Best Smallest, Portable & Window Air Conditioners

Standard portable and window ACs commonly available in the market usually have a cooling power of around 8,000-10,000 or 15,000-18,000 BTU. However, they go as high as 24,000 BTU. Many people have a common misconception that normal-sized models would be the better option. For an efficient and powerful remedy against heat, choose the right size. Not just a normal-sized model

These standard units are too powerful for small rooms and are more suitable for spacious rooms with 350-30,000 square feet. Using them in rooms below 300 square feet will lead to too rapid process cycling, leading to wasted energy and costly electricity bills.

window air conditioner

Maybe you’re only looking to cool down a small 10 x 10, 12 x 12, or 14 x 14 sized room. The best is a portable or window AC. It is all you need! In this post, we’ll discuss the features to look out for and explore the available options on the market. With an efficient and space-saving mini-unit, you can cut extra electricity costs. Stay cool and comfortable in your room, even during the summer.

What to look for

To cool a 100 – 300 square feet room, even the smallest portable option would be enough! Here are the types available on the market that are suitable for small, solo rooms:

yellow house with an air conditioner
  • Portable (PACs)

PACs are compact, ergonomic units designed to be convenient appliances. You can transfer them from one room to another without any trouble. These can be a bit more expensive than small window models. Their portability makes up for it. You can use one PAC for different rooms, eliminating the need to install multiple window models in your house. Despite their compact size, they can efficiently cool a room in mere minutes! Look for an 8,000 BTU unit, enough to cool rooms of up to 300 square feet.

However, do note that they require venting. They’re just like normal ones! But there’s no need to fret because their kits are pretty easy to install. You can follow the manual and have the installation done within the day!

  • Window

The most common type is a window model. It is a whole unit installed in a window opening. It’s popular due to its space-saving design and relatively easy installation. It doesn’t take up your limited floor space, and all you need is a window to accommodate the whole unit. Small, low BTU window ACs are the most affordable models in the market.

two window air conditioners

Opt for the smallest option with the appropriate BTU level for a small room. You don’t want the window to be too crowded. Avoid wasting energy as well. For a 100 square foot room, a 5,000 BTU model would be sufficient to cool you down! For a 250-300 sq. ft. room, opt for one with a 6,000-7,000 BTU cooling capacity.

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  • Battery-powered

These can be more expensive than the usual alternative. It’s worth spending because of its convenience and flexible use, such as cooling you down during a long drive across states in your minivan. They can keep you comfortable during a hot camping day. Since power cords don’t limit battery-powered ones, you can use them anytime. Whether it’s in your room or RV, they’ve got you covered. Charging is also easy, with some units having compatible USB connectors or solar panels and quick charging time.

Battery-powered models work much like mini compact ones. They remove heat from the air to produce cool, dehumidified air via hot-cold air exchange. Heat is evaporated out of the air, and a refrigerant cools the air. It also has a ventilation and drainage hose. This makes battery-operated options better in cooling power and capacity compared to coolers. Their usual range is 2,000-3,000 BTU.

For a more affordable pick, check out evaporative coolers! Since these only rely on cold water evaporation to produce cool air, they have a lower cooling power. They cannot remove heat itself from the air. Their advantage is not needing a hose or venting system, upping portability and convenience. Despite having lower cooling power, portable coolers can cool you down with a continuous blast of refreshing air.

Are you still confused about the difference between the different options? Check out this article on our blog for a more thorough explanation and more examples of ventless coolers.

several outside air conditioners

Do they make smaller models?

Yes, there are a lot of small options on the market! These are usually labeled mini compact window air conditioners or mini window ones. Small rooms also have small windows wherein standard models wouldn’t fit into. Manufacturers saw the need for compact, cost-saving units.

Are they any good?

Absolutely! Mini air conditioners operate the same way as usual models do; the only difference between the two is their size. They can eliminate the heat from the air and produce cold, dehumidified air. Here’s a quick summary of how it works:

  • It takes in hot air from the room and condenses it into a liquid to evaporate the air out of it.
  • The resulting liquid is cooled down and processed once again to become cool air, which is blown into the room.
  • The removed heat is released outside through an exhaust hose via the venting system. The moisture or condensate that accumulated from the process of dehumidification and cooling down is released via drainage hoses.

No matter what size or type yours is, it wouldn’t cool your room efficiently. The key to having an effective model is to buy a unit with a proper BTU level that corresponds to your room size!

How much capacity do I need?

8000 BTU window air conditioner

As a rule of thumb, 1 square foot requires a BTU level of 20 BTU per hr. A larger room would require a higher BTU level and a smaller one requires a lower BTU level. It’s important to note that you must buy something with the appropriate BTU level. Opting for a too powerful machine would result in energy waste & expensive electricity bills. Models with a too low BTU level would not be able to cool your room, no matter how long you let it run. It also leads to wasted energy and money.

Below is a handy guide on BTU level and room area from Energy Star to make things easier for you. Take an accurate measure of your room size and match it with the BTU level in the table below:

Source: Energy Star

Some factors might shift the BTU level requirement, such as the use of kitchen appliances. Body count or crowded areas and sunlight exposure will affect it, too. Make sure to consult with your local or online brand’s customer service regarding the needed BTU adjustments.

What’s the smallest BTU capacity you can buy?

The average dimension of some of the smallest options is 15 x 15 x 12 inches and weighs around 40-50 lbs. The dimension varies more for portable models due to the difference in style and design. Free-standing ones are generally taller than window ACs. These have a BTU range of 5,000-8,000 BTU and can work efficiently in small rooms of up to 300 square feet. Consider that there are no heat-emitting appliances indoors or ovens.

What is the best one?

Just like standard models, some trump others depending on when it comes to a couple of factors. Below are the features that you should look out for if you want to have the best mini air conditioner for your room that’s worth every penny:

window ac
Things to look for
SizeDimensionFeatures
TypeDesignNeeds
InstallationEnergy consumption 
  1. Size / Dimension / Design

To maximize your space, make sure to go for one that has a compact design. It’s important to have a cluttered room or a small window opening. To ensure that everything fits properly, measure the available space in your room that you want to dedicate for an AC. Base your canvassing on that measurement. Bear in mind to always use the proper measurement unit! Here’s a chart for SAE to metric conversion that you can use to make things easier for you. Look for brands that offer thin models, which will lessen the weight of the AC and would make it easier to install.

  1. Type / Installation

I’ve outlined that you can opt for a portable, small window and battery-powered portable AC or evaporative cooler. Choose wisely which of these three is the most effective type for your needs. Here are some insights for you to take your pick:

  • If your sole window only has one pane, I suggest you opt for a free-standing portable model instead of a window one. A window model usually makes a window unusable after installation. You can’t open it freely anymore. The venting system is relatively smaller and won’t hinder you from opening your window. Another alternative is a portable evaporative cooler since it doesn’t require the use of a window for venting or drainage purposes.
  • A window model will be a better pick if you have a wide window and a very limited floor space. This saves you from further cluttering your floor! Furthermore, they are generally more powerful and energy-efficient than others. Maybe your sole window is too narrow to accommodate even a small unit or a venting system. You can opt for a casement or vertical window model. It can fit into narrow openings and sliding windows.
  • If you want to have a cooling appliance that you can carry around, buy a battery-powered mini portable unit! You can use it in your tent during camping or even add it in your RV during a road trip, alongside a good cassette toilet. They’re great companions if you’re trying to take some load off your engine to avoid malfunctions in the idle air control valve.
  1. Energy Consumption

Before buying, the first thing that one should consider is its effect on energy consumption and electricity bills. This is where the (EER rating comes in. To find the most energy-efficient one among your options, look for a brand or unit that is Energy StarⓇ Qualified. It should have a high rating. The higher the rating, the more energy-efficient it is. This means it uses up the least energy possible to cool down your room. It leads to lower electricity costs than other standard models. On average, Energy Star Certified models use 10% less energy and cut down around $75/year on electricity bills.

  1. Smart & Safety Features

Opt for a brand or model with a couple of smart, useful tricks up its sleeve. Look for one that has a user-friendly interface and remote control. It should have an auto-off or restart feature and an adjustable fan and mode control. A washable filter and a filter indicator are great features to seek out. These features might seem mundane at first glance, but they will save you a lot of time and effort in the long run. If you’re going to install it in your bedroom or office, opt for one with a low-noise operation. Units with a noise level of 65 dB or less are great.

Now that we’ve outlined the must-have features, here are some that caught our attention. Tick each box that’s important to you, as these models fall under the category of “best on the market”:

Best portable: Honeywell MO08CESWB

Honeywell’s MO08CESWB is a compact 3-in-1 portable system that can serve as a dehumidifier and AC. This is high on our list due to its high EER rating and a powerful yet compact unit. What’s also great is that it has a user-friendly interface and is relatively lightweight. It makes it easy to move around and operate.

  • Cooling power: 8,000 BTU
  • Room size capacity of up to 300 sq. ft.
  • EER: 11.4
  • Dimensions (DxWxH): 14.6 x 13.5 x 27.7 inches
  • Weight: 43 lbs

Best affordable & portable: Black+Decker BPACT08WT

Black+Decker’s BPACT08WT is an affordable and reliable pick. What’s good about this unit is its more compact size. It has a shorter and slimmer design, standing at 26 inches tall and only 11.5 inches in depth. It is heavier and has a lower energy efficiency rating.

  • Cooling power: 8,000 BTU
  • Size capacity of up to 300 sq. ft.
  • EER: 8.4
  • Dimensions (DxWxH): 11.4 x 13.5 x 14.6 inches
  • Weight: 52.9 lbs

Best compact window unit: Frigidaire FFRE0533S1

Frigidaire is one of the tops and most well-known brands in the industry. They’ve been pioneering the production of high-quality and reliable cooling appliances since 1918. It’s no surprise that the popularity of this brand runs deep. People treat “Frigidaire” as synonymous with “air conditioner.” The FFRE0533S1 115V by Frigidaire is perfect for a small room with a small window, with its lightweight body and compact size. What’s even greater is that it boasts many features. It has a high energy efficiency rating and low-noise operation. It also has smart controls and multi-speed functions.

  • Cooling power: 5,000 BTU
  • Size capacity of up to 150 sq. ft.
  • EER: 12.2
  • Dimensions: 12 x 16 x 15.25 inches
  • Weight: 42 lbs
  • Smart controls: Energy Saver, remote control, and electronic air purifier.

Frigidaire FFRA0511R1E

Another Frigidaire unit worth mentioning is the FFRA0511R1E, which is more affordable than the previous one. It has two fan and cooling speeds, capable of cooling a room in a matter of minutes. Although it does not have the advanced smart features FFRE0533S1 has, it does its job. It has high energy efficiency. It’s also lightweight and quiet, a perfect addition to offices or bedrooms.

  • Cooling power: 5,000 BTU
  • Size capacity of up to 150 sq. ft.
  • EER: 11.1
  • Dimensions: 12 x 16 x 15 inches
  • Weight: 41 lbs

Best battery-powered: Zero Breeze Mark 2

This portable choice might be quite expensive, but its portability is top-notch. Incredible versatility comes at a price, and it’s a bit pricier than standard ones. It’s also the most compact and lightweight option among our selection and boasts a relatively high EER. This cordless battery-powered beast runs on 27 Amps and needs 650 W of power.

  • Cooling power: 2,300 BTU
  • Size capacity of up to 100 sq. ft.
  • EER: 9.6
  • Dimensions: 20 x 10 x 11 inches
  • Weight: 16.5 lbs

For a more affordable option, check out these ventless portable coolers that can offer you dehumidified air at a very low cost.

FAQ

Which portable air conditioner works best?

The Forbes list of 2022 lists the Whynter Elite Dual Hose Portable Air conditioner as the best. However, we are also in love with the Midea Duo MAP12S1TBL. It makes just the right amount of noise to let you know it’s on but won’t disturb your sleep. The distribution of cooling across the room is also great.

Is it worth buying a portable air conditioner?

Maybe you’ve got specific cooling needs, like moving the air conditioner room to room. This is the match for you. If you’re looking for cheaper options until you can afford something nicer, portable air conditioners are good. Maybe you’re looking for something permanent. Keep in mind a portable conditioner can never become a substitute for split or window AC units. The cooling and air circulation will never be the same. So portable units are only worth buying if you’re looking to save money and provide portable cooling.

Do all portable air conditioners have to be vented out a window?

Yes. You will indeed need a hose to vent out the heat from the window or any other portal to the outside. If this isn’t done, your room will not start cooling. Some people even prefer a dual hose design to cool rooms faster.

Can a portable air conditioner cool a room?

Yes, certainly. A portable air conditioner is the best option for those who have financial or infrastructural restraints. It stops them from buying a split or window AC unit. It can cool rooms effectively and easily as well. They can never become a full-fledged substitute for split, window, or central air conditioning systems.

Tools and charts for your home renovation needs:

When it comes to home renovations or setting up your appliances, getting professional help is sometimes costly. Why not do it yourself if you know your way with DIYs and other simple home renovations? Here are some tools and guides that can help you with your daily handy work:

  • MIG vs. TIG Welding – A quick yet comprehensive article on MIG and TIG welding, with some buying options for you!
  • SAE to Metric Conversion Chart – All types of home renovation need accurate measurements! Make sure to convert measurements properly by using this chart.
  • Different tools and appliances require different wire sizes and electrical loads. You better be extra careful with buying and installing wires and sockets. One mistake can lead to appliance failure or accidental fires! Even the simplest home reno or appliance installation can be hazardous. It’s not as easy as converting shoe sizes! Put your safety first. Health must be prioritized over costs. Here are some guides and size charts for you:

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