The energy efficiency of any portable air conditioner is expressed with an EER rating. EER rating is the ratio between useful cooling effect (in BTU) and electrical power input (in W).
The best portable air conditioners are the most energy-efficient ones.
An energy-efficient portable AC unit can save you up to $70 per year. In 10 years, that’s $700 less in electricity bills.
Here at LearnMetrics, we pick the HVAC systems such as portable air conditioners based on numbers (we’re those weird guys who actually love those specification sheets and user manuals).
We think it’s pretty obvious that everybody would want to have an energy-efficient free-standing AC unit with as little hassle as possible.
That’s why we prepared a list of the 12 best portable air conditioners in 2021 based on these 5 key metrics:
- Capacity in BTU. Small 6,000-8,000 BTU portable AC units for 100-300 sq ft rooms, 10,000 BTU for about 400 sq ft rooms, and large 14,000 BTU portable AC units for 450-700 sq ft rooms.
- EER. Energy Efficiency Rating should be at least 8. Higher EER rating portable air conditioners can cost up to $100 less in seasonal energy costs. The most energy-efficient portable air conditioners have an EER rating above 10.
- Noise levels. No one wants a noisy device. Quiet air conditioners with a decibel level (dBA) of 55 or less are considered ‘very quiet’. For comparison, you experience 40 dBa in the library in 60 dBa in your car.
- Price. Budget-friendly portable AC units start at $200, and the best LG portable air conditioners can cost up to $700.
- Average review. Listening to people who bought that specific portable AC unit might be the most helpful thing.
Other minor metrics are the dehumidification levels (how quickly you can lower the humidity), dry airflow, and the device’s weight. The 2021 superstar portable air conditioner – the #2 hOmeLabs 14,000 BTU unit – has a superb 4.17 Pt/h dehumidification rate, for example.
Spec-wise analysis reveals which are the most energy-saving portable AC units:
Almost every portable AC unit has a built-in dehumidifier that’s, in many cases, more powerful than a stand-alone dehumidifier.
Bonus: Some manufacturers include the window kit (otherwise, it costs about $20). That’s basically a way to seal the window through which you lay the portable air conditioner vent. We’ll point out where the window kit is included in the package.
Here’s the list of the best portable air conditioners by the numbers:
List Of 12 Best Energy-Efficient Portable Air Conditioners
#1 Whynter ARC-14S Dual-Hose (Most Energy-Efficient Portable Air Conditioner)
If you’ve searched for the best portable air conditioners, you’ve probably come across the Whynter ARC-14S. Even Customer Report has it as one of the Top 3 best portable AC units you can buy.
We’ll look at the numbers to see how it actually measures up to the competition. Surely the built with the R410A refrigerant, washables filters, and 3 fan speeds are what pretty much every portable air conditioner has to offer.
What is more, the Whynter ARC-14S is the only dual-hose portable air conditioner on the list. Dual-hose units are known to have superb energy efficiency and can bring fresh outdoor air inside without lowering the room air pressure.
Well, looking at the metrics, one thing immediately caught our eye: the EER rating of 11.20. That makes the Whynter ARC-14S model the most energy-efficient (and environmentally-friendly) air conditioner on the market. That’s the reason why it scores so high on all these best portable air conditioner lists.
In comparison, the average EER level is about 8.5. The EER is calculated by dividing the BTU number by the power (in Watts). Whynter ARC-14S is up to 30% more efficient than an average mobile AC unit, which can save you up to $40 per year in electricity costs. Not bad if you calculate how much less electricity you’ll pay if you use it for 10 years, right?
The secret behind this efficiency, obviously, is the dual hose system setup. It’s also the reason why this 14,000 BTU AC unit can pump out 4.21 pints of water per hour (reducing humidity in the air).
And it does all this with a relatively mild dry airflow of 222 CFM and a medium noise level of 56 dBa.
All in all, the Whynter ARC-14S craze is, well, quite justified even when we look at pure air conditioning numbers. Touche! And the best things: the ARC-14S comes in ‘Black and Platinum’ colors.
#2 hOmeLabs 14,000 BTU (Top-Rated Portable Air Conditioner In 2021)
hOmeLabs is a newcomer in the industry that has been dominated by companies like LG, Honeywell, and Carrier. The lack of experience might be considered a negative thing, that’s true.
But hOmeLabs has charted a new direction in the HVAC systems industry. Being modern, they put the focus on how people use their portable air conditioners. That’s why you’ll see all those built-in handles to move it around easily, the simple remote control, and the easy installation process.
They also don’t have a whole range of portable air conditioners like LG has. Their 14,000 BTU stand-alone device is simply called the ‘hOmeLabs 14,000 BTU portable air conditioner’. To simplify it a bit, the hOmeLabs is to HVAC as is Apple’s iPhone to smartphones.
They have one solid device that is easy to handle and looks elegant:
Do you know how people with Android phones always point out how their device has better specs than the iPhone? Well, let’s compare some specs:
The EER rating of 9.8 makes the hOmeLabs portable air conditioner one of the more energy-efficient devices on the list. Those above 10 are great; those with 8.5 are about average. This is important when it comes to saving on your electricity bill and, well, saving the planet.
The noise levels of 55 dBA are a bit higher. The hOmeLabs compressor can be louder than the quietest portable air conditioner at the high setting. Nonetheless, this is still a rather low decibel level for a bigger 14,000 BTU device.
hOmeLabs portable AC unit serves as a terrific dehumidifier as well. With the power to extract 4.17 pints per hour out of your indoor air, it will lower the 80% or 90% humidity levels faster than many dedicated dehumidifiers.
All in all, the specs are more than decent. The EER of 9.8 and 4.17 Pt/h dehumidification rate coupled with the easy installation makes this user-friendly portable air conditioner quite a good choice.
#3 LG LP1419IVSM Dual Inverter (Good Use Of Dual Inverter Tech)
It’s hard not to be impressed by the LG’s LP1419IVSM portable air conditioner. Just by looking at the specs, you will immediately notice that it’s the quietest, energy-efficient, and, above all else, capable of cooling down larger spaces while reducing humidity at record levels.
In short, just the numbers alone make the LP1419IVSM the best portable air conditioner LG has ever made. Knowing that LG is probably the best manufacturer of cooling devices globally, having their best AC the safest bet you can make.
The 10.14 EER rating is almost 20% above the 8.5 average. This is thanks to using the auto evaporation system, generally accepted as the most energy-efficient way of operating an air conditioner.
Running LG’s environmentally-friendly AC unit will save you about $30/year in electricity costs. In 10 years, that’s $300 – a significant number to consider when buying the premium $700 air conditioner.
The two metrics where the LP1419IVSM model hits it out of the part are the lowest possible noise levels and the highest dehumidification levels.
Quietest AC Unit (44/47/50/53 dBa)
In general, no portable air conditioner will have a decibel level below 52 dBa. In this model, LG included its Lo-Decibel technology to make the quietest air conditioner on the market. Lo-Decibel is a term that technically just means LG used the quiet BLDC motor and the Dual Inverter Compressor in the LP1419IVSM model.
The result of a silent motor and compressor, however, is unheard of (quite literally). You can run the low program at 47 dBa, the mid-program at 50 dBa, and the high program at 53 dBa. The sleep mode will run at 44 dBa. In short, it’s the LG’s best portable air conditioner that breaks all the quietness records.
Highest Dehumidification Levels
In the summer, the humidity inside the house or apartment can skyrocket from standard 30% to even above 90%. That’s why all portable air conditioners have a dehumidification function; some better than others, to be honest.
LG’s LP1419IVSM is the dehumidification champion. Being the best portable air conditioner removes the moisture from inside air at a rate of 6.7 pints per hour. For comparison: No other portable air conditioner can handle anything over 5 pints per hour.
Overwhelmingly The Best LG Portable Air Conditioner
Given all the tremendous specs and coupled with 14,000 BTU capacity, you would think that the dry airflow would have to be humongous to achieve such cooling capability. It’s very impressive that LG’s LP1419IVSM can display such power with just the 243 CFM (cubic meter of air per hour) airflow.
The very secret of how such a powerful portable air conditioner can be so efficient and quiet is the average dry airflow number. The BLDC motor and the silent Dual Inverter compressor are the winning combinations that make the LP1419IVSM the best portable air conditioner on the market.
But it does come at a price. Good HVAC metrics command a higher price, and LG’s portable air conditioner has tremendous metrics and a high-end price.
In summary, just the numbers alone make the LG LP1419IVSM one of the best portable air conditioners of 2021.
#4 Honeywell MN10CES (Cheap Energy-Efficient Portable AC Unit For Less Than $450)
Honestly, many people don’t find spending a ton of money on the portable air conditioner all that interesting (well, we do, but we’re HVAC geeks). Some people just want to cool down without all the fuss of comparing the metrics, prices, decibel levels, and having the DIY air conditioner installation parties.
Here is the best one for everybody who wants a simple and cheaper portable air conditioner: the Honeywell MN10CES model.
It’s a medium-sized 10,000 BTU device that’s pretty quiet and very cheap. In fact, it costs less than $450, and it will take you less than 10 minutes to install. It even comes with the window kit included for windows between 20” and 46”.
The MN10CES has a good EER rating of 9.00. That means it won’t skyrocket your electricity bill; in fact, if you’re using an older model, the Honeywell MN10CES will probably lower your electricity costs.
The 3-in-1 portable air conditioner will also take care of the humidity in your house or flat during the summer months. It has a dehumidification rate of 2.75 Pt/h. In translation: It’s not great, it’s not terrible. A pretty average rate will do for such a low price.
You also don’t have to worry about not hearing your TV over the portable air conditioner’s noise. The Honeywell MN10CES operates at 53 dBa noise, which is, again, pretty much the average noise a simple portable AC unit should make.
In summary, ‘Not great, not terrible’ is the perfect way to describe the Honeywell MN10CES air conditioner. It’s a good, simple, no-hassle device and one of the cheap portable air conditioners currently on the market.
#5 LG LP0817WSR (Cheaper Version Of An LG Air Conditioner)
LG is probably the best manufacturer of portable air conditioners in general. It’s no wonder that their best model – the LP1419IVSM – is on the top of this list. However, that one does cost a full $700.
LG LP0817WSR is a great solution for everybody who wants to own an LG portable air conditioner (with all the years of development that went into it) but doesn’t want to spend too much right off the bat.
With 8,000 BTU, the LP0817WSR is a smaller model that can cool down 300 sq ft or less.
It uses standard LG technologies. That is standard, not premium. The top LG models (the expensive ones) have the BLDC motor that helps with efficiency and the silent inverted compressors that keep the decibel levels low.
Unfortunately, the LP0817WSR model doesn’t have those premium technologies. That’s why this model of the LG portable air conditioner is less energy-efficient (EER = 7.69, nothing to be envious about) and have medium noise levels of about 53 dBa.
Nonetheless, the dehumidification function is there (which is nice), and this AC unit has a decent dry airflow of 250 CFM. Not bad at all, to say the least.
Fortunately, there are several reasons why LP0817WSR is one of the best selling LG models. The main one is the low price point of below $400. That’s the most budget-friendly LG portable air conditioner you can buy.
It’s not premium, clearly, but it is an LG device (safe and reliable bet) and gets the job done.
#6 Vremi 10,000 BTU (Easy To Handle And Move Around)
Vremi AC unit is probably the most interesting on this list. For one, it’s by far the highest-rated portable air conditioner on Amazon, with an average rating of 4.8/5. What makes it so special?
Well, it’s not the specifications alone, that’s for sure.
Vremi has 10,000 BTU capacity and an EER rating of 8.33, which is pretty average.
With the 51 dBa decibel levels, it is one of the quietest portable air conditioners, and it will do wonders for reducing the relative humidity in your house. It has one of the highest dehumidification rates of 4.64 Pt/h.
Those specs alone are great on their own, but they don’t fully explain the splendid rating the Vremi device is getting. The secret is, how to put it, user-friendliness.
Vremi is a very simple-to-handle portable air conditioner. You can easily move it around, install it quickly; it even has built-in handles, as you can see from the photo below:
With the help of the castors, you can move this air conditioner from room to room in minutes. What’s even more, the Vremi is one of the lightest air conditioners. With just 52.8 lbs, it’s even lighter than many small 8,000 BTU devices.
All in all, the praise Vremi enjoys is well deserved, both specs-wise and handling-wise. Add to that a reasonable below $400 price tag, and you can see why Vremi is the highest-rated portable air conditioner on Amazon.
#7 DeLonghi PACEL276HGRFK Pinguino 4-in-1 (Real Feel Technology)
The DeLonghi Pinguino comes with a status. It’s an Italian-made portable air conditioner with a high $700 price tag and the elegant style that Italians are known for.
I mean, it does look incredibly sleek:
Everybody agrees that the Pinguino – the PACEL276HGRFK model – is the best portable air conditioner DeLonghi ever made. But our question here is: why?
Unfortunately, the Pinguino’s specs are shrouded in mystery. We couldn’t find the specification sheet specifically for this device. In fact, apart from the weight and the 12,500 BTU capacity, we don’t really have any metrics to compare it with other devices. No EER, no dry airflow, no decibel levels.
There is one thing that we know about the PACEL276HGRFK model for certain: it’s so comfortable! I know what you mean – what does ‘comfortable’ mean in the context of portable air conditioners?
Well, for one, the DeLonghi Pinguino can connect to a WIFI device such as Alexa. You even get an iPhone or Android app to switch the temperature up or down comfortably, set the ventilator speed, or just put it in sleep mode when you’re going to bed.
It’s also the only portable air conditioner that comes with ‘Real Feel’ tech. That’s just a fancy way of saying the AC unit can find that perfect balance between the temperature and air humidity. That’s exactly why the Pinguino has become status in itself. Literally, no other stand-alone air conditioner can come close to this tech.
Obviously, all the status and cutting-edge tech that comes along with DeLonghi Pinguino doesn’t come cheap. You will rarely find a Pinguino that costs less than $700. Oh, and there is a heater as well. That’s just adding to the comfort in those cold winter afternoons.
#8 DELLA 14,000 BTU (Best Simple-To-Use Energy Efficient Portable AC Unit)
Portable air conditioners are quite an investment for the summer. So are the heaters for the winter months. The DELLA 14,000 BTU portable air conditioner with a heater is the perfect choice for everybody who wants to buy an HVAC device that cools you in the summer and warms you up in the winter.
The air conditioning metrics are impressive as well, to say the least.
First of all, the DELLA air conditioner has an EER rating of 11.1, surpassing even LG’s LP1419IVSM. It is about 25% more efficient than a standard portable air conditioner. This results in a $40 per year lower electricity bill (and that’s just the summer season).
If you check the DELLA portable air conditioner’s specification sheet, you’ll notice the noise levels of 49-52 dBa. This is a very silent beast of an AC unit. Granted, this is for the low setting. When in the high setting, the decibel levels would probably reach 56 or 57 dBa. Why is that?
Because it’s immensely quick (and can, therefore, make a bit of noise). It has a record-breaking dry airflow metric of 450 CFM. That means that the DELLA free-standing air conditioner is capable of pumping out 450 cubic feet of air every hour.
In comparison, no other portable AC unit on this unit can exchange more than 300 CFM every hour. Translation: it’s insanely quick and will cool down your room or house in record time.
It also has the second-highest dehumidification capability of 4.63 pints per hour. That’s very useful, particularly when the summer humidity sets in and makes it harder to breathe.
The 11,000 BTU heater should be considered as the bonus you get. You might not even use it. But if you feel a bit cold on a freezing winter afternoon, you can just plug it in DELLA, set it to heating, and enjoy your day.
Pretty much the best thing about the DELLA is that such a capable by-the-numbers air conditioner with a heater costs less than $500. It’s literally impossible to find a 4-in-1 portable air conditioner at this price range; however, the materials’ overall quality is not up to par with the premium LG devices.
#9 SereneLife SLPAC10 10,000 BTU Floor Air Conditioner
Being so highly rated (4.4/5 on Amazon), the SereneLife SLPAC10 cannot be underestimated. It may look straightforward (and, in fact, it is simple), but the HVAC metrics are rather good – especially if you consider the budget-friendly price.
That makes the SereneLife SLPAC10 one of the best price-performance floor air conditioners on the market.
Despite being as simple as it gets, the SLPAC10 model has a nice feature that we miss with other portable air conditioners: the automatic swing mode.
That’s just a fancy way of saying the air conditioner’s wind vents are moving around to maximize the air circulation. In translation: SereneLife 10,000 BTU blows in several different directions over time, and that’s good.
The HVAC metrics (the ones that count) are pretty average compared to the other best portable air conditioners.
SereneLife SLPAC10 has average energy-efficiency (EER = 8.7), average noise levels from 52 dBa to 56 dBa, and a dehumidification rate of 3.30 Pt/h.
The 10,000 BTU capacity can achieve the maximum dry airflow of 290 CFM, which is above average.
Otherwise, the majority of HVAC metrics are as average as it gets. The price, however, is lower than you would expect from an average device. This, in turn, makes the SereneLife SLPAC10 one of the best price-performance floor air conditioners out there.
#10 Frigidaire Cool Connect 12,000 BTU (Most Elegant Round Portable Air Conditioner)
It’s not going overboard by saying the Frigidaire 12,000 BTU AC unit is something special. It stands out of the crowd just because it looks different.
While most portable air conditioners look like (let’s be real) an oversized box, the Frigidaire air conditioner is a nice breeze of change. It has a round shape and can deliver the cooling air in 360-degree directions.
I mean, just look at how elegant an HVAC device Frigidaire was able to design:
The metrics are great as well, especially the most important one: the 11.01 EER rating. That makes the Frigidaire 12,000 BTU AC unit one of the most energy-efficient portable air conditioners (and, obviously, the most visually appealing one).
The 53 dBa noise level makes this a quiet device. The dehumidification rate of 3.00 pints per hour is an average rate as well. The maximum dry airflow of 200 CFM is a bit below average, but this spec is not the most important one by any measure.
So why is this beautiful portable air conditioner with such high energy-efficiency not much higher on the list?
Two problems: the below-average reviews and high price.
The average review is 3.4/5 because they are several 1-star reviews of people complaining about the ‘screeching noises’ and ‘poor customer support’.
Obviously, some Frigidaire 12,000 BTU portable AC units do malfunctions (completely normal in HVAC devices) and start producing a high-pitched voice. That’s not ideal, but if the customer support would be kind and help you out, that would be nice. Especially if you paid $600+ for the air conditioner, right?
Well, it appears that such customer support wasn’t helpful in several cases, which, in turn, lead to a low rating.
Nonetheless, the cases where everything was fine are far more numerous. The Frigidaire 12,000 BTU is eye-catching and energy-efficient. And if you don’t have bad luck, you’ll get a perfect piece that can positively affect your intern design while at the same time cool your rooms down in the summer.
#11 Ivation IVAPAC12KBTU 12,000 BTU
Simple is the best, right? That’s what you get with the Ivation IVAPAC12KBTU. It’s a simple-to-use portable air conditioner with average HVAC specifications, and it does have the edge over other simple and average portable air conditioners. That’s the edge that’s responsible for its high 4.3/5 rating.
Modern style. All the average air conditioners look, well, average. Old-school or cheaply made. The Ivation IVAPAC12KBTU 12,000 BTU portable air conditioner is, in comparison, a wonder of modern, sleek design. Just look at it:
The EER rating of 8.66 is as close to average as it gets. The noise levels of 55 dBa are higher than average but still OK.
The dehumidification function is also nice. The IVAPAC12KBTU model can drain out more than 50 pints of moisture every day. The dry airflow is a bit below-average at 206 CFM.
All in all, very OK metrics for a nice looking below $400 portable air conditioner.
#12 BLACK+DECKER BPACT08WT (Classic Old-School Model)
You really can’t make a list of the best portable air conditioners (even in 2021) without including the classic BPACT08WT model by Black+Decker.
Black+Decker made the BPACT08WT portable air conditioner more than a decade ago, and it has thrived ever since. It’s as good and as a reliable HVAC device as any, you can get. That’s why people who oned it keep coming back because they know what they’re buying.
The price might also be a factor. The BPACT08WT is mass-produced as is, as such one of the cheapest portable air conditioners.
In 2021, you can even get one with the newer updates design:
Let’s look at the specs; mind you, these were amazing specs when the model first saw the light of day.
The EER rating of 8.42 is slightly below average. The noise levels, however, are quite high for a small 8,000 BTU device.
At 52.9 lbs, this is one of the most lightweight portable air conditioners around. The lightweight makes moving it around that much easier.
Despite being a bit old-school, the Black+Decker BPACT08WT model is a popular choice just because it’s such a sure and reliable device.
Looking At A Portable AC But Not Sure If The Specs Are OK?
There you have it, the complete list of the 12 best portable air conditioners in 2021 based on specifications.
If you have some other air conditioner in mind, but you’re unsure if the specs are OK, you can leave us a comment below. It has to be mentioned that a new wave of completely portable battery-powered air conditioners is currently booming. These use batteries instead of cords, hence the increased portability. They are, however, very energy-inefficient and can only generate less than 3,000 BTUs of cooling power.
You can also check a ranked list of other portable AC units:
- Super quiet portable AC units (ranked by decibel levels; under 53.2 dB).
- Biggest portable AC units for large rooms (ranked by BTU cooling output; up to 14,000+ BTU)
- Best portable AC units with heater combos.
- Cheapest portable AC units.
Do keep in mind that swamp coolers and personal air conditioners are not air conditioners by default; they use water evaporation to produce a cold breeze.
It’s vital to compare the specifications before buying a portable air conditioner. That will avoid you getting a noisy or energy inefficient HVAC device.