The best portable AC units for the summer save on money and energy while staying cool compared to installing household AC.
With the hot summer underway and the first heatwaves setting in, remaining cool is a high priority for many of us.
But installing a traditional air conditioning unit is expensive, time-intensive, and requires a lot more commitment (as well as a lot more damage to the environment).
Luckily we live in an era with ever-improving solutions. In this list, we will be going over today’s best modern tech in the world of personal AC units.
How Portable Air Conditioners Work
The traditional air conditioning connects a hose by some means to the outside of the house, pulls hot air into the system, and uses some coolant or refrigerant to cool the air before circulating it around your home via a fan system. They tend to be louder, use a lot of energy, and contribute to rising pollution levels through the resulting exhaust.
The air conditioning units on our list use water to cool the air in your room, keeping your household air from drying out.
- Personal units draw in hot air on one side.
- Pass it through a water curtain which is connected to a hydration chamber that may include an ice tray
- The water evaporates, leaving behind cool air.
- Then a fan blows that cool and moist air back out into the room
Some of them even have UV lights, bacterial filters, or other features.
Where To Use Portable Air Conditioners
These units are primarily ideal for small spaces such as bedrooms, offices, living rooms, dorms, apartments, condos, or around small homes. There are even units designed to cool down an outdoor space!
Not all of them require a direct electric output. Some operate on rechargeable batteries to make it easier to position them wherever you feel it is needed.
The Best Portable Air Conditioners in 2021
The following is our list of the top portable air conditioners in the market today:
A portable AC is ideal for any inside space, including a car. The device itself comes with 7 LED lights, making it work as a cooling unit and a night light for dark areas. Like many on this list, it also purifies and moisturizes while cooling the air. Its design is easy to use and has three speeds to choose from.
Blast Auxiliary Portable AC
Branded as both small and affordable, Blast Auxiliary’s portable AC is perfect for any home. It has a cord-free operation, a humidifying add-on, a filter, and is charged with a USB cable. Because it doesn’t require being plugged in, you can use it anywhere in your home, with or without power. The more advanced features are considered surprising its cost.
ArcticBox Portable Air Cooler
Calling itself a “nano air conditioner” because it has an extra-small design, this AC unit chills the air while filtering pollutants, viruses, and bacteria. It is the only nano one and the only one to claim it filters bacteria and viruses. At just 1.5 lbs, this cordless, surprisingly quiet, and easily portable unit lives up to its reputation.
Glacier Air Cooler
The Glacier unit doubles in design as a lantern and has an external, chargeable battery making it perfect for taking with you on the go. Its built-in lamp makes it ideal for outdoor activities like the beach or camping. A water cooling system alone will cool your air, but the option of adding ice allows for Arctic-level temperatures to blow out into your room. The system is also the most stylish, with a retro-themed design aesthetic.
IceBox Air Cooler
Like the other units, the IceBox pulls in hot, dry air on one side and blows out cool, moist air on the other. Unlike the others, it comes with extra features such as an LCD screen for temperature range selection, a sleep mode allowing for quiet operation, seven mood lights, and five cooling levels. It’s all more customizable as a result. The $10 increase in price can be forgiven with all the bonuses. The price drops as low as $60 a unit when ordering multiple.
Sleep Connection Cool Mist Humidifier
Another beautifully designed unit option with an included mood light, the Sleep Connection manufacturers claim it helps you sleep better, breathe better, and enjoy a better quality of life. There is a simple one-touch operation. You need only add water before running it as long as you’d like. Bonus! It is by far the cheapest on this list.
Arctos Portable AC
It is made as an on-the-go air conditioning unit perfect for any room or car- or wherever you need it! While this unit works much like the others (curtain of water with air passing through it), the most significant selling point is its quietness, even while having three different fan settings. But if that’s not enough, it lasts about 6-8 hours before needing a water change and has 7 LED light options.
HydroBoost Portable AC
Although it has similarities to others on this list, like the USB charging cord and an ice tray to cool the air further, the HydroBoost also has an ultraviolet light to sanitize the water and further purify the process. This prevents the toxins and bacteria that could be in the water from floating around your home, where they can be inhaled. Its size and weight make it ideal for on-the-go cooling in any room or location.
Exclusively available with PopularHiTech, this is an entirely portable cooling system with an ultra-small design meant to be worn around your neck. The unit sprays cool air directly onto your face and is ideal for both relaxing and working out. Having cool temperatures wherever you go for a relatively low price is a desirable offer.
How We Ranked The Best Portable Air Conditioners in 2021
How this list was created, what made some units good enough, is relatively straightforward. While all portable AC units claim similar things, only some live up to their advertising.
If you were curious, the following are the guidelines both seen and unseen in this list’s creation:
- Effective Cooling: The most significant factor for obvious reasons, everything had to achieve the desired goal.
- Humidification: Creating humidity is a big part of the appeal, but it’s also a key aspect in cooling the air. Hence, the unit needed to create a decent amount of humidity.
- Appearances: While not nearly as important, this is a product users will have out for the world to see. Its appearance made some difference; even not being particularly attractive didn’t prevent it from being on the list itself.
- Easy Use: It’s essential that the average person can easily use a product. All of these air conditioning units require fundamental actions like filling up a dish of water or plugging it in, and they all come with clear directions.
- The Water and Ice of it: Some are better than others. We were sure to include devices with working ice trays and proper misting and were unknown for issues.
- Pricing: While good value is essential, we were sure to include choices for all budgets.
- We Didn’t Talk About: While not featured in the list, customer reviews were critical. But so was company transparency. Transparency can include everything from who is making your product and where it’s being manufactured to battery capacity or water tank size. We wanted only companies forthcoming with their information, which is a good rule of thumb for many things.
Everything You May Not Know But Want To
The difference between a regular and portable air conditioner– A regular one requires installation, is always expensive, uses refrigerant or a compressor, always creates pollution needing a pipe out of home, and is known for producing quite dry air. A portable air conditioner doubles as a humidifier, is easy to use, takes no installation, uses less electricity, costs significantly less, can easily be moved, and uses water as its primary cooling source.
The amount of space a portable air conditioner will cool- this varies slightly from product to product, but everything on this list is intended for small areas such as a bedroom, an office, or a dorm room. Products will usually list the average room size you can expect them to handle, and reviewers will also warn you if they are stretching the truth on this.
Windows and outside access- as mentioned before, it is traditional air conditioning units that require an external connection for exhaust reasons. Portable ones have no such need.
- Safety of consistent use- there is nothing wrong with using it frequently or even constantly; it only creates air vapor. As long as nothing is in the tray but water, it is safe.
- Electric bill- like any electronic device, when it is plugged in and on or charging, it will, of course, use up electricity, and this will increase your bill in the summer months. But it will only do so marginally and will most likely take less energy than a heater would. It also uses significantly less than an entire standard air conditioning unit.
- Leaking- nothing on this list is known for leaking, and it would not be expected for any portable air conditioning unit to do so. It does not build condensation the way a standard one does.
- UV lights- these are unnecessary but an excellent addition. They are intended to purify the water being used in the cooling/evaporation process.
- Lasting quality- while battery life may decline with age, it is standard for a decent portable air conditioner to last at least five years before needing to be replaced. With proper maintenance, they can last much longer.
- SEER- this is a rating system present on all air conditioners in the United States. The higher the rating, the more efficient the unit.
- Price range- the price range on our list is $15 to $100. They can cost more, but we excluded the more expensive models for average affordability reasons. Most on our list, and in general, cost around $90.
The Best Portable Air Conditioners in 2021 Last Word
Portable air conditioners are a great, cost-effective, and more environmentally friendly way to cool down a household in the few summer months. Air conditioning tech in recent years has improved dramatically, and gone are the days of needing your home to have an expensive HVAC system installed in the walls.
Because these are portable, it also means only needing to cool the room you are in. Safe and effective air cooling can be had anywhere in your home with anything on this list.
People Also Read: IceBox Air Cooler Reviews – Is Portable Ice Box AC Worth It?
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