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The best ventless portable air conditioners offer high mobility, efficiency, and performance for windowless rooms where conventional types of good air conditioners can’t be installed either via window or wall vent.
Since they don’t need to cycle outdoor air via a vent, ventless AC units can be placed anywhere in any room and moved around as preferred. For spaces like basements, garages, and workshops, which are sometimes windowless but which can get very hot during warm months, they’re a great option. Since they require no installation, they’re also a good choice if you’re looking for a backup AC in case a window-installed unit fails, or if you’ve got a space that only occasionally needs cooling throughout the year.
There are some factors with ventless models you should be aware of when it comes to price and efficiency before you choose a model, and factors like EER rating, BTU class, and extra features like digital controls or a 24-hour timer will help you decide which model to pick, but if you’re looking to buy the best ventless air conditioner on the market, keep reading our buying guide to learn more about what they offer.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: This device has a sleek design that brings charm and a touch of sophistication to any room. It has wheels for mobility and supports adjusting the temperature and fan speed.
With a sleek design, the BLACK+DECKER BPACT08WT 4,000 BTU air conditioner brings a touch of charm to any room. This portable air conditioner boasts 4,000 BTU (8,000 BTU ASHRAE), cooling small rooms down to 65°F at the lowest setting. This device has adjustable fan speed, allowing customization, while sleep mode keeps noise levels down. This device has a convenient bucket-less design and comes with all the hardware needed for installation. However, the included exhaust hose is unusually big.
This floor-standing model has a small footprint that is ideal for small rooms, and the ac is effective in rooms measuring up to 150 sq. ft. The air conditioner is equipped with wheels, allowing users to move it easily from room to room. It has a 24-hour delay start time, enabling hassle-free programming. Featuring a remote control and top-mounted LED display, this device supports easy temperature and fan speed adjustment. With a built-in dehumidifier, this device takes care of all the home’s ventilation needs.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: Featuring an air-con, water dissipation, and heating functions in one device, this air conditioner provides excellent all-around home ventilation. It features 7,000 British Thermal Units and is recommended for rooms of up to 450 sq. ft.
The SereneLife SLATCH128 7,000 BTU air conditioner is a freestanding model that supports placement on the floor. This air conditioner has a built-in humidifier, reducing the humidity levels in the room. It has an integrated fan to enhance ventilation. The air conditioning also has a heating function that will come in handy for warming the room during the cold months. An automatic swing mode offers maximum air circulation. However, this device is chunky.
An included remote control and digital controls on the ac enable changing the power mode, temperature, and fan settings. This device has a timer for programming operations. With 7,000 BTU (12,000 BTU ASHRAE), this air conditioner is recommended for rooms of up to 450 sq. ft. It operates at noise levels of 56 – 50 dBA, so it’s suitable for bedrooms and studies. This model comes with all the hardware needed for mounting.
Award: BEST APPEARANCE
WHY WE LIKE IT: Equipped with built-in Wi-Fi, this air conditioner works with a mobile app to simplify operation, scheduling, and changing settings. This model has an innovative cube-like appearance that will raise the aesthetics in any room.
With a unique cylinder-style appearance, the Frigidaire Gallery FGPC1044U1 5,200 BTU air conditioner will add a touch of sophistication to any room. This device boasts 5,200 BTUs of cooling and is recommended for small offices and rooms. It also boasts 3 pints per hour of dehumidification, reducing the moisture level in living and working spaces. The device features LED lighting to transform the ambiance in the room. A visually pleasing mesh grill provides ventilation. However, this model doesn’t have wheels.
This Frigidaire air conditioner has built-in Wi-Fi and works with the Frigidaire app, allowing users to change settings and operate the air conditioner remotely. Users can schedule switch-off times, change fan speeds, and adjust working modes remotely. The device has a powerful 200 CFM fan to provide ventilation and it has three fan settings, allowing users to precisely customize the settings. This air conditioner comes with a window kit and all the hardware needed for installation.
Award: BEST CONTROLS
WHY WE LIKE IT: With a customizable settings panel that allows switching between Celsius and Fahrenheit readings, this device is easy to operate. It has a 24-hour timer and wheels that provide mobility.
The Costway 23048-CYPE-CCSS air conditioner has a customizable design that supports temperature adjustment, featuring a range of 60°F to 86°F. It has a built-in fan with two fan speeds. With a dehumidifying system, this air conditioner helps to optimize the moisture levels in the room. This air conditioner has a customizable control panel that allows switching between Celsius and Fahrenheit units and an innovative drain system allows unattended operation. However, this unit is relatively noisy.
This air conditioner is programmable, featuring a 24-hour time and automatic shut-down function. With 8,000 BTU/H air conditioning, this device is recommended for spaces as big as 230 sq. ft, making it a good choice for bedrooms, offices, camper vans, and dorm rooms. Four casters enable moving this device conveniently between rooms. This device also comes with remote control for changing settings easily and it has a filter to protect the system from dust.
Award: BEST SMART FUNCTIONS
WHY WE LIKE IT: With built-in wireless tech, this device supports various voice control services and it works with a mobile app for managing settings easily. This device has plenty of cooling power, so it’s recommended for medium-size spaces.
This De’Longhi PACEL376HGRFK-6AL WH 7,200 air conditioner boasts a sleek freestanding design that will add visual interest to any space. It has excellent cooling abilities and it’s recommended for rooms of up to 500 sq. ft. Thanks to built-in Wi-Fi, this air conditioner has several smart features. Arctic Whisper Extreme tech provides quiet performance. This aircon works with De’Longhi’s PAC app to facilitate changing settings remotely. However, the over-simplified control panel on this unit lacks a display for various parameters.
Real Feel technology intelligently adjusts the temperature and humidity, providing comfort. This device is easy to install and features casters and a handle to enable moving the AC from room to room with ease. A conveniently located control panel enables adjusting settings easily. This air conditioner is compatible with Alexa and Google home and various smart speakers to allow simple voice operation. It comes with a cleanable filter to trap dust from the room.
Award: BEST MULTIFUNCTION AC
WHY WE LIKE IT: In addition to cooling and dehumidifying, this air conditioner has a heating function to help keep the room warm on cold days. It works with a smartphone app to enable hassle-free operation and management.
Thanks to an integrated heating system, the Ukoke USPC01W 12,000 BTU air conditioner allows users to toggle between cooling and heating functions, providing an all-around temperature management solution. This air conditioner has built-in Wi-Fi, working with Amazon Alexa and other voice assistants for hassle-free voice control. The device works with the Ukoke app to remotely control the air con. However, this device’s Wi-Fi is limited to the 2.4GHz band and doesn’t support modern 5GHz bands.
A built-in dehumidifier controls the humidity in the room. This air conditioner has a 12,000 BTU rating and it’s recommended for rooms as big as 400 sq. ft. Using the ozone-friendly R410A refrigerant, this air conditioner is quite efficient. It produces just 53 dB of sound, making it a suitable option for bedrooms and other places that are sensitive to noise. This air conditioner also comes with remote control for simple operation.
A ventless or portable ventless air conditioner is a type of portable AC unit that doesn’t require a window or ventilation hose to run, allowing for self-contained operation and much more freedom of placement and mobility. They can effectively cool smaller spaces, and since they don’t require any venting, they’re usable in areas that would require cutting a hole in the wall to install a model with a venting system or exhaust hose, saving you the installation time that even the best window air conditioners require. Though units like the best dual hose air conditioner can effectively clean a space quickly, the installation involving the double hose is more time-consuming than a ventless unit.
They can vary in terms of cooling capacity, size, operating noise, filters, fan speed, features like auto-timer and sleep mode, and efficiency from model to model, but they all work by cooling indoor air with water, instead of using a refrigerant cycling process like in conventional models. This is great, because you won’t need to be constantly checking for a freon leak in your air conditioner.
There are a few variations on this basic design, but while they’re an effective option, they’ve got more than a few major differences from other air conditioner types. While you’re at it, you may want to look at other specialized types of models, such as window air conditioners with heat.
A ventless portable air conditioner differs from a window AC in many ways, but the most significant difference is that the latter needs a window or vent to run its air conditioning cycle. Window ACs draw warm, humid indoor air and cycle outdoor air in, cooling it via an evaporator coil cooled by a refrigerant. It’s a highly effective way, especially in the best small window air conditioners of both cooling space and dehumidifying it, which is why it’s called an “air conditioner.” But, if your A/C is bringing in hot air, then you’ll need to repair the air conditioner condenser.
By contrast, the reason why ventless portable models aren’t considered “air conditioners” in the technical sense is that they don’t cycle fresh air into a space, and they don’t dehumidify the air that’s being cooled. While it’s an effective method of lowering room temperatures, it adds moisture to the air, which may be a plus for users living in a dry climate. Still, it could be a problem for people sensitive to humidity.
Ventless portable units also differ from standard portable models for the same reason: other portable models require a window to function just like stationary, conventional air conditioners, and like traditional units, they dehumidify the air to varying degrees. Lastly, ventless portable units are much simpler appliances: they don’t have components like compressors or evaporator coils and often have a very simple display panel with few options.
The main advantage of a ventless model is that you can cool spaces that can’t otherwise have air conditioning. Specifically, they are perfect for windowless rooms, like many garages, basements, and other small, enclosed spaces. If quiet operation is a priority for you, know that while the actual noise level of ventless portable models may be lower, the fact that they stand freely in a room means you’re more likely to hear them over window-installed units, like an air conditioner for sliding windows.
Ventless portable air conditioners work significantly different from the conventional window, wall-installed air conditioners, or central air conditioning systems. A ventless unit has an open tank at the bottom that contains a refillable water reservoir, leading to a cooling pad above.
A fan first draws in warm indoor air while a pump sends water to the cooling pad from the reservoir. The fan blows the indoor door air across the cooling pad, picking up the moisture from the reservoir. The cooled, moist air is then sent back out into the room, cooling the room to the ideal temperature. Some models can cool the air by as much as 30 degrees.
Where conventional units dehumidify a room while cooling it, ventless portable units make the air more humid, to varying degrees of comfort. While effective at cooling a space, as a rule, they’re less efficient than conventional units. Their main advantage is that they can cool windowless spaces that otherwise couldn’t accommodate an air conditioner.
If you’ve got an enclosed, windowless space such as a garage, basement, or workshop and you don’t mind missing the dehumidifying effect of conventional air conditioners, a ventless unit is really the main option you have available to you.
The actual portability of ventless, portable units varies from model to model. It decreases in higher-BTU (or British Thermal Units) models because of their increased size and power demands. But if you’ve got more than one space that’s windowless or that only occasionally needs cooling, having a ventless portable unit can serve as a good backup or complementary option to your home.
Keep in mind that, while there are ventless units in the 15,000 BTU class (designed to cool spaces up to around 900 square feet), they aren’t as common as conventional models in this class, meaning you’ll pay a premium for the most powerful ventless models.
If you have a very large windowless space of over 700 square feet, you might want to consider a wall-installed unit, which will require cutting a venting space in your wall but will give you the benefit of a conventional unit’s superior efficiency, performance, and better price-performance ratio.
Given their significantly lower energy efficiency than a conventional window unit, it may be somewhat surprising that ventless portable air conditioners have an average lifespan of around 5-10 years, which is only a little lower than conventional models.
Several factors can affect a unit’s lifespan:
Ventless portable units are often made of more lightweight, cheaper material than conventional models, making them more fragile and susceptible to wear and tear. If you’re using one frequently in multiple spaces so that it’s getting moved around a lot, the wear and tear increases, which can potentially shorten its lifespan.
Frequent use for sustained periods will greatly increase wear and tear, and the humidity they create as they cool rooms can also take a toll on various components, all of which can significantly reduce the lifespan of a unit. Cleaning a unit’s built-in filter regularly can help mitigate the effects of heavy use, however. It’s important to keep up with regular maintenance of the unit along with repairs, such as learning how to unclog an AC drain line. Maintaining the unit involves keeping it in good shape and clean, so we highly recommend you learn how to clean a portable AC unit.
Now that you’ve decided to purchase a ventless portable air conditioner unit, consider a few additional factors and features that will help you choose the right model for you.
The cooling capacity or cooling power of ventless portable AC units is rated using BTUs, just like in conventional models, so the BTU rating of such units indicates the room size it’s designed for with the same ratios. A ventless strong 5000 BTU air conditioner unit is designed for 100-150 square foot rooms, etc. Knowing your room’s exact dimensions is crucial to picking a unit with enough power to do the job.
Just like with conventional models, ventless units have two standardized measures of energy efficiency recognized by the EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy, and knowing them will tell you which models will save you the most on your power bill.:
Ventless, quiet portable air conditioners are often more expensive than conventional models of comparable power and quality, and the difference in price raises significantly the higher the BTU rating. If you’re looking to cool a windowless space that’s 700 square feet or bigger, you’re going to be looking at 12000 BTU units or higher. For smaller spaces, stick with something like the Costway portable air conditioner.
Combine the high initial cost with the considerably higher energy costs due to their low efficiency, and you may want to consider a wall-installed conventional model instead. It will be a more complicated installation, but you’ll get more bang for the buck and a lower power bill.