These days, a centralized air conditioning system is not always the best and most cost-effective choice to make when you’re looking to cool down your home. Centralized air conditioning is typically bulky, restraining, and expensive, so why not look for an alternative of the best small air conditioner?
Fortunately, small air conditioners available on the market are better than ever. Powerfully built, inexpensive, and usually portable, the best small air conditioners out there can be the solution for smaller homes, varying weather, and tight budgets.
We’ve done the homework to create the ultimate resource for buyers on the lookout for the best small air conditioners (so you don’t have to). You’ll find below our 10 favorite units as well as the pros and cons of each to make that decision-making easier.
Top 10 Best Small Air Conditioner Reviews in 2021
This list was compiled by analyzing the data of over 50 small AC units, including manufacturer information, expert reviews, and customer feedback all in the name of determining the very best small air conditioner. All units were also judged according to how well they performed in three areas: energy efficiency, safety, and functionality.
In other words, are they worth the cost and are they energy-efficient? Are they safe to use all day every day? And are they easy to use and functional? We put those results together and came up with this list of the absolute best small air conditioners that won’t let you down.
1. LG LP0817WSR Portable Air Conditioner
LG’s sleek and powerful portable air conditioner has landed itself on the very top of this list, and deservedly so. Among the smallest of the air conditioners offered by LG, this remote-controlled AC unit can still cool a room of up to 200 square feet and can be used all day without the need for draining.
Its impressive cooling ability is aided by an auto evaporation system and an auto-swing function that evenly distributes cool air to a room, which means you won’t have to worry about certain parts of the room being hotter than others.
And because it is a small portable air conditioner, it can very easily be moved to any part of the home you want to be in, from the kitchen in the morning to the bedroom at night. This LG unit also comes with three modes to suit your needs at any time of the year. The cooling mode is perfect for hot and humid days, but you can also choose the fan mode when you need air circulated or the dry mode for damp rainy days.
Its auto-swing function also means that it can keep a room at a consistent temperature for long periods of time, eliminating the need to adjust the temperature every few hours. It is truly an air conditioning system that has evolved to meet your needs at every turn, which is why it is undoubtedly the best small air conditioner (and best portable AC) available on the market.
2. Frigidaire FFRA0511R1E Mini-Compact Air Conditioner
This small but mighty AC unit may be one of the most popular air conditioning units out there because of the excellent way Frigidaire has combined effective results and good pricing in one unit. The Frigidaire FFA0511R1E can cool up a room of up to 150 sq. ft. to your desired temperature in a matter of a few short minutes and it has a 1.1 pints per hour dehumidification system.
Unlike other bigger units that can very quickly eat up the bulk of your power bill, this mini-unit boasts excellent energy ratings that won’t break the bank during the hottest days of the summer. It has a low power start-up and an easy reset system to make using this unit all day safe and efficient. This alone makes it a very worthy contender for the title of the best small air conditioner, even though it is not necessarily portable.
3. Ontel Arctic Personal Air Cooler
While it is definitely the best small air conditioner for people on a tight budget, the Ontel Arctic Personal Air Cooler also comes with a number of other features that make it an all-around great choice no matter what budget you’re on.
It may be the smallest air conditioner in the market, but that should be no reason to underestimate its powerful cooling capabilities, which is the very reason why this nifty little appliance has topped no. 3 on our comprehensive buying guide.
It can effectively cool a room of up to 45 square feet, but the Ontel Arctic Personal Air Cooler is not trying to beat out the power of your AC unit. Instead, it aims to provide an easy, portable, and small AC unit that one can take outside. So if you’re thinking about buying a fan for your cooling needs, consider instead a machine that won’t just move hot air around like this one.
The Ontel Arctic Personal Air Cooler guarantees cool, pure, and dehumidified hours for up to 8 hours. It may not be the most obvious choice, but it can certainly get the job done. That’s why it’s a crowd favorite when it comes to the best small air conditioner that is also budget-friendly.
4. Whynter ARC-14S Portable Air Conditioner
This Whynter small air conditioner has more than its fair share of awards as Good Housekeeping’s 2019 Best Overall portable air conditioner and Consumer Report’s 2019 Highest Score recipient, a crowd-favorite best small air conditioner.
That comes as no surprise to us as we have also placed this beautifully powerful Whynter ARC-14S Portable Air Conditioner quite highly as #4 on our list. Its features alone should tell you why people rate this unit so high.
This strongly built machine can cool a room of up to 500 square feet and can convert up to 101 pints per day of humid air into cold air. That means that it can cool rooms, offices, studio apartments, and even small houses under 500 s.q., more than other AC units in its range are capable of.
It is also fully automatic with an auto draining system and remote control capabilities and is proudly eco-friendly with its lead-free composition and energy efficiency. For people on the market for a small AC unit that is still portable and capable of cooling large spaces, the Whynter is undoubtedly the best small air conditioner for them because of how dependable and effective it is.
5. Honeywell MO08CESWK Compact Portable Air Conditioner
The Honeywell Compact Portable Air Conditioner is the ultimate choice for people looking for a mid-range and no-fuss portable AC that gives them exactly what they expect from a mini AC. Its simplicity in design and function is a big draw for people looking for the best small air conditioner in the 8,000 BTU range.
It is one of the smallest and lightest for that category, though it is not the smallest air conditioner in the market (see our #3 pick). Despite its size, it still packs a punch – being able to cool a room of up to 350 square feet with ease.
Despite its simple design, it has not forgotten the digital options we all need and expect from a small room air conditioner, with remote control capabilities and a digital thermostat to make controlling the appliance easier, even from across the room.
It also has an impressive auto-evaporation system that can be turned on and off. When turned off, its built-in humidifier can do up to 44 pints per day before it will need to be manually drained. Those are a lot of great features packed into this lightweight appliance. So is it the best small air conditioner at its price? Let’s take a look at its pros and cons.
6. Black + Decker BPACT08WT Portable Air Conditioner
This Black + Decker Portable Air Conditioner may be one that you already recognize if you have done substantial research on portable AC units in the past. Its sleek build, good reviews, and recognizable brand name play a part in how popular this portable AC unit is.
While not as powerful as others on this list at 8,000 BTU, the Black + Decker Portable Air Conditioner might still be the best small air conditioner for small families or individuals who just want a little more cooling power in their rooms and want a brand that they’ve known and trusted for years.
While fully portable, this mini AC can also be mounted and installed in windows and even comes with a window installation kit already included in its box. It is also fully automatic and digital, with a 24-hour timer and a sleep mode, making it perfect for anyone looking for a turn-it-on-and-leave-it kind of machine.
7. EdgeStar AP8000W Portable Air Conditioner
If you are not fussy about having the sleekest portable air conditioner, then we recommend the affordable and super energy-saving EdgeStar AP8000W Portable Air Conditioner to be your dedicated AC unit.
Able to cool a 250 sq. ft. room with ease, the EdgeStar might just be the best small air conditioner for small spaces on a budget. You can count on this small unit to keep your power bills in check.
But just because it’s affordable to use, it does not mean that the EdgeStar does not come equipped with some pretty impressive settings and digital capabilities. Fully remote controlled and with a built-in timer, the EdgeStar can be easily set up and used, even by a complete beginner to mini ACs.
8. Honeywell CS071AE Evaporative Air Cooler
We think so highly of the Honeywell portable air conditioners that they appear twice on this list. This time, we’re talking about the Honeywell CS071AE, a much smaller portable AC unit that still delivers wonderfully cool air to rooms up to 100 square feet.
Many people may find it more effective as a spot cooler that can sit on their desks or next to their bed. The best small air conditioner that is truly small and strong in its category. Though limited in its cooling capabilities, the Honeywell CS071AE is still a well-built machine with three modes (cooling, fan, dehumidifying) and a 7-liter water tank.
Is it the best small air conditioner on the market? We would say it is for someone looking for a truly small and effective air cooler that has a proven track record for quality. So if you liked the previous Honeywell model we talked about in this article, check out this smaller and more affordable unit for its pros and cons.
9. Haier Portable Electronic Air Conditioner
The Haier Portable Electronic Air Conditioner is another light but powerful small room air conditioning unit that can comfortably cool a room of 450 square feet. That’s impressive for a machine just under 28 inches tall.
That is due to its 12,000 BTU capabilities, which place it as a strong choice for large rooms, offices, and even small apartments. With a free window installation kit included and a 5 ft long hose, the Haier can be set down and used anywhere.
Fully electronic with remote control capabilities, a temperature display, and a timer, the Haier beautifully combines digital features with reasonable pricing without the hefty price tag that you may find on units with similar features. With its sleek design and powerful cooling, it is no surprise that it is considered by many as the best small air conditioner in its price range.
10. LG LP1017WSR Air Conditioner Best for Indoor
The LG LP1017WSR Portable Air Conditioner can cool a room of up to 300 square feet with a 10,000 BTU capability. With a built-in auto evaporation system, this LG unit has a 2.5 pints per hour humidifier and an auto-swing function that can keep a room cool at a consistent temperature.
It also comes with all the digital features you will need to make using this mini AC simple and convenient. A remote control function, LED display, fan speed selection, and timer all work together to make this 27-inch tall small air conditioner the best small air conditioner for people with bigger needs that an 8,000 BTU unit cannot satisfy.
Your Possible Questions, Answered
1. What is the Most Important Factor to Consider When Choosing a Small Air Conditioner?
What you are looking for will ultimately depend on your own needs and what you prioritize (for instance: price, energy-efficiency, noise, etc.). If this is your first time buying a portable air conditioner, it may help you to list down the things you want from it and organize your choices according to how closely they match that list.
But with this buying guide that we have put together, we ranked AC units based on three things that we find most important for small air conditioners: energy efficiency, safety, and functionality.
Is it cost-efficient in how it uses your power? Is it safe to use and leave on? And does it have the functions people need to make air conditioning easy? Going from a traditional central AC unit to a small portable AC may be confusing, so we find that these three basic factors can cover a whole range of concerns.
2. What Are the Benefits of Switching to a Small Air Conditioner?
Small air conditioners are ultimately the better choice when you’re looking to cool a small space like a bedroom, a small apartment, a small home, or an office. Not only does it take up less space than a central AC unit, but it can also be stored away when it is not in use, further cutting down on the space it takes up.
It can also match or even surpass the cooling power of bigger ACs while using less energy and costing you less in bills. And if you choose a small air conditioner that is portable, you can easily move the unit to where you need cool air.
3. What is the Difference Between a Single-Hose and Dual-Hose Portable AC and What Should I Get?
Going through our list, you may have noticed that some of the small ACs have single-hose designs while others have dual-hose designs. Single-hose AC units take air from inside the space, cool it, and release most of the air back into the room. The rest of that air is used to cool the inside of the machine and the resulting hot air is then released outside through the single hose.
This means that the machine will have to constantly work to “replace” the air that was taken from the room and pushed outside. On the other hand, a dual-hose AC unit has one hose to take in air from the outside that is cooled inside the machine and released in the room and another hose through which hot air and moisture is released. This means that air conditioning is done more efficiently.
But ultimately, which one is best for you will still depend on your needs. If you have a small space, then a single-hose AC will work perfectly well. But if you have a large space, then you may find better cooling results with dual-hose portable AC units.
4. How Much Power Do I Need?
The power you will need from your small room air conditioner will depend on the size of your space. We recommend choosing a unit that fits your needs exactly to find the best small air conditioner for you, instead of underestimating or overestimating the power you need from your small air conditioner.
Generally speaking, units with 8,000 BTU can cool a room of up to 200 sq. ft., 10,000 BTU units can cool a 300 sq.ft. space, 12,000 BTU units can cool a 400 sq. ft. space and 14,000 BTU units can handle spaces of 500 sq. ft.
5. Does the Size of an AC Unit Matter?
This will ultimately depend on your needs. Generally speaking, the size of a unit should not affect its performance so it will be up to you to decide if the size does not matter or if you want the smallest air conditioner in the market.
But if you have a small space, you should consider that some larger units may be difficult to store away or even move around. And if you have a large space, you may worry that portable air conditioners on the smaller side may not be able to cool your large space as fast as a bigger one might be able to.
6. Do I Need All These Extra Digital Features That Come With Small Air Conditioners?
Yes and no. While you probably will not be too negatively affected by the lack of, say, remote control or an auto-draining system, they can definitely make your life easier. For example, remote control capabilities mean that you can control your mini AC even from across the room, saving you the time and trouble of walking over to it every time you want to adjust the temperature or turn it off.
Similarly, timers, which come built-in in many units, help cut on energy use by allowing you to choose exactly when it will turn on and when it will turn off without lifting a finger. For extra digital features, the rule of thumb is to consider how often you plan to use the unit, whether it will be your primary cooling source, and whether you have the time to manually drain it.
So if it is to be your primary cooling appliance, you may want to spend a little more to get the best features. And if you do not think you will always have time to drain the machine, then an auto-evaporation system is necessary for your own safety. It will ultimately depend on you but sometimes, it can be worth it to spend a little extra on the best small air conditioner possible to make your life a little easier.