11 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

Honeywell 9,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner...

Honeywell MO08CESWK

Editor's Choice

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

BLACK + DECKER BPACT08WT

Best AC + Heater Combo

SereneLife SLPAC8 SLPAC 3-in-1 Portable Air...

SereneLife SLPAC8

Most Lightweight

11 Smallest Portable Air Conditioners Reviewed

1. Honeywell MO08CESWK

4.7

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

5.0

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Cooling Ability

4.5

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Value for Money

4.5

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Who is the Honeywell MO08CESWK best for?

The Honeywell portable air conditioner 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.

Pros
  • 30-second installation
  • Built-in dehumidification
  • 5-year warranty
  • Very energy efficient
  • Simple to use
CONS
  • Window installation kit not included
  • Uses more energy than advertised

The Honeywell portable air conditioner is my favorite portable AC unit because it is simple, compact, and effective.

It took me 5 minutes to get it set up, and it's the model I would recommend to any homeowners with limited experience. The compressor provides over 9,000 BTUs. This is above average for an AC of this size and more than enough for most small rooms.

During testing, it reduced the temperature from 90 degrees to 70 degrees in less than 3 hours.

The small dimensions of this small portable air conditioner mean that it will fit in almost any room.

This model is slightly taller than the Midea or the Black & Decker, but the small width and depth prevent it from taking up much floor space.

It will fit neatly into a corner but try to keep some clearance space around the appliance so the air can flow.

The Honeywell AC also has a built-in dehumidifier to help you control the humidity. It isn't as powerful as the stand-alone dehumidifiers I usually install, but it still works well and can maintain a humidity level below 50%. 

This removes the need for both appliances in humid areas.

This small portable air conditioner has an auto-evaporation system. This is common in most portable AC units and works well, but I would recommend using the exhaust hose.

Connecting this to the window will speed up the cooling process.

One minor issue with the Honeywell AC was the ventilation kit. The exhaust hose is ok, but it is short, so it can limit where you place the appliance.

There is also no filler in the ventilation kit. This isn't a big problem if you are using the AC infrequently, but if you use it for longer periods, then you will need to buy your own filler to seal up the window.

What really stood out for me about this AC was the overall simplicity. You can get it working in minutes, and it has a smart thermostat, a programmable timer, automatic running, and 3-speed settings.

You can basically set it and forget it and leave it running with very little maintenance.

Honeywell MO08CESWK display

This small portable air conditioner ticks a lot of boxes and gives some great value for money. It’s easy to set up, has simple controls, and reduces the temperature quickly. 

The built-in dehumidifier is an added bonus and will help to make your home even more comfortable.

If you want a stress-free way to control the conditions in a small room, the Honeywell portable air conditioner is the one for you.

Feature

Details

BTUs

9,100

Cooling Area

250-450 sq. ft.

Dimensions (WxDxH)

13.5 x 14.6 x 27.7 inches

Noise Level (dBa)

45-55

Weight

54 lbs.

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER)

14.3


2. BLACK + DECKER BPACT08WT

4.7

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

5.0

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Cooling Ability

4.5

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4.5

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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.

Pros
  • Dehumidifier, Heater & AC 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 its not surprise the cool + heat options make this one of my favorites. Many other people agree as this one of the most purchased portable ACs on Amazon.

This compact unit has enough power to cool a room down to 64 degrees Fahrenheit, but it also has a space heater function that can warm it to 75 degrees. This, combined with the dehumidification mode, gives you a lot of functionality.

Despite the relatively high BTUs of this model, it’s still very compact. It’s deeper than the Honeywell or SereneLife air conditioners but much shorter. 

This makes the appliance much more stable than other models and easier to move from room to room.

The Black & Decker AC is also simple to 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 low-maintenance operation is great for effortless cooling, but unfortunately, you can't use it for the heater.

What impressed me most about this AC was how quickly it reduced the air temperature. It doesn't cover the biggest area, but in a 250-300 ft room, it will lower the temperature quickly. 

In fact, during testing and 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 a lot noisier than other models.

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

BLACK + DECKER BPACT08WT noise

This isn't ridiculously loud, but I wouldn't recommend using it in a bedroom when trying to sleep.

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. 

Just to note that I did find the drip pan quite hard to remove at first, so it's a good idea to place it somewhere you have easy access.

It isn't the quietest model, and it does need some maintenance, but it's still one of the best small portable AC units.

The cooling capacity is impressive, but the heating and dehumidification capabilities give you extra value.

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

Feature

Details

BTUs

8,000

Cooling Area

150-300 sq. ft.

Dimensions (WxDxH)

11.5 x 16.5 x 26 inches

Noise Level (dBa)

52-65

Weight

53 lbs.

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER)

5.4


3. SereneLife SLPAC8

4.2

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

4.5

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Cooling Ability

4.0

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4.0

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Who is the SereneLife SLPAC8 best for?

The SereneLife small air conditioner is best for homeowners who need to have specific hot spots in their homes. It’s one of the most portable AC + dehumidifiers and is ideal for moving between jobs.

Pros
  • Easy to move
  • 3 in 1 appliance
  • Cools very quickly
  • Simple installation
  • Straightforward to use
CONS
  • Noisy on high settings
  • Water tank fills up quickly

The SereneLife isn’t the smallest portable air conditioner on the list, but it’s arguably the easiest to move.

The slim design and light weight make it easy for anyone to lift and shift. That makes it perfect for moving between rooms as needed.

Despite being a compact AC unit, it still cools effectively. It has several fan speeds, which you can program with remote control, and the fastest setting produces almost 300 CFM. This is a lot more than most portable air conditioners can achieve.

The SereneLife AC has one of the simplest exhaust hoses I’ve ever used. It took me about 2 minutes to attach, which meant I could use the air conditioner almost instantly.

The exhaust hose is good quality too, and it locks in place easily. This makes the SereneLife even more portable because you have an exhaust hose that's no hassle to move.

What impresses me most about this AC is the area it can cover. During testing, it was able to cool rooms up to 500 square feet, which for an AC this compact is extremely impressive. 

It has a ‘moving wind’ feature that spreads cold air evenly around the room, and it feels more like a hotel room AC than a small portable home cooling system.

It also has a high-performing dehumidifier function which can remove 2 pints of moisture every hour. 

Again, it impressed me during testing as it reduced the relative humidity from 65% to under 50% in just 5 hours. 

This is useful in the summer months and allows you to reduce the humidity and temperature in one go.

The SereneLife AC performed well during testing, and my only real criticism is the noise level.

It's much louder than the Honeywell and Midea models and could be disruptive in a small space.

SereneLife SLPAC8 energy

The specifications say it produces 50-55 decibels, but it definitely gets louder (maybe because the sound reflected off my hard floor). It's not ridiculously loud, but I wouldn't recommend using these portable ACs in a bedroom.

This dehumidifier isn't designed for constant use, but it is perfect for use in short bursts when the heat gets too much.

The fast-acting cooling capacity makes it a real asset for homeowners who want to deal with heat quickly and then move it on to the next job.

Feature

Details

BTUs

8,000

Cooling Area

Over 350 sq. ft.

Dimensions (WxDxH)

13.8 x 14.6 x 27.2 inches

Noise Level (dBa)

50-67

Weight

46.3 lbs.

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER)

9.8


4. LG LP0621WSR

4.2

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

4.5

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Cooling Ability

4.0

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Value for Money

4.0

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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.

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 was excited to try the LG air conditioner because it has a lot of positive reviews. It didn't disappoint, and within the first few minutes of using it, I could see why it was so popular.

The first thing I noticed was the modern design. It's much more aesthetic than the Fridigaire or Whynter Elite models and looked natural in my home. 

It definitely suits modern decor, but it shouldn't stand out wherever you place it.

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 means it takes up far less floor space than standard ACs.

LG LP0621WSR area

It isn't as powerful as the Honeywell or Delonghi models, but it can cool rooms up to about 200 square feet. 

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

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

The LG AC has a smartphone app that works as a remote control and gives you notifications about the appliance (including telling you when the tank is full). 

I love technology, but this is not the most intuitive app to use, and it took me about 30 minutes to properly connect it. However, once I was connected, I had control over the AC from any room in the house.

The stand-out feature for me with this AC was the auto-evaporating feature. This is far better than similar models, allowing the appliance to work without a drain line. 

You will still need to connect an exhaust hose, but it's designed to work even using small windows.

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.

However, I was still impressed by the overall design, build quality, and performance of this air conditioner, and I can see why it's a popular model.

This is a good all-around air conditioner that's well-suited for offices, bedrooms, living rooms, or garages.

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

Feature

Details

BTUs

8,000

Cooling Area

Up to 200 sq. ft.

Dimensions (WxDxH)

14.17 x 16.93 x 29.09 inches

Noise Level (dBa)

53 (High)
50 (Low)

Weight

58.4 lbs.

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER)

9.2


5. Frigidaire FHPC082AC1

4.2

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

4.5

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Cooling Ability

4.0

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Value for Money

4.0

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Who is the Frigidaire FHPC082AC1 best for?

The Frigidaire air conditioner is best for cooling small rooms very quickly. It's particularly well suited to bedrooms, studies, and offices, which get hot and stuffy.

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

The Frigidaire air conditioner is one of those small units that can make a big difference.

Don't let the low BTUs fool you; if you set it up in the right space, it will cool it quickly. During testing, I found it could handle temperatures up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit and bring them comfortably below 65 degrees. 

It also comes with a built-in dehumidifier that can handle humidity levels up to about 65%.

The Frigidaire is remote-controlled and has all the features you would expect from a high-quality AC.

Frigidaire FHPC082AC1 display

The most useful feature was 'sleep mode,' which limits the noise levels of the device and causes it to run in shorter cycles.

It still gives you a cool breeze that leaves you comfortably cool but doesn't make the room too cold. It also limits electricity usage and will save you money on your energy bills.

The AC has a built-in HEPA filter that removes contaminants from the air. Some other portable ACs have these filters, but this one is much higher quality and will improve the air quality in a small room. 

I suffer from allergies, so this is particularly useful for me, but everyone will benefit from it.

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 light, but it is slightly inconvenient.

The other thing to be aware of is that the appliance is more powerful than you think. I started testing it in a small space, and it actually made me feel too cold.

Don’t get me wrong, the intense cooling is a good thing, but this appliance has more than enough power for some medium-sized rooms.

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

However, it performs well, and in a small office or bedroom, the cooling performance is impressive and means you won’t need to use it as frequently.

If you have a small bedroom, study, or office that gets hot in summer, I recommend this AC.

Feature

Details

BTUs

5500

Cooling Area

Up to 200 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)

4.62


6. Midea MAP05R1WT

4.2

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

4.5

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Cooling Ability

4.0

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Value for Money

4.0

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Who is the Midea MAP05R1WT best for?

The Midea air conditioner is best for homeowners who want an AC that blends into the furniture. It’s perfect for targeted cooling in rooms that often overheat, like offices and studies.

Pros
  • Blends into your home
  • Long exhaust hose for placement anywhere
  • Quiet and unnoticeable when running
  • Cools small areas quickly
  • Wi-Fi controlled with intuitive app
CONS
  • No external temperature display
  • Filters need regular cleaning

If you want an unobtrusive dehumidifier that keeps you cool without you even noticing it, then I recommend the Midea.

This floor-based model is unobtrusive and is one of the shortest portable units on the market. You’ll feel it working but might not even know where it is.

The design of the exhaust hose helps with this too. It’s really long, over 5 feet, so you can place the Midea AC unit anywhere in the room. 

I try to keep my AC central so it cools more quickly, but you can tuck it away if you want it to be less visible.

The other feature of the Midea which makes it stand out from other portable units is the low noise level. 

It runs very quietly, even on high mode, and I clocked it at under 50 decibels during testing. It also has a sleep mode which lowers the noise and power output so as not to disturb your sleep.

What really impressed me with the Midea was the cooling performance. It only takes 30-60 minutes to have a noticeable impact, and during testing, it lowered the temperature from 85 degrees to 70 in an hour. 

That's much faster than most small air conditioners.

The other feature I really appreciated was the app. This allows you to control the AC through Wi-Fi and gives you notifications about the appliance. 

Midea MAP05R1WT display

This isn’t the only AC with an app remote control, but the app is much more intuitive than others I've used. It's certainly much easier to configure than the LG air conditioner app.

One very minor criticism of the Midea AC is that there is no external temperature display. 

There is an internal thermostat to control when it activates, but it doesn’t display the current room temperature anywhere you can see it.

It isn't the end of the world, but you will need another way to measure the room temp.

The Midea doesn’t have the coverage of the Whynter Elite or SereneLife portable ACs, but in rooms of 150-200 square feet, it's a real asset.

Best of all, you won’t even realize it's running because of the compact design and quiet operation. This makes it the perfect option for homeowners who want an AC they can just set and forget.

Feature

Details

BTUs

6000

Cooling Area

150-200 sq. ft.

Dimensions (WxDxH)

12.6 x 13 x 25 inches

Noise Level (dBa)

45-50

Weight

47 lbs.

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER)

6.1


7. DeLonghi PACEM360

4.2

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

4.5

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Cooling Ability

4.0

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Value for Money

4.0

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Who is the DeLonghi PACEM360 best for?

DeLonghi air conditioners are best for homeowners who want a more powerful AC to regulate the temperature in medium-sized rooms. They also work well to cool down apartments that suffer from overheating.

Pros
  • The best coverage for small AC
  • Energy-efficient and low-cost to run
  • Simple controls and settings
  • Well-made and long-lasting
CONS
  • Short exhaust hose
  • Very noisy

The DeLonghi is a big step up in performance from other models on the list.

With 11,000 BTU, it can cover areas of over 500 square feet. It can also manage higher temperatures, and during testing, I found it could perform in conditions over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Despite being more powerful than the Honeywell or SereneLife models, it's still compact.

In fact, it's the smallest portable AC I've tested that I feel is suitable for medium-sized areas. It ticks the boxes of being small enough, so it isn't noticed, but powerful enough to make a big difference.

DeLonghi PACEM360

It’s designed to be simple, a quality I value in appliances. It has a small digital display with a few different options and a remote control to program it. 

The timer seems ok (though I didn’t really use it much), and there are a few operating modes to choose from.

What impressed me most about this small AC was its efficiency. It has an efficient cooling system that draws about 20-30% less power than similar models and makes it even cheaper to run than smaller units. 

It’s the kind of AC you can leave running continuously to deal with the summer heat, and the efficiency means you can do that without spending a fortune.

One thing I did find a bit frustrating with the Delonghi was the window kit. It uses a single-hose venting model, but the hose itself is fairly short. 

You’ll have to place this AC near a window or buy a separate window kit to connect it properly. This isn’t a huge issue, but leave a little extra time for installation.

I also found the air conditioner excessively noisy, especially in the highest setting.

It got close to 70 decibels at one point, so I definitely would not recommend using it in your bedroom (the Frigidaire AC would work much better there).

However, despite the noise, I think this is a very high-quality AC. It packs a bigger punch than most portables, and, despite the small size, it can manage the temperature in medium-sized rooms.

It's one of the best small portable air conditioner models for slightly larger homes, and If you live in an area that experiences intense heat, then I would recommend the Delonghi.

Feature

Details

BTUs

11,000

Cooling Area

Over 500 sq. ft.

Dimensions (WxDxH)

13.6 x 16.7 x 27.6 inches

Noise Level (dBa)

60-70

Weight

63 lbs.

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER)

6.92


8. Whynter Elite ARC-122DHP

4.2

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

4.0

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Cooling Ability

4.0

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Value for Money

4.5

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Who is the Whynter Elite ARC-122DHP best for?

The Whynter Elite is best for homeowners who live in a hot climate and need continuous AC for at least a few months of the year. It’s better for a semi-permanent setup and less suitable for frequent moving between rooms.

Pros
  • Heating, cooling, and dehumidification all in one
  • Powerful cooling
  • Great value for money
  • Very quiet
CONS
  • Doesn’t circulate air as well as other models
  • Higher running costs

The Whynter Elite is the most powerful and efficient AC on the list. It's also the only dual hose model with separate intake and outtake pipes.

These make the whole device more effective at dealing with high temperatures, and it can provide even more cooling than the powerful Delonghi air conditioner.

I pushed this model harder during testing to see what it could manage.

It operated comfortably in temperatures above 105 degrees Fahrenheit, and in just 3 hours, it reduced the temperature to under 80 degrees. After 2 more hours, it brought it down to under 65 degrees and maintained the temperature.

This extreme heat control makes the Whynter Elite the perfect solution for those who live in hot areas.

Alongside the high-performing AC, it also has a fan mode, dehumidifier, and heat pump to give you full control over the air temperature in the room.

The 82-pint dehumidifier works well, and there's even a pump for automatic drainage, so you don't have to empty it manually.

Just remember to leave the refrigerant to settle for 1-2 hours after setting it up, or it can damage the appliance.
Whynter Elite ARC-122DHP noise

I was actually surprised (in a good way) by the AC noise levels. Despite having a higher BTU and the dual hose design, it runs under 52 decibels. 

This means you can use it in living areas or bedrooms without causing any disturbance.

What impressed me the most with this powerful AC was the competitive price. The features, functionality, and design all make this a premium product, but you can pick it up for $400-$600.

 Considering it can heat and cool, it's a great price and offers great value.

One thing to be aware of with the Whynter Elite is that it isn't the best at circulating air around a room. There is no oscillation function, and all the cold air blows around 10 feet in front of the unit. 

This isn't a problem in smaller rooms, but it limits the AC's performance in spaces over 400 square feet.

The Whynter Elite is the portable model I recommend for longer-term use (like over the summer). The dual hoses make it less portable but more powerful, and the multi-function makes this excellent value for money.

Feature

Details

BTUs

12,000

Cooling Area

400 sq. ft.

Dimensions (WxDxH)

16 x 17 x 29.5 inches

Noise Level (dBa)

50-52

Weight

70 lbs.

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER)

6.88


9. Zafro ‎A5410CEYITENG

4.2

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

4.5

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Cooling Ability

4.0

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4.0

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Who is the Zafro A5410CEYITENG best for?

The Zafro air conditioner is best for homeowners looking to cool a bedroom, office, or small living space with no fuss. The slim design and quiet running mean it won't get in the way or disturb you.

Pros
  • Very simple installation
  • Quiet running
  • Easy to use with several pre-set modes
  • Lightweight and effortless to move
CONS
  • Not very energy efficient
  • Less durable than other models

I was excited to test the Zafro because it has a lot of positive feedback. I'll be honest, at first, I didn't see what all the fuss was about.

However, when I started testing, I realized it was one of the most effortlessly efficient air conditioners out there.

What I first noticed about the Zafro AC was that it works straight out of the box. I really do mean straight out of the box, too, because it took me under 30 seconds to get it started. 

None of the compact units on the list are particularly complicated, but with the Zafro, you can just plug it in and switch it on.

Zafro ‎A5410CEYITENG settings

It has a few different operational functions to choose from, including various fan speed settings and a sleep mode. 

Again, this is fairly effortless, and you can even set it to automatically adjust to the conditions in the room.

It works quietly, too, even on the highest setting, and doesn't cause much disruption.

Outside of functionality, the Zafro AC has a slim design and takes up less floor space than any other standing ACs on the list. 

It's light too, and easy to lift, with solid caster wheels that let you roll it between rooms (unlike the Frigidaire wheels that barely move).

Despite the small dimensions, the cooling power is still there. The 8,000 BTUs are enough to keep any small room cool, and it has a built-in dehumidifier. 

The dehumidifier isn't as good as the Whynter Elite but still removes around 40 pints of moisture a day. The AC also has two layers of air filters to remove impurities.

The AC, dehumidifier, and filters give you great control over the environment around you. It's particularly useful in rooms you spend a lot of time in, like the bedroom, but it also works well in living rooms or offices.

The Zafro AC performs well but isn't as high quality as other models on the list. The quality isn't bad, but the unit isn't as well designed or durable as the Delongi or Honeywell ACs. 

However, it does have a 1-year warranty, so I would recommend checking it regularly and contacting the seller if you encounter any problems.

I also recommend keeping an eye on the energy consumption of the Zafro. It isn't one of the most energy-efficient models, and it draws more power than other comparable models. 

It shouldn't send your bills skyrocketing, but it will cost more to run.

That being said, the Zafro is one of the most effective and smallest portable AC models.

The design, the controls, and the functionality are all built around simplicity, and it's the perfect plug-and-play option.

I recommend this model for any homeowners who just want stress-free cooling.

Feature

Details

BTUs

8,000

Cooling Area

350 sq. ft.

Dimensions (WxDxH)

13 x 11 x 27 inches

Noise Level (dBa)

50-54

Weight

40 lbs.

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER)

5


10. Zero Breeze Mark 2

Best Small Battery Powered AC

4.3

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

4.5

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Cooling Ability

450

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Value for Money

4.0

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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.

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

Battery-operated air conditioners can be really useful, but I often find that manufacturers miss the mark, and they end up not working very well.

That's not the case with the Zero Breeze, which delivers effective cooling from a 12V battery.

It 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. 

That’s far less than the Whynter Elite or the Delonghi air conditioners, but it is still impressive when you consider the size of the Zero Breeze.

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.

ZeroBreeze Mark 2 for Camping

The AC itself is easy to use with a simple on-and-off switch. It can run continuously for 4-5 hours before it runs out of charge, or you can use the plug adapter for continuous use. 

Just bear in mind that you can't use it while it's charging, and it will take 3-4 hours before the battery is full.

What I really like about the Zero Breeze is that it can be recharged in a car or using solar energy. 

This makes it so much more useful if you're on the road or out camping, and it removes any reliance on electrical outlets.

The only limiting factor of this air conditioner is the coverage area. It's very small and will only lower the temperature in small areas. 

It's also surprisingly loud (given how small the model is), and it may be slightly annoying in a small tent or RV when you're trying to sleep.

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

It's a simple but sophisticated air conditioner that will help you manage your environment wherever you are. 

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)

2.6


11. BougeRV

4.4

Overall Score


Energy Efficiency

4.5

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Cooling Ability

4.5

Current Progress
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Value for Money

4.2

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Who is the BougeRV best for?

The BougeRV handheld air conditioner is best for those camping or in an RV in areas with extreme heat and humidity.

Pros
  • 4 different operational modes
  • Easy ventilation
  • Simple set up
  • High build quality
  • Low noise levels
CONS
  • Expensive
  • Can’t charge it in your car/RV

If you are taking your RV to hot climates this summer, you will really benefit from using the BougeRV. 

This handheld air conditioner is small and light but has enough power to cool an area of over 50 square feet.

BougeRV weight

Not only can the BougeRV cool a reasonably sized RV or tent, but it can also manage higher temperatures than most other models. 

I tested it out in my RV in conditions above 105 degrees, and within 3 hours, it brought it down to under 75. The design isn't as sleek as the Zero Breeze, but it definitely performs better in hot conditions.

It has 4 different exhaust venting hoses along the outside of the casing at 30, 60, 90, and 180-degree angles.

This choice of exhaust valve makes it easier to direct the warm air out of the RV or tent and speeds up the cooling process.

The BougeRV doesn't run on a battery like the Zero Breeze and can't be powered using a car or solar energy.

It has to be plugged into a home outlet using the power adapter or connected to a portable power station. This means it can run for longer, but it does cost more.

What I like most about this portable AC is the range of different functions. Most handheld models only have on/off functionality, but the BougeRV has 4 different modes (strong, sleep, cooling, and fan); it also has 3 different fan speed settings so you can get more cooling as needed.

It also runs quietly (even on the highest fan speed), which is exactly what you need in a small space.

The one drawback of the BougeRV is that it is expensive. In fact, it's the most expensive model on the list. That may be slightly surprising given the small coverage area, but it is a high-quality specialist unit.

However, this is not a portable AC that everyone will benefit from.

I would only recommend spending this much money on this particular AC if you're camping or traveling in very hot conditions.

It’s not every day you find an RV air conditioner that is almost as powerful as a residential unit, but the BougeRV is just that. 

It is an expensive model, but it can cool a small area very quickly and can make tents, RVs, and any vehicle a lot more comfortable.

This is my top pick for anyone planning a road trip or camping expedition this summer.

Feature

Details

BTUs

2,900

Cooling Area

54 sq. ft.

Dimensions (WxDxH)

9 x 23 x 13.27 inches

Noise Level (dBa)

45-50

Weight

23.2 lbs.

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER)

2.6


Small AC Units Compared

Preview

Name

Rating

BTUs

Dimensions
(WxDxH)

Price

Honeywell 9,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner...

Honeywell MO08CESWK

4.7

9,100

13.5 x 14.6 x 27.7 Inches

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

BLACK + DECKER BPACT08WT

4.7

8,000

11.5 x 16.5 x 26 Inches

SereneLife SLPAC8 SLPAC 3-in-1 Portable Air...

SereneLife SLPAC8

4.2

8,000

13.8 x 14.6 x 27.2 Inches

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

LG LP0621WSR

4.2

8,000

14.17 x 16.93 x 29.09 Inches

Frigidaire FHPC082AC1 Portable Room Air...

Frigidaire FHPC082AC1

4.2

5500

12.17 x 13.78 x 26.8 Inches

Midea 6,000 BTU ASHRAE (5,000 BTU SACC)...

Midea MAP05R1WT

4.2

6000

12.6 x 13 x 25 Inches

DeLonghi America PACEM360 WH DeLonghi...

DeLonghi PACEM360

4.2

11,000

13.6 x 16.7 x 27.6 Inches

Whynter Elite ARC-122DHP 12,000 BTU Dual Hose...

Whynter Elite ARC-122DHP

4.2

12,000

16 x 17 x 29.5 Inches

ZAFRO 8,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioners,...

Zafro ‎A5410CEYITENG

4.2

8,000

13 x 11 x 27 Inches

ZeroBreeze Mark 2

Zero Breeze Mark 2

4.3

2,300

20 x 11 x 10 Inches

BougeRV Portable Air Conditioner, 2899BTU...

BougeRV

4.4

2,900

9 x 23 x 13.27 Inches


Why Get A Small Portable AC Unit?

Some people need a fixed air conditioner or a larger model, but a portable AC unit offers some key benefits:

  • They save space - buying an AC with the smallest footprint saves you space in your home. This stops smaller rooms from being taken over by an appliance.
  • They are quieter- small ACs have lower noise levels than larger units, so they won't cause as much disruption in your home.
  • They are easy to move - a portable AC should be 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. You can also maximize the efficiency by only using them how and when they are needed. This can save you hundreds of dollars a year in electricity.
  • Quick and easy installation - portable ACs usually require very little effort to set them 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.

TL;DR: A portable AC is a small, energy-efficient, cost-saving, simple to use, and a low maintenance way to cool up an apartment or an RV with limited floor space.


Key Factors To Consider When Buying A Good Small Portable AC

Size Dimensions – Smaller Is Usually Better!

For me, small portable air conditioners need to be under 10,000 cubic inches.

The smallest portable AC unit might be a lot smaller, but that's my cut-off point. 

This means rough dimensions like this:

  • Under 30 inches in height
  • Less than 17 inches of depth
  • Under 20 inches of width
Cubic feet

The smallest portable air conditioner models are all comfortably under these measurements.

I would 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.

Always measure your available space before buying any portable air conditioners.

You should also consider where you can store it when it's not in use because I know many apartments have limited storage options.

TL;DR: If floorspace is an issue, then pay particular attention to the dimensions of the unit. The smaller the AC, the better.

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. 

I would recommend looking for a lightweight, portable AC that is under 90 pounds. Anything more than that can make it difficult to move and store.

TL;DR: If you plan to move your AC around, then make sure it is lightweight. Under 90 pounds is recommended. 

Cooling Output (BTU Rating < 8000)

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.

BTU Rating
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.

However, this doesn’t take into account the fact that portable air conditioners actually generate some heat and reflect it back.

A new measurement, DOE BTUs (Department of Energy BTUs), was created to give a more accurate representation of the cooling power for portable air conditioners. 

However, this is not always shown on the packaging.

The BTU rating of an AC can vary massively. A large rooftop air conditioning unit may have 200,000 BTUs, but a residential AC may only have 5,000 BTU.

As a general rule, you should look for an air conditioner with at least 8,000 ASHRAE BTUs for a portable air conditioner, that’s around 5,500 DOE BTUs (depending on the design and model).

Anything less than that won’t provide enough cooling power.

The two exceptions to that rule are the Frigidaire and Midea on the list above. These have less than 8,000 BTU, but they have features that make them extremely effective at cooling small rooms. 

That being said, they can't cool as big an area, so don't expect the same level of performance from low BTU models.

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

I would recommend measuring the space accurately before you buy any portable air conditioner. 

Remember, the smallest portable air conditioners on the list above are not designed for large spaces. 

If you need regular AC in a large space, you're better off looking for larger models up to the task.

TL;DR: BTU is a unit that measures the cooling ability of an AC. Portable ACs are often rated at 8000 BTU or lower which is sufficient for a bedroom.

Compactness Factor And The Cooling Ability

The smallest portable air conditioners aren't always the best; they still need to be able to perform.

Once you know the volume of the portable air conditioner and the BTUs, you can determine the compactness factor.

This is what I use to contrast the size and power of each portable AC and determine whether it's balancing both.

I use this equation to determine the compactness factor:

Portable AC Compactness = Cooling Output (BTUs) / Total Volume

Therefore, if the portable AC has a volume of 9,000 and a cooling output of 8,000 BTU, the equation would read:

Portable AC compactness = 8,000 BTU / 9,000 volume

This portable AC, therefore, has a compactness of 1.125 BTU per cubic inch.

You won’t usually find the compactness factor on the packaging or specifications for a portable AC.

However, I would recommend working it out yourself so you can directly compare and contrast two similar portable air conditioner models.

All of the ACs on the list above have a high compactness factor, but the best compactness factor on the list is from the BougeRV air conditioner, which is specifically designed for small spaces.

TL;DR: You should look for a portable AC with a high compactness factor especially if you have limited space. Higher compactness factor means that the unit has a higher cooling ability compared to its size.

Energy Efficiency (Higher EER, The Better)

At a time when bills are going through the roof, it’s important to find appliances that won’t cost a lot to run. 

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.

5.5 Energy rating

All of the portable air conditioner models on the list above are energy efficient and should provide cooling without any huge running costs.

TL;DR: Look for models with high EER and CEER rating. These cost more upfront but have a lower running costs. 

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. You need a portable AC which is much quieter.

I recommend looking for a portable air conditioner which produces less than 50 decibels.

This is the equivalent of a quiet library and will ensure it doesn't cause you a headache. All the models on the list are quiet, but if you really want to keep the noise down, then I would recommend the Midea AC model, which runs under 50 decibels.

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

This means you can choose a low setting when you need it to be quiet and a high setting when the temperature gets higher.

TL;DR: Since portable ACs have the compressor built-in (not outside), they are much louder than the likes of mini splits or central ACs. Hence, you should pay close attention to the noise levels.

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.

If you are dealing with a lot of heat, I recommend a dual-hose model like the Whynter Elite.

If you are only dealing with moderate heat, I would opt for a cheaper and simpler single-drain hose model like the Honeywell.

TL;DR: Get dual hose portable AC if you are dealing with very hot weather. However, dual hose portable ACs are expensive so if you want a more budget model, single-hose portable ACs would be the way to go.

Price and Your Budget

Price is always a key factor in home appliances.

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.

The Whynter Elite is on the higher end of that price range at around $400-$600, but the Honeywell is slightly cheaper at around $300-$500. There are also some specialist models, like the BougeRV, 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. 

Just remember, you normally get what you pay for with air conditioners, and spending a bit more can give you better long-term value.

TL;DR: The more features a portable AC has, the more expensive it would tend to get. Keep your overall budget in mind and try to maximize the BTU, cooling ability, and efficiency as the priority within that budget.

Warranty Length And Support

A small portable air conditioner can encounter more issues than larger units, and it's worthwhile getting a model with a warranty. 

Portable air conditioners tend to have a warranty as standard. Some, like the Honeywell AC, come with a 5-year warranty, but others are much shorter.

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

However, I would not recommend buying an extended warranty. It can be useful, but your portable air conditioner would have to break during a specific window of time.

In some cases, it can be worth it, but for most people, it isn't.

It’s also worth considering how easy it is to get help and support from the manufacturer.

As part of my review, I looked at customer feedback for all the companies on the list, and they all seem to make it simple for users who experience issues.

It’s worth considering this if you’re buying from a manufacturer you don’t know as well.

TL;DR: Most portable ACs come with a 1 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 5 minutes and can be done by anyone. 

The simplest is the Zafro model, but most of them are straightforward for anyone.

If you don't have much experience with home appliances, then I would recommend looking for a simple model.

TL;DR: Some portable ACs can be as easy as plug and play, others require you to set them up properly. Look for a unit that has the easiest setup especially if you plan to move the unit around a lot.

Additional Dehumidify Mode Is Recommended

Heat can make you very comfortable at home, but high humidity can have the same effect.

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 Honeywell or Whynter Elite with excellent dehumidifying modes.

Do dehumidifiers cool a room

Smart Features (Optional)

Small portable ACs don't need to be basic; they can have some useful features to make them more effective. 

These will usually increase the price, but It can be worth it. Some of the best features include:

  • 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.

TL;DR: More modern portable ACs have smart features. These can make the unit easy to use, but can also add to the overall cost. 


How We Found The Best SMALL Portable Air Conditioners On The Market

It's a very crowded market, and even with 10 years of experience with air conditioners, I still find it challenging to narrow down the best models.

There are a lot of air conditioners out there, but I focused on finding portable air conditioners under 10,000 cubic inches. This helped me narrow down the field.

I then spent around 50 hours analyzing the data from over 50 different small air conditioners.

This included looking at specifications, features, expert reviews, and user feedback. Eventually, I was able to reduce the list down to 32 different ACs.

This was when it got a lot more interesting because I performed some hands-on testing with each of the air conditioners.

During this testing, I was looking at all aspects of the ACs, but particularly:

  • The area they could cool
  • How quickly they cooled the area
  • The features and functionality
  • The design and dimensions
  • Their portability
  • How easy they were to install, set up, and use
Alongside the testing, I also looked at 134 different user reviews to see if there were any factors that I hadn’t considered.

This testing and research helped me identify the top 11 small portable air conditioners I've included in the list above. I chose a range of models to suit different needs and give you a range of options.

The Honeywell AC was the stand-out product for me, but I would recommend that you look through the whole list, as there may be one that's better suited to your home.

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.


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?

The Honeywell air conditioner is the best small portable model I tested, and I would recommend it to most homeowners. 

It balances size with performance, with enough BTU for any small room but compact dimensions that mean it fits anywhere.

It's also the simplest to set up and easy to use, so anyone can get the most from it.

The AC you choose should depend on your home, environment, and where you plan to use it.

I've included something for everyone on the list above, so you can find a high-performing but compact air conditioner that will keep you cool and comfortable.

My #1 Recommendation
Honeywell MO08CESWK

  • 30-second installation
  • Built-in dehumidification
  • 5-year warranty
  • Very energy efficient
  • Simple to use

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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