The Best Portable Air Conditioners for Your Apartment

updated Jul 13, 2023
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Summer calls for cooling devices, but not all of us have the luxury of central air. In fact, because of our window placement or where we want to cool (hello, hot garage), a portable air conditioner might be the best bet. A portable air conditioner (PAC) is a unit that sits on the floor or a tabletop and can be moved around with relative ease. But how do you figure out which one is best for your space? And how can you save money on your air conditioner?

The main thing to look out for is BTU (British thermal units), which is defined as the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Most window AC units have a cooling capacity ranging from 5,000 to 12,500 BTU, and the general rule of thumb is that you need 20 BTU for each square foot of living space. So, the bigger the room, the higher the BTU you should look for. Below, we rounded up nine of the best portable air conditioners for all spaces (and budgets!) on the market today. They’re guaranteed to keep you cool during the summer and all year round.

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Home Depot

This compact air conditioner is one of the least expensive full-size models you can find, and it does a great job of cooling down an apartment or room (it's rated to keep an area up to 300 square feet completely cool). The wheels on the bottom of this machine make it more portable and let you easily move it to whichever space in your home needs to chill out.

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For a truly portable air conditioner, consider this battery-powered model. It gets its power through a USB port, and you can use it either while plugged in or unplugged — it has a battery life of about 3 to 4 hours. That means you can take this A/C with you in the car or even out in your backyard when you want to cool off. It also uses an internal water tank to help create perfectly chilled air.

3 / 9
was $569.99

This 14,000-BTU unit from BLACK+DECKER has more than 28,000 five-star reviews and features cooling, fan, and dehumidifier modes for ultimate functionality. It can cool up to 350 square feet of space and has easily programmable controls. And if you want something a little smaller, you can go for 8,000-, 10,000-, or 12,000-BTU versions of the same model.

4 / 9

With this combination tower fan and air conditioner, you get a small-space-friendly device that prevents your home from overheating. It has a water tank on the back that you can fill when you want to use the A/C function, or you can simply turn on the fan function and have it oscillate to cool your space down. You can add water into a slot on the top of the machine, which makes refilling it super easy. And because it comes with a remote control, you don't have to leave the couch to adjust it.

5 / 9
Home Depot

Looking for something discrete? This compact, portable air conditioner is a great smaller option that still has a dehumidifier and fan-only controls. With all the fancy features of a larger air conditioner — including sleep mode, automatic condensation disposal, and a remote control — this affordable option gives you all the frills without all the cost. 

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Home Depot
was $39.99

Want a budget-friendly portable air conditioner? Well, we found one, and you can use it basically anywhere. To operate this tiny cube-shaped A/C, you have to add water to its tank, which it then uses to create super-cooled air. You can control the air speed and directional flow with a few buttons and fan shades, and you can even add ice cubes to the water tank (along with water) to get cold air more quickly. This device is great to use at your desk or on your nightstand on hot summer nights.

7 / 9
Home Depot

This mid-sized portable air conditioner is a sleek option to cool rooms up to 300 square feet in size. With two cooling fans and two-speed fans, this air conditioner is a powerful option that isn’t conspicuous in appearance. Even better, the 24-hour on/off timer lets you create a cooling schedule without wasting electricity, so you can set it to turn on before you get home or turn off after you leave. 

8 / 9
was $509.99

This Honeywell unit has tons of great reviews, uses an auto-evaporation system (aka no drips), and features thermal overload protection (meaning it’ll shut off if it gets too hot), giving you peace of mind. It’ll cool up to 450 square feet of space, too.

9 / 9
was $679.99

This Whytner model has a 24-hour timer, a remote control, and an auto-restart function for power outages. Even better? It can be used as a dehumidifier, fan, and large space heater in the winter, making it ideal for year-round use in areas up to 500 square feet.

Samantha Leal and Sarah M. Vazquez also contributed to reporting.