Most Energy Efficient Portable Air Conditioners – 2021 Review

| Last Updated: June 24, 2021

As temperatures increase every year, efficient air conditioning is becoming essential rather than a luxury item. One of the most important considerations when choosing an air conditioner (AC) is energy efficiency. 

Portable ACs are one of the best options in terms of cost-effectiveness. With so many brands to choose from, it’s not an easy choice.

In this review, we compare the top-performing portable ACs to help you make the right choice for your space. 

Comparison of the Most Energy Efficient Portable Air Conditioners

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • 4-in-1 unit is perfect for 500 sq. ft. rooms
  • It can be connected via WiFi and with smart-speakers
  • It can be connected via WiFi and with smart-speakers
View Latest Price →
  • Best for the Money
  • 14,000 BTUs is perfect for up to 500 sq. ft. rooms
  • Dual hose operation offers ultra-fast cooling
View Latest Price →
  • Sleek digital controls and LED screen are easy to use
  • Comes with 3 cooling modes and 2 fan speeds
  • 8,000 BTUs is perfect for up to 200 sq. ft. rooms
View Latest Price →
  • 8,000 BTUs is perfect for up to 230 sq. ft. rooms
  • Has 4 modes - cooling, fanning, dehumidifying, sleeping
  • 24-hour programmable timer for optimal control
View Latest Price →

What to Look for in an Energy-Efficient Portable Air Conditioner

We have considered the most important factors to take into account when choosing a portable AC. These factors, aside from the cost of the unit, include energy efficiency and cooling capacity, the size of the area, and whether it’s easy enough to install the unit.

While writing this review, we keep in mind that some areas are hotter than others. It may be necessary to keep cooling equipment running longer. 

Energy Efficiency and Cooling Capacity

Modern portable AC units offer various energy-saving settings, such as a timer that can be pre-set to switch on and off, temperature controls, digital thermostat settings, and a dual-hose configuration. The energy efficiency of a portable AC is measured by the  Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER). This is the ratio of the cooling capacity of the unit, which is measured in British Thermal Units (BTU), to the energy used. 

A higher EER rating suggests a more efficient AC. Modern AC units will display an ENERGY STAR label stipulating the EER rating of the unit. An average EER rating is 8.5, while some of the more energy-efficient ACs reach a rating of 12+. 

Some ACs come with a single-hose configuration and work harder to maintain a constant cool temperature as the hose is used as both an intake and outlet. Dual hose configured units are far more efficient.

Size of Area to Be Cooled

An important consideration is the size of the area to be cooled. Air conditioners are generally rated by the ton, which is a cooling range capacity from 5,500 BTU per hour and 14,000 BTU per hour. A ton is the equivalent of 12,000 BTU.

To work out the exact size AC for the area required, we look at the BTU. For example, a portable unit that is rated 8,000 BTU will cover an area of 350ft. Each product will offer a chart specifying this information, making it easier for you to decide. 

To work out the area size, we look at the height of the room, local climate, whether or not the room gets direct sunlight, and the size and location of the window.

Your selection of the correct tonnage depends on factors like your local climate and the size of the area to be cooled. The incorrect size AC for the cooling space could lead to unnecessary use of energy and inefficient cooling.

Choosing an AC that is too big will leave the air feeling damp and clammy. A unit that is too small will have to work much harder to cool the space, rendering it inefficient and utilizing excess energy. 

Ease of Installation

Most portable ACs are relatively easy to install and don’t require professional help. It’s necessary to run the AC in a room with a standard size window or door for the hose to exhaust warm air. Some ACs come with a standard, easy to install kit.

They also come standard on wheels so that it’s possible to move the unit from room to room as the need arises. This is much more cost-effective than Central Air Conditioning as you only pay to cool the area you want to be cooled.

Review of the Best Energy Efficient Portable Air Conditioners

We have reviewed a few portable ACs to help you make the right choice.

Best Overall

De’Longhi PACEL276GRFK

De'Longhi 12500 BTU Smart Portable Air Conditioner, Heater, Dehumidifier & Fan + WiFi, Works w/ Alexa & Google Home, Quiet Mode, 550 sq ft, Large Room, Pinguino 7200 (DOE), White

Specifications

BTU (DOE): N/A

Coverage Area: 550 sq.ft.

Dimensions (in): 15.1x 17.6x 29.2

Weight: 83.8 lbs.

Decibel Level: N/A

We may earn commission from purchases made from our links, at no additional cost to you

Other Specs

Voltage: 120

Color: White

Review

This unit is not expensive and is cost-effective when it comes to energy use. It’s moved from room to room with its castor wheels, making the heavy weight easier on your arms.

While the WiFi app allows users to set a comfortable room temperature at home from any location, it may be complicated to understand and use. When compared to similar products on the market, it appears to have a shorter lifespan.

The ECO Real Feel technology is a feature that helps deliver a balance between humidity and temperature. There’s also an internal filter for dust and odor reduction.

Bottom Line

The De’Longhi PACEL276GRFK is a powerful air conditioner that’s easy to move around your house. The app makes it even more convenient, as you can monitor and control the device with your smartphone. You’ll also love how it lowers humidity and temperature levels.

Pros

BioSilver Filter prevents mold and reduces odors

Comes with castor wheels making it easy to move

4-in-1 feature that includes cooling, dehumidifying, fan, and heating

ECO Real Feel technology creates perfect balance between temperature and humidity

Download the app and set the temperature from anywhere using your smart-phone or tablet

Cons

The app is complicated to use

Might not last as long as other units

Best for Money

Whynter ARC-14S

Whynter ARC-14S 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner, Dehumidifier, Fan with Activated Carbon Filter Plus Storage Bag for Rooms up to 500 sq ft, Platinum and Black

Specifications

BTU (DOE): N/A

Coverage Area: 500 sq.ft.

Dimensions (in): 19x16x35.5

Weight: 100 lbs.

Decibel Level: N/A

We may earn commission from purchases made from our links, at no additional cost to you

Other Specs

Voltage: 115V / 60Hz / 1 Phase

Color: Two-tone platinum and black

Review

This unit is extremely versatile with three operational modes and is easy to use. It works efficiently and economically and the design is sleek and will fit in well with a modern room design. 

While it has strong wheels for portability, the air conditioner is extremely heavy. The window installation kit may not work so well in your frame, and the compressor is quite noisy.

On the bright side, it recycles the moisture it collects with auto drain technology. Therefore, you won’t need to get up every few hours to drain the condensation. With lead-free parts, the AC is also friendly to the environment.

Bottom Line

The Whynter ARC-14S is a clear winner. It’s a low-maintenance option that runs with minimal noise and maximum efficiency.  With an excellent EER (Energy Efficiency Rating) of 11.2, this unit can run all day without making much difference to your electricity bill while keeping your space consistently cool.

Pros

Uses less energy

Dual hoses mean better efficiency

Can be used in areas like a garage

Unit does not need draining as often

Easy to install with clear instructions

Eco-friendly Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and lead-free components

Recycles moisture using patented advanced auto drain technology

Cons

Compressor is noisy

The unit is heavy to move around

Window kit design is not efficient

Cleaning the  intake filter is difficult

Honorable Mention

COSTWAY 23048-CYPE-CCSS

COSTWAY Portable Air Conditioner 8000 BTU with Remote Control, Energy Efficient for Rooms Up to 230 Sq. Ft, Cooling, Dehumidifying, Fanning, Sleeping Mode, Time Settings, Water Full Indication

Specifications

BTU (DOE): 10,000

Coverage Area: 230 sq.ft.

Dimensions (in): 12x13x30

Weight: N/A

Decibel Level: 56 dB

We may earn commission from purchases made from our links, at no additional cost to you

Review

With three adjustable speeds, this unit will meet your variable needs at different times of the day and year. It can be easily moved between rooms as it has 4 all-direction coasters, has a modern design and the remote control makes it convenient to operate.

However, the air conditioner can be slightly challenging to assemble. It doesn’t include a replacement hose, so you’ll need to be careful that you don’t break the original one.

There are four different modes you can set, namely, cooling, ventilation, sleep, and dehumidification. You can also set the temperature between a large range, but the built-in sensor should be able to adjust it automatically.

Bottom Line

This portable air conditioner is one of the more silent runners compared to similar products on the market. You might have to tamper with the hose and adaptor fittings, but you’ll receive pleasant cooling once it’s installed. The temperature and water controls are certainly some of its best features.

Pros

Includes multiple functions

Comes with a water-full control and warning

Optimal temperature range you can customize

Relatively quiet in comparison to some other ACs

Has a programmable timer that shuts the unit down automatically once usage time has been reached

Cons

Not easy to assemble

The adaptor and hose fittings are problematic

The hose is not long-lasting and there is no replacement hose

EER vs SEER… and Why They Matter

Most ACs come with a chart stating the EER and Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating. These ratings are the ratio of cooling efficiency to energy efficiency and are measured in BTU. 

It’s just as important when selecting an AC to consider the EER rating of the unit as the BTU to ensure that your home benefits from the most effective cooling system. This will ensure that your product offers optimal cost-effectiveness, energy conservation, and cooling efficiency.

What is EER, and How is EER calculated?

EER stands for Energy Efficiency Rating and is the ratio of the BTU and the energy used (Watts) to cool a space. An EER rating of 14 is the highest rating and offers the best energy efficiency compared to a unit with a lower rating. The EER rating works out energy efficiency at ideal conditions (95°F). 

What is SEER, and How is the SEER Rating Calculated?

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and is used to measure the energy efficiency of air conditioners used only during the summer season, at temperatures between 65°F – 104°F. A standard HVAC rating, the higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the AC.

EER Rating Chart

The average EER rating falls at about 8.5. The graph below shows percentages of how much less efficient a unit with various EER ratings is. For example, a unit with an EER of 10 is 18% more efficient than one with an 8.5 rating, while a unit with an EER of 7 is 18% less efficient than average.

Benefits of High-Efficiency Portable Air Conditioners

We have highlighted several factors that you need to be aware of when choosing a portable AC for your home. Selecting the correct size AC for the area you want to be cooled is essential. Purchasing a high EER and BTU-rated unit, in keeping with the size of the area you want to be cooled, will result in a comfortable temperature that is maintained easily by the use of a remote-controlled thermostat and timer. 

The energy efficiency of the unit will surprise you at how little extra it costs to run the unit. You’ll be able to run it for longer periods during the warmer seasons.  

Other benefits include less noise, ease of installation, and the option of moving the unit from one room to another, depending on when and where it’s needed most. Finally, as we all become more environmentally aware, it’s worth it to look for a unit that complies with good environmental practices in terms of energy usage and the type of components used in the manufacturing process.

Other Tips, Tricks, and Hacks To Reduce Your AC’s Energy Usage

Here are some more tips to keep in mind.

Insulating Your Portable Air Conditioner

Weather-stripping and foam pieces are usually provided with your kit when you purchase a portable AC. These materials will reduce air gaps and warm air escaping into the room. It’s also advisable to insulate all ducting to stop up air gaps.

Setting an Optimal Temperature

An energy-efficient thermal temperature is 78°, which will keep your home cool with the least energy use. It’s also suggested to supplement cooling by using ceiling fans. Pre-set your temperature and the time for the AC to run only when necessary.

Regular Maintenance

Remove and empty the water tray regularly, and have the unit inspected and serviced by a qualified technician before the summer season begins. Replace older units with newer models, as these won’t be as efficient.

Conclusion

Important factors to consider when purchasing a portable AC, besides budget, are the size of the unit in comparison to the size of the area that needs cooling, the energy and cooling efficiency of the unit in terms of EER and BTU, and how easy it is to install.

We also suggest that you consider a unit that is remote-controlled, with programmable thermostat settings and a timer so it’s utilized efficiently.

Here’s a helpful calculator to help you size your unit. 

People Also Ask

These are some of the questions that people have asked when selecting a portable AC.

Do Portable Air Conditioners Use More Electricity Than Window Air Conditioners?

A smaller window unit will cool a space as effectively as a larger portable unit, thereby using less energy.

Do All Portable Air Conditioners Have to be Vented Out a Window?

No, if there is no suitable window, a door or sliding door will work just as well.

Are Portable Air Conditioners Expensive to Run?

Not if they have a good EER rating. The units we reviewed are all energy efficient.

How Much Does a Portable AC Increase Electric Bill?

The amount of electricity used to run a portable AC depends on various factors, in particular the EER rating of the unit and the size of the area it’s cooling. Taking steps to improve the efficiency of the unit will lower the amount of electricity used.

What is the Highest EER on a Portable Air Conditioner?

The most energy-efficient portable ACs achieve an EER rating of 12+.

How Many Watts Does a Portable Air Conditioner Use?

At full capacity, an average of 5,000 BTU AC will use 500W of energy. To calculate the amount of Watts used, you can use the AC wattage calculator by inputting the BTU of the unit you are using.

Is a Dual Hose Air Conditioner More Efficient?

Yes, it is more energy-efficient and better for cooling larger rooms. This is because there’s a designated intake hose as well as another to exhaust warm air.



My name is Bob Wells and I am a retired HVAC tech from Washington state. I am currently retired and no longer do much with HVAC, however, I feel like I have a lot of knowledge in the subject and I wanted to create a website where I could talk about what I've learned and help upcoming HVAC techs. Find more info about me and HVAC Training 101.