The 7 Best Portable Air Conditioners of 2023, Tested by Gear Editors

The 7 Best Portable Air Conditioners of 2023, Tested by Gear Editors

Best Portable Air Conditioner Overall

Midea Midea Duo 12,000 BTU Ultra Quiet Portable Air Conditioner

Midea Duo 12,000 BTU Ultra Quiet Portable Air Conditioner

Best Portable Air Conditioner Overall

Midea Midea Duo 12,000 BTU Ultra Quiet Portable Air Conditioner

Credit: Courtesy of Retailer
Pros
  • Even, powerful cooling output
  • Quieter than most other models
  • Great smart home integration
  • Easy to setup

In many of our tests of standing air conditioners—even the best portable air conditioners—this year, we found most to be very similar. But Midea’s Duo 12,000 BTU model sets itself apart from the pack with better cooling (thanks largely to its high-BTU output) that was more evenly distributed across our test room. Surprisingly, even given its sky-high output (for a portable/standing AC), it’s also among the quietest we tested. It consistently ranked below normal conversation level, providing a nice, ambient white noise that we enjoyed falling asleep to.

This model also boasts many of the smart features you’d expect in a portable air conditioner at this price point. That includes things like seamless integration with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa straight out of the box, allowing you to program or set the unit from just about anywhere. Plus, we like the included remote control that offers more features than most other premium models. It’s a little pricey, but given the long list of features and best-in-class efficiency, it’s still our pick for the best overall portable air conditioner of 2023.

What do buyers say? “It is not cheap, but the price gives you a tremendous performance and feature combination,” said one Amazon reviewer.

BTUs 12,000
Maximum Cooling Area 450 sq. ft.
Dimensions 16.73 x 19.53 x 34.48 inches
Weight 72.8 pounds

Best Portable Air Conditioner Overall (Runner-up)

LG Electronics Dual Inverter Portable Air Conditioner

Dual Inverter Portable Air Conditioner

Best Portable Air Conditioner Overall (Runner-up)

LG Electronics Dual Inverter Portable Air Conditioner

Pros
  • Consistent and efficient cooling output
  • Great smart home integration
  • Easy to setup and use
  • Sleek design
Cons
  • Noise output is awkward

This dual-inverter portable air conditioner from LG get high marks for all the same reasons as our best overall pick from Midea above. The 10,000-BTU output is plenty capable of cooling down rooms up to 500 square feet. In our tests, we found this unit to be both consistent and efficient at keeping even a medium-sized room very comfortable.

Setup is dead-simple thanks to the built-in hose at the top, and we found it to be very user-friendly with a simple, intuitive remote and excellent smart home integration features (including Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant), courtesy of LG’s own LG Thin App which controls every last feature and setting from your smartphone or via voice control.

Our only minor gripe is the sound output. It’s slightly louder than the Midea, and the pitch is an unusual “off/on” that almost sounds like this AC is “breathing.” It may not bother some buyers, but it’s something our testers couldn’t help but notice.

The only reason this portable AC isn’t our top pick is that it’s more than $100 above the Midea model above.

What do buyers say? “I recently purchased this portable AC unit in preparation for the unbearable heat of the California Summer. So far, it works like a charm!” said one Walmart reviewer.

BTUs 10,000
Maximum Cooling Area 500 sq. ft.
Dimensions 19.41 x 30.43 x 18.11 inches
Weight 71 pounds

Quietest Portable Air Conditioner

Frigidaire 13,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

13,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

Quietest Portable Air Conditioner

Frigidaire 13,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

Pros
  • Ultra-quiet operation
  • Consistent, efficient cooling
  • Plenty of smart home features
Cons
  • Lackluster window installation kit

It’s no secret that air conditioners—both window and free-standing models—tend to be loud. If you’re sensitive to such noise, especially in a bedroom, Frigidaire’s 13,000 BTU portable AC is for you. It’s our pick for the quietest model of the year, running at least a few decibels below our top pick from Midea above. A few decibels might not seem like much, but it can make all the difference if you’re planning to set this up where you sleep.

This model was also incredibly efficient at not just keeping our test room cool, but also at circulating the air efficiently. We found it to be well above average at maintaining a consistent temperature throughout our test room.

It boasts many of the smart home integration features you’d expect in a premium AC that costs nearly $600. However, we found the setup to be lacking, even frustrating at times. Likewise with the window installation kit which isn’t as great as others we’ve tested. If quiet is your main reason for buying, however, this is the model for you.

What do buyers say? “This unit works great to keep a 400 sq ft sunroom cool that is full of windows. Great unit and highly recommend it,” said one Walmart reviewer.

BTUs 13,000
Maximum Cooling Area 600 sq. ft.
Dimensions 16.54 x 19.40 x 31.34 Inches
Weight 62 pounds

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Amazon Best Selling Portable Air Conditioner

BLACK+DECKER 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

Amazon Best Selling Portable Air Conditioner

BLACK+DECKER 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

Now 10% Off

Credit: Courtesy of Retailer
Pros
  • Efficient cooling
  • Dead-simple design
  • Basic remote with programmable timer
  • Great price
Cons
  • Feels a little “cheap”
  • Louder than most

Black + Decker might be better known for affordable toasters and coffee makers. But its portable air conditioners are pretty solid too. This model offers many of the same features of our most premium picks, including a beefy 14,000-BTU output that’s capable of cooling up to 700 square feet (one of the largest in our roundup) at a price that’s lower than almost any other in this class.

The trade-off with is that it is louder than most, one of the loudest we tested in fact. That may not be an issue if you’re planning to set it up somewhere out of the way, like the corner of a large living room or basement. But it won’t go unnoticed in a bedroom. It also lacks the polish of our top picks with a cheap, plasticky feel all around, from the AC unit itself to the basic remote that feels like an afterthought.

Still, it’s more than $100 cheaper than many of the most premium freestanding AC models. If budget is your main concern, this Amazon Best Seller is definitely worth a look. If this model is too much for your needs, it’s also available in several outputs as low as 8,000 BTU (below).

What do buyers say? Out of more than 40,000 Amazon reviews, 83% recommend the Black + Decker Portable Air Conditioner with at least a 4-star rating.

Read more: Best Air Purifiers

BTUs 14,000
Maximum Cooling Area 700 sq. ft.
Dimensions 17.1 x 28.1 x 13.8 inches
Weight 59.8 pounds

Best Value Portable Air Conditioner

TCL 7,500 BTU Smart Portable Air Conditioner

7,500 BTU Smart Portable Air Conditioner

Best Value Portable Air Conditioner

TCL 7,500 BTU Smart Portable Air Conditioner

Pros
  • Great price
  • Powerful and efficient cooling
  • Decent remote and app connectivity
Cons
  • Louder than most (especially on high)

In our experience, we’ve found that you typically get what you pay for when it comes to portable air conditioners. This budget-friendly model from TCL isn’t as flashy or good overall as our top picks. But it is considerably cheaper at less than $400 delivered.

The 7,500-BTU output is on the low side—enough to cool a 200 square foot room (like a bedroom or small living room). While it’s reasonably quiet (not much louder than a box fan), it is louder than other premium models we tested. However, that’s largely due to the “throw” of this model, or how far it pushes cool air into the room. It was better than most at filling our test room with nice cool air.

This model does include a basic, easy-to-use remote. But we were surprised that it also has built-in WiFi connectivity to control the unit via voice or the smartphone app.

What do buyers say? “Nice unit, stays out of the way until you need it. Pleasantly surprised by this portable AC,” said one Amazon reviewer.

BTUs 7500
Maximum Cooling Area 200 sq. ft.
Dimensions 12.6″D x 12.6″W x 26.38″H
Weight 49 pounds

Whynter Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner (ARC-14SH)

Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner (ARC-14SH)

Whynter Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner (ARC-14SH)

Credit: Courtesy of Retailer
Pros
  • Versatile design cools and heats
  • Fast, powerful cooling
  • Drains automatically
  • Good for a wide variety of rooms

With a dual hose, this portable air conditioner will make your space cooler, faster. In other words, it’s more powerful than some of the other options on this list. And with a BTU rating of 14,000 that’ll cool down up to 500 square feet, it’s a great option for any type of space, whether that’s a larger room or even a small apartment.

It’s also incredibly efficient as a dehumidifier. Our research indicates that it’s capable of removing up to 100 pints of moisture from the air in just 24 hours. That’s great if you happen to live anywhere with a humid climate, and it also makes this a solid option for year-round use.

Plus, it’s also a heater—capable of generating hot air up to 77°F—making this far more versatile than most basic standing AC units. This makes for one of the best portable air conditioners thanks to its combination of power, versatility, and price.

What do buyers say? “I’ve had three previous portable ACs. This Whynter is the best so far!” said one Amazon reviewer.

BTUs 14,000
Maximum Cooling Area 500 sq. ft.
Dimensions 16 x 19 x 35.5 inches
Weight 80 pounds

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DeLonghi 14000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

 14000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

DeLonghi 14000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

Credit: Courtesy of Retailer
Pros
  • Cools down large rooms fast
  • Features 50% noise reduction
  • Programmable timer
  • Protects against viruses like the flu
Cons
  • No onboard water reservoir for dehumidifier
  • Heavy

DeLonghi’s sleek portable air conditioner will cool down up to 700 square feet—making it the best air conditioner for larger rooms or even whole apartments among those that we tested. On the downside, it also consumes more energy than most in this year’s roundup.

It’s also louder than most on full blast. But it boasts 50 percent noise reduction on more moderate speeds, so you’ll get more of an ambient background noise rather than the feeling of being in a wind tunnel. Plus, our testers loved that the washable filter makes for low-effort cleaning.

This is a flagship model with all the bells and whistles, and a price tag to match. But, if only the best will do or you’re looking for serious cooling power (14,000 BTU!), this is your man.

What do buyers say? “Had to wait for a week of excessive heat warnings to review to see how this handled Chicago heat index over 100 degrees with 80+% humidity. It’s great,” said one Amazon reviewer.

BTUs 14,000
Maximum Cooling Area: 700 sq. ft.
Dimensions 15.4 x 17.5 x 31.7 inches
Weight 83.33 lbs

What to Look For When Shopping Portable Air Conditioners

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BTUs

The main factor you’ll want to consider when shopping for an air conditioner—be it a portable/standing option or an in-window unit—is the BTU, which measures the cooling capacity. “BTU” stands for “British Thermal Units.” That’s the amount of energy required to raise one pound of water by 1°F. Basically, it tells you how powerful the A/C unit is. Depending on how many square feet you want to cool, BTU ranges can vary. But, higher is not always better.

Your first instinct might be to go for the highest BTU available, but you may end up using more energy than needed (and we all know you don’t need a higher energy bill). So be sure to look at how many square feet a model will cool down within an hour and how it compares to the area of the room you’re shopping for.

Portability

Most decent portable air conditioners are truly portable, relying on built-in casters to move them freely from room to room. All of the models we recommended have casters.

Smart Home Features

Most budget to midrange portable ACs are “dumb” models with basic control panels and remotes. Modern premium models (typically north of $500) usually offer built-in smart home features, so they integrate seamlessly with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and other smart home systems. This allows you to program and control the unit from virtually anywhere, via a smartphone app or voice control.

Accessories

Some portable ACs include minor accessories or features like cord storage, a remote control, or smartphone-enabled app compatibility.

Price

Prices of portable air conditioners vary widely. Evaporative coolers (like the Honeywell 120 CFM Portable Evaporative Cooler above) are available for between $100-$150, although these aren’t true air conditioners. Decent standing ACs typically start at $300 or more, with the best models topping $500. They aren’t cheap, but in our experience, this is one home appliance where you get what you pay for.

Read more: Best Smart Home Devices

Setup and Care of Your Portable Air Conditioner

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In some ways, setting up a freestanding or portable air conditioner is easier than with a window-mounted unit. Roll (or lug) it close to a window, and collapse as many of the ribbed hose segments as possible to make the hose short and maximize your AC’s efficiency.

Use basic foam stripping (available at any hardware or home improvement store) to insulate the window, window frame, and AC vent panel. The key is to prevent as much warm/outside air from seeping through the cracks as possible.

Most portable air conditioners require minimal maintenance. Simply empty the water reservoir (if applicable) as necessary, and be sure to clean the filter at least once a month to keep it operating efficiently.

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How We Selected the Best Portable Air Conditioners of 2023

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Our cool-loving editors and staffers researched, compared, and personally tested dozens of best-selling portable air conditioners over the last year. We included models from well-known brands and top-rated options with stellar buyer reviews on the etailer websites we trust most (like Amazon, Walmart, and Home Depot). We considered every feature and spec, including efficiency, noise level, ease of setup, user-friendliness, smart home features, overall dimensions, price, and more. The list above represents our honest picks of the best portable air conditioners of 2023.

How Powerful Should My Air Conditioner Be?

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For most average rooms, 8,000 BTU is sufficient—especially if the unit has a good efficiency rating and isn’t battling the sun all day. If your air conditioner is too large, it will short-cycle, meaning it will chill the air in the room without providing time to dehumidify the space. The result: a room that’s cold and clammy. They don’t call them “air conditioners” for nothing. Removing the moisture from the air is an important part of an AC’s job.

How Much Should I Spent on an Air Conditioner?

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On the other hand, a tiny unit will work overtime trying to fight rising temps, and the money you saved in the department store will be spent on your electric bill. You’ll also be lucky to squeeze more than a year or two from an overtaxed window unit. Remember that the cost of air-conditioning a room is in the amount of time the compressor spends working, not in the tiny motor that drives the fan.

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Read More About the Best Ways to Stay Cool

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Lettermark

Mike Richard

Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He’s kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South Africa, and survived a near-miss great white shark attack in Mexico. His travel advice has appeared on the websites for Forbes, Travel + Leisure, CNET, and National Geographic. He loves the great outdoors and good bourbon, and (usually) calls Tulsa, Oklahoma home. Mike also enjoys speaking in the third person. 

Headshot of Christian Gollayan

Deputy Editor, Commerce

Christian Gollayan oversees e-commerce content for Men’s Health and Women’s Health. Previously, he was the Associate Managing Editor at TheManual.com. Christian’s work has also been featured in Food & Wine, InStyle, the New York Post, and Tatler Asia.

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