What's the Best Small Portable Air Conditioner?

If you've got a hard-to-cool space—a workshop with no windows, a playhouse, an outbuilding, or a garage that is occasionally used for other purposes than vehicle storage—a small portable air conditioner can be a convenient solution to provide comfort and enjoyment during the use of the space. Or maybe you've got a small bedroom that, for whatever reason, doesn't lend itself to conventional heating or cooling methods. A small, quiet portable air conditioning unit can be just the thing you need. There are several models available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. If you think a portable air conditioner is right for you, then read on.

Knowing the Specifics

Small portable air conditioning units generally start at about 7,500 BTUs of capacity, and go up to around 12,000 BTUs. The smallest units are appropriate to cool spaces about 150 square feet in size, and the larger ones can handle about 350 square feet. However, you should probably not expect the level of cooling that you're accustomed to with standard window units or central systems. And the noise level of the equipment can be another important factor, especially if you're using it in a bedroom. Many users, in fact, fault portable air conditioners, small or large, on two main grounds: the lesser cooling capacity, and the noise during operation.

Some users of the Royal Sovereign ARP 1000ES, however, have rated this small portable air conditioner favorably for its quiet operation. Also, the Haier HPE07XC6 has received good notices for quietness. You also need to know, however, that small portable air conditioners tend to be a bit more expensive than window units of similar cooling capacity. You also need to realize that disposal of the condensate—the water that the unit condenses from the room air during the cooling process—is something you'll have to anticipate. Depending on the model you purchase, you'll either periodically empty a condensate tray or pass the exhaust hose through a window and allow it to empty outside.

Where to Find Them

Online sites like or can offer you a range of information and comparisons for small portable air conditioning systems. You can also visit your local rental shop to view units and gather some information about characteristics and appropriate applications.

Other Uses

Some small portable air conditioning systems not only cool, but can also be used as room dehumidifiers and also to provide heat. This can be especially helpful with rooms that are used year-round and are otherwise difficult to ventilate and maintain climate control in.