5 Portable Air Conditioners Ranked

Portable air conditioners are good when you need to cool only a single room in your home, or when you live in a studio with a crummy wall unit and no central heating/ac, or when you go camping. They also free up the view out your window. On the downside, they recycle “inside air,” require a drainage tube or a bucket, can be noisy, and make it look like you have a dorm fridge in your living room. Slate reviews five mid-range portable units (between 9,000 and 12,000 BTUs, or enough to cool between 350 and 550 square feet).

Their top pick is a 9,500 BTU model from Sharp. Consumersearch.com picks a Sharp model as well, saying that “almost every review we found for this model comments that it’s quiet, making it a good choice for a bedroom. A nice plus for this model is that condensate doesn’t need to be emptied. Rather, condensation is sent out through the exhaust hose.”

Consumersearch.com also cautions, “Bear in mind that portable air conditioning units require more BTUs than window AC units to cool a room of comparable size.” And we should note that Slate’s review process is thoroughly unscientific, and doesn’t address energy efficiency at all. In general, you should look for the highest EER (energy efficiency rating) you can find. However, consumersearch.com warns that EER measurement isn’t standardized on portable models the way it is on window units, so don’t rely solely on this when comparing models.

And we were kidding about taking one camping.

Resources: consumersearch.com

Are some portable ACs superior to others? [Slate.com]

(Photo: pink hats, red shoes)

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  1. DJShay says:

    A portable air conditioner in my bedroom has saved me from hot sleepless nights this summer. It’s a Koldfront 12000 Btu Portable Air Conditioner KF PAC1200W that I got from Compact Applicance. It doesn’t require draining and has a timer on it. Very nice product, but a little on the loud side. But I’ve gotten used to it.

  2. forever_knight says:

    i was dreaming about buying one of these a couple nights ago. central a/c went out and temps approached 100 during the day and 90 inside. decided against it–expensive stop gap measure.

  3. overbysara says:

    I live in a basement apartment in DC… I don’t know what I would do without my portable air conditioner… I would just sit and cry I think.

  4. Chicago7 says:

    They forgot about the Pinguino!

  5. Smashville says:

    It is 90 degrees inside my apartment…I cannot wait til payday.

  6. shiznannigan says:

    I used to have a 12,000 BTU unit by Haier that I got for my barracks room in Korea. Online price was over $300, but the PX had it for $150. Best investment ever. It was a bit noisey, but didn’t require any drainage or bucket.

  7. ivieso says:

    the newer ones are evaporative, so you dont have to drain out the water. It still collects water, but will recycle it once you run the a/c. I have central air, but with 4 members in the household who doesnt want the a/c on all the time because they are the devil, I went out and got one. Nothing is better than sleeping with the blanket in the 90 degree heat outside and the a/c on super cool. The minor happiness in life is so bliss….=)

  8. Promethean says:

    I recently had to buy a portable. As these things go, the unit is very much a “glass half full” kind of appliance in that it provided a highly optimistic assesment of the area it could cool. I’d recommend purchasers cut in half whatever area cooling metrics the units provide, and then make their decision.