Are you trying to keep cool during the summer but don’t want to spend a ton of money doing it?
Would you like to find the best cheap portable air conditioner you can move from room to room without much hassle?
If so, you’ve landed on the right page.
In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about finding the best cheap portable AC unit for your home.
We’ll show you the most important things to look for when making a purchase, as well as the top cheap AC units you can buy today.
So, let’s get started!
Use these links below to jump to a specific section of the page:
- Best Cheap Portable Air Conditioners (At a Glance)
- Cheap AC Unit Buying Guide
- Why a Cheap Portable AC Unit is a Good Choice
- Important Factors to Consider in a Cheap Air Conditioner
- Comparing Cheap Portable AC Units vs Ventless AC Units
- Features to Look For in a Cheap Portable Air Conditioner
- Cheap AC Unit Reviews
- Best Cheap Portable Air Conditioners List (Products & Ratings)
- Additional Information on Cheap Air Conditioners
- Common Questions About Cheap Portable AC Units
Best Cheap Portable Air Conditioners (At a Glance)
In a hurry? Here’s a glimpse of the two cheapest portable air conditioners you can get.
You’ll find out more about these AC units in the detailed reviews and buying guide below.
LG LP0817WSR Portable Air Conditioner
Honeywell CS10XE Portable Air Conditioner
Cheap AC Unit Buying Guide
Why a Cheap Portable AC Unit is a Good Choice
The truth is everyone can benefit from having a portable air conditioning unit in their home.
Not only are they great for keeping you cool indoors, but they’re also an excellent way to cut your energy costs and save money during the hot summer months.
If you currently have a central air conditioning system in your home, then you know firsthand how expensive it is to run these units.
What makes central air conditioners so costly is that they force you to lower the temperature of the whole house (and can’t target a specific room) which wastes a lot of money on electricity.
The major benefit of owning an inexpensive portable air conditioner is that it can maintain a comfortable temperature inside the room (or rooms) you use the most.
With a cheap AC unit, you’ll cool down faster and keep certain rooms colder longer without having to fear the cost of your next utility bill.
As a comparison, a portable air conditioning unit only uses about one-eighth of the electricity that a central AC system does to cool down your home.
This equates to about $6-15 per month to run the best small AC unit versus $100-200 for central air.
Now, before you go off and just buy any affordable portable air conditioner you can find, it’s critical that you get one that suits your specific needs and space requirements.
There are several important factors to consider before making a purchase and we’ve laid them out below so you can make the best decision possible.
Important Factors to Consider in a Cheap Air Conditioner
One of the worst things you can do is purchase a new portable AC unit and then realize it doesn’t do half of the things you expected it to.
Unfortunately, not all low-cost air conditioners operate in the same way.
These appliances use a variety of methods to cool the air around you and your goal should be to find a unit that meets your expectations.
In order to ensure that your new air conditioner is something you’ll be happy with, you’ll want to keep the following list of things in mind.
The way your air conditioning unit handles condensation will play a huge role in how easy it is to use.
There are three main condensate types you have to consider when you’re shopping for a cheap portable air conditioner.
Usually, the cheaper it is, the more work you have to do to keep up with it (except for the products recommended in this guide).
- Drip AC units funnel the condensation into an attached inner bucket that you have to empty out regularly. This could get annoying if the bucket doesn’t hold much water.
- Partial drip AC units also have an internal collection bucket, but they also have an external hose. Some of the condensates drip into the bucket and the rest is filtered out through the hose that’s connected to a window. The bucket needs to be emptied periodically, but not as much as a drip only air conditioner.
- Non-drip AC units release all of their condensates directly into the surrounding air. With this type, you never have to empty anything. It’s the most convenient AC model to own.
All three of the air conditioners we reviewed below are non-drip AC units that use evaporation to get rid of condensates. This makes each one easy to maintain and use for extended periods of time.
Portable vs. Ventless Design
When you’re shopping for a portable air conditioner, you’ll find that there are actually two types:
- and Ventless
The difference between these two technologies is huge and now knowing what those are could cause you to be disappointed with your purchase.
Here’s what you need to know…
Oddly, a portable AC unit is more restrictive than you may think.
This type of air conditioner uses a hose to funnel hot air out of a room and expel it outside during the cooling process.
A “portable” AC design means that you have to place the air conditioner near a window so it has somewhere to release the hot air.
Although the unit is technically portable, the inclusion of a hose and its length limits where it can be used.
A ventless AC unit doesn’t use a hose.
The way it works to cool the air is through the process of evaporation. It’s similar to a fan but much more powerful and colder.
As hot air passes through the unit, it cools over a tank of water.
The fan then pumps the cold air out into the room.
This design makes “ventless” air conditioners fully mobile and much more portable than a “portable AC model.”
With a ventless AC unit, there are no restrictions on where you place it inside a room.
So, You Should Get a Ventless Air Conditioner Right? Maybe Not…
Now, you may be thinking, “Why would I ever buy a portable unit when a ventless air conditioner sounds like the better deal?”
Well, the humidity level of where you live can play a significant role in the type of AC you choose.
A portable air conditioner works best in humid climates because it sucks moisture out of the air to cool it down.
A ventless unit works best in dry environments because the evaporation process adds cold water vapor back into the air.
If you buy the wrong type of air conditioner for where you live, it may not cool your home down at all, or worse it could make the room feel hotter.
Ideally, you want to aim for a 50-60% relative humidity inside the home.
If it’s normally higher than that, go with a portable unit. If it’s lower, choose a ventless air conditioner.
The map below can help you quickly determine which product type is the better choice if you live in the U.S.
Comparing Cheap Portable AC Units vs Ventless AC Units
We went over a lot above, so here’s a simple chart to help you spot the differences between the two versions of air conditioners.
|Feature||Portable AC||Ventless AC|
|Ideal Humidity Level||Above 60%||Below 60%|
|Portable||Yes, but must be placed near and vented out a window||Yes, without any restrictions on placement|
|Cooling Method||Transfers hot air to the outdoors||Sucks hot air into the unit and uses evaporation to cool the air|
BTU and CFM Explained
Something you’ll notice when shopping for the best cheap portable air conditioner is that each one will use a different acronym and number to describe its power output.
You’ll see things like 8,000 BTUs and 470 CFMs.
Without getting too technical, manufacturers use the term “BTUs” to indicate how powerful a portable air conditioner model is, and “CFMs” for ventless AC units.
Just remember that the higher the BTU or CFM number is, the larger space the unit can cool.
To help avoid confusion, some manufacturers now list the maximum square footage the AC unit can effectively cool in addition to these technical numbers.
In each of our product reviews below, we’ve included the square footage rating for you so you don’t have to hunt for it.
The price for cheap portable AC units ranges between $150 to $300.
A lot of different things go into determining the unit’s final cost, but one of the most significant factors is how powerful it is.
Obviously, a portable AC unit that can cool a larger room will cost more than a unit that’s designed for a smaller space.
With cheaper products, you have to remember that you’re trading the ability to cool a large area for a more cost-effective and concentrated unit.
This means that if having a low price is your top priority, then you can’t expect it to cool down a huge basement or the entire first floor of your house.
We point this out so your expectations will be in line with what your budget can afford.
If you want something really powerful, you can find our review of the best portable AC units for every room size.
Features to Look For in a Cheap Portable Air Conditioner
Now that you know what the basic factors are you should consider in a cheap AC unit, there are a few key features you’ll also want to look for when making a final buying decision.
Automatic Drainage System
- A cheap portable air conditioner with an automatic drainage system is a great thing to have because it turns all condensation liquid into exhaust. You never have to worry about emptying out a bucket of collected water or it accidentally overflowing. All three of the products below have an automatic drainage system or use evaporation to keep them maintenance and mess-free.
- If your air conditioner comes with a built-in humidifier, it can help control humidity levels in your home. While you may not think you’d need this feature year-round, it can be beneficial in the colder months. Humid air retains more heat than dry air and a humidifier function can help keep a room much warmer during winter. Two of our top picks below double as humidifiers and the other acts as a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the air.
- If you want to set your AC to turn on and off when the room reaches a certain temperature, a programmable thermostat is a must-have feature. Some cheaper portable air conditioners cut costs by leaving this function out and it can be a real pain having to manually adjust your AC unit throughout the day. A programmable thermostat ensures that you’re always cool and comfortable.
- Having a remote for your cheap portable AC unit is another great thing to look for. It lets you adjust the temperature and switch it on and off without having to get up or touch the unit.
Cheap AC Unit Reviews
So, what are the cheapest portable air conditioners available?
That’s what we’ll cover next.
The list below will save you countless hours of research because we’ve done all of the hard work for you of narrowing down the top choices for cheap portable and ventless AC units.
No matter which model you pick, you’ll know that you’re getting the best value for your money.
Disclosure: At Home Air Quality Guides, we believe in an education-first philosophy. We never make product recommendations until after we educate our readers on what to look for in the top-performing devices and then only suggest items that meet those specific criteria. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases made through the links below. If you buy a qualifying product, you’re not charged a penny more, but we’ll get a small commission that supports our work. We hope you enjoy this free guide and find the best product for your needs through these recommendations.
Best Cheap Portable Air Conditioners List
This is considered the best cheap portable air conditioner for a variety of reasons.
For starters, it comes with an automatic evaporation system so you don’t have to worry about emptying the water collection bucket.
It’s also powered by 8,000 BTUs and can cool a room up to 200 square feet.
There are also three additional models that cover between 300 to 500 square feet if you need something a bit more powerful.
While this unit is lightweight and can easily be moved from room to room, it does use a hose to vent hot air outside.
So, you will need to use it near a window.
However, this design also means that it doubles as a dehumidifier, which makes the air feel even more comfortable when it’s running.
Our favorite feature is the programmable 24-hour timer and thermostat that lets you control the temperature even when you’re not home.
A remote control is also included.
This ventless AC unit is an amazing deal.
Not only is it lightweight and compact, but it also uses very little power to cool a room up to 100 square feet.
This makes it very cheap to operate and great for smaller rooms and personal cooling.
Since this AC unit has a ventless design, it doesn’t use a hose to expel hot air, but rather reduces temperature through water evaporation.
That means there’s no drip pan to worry about and you can place it practically anywhere to get the cooling comfort you need.
Because of its design, it also doubles as a humidifier and can be used in colder months to add moisture back into the air to help warm it up.
Something this air conditioner has that you won’t find in many other products is an Activated Carbon filter.
What that filter does is help reduce odors in the room by cleaning the air as it passes through the unit. That’s a great perk to have.
A low water alarm alerts you for when it’s time to refill the water tank and it also includes an ice compartment for cooling the air faster.
Finally, a remote control and energy-saving timer are included for those who want to enjoy the maximum convenience.
If you liked the idea of our #1 recommendation but wanted something a little cheaper, then this model is a great alternative.
It packs almost all of the same features as the LG portable AC unit in regards to the controls and air conditioning, except this model has slightly lower cooling output.
With this air conditioner, you’ll only get up to 150 square feet of coverage, not 200 sq. ft. like the LG version.
However, that’s not a big deal for anyone who wants to cool a small room, plus it can save you about $30 on the purchase.
Additional models are also available for bigger rooms if you need them.
This ventless AC unit is the next step up from our #2 review.
It includes all of the same air conditioning and control options but comes as a larger unit.
You even get the Activated Carbon filter for reducing household odors while it works.
One additional feature this model has over the smaller unit is an ice compartment.
This allows you to fill up the air conditioner with ice to blow colder air on extremely hot days.
That feature alone makes it well worth the upgrade.
It also cools rooms up to 300 square feet in size, making it perfect for medium size rooms.
Perhaps you’re looking for a small and affordable AC unit that’s best suited for personal use.
If so, this is your top choice for the cheapest portable air conditioner.
This product works by adding water to a reservoir and using it to blow cold air in your direction.
To experience even colder air, you can add ice to the compartment, even though the directions don’t specifically mention it.
The water tank gives you around eight hours of cold air on a single fill.
And, you can plug it into any standard wall outlet or USB port.
Keep in mind that this product is really designed to be a personal AC unit and covers around 45 square feet.
For the best results, you’ll want it to be between three to five feet away from you. The best placement is on a desk or table.
It doesn’t have a remote, but the push-button controls are easy to use.
Finally, this cheap portable air conditioner has three fan speeds settings so you can get the cooling just right.
Additional Information on Cheap Air Conditioners
We’ve covered a lot in this guide, and you should feel confident purchasing a portable air conditioner for your home, apartment, or office that meets your needs.
But to make this guide fully complete, we’ve included the most common questions and answers people have about these devices below.
Take a look to find information on how often you can use portable AC units, the cost for enjoying the cold air, and more.
Common Questions About Cheap Portable AC Units
Is it cheaper to run a portable air conditioner?
Yes, it’s cheaper to run a portable air conditioner than a central air conditioning system.
Portable AC units can provide spot cooling in one room versus air conditioning the entire house.
This isolated cooling method allows you to keep your central system from running too often while you get the benefits of cold air indoors where you need it.
Can you run a portable AC unit all day?
Yes, you can run a portable air conditioner all day long. But, you might not want to.
Portable AC units do use electricity to run and operating it all day will increase your electric bill.
The best way to use an air conditioner like this is only when you’re in the room to enjoy the cold air.
If you leave for an extended period of time, then you should turn the unit off to conserve energy.
Do you have to empty water from a portable air conditioner?
In most cases, you will not have to empty water from your portable air conditioner.
Most portable AC units use a condensation exhaust system to expel water vapor collected during the dehumidifying/cooling process.
But, some products do require the emptying of an internal water tank if the humidity is too high to remove through evaporation or routing a drain hose to a floor drain for continuous emptying.
Does a portable AC unit use a lot of electricity?
Most portable air conditioners use about one-eighth as much electricity as your central air conditioner.
So, they’re much cheaper to run.
Just keep in mind that the bigger the air conditioner is, the more electricity it uses to operate. Cheap AC units use the lowest amount of electricity, obviously.
Summary On the Best Cheap Portable Air Conditioners
We hope you found this guide on how to buy the best cheap portable air conditioner to be helpful.
Our goal here was to share all of the important information around cheap AC units so you can make the right decision for your house, apartment or office.
Hopefully, you found the best cheap portable AC unit for your needs on this list and will enjoy the cold air it delivers for years to come.
As you learned, you don’t have to spend much money on an air conditioner to get relief from the heat.
Especially, if you’re just trying to cool a small space or personal area.