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Portable Air Conditioners: Expert and User Reviews

By: Carl Laron on June 08, 2017

In this report

Pros and Cons of Portable Air Conditioners Our Sources

Portable Air Conditioners: Ratings of Sources

Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated

ConsumerReports.org tests 11 portable air conditioners, including single- and dual-hose models, for its current report on room air conditioners. Portable air conditioners are rated on the comfort level they produce, indoor noise levels at high and low fan speeds and how well (or if) they operate under brownout conditions (when voltages are low -- a common occurrence during summer months, especially in urban areas) and start up afterwards. An overall rating is also assigned, and that can be used to compare to other portable air conditioners.

Liam McCabe and Tyler Wells Lynch, May 26, 2017

Liam McCabe and Tyler Wells Lynch at TheSweethome.com spent about 45 hours testing several portable air conditioners after narrowing down the choices through their research. New research leads them to recommend only dual-hose models. However, even then, like other experts, they opine that if it is possible to install one instead, a window air conditioner will work better, cost less, and not take up as much space.

Contributors to Amazon.com, As of June 2017

Amazon carries hundreds of different models of portable air conditioners. Many get at least some feedback, while others get hundreds of user reviews, all left by Amazon.com shoppers. While those with ample feedback struggle to get better than so-so reviews, a few get scores of 3.8 stars or higher and more than 100 reviews.

Contributors to HomeDepot.com, As of June 2017

There is a good selection of portable air conditioners available at HomeDepot.com. Most get only a handful of user reviews, others get dozens and some get hundreds. Most get so-so feedback, but a few garner ratings of 4 stars or greater following a meaningful number of reviews. However, some feedback posted here originates elsewhere, mainly manufacturer web sites, and is duplicated at other retail sites on the web.

Contributors to Air-n-Water.com, As of June 2017

This retail website carries a variety of air conditioners, including more than 50 portable units from brands like Soleus, NewAir, and Honeywell. Only a handful of models receive a significant number of reviews, however.

Contributors to Walmart.com, As of June 2017

Walmart.com sells lots of portable air conditioners as well, but we saw less feedback here than at other sites. Once again only a few models receive scores of 4-stars or more and enough reviews for that rating to be meaningful.

Contributors to LivingDirect.com, As of June 2017

LivingDirect.com, a retail website that sells appliances for the home and kitchen, carries just around 20 models of portable air conditioners. Of these, LivingDirect.com's two house brands, EdgeStar and KoldFront, get the most feedback -- and relatively good feedback compared to most other brands of portable air conditioners. However, those brands have not been tested by expert reviewers.

Contributors to Sylvane.com, As of June 2017

Of the about 80 portable air conditioners available at Sylvane.com, half a dozen have at least 10 owner reviews. Best in Class, Strong Performer and Good Value models are named, but the basis for those designations is not well explained. You can also find a buying guide and other information regarding selecting and installing a portable air conditioner.

Contributors to BestBuy.com, As of June 2017

BestBuy.com is another site where you can find reviews of portable air conditioners. It carries more than 120 models overall. As is the norm, some portable ACs get dozens of reviews, while some get little or no feedback. Review scores and totals reflect unique reviews left by BestBuy.com users; reviews from manufacturer web sites are also available in some cases, but tallied separately.

Editors of YourBestDigs.com, May 16, 2017

YourBestDigs.com analyzed 20 units, then selected four units that were tested for 100 hours (including one model that had been in use for two years). Testing is well detailed and a top pick and runners up are named.

Mary H.J. Farrell, May 3, 2017

For those without a ConsumerReports.org subscription, this article discusses the site's research and names the model that testing finds to be the top performer. That said, Mary H.J. Farrell joins other experts in saying that you should "Think of portable air conditioners as the cooling choice of last resort."

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