6 Best Portable Air Conditioners For Cars and Comfy Travel

Josh Mitchell

Written By

Josh Mitchell

Expert Reviewed By

Holly Curell

Last Updated On

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Here in the South, having sufficient car AC is non-negotiable.

Customers often ask me what the best portable AC options for cars and trucks are—sometimes because their car AC is broken, but most of the time because they spend time in their car stationary and don’t want to run the engine. 

Portable car ACs are tricky to come by, and the market is saturated with items that either aren’t true ACs or that barely work.

In this article, I’ll share my top 6 products for having portable air conditioning in your car.

Quick Glance - My Recommendations

K2 is a personal 12-volt Cooler for Campers,...

MightyKool K2

Editor's Choice

EF ECOFLOW Wave 2 Portable Air Conditioner,...

EcoFlow Wave 2

Most Portable AC Option

Portable Air Conditioners, Evaporative Air...

TIOKVIOP

Quiet Cooling with USB charging

6 Best Portable Air Conditioners For Cars and Trucks

1 - MightyKool K2

4.6

Overall Score


Ease Of Use

4.5

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Cooling Ability

4.5

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Value For Money

4.7

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The MightyKool K2 falls into that category that many people call air conditioning, but it’s really an evaporative cooler.

As such, the K2 won’t down an entire vehicle, but what this beast of a cooler does is provide a strong, refreshing flow of air to keep you comfortable. 

The fan speeds can reach up to 25 mph.

At 82 degrees with 50% humidity, the air blowing out of the double fans registers a temperature of about 60 degrees.

When I said provides powerful cooling, I meant it. My partner and I often use the MightyKool in the front seat of our car while we eat lunch on a hot beach day.

The unit has a one-gallon water tank and doesn’t need ice to chill the air.

That said, I have tried putting a couple of handfuls of ice in the tank with the water, and cool feel the boosted chilly. 

The tank can last up to 8 hours at a low setting, but in general use, 4-5 hours is more achievable.

Typically, when I’m having lunch and taking a bit of a rest from the surf, I have it on high for about 45 minutes. 

The tank lid has a rubber gasket and attaches with four screws. I was a bit worried about spillage, but I haven’t had any problems at all. 

This MightyKool model doesn’t have as many power options as the TIOKVIOP further down my list, but it does have a 12v power plug for using your car’s power and a 120v-to-12v converter for plugging it into a standard outlet.

MightyKool didn’t do much to make the K2 stylish, as it does look quite industrial.

When I had it set up in the back of my open SUV recently, a passerby asked me if it was a Ghostbusters ghost trap. We both got a chuckle out of that. 

I have noticed that this model struggles a bit when it’s extra humid out, but that is generally true for all evaporative coolers.

I only use it with my car windows open, but there is a vent kit that can be purchased separately if you plan to use it in an enclosed space. 

Overall, for personal cooling in an open-air car, the MightyKool K2 is my top choice. 

MightyKool K2 controls

Who is the MightyKool K2 best for?

I recommend the MightyKool K2 as the best personal AC for use in a car, truck, trailer, RV or boat.

Feature

Details

Type

12v Cooler Fan

Dimensions

12 x 10 x 8 inches

BTU

N/A

Power Source(s)

12v adapter

Battery Runtime/Life

N/A

Warranty

1-year limited warranty


2 - EcoFlow Wave 2

4.6

Overall Score


Ease Of Use

4.7

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Cooling Ability

5.0

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Value For Money

4.2

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RV camping requires strong cooling, especially if you have a big RV or camp in the desert. EcoFlow Wave 2 offers something for every situation.

This portable AC unit packs a lot of power.

Rated for 5,100 BTU, it’s the single most powerful device on my list, beating even the Zero Breeze Mark 2. It effectively maintains a cool temperature in my 20-foot RV. 

Should the night get chilly, this AC can serve double duty as a heater. Basically, no matter the temperature, Wave 2 can keep me comfy. 

Installation is super easy. In cooling mode, the unit doesn’t need drainage if the ambient temperature is under 70%. Even if you camp in a rainforest, the flexible drain pipe is easy to lead into a bucket or outdoors.

The cooling power comes with quite a bit of noise, though. Even in Sleep mode, Wave 2 produces around 45dB of noise — the same as the Zero Breeze on max settings.

Controlling the unit is simple with a remote mobile app, so you don’t have to get out of bed to adjust it.

EcoFlow Wave 2 Remote mobile app

I love that I have plenty of options for powering Wave 2. It can run off AC or DC power, a solar panel, or a car cigarette lighter. There’s also a chargeable battery add-on that can last up to 8 hours.

Just note that the expensive battery is sold separately, which adds to the unit’s already hefty price. I do find that it’s the best power option, as the other options are a bit finicky.

For example, the cigarette lighter hookup can’t power the compressor, so it essentially just becomes a fan when hooked up that way. 

One of the nice things about the EcoFlow Wave 2 is that registration extends your warranty from 12 to 24 months, and the battery itself comes with a 24-month warranty out of the box, which gives me peace of mind. 

If you have the budget to go beyond what the MightKool K2 can provide and need something with more powerful cooling, then I absolutely would go with the EcoFlow Wave 2. 

Who is the EcoFlow Wave 2 best for?

I recommend this EcoFlow Wave 2 portable air conditioner for people who are looking for an all-in-one cooling and heating unit.

Feature

Details

Type

Portable Air Conditioner/Heater

Dimensions

20 x 13 x 12 inches

BTU

5,100 cooling, 6,100 heating

Power Source(s)

AC, DC, solar, car cigarette lighter adapters; battery (sold separately)

Battery Runtime/Life

Up to 8 hours

Warranty

1-year warranty


3 - TIOKVIOP Portable Air Conditioner

Quiet Cooling with USB charging

4.0

Overall Score


Ease Of Use

4.0

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Cooling Ability

4.0

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Value For Money

4.0

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I initially purchased the TIOKVIOP (don’t ask me how to pronounce that) as a more stylish car cooling option over the MightyKool K2 option. 

The TIOKVIOP is too tall to sit nicely on my dashboard at 11.42”, but I’ve still had success using it in my car by setting it up on my center console and pointing it at myself for personal cooling.

Like the K2, this model is a personal evaporative cooler.

The tank is a bit small at 33 oz, but it is plenty big for me to run for a couple of hours while I wait in the car during my kids’ soccer practice. 

The fan as three speeds: natural (fan only), low cooling mist, and high cooling mist.

I have found that low cooling mist is the best way to go in my car, and this works best when I keep the windows rolled down. 

Turning it on high for even a couple of minutes left visible water droplets on my car’s interior, which I definitely want to avoid. 

My favorite feature of this personal air conditioner is its whisper-quiet function. At under 40 dB on low, I can easily make phone calls while sitting next to it without any interruption. 

The TIOKVIOP has a bunch of “extra features” that I honestly don’t think are needed but that some people might appreciate.

These include a pad for adding essential oils/ perfumes and 7 different night light colors. 

A remote is also included, but I had to chuckle at that a bit.

That’s because the remote has a 30-foot reach, but the airflow certainly does not, so I’m not sure why I’d be using the remote from so far away. 

As a personal cooler, I think the TIOKVIOP is a nice model. I love that I can even charge it with my laptop USB if needed.

I just make sure to only have it on fan-mode when it’s close to my electronics. 

Who is the TIOKVIOP best for?

I recommend this TIOKVIOP 4-in-1 air cooler for people seeking quiet cooling with USB charging.

Feature

Details

Type

Personal Evaporative Cooler

Dimensions

4.72 x 8.27 x 11.42 inches

BTU

N/A

Power Source(s)

USB

Battery Runtime/Life

2 - 8 Hours

Warranty

Lifetime


4 - Zero Breeze Mark 2

4.5

Overall Score


Ease Of Use

4.5

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Cooling Ability

4.7

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Value For Money

4.2

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The Zero Breeze Mark 2 is just an awesome product, and it would be higher on my list of car ACs if it weren’t for it’s high price. 

That said, the Zero Breeze Mark 2 provides well-balanced cooling for my SUV.

With a BTU rating of 2,300, this true portable air conditioner is perfect for cooling the cabin of a car–no more need to keep the engine running while I’m waiting in carpool line for 45 minutes!

I like that I have plenty of options to power this portable air conditioner, including a battery and car power port. 

I mostly use the battery power dock that uses a lithium-ion rechargeable battery, but a couple of times I’ve forgotten to charge it and have had to use the car’s power port.

I wouldn’t have had this problem if I’d purchased the double battery pack for an additional $400, but hindsight is 20/20. 

I’ve found that the battery can power the AC unit for around 4 hours on the high setting, which is a slight improvement from their Mark 1 model. 

On low power, the battery life more or less doubles. I typically have been recharging my Mark 2 once every 3-4 days for my carpool use.

I do have to complain about the 8 hour charge time, which is really long. This is another reason I wish I had purchased the second battery. 

The Mark 2 is louder than the TIOKVIOP and registers in at about 52 dB. That said, I find that the Mark 2 produces more potent cooling power and doesn’t add unwanted moisture to the air on humid days.

My biggest issue with this unit is its price—it's the second most expensive AC on my list, behind only EcoFlow.

In my opinion, though, the Zero Breeze (around $1500 USD) offers slightly better value for money than the EcoFlow (around $1700 USD), unless you’re also seeking heating power. 

Zero Breeze Mark 2 Dimensions

Who is the Zero Breeze Mark 2 best for?

This Zero Breeze Mark 2 model is best for people looking for serious cooling for camping and traveling.

You can read a more detailed Zero Breeze review here

Feature

Details

Type

Portable Air Conditioner

Dimensions

20 x 10 x 11 inches

BTU

2,300

Power Source(s)

AC adapter, battery (separate purchase)

Battery Runtime/Life

Up to 8 hours

Warranty


30-day return, 1-year warranty


5 - Evapolar EvaChill

4.2

Overall Score


Ease Of Use

4.5

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Cooling Ability

3.5

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Value For Money

4.7

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Evapolar evaChill combines effective personal cooling with a price that won’t break the budget.

So if the Zero Breeze is way out of your price range, then this affordable, lightweight spot cooler for your car might be the key. 

The evaChill is marketed as a mini-AC, but in reality, it’s an evaporative cooler like the MightyKool K2 or TIOKVIOP. Don’t let the misleading labeling discourage you, though.

This unit has a maximum cooling power of 1,190 BTU. It doesn’t cool down my whole car, but the manufacturer doesn’t even try to claim it does.

That’s still a lot of personal airflow for the driver or passenger (or your dog in the backseat).

There’s a lot I like about the evaChill. To begin with, it has a simple USB plug. You can power it from a car cigarette lighter, a power bank, or even a laptop.

If you use a battery, the cooler will run for a long time. At 7.5W, it consumes less electricity than a regular lightbulb.

Evapolar EvaChill watts

The admittedly small water tank can also last for five hours, even at the high setting. I like that it doesn’t humidify a space as much as the TIOKVIOP does. 

Producing only 28dB of noise on the low setting, the evaChill is quieter than a whisper! Even at a high setting, it’s only as loud as the EcoFlow in Sleep mode. Case closed: This thing’s practically silent.

The evaChill requires filter changes, and the filters are expensive at $30 each.

Still, you only have to replace them a couple of times a year at most, so you won’t ruin your budget, especially if you only use it seasonally like I do. 

Who is the Evapolar Evachill best for?

I recommend this Evapolar Evachill for those looking for truly portable personal cooling that can easily be carried from your car to the office and back again.

Feature

Details

Type

Evaporative Cooler

Dimensions

6.5 x 6.5 x 6.5 inches

BTU

1,190

Power Source(s)

USB-C Port (new models); Micro-USB Port (Pre-2021 models)

Battery Runtime/Life

N/A

Warranty

1-year warranty


6 - TORRAS Coolify Portable Neck Fan Air Conditioner

4.0

Overall Score


Ease Of Use

4.0

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Cooling Ability

4.0

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Value For Money

4.0

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The TORRAS Coolify isn’t an air conditioner like the Zero Breeze, and it’s not an evaporative cooler either.

I guess if I had to classify it, it’d be a “personal cooling fan,” but I don’t think that gives it enough credit. 

I included this neck fan air conditioner because I think it’s a brilliant way to cool yourself down in your car—or anywhere!

I first saw the TORRAS Coolify on a recent family trip to Disney. And not just once or twice, but dozens of times throughout our trip. I had to try this device out myself. 

The Coolify is a wearable neck fan that uniquely works to push air both up and down to cool your entire body.

It also has a cooling plate that sits on the back of your neck– it gives me that sensational chill that can only happen after a good sweat!

The company describes it as “an icicle touching your neck.” I wouldn’t say it’s that cold, but I do like that I can immediately feel a difference in 3 seconds.

On medium speed, I find that the battery run-time is about 4 hours and only 2 hours on high.

For that reason, I’d recommend waiting until the hottest part of the day before using this device, or you might end up wishing you’d saved your battery life. 

The only complaint I have about the TORRAS Coolify is the warranty, which is only 180 days and even extends to their more expensive products.

For a device like this, I’d expect a warranty of at least a year. 

Who is the TORRAS Coolify best for?

I recommend TORRAS Coolify neck fan for people who are looking for personal cooling but who have to get in and out of their car often, such as delivery drivers.

Feature

Details

Type

Personal Cooling Fan

Dimensions

5.9 x 7.87 x 1.18 inches

BTU

N/A

Power Source(s)

Rechargeable Battery

Battery Runtime/Life

2 - 8 Hours

Warranty

180 days


Portable AC Units For Cars Compared

Preview

Name

Rating

Type

Power Source(s)

Price

K2 is a personal 12-volt Cooler for Campers,...

MightyKool K2

4.6

12v Cooler Fan

12v adapter

EF ECOFLOW Wave 2 Portable Air Conditioner,...

EcoFlow Wave 2

4.6

Portable Air Conditioner/Heater

AC, DC, solar, car cigarette lighter adapters; battery

Portable Air Conditioners, Evaporative Air...

TIOKVIOP

4.0

Personal Evaporative Cooler

USB

Zero Breeze Mark 2 Battery Powered Portable...

Zero Breeze Mark 2

4.5

Portable Air Conditioner

AC adapter, battery

Рersonal Air Conditioners Portable AC Unit...

Evapolar EvaChill

4.2

Evaporative Cooler

USB-C Port (new models); Micro-USB Port (Pre-2021 models)

TORRAS Coolify Portable Neck Fan Air...

TORRAS Coolify

4.0

Personal Cooling Fan

Rechargeable Battery


ACLAB Note

Evaporative, swamp or bucket coolers are not really true ACs. They do not have refrigerant flowing through their coils. 

Instead, these appliances use water flowing over a wick filter with a fan blowing over it to cool the air. They are cheap, but limited in their cooling ability.

EVAPORATIVE COOLER NOT EQUAL TO PORTABLE AC

Buying Guide For The Best Portable AC For Cars

Here’s my breakdown of the most crucial things to keep an eye on when choosing a portable AC for your car.

Installation Must Be Easy

Most portable ACs require minimal to no installation. Nonetheless, I recommend looking for a unit that you can just set down and power up.

In general, small portable AC units (like Zero Breeze and EcoFlow on my list) provide the best balance between ease of installation and cooling power. 

You need to attach a drain line and optionally connect exhaust ducts, but that only takes about 10 minutes at most.

What Kind Of Power Source It Requires

DC, AC, USB, batteries… You have a lot of options for powering your cooling unit. 

For ACs and coolers you want to use in cars, I advise finding a unit you can power in a moving vehicle.

In general, that means buying a unit that can draw all the power it needs from your car’s cigarette lighter outlet.

If that’s not possible, a USB-connected device (like the EvaPolar evaChill) will also work well with a simple adapter.

Battery-powered coolers like the Zero Breeze enhance portability, but they come with the risk of running out of charge halfway through your road trip.

Power source

TL;DR: Car ACs range from simple units that can run on battery or DC power, all the way to units that require AC power which often comes from a generator. The kind of power it requires generally depends upon the AC's BTU capacity.

The Overall Size And Dimensions

It’s a smart idea to try and find the smallest possible device that can keep you (and your passengers) cool.

Obviously, how big of an AC or cooler you can fit in your vehicle depends entirely on what you’re driving.
A Honda Civic probably doesn’t have space for anything more than a small personal cooler, such as the EvaPolar, while your RV can likely house the big Zero Breeze and EcoFlow ACs.

TL;DR: Space is a luxury in any car. Therefore, make sure you choose one that can easily fit in the limited space.

BTU Capacity And Cooling Power

You should match your cooling device’s capacity to your vehicle’s size and the number of passengers.

For true ACs, I recommend aiming for a British thermal unit (BTU) rating of at least 2,000.

Without going too deep into the science behind it, the BTU rating measures an AC’s cooling power. 

For reference, the average car AC (the one installed into your vehicle) produces around 20,000 BTU of power, though they can reach up to 40,000 BTU.[1]

A portable unit can never reach that kind of power. However, 2,000 BTU is sufficient for spaces of around 50 square feet, which should be enough for a truck or SUV.

Evaporative coolers like the MightyKool and fans don’t have BTU ratings since they’re not real ACs.

Portable AC BTU

TL;DR: You must choose an AC depending upon the covered area of your Car. RVs and trucks require larger ACs.

Pay Attention To Noise Levels

My recommendation is to look for an AC or cooler that produces 50dB of noise or less. 

That’s more or less on par with a regular conversation.[2]

You may have to compromise on that if you want a lot of power (like with the EcoFlow), but this is the limit I would aim for.

The noise level you can tolerate also depends on whether you aim to sleep with the AC running. 

TL;DR: If you are particularly sensitive to AC noise, make sure that its dB range is 50 or below.

How Difficult And Costly Is The Maintenance

Every cooler and AC needs some kind of maintenance to stay effective. 

Since portable car ACs are meant to be used on the move, aim to buy a low-maintenance unit so you can clean it quickly on the road.

Fans like the TORRAS Coolify are the lowest-maintenance units.

All they need is a quick dusting every now and then to clear the blades, and you have to top up the water in bucket coolers. If you don’t want to bother with upkeep, go for one of these.

Evaporative coolers strike a good balance between efficiency and maintenance.

You have to fill the water reservoir and change the filter every few months, but that’s a five-minute job on units like the TIOKVIOP.

Some of the filters, like those of the Evapolar,  can get expensive, though.

Look For Energy Efficient Models

You might think energy efficiency doesn’t matter much with portable units, but it does. 

I recommend trying to find the most energy-efficient cooler or AC you can, like the Zero Breeze Mark 2, which boasts a 10 EER.

This can be particularly important with battery-powered devices. The less energy the AC consumes, the longer the battery lasts.

Believe me, nothing sucks more than your AC running out of charge in the middle of a sweaty road trip.

Energy efficiency also plays a role if you plug the unit into your car’s cigarette lighter.

A power-hungry unit will lower your gas mileage somewhat since your car has to supply it with energy. It’s not a huge difference, but it’s good to be aware of it.

TL;DR: The higher the energy efficiency rating of an AC, the lower would be its running cost.

Price, Warranty And Your Budget

Set your budget before you start shopping for your portable car AC. You can then disregard units you can’t afford and save a lot of time during the process.

Car coolers are available in a wide price range, from fans like the TIOKVIOP costing around $70 to ACs such as the EcoFlow that cost more than a grand. 

Remember to also take into account the possible maintenance costs, like filter replacements, which can build up over the unit’s lifetime.

Finally, see what kind of warranty the manufacturer offers. I’ve found out the hard way that car coolers can be very temperamental. 

Try to find a cooler that offers a warranty period of at least a year.

TL;DR: Evaporative coolers are much cheaper as compared to true ACs. Therefore, it is important to set a budget and decide upon what kind of unit you want. The brand also matters as the more established brands can offer better warranty terms.

Tank Capacity For Evaporative Coolers

If you opt for an evaporative cooler, the water tank capacity becomes an important consideration.

I advise purchasing a unit with the biggest tank you can fit in the space your vehicle has available.

There’s a simple reason for this — a bigger tank generally lasts for a longer time.

Having to constantly top up the tank can be a hassle and result in water spills, especially in a moving car.

However, it’s not all about the size.

For example, the Evapolar’s minuscule 27-ounce tank can last for hours because it’s well-matched to the unit’s cooling power.

TL;DR: Tank capacity matters for evaporative coolers. The larger the tank capacity, the longer it will run continuously with a single refill.

How Easy It Is Use And Operate

The simplest possible usability can be a literal lifesaver, especially if you’re traveling alone in your car.

Of course, I wholeheartedly recommend stopping and pulling over if you need to make big adjustments to your AC.
This is less of a concern if you’re looking for an AC for your RV since you won’t be using it on the move.

I would still get a remote-controlled AC (which the Zero Breeze and EcoFlow are) so you can easily set the temperature without hunching over the unit.

TL;DR: The simpler the controls, the better.

Extra Features

You should also consider the additional features of the AC or cooler. Some will have multiple speed options or airflow direction control adjustments.

Some units, like EcoFlow, can work as heaters or have Wi-Fi or mobile connectivity.

At the same time, try to avoid bells and whistles you won’t need since they can quickly rack up the unit’s cost.

How We Review & Rank Our Product List

At Air Conditioner Lab, our team follows a similar process when evaluating all products reviews before formulating our final lists for readers.

We begin by gathering data sources directly from brands, e-commerce platforms, online retailers and press releases.

These are then added to a master file we use to compare features specifications from all Portable AC models. You can access this Portable AC Sheet Here.

Next, we narrow down all the products on the market by evaluating user reviews, ratings and feedback from a wide variety of online and in-person sources.

Our team then discusses and co-ordinates our first hand experiences using these products, as well as gather independent opinions and feedback through Youtube and customer reviews.


Types Of Air Conditioners For Cars

types of air conditioners for cars

If you’ve read through my list, you’ve noticed there are a lot of different portable ACs and coolers available for cars. Which one’s the right one for your needs?

I’ve listed the most common types here to help you find one that fits your vehicle.

Portable True ACs

True ACs for cars are exactly what it says on the label — small and compact portable air conditioners. 

They generally have the best cooling power out of the truly portable units and can chill a truck cabin or RV in minutes.

However, they are often much too big and power-hungry to use in a sedan. 

They often also need drainage and exhaust/intake venting, so using them in a moving vehicle is generally out of the question.

As such, portable true ACs are the best choice for cooling RVs, camping trailers, or truck cabins when you’re not on the move. For that purpose, they’re unbeatable.

Rooftop ACs

It’s a bit questionable whether rooftop ACs count as portable ACs — which is why you won’t find any on my list.

They’re worth bringing up, though.

Rooftop ACs are permanent units attached to the roof of an RV, camper van, or trailer. 

They have all the same components and functionality as your regular in-house AC, just on a marginally smaller scale.

They’re absolutely the most efficient way to cool your RV on a regular basis. But is it really portable, although it technically travels with your vehicle?

Evaporative Coolers

Evaporative coolers—also called swamp coolers—feature a filter (sometimes called a wick filter) that sucks up water from the unit’s water tank.

A fan blows air through the filter, which cools it and provides you with a nice, chilly breeze.

Evaporative coolers can be very effective spot coolers and can be compact enough to fit well even in a small car. However, they don’t usually have enough kick to cool down the whole cabin. 
EVAPORATIVE COOLER NOT EQUAL TO PORTABLE AC

You also have to keep filling the water reservoir every few hours and replace the filter, typically at least once a year.

These units are at their best when used as personal coolers. 

As I said, they won’t cool down your whole car, but they can keep one or two people comfortable when properly positioned.

Bucket Coolers

A bucket cooler is essentially an evaporative cooler that relies (as the name implies) on a bucket filled with water or ice. 

On top of the bucket sits a fan that pulls the cool air out of the bucket and blows it on you.

Some units, like the Arctic Cove, can also blow a fine water mist to boost their efficiency.

Bucket coolers are a bit of a mixed bag. They can be affordable and reasonably effective, yet still probably can’t cool an entire RV. 

They’re often pretty bulky, though, and unless they have a water-tight lid (or use a solid coolant like the Bucket Breeze) they’re a water spill waiting to happen.

I wouldn’t put a bucket cooler in a moving car. They can be cheap-ish and effective spot cooler for tailgates or camping, though!

Fans

You know what a fan is. It’s a set of spinning blades that moves air to cool you down. You probably already own at least a couple of them.

Fans only circulate air and, as such, don’t have any real cooling capacity.

The breeze they create can keep a couple of people more comfortable in a hot car, though, and they also help keep the air from becoming too stale.

They’re also often dirt-cheap (although I can’t vouch for a cheap fan’s quality)

If you’re looking to help your passengers stay a bit cooler in a small vehicle at a low price, a good fan might be just what you need.

TL;DR: From true ACs that have refrigerant flowing through them to simple fans, there are many different forms of HVAC appliances you can use for your car.


FAQs

Can A Portable AC Be Used In A Car?

You can use a portable AC in a car as long as it’s waterproof, and has a battery or can draw power from the outlets available in your vehicle.

Note that cars sway and bounce, so you shouldn’t use a portable AC during driving unless you’re certain it won’t spill water or coolant.

How Effective Are Portable Car Air Conditioners?

Portable car air conditioners can provide efficient spot cooling, but they are rarely a replacement for your vehicle’s standard air conditioner.

Many of them can’t cool the entire vehicle, but they can provide excellent additional cooling if your car’s AC is struggling.

Is A Fan Sufficient For Cooling A Vehicle?

Fans are not designed to cool a vehicle. They are meant to provide cooling by circulating the air, but they can’t lower the temperature inside a vehicle.

What Is The Best Alternative To Car AC?

The best alternative to a personal car’s in-built AC is a compact evaporative cooler. Larger vehicles, such as trucks, may have enough space for a small portable AC unit.

Can You Run A Portable AC On A Battery?

Yes, you can buy portable AC units that run on batteries. Even a plug-in unit can sometimes be connected to an external portable battery, although that means you must also carry the power pack with you. 

What Are The Disadvantages Of Using Portable AC In A Car?

The biggest disadvantage of using portable AC in a car is that it won’t match your car’s real AC’s cooling power.

Battery-powered units can run out of charge, while plug-in units may lower your gas mileage. Additionally, you must be careful not to spill water from the unit if you use it while driving.

Which Product On Your List Is Best For Cooling Children In The Back Seats?

The dual cooling fan from Xool is ideal for cooling children in the backseat, as you can position the fans to cover the entire backseat without worrying about water spills.

The Jiffi fan is also a good option if you have only one child in the car.

How Long Do These Portable Air Conditioners For Cars Last?

True portable ACs for cars can last up to 10 years with proper care and maintenance. (3) Evaporative or bucket coolers and fans generally have shorter lifespans, but with some TLC, you can get five years of service out of them.

So, What is the Best Portable AC For You?

You have a lot of options when choosing a portable AC for a car.

With my list, you can compare the most popular devices and see which one suits your vehicle and needs the best.

If you still feel a bit lost, here are my personal recommendations:

  • The MightyKool K2 is the best evaporative cooler, providing efficient cooling without you having to worry about spills.
  • To cool an RV, camper van, or truck cabin with a true portable AC, Zero Breeze Mark 2 provides plenty of power and value.
  • Evapolar evaChill is a budget-friendly and reasonably strong compact personal cooler for cars.
My #1 Recommendation
MightyKool Evaporative Air Cooler

  • Provides a strong, refreshing flow of air
  • Doesn’t need ice to chill the air
  • Precise cooling control

References: 

  1. https://www.secondchancegarage.com/public/258.cfm
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/hearing_loss/what_noises_cause_hearing_loss.html
  3. https://www.callks.com/blog/how-long-do-air-conditioners-last/
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Josh Mitchell

Founder

Josh Mitchell
My name is Josh and I am obsessed with home appliances. From portable AC units to heaters and air purifiers, I enjoy testing, learning and using these devices to improve the air quality inside my family home.

My Favorite Home Appliance?

Midea U Shaped Window Air Conditioner

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