Best Budget Portable Air Conditioner To Keep You Cool

Best Budget Portable Air Conditioner To Keep You Cool

If you live in a rental home or have a home office where it’s just not practical to install a conventional air conditioner such as window units or reverse cycle systems, a portable AC unit is going to be your best bet. To help you out, our team has reviewed a number of portable air conditioners currently available and has come up with a list of the 7 best portable air conditioners that won’t over-stretch your budget.

The advantage of these portable units is that they can be moved from room to room and powered by just plugging them into an electrical outlet. But, bear in mind that you’re going to have to position them near a window both to let the hot air out via the exhaust hose and to expel the water from the outlet hose.

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While you could just run the outlet hose into a large bucket or something similar, you will have to remember to empty this consistently. This is not something I would recommend because if you forget, you might end up with wet carpet or floor coverings. It’s much easier to just hang the hose out the window and let the water run into a garden bed.

To start with, check out the top 7 best budget portable air conditioners our team has selected. These have been chosen for their cooling performance, desired features and value for money.

Then, if you want more information on what to look for in a portable air conditioner, have a read of our buying guide which outlines all the important features you should be looking for.

The Best Budget Portable Air Conditioner That Should Fit Your Needs

The following list showcases carefully selected portable air conditioners that offer the best combination of price, performance, and user convenience.

1. BLACK+DECKER 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

Black+Decker portable air conditioners

This is a great unit for anyone who is looking for cooling convenience at a reasonable price. Check out the full review here

Pros

  • Easy to move with casters and handles
  • Combines cooling, fan, and dehumidifying features
  • Simple installation with provided kit

Cons

  • Some may find the noise level high at 54 dB
  • May not cool very large spaces as efficiently
  • Window kit may require additional insulation for a perfect fit

You’ll find that moving this unit from room to room is a breeze, thanks to the smooth-rolling casters and sturdy side handles. A bonus of this air conditioner is that it’s a 3-in-1 unit that includes:

  • A cooling air conditioner 
  • An effective dehumidifier
  • A fan when you just want to circulate the air

You’ll also find that the control panel is very user-friendly. It has a well-lit LED display, plus you can easily adjust the settings with the remote control. This can allow you to change the temperature without getting up in the middle of the night.

The setup is extremely easy. The included installation kit is designed to fit most standard windows with minimal effort. Although this unit is rated for spaces up to 700 sq ft, you might find that in extreme conditions or in very open areas, its efficiency could dwindle a little.

Bear in mind that you might find the noise of the unit a little intrusive and you might have to turn it off when you’re having an important business call.

But, for a portable cooling solution, this BLACK+DECKER air conditioner holds its own. It’s powerful enough for most residential rooms and the ease of use is definitely a plus. 

2. Whynter ARC-14 SH Dual Hose Portable AC & Heater – 14,000 BTU

Whynter portable air conditioner and heater

This portable air conditioner is a little different because it can provide both cooling and heating. This makes it quite good value because you won’t need a second unit for heating in the winter. Check out the full review here

Pros

  • Provides robust cooling and heating 
  • Adapts seamlessly to various room sizes
  • Environmentally friendly with its CFC-free Green R-32 refrigerant and energy-saving features
  • Easy to install with a convenient portable design

Cons

  • 56 dB noise level may be noticeable in very quiet environments
  • At a SEER rating of 7.6, it might not be the most energy-efficient option available
  • The dual-hose system, while efficient, requires a bit more space and setup time than single-hose models

You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the ability of this unit to maintain a comfortable room temperature, no matter what the temperature is outside.

Having an appliance that cools as efficiently as it heats is quite a game-changer. As the temperature dips, you’ll find that the heater function is a welcome feature.

The modern design of this unit is a plus because it will fit beautifully into your existing decor and not look out of place in any room in your home. It’s also very easy to move the unit from room to room but remember that you’ll need to position it near a window for the dual hoses.

It’s clear that this unit is designed with user experience in mind, and the added functionality of a dehumidifier and fan modes only enhances its value.

If you’re looking for a portable air conditioner that can also double as a heater and has the advantage of being a dehumidifier or just a fan, then this unit is a better option all round.

3. LG LP 1017WSR Portable Air Conditioner – 10,200 BTU

LG LP 1017WSR  Portable Air Conditioner

This is another efficient portable air conditioner that you might like to consider.

Pros

  • Portable enough to move from room to room
  • Auto-swing air vent technology circulates cool air more evenly
  • The auto evaporation system and 24-hour on/off timer add to the convenience

Cons

  • Not as energy-efficient as some other models
  • Noise level may be intrusive for some users.
  • The window installation kit might not fit all window types.

The performance of this unit is quite impressive if you just want it to cool a small room. Plus, the sleek design won’t take up too much space. You’ll find that this unit can significantly lower the temperature, making the room very comfortable during sweltering days.

The mobility of the unit is a standout feature. It’s easy to move from room to room if this is something that’s important to you.

Installing the window kit is fairly straightforward, but it might not be a perfect fit for all types of windows, so make sure to evaluate your window beforehand.

The auto-swing air vent is a nice feature because it can evenly distribute the cool air throughout the room. This can effectively prevent hot spots. Another prime feature of this unit is the auto evaporation system which eliminates the need for manual water draining.

4. NewAir Compact AC – 8,000 BTU

Newair compact portable air conditioner

This lovely compact portable air conditioner is an excellent choice for someone looking to beat the heat without breaking the bank.

Pros

  • Conveniently portable and easy to install.
  • Multifunctional as an air conditioner, fan, and dehumidifier.
  • Quiet operation with a user-friendly interface and remote control.

Cons

  • May struggle to cool larger spaces effectively.
  • The window venting kit may not fit all window types.
  • Hose setup can be tricky and may require extra effort to secure.

The setup of this portable air conditioner is pretty straightforward. The included window venting kit snaps into place, allowing you to get it up and running in no time. You’ll find it quite refreshing to have the room noticeably cooler within minutes. Plus, the transition from cooling to dehumidifying is seamless.

You’ll appreciate the fact that you can easily wheel this unit from room to room without too much effort thanks to the smooth-gliding casters. Another highlight that you’ll appreciate is the noise level which is low enough not to interrupt conversations or distract you while working or relaxing.

While perfect for small apartments or particular rooms, it might struggle with more open areas. 

Overall, this is a budget-friendly solution for hot, humid days. So, if you’re living in a small space or looking for targeted cooling, this portable air conditioner is a strong contender among the various options available.

5. Emerson Quiet Kool Portable AC – 8000 BTU

Emerson Quiet Kool Portable AC

If you’re searching for a cost-effective way to stay cool, this portable air conditioner offers efficient cooling with added dehumidifying benefits.

Pros

  • Efficient cooling and dehumidification for medium-sized rooms
  • Operates quietly, ensuring minimal disturbance
  • No water tank to empty regularly thanks to the auto-evaporation system

Cons

  • Might not be suitable for spaces larger than 300 sq. ft.
  • The absence of Energy Star certification may concern eco-conscious buyers
  • Limited information on long-term reliability due to the relatively recent launch

This portable air conditioner is very effective at keeping the temperature at a comfortable level in a mid-sized room. It also runs fairly quietly which is a little more desirable when compared to other models.

There’s also a sleep mode function which can be useful if you want to use this unit in the bedroom. With this, the temperature is adjusted gradually to provide a nice comfortable sleep environment.

The unit is easy to set up and the window venting kit should fit most standard windows. An outstanding feature of this portable air conditioner is the absence of a water tank which makes it easier to install and move from room to room. There’s also a washable filter with an alert to let you know that it needs cleaning.

6. LG Smart Portable AC – 8,000 BTU

 LG Smart Portable AC

This sleek and smart-looking portable air conditioner will keep you cool without over-stretching your budget.

Pros

  • Flexible controls via app and smart home devices
  • Effective cooling and dehumidifying capabilities
  • User-friendly installation and maintenance

Cons

  • Noticeable noise level
  • Lacks Energy Star rating

This portable air conditioner from LG is easy to set up and just as easy to use. It’s also super easy to move it from room to room thanks to the casters. It can cool down rooms up to 350 square feet.

One way that this unit differs from some of the others is that it can be controlled remotely using the LG ThinQ app. This can be particularly useful when you’re on the way home and want the room to cool down before you get there. It’s also one step above any units that only have a 24-hour timer.

While the unit does produce a low hum while operating, this shouldn’t cause too much intrusion. There’s also a sleep mode which can be useful if you want to use the air conditioner in the bedroom.

Although this portable air conditioner is at the higher end of the budget range, it’s certainly not the highest-priced one on our list. However, the additional features, reliability and superior performance make it exceptional value at this price point. 

7. SereneLife 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

 SereneLife 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

If you’re just after a portable air conditioner that will cool down your office space or any other room in your home at an affordable price, then this might be the unit for you.

Pros

  • Effortlessly wheels to the space you need it most
  • Versatile with cooling, dehumidifying, and fan modes as well as adjustable fan speeds
  • Quieter operation at 56 dB for less disturbance

Cons

  • Might challenge those not tech-savvy with its remote control functions
  • Limited cooling efficiency with a SEER rating of 2.6
  • Potential incompatibility with some window designs during installation

Once you’ve set up this sleek unit, you’ll be cool in no time. Plus, you’ll find it easy to move from room to room thanks to the smooth-rolling casters.

The unit also has a built-in dehumidifier which is a must if you live in a humid climate. The included remote control is also handy because you can easily adjust the unit without getting up from your chair. You might have to acquaint yourself with the various functions first though.

Add to this the relatively quiet hum of this portable air conditioner and you have a unit with exceptional cooling power no matter what you’re doing.

Comparison Table

Here’s a simple comparison table that lists all the most important features of these units to make your buying decision that much easier.

comparison table showing all the major features of these portable air conditioners

Buying Guide

When choosing a portable air conditioner that’s going to meet your needs, there are a few things you want to consider.

Your Budget

When setting a budget for a portable air conditioner, consider both the initial purchase price and ongoing operational costs. It’s important to consider whether the most affordable units that cost less upfront could be less energy-efficient, leading to higher electricity bills.

Size and Power

BTU (British Thermal Units) Rating: This measures cooling capacity. A higher BTU means the unit can cool a larger area, but also typically consumes more energy. Here’s what you can expect when looking at BTU ratings

Area (square footage)BTU Needed
Up to 2008,000
200 to 30010,000
300 to 40012,000
400 to 50014,000

Note: Choose a model that matches your room size to ensure efficient cooling without overpaying for unnecessary power.

Energy Efficiency

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER): Ratings higher than 10 are excellent. The higher the EER, the lower your energy costs.

Portability

For optimum portability, choose models that have casters or wheels and handles for easier movement. Of course, less weighty units will also be easier to move around.

Maintenance

Consider the filter type and the frequency of required maintenance. Washable filters are cost-effective and simpler to maintain.

Additional Features

  • Dehumidifier: For humid climates, a dual-function portable unit can be valuable.
  • Remote Control: For convenience and ease of use.
  • Programmable Timer: This can help with energy savings by allowing you to schedule cooling times.

Frequently Asked Questions

How well do portable air conditioners perform in large rooms compared to alternative cooling options?

In large rooms, portable air conditioners may not be as efficient as window acs or central AC systems. Their cooling capacity is often designed for small rooms but some can work effectively in medium-sized rooms as well. But, these units can struggle to lower the temperature in spacious areas. It’s important to match the BTU rating of the portable AC to the room size it’s intended for optimal performance.

Can you achieve significant savings by opting for a portable AC over central air in terms of energy costs?

Using a portable air conditioner can lead to savings on energy costs, especially if you’re cooling a single room rather than an entire home. Portable AC units consume less energy compared to central air systems, which can reduce your electricity bill. However, the efficiency also depends on the energy efficiency rating (EER) of the specific model you choose.

For more information about portable air conditioners, have a look at the following article:

How To Vent A Portable Air Conditioner Without A Window

If you’re looking for other portable home appliances, you might want to check out our article on the best portable dishwashers.

In Summary

When it comes to selecting a portable air conditioner that fits your needs, make sure you have a look at the comparison table so that you can easily compare the individual features. For small spaces up to 200 square feet, the Emerson Quiet Kool is the most budget-friendly on our list. It’s a fairly basic unit, but at this price point, it’s all that you need if you’re looking at the more budget end of the range.

For the optimum in energy efficiency, you can’t go past the Whynter ARC-14SH. The bonus of this unit is that it also doubles as a heater in winter. So, even though it’s the second priciest unit on our list, you’re essentially getting two appliances in one.

Finally, for those who like their smart gadgets, you should consider the LG Smart Portable air conditioner. It isn’t the priciest on our list but has plenty of excellent features with a reasonable energy efficiency rating.

No matter which unit you choose, you’ll definitely enjoy the convenience of having a portable air conditioner that you can move around your home to enjoy all the comforts of cooling when the temperature outside rises.