Buyers Guide & Information

6 Best Portable Air Conditioners for Dorm Rooms

These are the best air conditioners for dorm rooms because they are small, portable, and inexpensive, making them the right choice for student life.

If you’re starting college, it might be your first time living away from home in a dorm. So, how do you make it feel like home and more comfortable when you move in? Well, dorm rooms are small, so proper ventilation and cooling are essential.

A few personal touches such as the best air fresheners for dorm room and a portable air conditioner will make it feel better. While you gather your favorite things from home, let us help you find the best portable air conditioner with our comprehensive dorm room air conditioner reviews.

Why Portable ACs Are Best For Dorm Rooms

Let’s face it; college dorms are small. That’s not to say that they need to be uncomfortable. Believe it or not, many college dorms do not have central AC or window units. If you go to college in a warmer climate, like Florida, then they might have air conditioners, but students will have no control over it.

If you go to college in New England, then you will not likely have central or window units. Portable air conditioners are best for dorms because they are small, inexpensive, and you can manage the temperature on your own. The average dorm size is 180 square feet for two students.

Without further ado, let’s check them out

6 Best Dorm Room Air Conditioners Reviewed

1. SereneLife SPLAC8 – Our Top Pick For Students

Noise Output 55 – 57 dBA
Voltage 120 V
BTUs 8,000
Weight 53 lbs
Dimensions 14.6 x 13.8 x 27.2 inches
Coverage Area 225 sq ft

Sometimes you just want the best portable air conditioner for dorm room when moving into a new space and starting your academic career. We chose the SereneLife SPLAC8 as our top pick college dorm room air conditioner. It packs a ton of features into a reasonably priced model.

This effective solution is a 3 in 1 unit that acts as an air conditioner, dehumidifier, and fan, which means you can turn hot air into cooling effortlessly. It can keep you cool and also pull out some of the moisture from your damp dormitory room. It’s the best mini air conditioner for dorm room as it covers up to 225 square feet, enough for most small dorms.

This unit must be near a window to allow for the exhaust kit. It keeps the water and exhaust heat out of your dorm. It includes a remote control and digital touch control panel. It has an LED display with time, fan speed, and temperature adjustment. It comes with a washable and removable filter, so college students don’t have to worry about buying new ones on their limited budgets.

One thing that we like about this model is that it is a dehumidifier, fan, and an AC all in one. It can really help eliminate some of that mustiness and dampness that is often in dorms.

Pros

  • 3 in 1 machine
  • Remote included
  • Washable air filter
  • Cooling your room faster

Cons

  • Often called a dorm room window air conditioner because it requires a window for installation and working

2. COSTWAY – Best Air Conditioner + Cooler for Dorms

Noise Output 56 dBA
Voltage 120 V
BTUs 10,000
Weight 51 lbs
Dimensions 18 x 14 x 21 inches
Coverage Area 200 sq ft

Sometimes you need more than just an AC. If you’re looking for a cooler and an air conditioning system combo, then this might be the best option. We chose the COSTWAY 10,000 BTU model as the best AC and cooler for dorms. This model performs air cooling functions, dehumidification, and air conditioning.

This model covers up to 400 square feet, which is plenty to cover small dorms. It comes with 4 fan speeds functions; low, middle, high, and auto. This unit requires a windowpane so that you can feed the exhaust hose through it. It has a 24-hour programmable timer and a sleeping mode for nighttime operation. It has 2-way direct air circulation for both the dehumidifier and air conditioning function.

This AC has a touch screen LCD display that shows temperature and other settings. This model has a flexible exhaust hose that does not require permanent installation. We like that this unit comes with casters so that you can move it around yourdormitory. The remote is also useful when you are working at your desk and don’t want to break your focus. The dehumidifier works well for clearing out odor and moisture from the air.

Pros

  • Touch LCD screen
  • Multiple functions
  • 24-hour programmable digital timer

Cons

  • May not get cold enough

3. TOSOT – Quietest Dorm Room Air Conditioner

Noise Output 49 dBA
Voltage 110 V
BTUs 8,000
Weight 65 lbs
Dimensions 11.8 x 15.4 x 30.4 inches
Coverage Area 300 sq ft

Dorms can be loud due to their size and the number of people living in them. When you’re studying, the last thing you need is a lot of noise. We chose theTOSOT 8,000 BTU as the best quiet dorm room air conditioner. It runs at about 49 decibels, which is a little less than a household refrigerator.

This small air conditioner for dorm room comes with an air conditioning system and a dehumidifier. You can remove the filter and wash it. It can cover up to 300 square feet, enough for even medium-sized dormitory rooms. It comes with an innovative X-Fan technology that keeps it spinning at slow and silent speeds to dry out the machine’s interior. This helps prevent mold and keep the machine from malfunctioning.

It also has sleep modes that will keep its setting at low and shut off all the lights on the control panel. It has convenient vertical and horizontal sliding vents. What we liked most about this small portable air conditioner for dorm room is its tower design. It has a small footprint that is great for dorms. It can remove up to 2.3 pints of moisture per hour.

Pros

  • X-Fan technology to prevent mold
  • Quiet operation
  • Vertical and horizontal vents

Cons

  • More difficult to install

4. Black + Decker BPACT10WT – Top of the Range

Noise Output 51 – 53 dBA
Voltage 115 V
BTUs 10,000
Weight 62 lbs
Dimensions 16.5 x 11.5 x 26 inches
Coverage Area 250 sq ft

If you’re looking for all of the new fancy features, then this might be the best option for you. It is made of the best materials and has the top-notch bonus features that many people want. We chose the Black + Decker BPPACT10WT as the top of the range.

Arguably the coldest portable air conditioner for dorm room, it has a coverage area of up to 250 square feet. It is relatively quiet at 51 to 53 decibels. It works as a fan, air conditioner, and dehumidifier, like the other air conditioners we’ve reviewed in our dorm room AC reviews. It comes with rolling casters and side handles so that you can easily move it around. It has all of the tubing and grills included, so you can put the hose out for drainage.

We like that it has a thermostat included, so you can easily adjust the settings to keep your room as comfortable as possible. It also uses environmentally-friendly refrigerants, which is sure to please all of the science majors out there.

The filter is easy to remove and wash. We also think this unit beat out the competition in terms of cooling power.

Pros

  • Uses environmentally friendly refrigerant
  • Grills included
  • Can cool your space even on hot scorching days
  • Includes a thermostat
  • Auto restart after a power outage

Cons

  • Expensive for a college budget

5. Global Air – Best Smart Dorm Room Air Conditioner

Noise Output 55 dBA
Voltage 115 V
BTUs 10,000
Weight 62 lbs
Dimensions 17 x 13 x 31.3 inches
Coverage Area 300 sq ft

For all the technology and engineering majors out there, this might be the model for you. We chose Global Air as the best smart dorm room AC due to its auto-adjusting temperature system. Basically, it reads the room temperature and adjusts to make you more comfortable.

This model comes with a self-evaporating system that does not require a water tank. The water condensation is recycled back through a cooling condenser, which is another reason we think it is the smartest unit on the market. This dramatically improves the efficiency of the machine. It comes with over-cold protection that will shut off the machine before the condenser freezes over.

This unit must be vented outside like the other units that we reviewed. We like the smart features of this unit. If you’ve lived in a hot climate, then you know how annoying it is when the air conditioner freezes over, and you have to wait a while. The bright LCD screen was clearly visible so that you could see the temperature.

Pros

  • Auto adjust work very well
  • Self-evaporating system
  • No water tank required
  • Three fan speeds

Cons

  • Unlike other portable units, it doesn’t include a sleep mode

6. Briza Cool – Best Air Cooler

Noise Output 55 dBA
Voltage 80 V
BTUs N/A
Weight 11.5 lbs
Dimensions 27.01 x 15.04 x 15 inches
Coverage Area 100 sq ft

If you’re looking to save a little money and don’t need a full AC system, then check out this option. We chose the Briza Cool model as the best air cooler for form room on the market. It won’t necessarily make your dormitory ice cold, but it will provide clean air and cooling settings to keep you comfortable.

This Briza Cool model comes with Aspen wood filters that last up to 3 years, depending on the dust and allergens in your dormitory. The air purifying system is perfect for musty dorms where people come in and out. It is one of the best air conditioners that we reviewed since it can fit on a desk. This model also comes with a useful remote.

It uses up to 10x less energy than an air conditioner. This machine uses evaporated water to cool down the room temperature. It also adds 3 to 5% humidity to the air to keep you comfortable during dry months. It does not require any venting or exhaust. If your dormitory doesn’t have windows, then this might be a good choice for you. It only weighs 11.5 lbs, so you can move it almost anywhere.

Pros

  • Very energy efficient
  • Aspen wood filters
  • Removes dust and allergens
  • Make you feel cooler

Cons

  • This is not an air conditioner
  • No storage bag for stowing

ACs for Dorm Rooms Compared

Image
SereneLife SLPAC8 Portable Air Conditioner...
COSTWAY 10,000 BTU portable air conditioner,...
TOSOT 8,000 BTU(ASHRAE) 5,000 BTU (DOE)...
BLACK+DECKER 10,000 BTU Portable Air...
GLOBAL AIR 10,000 BTU Portable Air...
Briza - Air Cooler - Evaporative Air Cooler -...
Model
SereneLife SLPAC8 Portable Air Conditioner...
COSTWAY 10,000 BTU portable air conditioner,...
TOSOT 8,000 BTU(ASHRAE) 5,000 BTU (DOE)...
BLACK+DECKER 10,000 BTU Portable Air...
GLOBAL AIR 10,000 BTU Portable Air...
Briza - Air Cooler - Evaporative Air Cooler -...
Noise (dba)
55 – 57
56
49
51 – 53
55
55
Area
225 sq ft
200 sq ft
300 sq ft
250 sq ft
300 sq ft
100 sq ft
Size
14.6 x 13.8 x 27.2
18 x 14 x 21
11.8 x 15.4 x 30.4
16.5 x 11.5 x 26
17 x 13 x 31.3
27.01 x 15.04 x 15
Image
SereneLife SLPAC8 Portable Air Conditioner...
Model
SereneLife SLPAC8 Portable Air Conditioner...
Noise (dba)
55 – 57
Area
225 sq ft
Size
14.6 x 13.8 x 27.2
Price
Image
COSTWAY 10,000 BTU portable air conditioner,...
Model
COSTWAY 10,000 BTU portable air conditioner,...
Noise (dba)
56
Area
200 sq ft
Size
18 x 14 x 21
Price
Image
TOSOT 8,000 BTU(ASHRAE) 5,000 BTU (DOE)...
Model
TOSOT 8,000 BTU(ASHRAE) 5,000 BTU (DOE)...
Noise (dba)
49
Area
300 sq ft
Size
11.8 x 15.4 x 30.4
Price
Image
BLACK+DECKER 10,000 BTU Portable Air...
Model
BLACK+DECKER 10,000 BTU Portable Air...
Noise (dba)
51 – 53
Area
250 sq ft
Size
16.5 x 11.5 x 26
Price
Image
GLOBAL AIR 10,000 BTU Portable Air...
Model
GLOBAL AIR 10,000 BTU Portable Air...
Noise (dba)
55
Area
300 sq ft
Size
17 x 13 x 31.3
Price
Image
Briza - Air Cooler - Evaporative Air Cooler -...
Model
Briza - Air Cooler - Evaporative Air Cooler -...
Noise (dba)
55
Area
100 sq ft
Size
27.01 x 15.04 x 15
Price

Choosing The Right Portable AC For College Dorms

Price

We have included a range of portable air purifiers to stay cool and fit every budget. Some of the more expensive air coolers come with extra features and cover more space. Some of the budget-friendly air coolers will suit the needs of most college students without all the extra options. We recommend sticking to your budget and finding the right model to stay cool even on hot summer days.

Coverage Area

Dorms can range in size from 120 to 250 square feet for two students. You’re lucky if you end up in a bigger one. Portable air conditioners range in coverage area from 100 to 400 square feet. You won’t have a problem finding a unit that is suitable for your room. It might be a good idea to get a unit that is slightly larger than your room to ensure it cools effectively on hot days.

Energy Efficiency Rating (EER)

The portable air conditioners on our list come with an EER rating that lets you know how much energy they use. Less power consumption means less running up the bill in your dormitory. It also allows you to use the AC less often since it’s energy-efficient enough to provide cold air quickly.

Noise Levels (dBA)

Besides trying to get enough sleep for the day of classes ahead, you’ll also be studying in your dormitory. You’ll need it to be quiet at all times. You should choose a portable AC unit that operates at lower decibels. Most units have a noise level of 49 to 57 decibels.

Air Filters

Dorms can become stuffy due to the enclosed space. They can also smell, and the quality of the air could be less than ideal. It might be a good idea to get the best portable air conditioners that come with an air filter. Some machines have a HEPA, carbon, or pre-filter that can be washed or changed, so, choose the best air filter for dorm room.

Portability

All dormitory AC units on our list are portable due to their size and weight. The most portable models include rolling casters on the base so that you can roll it around the room. Some units also include carrying handles. Another good option is to invest in a tabletop AC that you can sit on your computer desk.

Performance Features
  • Heat Mode
    If you go to school in a cold climate, it might be best to get an AC unit with a heater combo. They can be more expensive, but without central heat, you might get cold.
  • Sleep Mode
    This mode is ideal for running the unit at night. It will dim the lights on the machine and turn the cooling down. It will help you get adequate sleep.
  • Fan Speed
    You want to be able to change the fan speed on your unit. It will help you regulate temperature and manage the noise level.
  • Auto Setting
    This setting is great for setting and forgetting your system. You set the desired temperature, and it regulates the environment according to that temperature. It automatically adjusts fan speed and cooling.
  • AC Remote
    If you’re in the middle of working on a term paper, the portable AC with remote can prove highly useful, so you don’t have to get up.
Installation Requirements/Ease of Setup

Since you have limited space and resources, you should buy a unit that is easy to set up. You should check if your system will need a drainage area. If so, then the pipe will need to be outside the room. You should also check if it requires any tools to assemble before you buy it. Follow our guide below for the installation of your next AC.

  1. Measure the width of your windows with a tape measure.
  2. Apply foam weatherstrip to the window frame to ensure you have a good seal.
  3. Adjust the window bracket included with your portable air conditioner kit.
  4. Place the window bracket into the opening and close the window.
  5. Secure the bracket if necessary. Your kit might include some screws and L-shaped brackets to hold it into place.
  6. Connect the vent hose to the AC unit and to the hole in the window bracket that you just installed.
  7. Plug in the unit near the window and turn it on.
Warranty

All electrical appliances that we reviewed come with a manufacturer’s warranty. They range in duration from 90 days to 1 year. Most of these warranties cover manufacturer’s defects and other malfunctions for a certain length of time. They don’t cover misuse and normal wear and tear. Make sure that you activate your warranty upon receiving your device.

Determining The Right Size AC For Your Dorm Room

Now that you’ve seen all of your options, you need to decide how many BTUs AC units you’ll need for your new dormitory digs by determining the size of your room. If you haven’t moved in yet, you can check your university’s website to find information on the size of the residence halls.

Some of the smallest dorm rooms are around 96 square feet. The medium-sized rooms are around 180 to 200 square feet. Anything above 200 square feet is considered large. You should check the size of your room to determine the right size AC unit. The room size is directly related to the AC size that you need.

If you have a room under 150 square feet, then most of the electrical appliances on our list will do the trick. If you have a large dormitory, then you may need to opt for a model that covers more square feet.

Maintaining Optimal Air Quality In Dorm Rooms

Dorm rooms can get stuffy since there are usually 2 people enclosed in a tiny space with small windows. Since you’re often on campus all day and in class, you pick up a lot of germs. Many students walk in and out of their dorm rooms multiple times a day.

The best way to help improve the quality of the air is to invest in one of the best portable air conditioners above. Many of them are also dehumidifiers, which can reduce odor and moisture in the air. Most units also include a washable filter that traps allergens and dust. Another great way to improve air is to invest in some house plants or an air purifier.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Can I use portable air conditioners in a dormitory without windows?

It depends on the model. If you are interested in units that must be vented and drained outside, then windows are necessary. You can also buy other air conditioners that don’t need to be vented, like some ventless air conditioners or ventless AC coolers.

How much will it cost to run air conditioners for a small dorm room?

To run a mid-sized AC system for 8 hours every day, the cost would be around $2 per day. The average cost, depending on where you live, would be about $60 per month.

How much does a new dorm room air conditioner cost?

Depending on the size, features, and functions, a new portable AC will cost anywhere between $175 and $450.

How to cool down a dorm room without air conditioning?

If you’re looking for an easy way to keep dorm room cool without an air conditioner, buy air coolers, which are not technically air conditioners. They are cheaper and use evaporative moisture to cool the ambient temperature. You can also invest in a fan, a much cheaper cooling alternative than the two.

What type of maintenance is needed with portable AC units?

Believe it or not, even the best portable AC units require maintenance. You should change the filter on your portable AC unit according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You usually have to change it every 6 months or so. Most of the units that we reviewed have washable filters that should be cleaned every 2 weeks.

Conclusion

At ACLAB, our goal is to give the most honest and up to date information so that you can make informed decisions about your home air quality. Although going off to college can be a bit scary, we have tried to give you as much information as possible on how to cool down your dormitory.

While all of the air conditioners in this roundup were impressive, we think one stuck out. We chose the SereneLife SPLAC8 for its 3 in 1 capability and washable air filter.

Last Updated on June 24, 2022

Josh M
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