How We Ranked the 3 Best Portable Air Conditioners

True Score Methodology

v1.5

169,780

Reviews Analyzed

Updated Jun 21, 2024 3:48 PM

Table of Contents

best portable air conditioner guide that shows the top best air conditioner model

A whopping 75% of electronic and appliance reviews are untrustworthy. That’s why every reviewer gets a Trust Rating so our True Score System filters out the fake reviews. See how we do it.

It can be frustrating to install window AC units. You have to move these heavy models and lift them in place every year. They also block your window view. That’s why many choose portable air conditioners. Our buying guide focuses on models that offer efficient cooling, easy mobility, and energy efficiency. Out of over 22 air conditioners evaluated, we identify the three top air conditioners.

Our process involves analyzing 169,780 reviews and certifying tested units, with our proprietary and scientific True Score filtering out fake and low-quality reviews. The selected models impress in cooling speed, energy efficiency, and quiet operation, proving their value for your comfort and convenience.

How Did We Rank the Best Portable Air Conditioners?

In compiling our guide for the best portable air conditioners, we leveraged insights from over 200 websites, analyzing their testing methods and expert reviews. Customer feedback played a crucial role in identifying what truly matters. We focused on 3 nice-to-have features and 1 critical specification. This robust methodology underpins our True Score system, delivering a precise ranking that helps you make an informed purchase decision.

Our commitment to unbiased reviews is powered by our ‘True Score’ system, targeting low quality and fake reviews. When you shop through our links, you’re backing our mission. Dive deeper to see how.

?️ Minimum Specifications

  • Must be portable.

? “Nice To Haves”

  • Operating Noise: Less than 55dB.
  • Power Draw: The unit draws less than 1 kWh of power during normal operation.
  • Cooling Speed: The unit should be capable of cooling a properly sized room by at least one degree every five minutes.

Latest Updates

  • 06/21/2024: Republished the list to include the best portable air conditioners based on our True Score system.

Top Portable Air Conditioners For 2024

Prices accurate at the time of publishing

See how we test the testers

  • Runner Up

    Best Value

    Best Budget

    gr recommended award

    Best Mid-Range

    Whynter ARC-1230WN

    • Best For Portable

    The Whynter ARC-1230WN is energy-efficient, with a low power draw of 1.24 kWh, fast cooling speed, and a quiet 56.2 dB operation. Its wireless connectivity adds convenience and flexibility.

    Whynter ARC-1230WN Review →

    True Score

    82
    81
    3

    Experts

    86
    98

    Customers

    SAVE $59
    $632.50
    $573.99

    Snapshot

    Reasons to Buy

    • Powerful cooling
    • Satisfactory noise level
    • Wi-Fi connectivity and convenient controls

    Reasons to Avoid

    • Heavy build and dim display
    • No heater

    Specifications

    Airflow RateAirflow Rate388 CFM
    App CompatibleApp CompatibleYes
    Auto Shut-OffAuto Shut-OffYes
    BTU Cooling RatingBTU Cooling Rating14,000 BTU/hr
    Cord LengthCord Length6"
    DepthDepth16.75"
    Energy Efficiency RatioEnergy Efficiency Ratio10.7
    Energy Star CertifiedEnergy Star CertifiedNo
    Form FactorForm FactorPortable
    HeightHeight32.5"
    Integrated HeaterIntegrated HeaterNo
    Max Window Opening HeightMax Window Opening Heightn/a
    Max Window Opening WidthMax Window Opening Widthn/a
    Min Window Opening HeightMin Window Opening Heightn/a
    Min Window Opening WidthMin Window Opening Widthn/a
    Number Of Cool SettingsNumber Of Cool Settings1
    Number of Fan SpeedsNumber of Fan Speeds3
    Recommended Room SizeRecommended Room Size600 sq ft
    Remote ControlRemote ControlYes
    Sleep ModeSleep ModeNo
    TimerTimerYes
    WeightWeight77 lbs
    WidthWidth19.5"
    Wireless ConnectivityWireless ConnectivityVoice Assistant, Wi-Fi

    All Specs

    Test Results

    Cooling Speed (minutes per degree)5
    Operating Noise (dB)56
    Power Draw (kWh)1
    Wind Speed (mph)0

    All Retailers

    • $573.99
      $633
      Save $59

      Availability

      Free Shipping

      Yes
    • $573.99
      $655
      Save $81

      Availability

      In Stock

      Free Shipping

      No
    • $730.00
      $799
      Save $69

      Availability

      In Stock

      Free Shipping

      No

    Our Verdict

    The Whynter ARC-1230WN is a highly efficient portable air conditioner boasting an energy efficiency ratio (EER) of 10.7. With a power draw of just 1.24 kWh, it’s rather efficient but still manages to cool quickly, lowering the temperature by one degree in just 5 minutes, so you don’t have to suffer in the summer.

    The air conditioner is also surprisingly quiet in operation, producing just 56.2 decibels, which puts it below the level of most conversations. The low noise level is highly welcome if you use an air conditioner for white noise or want one to be less obtrusive while running. The unit also features wireless connectivity, allowing you to control it through a mobile app, so you can crank up the cooling or lower it without leaving your couch or chair.

    Whynter’s ARC-1230WN is a versatile and energy-efficient portable air conditioner. Its low power draw, rapid cooling speed, and wireless connectivity make it a reliable choice for cooling just about anywhere you put it. If you’re seeking a portable air conditioner that balances performance, noise control, and energy efficiency, the Whynter ARC-1230WN is an excellent choice.

  • Runner Up

    Best Value

    Best Budget

    gr recommended award

    Best Mid-Range

    Serenelife SLPAC10

    • Best For Portable For RV

    The Serenelife SLPAC10 is an energy-efficient portable air conditioner with a low power draw and moderate noise levels. Ideal for smaller spaces, its 10,000 BTU capacity suits bedrooms, home offices, or dorm rooms.

    Serenelife SLPAC10 Review →

    True Score

    71
    67
    2

    Experts

    87
    22k

    Customers

    SAVE $20
    $369.99
    $349.99

    Did you know 77% of Air Conditioner reviewers are untrustworthy?

    Our research found only 15 of 66 air conditioner reviewers as of July 2024 can be trusted. This is why Gadget Review is committed to calculating the most accurate product scores on the web.

    To do this, we give every air conditioner review site a Trust Rating, which measures how trustworthy the site and their testing claims are. We then leverage AI & a machine learning model to combine and calculate the Trust Rating with data from experts and consumers to deliver the True Score, the web’s most accurate product quality rating.

    169,780

    Air Conditioner Reviews Analyzed

    22

    Total Products Analyzed

  • Runner Up

    Best Value

    Best Budget

    gr recommended award

    Best Mid-Range

    Whynter ARC-14SH

    The Whynter ARC-14SH is a high-capacity portable air conditioner with 14,000 BTU, delivering rapid cooling and additional heating functionality. While its power draw is high, its versatility and dual-purpose use are compelling.

    Whynter ARC-14SH Review →

    True Score

    69
    65
    2

    Experts

    84
    3k

    Customers

    SAVE $124
    $679.99
    $555.52

    DON’T SEE WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR?

    When searching for the best mini split, consider energy efficiency and ease of installation. Top smart air conditioners offer advanced features like remote control via smartphone apps, making them convenient and efficient. If you’re in need of a reliable cooling solution for your vehicle, a portable AC for an RV can provide excellent performance on the go.

    For window units, the leading window air conditioner models excel in cooling capacity and quiet operation. Additionally, it’s important to know the AC drain pan location to ensure proper maintenance and prevent leaks. For a detailed review of a versatile unit, check out our DeLonghi PACEX390LVYN review, which highlights its strengths and weaknesses.

Which Criteria Matters for Testing Best Portable Air Conditioners?

By focusing on these criteria (3 nice to have), anyone can quickly and easily compare these air conditioners and how they’ll perform. This helps you make an informed decision and purchase an excellent portable air conditioner.

CRITERIARANGEREQUIREDDEFINITION
Operating Noise< 55 dBNo (Nice to have)How much noise the unit makes while it is under normal operation.
Cooling Speed< 5 min/degreeNo (Nice to have)How long it takes a unit to successfully lower the temperature in an area by one degree, measured in minutes.
Power Draw< 1 kWhNo (Nice to have)How much power the unit draws while under normal operation, measured in kilowatt hours.

Our Trusted Data Sources

We looked at 60+ air conditioner reviewers and found that 15 are trustworthy (60%+ Trust Rating). The three we have listed below are our most trusted for air conditioners.

  1. Austin Palmer – TechGearLab, MuckRack
  2. Daniel Jackson – Your Best Digs
  3. Derek Hales – Modern Castle, LinkedIn

Interested in a comprehensive analysis of our data sources? We’ve got you covered. Below, you’ll find a detailed list of every air conditioner review website we’ve identified, organized by their respective Trust Ratings from highest to lowest. But we didn’t stop there. We’ve meticulously reviewed each publication and verified the data by checking whether the authors have bio links to MuckRack or LinkedIn. We’re committed to not only checking the facts but ensuring their veracity.

Air Conditioner Test Data & Results

1. Operating Noise (dB)

All air conditioners make noise, this is a fact. Generally speaking, the more airflow an A/C unit has, the louder it’s going to be, and (logically) the more capable it is of cooling larger spaces (or smaller spaces more quickly.) Quieter A/C units are less disruptive and are often more attractive if you like a more peaceful home, but if your cooling needs are very high, be ready to see higher noise levels.

It’s for this reason we recommend an operating noise level around 55 dB or less. This puts it below the noise of a typical conversation and allows the sound to fade away into being background noise or even white noise. Higher volumes can be distracting, especially if you’re very sensitive to droningsounds.

Operating Noise (dB; lower is better; 0 = No Data)

2. Cooling Speed (Min/Deg)

There are multiple factors that influence how quickly an air conditioning unit is going to cool down a space. The size of the A/C, if it’s in good condition or not, the size of the room, and the actual settings chosen (for example, using a quiet mode or a performance mode.)

We recommend a cooling speed of at least 5 minutes per degree lowered, but faster cooling speeds are always welcome. It’s important to note that this is for when you use the A/C unit in a room that it’s designed for. If you stick a very small A/C in a huge room, the cooling speed is going to be abysmal, and if you put an oversized unit in a closet, you’ll be putting up some impressive numbers, but neither are realistic.

Cooling Speed (Min/Deg; lower is better; 0 = No Data)

3. Power Draw (kWh)

The size of your A/C unit is often the biggest determining factor behind how much power it draws – bigger units with bigger mtors draw more power. But units that are the same size might not be built the same, and the power draw they exhibit can vary wildly in some cases, even when they’re on roughly the same settings.

We generally recommend a power draw of less than 1 kWh, but lower is better – provided it doesn’t impact your unit’s ability to cool. Some units (especially larger ones) will require more power no matter what though, especially if they have larger motors or claim to push more CFM and actually deliver on that claim.

Power Draw (kWh; lower is better; 0 = No Data)

Best Portable Air Conditioners: Mistakes To Avoid

  1. Neglecting Room Size: Underestimating the size of the room can result in an underperforming air conditioner, while overestimating can mean spending more than necessary. Measure your room’s dimensions and compare them to the manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure proper cooling capacity.

  2. Overlooking Ventilation Requirements: Not planning for proper ventilation can render your portable air conditioner ineffective. These units need to expel hot air outside, so ensure you have a window or another suitable venting option available. If a window is not an option, learning how to vent a portable air conditioner without a window is crucial. Consider alternatives such as venting through a sliding door, ceiling, or wall to maintain the unit’s efficiency. Proper ventilation ensures that your portable air conditioner can effectively cool your space.

  3. Forgetting About Energy Efficiency: Ignoring the energy efficiency rating of a portable air conditioner can lead to higher electricity bills. Look for units with a high EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) to save money over time and reduce environmental impact.

  4. Not Checking Noise Levels: Overlooking the noise level of a portable air conditioner can lead to a disruptive environment. Check the decibel (dB) rating to ensure the noise level is acceptable for your space, especially if it will be used in a bedroom or office.

The Best Portable Air Conditioners Tests Compared

Product
True Score
Cooling Speed
Operating Volume
Power Draw
Recommended Room Size
Air Flow Rate
BTU Cooling Rating
Weight

Whynter ARC-1230WN

  • Best for Portable

82
  • 5.04 min/deg

  • 56.2 dB

  • 1.24 KwH

  • 600 sq ft

  • 388 CFM

  • 14,000 BTU/hr

  • 77 lbs

$573.99
$633
$59

Serenelife SLPAC10

  • Best for Portable For RV

71
  • 9.68 min/deg

  • 59 dB

  • 0.96 KwH

  • 270 sq ft

  • n/a

  • 10,000 BTU

  • 62.1 lbs

$349.99
$370
$20
69
  • 7.41 min/deg

  • 59.5 dB

  • 4.9 KwH

  • 500 sq ft

  • 253 CFM

  • 14,000 BTU/hr

  • 80 lbs

$555.52
$680
$124

Portable Air Conditioner Questions (FAQ)

Learn More About Air Conditioners