Staying cool all summer long should be a priority, and portable AC units can help you achieve that.
Portable air conditioners are aptly designed for use in medium-sized spaces and rooms, and it is surprising how well they lower temperatures.
Portable AC units are made to run wherever you want them to – from homes to offices. What makes them super tempting is that they are priced at a fraction of what it will cost you to get an ordinary AC system.
Air conditioner manufacturers offer a wide range of portable AC units in various shapes and sizes, all thanks to modern technology, which makes it easy to integrate complex air cooling technology in small units.
Top Portable Air Conditioner Units
- Blast Auxiliary Portable AC
- Breeze Maxx
- IceBox Air Cooler
- Glacier Air Cooler
- Sleep Connection Cool Mist Humidifier
- UV Cooler
- T10 Cooler
- CoolFree Max
- Tundra Breeze AC
Informed by testings, research, and analysis of portable air conditioners, here is a ranking of the Best Portable AC systems:
Blast Auxiliary Portable AC
Blast Auxiliary Portable AC is not only small and affordable; it also packs so much power. It is one with a blast. It ticks all the boxes for what a portable cooling system ought to be. Offered as a solution to warm temperatures lasting all through summer and beyond, the Blast Auxiliary, in its easy-to-use design, comes with a humidifier as an add-on. It is also cord-free. As with other small AC units, the Blast Auxiliary Portable AC is powered with a USB cable, ensuring that it is easy to charge it up wherever you go. The device runs with or without power, and it can create wintry temperatures in your space of use. Alongside the humidifier, it also comes with a filter and other advanced features that set it apart from other units in this price range.
- Price: $90
CoolX is a portable AC unit that can change the temperature of your home in no time. CoolX takes usability to another level as it is suitable for your home and office space and is also suitable for your car. The unit comes with a seven-color LED that is adjustable according to your needs. A fun part of owning a CoolX is that it can be used as a night light and air conditioner, ensuring that a comfortable temperature can be maintained in your room all through the night. CoolX comes with three pre-set fan speeds, has a super easy-to-use design, and has effective cooling capabilities. And as with most AC units on the list, CoolX can function as an air conditioner, purifier, and humidifier. It is a convenient package that cleans, adds moisture, and cools the air.
- Price: $90
Breeze Maxx is a true nano air conditioner. Breeze Maxx is effectively marketed as a nano air conditioner to put across the point that it cools the air well, even with its extra-small design. The portable AC cools the air instantly, and it also filters the air for pollutants, viruses, and bacteria. While other portable AC units only cleanse the air, Breeze Maxx goes beyond that to filter bacteria and viruses. In general, Breeze Maxx is designed to help you beat the heat with its portable, cordless, and lightweight design. Breeze Maxx sets itself apart from the pack as it is surprisingly quiet and weighs only about 1.5lbs.
- Price: $90
IceBox Air Cooler
Not to dramatize it, but IceBox Pro Air Cooler sucks in hot and dry air from one of its sides and releases the air from the other side as a cool breeze. IceBox Air cooler allows you to enjoy working or resting while cooling your room or office, making sure that you beat the heat of the summer. The IceBox Air cooler dorns a crystal clear LCD screen that makes it special. The screen makes setting the temperature range seamless. The unit passes as a smart one as it has a very ultra-quiet sleep mode that won’t disturb your sleep. The IceBox Air cooler is extensively customizable with seven mood lights and five different coolness levels. Although it is a little more expensive than most portable AC units, a unit can cost as low as $60 when ordering multiple units.
- Price: $100
Glacier Air Cooler
The Glacier Air Cooler is beyond just an air cooler. It is also designed as a lantern. Glacier Air Cooler comes with high, medium, or low fan speeds, an external, rechargeable 200 mAh battery, USB cable, and a built-in lamp. These features allow you to use the air cooler for indoor or outdoor purposes. The Glacier Air Cooler is a small one at just 150mm X 145mm X 180mm, making it easy to carry about, and includes a hidden handle. The Glacier Air Cooler is powerful enough to create Arctic-level temperatures in places where they are used. Its tank holds 240ML of water and is a very stylish unit that has a retro look to it.
- Price: $94
Sleep Connection Cool Mist Humidifier
Sleep Connection’s Cool Mist Humidifier is a device that seamlessly combines a portable air conditioner and a humidifier. This is one portable AC unit that delivers cooling and humidifying capabilities without compromising its style. The unit allows you restful, undisturbed sleep, improved breathing with the humidified air, and better overall health, as the manufacturer boasts. The unit only requires you to add water and run the device for as long as you need to with its one-touch operation. That is not all, as it has a built-in mood light that adds to the ambiance, making the humidifier a stylish device to own. The humidifier is extremely cheap, priced at just $15.00 per unit.
- Price: $15
The UV Cooler does not only cool down your room, but it also purifies the air. The UV Cooler is a portable air conditioner that also uses a USB cable for charging. The air cooler uses water and ice to create cold airflow. The UV Cooler has its uniqueness in its use of ultraviolet light to sanitize the water it uses. The ultraviolet light ensures that you do not have toxins and bacteria floating around in the water vapor. The UV Cooler is a small unit that makes it a perfect option for cool temperatures and sanitation on the go.
- Price: $100
T10 Cooler is a perfect cooler for anywhere you need additional air conditioning. It is suitable for use in rooms, the office, and even cars. The T10 Cooler works well by using hydro chill technology to transform hot air into cool air. The hot air is pulled in and sent back through a water curtain (cold water) before exiting through the other side as humidified, cooler air. Unlike most air conditioners that tend to be noisy, the T10 runs very quietly and allows you to choose between seven LED colors and three fan speed options. The T10 cooler water tank holds 750ml of water and, much like other portable AC units, lasts between 6 to 8 hrs per full charge.
- Price: $100
CoolFree Max is only available through PopularHiTech. Despite its small design, the CoolFree Max promises effective cooling. Unlike the other units on this list, the CoolFree Max fits around your neck to deliver cool temperatures and allows you to take it with you everywhere you go. The CoolFree Max is perfect for wearing to the park, doing outside chores, or in your vehicle out as it works well by directing cool air towards the face. The CoolFree Max dorns a small frame and is designed for ease of operation. CoolMax is quite affordable and probably the best shoulder or neck-based air conditioner on the market.
- Price: $60
Tundra Breeze AC
Tundra Breeze AC conveniently trades style for cooling capabilities. It is the least stylish design on the list but makes up for the lackluster design with its super-effective cooling capabilities. With technology similar to that of the Breeze Maxx, the Tundra Breeze AC also uses a water curtain humidification system. The unit sucks in dry air from one side and releases cool, wet vapor through the other side. All you need to do is add cool water and ice to the unit, and the rest is cool history all through your room. The Tundra Breeze AC works well to give off cool air without the dryness of ordinary air conditioning systems, and you may want to check this one out if that’s your thing.
- Price: $90
Insight into the Rankings
To learn more about each brand listed in this complete review, you may visit the official site for each supplement below:
- Blast Auxiliary Portable AC
- Breeze Maxx
- IceBox Air Cooler
- Glacier Air Cooler
- Sleep Connection Cool Mist Humidifier
- UV Cooler
- T10 Cooler
- CoolFree Max
- Tundra Breeze AC
Who doesn’t do well when saying good things about their product? This is the case with portable air conditioners too. They all promise similar benefits of lowering air temperatures in small to medium spaces with their portability and small design.
However, not all the different units deliver on their promises as some do not do well in cooling the air but only fill the space with water vapor. Quite a number of them get damaged in no time too.
In a bid to differentiate between the best and worst portable air cooling systems, the following metrics were considered:
Not all portable air coolers work well. But some have incredible cooling capabilities, delivering real chilly temperatures. Our priority ranking metric was cooling effectiveness. The essence of buying a portable air conditioner is to cool temperatures in your spaces, and the units on our list do just that.
Portable air cooling systems are not just about the chilly or cool temperatures. They are used to create humidity, and this is why some people buy them. A good portable air cooling system conveniently packs an air conditioner and a humidifier in one unit. This has formed part of our measuring metrics.
Design, Aesthetics, & Style
Although subtly, we still considered style to be a factor to consider in the rankings. Some of the units on the list have fantastic designs that will complement the décor in your space. We don’t always like the bland and boring-looking stuff.
Ease of Use
We believe that you do not need to be techy to use a portable air conditioner. The majority of the air cooling systems on our list only need you to fill them with water and run with you, simply plugging them in. Quite simple.
We know that the main goal of portable air cooling systems is to cool your space but who doesn’t like a little extra? Most of the portable AC units on this list do more than just cool the temperature. They also filter the air, create humidity, and even go as far as removing bacteria from the air using ultraviolet light technology. These features also factored into our rankings.
Some portable AC units do not work as expected, and we believe you should be able to return a unit if it doesn’t give you the satisfaction you deserve. Thankfully, all the reputable manufacturers make it easy to seek a refund when a customer is not satisfied. Companies that have a strict return policy or do not even offer a return policy have had their rankings on our list dropped.
Variations in time and temperature call for different levels of coolness. You may want all-night cool temperatures and just a gentle cool fan during the day. Customization options have formed part of our ranking metrics.
Ice Tray, Water Curtain, and Misting Device
Many portable air conditioners use an ice tray, water curtain, and misting device to create cool vapor. These systems suck in hot, dry air through one side and release it through the other side as cool, clean air. We have to admit that some ice trays, water curtains, and misting devices work better than others and thus form part of our metrics.
Price & Value
Portable air conditioners at different price points have been featured, giving you the choice of easily picking one within your budget. Budgets differ, and some people only want to spend $15 on a portable air conditioner. Other budgets allow buyers to spend $200. Regardless of price, however, we ensured that the portable air conditioners offer good value. Nobody wants to spend on a device that isn’t worth it.
Not just relying on our tests, we also considered customer reviews in our rankings. Customers have tested portable AC units in a range of weather conditions, humidity levels, and temperatures, and this is quite significant.
As with all devices, portable air conditioners should come with a manual, and some companies provide the user manual and other information even before the purchase is made. Other companies, however, do not disclose even information as basic as the size of the water tank or the capacity of the battery the system carries. Transparency forms part of our ranking metrics.
Places to Use a Portable AC Unit
The Best Portable air cooling systems are suitable for use in several settings. Portable AC units are used in bedrooms, offices, and other small spaces. The units can also be run outdoors, making our backyards, tents, and other spaces cooler. Many of these systems don’t require direct power as they run on chargeable batteries, making them super easy to run regardless of place.
Some places where a portable air conditioner can be used include:
- Outdoor areas
- Camping tents
- Medium or smaller sized homes
- Small apartments and condos
- College dorm rooms
With a portable air cooling system, you can enjoy cooler temperatures wherever you go.
Advantages of a Portable Air Conditioner
Portable air conditioners have several advantages over other air cooling systems. These advantages include:
Most portable air conditioners let you choose from three to five temperature levels as they are equipped with a thermostat. Even when you cannot customize the temperature to a specific degree, you can select the temperature you want it to be, a feature that is very similar to standard air conditioners.
Running a whole-home HVAC system will cost you hundreds per month. Portable air cooling systems allow consumers to save money. A portable air conditioner will only cool the rooms you use. Its small design and energy efficiency ensure that it uses much less power than competing options. Most portable air cooling systems use a USB port and rechargeable battery, with minimal power consumption.
We all dislike the feeling of dry, cracked skin during the summer, which is why buying a portable air conditioner may be the right choice to make. Portable air conditioners add humidity to the air, meaning that you are cooler, and the air is humidified all summer long.
Filters the Air
Many portable air conditioners can filter the air to remove bacteria, toxins, VOCs, and other compounds. Some have ultraviolet filter technologies, while others have physical filters or some other filtering systems. You do not breathe in stuffy or dusty air with good portable AC systems as they filter the air and allergen compounds are removed.
Does Not Require an Installation
The process of using a portable AC system is seamless as you do not need to install an HVAC system in your home. You don’t even need to pass tubes or pipes out your window. You just buy and use. You only add water to the tank, plug in the device, and let it run. Simple.
Easy for Anyone to Use
Regardless of your technical skills, you will find it easy to use a portable AC unit. The only thing you have to do is fill a tank with water or add ice cubes to a tray. Almost all the portable AC units in the guide are easy to use.
No Electrical Outlet Required
Many of the most desirable portable AC units above run on battery or micro-USB. This allows you to run them even where there is no electrical outlet nearby. You can run them on your desktop, bedside table, and outdoors.
Easy to Carry Around
The portable AC units on our list have been designed to be small enough for you to carry them to carry around your home. With this power, instead of cooling every room in your home all day, you can use the portable AC unit in rooms as desired, lowering temperatures wherever you go. The larger portable AC unit designs even have wheels allowing you to distribute cool air while still enjoying maximum portability.
With a budget of $90 to $100, you can purchase a good portable air conditioner. Many of the portable air conditioners on our list are priced at around $90. Compared to ordinary air conditioners that sometimes cost upwards of $5,000 to $10,000 to install, portable AC units are a bargain. They allow you to enjoy effective cooling in your home without the cost or hassle of a whole home HVAC system—a wise choice to make.
It is no news that many HVAC systems are noisy, and they keep you up all night with their clanking, whirring, and activation or deactivation sounds. Portable air conditioners, on the other hand, are not noisy. They’re usually very quiet, with most have multiple sound settings. They allow you to choose the level of noise or fan speed you want. You easily appreciate the quietness of the portable AC system wherever you run the unit, be it in your bedroom at night or in an office.
It is pretty surprising how effectively portable air conditioners perform. They work well to create cool temperatures throughout your home. Indeed, they will not replicate the performance of a whole-home HVAC system, but they can deliver lower temperatures at a much cheaper price point.
How Portable Air Conditioners Work
Portable air conditioners work in several ways. The portable air conditioners on this list use basic techniques to create cooler temperatures. They do this by passing air through a water curtain to create cold vapor. They are specially designed for smaller spaces, such as bedrooms and apartments.
Some other portable air conditioners have more advanced technologies driving them. They’re capable of giving off cool temperatures all through larger spaces. For instance, some of them have 12,000 BTUs. They connect to the air outside their space using either a single-hose or a dual-hose design.
An advanced air conditioner comes with a refrigerant (that cools the air), a compressor (to compress the refrigerant), and a fan (to move the air). This approach is very similar to how a whole-home air conditioning system works. The unit sucks in air from the outside world. The refrigerant and compressor cool the air before it is circulated throughout your space.
Advanced air conditioners are apt for large homes and spaces. The downside, however, is that they can be noisy. Some of them also consume excessive amounts of power. Another unpleasant effect is that they remove humidity from the air, causing drier temperatures in your home.
The air cooling systems that have been ranked here work differently. Instead of removing moisture from the air, they do well to add moisture to the air. They create cool temperatures without dryness. They also extract heat from the air, and they do so without the refrigerant and compressor.
The basic process the air cooling systems in our list use to create cool temperatures are thus:
- Step 1: The unit sucks in hot, dry air from one side.
- Step 2) The air inside the unit passes through a water curtain. That water curtain is linked to a hydration chamber and, in most cases, an ice tray. The water curtain is always cool and wet.
- Step 3) As air passes through the water curtain, it causes the water within the curtain to evaporate. As we know that evaporation requires heat, the water evaporates, removing heat from the air, thus creating cooler and cleaner temperatures.
- Step 4) A fan is then used to blow the cool, moister air out the other end of the device, spreading lower temperatures all through your.
It is that simple! Most portable cooling systems use this simple sequence of processes to cool temperatures. Some portable air cooling systems also have an ultraviolet light system that filters bacterias and other microorganisms. They also come with other interesting features.
FAQs About Portable Air Conditioners
Q: What is a portable air conditioner?
A: A portable air conditioner is a small, easy-to-use device designed to lower temperatures and is easy to carry about.
Q: How much space does a portable air conditioner take up?
A: The portable air conditioners that have been ranked here are small units designed for individual small spaces. These spaces may be your bedrooms, offices, dorm rooms, and small spaces in general.
Q: What size portable air cooler is suitable for me?
A: The portable air conditioner suitable for you depends largely on how big the intended use space(s). A 7,500 BTU unit will cover about 200 square feet of space, while a 10,000 BTU unit will cover about 300 square feet of space. A 14,000 BTU unit can cool 500 square feet of space. The portable air coolers on our list have the equivalent of 7,500 BTUs or less, making them perfect for smaller spaces.
Q: Does my portable air cooler need a window or outside access to run effectively?
A: No, your portable air cooler does not need a window or outside access to run effectively. The portable air coolers on this ranking work using a combination of a water curtain and ice tray. Unlike regular air conditioners, they do not have tubes or hoses connecting to the outside.
Q: What are some of the differences between a portable air conditioner and a regular air conditioner?
A: There differences between portable and regular air conditioners are quite obvious. The design of portable air conditioners allows you to carry them around, unlike the regular air conditioner in a fixed place. Portable air conditioners also use a kind of different technology to cool temperatures. While regular air conditioners use refrigerants and compressors, portable air conditioners use water curtains, evaporation techniques, and ice trays to cool temperatures.
Q: How safe is running a portable AC unit in my home?
A: The best portable AC units, like those on our list, do not have refrigerant, freon, or compressors. They do not create toxins or vapors that can build up to dangerous levels within your home. They’re safe to run in homes, as they only create water vapor and spreading it throughout the air.
Q: Which is the best portable AC unit?
A: The best portable AC unit is any of the units on our ranking. Choose the unit you need for the size of your space and, based on your budget, enjoy effective temperature cooling.
Q: To what extent will running an AC unit affect my electricity bill?
A: Running a portable AC unit in the space of your home means you are using less electricity than what would have been with using a whole-home HVAC system that cools your entire home. This means that you should have a lower electricity bill than if you were running a whole-home HVAC system. However, running multiple portable AC units in multiple spaces in your home can prompt higher electricity bills.
Q: Do portable AC units leak water?
A: They don’t leak water. The portable AC units on our list use a water curtain and ice tray to create cooler temperatures. This technology is different from the technology being used by other air conditioners.
Q: What is the function of the UV light in my air conditioner?
A: Portable air conditioners usually use aUV light and other filtration systems to filter the air it sucks in. This is a good thing, given that, according to the American College of Allergists, 50% of all illnesses are caused or made worse by indoor polluted air. The water and air around your AC unit may contain bacteria, molds, pollens, viruses, chemicals, and other toxins. UV lights help filter the air to remove these toxins from the air.
Q: Do portable AC units last long?
A: Although it is popularized that the best portable AC units last 5+ years before needing to be replaced, they should run for longer than that with proper maintenance. Because they run off USB power, you need not replace the battery. However, battery life can decline slightly as the unit gets older.
Q: What does SEER mean?
A: Air conditioners come with a SEER rating. SEER means Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. This rating shows how effective your air conditioner will be. The higher the SEER number is, the more efficient the air conditioner. Average AC units have a SEER rating between 13 and 16. The best units have SEER ratings as high as 20, and some even get more than this.
Q: Can I cool my home without AC?
A: If you don’t want to use the regular AC, the portable AC units listed above are just perfect for you. They allow you lower temperatures in your space without using a home HVAC or other similar systems. We even endorse them for your home ahead of the regular AC.
Q: How does a central AC system work?
A: A central AC system lowers temperatures by using a compressor to pump refrigerant through the system. It gathers heat and moisture from indoors and removes it from your home. The hot air from inside the space is pumped over a cooled indoor coil. The heat in the air is transferred to the coil, leading to a drop in air temperatures. The hot air is then pumped outside while the cool air is circulated inside.
Q: Why does my air conditioner dry the air?
A: Modern HVAC system lowers air temperatures and removes moisture. This leads to many homes feeling dry when they run the air conditioner through long summer days. They cause persons to experience dry skin and other issues when they run the air conditioner for long periods. The portable AC units we have ranked do well in adding moisture to the air instead of removing it.
Q: What is ENERGY STAR?
A: The ENERGY STAR is a program designed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help businesses and individuals purchase efficient electronics. Many of the air conditioners today have the ENERGY STAR label. This label verifies that you are buying an energy-efficient device.
Q: How much does a portable air conditioner cost?
A: The portable air conditioners that we have ranked cost from $15 to $120. Many of the units sell for around $90. Thus, for just $90, you are sure to find too many good portable air conditioners that can lower temperatures in your home.
Top Portable Air Conditioner Units Closing Words
The technology driving portable air conditioning has improved significantly in recent years. Now, you can get a good home cooling system for just under $100.
The portable air conditioners that we have ranked here are sure to provide effective cooling regardless of them being designed to look small. They are cost-effective in cool temperatures in your home, saving you from the hassle of a home-cooling HVAC system. Our list of the best portable AC devices allows you to get effective air cooling anywhere and at a lower price.
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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.