5 Best Portable Air Conditioners Under $700

Beat the summer heat with a portable AC unit. Check out these top-rated models with features like quiet operation for bedrooms and dehumidifiers for hot, humid spaces.

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June 09, 2020

Our Top Portable Air Conditioner Picks

When I moved to the Pacific Northwest from the Southeast, my mind was blown that many buildings don’t have air conditioning — like no HVACs and very few window units. It’s pretty mild up here until August, and then it’s hell for 31 days. I quickly bought a portable air conditioner from Costco, and it’s one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. (Just remember to keep your window open completely when the unit is on and pulling in air. I made the mistake of slightly closing the window once, and the unit nearly melted the window trim and overheated!) Portable AC units are great for rentals or rooms like a garage where you don’t have an HVAC or can’t install a more permanent window box. But not all portable AC units are the same.

There are two important things to know and consider when shopping for a unit: what size to buy and how to clean it. For size, look at the model’s British Thermal Unit or BTU, which refers to the amount of energy needed to cool a room and how quickly. Manufacturers will typically include a square footage number with the BTU listed to indicate if the model is good for cooling a big or small room. For example, you don’t want to buy a unit that is only meant for 250 square feet to cool a large living room. For cleaning, you want to look for a model that is self-cleaning or features an easy-to-remove, reusable filter because emptying a bucket of water is a pain and also becomes a hotspot for mold and mildew buildup. Units also vary dramatically in price from $150 to $1,000, so we’ve narrowed it down to the best, most affordable portable ACs on the market right now. Before you splurge on a machine, take a look at our handy shopping guide to find the right portable air conditioner for your home and your budget.

Best Unit Overall

People love, love, love this Frigidaire model, but it’s routinely sold out. If you need AC ASAP, check out the Black + Decker BPACT14WT. It doesn’t come with a fancy remote or WiFi functionality, but it gets the job done under $500. It also offers both a sleep mode and a dehumidify mode so it’s a great all-around unit. And it’s a breeze to install. One reviewer said, “We had it up and running within three minutes of receiving it in the mail.”

Best Unit for Sleep

One of the cons of buying a portable AC unit is the noise. Like fans, these machines can get pretty loud, especially when they initially turn on to cool down a room. But newer models are coming out touting ultra-quiet, sleep-specific modes, and one of the best-rated is this Frigidaire. Not only does it come with a quiet fan setting, but the sleep mode actually features an energy-saving option where the temperature gradually increases a few degrees over the evening. Several user reviews on this listing mention that it was purchased for a bedroom and that it cools quickly without taking up much space.

Best Unit for Air Quality

If you suffer from allergies or are sensitive to dust, you need the Honeywell HL12CESWK. The unit features a dual hose filtration system that prevents dust, pet dander and hair from entering the unit. It’s also currently available with free shipping and free returns for Amazon Prime members.

Best Unit for Humidity

Most portable AC units feature some type of moisture control, but if you live in an extra hot and humid area, you may need a model with a built-in dehumidifier. Whynter’s Elite model features an AutoPump feature that can be activated to pump out excess condensation.

Best Unit for Budget

This compact Honeywell unit doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but at just under $130, it’s the right purchase if you’re on a strict budget. It even comes with a carbon dust air filter and remote control. Several customer reviews have praised this model for being super quiet for sleep. Though given its small size and lack of dehumidifying features, this unit is not a good option for super-humid regions.

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