The Best Portable Air Conditioners Reviews 2019

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If your home lacks central air conditioning, you don’t have to settle for using fans or window-mounted ACs to keep you cool. These portable air-conditioners can be moved from room to room, but require the use of an exhaust hose that is typically vented through a window. The last two on the list are evaporative coolers that do not use a compressor or require a venting hose, but they are most effective in hot dry climates and with room windows open.

Think of portable air conditioners as the cooling choice of last resort. They’re better than a fan but not much. That’s what Consumer Reports discovered in its tests of portable air conditioners that, despite their claims, barely got a room below sweltering let alone the 78° F that’s considered the upper threshold of indoor comfort.

Portable air conditioners are intended for homes in which window configurations or building regulations prevent installation of window units. But getting one is a compromise you may not want to make because they’re typically bigger, noisier, more expensive, and use more energy. In fact, retailers report that many portable air conditioners are returned each season by dissatisfied customers.

How They Work
Unlike a window air conditioner, all the mechanical parts of a portable air conditioner are sitting in the room you’re trying to cool. This contributes to the noise and less-than-capable cooling, as the portable unit is using conditioned air from the room to cool the condenser and exhausts the hot air out an ungainly exhaust hose that resembles a dryer vent. That creates negative pressure causing unconditioned warm air from surrounding rooms or outdoors to be drawn into the room you’re trying keep cool.

How Portable?
And it’s debatable how portable they are, because once the hose is connected to the kit in the window, you won’t want to move the unit, especially since they typically weigh 50 to 80 pounds and sometimes even more.

Best Window A/Cs
Top choices from Consumer Reports’ tests
While they do have wheels, portable air conditioners can be difficult to roll on carpets and over raised thresholds between rooms. They also need their space—the hose is 5 to 7 feet long and the air conditioner must be positioned away from any walls or furniture that may block its airflow.

How We Test
In our tests, we measure how long it takes a portable air conditioner to lower the temperature from 90 degrees to 75 in a room appropriate for its claimed size. But few made it to even 80 after 100 minutes. None made our list of recommended air conditioners, but if you have no alternative, consider the Friedrich ZoneAir P12B, $600. While only fair at cooling, it was a champ in our tests simulating brownout conditions, as were most of the other models.
If a Portable Is Your Only Choice
Install it right. All portables come with a kit that you install in a window. Make sure all your connections are tight and seal any air gaps.
Get a ceiling fan. Create a cool breeze by running a ceiling fan.
Block the sun. Close the curtains and shades to keep the sun from overheating your room.

Top 6 Portable Air Conditioners

Frigidaire Gallery 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

This big Frigidaire just might be the smartest piece of tech in your home. You can remotely turn the unit on or off, change temperature, and control mode and fan speeds. This all adds up to saving energy. The A/C unit will remind you when the filter needs to be changed and about any other maintenance it needs. It’s rated to cool a room up to 550 square feet.

Whynter 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner

This 3-in-1 portable A/C operates as a air-conditioner, fan, and dehumidifier. Its dual hose exhausts and drains all condensate, which allows the unit to perform at its peak. It rolls on casters and can be used in computer/server rooms, bedrooms, classrooms, and garages/workshops.

LG 8,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

This all-white sleek portable AC looks great in any room. The auto-swing air vent circulates the cool air more efficiently, which lessens hot spots in a room. The auto evaporation system allows for continuous use, and like most other portable A/C units, it includes a programmable 24-hour on/off timer, which monitors and controls the temperature while you are away.

Honeywell 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

The Honeywell can cool and dehumidify areas up to 350-400 square feet. It includes a full-function remote control allows you to operate each feature from across the room. The auto-evaporation system allows for hours of continuous operation, with no water to drain or no bucket to empty. Included is a flexible exhaust hose and window venting kit, which can be removed when the A/C unit is not in use.

Honeywell Indoor Portable Evaporative Air Cooler

This little unit packs a chilly punch that can cool a room up to 280 square feet. Evaporative coolers like this one are most effective in dry conditions and draw less electricity than typical air conditioners. Fill the top-loading ice compartment plus 5.3-gallon (42-pint) water tank, open your windows and doors, and enjoy the cool breeze.

Portacool 240 Jetstream Portable Evaporative Cooler

When you need serious cooling power for working on home improvement projects or in your garage, the Portacool Jetstream evaporative cooler is one of the largest portable coolers you’ll find. It can cool garages and shop spaces up to 1,125 square feet, as well as provide a welcome breeze of 4,500 CFM to patios and decks. Connect your garden hose and fill up the 50 gallon tank, then fire up the pump and fan and you are ready to go. Bonus: It’s made in the USA.

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