Best portable AC units for summer
No denying it — summer is here and with it the hottest days you’ve likely seen in a while. Which means you may need some help staying cool. Unlike a more permanently installed window air conditioner, a portable AC unit can move with you from room to room. The added flexibility gives you more options if you have different spaces you want to cool throughout the day. To aid in their mobility, most units available today are equipped with wheels so they look and move similarly to a rolling suitcase. While every portable air conditioner is designed to cool a room, there are different options depending on the size of the room and the specific features you may need.
We tested several portable AC units, ranging in price from $349 to $699, and our three favorites are listed below. They fit an array of budgets and have a selection of features to keep your home livable while you keep your cool.
BEST SMALL PORTABLE AC UNIT: GE APCD08JALW
If you’re searching for a portable air conditioner to cover small to medium spaces, look no further than the GE APCD08JALW. Designed to cool up to a 350-square-foot room, the APCD08JALW is an excellent choice for anyone looking for an AC unit that can handle smaller bedrooms, offices and other living spaces with ease.
It performed admirably in our testing, maintaining its lowest temperature nearly 70% of the time. The other small units we tested weren’t able to keep up with the GE unit in this test. It also did well in the second test, where we saw how consistently the unit maintains a set temperature of 68 degrees. Again, the GE APCD08JALW came in first place.
GE’s APCD08JALW has a cooling capacity of 8,500 British thermal units and costs $479.
Overall, this GE portable AC unit is a great option if you’re looking for a smaller air conditioner at a reasonable price. Bonus: At 62 pounds, this AC unit is one of the lightest and therefore one of the most easily portable units of the bunch. That makes it a solid choice if you plan to regularly move it between rooms. Plus, its slightly smaller dimensions would suit apartment living or work well for anyone otherwise limited in space.
Not only did the Midea MAP14HS1TBL excel in performance compared with the other larger portable air conditioners we tested, it also has a lot of features and specialty options. At $699, this unit isn’t cheap, but it’s a well-rounded luxury AC unit with everything you need — and then some.
To start, the MAP14HS1TBL has the highest cooling capacity of any other model we tested. Those 12,000 Btu come in handy for cooling larger spaces up to 550 square feet and it showed in the performance.
This model also comes with a standard remote control and has sleep mode, timer and dehumidifier functions, as well as an app and support for Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands.
Overall, the Midea MAP14HS1TBL has all the premium features and options you’d expect in this price range. Throw in its stellar performance and this unit is our top pick to cool larger spaces. Keep in mind that this air conditioner was also the heaviest unit we tested at 77 pounds, but, like the rest, it comes with wheels for easy maneuvering.
BEST VALUE PORTABLE AC UNIT: HAIER QPWA14YZMW
The Haier QPWA14YZMW is an excellent midpoint between the GE and Midea AC units.
At about $550, its price sits in the middle of the best small and best high-end air conditioners, yet it offers similar specs and performance to the Midea model, just without some of the advanced features.
Specifically, this Haier AC unit has a 9,700 Btu cooling capacity and can cool up to a 550-square-foot room.
While its cooling capacity is lower than the 12,000 Btu Midea MAP14HS1TBL air conditioner, the Haier unit held its own during testing.
It managed to maintain a 68-degree set temperature over 75% of its running time (compared with the Midea’s 85%). It also maintained its lowest temperature 70.9% of its running time, after the Midea’s 80.1%. As far as features go, this unit has a remote control and timer and dehumidifier functions.
It also has an app, but you won’t have support for voice assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant.