Portable Air Conditioning Units: Our Top Picks for 2024

How are you going to keep cool this summer? If you've decided upon a portable air conditioning unit, discover our top picks of models for this year on sale online, at all the best stores of course!

This year (2024) is the year when AC manufacturers have once again surpassed themselves in terms of increased efficiency; energy economy and quality build of their latest models.

While US manufacturers still lead the way in our opinion in terms of the best quality appliances you can buy, there are also some very good "close seconds" being imported with the added attraction that they come with a lower price tag.

I understand it can be a hard choice when you're faced with the two opposing options of going for a unit that is by far the best quality but expensive against a reasonably well made unit that is cheaper to buy.

So let's take a look at what's at stake here and maybe see if I can help you decide which of the two will be the best choice you can make.

Best Quality Air Conditioners

American made units are in our opinion the best choice in terms of getting a lot of cooling efficiency and running economy value for the money you'll spend to purchase them.

While you pay more at the outset, you will get better value in the long term because a quality model has a longer lifespan, better long term efficiency and lower breakdown potential than a cheaper model.

Because a good quality model is assembled with the best components (part of the reason it costs more at the outset), it will be more energy efficient for longer, saving you money on energy bills over time. This generally offsets the higher purchase price many times over during the lifetime of the appliance, effectively costing you a lot less over time.

Cheap Air Conditioners

On the other hand, there are many average quality imported models available that are a lot cheaper to buy and this can seem attractive at the outset.

The downside of saving money on purchase price is a lower quality unit that will potentially have a shorter lifespan, will not perform at its peak in the long term and will have a greater potentiality to break down or need repairing (which comes at a cost down the line).

Cheaper appliances generally tend to be less energy efficient due to the use of cheaper, lower quality components, which will cost you more overall in terms of higher energy bills for the lifetime of the unit.

Our Recommended Best Portable Air Conditioner

As portable AC models go, I have our favorites just like anyone else. The difference here is that because this is our business, I know a lot more about what goes on under the hood with these appliances than most people who are not a part of this industry.

Sure, you can do as much research as the next person and learn a lot about AC, even become an expert if you want. I applaud that because it helps us when I talk to customers who are knowledgeable about their AC.

However, I also understand that not everyone wants to learn about the box in the corner of the room that pumps our cold air, because it's just not very interesting!

So here are what I consider to be the top free standing air conditioning unit models for 2024:

Note: As a Sylvane affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Whynter ARC-14S 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner

Cool, clean air wherever you need it (up to 500sq ft) with the eco-friendly, Whynter ARC-14S dual hose portable air conditioner.

This great looking, black/gray model is highly effective at taking warm air and converting it into nice cool, fresh air and it does so quietly (max 56dBAs).

There is also the option for heat as well!

This powerful appliance is fully self-evaporating with an auto drain function that's perfect for controlling condensation without the need to empty a drip tray periodically.

As a cooler, it has three operational modes (see below) and a dual-hose venting system that's easy to install.

Features Include:

This model includes an extendable hoses (up to 60 in) plus a window kit (up to 46 in) for dual hoses. You can buy this model right now at Sylvane for a great price with free shipping by clicking the image above right.

Honeywell MM14CCS Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier & Fan

honeywell 14000 btu portable air conditioner

NOTE: Currently Out of Stock
Check back soon for an Update


Honeywell make popular AC units in a variety of power output sizes and this is the 14,000 BTU model.

I chose this model because it is powerful enough to cool fairly large rooms up to 550 sq ft effectively where smaller units may struggle. The gray/black color scheme is popular, with many customers preferring it to the more common plain white versions.

This is also a no-bucket design meaning no messing about emptying an awkward water-filled vessel as with some other brands/models. It doubles as a dehumidifier, capable of taking around 79 pints of moisture from the air per day (depending on how humid your local and indoor climate happens to be. Like many comparable models, it has three operational modes:

  1. Air Conditioner
  2. Dehumidifier
  3. Fan

Features include:

There is also the option to purchase this model with a heat pump (Model: MN14CHCS) that provides heat during the cold months of the year, making it a true all-year-rounder!

How Portable AC Works

Portable or free standing air conditioning units work in a basic sense by taking the air from a room, cooling it and then blowing hot air out of the room through an exhaust hose which is generally attached to a window.

Incidentally, this is why there can be no such thing as ventless portable air conditioners!

However, blowing that hot air outside creates negative pressure inside the room. This, in turn, tends to pull more hot air in from the outside!

The volume of air expelled is equal to the volume of air drawn in. That makes it self defeating in a way.

The portable AC is able to cool the room while the air exhausted is hotter than the warm air drawn in, creating an overall cooling effect. However, as the temperature outside increases, a small AC unit may not have a high enough BTU rating to be able to cool the air sufficiently to compensate for the hot air being drawn in.

A major difference between "window" or "mini-split" ACs and portable ACs is that window or mini-split units have their heat exchange coils located outside. They do not create negative pressure in a room.

Put simply, the cool atmosphere inside the room is not diluted by warm air being drawn in from the outside.

When there is no negative interior air pressure, no hot air gets drawn in, so the BTU rating of the unit needed to reduce the temperature in the room is lower. To ensure your free standing unit can effectively reduce the temperature inside, you should calculate the BTU rating you'll need at about 50% higher than that recommended for a window or mini-split unit.

This is important to know when choosing a free standing AC unit for the size of room you intend using it in. So for example, if a window unit rating of 8,000 BTU is recommended for your room, then you should realistically opt for a 12,000 BTU portable unit to achieve the same level of cooling.

Last Updated: March 17, 2022

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