The 4 Best Portable Air Conditioners in 2022

Mobile Air Conditioner FAQs

James Brains / Insider

What should you look for in a portable air conditioner?

When shopping for a portable unit, consider your window size, room size, and any additional features you want. You need the appropriate Btu rating for your room size (listed below). Also look for an AC with a window slider that will fit your window.

What is Btu?

An international measure of energy, the Btu measures the amount of heat needed to raise 1 pound of water at sea level by 1 degree Fahrenheit. In the world of air conditioners, a Btu rating indicates how much heat a portable air conditioner removes from a room each hour.

How many BTUs do you need to cool your room?

You want about 5,000 DOE Btu for a 150 square foot room, 6,000 Btu for 250 square foot, 8,000 Btu for 350 square foot, 10,000 Btu for 450 square foot, 12,000 Btu for 550 square foot. , and 14,000 Btu for 700 square feet.

The cost, size and weight of an air conditioner will increase with the Btu rating. However, it is crucial that you have the right cooling capabilities for your room. An air conditioner will not remove moisture properly if its Btu rating is too high for the space. If it is too low, it will not cool the room sufficiently.

Why do portable ACs have two Btu numbers?

According to Joanna Mauer, Technical Advocacy Manager for the Household appliance standards awareness projectthe DOE Btu rating is more accurate than the ASHRAE because it accounts for hot air infiltration and duct heat loss.

Mauer said ASHRAE, the manufacturer’s Btu, doesn’t account for the significant heat being returned to the room through the vent pipe. There is also no consistent testing standard.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has established standardized tests to account for the heat that ends up in the room. We reference DOE ratings in our guide.

What can you do if you’re stuck with an air conditioner that doesn’t have enough Btu to properly cool a room?

Mauer recommended keeping the filter clean. Also, during the day, close the curtains and blinds to reduce the heat gain in the room. Finally, she suggested running a fan to circulate the cool air.

Which is better: a portable air conditioner or a window/room air conditioner?

According to Jones, window air conditioners are more efficient than portable units. In our tests, the most efficient portable air conditioner still used 60% more energy than our top window pick. The window unit also cost less and cooled much better.

We strongly recommend that you purchase a window air conditioner if you have a window to support it. Portable units are only best when you don’t have a single or double hung window.

Can I use a portable air conditioner in a room without a window?

Yes, but hot air needs a way out of space. Otherwise, the unit will not be able to provide cooling benefits. Your portable air conditioner just needs an opening large enough for the vent pipe to send the heat outside.

How do I clean and maintain my portable air conditioner?

To keep your portable air conditioner working optimally, you should clean the filter at least once a month, more if you use it more. Below are some other cleaning tips that will help you get the most out of your device.


  • Remove Condensation: Regularly remove the condensation that has formed during the cooling process. Many portable units make this task easier with a built-in dehumidifier or drain hose. When storing the air conditioner for the season, be sure to remove condensation to prevent mold buildup.
  • Keep the hose short: You can improve the efficiency of your portable air conditioner and reduce dust and moisture buildup by keeping the hose as short and straight as possible.
  • Wipe the exterior: Run a damp cloth along the exterior of your device to remove dust.


  • Clean the filter: A filter helps reduce allergens in your air and allows for optimal airflow. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for filter cleaning frequency. A vacuum cleaner with the crevice tool in place should do the job. You can also wash the filter with water, but make sure it dries completely before reinstalling it.
  • Check insulation: To keep your air conditioner running efficiently, make sure the insulation stays in place and seals the cracks. If your device doesn’t come with foam gaskets, consider getting some affordable adhesive strips. Apply insulation whenever you move AC.

2 times per season:

  • Vacuum the condenser coils: To access the condenser coils on the back of your device, take a screwdriver to remove the back panel. To keep your air conditioner running efficiently, use a vacuum cleaner with the flat attachment and run it lightly over the coils. Do not press hard. You don’t want to dent the coils.

Karl M. Bailey