The Best Small Portable Air Conditioners in 2021

For all our talk of ideal weather, we most often find ourselves dealing with the extremes instead of the happy medians. Adding to the irony, when it’s really hot outside we wish for rain, and when it rains we wish for sun. Regardless, with summer just around the corner, it’s high time to begin prepping for what promises to be a very hot summer.

What with the last year has been as tough as it was for so many business owners and employees alike, when thinking about installing or fixing your AC, it makes sense if that headache you’ve been fighting starts to come back in force. Luckily, the small portable air conditioner is a great deal cheaper and easier to install than its wall-installed brethren.

This article will hash out the finer points of how best to choose a portable air conditioner and what criteria to keep in mind when making your decision. Additionally, we’ll go over the top five best small portable air conditioners selling on the market today, so that you can find your air pleasant and conditioned in no time.

Carry on reading or jump straight to our number #1 pick here.

Table Of Contents

What Should I Look For When Buying a Small Portable Air Conditioner?

While your initial impulse might be to assume that all air conditioners are designed to do the same thing, this is not always the case. For instance, in addition to changing the temperature of your room to something cooler and less oppressive, some place a high focus on purifying your air, clearing it of contaminants and dust. Conversely, others are built to release conditioning particles into the air with an aim to improve the environment. Regardless of the minutiae, the main criteria to focus on before buying a small portable air conditioner are cost, function, appearance, certification, warranty, and ratings.

#1. Cost: In some ways, the cost is the most objective out of all these categories, as it is very concrete. While the other criteria can be deemed less or more expensive, the product is either in budget or out of it. End of story. Accordingly, it is very important, before reading up on which models are better, that you have a strong grasp on how much fixing this problem is worth to you, as well as how much you can actually afford to spend.

#2. Function: If you want an air conditioner mainly for the nighttime, it will be functionally important for you to get a quiet air conditioner so that you can use it for the purpose you intend. This is true in all regards – if you have a specific need that you require your air conditioner to perform, then make sure to prioritize the machines that meet those needs, which are not necessarily the most expensive on the market.

#3. Appearance: While not huge, portable air conditioners are noticeable in any space, due both to their size and noise, so finding one that you don’t hate the look of will go a long way towards making you a happier owner long-term.

#4. Certification: For a machine that is quite literally responsible for monitoring your air supply, the certification both tells you which air conditioners you can trust, and also gives you one less thing to worry about.

#5. Warranty: A helpful way to know how much a company believes in its product’s longevity, the warranty is also an important support system in case of anything going wrong with your purchase.

#6. Ratings: A good way for us to get a peek into what it’s like to use the product in a home setting, our fellow consumers who took the brave first steps in trying out a product are valuable fonts of information, and their bravery is commended and appreciated.

Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Small Portable Air Conditioner

I searched online and compiled a list of all the top-selling air conditioners from many different brands. Then, I culled through the list, eliminating models based on poor reviews, crappy performance, and shoddy materials, until finally I was left with a list of the five best small portable air conditioners. While reading through, remember that these are not arranged in order from best to worst, but each one is chosen to highlight and prioritize a different criterion or function so that everyone’s needs can be addressed.

#1: Frigidaire Portable Air Conditioner (Best Value – All-Purpose)

The Frigidaire Portable Air Conditioner is rectangular and white with a black top. Standing at 28 inches, Frigidaire conditions your air at low volume, perfect for cooling off during oppressively hot summers. With a smooth outer shell, the Frigidaire’s interface is simple and streamlined, making this seem both a practical and luxury buy. Not too heavy (62 lbs.), the Frigidaire offers a lot of functionality, including a 24-hour programmable timer, adjustable sizing, and multiple fan speeds for the ideal setting.

With timer settings extending to 24 hours, there’s no need to remember to set your air conditioner at a specific time the night before. Instead, you can set your “aircon” to go off whenever convenient, and enjoy the immediate cooling effects of a high-powered, 10,000 BTU cooling unit. With the three fan speeds, you can either have low, medium, or full blast, and the adjustable sizing means that your air conditioner can extend for an ideal window fit.

Especially when it’s physically too hot to get up, the remote control comes in very handy, allowing you to shift the temperature and fan speed from across the room. Included within the Frigidaire small portable air conditioner is an anti-bacterial filter, specifically designed to clean your air and leave it smelling fresher, and feeling better. Conveniently, this filter is easy to clean, so not only will you have a fun reminder of just how much crap you’re breathing in without your Frigidaire, there is no need to replace the filter. You just clean it off and stick it right back in. Additionally, the dehumidifier function on the Frigidaire makes it one that is ideal for those in humid climates, as this air conditioner is ready to actually condition your air to feeling and even tasting better.

With the customizable time settings for turning on and off, you never need to worry about wasting electricity. The sleep mode setting lowers the volume on the machine while making minor temperature adjustments through the course of the evening for ideal comfort. Finally, the Frigidaire makes shifting its position easy, with the included wheels and handle on the back of the machine, so that moving from room to room does not become a weighing of productivity vs comfort.

While not the cheapest of the available portable air conditioner models, the Frigidaire is by far the best cost versus value deal you could make. Meeting the needs of the vast majority of shoppers, the Frigidaire provides the biggest bang for your buck and ensures that you will get the correct returns of quality on the money you put down. ETL listed, the Frigidaire meets international standards of safety. Covered under a 1-year warranty, there is no need to worry about not receiving your money’s worth.

Finally, the Frigidaire Portable Air Conditioner received great customer reviews, with people exclaiming on how quickly it could cool down a room and how quiet it was. Anyone looking for a straightforward, no-hassle air conditioner, should look no further than the Frigidaire.


#2: SereneLife SLPAC (Best for Large Spaces)

While the Frigidaire hides all its function in the back, the SereneLife vents face forward, allowing for slightly more effective air circulation. Also a white and black design, SereneLife SLPAC has a simple console display, allowing you to shift temperature, set the timer, and dehumidify, all at the touch of a button either on the console or on the remote control. With ventilation that shifts, more effectively distributing chilled air around the room, the SereneLife cools your room and drops the temperature in record time.

The three included modes are cooling, dehumidifying, and fan, combining to make the room conditions pleasant even during the most severe heat spells. A more intense machine than the Frigidaire, the SereneLife has 12,000 BTU, meaning that it effectively cools down a larger space. While the Frigidaire is good for ordinary to large rooms, the SereneLife beats it for the larger space it can effectively cover.

Like the Frigidaire, the SereneLife also has a 24 hour time-setting capability, which allows you to set your preferences and have the AC already blasting when you get back from work or making the appropriate changes while you sleep. A bit on the larger side, measuring 32 inches tall, the SereneLife has attached wheels, allowing you to shift the model easily around your home and stay cold. With a low decibel producing motor and effective performance, the SereneLife is a great buy for anyone looking for a truly high-performing machine.

On the pricier side of things, the SereneLife is by no means expensive and is significantly cheaper than all the money and hassle of paying for installing a permanent air conditioner. With the SereneLife, instead of wasting money on installation, the one expenditure is on the initial purchase and the rest is a literal breeze!

Listed with the UL, which is the third party organization that determines global safety standards to which all the others (including ETL) conform, the SereneLife is a safe addition to your home.

Covered under a 1 year warranty, the SereneLife got truly stellar reviews, with many comments on how effectively the unit moderates the temperature. Additionally, many said they were impressed with how quickly they could feel the difference after switching this on.

For those who can afford to spend a little extra and live in a large space, this is the ideal small portable air conditioner for you.


#3: Black + Decker BPACT10WT (Best for Small Rooms)

A bit on the smaller side, the Black + Decker Air Conditioner is only 26 inches tall and looks like the Frigidaire’s and SereneLife’s younger sibling. Similar to the other two models, the Black + Decker is white, streamlined, and looks good. White with a shiny finish and a black grating, the Black + Decker air conditioner is built for smaller spaces, with 6,000 BTU, managing up to 150 square feet of room to cool. With the coolest setting being 65 degrees Fahrenheit, the Black + Decker also features timer settings, fan, and dehumidifier, taking care of all your needs during the harsh summer.

Very easy to set up, the Black + Decker is perfect for the smaller living spaces like dorms or apartments, as it won’t use much excess energy on trying to cool the room. For those wanting a great air conditioner but living in a small space, there is no need to spend more on the SereneLife when the Black + Decker fulfills all your needs.

Sleep mode keeps this from making too much noise and thus disturbing your sleep, and the filter is easily cleaned under running water, keeping you from spending money on frequent filter replacements and keeping your air clean and clear, as well as more pleasant temperature-wise.

The Black + Decker sleeping mode controls the temperature and fan speed while you sleep, keeping things quiet while lights are out and making subtle adjustments for temperature. The Black + Decker portable air conditioner actively fights the growth of bacteria by eliminating hot and steamy environments, removing these contaminants from your air, and leaving it safe and fresh.

The included remote control is self-explanatory and makes using this air conditioner very easy, not requiring you to get up to adjust the temperature. While some air conditioners collect moisture over time due to condensation, the Black + Decker’s self-evaporating function makes cleaning and maintenance low stress and not something you have to worry about.

This product is certified with the energy star label, which is government-backed and guarantees this air conditioner for energy conservation and safety. With 1 year warranty on parts and a 5-year warranty on the compressor, the Black + Decker offers very reasonable coverage, ensuring you get your money’s worth from your purchase.

Customers really liked this model, saying that it worked great. I did not find specific complaints, and buyers continued to say that the unit was effective and not too loud.

For someone looking for an unobtrusive, small, portable air conditioner ideal for smaller spaces, the Black + Decker is the perfect air conditioner for you.


#4: Breezewell Portable Air Conditioner (Best Low Cost)

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The Breezewell is a departure from the portable air conditioning designs we’ve discussed up to this point. While those all look quite similar and function based on internal chemical coolants which they use to chill, as well as blades that spin in order to push air around at the desired temperature and speed, the Breezewell not only looks completely different from these but functions completely differently. The Breezewell is a towering white rectangular structure, 32 inches high, with a large cavity going right through the middle. From an aesthetic perspective, the Breezewell is interesting and looks modern, as a fan from the future should.

Taking the place of chemical coolants, the Breezewell has a gallon receptacle beneath that is filled with cold water. By evaporating this water and circulating it into the atmosphere, dry air can be improved, and the temperature drops significantly.

While this sounds rather unconventional, there are a few ways that this process can be highly beneficial. The first is for those concerned with breathing in air altered and circulated through chemicals within the more conventional AC units. Additionally, once those units retire, there are many parts of them, specifically the chemical components, that are not easily decomposed into nature, meaning they stick around as cosmic trash forever. Therefore, since the process in the Breezewell functions on basic principles of natural behavior, it is much more eco-friendly, making it ideal for those who care about their footprint. Additionally, using water to supplement this process keeps electric costs down, a serious perk for anyone. Finally, the lack of any blades on this fan makes it the safest design for any situation where kids or small pets are nearby.

Offering three fanning speeds, as well as an oscillating air distribution feature, the Breezewell has four temperature modes – speed, natural, normal, and cooling. The remote control makes controlling this machine hassle-free, and the 15-hour timer is a convenient way to set preferences ahead of time, so that the house is comfortable when you walk in. While not wheeled like the other models, the Breezewell has a small handle on the back, making it possible to move from room to room based on personal preference.

While all the discussed models are portable, the Breezewell is the easiest to transport, as it has no hose or additional pieces that hook up to a window. Instead, the single tower structure stands alone in providing air conditioning. With the major design differences in mind, it’s almost hard to make a decent comparison between the Breezewell and all the other models. However, in terms of function, the Breezewell is seemingly highly effective. Additionally, the price point is significantly cheaper with the Breezewell in comparison to the other models, making it ideal for budgeters, as well as for folks in very dry areas.

With the offered two year warranty, it’s no surprise that the consumers who purchased the Breezewell Portable Air Conditioner were very pleased, with one consumer saying that putting ice into it right before bedtime was an amazing way to ensure the frigid conditions she desired.

For my serious budgeters or anyone in really arid environments, the Breezewell is the portable air conditioner you’ve been looking for.


#5: MIDEA MAP08R1CWT Air Conditioner (Best Conventional Budgeter)

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A return to the more familiar, original style displayed by the Frigidaire, SereneLife, etc., the MIDEA is a white rectangle measuring 28 inches tall with a black grating, where the air is propelled forth by the internal whirring fans. A simple, smooth surface, the MIDEA looks high-tech, aided by the simple controls display. Like the models before, the MIDEA has unobtrusive wheels underneath helping roll it anywhere in the house. The unit comes with all the tools and pieces necessary for easy set up at home.

With 8,000 BTU, the MIDEA is equipped to fill up the small rooms, as it is most similar to the Black + Decker. Additionally, the fan and dehumidifier functions join the temperature regulation in turning the environment pleasant. The MIDEA also has 24 hour programming capability, making setting up the house for your comfort before you get back from work a breeze.

The easily washable and reusable air filter goes a long way to making this air conditioner a staple in every pet owner’s home, and it’s a money saver. Instead of replacing the filter, it gets washed and reused. In terms of cost, the MIDEA is definitely on the cheaper side of things. While not as affordable as the Breezewell, for more conventional aircon owners, the MIDEA is a better fit. It has no requirements for adding water and is therefore much lower maintenance.

This portable air conditioner meets the US Department of Energy standards for energy efficiency, so it won’t ratchet up your electricity bills. Able to cover approximately 150 square feet, the MIDEA is a little more powerful in this regard than the Black + Decker. Included in your purchase is a 1 year warranty on parts and labor so that you have minimum insurance of satisfaction and performance.

Reviews for the MIDEA were generally very positive. Of the few that were less than satisfied, the complaints were that it was a bit loud or that the packaging was not ideal. In those cases, often they had ordered from some third-party source and not directly from MIDEA. Therefore, these negative reviews seem to be negligible as long as you order directly from the manufacturer and not from other third parties.

For those looking for a more affordable, solid portable air conditioner that will drastically improve the temperature of your home but who want something more typical than the unique Breezewell, this is a great choice.


#5: Airemax Energy Star Portable Air Conditioner (with remote)

Airemax Energy Star Portable Air Conditioner with Remote available at Wayfair

“When considering your cooling options, consider that a portable air conditioner could be exactly what you need.”

Are you looking for a simple and cost-effective way to cool your studio apartment?  Are you wasting so much money by running your central air conditioning just to cool one small room? Do you want to dehumidify the air while cooling it? Do you require a modular and easy cooling solution for your RV, travel trailer, or pop-up camper?

If you answered “yes” to some of these questions, then the Airemax Energy Star Portable Air Conditioner could be ideal for you. Let’s look at some of the benefits that people are getting from their Airemax Energy Star portable air conditioner units so you can decide how you’ll get the same results or whether you’d be better off with a different form of an air conditioner.

  • Cools and Dehumidifies at the Same Time

Airemax Energy Star Portable Air Conditioners not only cool but also dehumidify the air, keeping your space cool and dry. If you experience allergies, then this portable air conditioner keeps the humidity levels low.

Furthermore, if you live in a high-humidity area, you are aware that moisture can be just as oppressive and uncomfortable as heat and can contribute to a highly uncomfortable living situation. Airemax portable air conditioners are essentially two units in one, removing both moisture and heat from the air at the same time. 

  • A Compact Unit for a Compact Space

The AireMax portable air conditioner is ideal if you live in a relatively space because it easily covers an area of 200 sq. ft. Many people who live in a studio or one-bedroom apartment find that they are ideal for their needs. There is also no need for permanent installation, making setup extremely quick and simple.

Furthermore, when living in a very small space, natural light, views, and other window incentives may be important factors that you would rather not forego. Unlike window air conditioners, which take up a large portion of a window opening, the Airemax portable air conditioner takes up only a fraction of the opening, preserving valuable window space.

  • Energy-EFFECIENT

In comparison to a central air conditioner that cools an entire house, the Airemax portable air conditioner is far more energy-efficient, requiring only 115V/60Hz.

You can also target specific areas that need to be cooled. That is true efficacy.

OTHER PRODUCT DETAILS INCLUDE:

  • 3 operating modes – cool, fan, and dry – to keep your comfortable
  • Dehumidification up to 1 pint per hour
  • LED electronic control panel and remote control accessible
  • 2 speeds (high, low) plus Sleep function for flexible cooling options
  • 24-hour programmable timer cools the room on your schedule
  • Auto restart after power outage
  • Front horizontal and vertical louvers can be manually adjusted to direct the air
  • Removable mesh filters can be vacuumed and washed for easy maintenance
  • Easy to move from room to room with 4-way casters and side handles
  • Easy installation – exhaust hose and window venting kit included
  • Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER): 8.9
  • Indoor Noise Level: 55 dBA
  • ETL Intertek listed

Budget Options

In the above 5 air conditioner units, we’ve talked a lot about cost, so the assumption can sometimes be that spending less is always better. This is not necessarily true. For instance, if what I truly need costs $1000, it doesn’t help me at all to spend $999. I have saved money but haven’t got what I actually need. The same is true for getting a good product. If the good stuff is selling at a set price, spending under that will not get me what I need. The best I can hope for is getting something that kind of fulfills the function, but taking into account having to fix it and replace it as it so quickly underperforms, this is not a money-saving move.

However, it is also the case that as much as we might wish, we can’t afford whatever we want all the time. Therefore, I’ve included below three budget small portable units, so that you can at least see what your options are before you decide.

#1 Budget: Hessaire MC18M Portable Evaporative Cooler

The Hessaire is 28 inches tall with wheels for easy transportation. It functions in a similar way to the Breezewell, evaporating water to cool it down and make up for deficiencies in arid climates. Small and grey, the Hessaire can be used either indoors or outdoors and has a 500 square feet capability coverage, giving you more options in terms of when and where to use this product.

With the ability to control motor speed, choose between Hi or Lo cooling options and fan speeds, the Hessaire provides function and dependable versatility. With surprisingly positive, enthusiastic reviews, the Hessaire is well worth the money for anyone on a tighter budget this year who can’t afford the other options quite yet.


#2 Budget: Aircover Portable Oscillating Fan

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While lacking all the functionality of an air conditioner, the Aircover fan does do one essential thing – it cools you down. White and remote control operated, the Aircover can be placed on a floor or desktop. It has three speeds, allowing you to choose whatever speed is most comfortable for you.

With dehumidifying capabilities, surviving harsh summers becomes easy. With a stand that can expand or contract like a telescope and an included nightlight, this is a product made for convenience.

Reviewers said that this fan was super effective and quiet, as well as just super convenient to use. For anyone looking for a small cooling unit to last them while they study or stretch, the Aircover is a nice budgeting option.


#3 Budget: Portable Air Conditioner Fan PmoYoKo

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The PmoYoKo is a small little cube about the size of a desk-side nightlight (6.8 inches). Battery-powered and available in seven different light colors, the PmoYoKo doubles as a nightlight, making it ideal for cooling off while you sleep.

With a 300ml water tank that lasts up to 5 hours, the PmoYoKo works to keep you cool, as well as add moisture back into the air for nicer, more pleasant conditions for everyone. A fun side perk is that part of the PmoYoKo function is a cool humidifier, allowing you to add perfume to the water and have a nicer, better-smelling environment. No need to worry about damaging your cooler, if the water runs out then it automatically turns itself off.

This model got incredible reviews, with people commenting on how well it worked and that it did exactly what they needed it to do. For anyone looking for a small something to make nights or even dorm rooms more bearable, this is a great fix.

#4 Budget: Personal USB Portable Air Conditioner


The FlyBanboo personal USB Air Conditioner is available at Amazon

A personal USB portable air conditioner is the best option when you are unable to install a window air conditioner or regular air conditioner in your home or office space due to building constraints and designs. It is also a great choice if you need a mobile air conditioner that can be moved from room to room or cleaned at the end of the season.

If you are looking for one of the best personal USB portable air-conditioners on the market, then look no further than the FlyBanboo Personal USB portable air conditioner. This is the only small air conditioner that can truly cool a small room. It uses water, so you can always add a few ice cubes to enjoy the cooling effect of this mini air conditioner. It also has multiple modes of operation, three fan speeds, and automatically shuts off when the water runs out – ideal to stay cool while you sleep, or if you have left home for several hours.  The real advantage of this portable air-conditioner is that it works over USB, so you can literally just plug it into your laptop!

You can even feel the cool breeze from 6 feet away. You can place it on your computer desk when you work, on the couch when watching TV, or even next to your bed when you sleep. It isn’t noisy and a full water tank will keep you cool all night.

This personal USB portable air conditioner will not dry your body out and the built-in air filtration system will continue to purify indoor air, increasing oxygen, and negative ions in the room. The FlyBanboo USB portable air conditioner built into the NANO filter keeps warm air cool, clean and comfortable in your personal space. It is much cooler and more energy efficient than a desktop fan. This USB portable mini cooler will be your perfect partner this summer.

From a price point of view, the Personal USB portable air conditioner is by no means expensive and significantly cheaper than the substantial cost of installing a permanent air conditioner. With the personal USB portable USB air conditioner, instead of spending money on installation, you only spend on the purchase and enjoy the cool breezes without any problem!

Reviewers noted that this USB portable air conditioner was super-efficient and quiet, and just super easy to use. For those looking for a small cooling unit to use while studying or sleeping or in the office, the FlyBanboo  USB portable air conditioner really is a good budget option.

This personal portable air conditioner with USB is backed by a 1-year warranty and 7-15 days shipping. In addition, many said they were impressed with how quickly they felt the difference in the room temperature after being turned on.

It’s an excellent choice for those looking for a more affordable, reliable portable air conditioner that will dramatically improve your home’s temperature.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a small portable air conditioner definitely right for me?

Portable air conditioners have a few specific perks, among them, that they area great deal cheaper than the installed versions and that they can be moved to other areas of the house. Permanent air conditioners are not only expensive but provide you with less versatility, as once they’re in, they can’t be picked up and moved with you to the kitchen. Your portable, however, is like a happy puppy following you with interest wherever you go (preferably not the bathroom).

Additionally, the portable versions are usually a bit easier to clean and maintain, as they are always within easy reach. Stationary air conditioners are often placed high up, so removing, washing, or switching out the filters becomes a chore involving step ladders and stacked chairs instead of an easy opening and removal. On the other hand, it is true that portable air conditioners take up floor space that the installed ones do not, so if you live in a small space it’s very important to consider that before making the move to portable.

Will my air conditioner recycle air?

In short, yes. An air conditioner uses a fan to suck in air and then send it out cooled It does not bring in fresh air from an outside source, resulting in indoor recycled air.

How often should I clean my air conditioner?

The general rule of thumb is to clean your air conditioner filters approximately every 2 weeks, while the evaporator coil should be cleaned once a year.

Why does an air conditioner need to be in a window?

In short, a portable air conditioner sucks in hot air, and then sends it out the back. If the pipe is not placed outside, this air will be pushed right back into your home, defeating the purpose of an air conditioner.

What should I do if my air conditioner smells musty?

When your air conditioning is running, it’s cycling a lot of air through it’s system, heating up the mechanics. When the air conditioner slows down the air cools, forming condensation which can collect as puddles in the inner workings. This condensation allows for the growth of mold, bacteria, and fungus, creating the musty smell when the air conditioner is turned on. In order to get rid of the issue, turn off and unplug your air conditioner, then clean the filter, evaporator coil, and the condensate line.


Verdict: The Best Small Portable Air Conditioner for You

While finding the air conditioner that you want can be tough amidst all the makes and models available on the market, knowing what your priorities are should greatly help in eliminating uncertainty and stress.

If you’re looking for an all-around, solid product with great performance and that looks good, go with the Frigidaire, guaranteed to cool down your home and make it pleasant again for you and your friends.

If you can spend a little more and need something with a strong punch for a large space, the SereneLife is perfect for you, as it quietly and efficiently cools down the room of up to 450 square feet.

Finally, if you are on a tight budget right now, have a small space, and also don’t want to breathe in unknown chemicals, the Breezewell is your perfect air conditioner as it is environmentally friendlier than the other models, more natural, super effective in small spaces, and significantly cheaper than any of the competition.

I hope this has helped you narrow down the search. Go forth and prosper in your air conditioning endeavors.

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