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The best portable air conditioners

Summer is upon us, which means it’s time to crank up the air. If you’re minus a central air system, that means you’ll be using either window air conditioners or the focus of our list today, a portable AC unit. Both are solid options, but a portable AC has a number of advantages.

First, they are useful in humid areas where you really don’t want to open any windows for fear that you will just make the heat worse, even with a traditional air conditioner. Second, portable units are handy additions in rooms like classrooms and offices where you can’t open windows and where climate control systems may not quite be up to the task.

Based on our extended experience with smart home products, we have chosen the best portable AC units for your needs, starting with a durable, powerful Black and Decker model that can also double as a heater when necessary.

Black and Decker AC/heater

Versatile and powerful, this Black and Decker model can cool down an area up to 350 square feet with a vertical flow of cool air. You can also switch it to a heating mode in the winter, with options up to 14,000 BTUs to make sure things stay toasty. There’s also air purification with an included filter and a dehumidifier to help draw water from the air to keep rooms cool and dry — although note that the dehumidifying feature does require a non-permanent window vent, so it won’t work in a fully sealed room. There aren’t any smart features with this model, but it does come with a handy remote that shows you the current temperature and allows for programming, fan adjustments, and more.

Dyson Pure Cool Me personal purifying fan

While this isn’t a traditional air conditioner, the Dyson Pure will definitely cool you down and is great for those with allergies. A built-in HEPA filter pulls allergens and pollutants out of the air, which then gets shot out to you as a clean, crisp blast of air. The LCD monitor lets you know exactly how fresh the surrounding air is, and you can control fan speed, oscillation, and more with just the touch of your hand (or with the included remote). Lightweight, the Pure is also extremely easy to transport from room to room.

Honeywell C060PM Evaporative Air Cooler

This portable unit by Honeywell uses a hose hookup to create cooled, evaporative air, which is then disbursed by a fan. Sick of dripping sweat during your summer BBQs? Fire up this bad boy and experience a refreshing cool-down for areas up to 850 feet. The ice compartment and cooling pads ensure your breeze remains optimally chilly, and the entire unit is weather- and UV-resistant, so no worries when the next heatwave hits.

Honeywell CS071AE cooler/humidifier

We’re sure you’ve noticed that many of the best portable air conditioners tend to hover around the $500 mark. If that’s too expensive for you, check out this cooler and humidifier that includes a robust dust filter and useful remote control. It’s especially affordable, but it’s also designed for small spaces. Make sure you position it right next to a desk or sofa so that you can feel the effects.

Whynter ARC-101 AC/dehumidifier

Whynter’s powerful model can cool a 300-square-foot room and switch between AC, simple fan, and dehumidifier modes as needed (as usual, the dehumidifying mode is designed to be used with a window vent and can remove up to 70 pints per day). It also does a pretty good job of purification with a prefilter and carbon filter. The controls allow you to program a daily schedule with specific temperatures for the room. All in all, it can be a great home or business unit, but it is a bit larger and louder than many home AC units.

Frigidaire Smart AC

Frigidaire’s smart unit offers a Wi-Fi-connected air conditioner with a smart app for controls and an auto cool function you can set up so the unit turns on when it’s needed. There are three cooling levels and three fan speeds to play with, as well as sleep and energy-saver modes. It can cool up to a 550-square-foot room, making this model perfect for most homes. There is a dehumidifying function, but since it’s not designed for a window vent, it can only remove three pints of water per hour. Also, note that the conical design means this model works best when placed in the center of a space.

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