Air conditioners can be surprisingly noisy devices, but they don't have to be. We recommend the quietest portable air conditioning units on the market right now.
You'll find that most portable AC units, even when operating on the lowest fan settings, are still generating noise that falls between 60 and 70dB.
If you are not entirely sure what that translates to in actual noise, then imagine trying to have a conversation in a packed and crowded restaurant or close to a portable generator.
Thankfully, specially designed ultra quiet portable air conditioners exist that reduce that noise to a distant memory.
In today's guide, we recommend only the best silent portable AC units.
These are the models that make the least noise but can still be trusted to keep your home reliably cool.
Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we may make a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
The Quietest Portable AC - Shortlist
Take a look at how the very best quiet portable air conditioners compare in the table below.
We then discuss each of our favorite models in more detail in the following reviews.
Quietest Heat Pump
Our #1 Recommendation
Whynter Elite ARC-122DS
Emerson Quiet Kool
Ultra Quiet Portable Air Conditioner Reviews
In this section we go into more detail about each model. Find out more about the features and also what we think and why.
The two most important factors to us when compiling these recommendations were the noise level and the energy efficiency.
Here's a quick recap on how they're measured and reported in our reviews:
- The energy efficiency of an air conditioner is represented by a number called the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER). It's the ratio of power input to cooling capacity. Basically, the bigger the number the more energy efficient it is (less power is required to cool).
- The noise levels of these quieter portable AC units is measured in Decibels. 0 dBA is the quietest perceivable sound to the human ear. 50 dBA is described as like a dishwasher in the next room (source). The quietest AC that can be transported is around 52 dBA.
Our Top Pick
Whynter Elite ARC-122DS
The quietest and most energy efficient portable air conditioner around.
In our opinion, the Whynter ARC-122DS Elite is the standout moveable air conditioner when it comes to whisper quiet noise and energy efficiency.
An accurate digital thermostat and 24 hour timer allow "hands off" operation. While a built-in dehumidifier tackles excess moisture in the air.
But, let's get into the details and you can be the best judge.
This is the latest edition to Whynter's dual-hose portable air conditioner line and when you compare it to previous models such as the Whynter ARC-12SD and Whynter ARC-14SH, it has a number of advantages.
More on that in a little bit, first, let's talk details.
The Whynter ARC-122DS is a portable AC that is incredibly compact in size, measuring just 29.5 inches in height
At just 60 lbs in weight too, it's easily moved from room to room using the four smooth coasting caster wheels on the base.
What Can it Do?
There are 4 modes of operation:
- Dehumidify (up to 76 pints of moisture in 24 hours)
- Fan (3 speeds)
- Heat (only available on the heat pump version)
They can each be set to your specific schedule using the 24 hour digital timer.
The speed, temperature, and dehumidify settings can even be controlled from the comfort of your sofa with the remote control.
The most efficient way to use an air conditioner is by using a thermostat and this model has a really accurate one. With temperature options available between 61 and 89 degrees you can just set and forget.
With its dual-hose system, it's great for efficient cooling and making better use of limited space. Dual hoses basically allow it to take in more air at once, allowing it to cool at a faster rate than conventional systems.
As we touched on earlier, it's not the first Whynter model like this, but it's definitely the best.
For one thing, compared to predecessors, it has a much better EER (Energy Efficiency Rating) of 12.25, compared to the 10.9 and 11.2 of the ARC-12SD and ARC-12S respectively.
The EER is the ratio of the cooling capacity compared to the power used. The higher this ratio is, the more energy efficient a cooling system is.
This value of 12.25 EER makes this portable AC unit from Whynter both the quietest and the most energy efficient portable model we uncovered in our research.
Hassle Free Maintenance
With the ARC-122DS Elite you don't have to worry about frequent emptying. It comes with the Whynter-patented self evaporation system. This means the condensation is fully exhausted automatically with no venting required.
Actually, this model removes up to 76 pints of moisture per day when in 'dehumidify mode' so you can see why there needs to be an easy process to deal with it.
In areas of really high humidity you may need to give it a hand disposing of the moisture by emptying the upper and lower drain ports. Thankfully, this is just a matter of sliding them out and it's really easy to do.
There's also the option of attaching the hose (included) and engaging the continuous drain pump function. The hose is 16.5 feet long and can dispose of condensation in a hassle free way.
If none of these options appeals then there's also a window exhaust kit included.
According to the manufacturer's recommendation, this 12,000 BTU model can cool a room or area of as much as 400 sq. ft. in size. That makes it is perfect for apartments, small homes, offices and server rooms.
Whisper Quiet Operation
But, the real reason we recommend this portable air conditioner is the lack of noise that it emits.
We really put the work in scouring the world of portable air con to find the quietest models on offer. And this is it!
If you can find a quieter portable AC unit then we'd love to hear from you!
The key thing to remember here is that there's no such thing as a silent portable air conditioner (don't believe the marketing hype).
You will need to accept some noise.
These devices need to work very hard to do their job and the very nature of being portable means they can't be installed to fit their environment perfectly.
That being said, some models are incredibly well designed and you'll be surprised at just how little noise they make.
The Whynter ARC-122DS Elite emits just 52 dB operating at the highest fan speed setting. This is as quiet as it's going to get and it really is very little background noise.
If you've been looking for the quietest portable air conditioning unit then your search has just ended.
The Whynter Elite is a top performer full of energy saving technology.
In our eyes, the best quiet portable air conditioner available right now.
Emerson Quiet Kool
Quiet, efficient cooling for small rooms of up to 250 square feet
The Emerson Quiet Kool 8,000 BTU air conditioner is a great alternative if you need something a bit smaller.
It's got a third less cooling power than the Whynter model we just reviewed and is suited to rooms of a maximum of 250 square feet.
For the most efficient cooling, it's important to match the cooling power of your air conditioner to the size of the room.
Generating a maximum noise level of around 52 dB this is another near silent portable air conditioning system that has a price tag that belies the quality of its construction and design.
With cool, dehumidify, and fan modes it's adaptable to the current climate. The dehumidifier is pretty powerful for a small unit too. It'll remove up to 3 pints of water from the air per hour.
Precise digital temperature controls allow an ideal temperature to be selected between 62 to 86 degrees. The digital panel on the actual air con unit is water proof which is a nice touch. Otherwise, you can control the device using a remote control.
This model has a peaceful night's sleep firmly in mind. 'Sleep' mode allows a thermostat temperature to be set but ensures the fan speed never goes above low speed. This means it's always being as quiet as possible. Functionality like this make it the perfect air conditioner for the bedroom.
It emits 52 dB of noise at maximum fan speed, which is as quiet as these device get really. 52 Decibels is the quietest noise level that we have encountered with portable ACs.
During the daytime, 'Eco' mode is our mode of choice. Here, the compressor cycles off to help conserve energy, while the fan runs in the meantime. It's much like a regular thermostat controlled operation but with the added cooling of the fan circulating cool air when the compressor is off.
Another nice feature, that we feel is essential in an air conditioner is a programmable timer. The 24 hour timer allows the unit to be completely switched on or off to conserve energy.
A bonus of using a less powerful AC model is the smaller size. Measuring just 27 (height) x 17 (width) x 13 (depth) inches, they don't come much smaller than the Emerson Quiet Kool.
A consequence of having a smaller unit is the lack of options when it comers to removing the condensation that is collected by the AC. The only option here is to use the sliding window kit (included). It's easily set up and moved from window to window. There's a long 6 foot power cord for extra freedom too.
New to the updated version is WiFi controls. This allows you to monitor and control the air con using your phone. You can turn it on as you're leaving the office so you have a nice cool home to return to.
The final thing to mention is the energy efficiency rating. We set the bar really high with our previous recommendation, which has an EER of 12.
The Emerson Quiet Kool 8,000 BTU has an EER of 8.9. Now, granted that is significantly lower but there are a couple of things to note.
Firstly, this model is significantly smaller. Energy efficiency is nearly always compromised when we make appliances smaller. Sacrifices need to be made when things are made more compact. Secondly, this model is around 20% cheaper.
If you've got a particularly tight space that needs quietly cooled by a portable AC then we recommend this gem from Emerson.
Compact, quiet, and easy to use, it's hard to beat for small rooms.
Quietest Heat Pump
Delonghi Pinguino 12,500 BTU
If you need a portable AC that's quiet and that heats as well as it cools, then we introduce to you the Delonghi Pinguino!
The Delonghi Pinguino is our favorite portable air con that can provide heat on cold days too.
It does all this and only generates 53 dB of noise which is quite a feat.
Integrated WiFi controls make it one of the most user friendly models we've encountered too.
With 4 modes of operation, the Delonghi Pinguino really is built for all occasions.
- Air conditioner - 12,500 BTUs of powerful cooling can handle spaces of up to 500 square feet in size.
- Heater - a powerful heater can keep your home warm during winter weather.
- Dehumidifier - removes excess moisture from the air in humid environments.
- Fan - a 3 speed fan moves cooling air around the room.
It's the user friendly nature of the Delonghi Pinguino that really stood out for us.
If, like us, you use your cellphone far too much then you'll love the WiFi integration. Simply, connect using the Pinguino app (available on Android Play Store and Apple Store) and have full control over your AC remotely.
This is particularly useful if you have pets that you'd like to treat to some cool air while you're out at the shops or working.
Besides WiFi controls there are also digital controls on the device itself and a fully functional remote control.
It is easy to install and can be placed on both vertical sliding and double hung windows with a width of up to 38-inches.
All you need to do is click the bracket that comes with the machine into place. You don't even need to use any tools. You just connect the exhaust pipe and switch it on and it is good to go in minutes.
How does it compare to the rest?
Well, it's the both the most expensive and the most powerful model on our list.
It's also one of the most energy efficient at 11.7 EER. This level of efficiency is impressive because it heats and cools bigger spaces. Great engineering from Delonghi!
At 53 dB of noise output it's not the quietest portable air con of our recommendations but it's not far off.
If you need something quiet that heats as well as it cools then the Delonghi Pinguino is the one for you.
Great engineering makes this easy to use and powerful in action.
Recommended Reading: Don't miss our guide to the smallest mini-split AC units on the market right now!
Honeywell HL10CESWW Contempo Series
Honeywell are a company that are highly reputable and therefore, their portable ACs, like this one, the Honeywell HL10CESWW Contempo Series.
This is another air conditioner that generates a sound output of no higher than 52dB. So even though it is only capable of 10,000 BTUs, it is quieter than some of the others on our list.
As is the case with all the other air conditioners on our list, this Honeywell model will do more than just simply cool the air in a room or space with a maximum area of 350 sq. ft.
It is a three-in-one appliance and will also therefore, remove excess water from the air while cooling it and the addition of the fan means that it can help to further regulate the temperature and spread the cool air better. The dehumidifier is actually able to remove as much as 80-pints of moisture a day.
We know only too well that no-one really wants to have to spend hours on the installation of a portable air conditioner, which is another reason why we had to choose the Honeywell for our shortlist.
Similarly, to others we've discussed, there is a relatively simple installation process for this air conditioner. For one thing, it comes with a fully adjustable window bracket that can be fitted either to sliding or double-hung windows with a width of anything from 26.6 to 49.6-inches.
Neither do you have to worry about where you are going to place it because the 6-foot power cord and 4-foot vent hose allows it to be placed in the best position that suits you.
Convenience was definitely at the forefront of the designers at Honeywell with the creation of this appliance. As well as the fact that it is easy to install and functions as more than one device in relative ease, there are yet further reasons why this is the least hassle, in general.
For one thing, and this is yet another thing that it shares in common with other portable ac units, it has a special auto-evaporation system. This means, as we've explained before, that there is no water that needs to be emptied on a regular basis as it is evaporated outside of your home.
As a further convenience it also come with a remote control. Although the functionality of the remote is not particularly complex, it offers all the standard controls at the touch of a button, meaning you can adjust the AC from the comfort of your bed or without getting up from the couch.
So, how does it stack up against the rest?
According to the noise rating, pretty well. It's among the quietest of AC units on the list. Unfortunately, its energy efficiency rating is one of the worst at 8.9. The warranty ( one year) is also pretty short in comparison with the rest.
Bottom Line: At its mid-range price point it fairs pretty well. It is one of the quietest on the market, but the warranty and EER might make you want to look elsewhere.
LG are one company that have a great reputation when it comes to designing and manufacturing modern electronics and electric devices and appliances.
Although most are probably more familiar with their high definition LC televisions and mobile phones, the same qualities that make those items so special can be found in other appliances, like this LG model.
This is an air conditioner with a cooling capability of 8,000 BTUs, which means it is ideal for rooms and spaces with a maximum area of 200 sq. ft. Although this is not the biggest, it is certainly not the smallest of any of the units we have reviewed in this post. The cool air is circulated with the help of the auto-swing air vent technology.
Just like any of the other air conditioners on this list, this model from LG does not just cool air. It too also has a dehumidifying functionality. In actual fact, it can dehumidify as much as 1.8kg of moisture from the space it is setup in, every hour.
This is perfect if you have problems with dampness or mold because while it is cooling the air, it will also draw the moisture from it and reduce the spread of mildew and mold.
When power outages occur, it can be a pain, admittedly not a massive pain, but still another thing you can to do, to reset electrical and electronic appliances like air conditioners. Similarly, to others on this list though, again, the LG LP0817WSR has the ability to store the last settings that had been inputted into it at the time of the power cut.
The Automatic Restart means you don't necessarily have to rush to fiddle with it to get the same settings you had before, as it will just resume doing what it had been doing before the power went off.
When we think of portable AC units, we think about convenience. That is surely one of the key reasons why you are looking for a silent portable air conditioner. This particular model is very convenient, especially when it comes to installing it. The kit has clearly been designed with people who don't have a lot of technical knowhow and or time on their hands.
It can fit in both vertical sliding windows with a width of 18 to 50-inches and casement-style windows with a height of 18 to 50-inches.
Now the price is always something you should consider, along with all the other key aspects. You'll undoubtedly will have a budget and will want to stick to it, but you need to make sure for the price that you get exactly what you need and want.
As one of the lowest priced models on our list, this offers exceptional value for money, if you are only looking to cool and dehumidify a small area. If you are looking to cool a larger area than 200 sq. ft, you will need to buy a different one.
With everything taken into consideration, we highlighted this model for a reason. It's slick, portable, very convenient and efficient and provides you with an air conditioner that won't break the bank or give you headaches when trying to set it up.
How does it compare to the rest?
Noise-wise it's one of the louder models on our list. However, this is a compilation of the very quietest portable AC units on the market so it's doing pretty well.
The energy efficiency rating of 9 is on the lower end of our recommendations. It's the cheapest model on our list, but it's also the joint least powerful with the Emerson model.
Bottom Line: In the end, with any of the air conditioners featured in this post, you need to weigh up their pros and cons, features and price to see if they ultimately are what you need. This LGLP0817WSR may not be the most powerful, but it has enough power, is easy to setup, runs like a dream and is very inexpensive.
In our mind there's no contest really. The Whynter model is both the quietest (marginally) and the most energy efficient.
It's a great piece of technology that cools small spaces really well.
Just remember there's no such thing as a silent portable AC, just those that make less noise than others.
Our Top Pick
Whynter Elite ARC-122DS
- Less than 52 dB noise output
- Heats spaces of up to 400 square feet
- Energy efficient
Do you know the difference between single hose and dual-hose air conditioners? No? Well, hopefully by the end of this guide you will.
As energy efficiency is such a hot topic these days, we also discuss the EER or Energy Efficiency Ratio with relation to silent portable air conditioners, so you will be able to make the right buying decision that will ease your green-minded conscience.
Of course, we'll also discuss what you should be looking for when it comes to "silent" portable air conditioners.
Related: Curious how often your AC should be cycling? We explain all in our guide.
Choosing the Right Size
Having the right sized portable air conditioner can ensure that you cool the room if it's used in properly.
An air conditioner unit that is undersized for the room, won’t adequately cool it, while one that is oversized will not be able to remove sufficient humidity, meaning that the air is still very moist.
In order to find the correct air conditioner size, you need to calculate the room’s square footage by multiplying the width by the length of the room.
It is also important to know the BTU or British Thermal Unit of the air conditioner, as this indicates how much heat it will be able to remove from the room.
The general rule of thumb is that the higher the BTU rating, the larger a room the air conditioner can keep cool.
A large percentage of manufacturers often recommend the size of room a unit is suitable for, but in order to give you a good idea for the number of BTUs you require, check out the following guide:
- Rooms measuring a maximum of 200 sq. Ft – 8,000BTUs
- Rooms measuring a maximum of 300 sq. Ft – 10,000BTUs
- Rooms measuring a maximum of 400 sq. Ft – 12,000BTUs
- Rooms measuring a maximum of 600 sq. Ft – 14,000BTUs
You need to note that you should increase the power and size of the portable AC, if:
- Rooms have excessive sunlight. Then you should choose an air con unit that provides 10% more in BTUs than what you need for that room size.
- Placing a unit in the kitchen. Then you need to choose an air con unit that provides 4,000BTUs more than what you need for that room size.
- Rooms that regularly have more than 2 people in them. Then you should make sure that the air con unit provides an extra 600BTUs for each person.
On order to run an efficient cooling operation it's really important that you size your device right!
Single Hose or Dual Hose?
It is unlikely to escape your notice when looking at the various models out there that there are two different hose configurations – single hose and dual hose.
Single hose air conditioners extract warm air from a room, sending it through coils that are cooled using refrigerant.
The moisture and heated air are passed into the hose and out of the house via venting or evaporation.
This often creates what is known as negative air pressure as the air is continuously pushed outside the room. The warm, moist air is forced out and replaced with dryer, cooler air.
Resolving a negative air pressure problem is important as it will increase your home's energy efficiency.
On the plus side, single hose air con units are often quieter than dual hose systems with the exact same BTU rating.
As most dual hose air conditioners utilize compressors/internal fans, they generally produce a higher output of sound.
Dual hose portable AC units have one outtake hose and a couple of intakes. Through the intake point, the air is pulled into the unit and cooled before being sent back out again.
The machine heats up during the process and the intake pulls the air in from the outside to cool the AC down. There’s a second hose that sends the warmed air outside the home.
As a result, dual hose unit does not produce the same negative pressure on the the room like the single hose models. As it doesn’t need to work as hard when cooling it could actually be a more efficient option.
As well as being more efficient, this kind of air conditioner is likely to cool the room down 40% faster than single hose units.
What Kind of Draining is Needed?
There are generally 3 options when it comes to disposing of the moisture that is collected by a portable air conditioner. The top quality models will use all three of them.
Self evaporating systems
Automatic hose pump
Manually via a tray
You’ll find most portable units have self-evaporating systems. These recycle water condensation into the air so drainage is not necessary.
You generally won’t have to dump any of the water collected, unless you live in an area with high levels of humidity.
You might then have to empty it manually, as the compressor shuts off automatically when full. There is usually a light that indicates you need to empty the tank.
Portable units that have a condensate pump collect water in a tank and then pump this outside using a hose.
Hoses can be up to 50 feet in length so they're quite easily placed outside a window or in a sink to dispose of the excess water.
How Much Noise Does a Quiet Moveable Air Conditioner Make?
The truth is there's no such thing as a silent portable air conditioning unit like some people would like to have you believe.
You need to adjust your expectations or you're in for a big disappointment.
The fact is these devices can be quiet but they're far from silent.
Certain design concessions need to be made for an electronic device to be portable. The big concession here is that the compressor is indoors.
Unlike a traditional AC system that is installed on the wall with the compressor positioned somewhere outside, here it's all in one, in your home.
Thankfully, some clever engineering can make the buzz of the compressor sound little more than a whisper.
Quiet portable AC models are generally thought to be those that make less than 55 dBA of noise.
The quietest model we've encountered (see it here) makes less than 52 dBA of noise on the full fan setting.
To put that into perspective, 55dBA is the equivalent sound of a conversation or typing on a computer.
How Do Portable Air Conditioners Reduce Noise?
Like any air conditioner, a portable AC can be made quieter by concentrating on the two notoriously noisy components.
- The compressor
- The fan
The compressor is generally the part of an air con unit that makes the most noise. Usually, it's kept outside, but that's just not possible with a portable unit.
So how is the noise level reduced?
There are two types of compressor: there's the rotary version and the inverter.
The rotary compressor is what's used in most older AC models and also refrigerators. It's slowly being phased out as it's not as energy efficient and it's noisier.
The really low noise portable air conditoners use more modern inverter compressors. These don't just noisily switch on and off when the thermostat temperature is reached.
Instead, they modulate the compressor speed and therefore the cooling power. This is a more energy conservative and quieter method of operation.
The other noisy component in an air conditioner is the fan. By reducing the fan speed, you can massively reduce the amount of noise a portable air conditioner makes.
Therefore, some models have less powerful fans so that they can emit more desirable decibel levels.
But, you can help too!
Try running your AC on as low a fan speed as possible and on as high as temperature as you can bear (using the thermostat of course). These factors can both directly influence the noise levels that an AC emits.
By combining the quietest air conditioner with some smart thinking on your part, you can have the quietest bedroom possible!
The Energy Efficiency Ratio is used to measure how efficient a portable air con unit is. This is the ratio of the power input to the cooling capacity. Therefore, the higher this rating is, the more efficient the conditioner is.
Generally, units with EERs higher than 10 are more cost-effective and energy efficient options for cooling.
Just be aware that portable AC units are generally pretty inefficient devices. This is because they get hot but since they are located indoors (unlike conventional AC compressors), extra work must be done to push this heat outdoors through the exhaust hose.
If the exit point of the hose isn't sealed then warm air can get indoors. Also, since the compressor is located indoors it radiates heat in the room that you are trying to cool. Portable AC units must work really hard to keep a room cool!
We'd normally advise you to look for a model that has an Energy Star certificate to ensure it is top of its class for efficiency. However, as far as we're aware there aren't any portable AC units that have managed to earn one of these yet.
You see, being a portable air conditioner is a very energy intensive job and the nature of being 'portable' means allowances have to be made elsewhere.
Remote Control - this allows you to operate the air con unit from a distance. Most decent models will come with this. However, some remotes are more useful than others.
Heat Pump - some models cool and heat too.
Dehumidifier - a unit that has a dehumidifier helps to remove the dampness in the air.
Programmable Thermostat – having a programmable thermostat enables you to set your unit to a specific temperature. It will then switch off when the room is cooled to that specific level. Using an accurate thermostat is the most efficient way to cool your home.