Smallest Portable AC Units – 2021 Buyer’s Guide

| Last Updated: May 25, 2021

While installing air conditioning in your home can help keep the breezy coolness you need, it can be expensive to fit an AC unit in every room of the house. Portable air conditioning units give you the possibility of zonal cooling in your home. As you are able to move the units from room to room, you can enjoy cool, fresh air wherever you are.

However, to keep from buying anything too cumbersome or space-guzzling, it is important to consider the most effective AC units for their size. Here’s our guide to the finding the smallest portable AC units worth their salt!

Comparison of the Best Smallest Portable AC Units 

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Capable of cooling a large living space of 200-350 square feet
  • Compact design 8000 BTU portable air conditioner for effective cooling
  • Features 3 different operational modes for maximum performance and reliability
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  • 12,000 BTUs
  • Cools area up to 450 sq. ft.
  • Designed with 3 speeds for cooling and fans
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  • 8,000 BTU
  • Built-in hose storage system for easy venting
  • 3-in-1 design: dehumidification, cooling, and heating
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What to Look For in a Small AC Unit

When shopping for an AC unit, your first priority may be to find something small and portable. However, there are a range of things to consider:

Power

Power capacity is extremely important. If you select something too small, you’ll find that it won’t have the power to actually cool the room you desire. However, if you buy something with too much power, you’ll forever be turning it off to keep from freezing. This may cause a large amount of wasted energy and money.

Consider the BTU rating to understand the output power of each unit. While this may vary between manufacturers, you can also look for indications that show the square foot of cooling capacity. As a rule, you need 1800 BTUs per 100 square feet.

Portability

If you’re looking for something portable, you need to consider size. A unit too cumbersome will be a pain to transport about, especially if you’re trying to fit it into a vehicle. Equally, you need to look for a unit that isn’t too heavy, otherwise lifting it may cause injury.

Consider the features such as whether it has a carry handle or wheels, as this will make it easier to move.

Safety Features

Cooling units with overheat protection and tip-over safety measures tend to have longer lifespans.These features help to reduce the risk of fire, while protecting the components inside the unit. Especially important for those with pets and children, you must ensure you have a unit that doesn’t get too hot while in operation. Read our buyers guide for the best heater for baby room here.

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency refers to the amount of power that a unit needs to cool the room and the expense of that power. Units with good energy ratings or bearing the Energy Star seal are usually a little more expensive upfront but tend to have lower running costs as they utilize energy more efficiently.

Hose Options

When selecting an air conditioning unit, you need to consider the hose drainage. Single-hose AC units use only one hose for both the air intake and exhaust. These are less efficient as they need to work harder than dual-hose AC units. Dual-hose AC units have separate intake and exhaust hoses. These models cool ta room faster and are more energy efficient, yet tend to cost more upfront.

Condensation

The condensate type that you select for your AC unit can determine how easy it is to use. Drip air conditioning units work by allowing the waste condensate to drip into a bucket inside the unit, which then needs to be emptied when full.

Alternatively, you can have an air conditioner that doesn’t drip, instead, it releases the condensate into the room’s atmosphere. These units tend to be more popular due to ease of use.

You can also find a hybrid of the two designs that needs emptying less frequently as most of the condensate is released back into the air.

Air Filters

The filtration system in portable AC units is designed to keep out airborne particles such as dust or spores. Some models even come with built-in air purifiers. This helps reduce the humidity in the room as well as ‘conditioning’ the air for a cleaner atmosphere.

You need to clean the filters in these units to ensure that their ability to do this job effectively. Doing it once every two weeks is a good idea, as this will stop them from clogging. Blocked filters prevent the AC from cooling the air as they cannot suck in air effectively. This leads to reduced effectiveness and higher energy bills as the air conditioner works overtime in an attempt to cool the air.

Review of the Best Small Portable AC Units

Looking for the smallest portable AC unit you can find, yet worried about compromising on features and power? Take a look at our guide to see some of the best, tiny, portable AC units. We’ve given you a breakdown to point out the merits of each model and how it may work for you and your cooling requirements.

Best Overall:
SHINCO SPF2-10C

Shinco 8,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner, Built-in Compressor, with Cooler, Dehumidifier, Fan, Cools Rooms up to 200 sq.ft, Remote Control, Exhaust Hose, Complete Window Mount Exhaust Kit

PROS

  • Portable design with enhanced cooling operations
  • Very easy to use with LED display and control panel
  • Features a self-evaporative system for effective cooling
  • Installation is simple and quick without any additional tools
  • Can be installed in homes, offices, and anywhere you desire

CONS

  • Power cord is a bit short in length
  • Some users reported noisy operations

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers reflected an overwhelming response regarding the performance and reliability of this unit. A majority of users reported it as a compact unit that is capable of cooling the living space within minutes. It features a lot of other perks; however, its compact, sleek design and performance rule the others.

Why it Stands Out to Us

What strikes us about this unit is its remarkable performance and its ton of features. It features a compact design with 8000 BTU of intense power that is capable of cooling 200-350 sq. feet of living space. In addition, it features 3 different operational modes that deliver the utmost level of versatility and reliability.

Who Will Use This Most

Well, this model is perfectly designed for both commercial and public sectors. That being said, it can be used anywhere in homes, offices, bedrooms, cabins, or campers. It is super easy to operate and install, and it delivers enhanced cooling with the self-evaporative system. Also, it is capable of dehumidifying living spaces as well.

Bottom Line

Without a doubt, this is an outstanding performer when it comes to cooling. Combined with a handful of useful features, it is a superior performer than most traditional ac units. It requires minimum space and cools effectively in no time. We highly recommend that you invest in this amazing unit.

Haier Portable Electronic Air Conditioner with Remote 12,000 BTU, HPC12XCR

PROS

  • Air Dehumidifying Setting
  • Comes with all Exhaust Fittings
  • No-drip System Won’t Need Emptying
  • 24-Hour timer Allows You to Set it and Forget it
  • Three Cooling Settings forVariable Temperature Options

CONS

  • Noisy Operation
  • Narrow-Angle Remote Control is Difficult to Use

This unit cools 350-450 square feet of space using 12000 BTUs and measures 27.75 x 16.88 x 14.25 inches. It comes with a window exhaust kit and single hose and has three cooling settings and fan speeds. Features an included 24-hour timer and digital display.

Bottom Line

Though a little loud, this unit is powerful and has great convenience settings for easier operation. Simple to install, it’s a great price and has varying temperatures for a more comfortable atmosphere.

Best for the Money:
Friedrich P08S 8,000 BTU

Friedrich Zonaire P12SA Compact Portable A/C Single Hose, 12,000 BTU

PROS

  • Easy to Install
  • Very compact
  • Antimicrobial Nylon Filters Prevent Mold and Dehumidify
  • Sleep Control Setting Adjusts Temperature Incrementally While You Sleep

CONS

  • Must be Drained Frequently Due to its Size
  • Only Cools a Small Space with Only 8000 BTUs of Power

With 8000 BTUs of power, this unit offers cooling, dehumidifying, and heat settings. It features sleep control, with an outside venting system. Installation is quick and easy with snap-in hoses and 115-volt operation.

Bottom Line

A convenient, compact unit with three settings and auto mode, this little AC unit is great for portability and cooling small spaces. It needs draining frequently, but has a great sleep setting and keeps the air clean and pollutant-free.

Editor's Pick:
 Honeywell MN10CESWW

Honeywell MN10CESWW Environmental Appliance, Rooms Up To 350-450 Sq. Ft, White

PROS

  • Bucket-Less Technology
  • Set and Forget Thermostat
  • Washable Filtration System
  • Powerful Cooler Easily Cools the Stated Square Footage

CONS

  • No Wheels Makes it Hard to Move
  • Quite Heavy Compared to Other Units

Cooling 350-450 feet of space, this AC unit features 10,000 BTUs of power output. It automatically evaporates the condensate, so there is no bucket to empty, while the unit vents out a window, with included window bracket. This makes it easier to maintain and keeps the unit cleaner. It comes with a programmable thermostat and measures 29.4 x 18.1 x 15.2 inches.

Bottom Line

Though a little more difficult to move around, this bucket-less unit is easy to maintain. The easy-to-clean filtration system keeps this heater running at full power, and is very energy efficient.

Honeywell MN14CCS Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier, Fan with Remote Control & Advanced LCD Display cools Rooms Up To 550-700 Sq. Ft, Black/Silver

PROS

  • Powerful and Quiet
  • Wheels for Easy Portability
  • Washable Filters for Easy Maintenance
  • Energy-Saving Timer and Sleep Mode for Energy Efficiency

CONS

  • Single-Drain System
  • Very Heavy for a Portable AC Unit

With a maximum 14,000 BTUs of power, this single-filtration unit measures 15.7 x 16.5 x 29.3 inches. It has a built-in dehumidifier, as well as a continuous drain system for better moisture removal. It has three cooling settings, a sleep mode, a 24-hour energy saving timer, and comes with a remote control for convenient use.

Bottom Line

While heavier than other models, this AC unit has wheels to make it easier to move around. A single-hose unity, this model is quiet and relatively energy efficient, with great added features.

LG LP0817WSR 8,000 BTU, 115V Remote Control in White Portable Air Conditioner, Rooms up to 200 Square Feet (Refurbished)

PROS

  • Wheels to Make it Easy to Move
  • Swinging Air Vent Dissipates Cool Air Evenly
  • Compact Unit Dehumidifies and Cleans the Air
  • Programmable Timer for Convenient Operation

CONS

  • Tricky to Install
  • Very small with Only 8000 BTU of Power

This tiny air conditioning unit has a maximum power output of 8000 BTUs. It uses 115 volts and has a six foot power cord. With the included window installation kit, this unit is easy to install and cools up to 150 square feet, while also dehumidifying the room.

Bottom Line

A little hard to install, but once up and running this compact AC unit does a great job in small spaces. The swinging air vent gives more even air distribution, while the dehumidifier keeps the air clean and fresh.

Finding a Small AC Unit For Your Space

If you don’t have central air conditioning in your home, you might be looking for something to help break the sweaty monotony of the heat. Employing a small, portable AC unit to do the job is a great idea. Additionally, if you’re finding that the central system in your home doesn’t really do the job, purchasing a small AC unit to supplement will keep air flowing more effectively.

The excellent thing about finding small portable units is the ability to move them around. If you’re a person who works out in their garage or workshop, you may want to put use a portable unit rather than installing something more comprehensive, as you use the space less frequently. In this case, the smallest portable AC units are easy to store away.

For others, you may find you don’t have a suitable window to install air conditioning. In this case, using a small portable AC unit will suffice in place of a central system.

What Size is Considered a Small Portable Air Conditioner?

Many people view portable air conditioners as small in different ways. It depends on which factor you’re assessing for your needs. Here are some aspects that may help you determine a baseline.

Cooling Capacity

There are several BTU ranges available on the market. The most powerful ones go up as far as 24,000 for massive areas, but you could generally get away with 14,000 BTU for residential spaces. When it comes to small portable ACs, you’re looking at 8,000 BTU or lower.

Weight

Air conditioners can be extremely heavy, loading up as far as 200 lbs. Even 80 pounds is considered hefty to lift by normal standards.

Small portable air conditioners can be anywhere from 50 lbs and lower.

Floor Space

While cooling capacity relates to how much space the air conditioner can cool, these vary based on different factors.

Usually, small portable ACs can cover only small rooms, maybe even medium-sized areas if it’s an open plan under the right conditions. You’re looking at about 250 sq. ft. or lower.

Dimensions

Finally, you need to take all the dimensions into account. You might not have enough floor space to place a wide device, or you’re wanting a short air conditioner to fit under a wall shelf. While standard ACs can reach up to 35” wide, small ones are generally between 12” to 18”.

Top Portable AC Brands With Small Units

We’ve covered several brands in our reviews of the smallest portable ACs. Some of them are better known with a valuable reputation, while the others might be foreign to you. In this section, we’ll quickly cover the top three manufacturers.

Honeywell

The company started off with a bang when it invented a coal-furnace regulator as the Butz Thermo-Elec Co. in 1885. Mark Honeywell established the official Honeywell Heating Specialty Co. in 1906, which expanded into heat generators.

Since then, it’s grown in the HVAC industry to include chillers, coolers, and air conditioners. Its reputation was so huge that it provided 16,000 parts for the Moon Mission in 1969. Of course, its current product listing is slightly closer to home.

Whynter

Whynter isn’t as old as Honeywell, founded as recently as 2006 in Santa Fe Springs, California. It produces high-quality electrical appliances but has started dipping its feet in air conditioning products. 

Most of Whynter’s most popular products include ice cream makers, wine refrigerators, cigar coolers, air purifiers, fans, freezers, and dehumidifiers. It also delivers excellent air conditioners, including those of the small portable variety.

Black & Decker

Alonzo Decker and Duncan Black founded their company in 1910. What started as a small enterprise quickly shot through the roof as it broke into several industries. Some of these include power tools, hardware, home improvement, and fastening technology devices.

Today, it sells a massive variety of air conditioners, dehumidifiers, humidifiers, purifiers, and chillers. There’s a generous supply of types and sizes, including small portable ACs.

Who Should Not Buy a Small Portable AC?

Small portable air conditioners won’t suit everybody. Manufacturers designed them for a specific purpose, and they’ll not function properly in adverse conditions. Let’s take a look at when you shouldn’t buy one of these devices and what you should consider instead.

Massive Spaces

If you see a low BTU size on the air conditioner, you’ll make a mistake buying it for large rooms. While you may feel some cooling up close, it’ll be wasted on the rest of the room.

An 8,000 BTU can cover up to 250 sq. ft. Anything larger than that will need something more powerful than a small portable AC. Remember, you’re getting one to help cool your personal, small space.

Multi-Story Homes

If you live in a two-story house, there’s too much ground to cover for a small portable air conditioner. Even a medium-sized one won’t suffice. 

Most people opt for central ACs to cool as many rooms as possible simultaneously, while you can also use zone control to manage which areas need it the most.

High Humidity and Temperatures

You won’t feel any cooling from your small device when there’s excessive humidity.

The moisture in the air will be uncomfortable and warm, and the air conditioner will struggle to fight against it. It’s better to purchase a dehumidifier.

Furthermore, the AC won’t be able to help combat high temperatures. You may feel a small breeze from up close, but it’ll work extra hard for nothing. You should aim for a more powerful device that can handle hot climates.

Dust and Allergies

Dust and air pollutants can clog up a small air conditioner, even if it has a washable internal filter. It’s better to buy a purifier or a larger AC with at least three filters.

Conclusion

Finding a small portable air conditioner can help you to zonally cool your home or to supplement your central air conditioning system. While a little pricier upfront, energy efficient units tend to save you money on running costs, while also being slightly better for the environment. 

Make sure to measure the spaces you wish to cool as this will determine the BTU you need. Remember, choosing the wrong BTU can result in high energy bills as they AC unit may have to work overtime to compensate.

People Also Ask

There are always some questions in the minds of the purchaser regarding the product. These queries need to be identified and addressed as soon as possible. Therefore, to facilitate your buying process, we have devised a list of frequently asked questions for your convenience. It will save you time and money.

Is a Smaller AC Better?

It all depends on how large the room is that needs cooling. Sometimes you can get away with a small portable AC, saving your purchasing, maintenance, and electrical costs. However, if the space is too large, the temperature is too high, or the humidity levels uncomfortable, the device will work too hard and you won’t feel the effects.

How Much Space Can a Small Air Conditioner Cool?

If you buy a personal, handheld AC, it will only cool the immediate space around you. An 8,000 BTU can cover up to 250 sq. ft, while a 6,000 BTU can do up to 200. You’ll have to decide which one suits your requirements the most.

How to Drain a Portable Air Conditioner

If you want your unit to cool effectively throughout the season, you need to drain it every now and then. 

There are several ways through which you can drain a portable air conditioner. One way to drain your AC unit is by using a hose. In case your AC unit doesn’t have a hose option, you can drain it with a condensate pump.

How Many Watts Does a Portable Air Conditioner Use?

On average, a portable air conditioner uses around 800-1000 watts of power while in use. However, with the advent of modern technology, most of these units feature energy-saving mechanisms. This allows your unit to consume less power without effecting the cooling performance of the unit.

How Long Can You Run a Portable Air Conditioner?

Portable air conditioners can operate effectively as long as they are taken care of. Ideally, you would want to shut off your unit when it isn’t required. If you perform regular maintenance checks on your AC unit, there is a greater chance that it will operate longer.

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.