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8 Best Small Portable Air Conditioners That Pack a Punch!

Josh Mitchell

Written By

Josh Mitchell

Expert Reviewed By

Holly Curell

Last Updated On

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A small, portable air conditioner can be much more efficient and effective than a large AC.

I have worked with countless homeowners and helped them find smaller units that let them manage the temperature and save money.

The real challenge is finding the right air conditioner for the job.

I’ve created this guide to help homeowners find the best small portable AC. I’ve done the research,testing and analysis on 100's of portable ACs. 

There’s something for everyone, so keep reading to find the best AC for your home.

Quick Glance - My Recommendations

Frigidaire FHPC082AC1 Portable Room Air...

Frigidaire FHPC082AC1

  • Several operating modes, including sleep mode
  • HEPA filter to improve air quality
  • Impressive cooling

BLACK+DECKER 8,000 BTU Portable Air...

BLACK + DECKER BPACT08WT

  • Fast cooling
  • Simple installation
  • High-quality and long-lasting

SereneLife Small Air Conditioner Portable...

SereneLife SLPAC805W

  • 360-degree rotating casters
  • Can remove up to 92 pints of water per day
  • Affordable option for AC

8 Smallest Portable Air Conditioners Reviewed

ACLAB Note on EER Ratings

Portable AC EER ratings on official and marketplace listings are often confusing as some base it on DOE BTU, while others base it on ASHRAE BTU. 

For the sake of uniformity, we are calculating EER ratings based on ASHRAE BTU which is measured at 95 °F outside temperature, 80 °F inside temperate, and 50% relative humidity.

The formula used is

EER = BTU / Cooling Watts

1. Frigidaire FHPC082AC1

4.7

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

4.5

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Cooling Ability

5.0

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Value for Money

5.0

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Compactness

4.25

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Height

27"

Width

12"

Volume

4,455 cu.ft

Cooling

8000 BTU

Pros
  • Several operating modes, including sleep mode
  • HEPA filter to improve air quality
  • Impressive cooling
  • Dehumidifier built-in
CONS
  • Not very efficient
  • Poor quality castor wheels

This Frigidaire air conditioner is one of those small units that can make a big difference, and you'll quickly see why I've put it at the top of my list of small portable ACs.

I originally bought this Frigidaire model for my 12x12 foot home office, because the product listing said that it was suitable for spaces of up to 200 square feet. 

However, when I set it up in my 144 square foot office, it only took me about 15 minutes to realize that I was freezing!

A closer look at the specifications quickly revealed that the product listing was wrong, and that this 8000 BTU model is suitable for cooling a whopping 350 square feet of space - way more than the advertised 200 square feet.

I moved this Frigidaire to my larger master bedroom instead, as it was just too much for my office.

It also comes with a powerful built-in dehumidifier that can handle humidity levels up to about 65%, which really comes in handy in my Carolina home. 

The Frigidaire is remote-controlled but doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of larger portable ACs, such as a digital thermostat.

Instead, you get just two fan speeds plus the dehumidification. This is fine for my home setup, but particularly picky people might find it lacking in features. 

Frigidaire FHPC082AC1 display
The most useful feature was 'sleep mode,' which limits the device's noise levels and causes it to run in shorter cycles. I have been sleeping more soundly than ever while using this AC. 

It still gives me a cool breeze that leaves me comfortably cool but doesn't make the room too cold. 

All that said, this AC is only 50 dB on a high setting. For such a quiet AC, and I am really impressed at how much impact is has on my space. 

The only thing that disappointed me with the Frigidaire AC was the caster wheels. They are not great quality, and I found it easier to lift the appliance from room to room.

It's not a huge problem because the device is only 52 lbs, but it is slightly inconvenient.

This isn’t the most efficient model, and it has a lower energy efficiency rating than the Black & Decker and LG models. 

However, for such a small portable AC, it's cooling power has truly impressed me, and I would definitely recommend this option for areas of up to 350 square feet.

Who is the Frigidaire FHPC082AC1 best for?

The Frigidaire air conditioner is my top choice for a small AC to pack a punch. It's particularly well suited to large bedrooms, studies, and offices that get hot and stuffy.

Feature

Details

BTUs

8000

Cooling Area

Up to 350 sq. ft.

Dimensions (WxDxH)

12.17 x 13.78 x 26.8 inches

Noise Level (dBa)

50-55

Weight

52 lbs.

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER)

8.60


2. BLACK + DECKER BPACT08WT

4.6

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

4.75

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Cooling Ability

5.0

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Value for Money

4.5

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Compactness

4.0

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Height

26"

Width

16.5"

Volume

4,933 cu.ft

Cooling

8000 BTU

Pros
  • Dehumidifier, AC and fan in one
  • Fast cooling
  • Simple installation
  • Easy to use
  • High-quality and long-lasting
CONS
  • Noisy
  • Hard to access drip tray

I love the reliability of Black+Decker products, so it should come as no surprise that the BPACT08WT is near the top of my list. 

This compact unit has enough power to cool a room of up to 350 square feet to 64 degrees Fahrenheit.

I think 350 is a bit generous, but I can see this being true in ideal conditions. 

Where I live in North Carolina, the B+D model needs to work a bit harder to remove moisture from the air, so I find it ideal for my 280-square-foot master bedroom. 

Despite having 8000 BTUs of power, it’s still very compact.

It’s not as short as the SereneLife model, but it’s much shorter than most traditional portable ACs, making it a breeze to move from room to room. 

The Black & Decker AC is also simple to install and use.

It has a programmable timer (which I didn’t use much) and an automatic fan mode that turns the AC on and off as needed.

This model is called a 3-in-1 appliance because it can be used as an AC, a fan, or just a dehumidifier. For those interested in all of this plus heating, B+D offers the same model with a heater function for about $150 more.

What impressed me most about this AC was how quickly it reduced the air temperature. 

In fact, during regular use in my home, it reduced the temperature from 85 to 65 degrees in under 3 hours.

This fast cooling is down to high fan speed. However, the downside to the fast fan is that the air conditioner is noisier than other models, such as the Zafro. 

It creates 50-55 decibels on the lowest setting, but when you crank it up to the higher settings, it produces about 65 decibels, which is comparable to the larger portable ACs.

BLACK + DECKER BPACT08WT noise

The whole device can vibrate slightly, too, adding to the noise, so I would recommend placing it on carpet rather than hard flooring.

The Black & Decker AC uses a drip pan to capture excess moisture from the dehumidifier.

The device will switch off when it's full, so you do need to empty it frequently if it’s rather humid. 

That said, the cooling capacity is impressive, but the heating and dehumidification capabilities give you extra value. I also found maintenance to be minimal, and I appreciate the washable filter.

I would recommend this air conditioner to any homeowners who want to save space and combine 3 appliances into 1.


Who is the Black & Decker BPACT08WT best for?

The Black+Decker portable AC is best for homeowners who want simple air conditioning and dehumidification. It works well in a small or medium-sized room and is easy for anyone to install.

Feature

Details

BTUs

8,000

Cooling Area

280-350 sq. ft.

Dimensions (WxDxH)

11.5 x 16.5 x 26 inches

Noise Level (dBa)

52-65

Weight

53 lbs.

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER)

8.56


3. SereneLife SLPAC805W

4.6

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

4.75

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Cooling Ability

4.75

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Value for Money

4.5

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Compactness

4.5

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Height

27.6"

Width

12.8"

Volume

4098 cu.ft

Cooling

8,000 BTU

Pros
  • 360-degree rotating casters for easy movement
  • Only 45 lbs
  • Can remove up to 92 pints of water per day
  • Easy to manage with Wi-Fi controls
  • Affordable option for AC
CONS
  • Only gets down to 55 dB on low
  • Instruction manual seems incomplete / missing error code troubleshooting

The SereneLife SLPAC805W.5 might just be the smallest portable AC with the most features that I’ve included.

I have been nothing short of impressed with how much power this little guy has packed inside. 

This SereneLife model is the slimmest portable AC on my list at 11.6” wide (not including the ultra-portable EcoFlow or Zero Breeze models). It looks great in front of my living room window and barely takes up any floor space.

When recently buying a second SereneLife model for my parents, I noticed online that all of the product descriptions for this one have the height and width mixed up. I can verify that this model is 11.6” wide and 27.6” tall. 

Like the Black+Decker and Frigidaire models, the SereneLife is a 3-in-1 product. 

Its standout feature to me is the dehumidifier, which has the ability to remove 1.1 liters of water every hour. 

I have found that the dehumidifier alone can make my living room comfortable in the spring, when it’s not quite “hot” yet, but the air still feels stuffy.

This SereneLife model has an auto-swing louver like the LG model, which you know I love for total room circulation. 

Other features include a 24-hour timer, a remote control, and Wi-Fi controls. It's so nice to be able to change the settings without getting up from the couch. 

And usually when I am changing the settings, it’s because I’m chilly!

The SereneLife can cool up to 300 square feet, and I would say it’s cooling power is equal to my top choice – the Frigidaire model. 

I also appreciate that SereneLife includes everything that’s needed to install this portable AC in either a regular window or a casement window of up to 49.7”.

I can tell you that not all window kits are created equally, especially when it comes to fitting portable ACs in horizontal sliding windows. 

So if you’re looking for a small portable AC for a casement window, you might as well stop your search here. The SereneLife will be the best option for you. 

Who is the SereneLife SLPAC805W.5 best for?

I recommend SereneLife SLPAC805W.5 AC to people looking for an extra-slim portable AC that provides powerful dehumidification.

Feature

Details

BTUs

8,000

Cooling Area

300 sq. ft.

Dimensions (WxDxH)

11.6 x 12.8 x 27.6 inches

Noise Level (dBa)

55 - 65

Weight

45  lbs.

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER)

10


4. ZAFRO A5405-8K

4.5

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

4.0

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Cooling Ability

4.75

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Value for Money

5.0

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Compactness

4.5

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Height

27.76"

Width

11.81"

Volume

3871 cu.ft

Cooling

8,000 BTU

Pros
  • Excellent for small budgets
  • Very tiny footprint
  • Cools room quickly
  • Powerful dehumidification
CONS
  • Instruction manual is less than ideal
  • Air vent is actually much smaller than grille face

Zafro isn’t a brand that many people know about, but they have some seriously good cooling products that are typically more affordable than the “big brands.” 

This 8000 BTU air conditioner is the most budget-friendly item on my list, costing almost $100 less than the Black+Decker or SereneLife models.

This Zafro model is just a quarter inch wider than my slimmest model (the SereneLife), but it actually has the smallest footprint of all the models I’ve covered with 11.81” width and 11.81” depth. 

The product listing says that this is a 4-in-1 product, but I don’t personally consider “Sleep Mode” to be a separate appliance.

That said, if you’re looking for a quiet AC while you’re sleeping, the Zafro registers at about 45 dB, which is about the same as a small room fan. 

I recently set up this model in my mom’s bedroom, and she has loved the white noise while sleeping.

She uses the remote control to change the settings right from her bed and loves using the 24-hour timer so that she doesn’t have to remember to turn it off. 

Upon setup, we were able to cool her 300-square-foot bedroom in just 15 minutes. Like the Black+Decker model, this one is rated for up to 350 square feet and I think it’d have no problem handling it.

When I asked my mom what was most important to her in buying a portable AC, she said, “Low maintenance.”

I think the Zafro delivers in that area, and I love that it has a double-layered washable filter that traps dust and debris while cooling the room. 

The filter should be cleaned every two weeks, which I know seems like a lot, but that’s just how powerful it is at collecting dust!

Surprisingly, all that power comes with the smallest footprint on my list, as the Zafro is just 11.81" by 11.81" on the floor.

There is one warning I want to point out: that the instruction manual is less than ideal.

If you’ve never installed a traditional portable AC before, this one kind of glosses over how to install the drain hose. 

So just be aware that if you skip this crucial step (as the manual does) and your drain hole isn’t plugged, you’ll end up with a big puddle on your floor within the first 30 minutes of running. (The drain does work well if you remember to install it!)

Who is the Zafro A4213-8K best for?

I recommend this small-footprint ZAFRO A5405-8K portable AC for those looking for powerful but quiet cooling on a budget.

Feature

Details

BTUs

8,000

Cooling Area

350 sq. ft.

Dimensions (WxDxH)

11.81 x 11.81 x 27.76 inches

Noise Level (dBa)

45

Weight

40 lbs.

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER)

-


5. LG LP0621WSR

4.2

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

5.0

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Cooling Ability

4.5

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Value for Money

3.75

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Compactness

3.5

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Height

27.36"

Width

17.32"

Volume

6,288 cu.ft

Cooling

10,000 BTU

Pros
  • Great looking design
  • App controlled
  • Low noise levels
  • Dehumidifier built-in
  • High-quality model
CONS
  • Only 2 fan speeds
  • Only works in small spaces

I recently installed this LG LP0621WSR in a neighbor’s in-law suite, and within the first few minutes of using it, I could see why it is so popular online.

Just like the Black + Decker model, this LG unit has the 3-in-1 function of fan, AC, and dehumidifier. 

My neighbor picked this model for its aesthetic. It’s more modern-looking than the Fridigaire or Zafro models, and I love the design of having the louvers on top instead of on the front.

The compact size also helps it to blend in. It doesn’t look like the smallest portable air conditioner at first, mostly because of the relative height, but it has a small width and depth. 

This 10,000 BTU LG model is rated for 250 square feet, which is about the size of the in-law suite.

ACLAB Note:

Typically, I'd expect a 10,000 BTU unit to cover a much larger space (about 450 square feet). Based on the reviews of this model, I'm guessing this LG wasn't living up to its 10,000 BTU output and that LG reduced the room size it's suitable for to 250 square feet. 

LG LP0621WSR area
What really amps up this portable AC’s power, though, are the auto-swinging louvers that move to circulate air throughout the room.

If you’ve had issues with “hot spots” while using other portable ACs, you won’t have that issue here. 

The LG has a built-in dehumidifier to remove moisture, and during my testing, it was able to keep the humidity below 50% (which is better than a lot of portables). 

Humid weather and conditions can quickly fill the water tank, though, so you have to empty it frequently to keep the appliance running.

The same can be said for other models on my list because these smaller models don’t have the space for auto-evaporation parts. 

That said, you can fit this model with a continuous drain hose, but it’s not included with the purchase. 

Given the features and performance, I was slightly disappointed that the LG AC only had 2 fan speed options. This means it takes longer to cool a room, much longer than the similarly sized Black & Decker model.

I recommend the LG for homeowners who need air conditioning and dehumidification in rooms with limited drainage and ventilation options. 

The remote control and 24 hour timer make this a nice option for guest rooms and rooms with high traffic, and maintenance is super easy with a washable filter. 

Who is the LG LP0621WSR SLPAC8 best for?

The LG air conditioner is best in small rooms with limited ventilation and drainage options. It has a powerful auto-evaporation mode and can dehumidify without a drain line.

Feature

Details

BTUs

10,000

Cooling Area

Up to 250 sq. ft.

Dimensions (WxDxH)

17.32 x 13.27 x 27.36 inches

Noise Level (dBa)

53 (High)
50 (Low)

Weight

54.4 lbs.

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER)

10.75


6. ECOFLOW WAVE 2

4.1

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

4.25

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Cooling Ability

4.25

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Value for Money

3.25

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Compactness

4.75

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Height

12"

Width

13"

Volume

3120 cu.ft

Cooling

5100 BTU

Pros
  • Exceptional 5100 BTU output for a compact tent AC
  • 7-12 hours run time with multiple power source options
  • Rapid 15 minutes recharge option
  • Remote control - with an advanced app
  • Broad coverage
CONS
  • Expensive
  • Heavier, bulkier as compared to other tent ACs.
  • The hot/air heating mode is less effective than the cooling.

I originally bought the EcoFlow Wave 2 to keep me cool while I worked out in my garage.

I was looking for a battery-powered item that could cool in the summer and heat in the winter, and the Wave 2 fit the bill. 

Since purchasing it, though, I have used the Wave 2 in so many situations that I just had to include it on my list of small ACs.

I’ll be the first to admit that the EcoFlow Wave 2 isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as most of the models on my list, and as a permanent fixture to the room, I’d much rather use the Black + Decker or Frigidaire models. 

That said, the EcoFlow Wave 2 is the king of versatility. I always make sure to keep the battery charged because I have taken it on the go so often that its usage has no limits.

It’s kept me cool while picnicking, warm while tail-gating, and comfortable while camping.

Perhaps the most notable use, though, has come in using it in my bedroom overnight when our power was out during a hurricane.

(My wife having a full night’s sleep is very important.) 

I love that there are four ways to charge the batteries: regular wall outlet, car battery (which is what I used when the power was out), solar, and power stations. 

I do have two batteries for the EcoFlow, which I suggest, but I understand that’s more of an expense.

The Wave 2 is already the most expensive product on my list, so I really only recommend taking this route if you think you’ll need heating or cooling in many different scenarios. 

Personally, I’ve been able to get about 8 hours of running time by keeping the Wave 2 on eco-mode. I’ve found that it’s possible to keep the unit running while charging, but it will slow down the charge time a lot.

If you like the EcoFlow Wave 2 but only require cooling, you might consider the Zero Breeze instead, which is next up on my list. 

Overall, if you’re looking for a truly portable option that you can throw in the car (gently… it is 50 lbs) and take with you anywhere, the EcoFlow might be the option. 

Who is the EcoFlow Wave 2 best for?

The EcoFlow Wave 2 portable AC is best for those seeking a completely portable AC/heater combo for an on-the-go life.

Feature

Details

BTUs

5100/6100

Cooling Area

108 sq. ft.

Dimensions (WxDxH)

20 x 12 x 13 inches

Noise Level (dBa)

44

Weight

32 lbs.

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER)

7.44


7. Zero Breeze Mark 2

Small Battery Powered AC

4.0

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

4.75

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Cooling Ability

3.5

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Value for Money

2.75

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Compactness

5.0

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Height

11"

Width

20"

Volume

2200 cu.ft

Cooling

2300 BTU

Pros
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Solar or car charging
  • Perfect for RVs or camping
  • Virtually no running costs
CONS
  • Small coverage area
  • Can’t be used while charging

The Zero Breeze Mark 2 is similar to the EcoWave product above, with a couple of key differences.

While both products are completely portable, the Zero Breeze doesn’t provide heat, and can also be used with a drain hose for continuously cooling. 

The Mark 2 uses a rotary compressor instead of an evaporative system. This means it has two 4-inch intake and exhaust valves in the back to drive air in and out.

The rotary compressor provides about 2,300 BTUs and a coverage area of about 40 square feet.

So much like the Coolzy model, I would recommend the Zero Breeze for personal cooling rather than room cooling. 

That said, at only 16.5 lbs, the Zero Breeze is the most lightweight portable AC on my list. Its small stature and carrying handle make it ideal for use wherever you need cooling.
ZeroBreeze Mark 2 for Camping

I tested the Zero Breeze in my RV to see how well it performs. It managed to bring the temperature down from 85 to 70 degrees in about 60 minutes and reduced the humidity.

I was genuinely impressed by the cooling, but when I tested it in conditions above 95 degrees, it didn't work as well, so I wouldn't recommend it in extremely hot climates unless you’re planning to use it as supplemental cooling with another product.

The AC itself is easy to use with a simple on-and-off switch.

I have found that it can run continuously for 4-5 hours before it runs out of charge, or I can use the plug adapter for continuous use. 

One downside is that, unlike the EcoFlow Wave 2, you can’t use it while it’s charging, and it takes about 4 hours for the battery to fully charge.

I have used the Zero Breeze while tinkering in the garage, and I love that I can position it to my workstation and keep it running as long as needed while plugged into the wall.

I have also taken it to work with me so that I can sit in my car during lunch without running the engine. 

The only downside for most people will be the upfront cost, which is almost as hefty as the EcoFlow Wave 2. 

However, if you need AC for camping, traveling, or on a road trip, then I would recommend the Zero Breeze Mark 2.

Who is the Zero Breeze Mark 2 best for?

The Zero Breeze air conditioner is best used in an RV, truck, car, or other vehicle. It’s also perfect for use in tents while camping.

Feature

Details

BTUs

2,300

Cooling Area

40 sq. ft.

Dimensions (WxDxH)

20 x 11 x 10 inches

Noise Level (dBa)

52

Weight

28.5 lbs

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER)

9.58


8. Coolzy Pro

Ventless Portable AC

4.0

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

4.5

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Cooling Ability

4.0

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Value for Money

3.75

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Compactness

3.75

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Height

29"

Width

11"

Volume

5742 cu.ft

Cooling

4500 BTU

Pros
  • Compressor driven refrigeration
  • No venting required
  • Plug-and-go operation
  • 2 year warranty from company
CONS
  • Expensive upfront cost
  • Can’t cool an entire room

There’s a room in my house that was originally intended as a large storage closet, but we recently outfitted it as a small crafting room instead. One problem – no window to vent an AC. 

Thankfully, we found the Coolzy Pro, which is the only true portable AC that doesn’t require any installation, exhaust hoses, water drainage, or mess.

This was perfect for the setup in my 8x10-foot room. However, this compressor-driven AC can be vented like a traditional portable AC for even better cooling, if you have the means.

For that reason, I would say that the Coolzy Pro is the most versatile small AC I’ve used. 

Just note that the venting kits are sold separately, and even without the venting kits, the Coolzy Pro is more money upfront than most of the models I’ve listed, including the Black+Decker model. 

Most “ventless ACs” are just glorified fans or swamp coolers that increase the humidity in the room. There’s none of that with the Coolzy Pro.

The Coolzy uses refrigerant through its compressor to leave you feeling cold air the moment the unit turns on. 

Now, I’d say the Coolzy Pro is more appropriate for personal cooling. It’s only rated for 88 square feet and works best when it’s pointed right in the direction you’re sitting. 

When I’m in my craft room, this is the perfect setup, but it definitely can’t cool an entire room like the first five items on my list. 

The icing on the cake is that the Coolzy Pro only uses 340 watts of electricity, which is roughly 70% less than traditional portable ACs.

I didn’t notice any difference on my utility bill while using this product for roughly 15 hours per week. 

The Coolzy is so portable that I have even used it on a camping trip by pairing it with a small generator. 

A product like this seems almost too good to be true, but it’s just the first (and only) of it’s kind, so be wary of knock-offs… and trust me, the knock-offs are out there.

The Coolzy was designed by Australians looking for a solution to beat the heat in the harsh outback. 

Overall, if you’re looking for a small portable AC and don’t need to cool an entire room, then I’d say the Coolzy is your best bet for personal cooling.

Who is the Coolzy Pro best for?

I recommend Coolzy Pro for anyone looking for personal cooling in a room without windows.

Feature

Details

BTUs

4500

Cooling Area

88 sq. ft.

Dimensions (WxDxH)

11 x 18 x 29 inches

Noise Level (dBa)

46 - 54

Weight

37 lbs.

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER)

4.09


Comparing the Smallest Portable ACs On The Market

Preview

Product Name

Rating

BTUs

Dimensions (WxDxH)

Price

Frigidaire FHPC082AC1 Portable Room Air...

Frigidaire FHPC082AC1

4.7

5500

12.17 X 13.78 X 26.8 Inches

BLACK+DECKER 8,000 BTU Portable Air...

BLACK + DECKER BPACT08WT

4.6

8,000

11.5 X 16.5 X 26 Inches

SereneLife Small Air Conditioner Portable...

SereneLife SLPAC805W.5

4.6

8,000

11.6 X 12.8 X 27.6 Inches

ZAFRO A5405-8K Portable Air Conditioners,...

ZAFRO
A4213-8K

4.5

8,000

11.81 X 11.81 X 27.76 Inches

LG 6,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner, 115V,...

LG
LP0621WSR

4.2

6,000

14.17 X 16.93 X 29.09 Inches

EF ECOFLOW Wave 2 Portable Air Conditioner...

EcoFlow
Wave 2

4.1

5100/6100

20 X 12 X 13 Inches

ZeroBreeze Mark 2

Zero Breeze
Mark 2

4.0

2,300

20 X 11 X 10 Inches

Coolzy Pro

4.0

4500

15 X 10 X 29 Inches


Why Get A Small Portable AC Unit?

  • They save space - Portable ACs can quickly take up a large portion of a room, but buying an AC with the smallest footprint saves you space in your home. 
  • They are easy to move - All the models above are lightweight and compact, so you can easily move them around your home as needed.
  • They are easy to store - You can also move and store a portable unit when it’s not in use, unlike window or fixed air conditioners.
  • More energy efficient - The average U.S. household spends 12% of its total energy costs on AC (almost $2000 a year for most homes).[1] Small portable ACs generally require less power and are much less costly to run. 
  • Quick and easy installation - Portable ACs usually require very little effort to set up. All of the models on the list above are easy to use and suitable for those with very little or no experience.
  • Low maintenance - Good quality portable ACs have programmable settings, remote controls, auto-evaporation, and other features which make them low effort to manage.

Who Is A Small Portable AC Unit Best For?

Typically, a small portable AC is a great choice for smaller homes or apartments that need cooling but have limited floor space. 

They are a more cost-effective way for homeowners to manage high temperatures in specific areas of their home instead and work well for those who only need air conditioning at certain times of the year.


Key Factors To Consider When Buying A Good Mini Portable AC

Size Dimensions – Smaller Is Usually Better!

When asked what constitutes as "small," I looked for the following in each of the models I chose for my list. 

  • Under 30 inches in height
  • Less than 17 inches of depth
  • Under 20 inches of width
small portable AC BTU

I recommend considering the width and depth of portable AC more than the height. Most models on the list above are freestanding, so by understanding the width and depth, you will know the amount of floor space they will take up. 

It's usually floorspace which is at a premium in most homes, so I would recommend looking at these figures closely.

ACLAB Note: 

The small ACs in our list above have a volume far smaller than 10,000 CU.FT.

Weight - The Lighter The More Moveable It Is

A portable AC should be light. This will let you move it from room to room and get cool air where it's needed most. 

All of the products on my list are under 55 lbs. for easy maneuverability. The LG model is the heaviest model, with a weight of 54.2 lbs. 

ACLAB Note: 

Look for a model with good quality caster wheels if you plan to often move the AC around.

Cooling Output

The BTUs (British Thermal Units) of a portable air conditioner are the amount of cooling it provides. 

You need a portable AC that has enough BTUs to cool the space you are in but without too high a BTU rating, as this can cause the portable air conditioner to short cycle.

8000 BTU ASHRAE
The original BTU measurement was created by the American Society Of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)[2], and it’s ASHRAE BTUs that are used in advertising portable air conditioners today.

To keep things consistent across ACLAB, we list ASHRAE BTUs and not DOE BTUs. 

The models on my list range from 8000 BTUs ASHRAE suitable for rooms of up to 350 square feet (like the Black + Decker model) all the way down to 2300 BTUs, which is more suitable for personal cooling (as in the Zero Breeze model). 

The exact BTUs that you need will depend on the size of the room it is operating in. The table below gives a rough indication of what you will need:

Room Size

ASHRAE BTU

DOE BTU

300-350 square feet

8,000

5,500

350-400 square feet

9,000

5,900

400-450 square feet

10,000

6,500

450-550 square feet

12,000

7,800

550-700 square feet

14,000

9,100

Energy Efficiency (Higher EER, The Better)

Portable AC units are much cheaper to run than most large air conditioners, but they can still cost as much as $0.20 an hour.

Finding an energy-efficient model can lower those costs and save you hundreds of dollars a year.

The efficiency of a portable AC is defined by an EER, or CEER, rating (combined energy efficiency ratio).[3] The higher the EER, the more efficient the model and the less you will pay to run it.

I recommend looking for a portable AC with an EER of at least 5.5.

Portable AC energy efficiency

ACLAB Note:

We calculate EER ratings based on ASHRAE BTU output. 

EER = BTU / Cooling Watts

Noise Level (Lower Decibels Are Better)

Air conditioners can be noisy, so it's important to understand how much sound they produce. 

This is measured in decibels, and if the decibel rating is too high, it can damage your hearing.[4]

A large air conditioner can produce over 70 decibels of noise (about the equivalent of a vacuum cleaner), and in a small space, that can be unbearable. 

I recommend looking for a portable air conditioner which produces less than 50 decibels, such as the Frigidaire model.  

I would also recommend looking at a portable AC unit with different fan speed settings. 

Some models, like the Zafro unit, have a sleep mode that offers even quieter cooling.

Single Vs Dual Hose Drainage

Dual-hose air conditioners are usually more effective at cooling larger areas than single-hose models. 

SINGLE VERSUS DUAL
There's a more efficient air exchange process, making it easier to expel hot air out of the room. The downside is that they are usually more expensive, take longer to set up, and make the whole AC less portable.

Not every portable air conditioner will have the option of two exhaust hoses, especially if it's a smaller model.

ACLAB Note:

If you want small portable AC, you will need to let go of dual hose models.

Price and Your Budget


The smallest units aren't always the cheapest, but they are typically more affordable than larger models.

However, you should expect to spend at least $200-$600 on a good quality small portable AC.

There are also some specialist models, like the EcoFlow Wave 2 and Zero Breeze, which are priced at over $1000.

On the list, I've tried to give a few buying options to suit every budget, but it's important to determine your budget before you start searching. 

Warranty Length And Support


I would recommend buying a small portable air conditioner with a warranty of at least 1 year.

All of the products I included on my list come with a 1 year warranty. The Coolzy Pro, although slightly more expensive than the other freestanding models I included, comes with an impressive 2 year warranty. 

Look For Easy Installation

Portable air conditioners should be easy to use.

The best small portable AC units are plug-and-play devices that don't have complicated installation; all the models I've selected above can be set up in about 10 minutes and can be done by anyone. 

For the easiest installation, choose the Coolzy Pro, which doesn't require any venting at all. Just turn on and get cool!

Additional Dehumidify Mode Is Recommended

 

Portable AC units will help to remove humid air and lower the relative humidity, but buying a portable AC with a dehumidifier setting will be more effective.

If you live in a hot, humid climate or suffer from high humidity during the summer months, then I would recommend a portable air conditioner like the Black + Decker or Frigidaire models. 

Smart Features (Optional)

  • Remote control / Wi-Fi controlled - this makes it much easier to use the portable AC unit and adjust the settings when you aren’t in the room
  • Automatic temperature sensor - this makes the portable AC unit more efficient at cooling the space
  • Home integration - connect your AC to your Google Home or Alexa for even easier control
  • Notifications and performance tracking - some AC units have an App that will notify you when something changes or action is needed. This makes it easier to maintain the unit.

FAQs

Are Portable Air Conditioners Safe?

Yes, portable air conditioners are safe to use. Just ensure they have at least 1-2 feet of clearance around them so the air can vent properly and they don't overheat.

What Is The Difference Between Portable AC And Window AC Units?

Window AC units are installed directly into a window (usually a sliding window) with half of the appliance outside of your home.

They are usually more powerful than portable ACs and can cool a larger area, but they are much more difficult to move between rooms or areas in your home.

So, Which Is Best?

I always tell my customers that being short on space doesn’t have to mean they’re short on cooling power.

As technology advances, portable ACs are only going to get smaller and more efficient. 

All of the items I included above fit a specific purpose. For rooms of up to 350 square feet, I recommend the Frigidaire FHPC082AC1 as my top choice.

However, if you’re looking for more versatility or personal cooling and heating, check out the EcoFlow Wave 2 as a battery-powered option. 

My #1 Recommendation
Frigidaire FHPC082AC1

  • Most compact for an 8000 BTU AC
  • Highly affordable for its specs
  • Simple installation
  • Easy to use
  • High-quality and long-lasting

References: 

  1. https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=36692
  2. https://www.ashrae.org/
  3. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/room-air-conditioners
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/hearing_loss/what_noises_cause_hearing_loss.html
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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.

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Midea U Shaped Window Air Conditioner

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