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5 best affordable portable air conditioners under $400 in 2021

Portable AC units are easier to install than traditional window AC units. Though they're typically a pricier alternative, we found some affordable options.
Woman sitting in her room adjusting temperature of her Portable AC unit. These are the best affordable portable air conditioners in 2021. Shop the best portable air conditioning units from Frigidaire, BLACK+DECKER and more.
The best affordable portable ACs include options from Frigidaire, Amazon, Black+Decker and more.Carlos G. Lopez / Getty Images

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As we continue to spend a lot of time at home, whether we’re working remotely or socially distancing, home appliances may be top of mind — during the pandemic, Shopping readers have gravitated toward air purifiers, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, fans and more. One more thing that might be on your list, especially as temperatures start to warm up, is an air conditioning unit. And if you’re in a small space, or prefer not to install a window air conditioner, there are plenty of portable units to consider. Here are the best affordable portable air conditioners to help you guide your search and save some cash while shopping.

SKIP AHEAD Best affordable portable air conditioners

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:

  • Cooling up to 250 square feet: 5,000 to 6,000 BTUs
  • Cooling from 250 square feet up to 350 square feet: 7,000 to 8,000 BTUs
  • Cooling from 350 square feet up to 450 square feet: 9,000 to 10,000 BTUs
  • Cooling from 450 square feet up to 550 square feet: 12,000 BTUs

Best affordable portable air conditioning units

Portable air conditioners can cost you anywhere from $250 to upwards of $500 depending on the size and amount of features, McKeon previously advised. We rounded up some highly rated affordable models under $400.

1. Frigidaire 8,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Remote

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.

2. Amazon Basis Portable Air Conditioner with Remote

The best affordable portable air conditioner, this Amazon Basics unit has 10,000 BTUs of cooling power and can cool rooms as large as 400 square feet. Weighing just under 52 pounds, it’s lighter than other models on the market and includes three speeds and an automatic timer. It also comes with a remote control and LED display.

3. BLACK+DECKER BPACT10WT Portable Air Conditioner

If you don’t have much space, you may want to consider this Black+Decker option. It was previously ranked the best portable air conditioner for smaller rooms and can cool spaces as big as 150 square feet. It’s compact and weighs 26 pounds so you can easily move it if needed. In addition to cooling, it also includes a fan and dehumidifying mode.

4. SereneLife Portable Electric Air Conditioner Unit

This SereneLife AC unit is one of the most affordable options on this list at $290. 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 $400.

5. Ontel Arctic Ultra Evaporative Portable Air Conditioner

This Ontel option is the No. 1 bestseller on Amazon when it comes to portable air conditioners. Weighing less than 2 pounds, it’s also the most compact option on this list. The personal space cooler also includes humidifying and purifying features.

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