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In case you haven’t heard, July 2023 was the hottest month in human history, and most of us are definitely feeling it. From the moment we step outside, we’re hit with that unpleasant and unforgiving wave of heat and humidity, so there’s quite literally no place like home to beat the heat.
If you’re like countless other renters and homeowners out there, you might be working with an underperforming window unit, or an unreliable central AC system, or you might just want to save some money on your monthly electric bill by utilizing a portable air conditioner. Besides, if you’ve ever had your AC break during the summer, you know having a backup AC unit is a godsend.
These efficient, easy-to-install AC units typically cost around $500 and are a great way to cool a variety of spaces, but not all units are created equal. We’ve perused and tested the best portable AC units that will keep you and your homes cool and comfortable amidst this relentless heat wave. Best of all? Many of these top-rated models are a major sale right now.
The Most Versatile
EF ECOFLOW Wave 2 Portable Air Conditioner
The EcoFlow Wave 2 is the most sleek, innovative, and versatile portable air conditioner on our list. It begins to cool the room within mere minutes, but the lightweight EcoFlow Wave 2 also doubles as a heater during the year’s cooler months.
Whether camping out in a tent or an RV for the weekend or squatting at home, the EcoFlow Wave 2 adapts to keep you comfortable in your space. I used it to cool down my bedroom at night, and even on the record-setting 100-plus-degree days in Texas, it kept me cool without being too noisy. I especially like the sleep mode option, which turns down the noise level so you can sleep through the night without interruption. For avid campers, this unit is a purchase you won’t regret making.
The 32-pound portable AC and heater can be powered in a variety of ways, including cars, solar-powered panels, power stations, and a long-lasting add-on battery (sold separately). The EcoFlow Wave 2 also has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capability and is easy to set up, even for the least tech-savvy individuals. Though it is pricier than most other portable ACs, its versatility, ease of use, and indoor/outdoor capabilities make it worth the long-term investment.
Best For Big Rooms
BLACK+DECKER Portable Air Conditioner
Down from $570
If you’re looking for an affordable, quick-working, well-rated portable air conditioner that will cool a larger space—up to 700 square feet—this Black and Decker 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner is your best bet. The portable AC, which also functions as a dehumidifier and fan, is easy to install quickly and is one of the more popular units you’ll find.
It’s an especially great option for warmer, difficult-to-cool spaces like your garage. I set up this Black and Decker unit in my garage to keep cool during afternoon and evening workouts and was impressed with how quickly it cooled the space and maintained a consistent temperature. If you need to move it to another room, you can do so without hassle, thanks to the unit’s mobile design.
Best for Saving On Electric Bills
DeLonghi 12,500 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
I was just as surprised as anyone that DeLonghi makes more than just espresso machines, but this DeLonghi 12,500 BTU Portable Air Conditioner actually works better than most name-brand models. This DeLonghi portable AC is designed with Eco Real Feel technology, which in short, basically works to reduce temperatures and control humidity.
This unit cools, dehumidifies, and heats rooms up to 550 square feet, so it’s a great AC to consider for large rooms or small apartments. The AC’s auto-evaporating system makes excess moisture and leaks—a common complaint with portable ACs—something you won’t have to stress too much about.
I used this unit in my office during the day and turned up the temperature in the rest of the house to save on my electric bill, which often skyrockets during the summer. Not only does the hard-working unit provide impressive cooling power, it can save you money in the long run as well.
Best Entry-Level Model
Whynter Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner
Down from $600
This Whynter ARC 14S 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner cools spaces up to 500 square feet—and does so at impressively quiet decibels. I tested it out in my living room, and the unit operated at temps in the low 70s without being disruptive or challenging to operate. The easy-to-install, easy-to-move unit has three operational modes: cool, dehumidify, and fan, and is one of the most well-reviewed units on our list.
One particularly unique function of the sturdy Whytner portable AC is its dual hose setup, which has one hose pulling in air and the other hose venting out hot air. Dual hose systems are great for larger spaces and rooms with high ceilings, so that’s something to consider if your space falls into those categories.
I also appreciated the programmable timer, which lets you set operational times for your AC to power on. This is definitely useful if you want the unit to turn off while you’re away from your home and power it on before you return.
Best for Smart Homes
LG Smart Portable Air Conditioner
Down from $
I’m generally wary of portable ACs that cost less than $400—a less-than-average price for a well-working unit—but this LG 8,000 BTU Smart Portable Air Conditioner took me by surprise with its power and capabilities. Though this unit isn’t as quiet as the others on our list, it does the job at a pretty penny less.
This LG portable AC cools rooms up to 400 square feet, comes with two cooling and fan speeds, and features a 24-hour timer to set your personalized cooling schedule.
My favorite feature of the portable AC has to be the LG ThinQ technology, which lets you control the AC from your phone, Amazon Alexa, and Hey Google. If you live in a smart-powered home, this is the unit you’ve been looking for.