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Throughout the pandemic, Shopping readers have gravitated toward home appliances, including air purifiers, fans, dehumidifiers and more. And with summer in full swing and temperatures continuing to rise — especially for many in the Pacific Northwest — air conditioning units may be top of mind. If you’re in a small space or prefer to skip installing a window air conditioner, there are plenty of portable AC units to consider. To help you guide your search and save some on the portable AC you ultimately opt for, here are some highly rated and affordable portable air conditioners, each of them in line with expert guidance.
How to shop for a portable air conditioning unit
Before you take a look around, you may want to think about where the portable air conditioning unit will go. How big is the room? This will tell you how much cooling power, which is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs), you should look for. To keep your space cool, air conditioners should typically have around 20 BTUs per square foot, John McKeon, MD, CEO of Allergy Standards, previously told us.
To help you find the right model for your needs, EnergyStar, a federal program promoting energy-efficient products, offers the below cooling capacity guidelines on its website:
- 5,000 to 6,000 BTUs: Cooling up to 250 square feet
- 7,000 to 8,000 BTUs: Cooling from 250 square feet
- 9,000 to 10,000 BTUs: Cooling from 350 square feet
- 12,000 BTUs: Cooling from 450 square feet up to 550 square feet
Highly rated affordable portable air conditioners
Portable air conditioners can run you anywhere from $250 to upwards of $500, depending on the size and amount of features, McKeon told us previously. We rounded up some highly rated affordable models that met McKeon’s and other experts’ tips, each option clocking in at less than $400.
This Frigidaire unit was previously dubbed the best overall portable air conditioner. It can cool rooms as big as 350 square feet, about the size of a typical bedroom. It features an air filter and includes a dehumidifying dry mode, as well as a sleep mode that helps to conserve energy. Additionally, it has three fan speeds and comes with a programmable timer and remote.
The best affordable portable air conditioner, this Shinco unit sports 8,000 BTUs of cooling power and can cool rooms as large as 200 square feet. Weighing 55 pounds, it’s lighter than other models on the market. Aside from cooling, it also works as a dehumidifier and a fan. Plus, it comes with a remote control and LED display.
This SereneLife AC unit is one of the most affordable options on this list at $310. It’s a bestseller on Amazon and produces 8,000 BTUs to cool rooms as large as 215 square feet. It comes with a remote and includes fan and dehumidifying features. Plus, you can find it in a variety of sizes, including 10,000 BTUs and 12,000 BTUs, both of which are less than $450.
If you don’t have much space, this Black+Decker option is compact and weighs 53 pounds so you can easily move it if needed. It sports 10,000 BTUs and can cool spaces as big as 150 square feet. In addition to cooling, it also includes a fan and dehumidifying mode.
This Midea unit includes a portable air conditioner, dehumidifier and fan all in one. It has 10,000 BTUs of cooling power fit for rooms as large as 200 square feet. For convenience, you can control this AC unit with a smartphone, or pair it with Alexa or Google Assistant to access voice commands. Plus, it comes with a reusable air filter. It’s also available for rooms as large as 275- and 330 square feet.