Portable AC units are an affordable, and eco-friendly way to help you stay cool all summer long.
They’re designed for use in medium-sized rooms and small areas, and they can cool a medium-sized room surprisingly quickly.
They can also be used to provide added coolness anywhere, such as in your home or office and they’re priced at the fraction of the cost of standard central air or window AC systems.
There are many reasons to purchase a portable AC unit, and while there are dozens on the market right now, we’ve compiled a list of the top ranked portable AC units. If you’re searching for a portable AC unit, then you cannot go wrong with any of these.
Top Ranking Portable AC Units
Blast Auxiliary Portable AC
Blast Auxiliary’s portable ac is the perfect combination of size, price, and power. It has everything you could possibly want in a portable air conditioner. It has cord-free operation, an easy to use design, a humidifier add-on, and several other premium features.
Like many other units on our list, the Blast Auxiliary portable AC is powered with a USB cable, making it easy to charge up and power the AC whenever you want to. Best of all, this portable AC only comes in priced at $90, making it competitively priced to many other units on our list.
CoolX is a portable air conditioner ideal for any part of your home, office, or possibly even your car. CoolX has a seven-color LED you can adjust at any time, which is why it serves as both a night light and air conditioner to keep your room comfortable all night long.
Some of the other main features to CoolX is its three pre-set speeds, a very easy to use design, and effective cooling capabilities. Most user claim CoolX can cool the temperature down in any room fairly rapidly. Like most of the other units in our list, CoolX acts as a conditioner, purifier, and humidifier all in one. It is also priced at $90.
ChillBox Air Cooler
Breeze Maxx is the only portable AC unit on our rankings that markets itself specifically as a “nano air conditioner”, which means it cools the air despite having a extra small design. Breeze Maxx’s portable AC system instantly chills the air and filters pollutants, bacteria, and viruses. While other AC units listed on our rankings claim to cleanse the air, Breeze Maxx specifically is meant to filter bacteria and viruses – something not many can do.
Overall, the Breeze Maxx is one of the best ways to beat the heat while enjoying the small, lightweight, and cordless design. It is also incredibly quiet and it weighs only 1.5lbs so it loves up to its name as a “nano” air conditioner.
IceBox Air Cooler
IceBox Air Cooler is one of the most efficient air conditioners on our list, blasting cool air through the use of an water curtain. It is by far one of the most unique units on our list because it has a crystal clear LCD screen, sleep mode for the night, and ultra-quiet range. In total, there are seven mood lights five different coolness levels to choose from. It is more expensive than most of the portable units at $100 per unit, but if you buy multiple units the price can drop to as low as $60 per unit.
Arctic Air Pure Chill AC
Out of all the portable ACs on our list, Arctic Air Pure Chill has arguably one of the least lavish designs but is one of the most popular personal air conditioning units out there. However, it makes up for this lack of style with effective cooling capacity and many other features that these other portable ACs lack. Similar to Blast Portable AC, the Pure Chill AC delivers incredibly cool arctic temperatures via a water curtain-based humidification system. It effective cools the room with minimal effort and is perfect for any office space or bedroom. If you don’t mind the ugly design, it is reasonable priced and well worth the money according to all of the reviews this mini personal air cooler is receiving in 2021.
Glacier Air Cooler
Glacier air cool works from a rechargeable, external batter, which means it is perfect for the beach or pool. It is also designed to be a lantern and an air cooler. It is one of the smallest units on this list but it can still deliver Article-like temperatures throughout any single room in your house. It is perfect for the bedroom, office, garage, bathroom, or any other room in your house. It also has a retro device, which is unique amongst all of the other portable ACs on our list.
Sleep Connection Cool Mist Humidifier
Sleep Connection’s Cool Mist Humidifier is a dual combo air conditioner and humidifier all wrapped into one device. The Cool Mist Humidifier is one of the most stylish gadgets on our list delivering effective humidification and cooling capabilities. According to the manufacturer, you can enjoy better sleep, breathing, and better overall health with this device. Just add some water to the unit and then use the one-touch device. It also contains a built-in light to add ambiance to your room for an added touch. It is one of the most affordable units on our list at only $15.
UV cooler is a dual air conditioner and air purify that is perfect for any room in your home. Like many other portable ACs, the UV Cooler uses a USB charger with water and ice to generate cold air to chill your room. However, it also is unique in that it uses UV light to sanitize the water. Instead of having bacteria and viruses floating around your house in the water vapor, they are eliminated through the UV light in the air cooler. The UV cooler is also one of the smaller portable ACs on our list, making it ideal for your home, office, or anywhere you need it to go.
The T10 cooler is an efficient portable AC that describes itself as the perfect air conditioner on the go. It works very similarly to most other units on the list by using “hydro chill technology.” Essentially, hot air passes through a curtain of cool water, exiting the other site as cooler air. The T10 is one of the quieter portable ACs on the list, which means it may be more beneficial for those who normally have trouble sleeping with loud noises. Under normal circumstances, the T10 cooler can last 6 to 8 hours before being refilled.
CoolFeel Max is a portable air-cooling system sold from PopularHiTech, a popular home gadget manufacturer. CoolFeel Max is on the smaller side but can still manage to effectively cool you. It Unlike other portable ACs on our list, the CoolFeel Max is meant to go around your neck to act as a personal AC, not for home or office use. It fits very comfortably and can effectively cool you down within minutes. It provides a constant stream of cool air too so it is perfect for the pool or the beach.
How We Ranked
Portable Air conditioners all promise similar benefits to each other. They all claim to lower air temperatures in smaller spices with a small, portable design.
Unfortunately, not all of these units live up to their promise. Some spread water vapor around your house without cooling the house. Others are poorly designed and will break after a few months.
To separate the best and worst portable air cooling units, we ranked the best portable ACs by using the following metrics:
Cooling effectiveness: Some portable air conditioners are poorly designed and just won’t work very well. Others can create surprisingly chill temperatures. At the end of the day, this is what matters the most, which is why we used cooling effectiveness as the biggest ranking factor we used. Since you’re buying an air conditioner to create cooler temperatures, we wanted the best unites to help you achieve these goals.
Humidification effectiveness: Many people buy their portable air conditioners, not just to cool the temperatures but also for the humidity. Good portable air conditioners work as both a humidifier and air conditioner rolled into a single convenient unit. This is why the effectiveness of this was taken into account.
Style, design, and aesthetics: Although it certainly isn’t our most important factor, we still considered the style, design, and aesthetics in our rankings. Some of the top portable air conditioners have gone above and beyond to invest in quality design characteristics. Others look boring, bland and don’t look ideal for bedroom décor.
Ease of use: Most portable conditioners can be used by virtually anybody, regardless of your tech skills. With the units we mentioned above, simply fill with water and ice, plug them in, and allow them to run. That’s all you have to do.
Additional features: The main goal of any portable air conditioner should be to cool the room. However, some of the other portable AC units listed above create humidity, filer the air, or even remove bacteria and pathogens from the air using UV light. We took all of these additional features into consideration.
Return policy: For whatever reason, some portable AC units just don’t work very well. If you’re dissatisfied with a unit, you should be able to return it easily. However, some portable AC units have surprisingly restrictive return policies and some companies even make it deliberately difficult to return. All reputable manufacturers should stand by their product and the quality, and therefore make it easy to refund when unsatisfied.
Customization options: You may want different levels of coolness, depending on the time of day and temperature. Some people desire cool temperatures all day long whereas others just want it for when they sleep. We considered all of these customization options in our rankings.
Ice Tray, Water Curtain, and Misting Device: Most portable air conditioners use an ice tray, water curtain, or misting device to create cool vapor. These devices absorb hot, dry air through the back, expelling it through the front as cleaner, cooler air. Some of these devices are simply better and more effective than others.
Value & Price: Some people only want to spend $15 on a portable air conditioner whereas others want to spend $200. We felt it was important to list air conditioners at all price points, allowing you to easily pick the right portable AC that meets your budget. We still however picked the right AC units at each price point to ensure you didn’t get ripped off.
Customer Reviews: It’s always important to get an idea of what actual customers feel about products in question. Although we tested out portable ACs, customers test them in different conditions more often and have a better idea of whether or not a portable AC is legit or not.
Transparency: Some portable air conditioners provide the user manual and everything you need to know about the product. Others refuse to disclose even basic information, all of which is essential to your experience with the product. We took this into consideration when creating our rankings.
Best Places to Use a Portable AC Unit
Portable air cooling units are ideal for use in a variety of different settings. Most people use them in a bedroom, office, or other small space. Others run the units outdoors, creating cooler temperatures in a backyard, tent, or other similar space.
The nice thing is that portable AC units do not typically require direct power. They often have a battery you can charge, making it easy to run the portable AC unit anywhere.
Some of the various places you can place a portable AC include:
- Apartments and condos
- Dorm rooms
- Smaller homes
- Outdoor spaces
How do Portable Air Conditioners Work?
Portable air conditioners work in several different ways. The ACs on our rankings use basic technology to create cool temperatures, passing water through a curtain to create cooler vapor. They are primarily designed for smaller spaces, including a small office or bedroom.
Some portable air conditioners are much more advanced and they’re capable of lowering temperatures through a much larger space. Some have up to 12,000 BTUs, for example, and require you to connect to the outside air using a house. Others have a dual-hose design.
When you buy an air conditioner, you get a unit with a refrigerant to cool the air, a compressor to compress the refrigerant, and a fan to move the air. It’s similar to how a standard whole-home air conditioning system works. The unit takes air from the outside world, cools the air using refrigerant, and a compressor, then circulates the air.
They are fine for massive homes but these units also withdraw humidity in the air, creating dry air that can cause dry skin, nosebleeds, and more.
Portable AC systems work much differently. They add moisture to the air instead of removing it. They can still create cooler temperatures though – just without the need of refrigerant or a compressor.
Here’s the basic process on which portable air conditioners work:
Step 1) The unit draws hot, dry air from one side.
Step 2) The air enters the unit, passing through a water curtain. That water curtain is connected to a hydration chamber and, in many cases, an ice tray. The water curtain is cool and wet.
Step 3) As air passes through the water curtain, it causes the water within the curtain to evaporate. Evaporation requires heat. As the water evaporates, it removes heat from the air, creating cooler and cleaner temperatures.
Step 4) A fan blows the cool, moister air out the other end of the device, spreading lower temperatures throughout your room or home.
Advantages of Portable Air Conditioners
Portable air conditioners have several advantages over other types of air cooling systems, including the following:
#1 – They’re more affordable: A whole-home HVAC system can cost you hundreds of dollars per month to cool your house. Portable AC units can cost you a fraction of the cost because you only need to cool the rooms you use. Plus, the units are so much small and use less energy than other cooling options. Instead of plugging the unit into an outlet, there’s a charging port an a USB outlet to use.
#2 – Temperature Customization: Some portable aid conditions have a thermostat whilst others have a temperature gauge with different generic temperature levels. Even if you can’t really set a specific temperature with each portable AC, you can still set how cold or hot you want it to be – to a certain degree.
#3 – Add humidity instead of eliminating it: Most home-HVAC systems remove the humidity from the air, leaving the air dry. This is why you may experience dry, cracked skin as a result of using an air conditioner too long. Portable air conditioners help keep air somewhat moist so that you can enjoy cooler, moist air all summer long.
#4 – Acts as an air filter: Many of the portable air conditioners on our list are fitted with additional filers to remove bacteria, toxins, VOCs, and other harmful compounds. Sometimes these filters are UV filters whereas others are physical filters. Either way these filters help ensure you don’t consume harmful compounds.
#5 –Easy for anybody to operate: Even if you have limited technical skills or experience, you can still easily use a portable AC. As long as you can fill water in a tank or add ice cubes in a ray, you can easily use most portable AC units.
#6 – No installation required: Portable AC units don’t require you to install anything in your home. They come in pre-made, ready to be filled and charged. In fact, you don’t even need to install tubes or pipes out your window.
#7 – No electrical connection needed: Most of the best portable AC units above run off batteries or sometimes micro-USB. That means you can run them virtually anywhere without the need for an electrical outlet nearby.
#8 – Very portable: Portable AC units are small enough you can carry around your home to wherever you desire. You can bring a portable AC unit in your office, in your bedroom, in your kitchen, anywhere. Larger portable AC units even have wheels, allowing you to spread the cool air wherever.
#9 – Affordable: An HVAC system will easily run you $5,000 to $10,000 if not more. Most portable air conditioners are priced around $90, which is more than affordable given their power and effectiveness. If you’re looking for the best of the best, you still will likely spend under $200 for a portable AC.
#10 – Quiet: HVAC systems are often very noisy, potentially keeping you awake with clanking, whirring, and activation or deactivation sounds. Portable air conditioners are not as noisy and are often very quiet. They often have different sound settings, making it easy to choose the level of noise. Either way, they’re much quiet than an HVAC system.
11- They’re effective: Although they may not seem effective, you can keep your house cool surprisingly well with a portable air conditioner. They may not be able to come close to a whole-HVAC system but portable air conditioners can deliver lower temperatures at a cheaper price point.
Q. What’s the main difference between a portable air conditioner and a regular air conditioner?
There some clear, obvious differences between a portable and regular air conditioner. You can carry portable air conditioners around your home and move them to wherever you like. Portable air conditioners also use water curtains, evaporation, and ice trays versus a refrigerant and a compressor.
Q. What is a portable air conditioner?
A portable air conditioner is any device that lowers temperatures whilst still being easy to carry around and transport. Most traditional ACs to do fit this definition.
Q. How much space does a portable air conditioner take up?
All of the portable air conditioners on our list are designed for small units and small spaces. They can fit around your home, including your bedroom, office, dorm room, or other space. However, they are not designed to cool an entire home.
Q. What size portable cooler do I need?
It depends on the size of the square footage in your house. A 7,500 BTU unit can cover around 200 square feet of space, while a 10,000 BTU unit can cover around 300 square feet of space. If you are looking for a large unit, there are portable units at 14,000 BTUs, which can cool about 500 square feet.
Q. Do I need a window or outside access to use my cooler?
No portable ACs do not require a window or outside access to use. The portable ACs in our list use a combination of an ice tray and water curtain. They have no tubes or vents to be used.
Q. Can I run my portable AC unit anywhere in my house? Is it safe?
All of the portable ACs on our list don’t use Freon or compressors so they don’t create heat or toxic vapors that can lead to breathing or health issues. They’re safe to run in any home, as they are simply creating water vapor and spreading it through the home.
Q. Which are the best portable ACs?
The best portable ACs are found on any of the units listed above. Choose the best unit based on your budget and size need for your home or office.
Q. Do Portable AC units increase electricity costs?
Since portable AC units run on USB power, it is highly unlike that you see any noticeable changes on your electricity bill. However, if you use multiple AC units then you might start noticing changes.
Q. Will portable AC units leak water?
Although the portable AC units listed above use a water curtain and an ice try to cool temperatures they do not use the same technology as other air conditioners, which means they do not leak water.
Q. Why is there a UV light on my air conditioner?
Certain portable air conditioners use UV light or other filtration systems to filter out bacteria, viruses, and pathogens that may be in the air. These conditioners help to remove the toxic materials and ensure you can breathe in cooler, safe air.
Q. How long will my portable AC last?
The best portable AC units last 5+ years before they need to be replaced. However, they can run longer with proper maintenance. Portable AC units run of USB powder so you don’t need to replace the batter. However, the battery life might start to decline as the unit gets older.
Q. What is SEER?
All air conditioners have a SEER rating or Season Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER). The higher number the SEE number is, the more efficient the air conditioner can be. Average AC units have a SEER number between 13 and 16 but the best units have a SEER rating as high as 20 – or even higher.
Q. Can I cool my enter home without AC?
While it is certainly possible to cool your home without AC, you should still have a few window units or a central air system. Portable ACs are more so designed to provide light coolness of a few degrees in a room.
Q. How does a central AC system work?
A central AC system that lowers temperatures throughout your house using a compressor to pump refrigerant (Freon) through the system, gathering heat and moisture from indoors and removing it from the home. The hot temperatures from inside the home are pumped over the cooled indoor coil, then the heat in the air transfers to the coil, dropping air temperatures. The hot air is then pimped out while the cool air circulates.
Q. Why does the air conditioner dry the air?
A modern HVAC system lowers air temperatures while removing moisture, which is why so many homes feel dry after running the air conditioner through long summer days. Some people experience dry skin or other issues when running an air conditioner for an extended period of time. The portable AC units listed above both cool the air and add moisture.
Q. What is ENERGY STARR?
Energy start was a program created by the EPA to help individuals and businesses buy efficient electronics. Most new air conditioners have the Energy Star label, verifying that you are buying an energy-efficient unit.
Q. How much should I expect to pay?
Portable air conditioners on our rankings are priced between $15 and $150, with most of the units around $90. For that price, you should be able to find plenty of good portable air conditioners to fit your needs.
Portable air conditioning technology has significantly improved over the past few years. Today, you can find good home cooling for roughly under $100.
The portable air conditioners above provide effective cooling in a small space, making them ideal for your bedroom, office space, or any other room in your body. This means you can get cooler air anywhere in your home – for a much lower price.
To learn more about portable air conditioners or to purchase a top-rated portable AC unit, check out the list of our best portable air cooling systems for 2021 and beyond.
More Like This: Blast Auxiliary Desktop AC Ultra Review: Real User Warnings!
The links contained in this product review may result in a small commission if you opt to purchase the product recommended at no additional cost to you. This goes towards supporting our research and editorial team and please know we only recommend high quality products.
Please understand that any advice or guidelines revealed here are not even remotely a substitute for sound medical advice from a licensed healthcare provider. Make sure to consult with a professional physician before making any purchasing decision if you use medications or have concerns following the review details shared above. Individual results may vary as the statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.