What Are The Best Portable Air Conditioners?

Hot temperatures are coming! It’s the middle of April and there are parts of the country that are already feeling the heat. Arizona, for example, will have temperatures of over 90 degrees. The humidity might make it feel like it’s over 100 degrees! A sweltering day is a bad time to find out your cooling system doesn’t work properly. Even worse, the problem is compounded if the issue is with an HVAC system. Those are expensive! But central air isn’t the only option. Consider this: a portable air conditioner. It’s good to have more options then only central air. If you don’t often use your central system, a portable air conditioner might be a great solution if you only need to cool one room in your home.

Portable air conditioners meet the same goals of an HVAC system when it comes to cooling. They can cool a room or space. Unlike a central cooling unit, however, a portable air conditioner is only meant to cool one room. It can sometimes cool two or more rooms. But the effectiveness of cooling degrades the farther away a room is to the unit. These types of air conditioners are often used in a shop environment. In fact, in a previous job I had to visit a service shop in Ardmore, Oklahoma. The shop wasn’t too large but there was no central air routed and it was in the middle of August. Their solution was a portable air conditioner. It kept the mechanics cool, well at least cooler then they would have been out in the Oklahoma sun.

All portable air conditioners are not the same when it comes to cooling power. They are separated, in part, by British Thermal Units (BTU). BTU is a number assigned to portable air conditioners. It’s essentially a number which measures the amount of energy produced by the unit. The higher a BTU number is, the more energy the unit produces. A very large room requires a unit with a high BTU number. On the other hand, a smaller room will cool well with a unit that has a lower BTU number. An example of a smaller room could be a bedroom. The good news is that there is a wide range of BTU numbers when it comes to portable air conditioners. You’ll be able to shop around for the best choice for you and your situation.

Choosing Between a Window or a Portable Air Conditioner

Before you make your decision on rather or not you will be buying a portable air conditioner or a window air conditioner you should first consider the differences between the two types of products. What product are you leaning towards? Which one should you actually get? To be honest folks, these products are really very similar and there are only a few key differences that you will need to think about before making your buying decision. Let’s take a look:

Window Units

  •  Window air conditioners have to be mounted either through your window or through a make-shift hole in your wall. Once mounted correctly they provide a stable and reliable cooling source. Some people may struggle mounting these units, especially if it is a higher BTU model and is a heavier unit. Depending on the size a proper mounting job may require two people.
  • Generally, window units are more efficient then a portable unit. That means that you get more cooling power per BTU and also save on energy bills when compared to portable air conditioners.
  • Another benefit to them is that you don’t have to worry about where to vent the exhaust. Window units are designed to be halfway in and out of your house so that there is a space for the exhaust to go right away. The downside here, which I’ll mention further below, is that mounted window units are sometimes seen as an eyesore and depending on where you live you may get complaints.
  • If you have decided on a window unit then check out RefrigerantHQ’s guide on ‘What are the Best Window Air Conditioners,’ by clicking here.

Portable Units

  • Portable air conditioners are just that, portable. That means they are easy to move around your home or to even pack in your truck and take somewhere else. The versatility of this adds a lot of favor to the portable air conditioner side of things.
  • A portable air conditioner is much much easier to install. There is no mounting required, no support brackets, none of the hassle that comes with installing a window unit into your home, garage, or office. These units are all about the ‘easy’ button.
  • While portable air conditioners are easy to install they also prevent any potential squabble with your home owner’s association. Most HOAs do not allow a window unit hanging out of a home. They see it as an eye sore and will tolerate it. A portable air conditioner can give you a work around as the worst anyone is going to see is a small exhaust tube.
  • For RefrigerantHQ’s guide on ‘What are the Best Portable Air Conditioners,’ by clicking here.

Considerations

Before we talk about specific considerations, you should know what this article will do for you. Whether you are in the market for a portable air conditioner, or not, you’ll have a much better sense of the type of unit you might eventually purchase. We are going to walk through different units which will be sorted by BTU number. I’ll also include specific products for each BTU range. Each range will showcase three different portable air conditioners, if available. Finally, I’ll sort them by good, better, and best choices.

I am a big believer in giving consumers choice, but a limited choice. Instead of offering you fifty or even one-hundred different options for your new portable air conditioner we are going to offer you three products in each category. The thinking behind this model is giving the consumer a Good, Better, Best option. This methodology of selling was taught  to me nearly ten years ago from a former supervisor. The concept behind it is we give an option to the price conscious customer: Good, an option to the middle of the road customer: Better, and an option for the premium customer: Best. So, once you recognize what kind of customer you are and what your budget is we can begin to narrow down your selection.

The last thing that I am going to mention before getting into the products is that a Good ranked product is not a bad product by any measure. They are a perfectly good product they just not may have all of the bells and whistles that a Better or Best rated product may have. Think of it as a bare bones car compared to a sports edition. The bare bones vehicle will still service it’s function getting you from point A to point B but it will not have all of the features that a sports edition will.

We at RefrigerantHQ want to make sure you understand your options before choosing to purchase a portable air conditioner, and there are a lot of options and conditioners to be made. Portable air conditioners have a great number of benefits. Inexpensive, small, efficient—these are among the factors people think about when they consider buying a portable air conditioner. These units are normally a few hundred dollars. In contrast, central cooling systems normally can cost thousands of dollars. Portable air conditioners are called such for a reason: they’re small. And you can move them around that house or shop as you please. You can even remove it completely and take it other places. You don’t need a central air conditioner running if you only want to cool one room. It’s more efficient to use the portable air conditioner in this situation. A lot of folks will just cool their bedroom during the day and night and a portable unit would be perfect for such an application.

Which room do you want to cool? What BTU level should you be looking for? The answer to these questions will help you choose a portable air conditioner. To know what BTU unit you’ll need and any other questions you could have please check the official RefrigerantHQ Window Air Conditioner Buyer’s Guide. Yes, this article leans towards window air conditioners. However, the information regarding BTU number, room size, and everything else can be applied to portable air conditioners as after all these units all function under the same principal of removing heat from a room.

Which is the Best?

Here’s the answer: it depends. And it depends on a host of factors. Although I’ll rank them with good, better, and best, the ranking doesn’t necessarily mean the “best” one if the best for you specifically. For example, you might want to forego a few bells and whistles if it means you could save a hundred dollars. Or, perhaps you want a mix of features and cost. Better might be a good option for you at that point. Having plenty of choices will allow you to eventually narrow your search down to the perfect portable air conditioner for you.

Finally, before we jump into the ranges you should know that good units might be just as good as the best units. You have one primary goal when it comes to portable air conditioning: cooling your room. And you’ll be able to do that with any of the units below!  In your BTU range, you might prefer good, better, or best based on a number of factors. Size, features, and BTU number are factors worth considering. Are you ready to look at the units? Without further delay, let’s get started!

5,000-6,000 BTU Range

The 5,000-6,000 BTU range is the lowest on our list. These units are meant to cool smaller rooms and spaces. Specifically, a portable air conditioner with 5,000 BTU can cool a bedroom or a small office. These units are meant for a room with one-hundred to two-hundred and fifty square feet. Therefore, the bedroom might be a smaller guest bedroom (instead of a master bedroom). Our Good, Better, Best picks for this BTU range are as follows:

Impecca 6,000 Btu Portable Air Conditioner
Impecca 6,000 Btu Portable Air Conditioner

Good – Impecca Portable Air Conditioner 6,000 BTU

  • The Impecca Portable Air Conditioner seems to be a newer model because it doesn’t have any review yet. However, it features “whisper quiet operation”. This is a selling point especially for those who have difficulty sleeping. The quiet air conditioner shouldn’t disturb their sleep. It’s important to know that there is a great range between quiet and loud when it comes to portable air conditioners.

Better – LG LP0817WSR 5,500 BTU

  • The LG LP0817WSR might be a better choice. This model is rated three and a half out of five stars. It’s my opinion that it’s better to know the rating (whatever it is) than not know the rating at all. One great feature of this portable air conditioner is that it has an auto evaporation system. That means you shouldn’t have to drain water as much. This is a convenient option for those looking to turn it on or off and forget about it.

Best – ClimateRight CR5000ACH 5,000 BTU

  • The ClimateRight CR5000ACH is likely the best choice. It is rated four out of five stars. The good rating is partly due to the unit’s durability. I’m reading that people like the way the unit works. It’s quiet, it’s small, and it works as it should. You buy a portable air conditioner to cool a room. And this unit does the job! The ClimateRight CR5000ACH seems like the perfect choice for a smaller bedroom or office.

7,000-8,000 BTU Range

Let’s take a step up to the 7,000-8,000 BTU range. With this power, we’re now looking at master bedrooms and small living rooms. These units are meant for rooms with between two-hundred and fifty to three-hundred and fifty square feet. You can also use this unit in a small room on a lower setting. This would also work for a work site office or even a construction trailer. Our Good, Better, Best picks for this BTU range are as follows:

LG LP1217GSR 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
LG LP1217GSR 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

Good – Haier CPRB07XC7 7,000-BTU

  • The Haier CPRB07XC7 is a good choice for the following reason: it has the option for three cooling speeds. One size doesn’t always fit everyone. And this unit is the perfect example of one that could suit the needs of different people. Do you want a more powerful unit for a smaller room? This unit is good for that, on a lower setting.

Better – LG LP1217GSR 7,000 BTU

  • The LG LP1217GSR is our better choice. It’s rated three and a half out of five stars. This unit has roller wheels which makes it more of a “portable” unit. You can easily move it from room to room depending on your needs. It also has a power cord which is six feet long. You can move it around freely to suit your needs.

Best – LG LP1215GXR 7,000 BTU

  • The LG LP1215GXR is likely the best choice of the three. At three and a half stars, it matches the rating of the last unit. However, it has over two hundred reviews, giving it a more stable rating. This unit has a dehumidifying function which mixes cool and dry air. It’s a great option which can keep you cool during the day and night.

9,000-10,000 BTU Range

With the 9,000-10,000 BTU , we are moving up into a more powerful range. These units will cool a room between three-hundred and fifty -four-hundred and fifty square feet. These are larger living rooms and larger master bedrooms. In some larger cities, you can find a small studio apartment within the range of four-hundred and fifty square feet. The portable air conditioners found below should cool these spaces. Our Good, Better, Best picks for this BTU range are as follows:

Spt 9000 BTU Slimline Ac with Heater
Spt 9000 BTU Slimline Ac with Heater

Good – SPT Slimline 9,000 BTU

  • The SPT Slimline has three out of five stars. We rate this as good because of its interesting design. It’s tall and slim, which is great for rooms without much extra space. Going up, instead of spreading out, is a solution for rooms like this.

Better – LG Electronics LP0910WNR 9,000 BTU

  • The LG Electronics LP0910WNR is rated three and a half out of five stars. This unit has over one hundred reviews, making it one of the more popular portable air conditioners. Manually adjustable louvers set this unit apart. Do you want cool air to go up? Simply move the louver in the upwards position. Or, you can make the cool air go down by putting the louver in the downward position.

Best – Haier HPN10XHM 10,000 BTU

  • The Haier HPN10XHM only has five reviews so far. But it is the best choice of the three. The unit has four and a half our of five stars. It has an interesting feature: it doubles as a heater! Instead of buying a portable air conditioner and a portable heater, you have the option here of buying only one unit. You can use this unit year-round.

11,000-12,000 BTU Range

The 11,000-12,000 BTU levels are nearing the middle of the range. Indeed, these numbers also correlate to the ability to cool larger rooms. I am talking about rooms that are between four-hundred and fifty to five-hundred and fifty square feet. Large living rooms, small apartments, one-level condos—these are the type of places that can be cooled by a portable air conditioner in this range. Here, you’ll begin to find some heavy duty units. Our Good, Better, Best picks for this BTU range are as follows:

DeLonghi PACN110EC 11,000 BTU
DeLonghi PACN110EC 11,000 BTU

Good – DeLonghi PACN110EC 11,000 BTU

  • The DeLonghi PACN110EC has three and a half out of five stars. A great feature of this unit is that they advertise easy installation. This portable air conditioner should be up-and-running within minutes of taking it out of the box. This is important especially if you receive the unit on a very hot or humid day. Sometimes you want things you work right away. And this would be the perfect unit for that.

Better – Whynter ARC-110WD 11,000 BTU

  • The Whynter ARC-110WD might be the better choice. It’s also rated three and a half out of five stars. However, this unit has over one hundred more reviews. This unit features four operating modes: air conditioner, fan, dehumidifier, and automatic. With all these options, there is a mode for everyone and for different situations. Sometimes you don’t need it to run much cooler than the room already is. The fan might be a good solution here.

Best – Honeywell MN12CES 12,000 BTU

  • The Honeywell MN12CES has four out of five stars and has a whopping seven-hundred reviews. It is by far one of the most popular mobile air conditioners on the market today. This air conditioner boasts a powerful air flow yet quiet operation. In addition, this unit doubles as a dehumidifier which removes excess moisture in the air. The room will become cooler and you’ll stay dryer. This is the perfect choice for larger rooms.

13,000-15,000 BTU Range

The 13,000-15,000 BTU levels are past the middle of the range. Portable air conditioners with this level of power can cool rooms that are five-hundred and fifty to seven-hundred square feet. This might include multiple rooms that are close together. These units are able to better cool small apartments, condos, or living rooms. If you have a small apartment in an area that gets very hot in the summer, you might consider the units below instead of those in the 11,000-12,000 BTU Range. If you’re not sure, it’s always safer to go with a model that’s a little more powerful. The price difference is minimal and you’ll be happy you did. Our Good, Better, Best picks for this BTU range are as follows:

De'Longhi PAC N130HPE 13,000 BTU
De’Longhi PAC N130HPE 13,000 BTU

Good – De’Longhi PAC N130HPE 13,000 BTU

  • The De’Longhi PAC N130HPE has three and a half stars out of five with around forty reviews. This model is extra portable due to having durable castor wheels. This plays an important role when you want to move your portable air conditioner from room to room. This model also doubles as a heater! Instead of buying another machine (a heater), you can just use this one all year long. You’ll be giving your HVAC system a break when you purchase an item like this.

Better – BLACK+DECKER BPACT14WT 14000 BTU

  • The BLACK+DECKER BPACT14WT is less expensive and has four out of five stars. For this reason alone, this model might be a better option. But let’s see what else it features. Like the prior model, this one has castor wheels. But this unit has an easily removable filter which you can run under your sink to clean it. A feature as simple as this can make a big difference when it comes to your air quality.

Best – Whynter ARC-14S 14,000 BTU

  • The Whynter ARC-14S also has four out of five stars. However, it boasts over fifteen-hundred customer reviews. This unit is packed with features. It rolls. It has three modes of operation (air conditioner, fan, or dehumidifier). It also includes a washable filter. This model features an auto-restart function in the event of a power outage or similar event. It has a memory and will boot right back up to where you were when before the power went out! This portable air conditioner also features ‘advanced self-evaporating technology’ which recycles moisture collected as a result of its normal operation. It’s easy to see why this unit is so popular.

16,000-18,000 BTU Range

The 16,000-18,000 BTU units can be considered the beginning of the higher-level units. These are considered more industrial-level units. These portable air conditioners can cool a space which is seven-hundred to one-thousand square feet. It’s easy to find apartments in this range. In addition to apartments, these units can cool an entire floor of your house. This would also be a great unit to cool a small service bay or workshop. You don’t need many units with this amount of power! If there is a room of area in your house that gets hotter than others, you should put your portable air conditioner right in there and enjoy the cooler air right away. This is especially true if you plan on spending a good amount of time in that room. Let’s take a look at the units in this range. Our Good, Better, Best picks for this BTU range are as follows:

DOROSIN Industrial Portable Air Conditioner 18000BTU
DOROSIN Industrial Portable Air Conditioner 18000BTU

Good – Movincool OP18 18,000 BTU

  • The Movincool OP18 is considered a good option primarily because of its power. However, the unit currently has no customer reviews. In the order of prudence, we are putting this portable air conditioner here (“good”) because of this reason. If it cools the room, then it does exactly what we want it to do. It might not have a high number of bells and whistles. But it should keep you and your family cool on a hot day.

Better – DOROSIN DAKC-65 18,000 BTU

  • The DOROSIN DAKC-65 has stretchable ducts, which can come in handy if you want to move away from a window. These portable air conditioners need a window or some other external fixture to connect to and the extra length from these stretchable ducts will help you position your air conditioner in exactly the right spot. This unit also features a large capacity water tank. This means that you don’t need to empty the collected moisture too often.

Best – Tripp Lite SRCOOL18K 18,000 BTU

  • The Tripp Lite SRCOOL can be considered the best option of the three. It has three out of five stars. However, this portable air conditioner has over two-hundred reviews. I didn’t find a higher-rated unit in this range, which tells you that there aren’t too many options. However, this unit has some great features. This portable air conditioner is unique in that it prevents “shutdowns, malfunctions, and failures caused by overheating and temperature fluctuations”. It also comes with a one-year warranty and has free tech support. Because of its popularity, there are currently only a few more left in stock. Get one while you have the chance!

19,000-21,000 BTU Range

Units in the 19,000-21,000 BTU range are industrial units. There are used for spaces such as computer server rooms. They cool rooms that are between one-thousand to twelve-hundred square feet in size. Although they are used in an industrial setting, they can also be used to cool your home. Depending on the size of your home, one of these units might be able to cool your entire house! Because of their industrial value and power, they are more expensive than less powerful units. For some people, the price is worth it. Let’s take a look at three portable air conditioners in this range. Our Good, Better, Best picks for this BTU range are as follows:

Good – Ice Qube 20,000 BTU

  • With a name like “Ice Qube”, you’d imagine that this portable air conditioner would make your room freezing cold. And it could do that! Although it’s “portable”, this unit weighs over two-hundred pounds. Since we’re in the industrial range of portable air conditioners, this weight shouldn’t be surprising. But if you’re looking to cool an entire house, this might be a good place to start.

    Industrial Portable AC, 2 Ton w/ Cold Air Nozzles 21,000 BTU
    Industrial Portable AC, 2 Ton w/ Cold Air Nozzles 21,000 BTU

Better – Thermal Edge HC20123612 Model HC201 20,000 BTU

  • The Thermal Edge HC20123612 Model HC201 features a “condensate evaporation system”. This means that this unit precools refrigerant to conserve energy. At the same time, it vents condensation. This means that no separate drip line is required. Features like this make an industrial unit more convenient to operate and maintain. For these reasons, this portable air conditioner might be a better option than the first.

Best – Global Industrial Portable AC 21,000 BTU

  • The Global Industrial Portable AC has a unique design. Its bright blue and silver color combination is very catchy. This unit has “industrial” in its name for a reason: it cools large spaces. It features easy installation, condensation overflow protection, and anti-freezing technology. These factors are important when choosing a portable air conditioner of this class. The anti-freezing feature is important especially if the unit will be constantly running in places such as computer server rooms.

22,000-25,000 BTU Range

We are finally in the highest range we’ll cover! The 22,000-25,000 BTU range can cool rooms in the twelve-hundred to fourteen-hundred square foot range. Like the former range, these units are industrial-level air conditioners. They are also quite large. And quite heavy! If you want the coldest experience, in the hottest summer, one of the units below would be the best option for you. Let’s look at the final three portable air conditioners. Our Good, Better, Best picks for this BTU range are as follows:

Good- Koldwave 23,000 BTU

  • The Koldwave portable air conditioner has a larger length than height. This is important if you want the unit to be housed in the middle of two rooms. Half of the unit can cool one room. The other half of the unit can cool the other room. However, with an air conditioner this powerful, it should cool both rooms anyways. This unit features two cooling speeds depending on your personal needs. It also has a fan-only option which can come in handy if you only want to circulate some air.

Better – MovinCool Office Pro24 24,000 BTU

  • The MovinCool Office Pro24 is 1,000 BTU more powerful than the former. This might be the better option because it has a perfect five out of five stars. However, this star rating is only after one review. So you’ll have to take this rating with a grain of salt. One of the best features of this unit is that it operates automatically on weekends or after-hours. This is crucial if this portable air conditioner is being used in an industrial setting and employees have gone home for the day. For this reason, the MovinCool Office Pro24 might be the better portable air conditioner. Again, this would also be a great product for a small service or workshop area.

    Tripp Lite Portable Cooling Unit Air Conditioner
    Tripp Lite Portable Cooling Unit Air Conditioner

Best – Tripp Lite SRCOOL24K 24,000 BTU

  • Unlike the MovinCool Office Pro24, the Tripp Lite SRCOOL24K has three out of five stars. However, the Tripp Lite SRCOOL24K has over two hundred customer reviews. This is important because it shows the unit’s popularity. This model uses R410A refrigerant, which complies with environmentally-friendly standards. Arguably the best feature in this portable air conditioner is its ability to manipulate its dual output ducts. You can turn one output duct in one direction and the other output duct in another direction. This is like having two separate portable air conditioners! For this reason, the Tripp Lite SRCOOL24K might be the best option in the 22,000-25,000 BTU range.

Conclusion

Now I know that we just went through a whole host of information. and it may be overwhelming. Remember though folks, the first step to choosing a portable air conditioner is to know which room you want to cool. Once you have identified your room and your needs you can then begin to realize what air conditioner you need using our above Good, Better, Best guide.

I understand that this list is quite extensive. If I had never bought a portable air conditioner before, I would want someone to point me in the right direction. That’s why I’m open to answering any questions that you may have. Feel free to contact me through this page. I wish you the best of luck choosing a portable air conditioner. Stay cool this summer and I hope this article was helpful.

Also, don’t forget to read a couple more articles we’ve done relating to portable air conditioners. They are:

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

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