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 cheapest portable air conditioner for your home.
If you’re on a budget or just looking for an inexpensive portable air conditioner that’s affordable, then these best cheap portable AC unit reviews can help.
Table of Contents
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Cheap Air Conditioners Reviewed in This Guide
Here’s a quick comparison chart showing the top cheap air conditioners. We’ll cover each aspect of these units in the reviews section below, but this gives you an idea of what’s available and an easy way to compare them.
|Image||Air Conditioner Details||Price|
|BLACK+DECKER BPACT10WT Portable Air Conditioner||Check Price|
|Honeywell CS10XE Portable Air Conditioner||Check Price|
|Honeywell 470-659CFM Portable Air Conditioner||Check Price|
|Arctic Air Portable Air Conditioner||Check Price|
Best Cheap Portable Air Conditioners List
This budget portable air conditioner model 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 a slightly higher cooling output.
With this air conditioner, you’ll get up to 250 square feet of coverage, not 200 sq. ft. like the LG version.
That makes it a better deal for anyone who wants to cool a medium size room. Plus it’s only about a $30 price difference.
Additional models are also available for small to large rooms if you need them.
So just choose the right size portable AC unit for your needs and cooling comfort.
This ventless AC unit is an amazing deal and is the cheapest portable air conditioner of its kind.
Not only is it lightweight and compact, but it also uses very little power to cool a room up to 175 square feet.
This makes it very cheap to operate and great for smaller rooms and personal cooling.
Since this affordable portable air conditioner unit has a ventless design, it doesn’t use a hose to expel hot air, but rather reduces temperature through water evaporation.
That means you don’t have to connect it to a window and there’s no drip pan to worry about. You can place this AC unit practically anywhere inside a room to get the cooling comfort you need.
Because of its design, this inexpensive air conditioner 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 cheap portable AC unit 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 good benefit to have for improving indoor air quality.
A low water alarm alerts you for when it’s time to refill the water tank and you can even toss a small ice pack into the container to make the air blow colder.
Finally, a remote control and energy-saving timer are included for those who want to enjoy the maximum convenience.
As you can see, this cheap air conditioner has everything you need for a small room.
This ventless AC unit is the next step up from our #2 budget air conditioner 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 and improving air quality while it works.
One additional feature that this affordable portable air conditioner 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.
This inexpensive air conditioner also cools rooms up to 300 square feet in size, making it perfect for medium size rooms in any home.
Perhaps you’re looking for a small and affordable portable 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 inexpensive portable air conditioner 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.
Cheapest Portable Air Conditioners Buying Guide
We’ve covered a lot so far in this guide, and you should feel confident purchasing a portable air conditioner for your home, apartment, or office that meets your needs.
The goal here is to save you countless hours of research because we’ve done all of the hard work for you of narrowing down the top choices for the cheapest portable AC units.
No matter which of the budget portable air conditioners you pick, you’ll know that you’re getting the best value for your money.
But to make this guide fully complete, we’ve included the most common questions and answers people have about these devices below so you know how to choose the right air conditioner.
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 than a central AC system does to cool down your home as explained in our article on how much does it cost to run a portable air conditioner.
Even the best window air conditioner costs much less to run than the most efficient HVAC units. And if you’re interested, you can view our portable air conditioner vs window unit page for a complete comparison of these devices.
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. This can then lead you to wonder, are portable air conditioners any good?
Unfortunately, not all inexpensive 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 budget 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 of the air conditioners we reviewed on this page are non-drip AC units that use evaporation to get rid of condensates. This makes each affordable portable AC unit easy to maintain and use for extended periods of time.
Portable vs Ventless Design
When you’re shopping for an inexpensive portable air conditioner, you’ll find that there are actually two air conditioner 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…
A portable AC unit is more restrictive than the name suggests.
The basics for how do portable AC units work are as follows:
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. However, there are numerous ways for venting a portable air conditioner that do not require window access, such as up a chimney, through a drop-ceiling, out a doorway, and more.
A ventless AC unit doesn’t use a hose and has no restrictions on placement.
The basics for how do ventless portable air conditioners work include:
Air is cooled 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. Plus, it’s the only type of portable air conditioner for no window.
So, Should You Get a Ventless Air Conditioner? 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 budget air conditioner 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.
When comparing portable air conditioners, just remember that the higher the BTU or CFM number is, the larger space the unit can cool.
BTU stands for British Thermal Units and it indicates the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 pound of water 1 degree Fahrenheit. This measurement applies to air conditioners as the removal of heat from a room.
CFM stands for Cubic Feet per Minute and it measures the volume of air in cubic feet for each minute it moves with the air conditioner’s fan.
To help avoid confusion, some manufacturers now list the maximum square footage the AC unit can effectively cool in addition to these technical numbers for BTU and CFM.
In each of our product reviews above, we’ve included the square footage rating for you so you don’t have to hunt for it.
As a side note, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) is an organization that tests the efficiency of air conditioners and helps to apply BTU ratings to AC units.
The Department of Energy (DOE) also calculates BTU ratings for AC units and label it as the SACC rating (Seasonally Adjusted Cooling Capacity). The SACC represents the weighted average performance of a portable air conditioner in a number of test conditions and is then adjusted to account for the effect of infiltration air and duct heat transfer. Air conditioning and humidity also play a factor.
Therefore, the DOE SACC BTU rating is usually about 50% less than the ASHRAE BTU rating. For example, ASHRAE 10,000 BTU vs DOE SACC 5,000 BTU.
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 stand up air conditioner units for every room size.
Another thing to keep in mind is that these types of air conditioners are relatively cheap to maintain and you can do a lot of portable AC repair yourself as long as you’re willing to do a little troubleshooting.
But as long as you keep up with proper portable AC maintenance, then you shouldn’t experience very many problems.
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 on an affordable portable air conditioner.
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. Most of the products reviewed above 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.
- 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.
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 affordable 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 cheapest portable air conditioner 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 a budget air conditioner to get relief from the heat.
Especially, if you’re just trying to cool a small space or personal area.
Affordable air conditioners do exist!