at maintaining a consistent temperature throughout our test room.

It boasts many of the smart home integration features you’d expect in a premium AC that costs nearly $600. However, we found the setup to be lacking, even frustrating at times. Likewise with the window installation kit which isn’t as great as others we’ve tested. If quiet is your main reason for buying, however, this is the model for you.

Maximum Cooling Area600 sq. ft.
Dimensions16.54 x 19.40 x 31.34 Inches
Weight62 pounds

5,000 BTU Smart Portable Air Conditioner


TCL 5,000 BTU Smart Portable Air Conditioner


  • Great for small spaces
  • Excellent price point
  • Under 40 pounds
  • Decent remote and app connectivity
  • Louder than most (especially on high)

In our experience, we’ve found that you typically get what you pay for when it comes to portable air conditioners. This budget-friendly model from TCL isn’t as flashy or good overall as our top picks. But it is considerably cheaper at less than $300 delivered.

The 5000-BTU output is on the low side—enough to cool a 150 square foot room (like a bedroom or small living room). While it’s reasonably quiet (not much louder than a box fan), it is louder than other premium models we tested. However, that’s largely due to the “throw” of this model, or how far it pushes cool air into the room. It was better than most at filling our test room with nice cool air.

This model does include a basic, easy-to-use remote. But we were surprised that it also has built-in WiFi connectivity to control the unit via voice or the smartphone app.

Maximum Cooling Area150 sq. ft.
Dimensions26.6 X 11 X 11.4 inches
Weight38.36 pounds
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Setup and Care of Your Portable Air Conditioner

In some ways, setting up a freestanding or portable air conditioner is easier than with a window-mounted unit. Roll (or lug) it close to a window, and collapse as many of the ribbed hose segments as possible to make the hose short and maximize your AC’s efficiency.

Use basic foam stripping (available at any hardware or home improvement store) to insulate the window, window frame, and AC vent panel. The key is to prevent as much warm/outside air from seeping through the cracks as possible.

Most portable air conditioners require minimal maintenance. Simply empty the water reservoir (if applicable) as necessary, and be sure to clean the filter at least once a month to keep it operating efficiently.

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How Powerful Should My Air Conditioner Be?

For most average rooms, 8,000 BTU is sufficient—especially if the unit has a good efficiency rating and isn’t battling the sun all day. If your air conditioner is too large, it will short-cycle, meaning it will chill the air in the room without providing time to dehumidify the space. The result: a room that’s cold and clammy. They don’t call them “air conditioners” for nothing. Removing the moisture from the air is an important part of an AC’s job.

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How Much Should I Spend on an Air Conditioner?

On the other hand, a tiny unit will work overtime trying to fight rising temps, and the money you saved in the department store will be spent on your electric bill. You’ll also be lucky to squeeze more than a year or two from an overtaxed window unit. Remember that the cost of air-conditioning a room is in the amount of time the compressor spends working, not in the tiny motor that drives the fan.

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