5 Smallest Portable Air Conditioners in 2022

Written by: Jamie

Updated on: May 23, 2022

Get a compact portable AC that doesn't skimp on important features with our top recommendations.

Compact portable ac models

Portable air conditioners are a godsend when the weather hots up, and they are perfect when you need to cool individual rooms. 

You can expect a good portable air conditioner to provide a 15 – 20-degree temperature drop providing it is sufficiently powerful for the space. 

Physical size is crucial because portable AC units move with you from room to room, so the smaller (and lighter), the better. 

This article reveals the five smallest portable air conditioners in 2022, with a handy buyer's guide to help you make sense of it all.

Let's jump in!


The Best Small Portable Air Conditioners 

Our ultimate recommendations can be seen below. We review all five models in more detail after the summary table.

The Smallest

Soleus Air 6,000 BTU

Soleus Air 6000
  • For spaces up to 200 sq. ft.
  • Tiny 12.25 x 13.25 inches footprint
  • Digital thermostat

Best Value

BLACK+DECKER 8,000 BTU

BLACK+DECKER 8000 BTU
  • For spaces up to 150 sq. ft.
  • Uses only 16.5 x 11.5 inches floor space
  • Auto drain mode





Our Top Pick


Whynter ARC-102CS

Whynter ARC-102CS

Our favorite small portable air conditioner for its refined cooling power and quiet operation, is the Whynter ARC-102CS. 


It kicks out 10,000 BTUs of cooling energy and includes an activated carbon filter to remove odors and VOCs, purifying the air you breathe. 


It removes up to 68 pints of excess moisture daily in dehumidifier mode and has auto drainage to exhaust condensate by itself.

Key Features

  • Cools spaces up to 300 sq. ft.
  • 10,000 BTUs cooling power
  • Takes up just 14.5 x 14 inches floor space
  • Digital thermostat
  • Dehumidifier
  • Auto draining mode
  • Activated carbon filter
  • Only 51 dB noise

Dimensions and Weight 

The Whynter ARC-102CS sits on castors, measuring in at 28 x 14.5 x 14 inches (H-W-D), making it shorter than the Soleus Air but wider and deeper.


It also weighs a bit more at 53 lbs. (versus 49.6 lbs.), but you get a lot more power in return!


Cooling Power

10,000 BTUs of cooling power and auto drainage make this portable air conditioner a top pick for hot and humid climates.


It's sufficient to cool a 215 sq. ft. space on low settings and will cool up to 300 sq. ft. on its higher settings. 

Whynter ARC-102CS top view


Thermostat 

The digital thermostat goes down to 62 degrees F with a maximum setting of 86 degrees F and a maximum operating temperature of 88 degrees F.


It works in Cooling mode to automatically reduce the room temperature to your setting. 


Modes and Features 

A unique feature of this portable air conditioner is patented, self-evaporating automatic drainage, which fully exhausts all condensate in environments with less than 70% humidity.  


In environments with more than 70% humidity, the remaining moisture is collected in an internal water tank for you to drain. 


There are three modes (Cooling mode, Dehumidifying mode, Fan only mode) with a mode control button built into the top of the unit alongside an LCD, a timer button, temperature controls, and a fan speed button. 


The unit is also supplied with remote control with an LCD. There are fewer modes than you get with the Soleus Air, but the unit's simplicity makes it easy to use. 

Whynter ARC-102CS side view


The Cooling mode uses 10,000 BTUs of cooling power to rapidly reduce room temperature and humidity.


The Dehumidifier mode boosts drying to 2.83 pints of moisture per hour. The Fan mode blows recycled air without reducing moisture. 


An activated carbon filter is included to remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs), odors, and other gaseous pollutants. 


You can set a timer so that the unit turns on and off at set times. The maximum noise level is a class-leading 51dB, less than the Soleus Air, which is less powerful.  


Venting and Draining

The Whynter drains itself with air evaporation, but it collects water in a tank for disposal in very humid environments. 


The unit is supplied with a window ventilation kit suitable for all sliding windows and doors, with a maximum hose length of 48". 


Warranty Details 

The Whynter ARC-102CS comes with a one-year limited components warranty and a three-year warranty on the compressor (two less than the Soleus Air). 


The warranty states household use only - commercial use will void it, and as expected, it doesn't cover damage, accidental or otherwise. 

You can find out more in the instruction manual

Pros

  • Small footprint
  • Digital thermostat
  • Auto draining
  • Quiet operation
  • Auto mode
  • Remote control

Cons

  • Only for spaces up to 200 sq. ft.
  • Only one year warranty

Bottom Line

Overall, the Whynter ARC-102CS is hard to beat when it comes to delivering clever design in a compact package.


It remains small but is full of great features that most small portable AC models lack.






The Smallest


Soleus Air 6,000 BTU 

Soleus Air 6000

The small but mighty Soleus Air packs 6,000 BTUs of cooling power into a frame just 12.25" wide.


It has a recommended coverage area of 200 sq. ft. and boasts a digital thermostat for energy efficient, automatic cooling.


If you're looking for the smallest portable air conditioner to cool a bedroom or small living space, look no further than this reliable unit. 

Key Features

  • Cools spaces up to 200 sq. ft. 
  • 6,000 BTUs cooling power
  • Takes up just 12.25 x 13.25 inches floor space
  • Digital thermostat
  • Dehumidifier

Dimensions and Weight 

Measuring 29.875 x 12.25 x 13.25 inches (H-W-D), the Soleus Air takes up hardly any floor space and is one of the lightest portable air conditioners you can buy at 49.6 lbs. It's an easy unit to carry, and it also has castors. 


Cooling Power

The Soleus Air delivers 6,000 BTUs of cooling power to cool a 200 sq. ft. space. It has an automatic mode that selects the correct power and fan speed based on the room's ambient temperature. 

Thermostat

A digital thermostat is included, operating at 61 degrees F to 88 degrees F. It automatically adjusts the air conditioner settings to achieve the desired temperature you set. 


Modes and Features 

The control panel on the top of the unit lets you cycle through Air Conditioner (Cool) mode, Dehumidifier (Dry) mode, Turbo mode, Fan-only mode, Sleep mode, and Auto mode, with LED indicators showing you what mode you are in. 


You can also use the included remote control with a handy LCD showing you the modes you are in and AC unit information. 


The Turbo function is brilliant at quickly cooling down spaces, cooling at 61°F on high for 10 minutes, and then returning to the original settings. There's also a timer. 


One of the handiest features is My Temp mode, which syncs the AC unit temperature with the remote control, so you don't need to do it twice. Parents will be pleased to know there's a child lock button on the remote control. 


The louvers on the unit are adjustable, and the air filters are reusable (pull them out and clean them whenever needed). Other than this, no maintenance is needed. 


In terms of noise levels, the Soleus Air runs at 53-55dB, the same as an electric toothbrush or a normal conversation. This is the same as the Ivation 8,500 BTU unit (see below) and is par for the course in the industry. 


Venting and Draining

The Soleus Air is supplied with a window venting kit (hose connector, hose, window kit adapter) suitable for windows and doors up to 7ft long. 


It has a 1.5L internal water tank for unevaporated air moisture. You place a pan under the drain hole and remove the drain plug to drain it. 


Warranty Details 

Soleus provides a one-year components limited warranty with this air conditioner and a five-year compressor limited warranty. 


It's as you'd expect, covering you if the unit exhibits a defect in normal use. The company will repair or replace it for free within the warranty period, but it doesn't cover damage to the unit, accidental or otherwise. 


You can find out more in the instruction manual

Pros

  • Tiny footprint
  • Digital thermostat
  • Sleep mode
  • Turbo mode
  • Auto mode
  • Remote control

Cons

  • Only for spaces up to 200 sq. ft.
  • Only one year warranty

Bottom Line

This is a fantastic small air conditioner for bedrooms and living spaces because it's powerful, quiet, and automates the cooling process. 









Best Value


BLACK+DECKER 8,000 BTU

BLACK+DECKER 8000 BTU

The cheapest portable air conditioner on our list is by no means the poorest!


The BLACK+DECKER 8,000 BTU kicks out 8,000 BTUs and cools spaces up to 150 sq. ft, making it a fantastic choice for small homes and spaces. 

Key Features

  • Cools spaces up to 150 sq. ft.
  • 8,000 BTUs cooling power
  • Takes up just 16.5 x 11.5 inches floor space
  • Accurate thermostat
  • Dehumidifier
  • 24-hour timer

Dimensions and Weight 

Measuring 26 x 16.5 x 11.5 inches (H-W-D), the BLACK+DECKER 8,000 BTU is shorter and slimmer than the Whynter but also a little wider. It weighs 52.9 lbs. and comes on castors to make wheeling it around a piece of cake. 


Cooling Power

This unit is rated to cool 150 sq ft. with 8,000 BTUs of cooling power. It's designed for smaller spaces like bedrooms with a Low mode for quiet operation. If all you want to do is cool one room, it might be all you need. 


Thermostat 

The air conditioner's thermostat ranges from 61 degrees to 88 degrees F, so it goes lower than the Whynter and as low as the Soleus (1 degree F in the case of the Soleus). An auto-fan setting syncs with the Cool mode via the thermostat. 

BLACK+DECKER dimensions


Modes and Features 

Hassle-free cooling is the aim of the game here. This unit has three modes (Cool, Dry, and Fan), with Cool mode operating in high, medium, and low. Dry mode is great for drying clothes and reducing air moisture, removing over 40 pints of moisture per day.  


Fan mode blows air without booting up the cooling system, letting you cool down with windchill. An auto mode selects the best fan speed for the temperature you set.


A 24-hour timer lets you specify when the unit turns on and off. Or you can use sleep mode to automatically boot up the air conditioner to maintain the temperature you set, cooling in 1˚F increments for the first 60 minutes.


High mode outputs 8,000 BTUs with a Max indicator on the in-built control panel and remote control. You can activate it at the press of a button. 


The remote control is easy to use with an LED display, giving you access to all controls and letting you set a timer and temperature from the remote. 


The unit produces 51dB in Sleep mode, jumping to 53dB in Max mode. This is less than the Soleus Air and as quiet as the Whynter. 


Venting and Draining

There's a condensation drain plug in the middle back of the unit; however, you probably won't use it thanks to MIST technology. 


MIST technology evaporates condensate automatically, much like the technology in the Whynter. When water drainage is needed, you can unplug the drain and collect it in a pan. 


The unit is supplied with a window kit for ventilation. 12 to 36 inches of space from the wall with a window is needed for efficient air-conditioning.


Warranty Details 

The BLACK+DECKER 8,000 BTU has a one-year warranty for labor and parts on manufacturing defects only and a five-year warranty on the compressor.


This matches the warranty duration offered by Soleus.


You can find out more in the instruction manual

Pros

  • Really narrow
  • Digital thermostat
  • Auto draining
  • Remote control
  • Dehumidifier

Cons

  • Only for spaces up to 150 sq. ft.
  • Only one year warranty

Bottom Line

Overall, this is an excellent small portable air-con unit for bedrooms, making life easier with automatic drainage and a quiet Sleep button.









The Best of the Rest


If you're still yet to be convinced then these are the models that narrowly missed out as our ultimate recommendations.



Ivation 8,500 BTU with Wi-Fi

Ivation 8500 BTU portable AC

Are you looking for a small, portable air conditioner you can control and monitor with your smartphone?

 

Look no further than the Ivation 8,500 BTU. It cools rooms up to 250 sq. ft. and banishes the need for a separate remote.


Dimensions and weight 

The Ivation 8,500 BTU measures 24.75 x 15.6 x 14.02 inches (H-W-D), making it the shortest air con unit on our list but wider and fatter than the Soleus and Whynter. 

It's the second lightest unit on our list at 46.3lbs (first place goes to the Roswell) and comes on castor wheels. 


Cooling Power

8,500 BTUs of cooling power make this portable air conditioner suitable for cooling spaces up to 250 sq. ft – perfect for open-plan living spaces. 


Thermostat 

The thermostat ranges from 60 degrees to 86 degrees F, making this the coolest air-con unit listed, pipping the BLACK+DECKER and Soleus by 1 degree F. 


Modes and Features 

The Ivation is a 3-in-1 portable air conditioner with cool, dehumidify, and fan modes. The fan has three speeds for forwarding airflow, and you can move the fins into a swing position to send air in all directions. 


The big selling point of this portable air conditioner is the Wi-Fi and smartphone app; connecting the unit to your phone lets you control it via the free My Ivation app.


You can do the following from anywhere with an internet connection:

  • Turn on/off
  • Select mode
  • Schedule programs
  • Adjust fan speed
  • Monitor conditions

It works brilliantly, and there's also an in-built control panel and included remote, giving you lots of options for controlling the unit. 


Venting and Draining

There's an internal water tank for draining water into a pan, or you can hook up a hose for continuous draining into a bucket. 

A hose and window kit is included for venting, and the hose extends up to 59", making it easy to find a good installation point. 


Warranty Details 

The Ivation 8,500 BTU has a one-year limited warranty, including the compressor (the other units on our list have a longer compressor warranty).


If there's a defect during the warranty period, Ivation will repair or replace the product at no cost. 


You can find out more with the warranty document








Rosewill 7,000 BTU

Rosewill 7000 BTU portable air con

The Rosewill 7,000 BTU is an excellent option for small open-plan living spaces, easily cooling up to 200 sq. ft.


It's shorter than the Whynter and Soleus, taking up less floor space than the Whynter and BLACK + DECKER units. 


Dimensions and Weight 

Measuring in at 27 x 13 x 12 inches (H-W-D), the Rosewill is a tallish, slender portable air conditioner, weighing in at a paltry 44lbs (the lightest on our list). 


It comes on castor wheels and sports a silver frame, a nice change from the usual white. 


Cooling Power

With 7,000 BTUs of cooling power and two fan speeds, the Rosewill delivers excellent performance in a space-saving design. It's perfect for bedrooms and small living spaces.  


Thermostat 

This air conditioner doesn't have a thermostat, so it cannot automatically adjust the temperature of the AC. 


Modes and Features 

The Roswell has a timer, fan speed selection, mode selection (Air Conditioner, Fan, Dehumidifier mode), and a sleep button.


You control it via either the control panel at the top of the device or with the included remote control. 


The remote control lacks a display readout but covers all settings. When setting a timer, it's best to use the control panel's display. 


So, what do we have? A simple portable air conditioner that works in an on/off way. It doesn't automatically adjust the fan speed to suit the room's temperature, and the best way to run it is via the timer. 


Venting and Draining

You can set up continuous drainage with the included tube for dehumidification and air conditioning.


Otherwise, it has an internal tank that needs emptying when full. The unit beeps, and a "FULL" indicator light will flash when this happens. 


A window exhaust kit is included with a sealing plate assembly, letting you use the unit with sliding doors and windows. You must maintain at least 2 feet between the unit and surrounding objects or walls.



Warranty Details 

Rosewill provides a one-year warranty on all parts and labor, and you need to register your product to qualify for the warranty. 


You can find more information in the instruction manual


The best compact portable AC units have an automatic mode via a thermostat and let you set timers to ensure they only come on at certain times. The Rosewill doesn't have an auto mode, but it does at least have a timer. 




Buyer's Guide

These are the key points to consider when buying a compact portable AC.


Choosing the Correct Portable AC Size

A portable air conditioner that is too small won't sufficiently cool your room, and one that is too big will run shorter and more numerous cycles

The cooling power of air conditioners is measured in BTUs.

What is a BTU?

A BTU refers to the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 pound of water by 1°F at sea level.

As a rule, air conditioners need approximately 20 BTUs for every square foot of living space.

So, to cool a 150 sq. ft. space, an air conditioner needs a minimum of 3,000 BTUs. 

However, the climate (heat, humidity), home insulation, room shape, unit location, and usage behavior can increase or reduce the number of BTUs you need. 

Here are a few guidelines:

  • If your ceiling is higher than ten feet, increase the BTU estimate by 10% per foot.
  • If you have thin, poorly insulated walls, increase the BTU estimate by 5%.
  • If the portable AC will operate near a wet room or other very humid space, increase the BTU estimate by 15%

Portable air conditioners are not powerful enough to cool your home, but they can cool down rooms and small open-plan living spaces. 

The minimum BTUs for a portable air conditioner is 5,000.

5,000 BTUs will comfortably cool a 150 sq. ft. space, while 6,000 BTUs will do 200 sq. ft.

For rooms and spaces over 200 sq. ft., look at portable AC units with 7,000 BTUs or more. 

Air conditioner blowing cold air


The Different Venting Options Available

Portable air conditioners require an external vent for hot air, and you can vent through a window or wall, depending on how much work you want to do. 


Venting through a wall

You can use an existing wall vent to vent your portable air conditioner. Of course, you can also create a vent by cutting a hole in the wall big enough for the hose and caulking the edges to ensure a tight seal.

Venting through a sliding doors and windows 

All portable ACs come with a window vent kit with a sealing plate assembly. You slide the window open and use the plate to feed the hose outside and seal off the window. 

The same approach works for sliding doors, although sealing the door up requires a zipper screen door seal or another airlock. 


Venting through a casement window

Casement windows are easy to vent by opening the window and feeding the vent hose outside. However, you need to seal the window with plastic; otherwise, all that cool air will escape outside, and your room will never cool down. 

If you have a fixed window, you could replace the glazing with plexiglass and cut a circular hole for the ventilation hose to feed through. 

Portable AC vented through a wall


The Different Drainage Options Available

Portable air conditioners have a condensate tank that is drained manually into a pan or continuously via a hose into a bucket (continuous drainage).  

Some portable AC units like the Whynter ARC-102CS and BLACK+DECKER 8,000 BTU have 'no drain' technology, where drainage is automatic via the exhaust pipe. 

Here are the different drainage options available:


Drain via the condensate tank into a pan

The most basic way to drain a portable air conditioner is to drain the internal tank at the rear via the plug into a pan. It can be annoying, especially when you end up spilling water on the floor, but it gets the job done quickly.


Continuous draining into a bucket or drain 

Most portable air conditioners with internal tanks that fill up let you attach a hose to the plug discharger for continuous draining. You can drain the water into a bucket or feed the pipe to a drain or downpipe. 

Some portable AC units have a condensation pump to push water through the hose for continuous drainage. Some use gravity to expel water (where water flows down out of the hose due to it being downhill).  


Automatic drainage (no drain)

No drain portable air conditioners vaporize the moisture in the air and vent it through the exhaust hose, eliminating the need to drain the tank. 

However, they usually have a backup tank if the humidity is too high. For example, the tank in the Whynter ARC-102CS fills up in environments with more than 70% humidity. You empty the backup tank by removing the plug and draining the water into a pan. 


Related: We explain how long you should expect your new AC to last for if you look after it properly.

whynter elite ac in room


The Difference Between Single and Dual Hose Models

The obvious difference between single and dual hose portable AC units is the number of hoses running out of them. But why is that? 

Single hose models draw in ambient air from a room. Dual hose models draw in air from another location, usually outside. 


Single Hose Portable AC Unit

Single hose portable air conditioners draw in ambient air from the unit body and expel it through a single hose. The technology is cheaper and makes the unit smaller, lighter, and quieter, albeit with less performance.

The downside to single AC is it creates negative air pressure by shooting out air from the room. It means warm air from other sources piles in. This reduces efficiency and limits the cooling effect, especially in closed-off areas.


Dual Hose Portable AC Unit

Dual hose models draw in air from outside, cool it, and pump it into the room while taking out heated air from the room.

This replaces warm air in the room with cool air, resolving the issue of negative air pressure caused by single AC. 

Dual hose models have another advantage - the intake cools the compressor and motor down, letting the unit work harder and enabling more cooling power. Overall, they are better at cooling large spaces down rapidly. 


Which Should You Choose?

Dual hose models are best for continual use in large open-plan living spaces, while single-hose models are ideal for occasional use in smaller spaces. 

Single hose models are cheaper and easier to install because they have one hose. Also, any outdoor odors won't be pumped into your home. 

emerson quiet kool back view


Key Features in Good Mini Portable Air Conditioner Explained

Here are the key features to look for in portable air conditioners:

  • Cooling power – this is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units). It's crucial to match your space to the right size air conditioner to cool sufficiently without excessive cycles and energy consumption. 
  • Thermostat – this communicates with the compressor and fan to automatically increase/decrease cooling power. It's an important feature if you want your portable AC to manage your room's temperature for you. It's also the most energy efficient mode to use.
  • Timer – for ensuring your portable AC only turns on when you want it to. 
  • Sleep mode – this can mean two things. It can mean the unit powers down until a timer is activated - or it refers to a 'quiet' mode that runs on reduced power at night. 
  • Self-evaporating (no drain) – self-evaporating technology vaporizes moisture in the air and expels it through the exhaust pipe, eliminating manual drainage. 
  • Wi-Fi – portable AC units with Wi-Fi have a companion app, letting you control and monitor them via your smartphone. 
  • Dehumidifier – while air conditioning cools the air, a dehumidifier extracts moisture. The two systems can run together or separately. 
  • Air filters – capture particulates (dust, microspores) in the air. The pore size of the filter determines what it can catch. 
  • Activated carbon filter - captures VOCs and odors. Only found in a few portable AC units, including the Whynter ARC-102CS.
  • Running costs – it's rare to find energy ratings on portable air conditioners because they are energy-intensive. A better way to determine running costs is to take the power draw (in kWh) and multiply it by your kWh rate. 
  • Oscillation – some portable air conditioners have vents that move side to side, cooling the room and blowing air more evenly. 
  • Warranty – the longer, the better! Most small portable AC units have a one-year parts warranty and a longer warranty of up to five years on the compressor. 



About the Author Jamie

I'm an English teacher and writer. I'm passionate about the environment and love the tiny house movement!

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