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If you’re shopping for the best outdoor air conditioner, you’ll want to start by reviewing the CFM rating and maximum square footage to compare it against the square footage of the area you wish to cool. You’ll also want to think about the water tank capacity, and whether it supports continuous fill. Continuous fill eliminates the need to manually refill your water tank but often comes at a premium. Also think about whether your AC unit offers additional features such as fan oscillation, low water indicators, and additional fan or cooling speeds. Also, think about whether you can improve cooling power by adding ice to your water tank.
After conducting thorough research through countless consumer reviews, we nominated the Luma Comfort EC110S outdoor air conditioner as our Top Pick. Keep reading to learn more about our selection criteria and to review our recommendations for the best air conditioners for every need.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: A mobile AC unit with a 500 CFM rating that’s 75% more efficient than standard models with fan oscillation makes it the best outdoor portable air conditioner.
Portable air conditioners and evaporative air coolers can be ideal for hot summer days spent on your patio or for people who live in drier climates where a traditional central air conditioner or window air conditioner wouldn’t make sense. The Luma Comfort EC110S is in our opinion the best outdoor portable air conditioner from our research thanks to its relatively slim design and cooling coverage. You’ll get 500 CFMs which is strong enough to cool up to 250 square feet.
We like that this model features fan oscillation for increased comfort. At just 16.2 pounds when empty, this is one of the lighter options we discovered. That makes it ideal for a variety of people to use, including seniors who might struggle with heavier air conditioners. You’ll like that this AC unit is 75% more energy-efficient than a standard air conditioner. However, with a 1.76-gallon water tank capacity, you may find yourself refilling this pick frequently if you’re running it throughout the day. For your camping needs consider purchasing the best portable ac for camping.
Related: Check out other options from our best LG air conditioner buying guide.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: A slim portable air conditioner that’s best for personal use in smaller spaces like office cubicles thanks to the 312.37 CFM rating and its three cooling and three fan speeds.
If you’re trying to create cold air in a smaller space, many of the larger evaporative coolers aren’t going to be a good fit for you. But the NewAir AF-310 is a slim, compact portable air conditioner solution that’s best for small spaces like studios, she-sheds, and office cubicles. With 312.37 CFMs and a maximum distance of 100 square feet, this is one of the smallest air conditioners in terms of coverage capacity. This is why we think this is best for cooling your personal space.
But we do like that you get three cooling and three fan speeds with this swamp cooler. You’ll also appreciate that this is a tower design that measures 12.63 inches deep, 11.68 inches wide, and 34.5 inches tall. You’ll also get a sleek control panel and accompanying remote that can toggle between fan and evaporative cooling modes, adjust the speeds and even allow for swing functionality. This helps to change the airflow direction for increased comfort. There’s also a programmable timer mode. Note that some units like the best dual hose portable air conditioner use a carbon filter for improved airflow.
Award: BEST QUALITY
“WHY WE LIKE IT: A powerful evaporative cooler that can cover up to 500 square feet with a 1,300 CFM rating, and a light 16-pound weight when empty makes this the best air conditioner for outdoor use.
A common complaint with swamp coolers is that they can be cumbersome to move around — especially when they’re full. We like the Hessaire MC18M because we believe it’s the best air conditioner for outdoor use. This indoor and outdoor evaporative cooler can be placed outdoors either under a covered porch or a tent. But it can also withstand direct exposure to sunlight thanks to UV resistance. This pick can cool up to 500 square feet and has a 4.8-gallon water tank.
Note that it’s only 16 pounds when empty, making it one of the most lightweight options we discovered in our research. You’ll also get 1,300 CFM and two cooling and two fan speeds. Even though the water tank features a level indicator and casters for portability, this option doesn’t include other popular options like a programmable timer, or fan oscillation. However, you do get the option for continuous fill if you connect it to a water source via a single hose for added convenience. And with a maximum noise output of 53.4 dB, this is relatively quiet for an air conditioner. You’ll also get automatic overheat protection. Other quiet units are like the best tower air conditioners.
Award: BEST ON A BUDGET
WHY WE LIKE IT: A portable outdoor air conditioner for high humidity that prioritizes a misting mode with 90-degree pivoting movement to keep you cool on even the hottest days.
Depending on your needs, a traditional evaporative cooler may not be a priority. For people who live in humid conditions, evaporative coolers aren’t especially effective since they add humidity rather than remove it. But for outdoors, a mister can be a great solution. We think the Lasko 7050 is a great portable air conditioner for high humidity outdoor events. This straightforward appliance features three sprayers that can create a continuous mist to keep you and your guests cool.
You’ll get three speeds and the confidence that it will reduce the air temperature by up to 25 degrees Fahrenheit. The misting cooler offers a 90-degree pivot and automatic louvers for a wider sweep. While it’s weather, UV, and rust-resistant, this isn’t a true outdoor air conditioner but is considered more of a fan with adjustable louvers. Still, this model comes with additional misting nozzles so you can control the flow if you prefer a gentler mode. You can also precisely control the airflow with the best window air conditioner that has four-way air deflection.
Award: BEST AREA COVERAGE
WHY WE LIKE IT: A powerful AC unit with 1,540 CFMs to cover up to 850 square feet thanks to a 15.9-gallon water tank makes this one of the best portable air conditioners.
Whether you’re throwing a massive backyard party or trying to cool a large interior workspace, the Honeywell CO60PM is up to the challenge. We think it’s one of the best portable air conditioners for people in drier climates because it offers an impressive 1,540 CFMs that’s rated to cool spaces as large as 850 square feet. With a 15.9-gallon water tank, you’ll have plenty of capacity to stay cool for extended periods.
Note that this swamp cooler also supports continuous flow with a single hose connected to a water source. So, once it’s connected to a water source, you don’t need to worry about constantly refilling the unit. We like that this air cooler is weatherproof and water-resistant thanks to the UV resistant materials. And the triple-sided honeycomb design helps to improve airflow for increased comfort in multiple directions. However, with a weight of 41 pounds when empty, this unit — even with caster wheels — can be heavy to move when the tank is full. A more portable indoor option is the best portable air conditioner for RVs.
Award: BEST FOR COMMERCIAL USE
WHY WE LIKE IT: A powerful evaporative cooler that can work in a variety of climates with a powerful 1,650 CFM rating and the ability to cool up to 650 square feet makes it ideal for warehouses, workshops, and other industrial uses.
When you work in a warehouse, factory, or even an auto garage, you know that even if you have a central air conditioner installed, that doesn’t always mean that it’s efficient at keeping all areas of your workspace cool. If this sounds familiar, then the Luma Comfort EC220W AC unit is a great portable air conditioner that offers a powerful 1,650 CFMs that can effectively cool up to 650 square feet.
This larger unit has a five-gallon water tank and features a two-in-one evaporative cooler and tower fan so you can easily shift between cool and fan modes. You’ll get three fan speeds and fan oscillation for increased comfort. The removable water tank can be easily refilled but does not support continuous fill. We liked that this model also comes with an air filter to improve air quality. Speaking of filters, you’ll need to reset the filter on your A/C when it indicates this to you, especially if you want to keep it running smoothly. Note though, that this model weighs 41.9 pounds when it’s empty. You could find some lighter indoor units from the best central air conditioners.
Award: BEST FOR MEDIUM-SIZED SPACES
WHY WE LIKE IT: A relatively lightweight AC unit that can cool up to 300 square feet and can be filled with ice for faster cooling, proving it’s one of the best outdoor air conditioners for patios.
For people who want a portable air conditioner that can pull double duty, this indoor-outdoor solution from Honeywell is a great option. We think it’s one of the best outdoor air conditioners for patios thanks to the 500 CFM rating that can efficiently move air in spaces as large as 300 square feet. The Honeywell CO25AE has a 6.6-gallon water tank but unfortunately doesn’t support continuous fill. But, check out our Honeywell 525 729CFM evaporative cooler review for an A/C unit with a 7.9-gallon water tank.
Still, you’ll get a removable washable dust filter, and in addition to water, you can also add ice for faster cooling. Choose from three fan speeds and you can rest easy knowing that this AC unit comes with a remote, a timer, and a low water alarm to remind you when it’s time to refill the water tank. We like that this unit is only 25.8 pounds when empty. While that’s not the lightest option we found, it’s a reasonable size that most people should be able to easily move when the appliance is empty. However, this pick has one of the higher noise outputs we found at 64 decibels. A quieter indoor option for your home is the best air conditioner for sliding windows.
Award: BEST POWER
WHY WE LIKE IT: The best outdoor air conditioner for humid climates, especially for garages and workshops that lack a central air conditioner thanks to the continuous fill, and a CFM range from 2,400 to 3,000.
Anyone who’s ever worked in a garage or workshop that isn’t climate controlled knows that it can get uncomfortable very quickly once the weather gets warmer. The Portacool PAC2KCYC01 is in our opinion the best outdoor air conditioner for humid climates. This air conditioning unit is designed for spaces as large as 700 square feet. It’s an industrial-quality swamp cooler that can reach up to 3,000 CFMs at maximum speed. At the lowest speed, it has an output of 2,400 CFM.
The 16-gallon water tank is also designed to support continuous fill with a single hose. We like that this model features a rust- and leak-resistant polyethylene exterior. Unlike the Breezewell 2-in-1 space heater and evaporative air cooler, you only get two fan speeds. But, this pick does come with a water level sight tube so you can check water levels if you prefer to manually refill your unit. However, due to the heavier weight at 107.8 pounds when empty, this is an option that requires two people to move and reposition it. A more portable indoor unit is the best portable air conditioner and heater.
Award: BEST COMPACTDESIGN
WHY WE LIKE IT: A simple portable AC unit that covers up to 300 square feet, and has a 1,000 CFM rating, along with compact dimensions, handles, and recessed casters that make it easy to reposition.
A common complaint with evaporative coolers is that they can be annoying to move and reposition. So, while this Portacool PACCYC06 is in the mid-range for weight at 50 pounds when empty, we still think it’s a great portable option because it has relatively compact dimensions, recessed castors, and dual handles for better control.
This pick measures 19 inches wide, 19 inches long, and 35 inches tall. So, it’s ideal for moving into smaller spaces or in corners. You’ll get a 1,000-CFM rating which is ideal for cooling spaces as large as 300 square feet. You’ll appreciate that this pick supports continuous fill thanks to a ¾-inch water hose connection. We also like that the polyethylene exterior means this pick is also rust and leak-resistant. However, as is somewhat common with evaporative coolers, this pick is not ideal for people who live in truly humid climates. But if you live in drier climates where the humidity levels are relatively low, you will need the best evaporative air conditioner.
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Award: BEST CONTROLS
WHY WE LIKE IT: A sturdy evaporative cooler with a straightforward control panel that only weighs 29.32 pounds when empty, and has 1,062 CFMs — making it a great supplement option for less effective central air conditioners.
If you prefer a swamp cooler that has an easy-to-use interface, then the SPT SD-48LB is a great option. This easy-to-use evaporative cooler has a control panel that’s reminiscent of a traditional air conditioner, making it easy for anyone to quickly adapt to it. You’ll get a 1,062-CFM rating which we believe should be ideal for spaces between 300 to 450 square feet. However, the brand doesn’t rate its evaporative coolers for square footage.
We also like that this unit only weighs 29.32 pounds when it’s empty. This puts it in the more lightweight category and makes it ideal for a wider range of people to use including the elderly. Other key features we liked included the 3D honeycomb cooling pad which helps to reduce the air temperature faster. You also get auto swing adjustable louvers and support for continuous water supply with the 12.6-gallon water tank. Other key features include three fan speeds, a timer that can be programmed for up to 7.5 hours, and a sleep mode. And for a self-cleaning, eco, and follow-me mode indoor unit, have a look at the best ductless mini-split air conditioner.
Outdoor air conditioners are often also known as portable air conditioners, evaporative coolers, and swamp coolers. To create our guide, we looked at the following key features — water tank capacity, size, CFM ratings, and additional features. All of the outdoor coolers in our guide are promoted as portable options. But you’ll note that the size varies widely from as small as 16 pounds to well over 100 pounds.
Determining the water tank capacity is essential as it will impact how frequently you’ll need to refill it if you plan on running the air conditioning for long periods. You’ll note that water tank capacity tends to increase as the overall weight of a unit increases. In our guide tank capacities ranged from as low as five gallons to as much as 16 gallons. And we also noted where continuous fill — the ability to connect a hose to a water tank for constant water refill — was supported.
We also considered the CFM and square footage. As a general guide, CFM and square footage correspond with each other. A low CFM is best for smaller spaces while a higher CFM rating is ideal for larger areas. And finally, we considered additional features such as programmability, fan oscillation, or remote controls that can help to make a product more intuitive and easier to use.