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Best Portable Air Conditioners - A Complete Buyer's Guide

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Different Types of Portable Air Conditioners

Monoblock Air Conditioners

Under monoblock air conditioners, the portable AC model may have a single or dual hose model. Single-hose models have only one hose that connects outside where the machine extracts the warm air to. The hose is present only to remove the warm air from the room, and the unit uses the air from inside the room for airflow.

Single-hose portable air conditioners tend to use up more energy than the dual-hose system, and are best to use as an additional cooling unit instead of the main air conditioning system. Still, the single-hose type is portable, easy to set up, and readily available across multiple brands and variations.

The dual-hose portable air conditioner, on the other hand, uses two hoses directed outside: one is used to remove the warm air from the room, while the other is used to bring in air from the outside. This model uses less pressure, which tends to use up less energy continuously running the air conditioning system.

Split-type Air Conditioners

Split-type portable air conditioners, much like their wall-mounted counterparts, have two separate units that connect through a flexible hose. The indoor unit works like any portable air conditioner with the addition of an outdoor unit for condensing and compression.

The split-type model is less portable than the monoblock model, but it is the quietest portable air conditioner type in our list. It is also generally the most expensive, as advanced models may go upwards of $1000 per unit, especially for a smart portable air conditioner with a programmable timer and advanced features.

Air Coolers

An air cooler is a type of portable air conditioning unit, but it has a lower cooling power than that of a monoblock or split-type portable air conditioner. They do, however, remove excess moisture along with the hot air extracted from the room, so you won't need to worry about the condensation.

However, these units are not often popular with large areas as they inefficiently cool rooms larger than 15 sqm. They are affordable options, albeit they do not provide the same cooling factor you may be looking for from other portable air conditioners.

How They Work

How Do Portable Air Conditioners Work (Complete Guide)

Portable air conditioners work no differently than other types of air conditioners in keeping a room cool. A portable air conditioner would typically have a hose that extends to the outside of the room, either via a small opening in the window or through a vent, that extracts the warm air from the room and sends it outside.

As the machine picks up the stagnant air around the room, the compressor runs the air through cool coils, lowering the temperature, and bringing the now-cold air back into the room. On the other hand, the compressor also collects the warm air and pushes it out of the room through the hose. This heat extraction process is what cools a room.

Portable air conditioner compressors operate both hot and cold coils simultaneously, effectively cooling down the room. The cooling power of the portable AC unit depends on its British Thermal Units (BTU). The higher the BTU, the larger the room area one unit can effectively cool.

Factors to Consider When Buying

Budget

Much like any large home appliance, portable air conditioners can cost you a pretty penny. Most standard units can cost you between $300 to $400, with portable AC units made for large rooms costing upwards of $800. Consider your budget first when buying so you don't overspend for your portable air conditioner.

Energy Consumption

Besides your initial spending budget, consider the costs of running the unit. A portable air conditioner has an average energy consumption of 2900 watts per hour for mid-sized units. You will need to be prepared for the electricity costs of running a portable air conditioner, and decide if you can go for a unit with more energy efficiency.

Space Requirements

Portable units are often smaller and more lightweight than your average window-type or wall-mounted air conditioner. You probably won't have too much trouble fitting the machine into your room. However, the vent must not be covered or limited, and you will need to find a space where the hose can be directed outdoors.

Consider if you have the space for the machine before you purchase, especially if you're looking at split-type portable air conditioner models that will require you to install an outdoor unit, limiting the portability of your AC.

Cooling Power

A portable AC is much more affordable and easy-to-install than a wall-mounted air conditioner. They are smaller than most AC types, and However, portable units generally have a lower cooling capacity than other types of air conditioners, so pay attention to the area capacity your unit can effectively cool down.

Most portable air conditioners have a seasonally adjusted cooling capacity, which will adapt the temperature of its cooling coils to the temperature outside. Still, you may need a unit with higher BTU than recommended for exceptionally hot weather and climate.

Maintenance

Most air conditioner maintenance companies are well-versed and experienced in servicing wall-mounted, window, and ceiling or central air conditioners. However, not all companies may be experienced with your particular portable model. Portable units do not require much maintenance, but they can be difficult to clean and service when you do need to take it to the shop.

Before deciding to buy a portable unit, check to see if you have a local maintenance company near you that can service your particular portable model. Homeowners in Singapore can look to Luce Aircon for all your air conditioner needs - regardless of the model. We can work with all types of air conditioners, including portable ones.

The Best Portable Air Conditioners in 2022

Looking for the best portable air conditioner to buy? While we can't say there's any brand or model that can be called the best portable air conditioner, here are 10 of the top portable air conditioners you can buy!

  1. SereneLife Portable Air Conditioner (SLPAC8)

Pros: Effective for hot climates, and can cool rooms effectively even during the summer. Vents oscillate to provide better airflow, and customer reviews are mostly positive.

Cons: Installation is challenging according to consumer reviews, and the unit may condensate heavily in humid locations.

Our Rating: 4.8/5 - As far as portable air conditioning units go, this model is our top pick as it works as advertised, and can be used as a supplementary unit even for large rooms. 

  1. LG 6,000 BTU (DOE) / 8,000 BTU (ASHRAE) Portable Air Conditioner

Pros: BTU is lower than most competitors, but consumers report that the model can cool rooms larger than the recommended 250sqm.

Cons: The unit is not as quiet as advertised, and is definitely louder than other brands.

Our Rating: 4.5/5 - The unit works well for most rooms and climates, but the unit creates a loud noise that may be distracting. 

  1. MIDEA MAP08R1CWT Portable Air Conditioner

Pros: Durable, simple installation process, and has an easy-to-clean filter. The unit is also quieter than other brands, and can effectively cool small areas at a time.

Cons: Recommended cooling area only exceeds up to 175 sqm, which is lower than most models in this list. The unit is also much more expensive than other brands, priced at $1000 and above.

Our Rating: 4.3/5 - Midea is a good runner up in this list as this model cools small spaces efficiently without any common or frequent problems. The unit is quiet, and maintenance is fairly simple. However, the high price can be daunting as other portable ACs can perform just as well with a lower price.

  1. Whynter ARC-14S 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner

Pros: Straightforward installation, fast cooling and energy efficient due to its dual-hose system.

Cons: Some consumers reported needing to cut a customized spot for the exhaust hose.

Our Rating: 3.8/5 - The unit is decent but fairly standard. Good for small spaces, but the unit may have a problem with air leaks.

  1. BLACK+DECKER BPACT08WT Portable Air Conditioner with Remote Control

Pros: Quick installation, durable, has a timed setting that will dim the unit to save energy, and automatically shut down after 6 hours for sleep mode.

Cons: Cools only slightly, even in small spaces.

Our Rating: 3.2/5 - The unit can cool spaces only enough to be comfortable.

  1. Evapolar evaCHILL EV-500 Personal Evaporative Cooler and Humidifier

Pros: Cools slightly, affordable, and good as a supplement cooling system for personal spaces such as office cubicles and cars.

Cons: Don't expect this unit to cool the entire room, as it is meant to be a personal cooler.

Our Rating: 3/5 - Even for a personal cooler, the cooling capacity of this unit is subpar.

  1. Shinco 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioners with Built-in Dehumidifier Function

Pros: Easy to install, quick to operate, and effectively cools small to mid-sized rooms without any mechanical problems. The unit condenses only a small amount of water, removing the need to constantly change out the drip tray.

Cons: The loud noise coming from the unit can be distracting, and is not suitable for sleeping.

Our Rating: 4.2/5 - The unit is effective in cooling even mid-sized rooms, but the loud noise may be distracting.

  1. TOSOT 8,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

Pros: Unit is very quiet, so it's perfect to use in bedrooms while sleeping. Cooling factor can decrease the temperature of the room enough to keep it comfortable. Ideal for rooms 250 sqm and smaller.

Cons: Exhaust hose does not have a filter, which may lead to clogs over time. Once the unit reaches the temperature set on the thermostat, the fan stops running, which can increase the temperature in the room. Installation and operating instructions are reportedly confusing.

Our Rating: 3.5/5 - Consumers report issues with the compressor, which is a big deal when it comes to its cooling capacity. The unit seems to be a standard portable air cooler that can cool rooms just enough to maintain a comfortable temperature.

  1. Pro Breeze Smart Air Conditioner Portable 10,000 BTU

Pros: Smart device, programmable with wifi-compatible mobile app, compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and high BTU that can cool up to 300 sqm.

Cons: Exhaust hose is not insulated, and the unit produces too much condensation.

Our Rating: 4.5/5 - Performs as advertised, but only for rooms smaller than the recommended 300 sqm. 

  1. GE 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner, Dehumidifier & Room Fan

Pros: Available up to 13,500 BTU which is good for rooms up to 250 sqm. It has a 3-in-1 mode with a fan and dehumidifier.

Cons: Buyers have reported the model is louder than other models, and customer service is difficult to reach for any issues with the model.

Our Rating: 3.5/5 - Cools rooms only slightly, but is easy to install in small rooms. Cooling factor is average, and is generally a standard air conditioning model.

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This article is written by our passionate staff writers who seek to share our knowledge from our business

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