The Best Portable Air Conditioners for Your Apartment

updated Jul 4, 2022
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Summer calls for cooling, 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 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, guaranteed to keep you cool as temperatures heat up.

1 / 9
was $35.99

Obviously, this mini air conditioner won’t cool a whole room by any stretch of the imagination, but if you’re working in an office, garage, or attic and need some help on the cooling front, this is your new go-to. It’s an air conditioner and humidifier, so it does double duty on a small easy-to-fill water tank. Its compact size means it's small enough to sit on a desk or table.

2 / 9

Stuffy office space? This three-speed portable air conditioner is perfect for sticking under your desk or next to your bed to cool down your space. The handle makes it easy to take from room to room, and it also functions as a humidifer. At under $50, this is a serious steal that’s hard to beat.

3 / 9
was $412.86

This 6,000-BTU model will cool up to 350 square feet and features sleep and energy-efficient auto modes, along with a remote control. It also has a fan and dehumidifier for extra comfort, as well as a washable air filter to keep the air it circulates clean.

4 / 9
Home Depot

This mid-sized portable air conditioner is a sleek option to cool rooms up to 300 square feet. 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 off after you leave. 

5 / 9
was $579.99

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.

6 / 9
Home Depot
was $398.99

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 the cost. 

7 / 9
was $599.99

Forget the usual shapes — this Frigidaire pick blends into a room with ease and can cool up to 450 square feet. It also works by using the Frigidaire Smart App on your phone, meaning you can control it from anywhere. Plus, you can get notices when it’s time to clean the filter as well as track hours of use, all from your phone.

8 / 9
was $459.00

This 14,000-BTU unit from BLACK + DECKER has more than 24,000 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.

9 / 9
was $679.99

This Whytner model has a 24-hour timer, a remote, 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.