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The best portable air conditioners and heaters can be a smart solution for an individual who, for whatever reason, can’t install a permanent option like central air or a mini-split system. You’ll want to think about the BTUs as this determines how powerful a portable air conditioner is, as well as whether it’s compatible with the square footage of the space you want to cool. Features like single versus dual-hose and the CFM rating will also impact efficiency. Likewise, key features like programmability, sleep modes, and even quiet operation can impact your purchasing choices.
After conducting thorough research through thousands of verified customer reviews, we nominated the Whynter ARC-14SH portable air conditioner as our Top Pick. Keep reading to learn more about our research criteria and don’t forget to check out our top recommendations for the best air conditioners.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: A portable air conditioner and heater combo that’s perfect for medium-sized rooms up to 500 square feet with four-in-one functionality and a more efficient dual-hose design.
For people who aren’t interested or able to permanently install a heating or cooling system in their homes, a portable air conditioner is fantastic. But some of them come as a cooler and heater combo, which makes them an excellent solution for people in more temperate climates. We’re nominating the Whynter ARC14SH as the best portable air conditioner and heater combo because it’s ideal for medium-sized rooms of up to 500 square feet and is a four-in-one solution. You’ll get 14,000 BTUs for cooling and 13,000 BTUs for heating. This pick also comes with a dehumidifier that can cool the room by removing moisture, thanks to the 71 pints per day evaporation rate.
And a fan function with three speeds is also nice. As is standard, this model comes with an installation kit. The dual-hose design means that this portable air conditioner can use cooled air to reduce temperatures quicker. A 253 cubic feet per meter (CFM) rating puts it in the mid-range for performance. You’ll also get a digital readout thermostat that can be adjusted between 61 to 89 degrees Fahrenheit either through the control panel or included remote control. Plus the auto-drain feature recycles the collected moisture for more efficient operation. You may also want to integrate your AC unit into a smart home system with the best ductless mini-split air conditioner.
See Also: Other options can be found in our best portable air conditioner buying guide.
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Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: The best portable air cooler with a dehumidifying function that is ideal for spaces up to 400 square feet and with an intuitive auto-start and 24-hour on and off timer.
LG is a reliable home electronics brand, which is why we picked their LP1217GSR model as our best portable air cooler. While this one lacks a heating element, it’s ideal for studio apartments or medium-sized rooms that are up to 400 square feet. This pick has 12,000 BTUs and a 220 CFM rating. Still, you’ll get a dehumidifying function that can evaporate 5.5 pints per hour. And the bucketless auto-evaporation system means that you don’t have to constantly empty the collection bucket. Instead, the collected moisture evaporates inside the unit.
The included installation kit is designed for standard windows with a single-hose connection. You’ll also get a removable washable mesh filter to improve air quality. Other key features include an auto-restart function as well as a 24 hour on and off timer. Keep in mind that portable air conditioners are by default louder with higher noise levels than mini-split or central air systems. However, this pick has a lower 51-decibel output which is fairly quiet for portable options and ideal for use in bedrooms. Much like the best LG air conditioner that is also quiet but has a much higher BTU.
Award: BEST QUALITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: A compact portable air conditioner with three-in-one functionality that’s perfect for smaller rooms thanks to the 10,000 BTUs and a washable dust filter.
Even though having a portable air conditioner that can also double as a heater is nice, the truth is they’re not as efficient at heating as they are at cooling. So, for people who just want a portable AC that can be moved from room to room, this pick from Honeywell is a solid choice for average-sized rooms. You’ll get 10,000 BTUs to cool a room up to 400 square feet. This pick is a three-in-one solution that comes with cooling, a dehumidifier, and a fan. However, note that the 192 CFM rating is slightly lower than the average for this product category.
Still, you’ll get a dehumidifier that can remove up to 61 pints per day with an auto-evaporation function that means you don’t need to empty the collection bucket. We like that this is a truly compact option that is only 14.6 inches wide and 13.5 inches long so it can fit in smaller spaces. The single-hose system comes with an installation kit. But you’ll also like that you can remove the washable air filter to keep it clean and that there’s an easy-to-use digital LED display with soft-touch controls, along with a remote control. And in case you’re planning a camping trip, you should take a peek at the best portable AC for camping that will keep you cool in your tent or cabin.
Award: BEST ON A BUDGET
WHY WE LIKE IT: The best budget portable air conditioner and heater combo that can cool rooms up to 300 square feet and heat up to 325 feet thanks to the four-in-one functionality.
Portable air conditioners can be pricier than standard window models because they’re easier to install and of course, portable. So, if you’re shopping on a budget, you’ll appreciate this pick from Black & Decker. We think this is the best budget portable air conditioner and heater combo from our research. Along with the wallet-friendly price, we liked that this pick offers 12,000 BTUs to cool rooms up to 300 square feet, and warm rooms up to 325 square feet. While the manufacturer failed to share the CFM rating, our research showed that consumers were happy with the cooling capabilities of this unit.
Still, you’ll want to take note that a common complaint we found was that the heating function wasn’t as efficient as the cooling. In some cases, there were complaints that the unit would have to stop heating to defrost itself before continuing operation. However, we do like that you get four-in-one functionality of heating, cooling, a dehumidifier, and a fan. Likewise, you’ll get an easy-to-use control panel, an installation kit, and a remote control. The best air conditioner for sliding windows also comes with an installation kit and has a lower noise output.
Award: BEST FOR SMART HOMES
WHY WE LIKE IT: A small portable air conditioner and heater four-in-one solution with 12,000 BTUs that’s designed for smart home integration thanks to its Alexa-enabled functionality.
For some people, they can’t imagine not living in a smart home. So, if you’ve already synced your door locks, fridge, and lights through Alexa, it only makes sense that you would want your home’s temperature to also be smart enabled. The RolliCool air conditioner with heat functionality is a great option because it comes ready to pair with Alexa. We think this small portable air conditioner and heater is a great option thanks to the four-in-one functionality. This model includes cooling, heat, a dehumidifier, and a fan.
With 12,000 BTUs you can cool spaces as large as 600 square feet. We like that you can toggle between six oscillation modes which include a sleep mode and timer mode. And even if you’re not using Alexa, you can rely on the RolliCool app to control this appliance remotely — even when you’re not at home. However, it does also come with a remote. As is standard, this pick comes with the installation kit. And while the removable filters are washable, note that the carbon filter is not. For options regarding a self-evaporative technology to remove condensation and purify the air, have a look at the best portable air conditioner for RVs.
Award: BEST FOR SENIORS
WHY WE LIKE IT: A powerful portable air conditioner with 14,000 BTUs that can cool rooms up to 550 square feet, and an easy-to-use control panel with push buttons, and a large digital temperature display that is great for seniors.
Sometimes buying appliances can be a chore for seniors as concerns around accessibility or ease of use can become a concern. We like the Newair portable air conditioner and heater combo because it features an easy-to-use control panel with push buttons, easy-to-read labels, and a large digital temperature display that’s ideal for older individuals to use. You’ll also get 14,000 BTUs that can cool a room up to 550 square feet.
We also liked that this pick has a 250 CFM rating, which puts it in the medium range and makes it a solid choice. There’s also an efficiency booster mode that helps to improve the air conditioner’s performance while using less energy. Likewise, the self-evaporating mode helps to reduce the frequency of emptying the collection basket. However, we did note that while the Newair is a four-in-one solution, many people noted that it was especially noisy in the heater mode. The listed noise output is 57 decibels, so this might not be a good choice for bedrooms. You’ll also get standard features like a remote control, and a single-hose installation kit. For bedrooms, you may require the best tower air conditioner that features a low sound output and white noise functionality.
Award: BEST FOR BEDROOMS
WHY WE LIKE IT: A four-in-one portable air conditioner with a high evaporation rate that is powered by 14,000 BTUs to quickly cool rooms as large as 500 square feet in five minutes.
If you’re going to put a portable air conditioner in your bedroom, you want it to be effective and quiet. We think the Shinco portable AC is a great pick for this because they promise to cool rooms as much as 500 square feet in as little as five minutes. Plus, it’s a four-in-one solution with cooling, heating, a dehumidifier, and a fan. We like that this option has a high evaporation rate of 105 pints per day and is self-evaporating to take one more item off your to-do list.
The Shinco portable air conditioner gives you 14,000 BTUs of cooling power and 11,000 BTUs for the heating mode. As is standard, you’ll get an installation kit and a remote control to operate the appliance. However, we did note through customer reviews that the heater mode could be noisy — even though this air conditioner is promoted as quiet with a noise output range of 51 to 55 decibels. And if you’re looking to compare this with units that prioritize the BTUs and energy efficiency rating, then have a look at the best window air conditioner.
Award: BEST WINDOW COMPATIBILITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: A sleek portable air conditioner that can work with a variety of window configurations that offers four-in-one functionality and 14,000 BTUs to cool rooms up to 550 square feet.
This Honeywell portable air conditioner and heater is a great option for people who are concerned about the installation process. While all portable air conditioners come with an installation kit, not all kits are compatible with all window types. This Honeywell pick has an installation kit that can work with both vertical and horizontal sliding and crank windows. You’ll get a four-in-one solution that includes cooling, heating, a dehumidifier, and a fan. The dehumidifier removes an impressive 95 pints of moisture per day.
With 14,000 BTUs, this portable air conditioner is perfect for rooms from 550 to 700 square feet. The easy-to-use control panel with digital backlighting is easy to use, even in low light. But of course, you’ll also get a remote control for better accessibility from across the room. And the fact that this is a dual-hose system means that it works faster to cool or heat spaces. Note that you also get smart thermostat control, a 24-hour energy-saving timer, and three fan speeds. For those that live in drier climates like the Southwest where the humidity levels are low, the best evaporative air conditioner is a perfect choice.
Award: BEST CFM RATING
WHY WE LIKE IT: A 14,000 BTU four-in-one portable air conditioner with an easy-to-use control panel and a powerful 292 CFM rating for fast and efficient functionality.
While not all brands make it easy to determine the CFM ratings for their portable air conditioners, we make a point to disclose that information where available. The Whynter ARC-148MHP has one of the best ratings for air movement that we found from our research at 292 CFM. You’ll get 14,000 BTUs that are powerful enough to cool spaces up to 550 square feet. While the evaporation for the dehumidifier isn’t the highest, it’s 71 pints per day which should be sufficient for many people.
We liked that this pick also comes with a 3M filter that contains a SilverShield for antimicrobial protection. As is standard, it’s removable and washable. The four-in-one functionality means you’ll get heating, cooling, a dehumidifier, and a fan with three speeds. And the self-evaporative system improves efficiency and minimizes the need to empty a collection bucket. And if you don’t want to have to constantly empty a collection bucket, the best windowless air conditioner will be perfect due to the self evaporative feature.
Award: BEST FOR COLLEGE
WHY WE LIKE IT: A four-in-one portable air conditioner with 13,000 BTUs of power to cool rooms as large as 600 square feet, and smartphone app integration makes this perfect for a dorm room.
While most new college dorms are built with central air, that’s not always the case for older dorm rooms. And that means that you’ll need to bring an air conditioner. If a window unit is the last thing you want to deal with — or your dorm charges significant fees for you to install one — then a portable air conditioner is a smart alternative. This Frigidaire portable AC heat combo is a great alternative. With 13,000 BTUs you can cool rooms as large as 600 square feet.
You’ll get a four-in-one solution with heating, cooling, a dehumidifier, and a fan with three speeds. The dehumidifier can remove up to 79 pints of moisture per day. More importantly, we like that this pick comes with a smartphone app that allows you to wireless control the 24-hour programmable function on the air conditioner. As is standard, the filters are removable and washable, and the installation kit is removable. There’s also a sleep mode to reduce noise output. And for hot summer days spent on your patio or for people who live in drier climates, the best outdoor air conditioner is perfect.
Portable air conditioners can be a great solution for people who, for whatever reason, aren’t able to install a more permanent temperature control solution like central air or a mini-split system. To create our guide, we looked at the BTUs, whether it was dual or single-hose, room size, the CFM rating, programmability, and additional features.
BTUs can vary widely with air conditioners. In our guide, we prioritized options from 10,000 to 14,000 BTUs. Within this range, you should be able to find a portable AC that can accommodate rooms from 300 to 700 square feet. So, this will work for bedrooms, living rooms, and even larger oversized spaces. If you’re focused on efficiency, a dual-hose option is best since they can cool faster than a single-hose unit. While the majority of our recommendations are single-hose models, we did include a few dual-hose models.
CFM ratings will determine how efficiently an appliance can move air in a room. Assuming you picked a unit that is compatible with the space that needs to be cooled, a higher CFM rating is preferable as this will be more efficient. However, it’s important to note that often manufacturers don’t readily share this information if you’re shopping online through many retailers, although that information will be in the instruction manual. Where available, we made a point to share the CFM rating so you can make a more informed decision.
All portable air conditioners come with a control panel and remote control. But many of them include 24-hour on and off programming or the ability to auto-adjust the temperature once it reaches a certain level. And in some cases, you can find options that are smart-enabled, with functionality to integrate into a smart assistant like Alexa or Google Assistant. In our guide, we included a few options that came with proprietary apps for wireless control, as well as a pick that was Alexa-enabled.
And finally, additional features like a dehumidifier can help to improve your comfort without the need for cranking down the temperature to a frigid level. A good dehumidifier should be able to efficiently remove moisture from the air, thereby helping to naturally reduce the temperature. You’ll want to pay attention to the evaporation rate which is listed in pints per day or pints per hour. Where available, we included this information in our recommendations.
It’s not the most efficient option, but yes they can. Typically, a portable air conditioner is best reserved for cooling a space. But if you live in an area where installing a traditional heating system isn’t an option, a portable air conditioner can be used to heat a smaller space.
This depends on the size of the unit. Larger units are usually going to have a higher BTU rating which means that they’ll consume more power to effectively cool a space.
While it’s not ideal or the most obvious choice, yes you can. Normally having a window makes an easy solution for the exhaust hose to effectively vent heat. But if you’re in a room without windows, as long as there’s an exterior wall, you could potentially create a direct vent to the outside and connect the hose.
It depends. If you can install a traditional HVAC or even a split mini air conditioner, those methods are going to be better in the long run in terms of cooling capacity and energy efficiency. However, for people who live in places where they can’t make those kinds of home renovations — such as renters — a portable air conditioner is a reasonable alternative.