portable stand up air conditioner unit next to couch

If you don’t have central air and a window air conditioner is not a good option for you, then a portable stand up AC unit is what you need. Today, we’ll help you find the best stand up air conditioner for your cooling comfort and budget. Our list of air conditioners that meet the following criteria: efficient at cooling, good at cutting down on high humidity, easy to use and installation time.

What is a Portable Air Conditioner?

Before we get started, though, it’s important to understand what a portable air conditioner is and what it can be used for.

Portable air conditioners are self-contained, mobile appliances that allow you to regulate the temperature inside a single room or connected rooms without a wall between them. They are positioned on the floor, and some have wheels for easy transport.

In comparison to both wall air conditioners and window AC units, what makes a portable air conditioner unique is just that–the fact that it’s portable. This means that you don’t have to permanently install the appliance, thus enabling you to easily change the location of the stand up AC unit without having to make any structural changes to your home or carry a heavy piece of equipment around.

Some people use portable air conditioners as their main source of cooling because a central air conditioning system doesn’t exist in their house. And in many ways, these are the best small air conditioners for any room in the home.

Others, use portable AC units as a way to save money by using their central air conditioner less often and only cooling the room (or rooms) that they frequent most.

How Do Portable Air Conditioners Work?

The basics behind how do portable air conditioners work include three components: a compressor, a fan, and refrigerant. All of these components work together to pull hot air from the room into the unit, cool it down, and then circulate the cold air back into the space.

Portable air conditioners also remove excess moisture from the air and collect it in a tank or push it through a hose and out the window.

The closest type of air conditioner to a portable unit is a window air conditioner. As we discuss in our guide on portable AC vs window AC, the technical way that each unit works to cool a room is similar; how they differ is in their installation.

Portable stand up air conditioners connect to a window with a hose while window AC units are mounted directly into the window to exhaust hot air. All portable AC units come with a window venting kit for this installation.

There are some units like the best wall mounted air conditioners here, that can be installed through a wall cavity. These are more suited for permanent, year-round use.

Now there are various ways for how to vent a portable air conditioner without a window, including sliding doors, exterior facing walls, the ceiling, and even through a dryer vent. No matter which option you choose, the end result is the same: transferring hot air out of a room and moving it to another space.

Types of Stand Up Air Conditioners

When you’re shopping for a stand up air conditioner, you’ll find that come in two configurations:

  • Single exhaust hose
  • Dual hose units

Essentially, every portable AC system has to vent hot air to the outside and cool down the internal components.

Otherwise, that hot air would circulate back into the room and the unit would overheat.

Although there’s not much evidence that either type of portable AC is a better option (single hose vs dual hose), it’s still good for you to know how each model works.

That way, you can make the best decision possible for which portable air conditioner to choose.

Single Exhaust Hose AC Units

This type of portable air conditioner has one exhaust hose coming out of the back of the unit.

After the room air is pulled into the air conditioner, it flows across the internal coils to be chilled before being delivered back into the room. Some of that air is used to cool down the internal components of the portable air conditioner. After the air is used for cooling, it’s then pushed to the outdoors through a single exhaust hose.

A top benefit of using a single hose air conditioner is that these units are much easier to set up and move to other rooms of your house. And the cheapest portable air conditioners usually have one hose like this.

Dual Hose AC Units

A dual hose air conditioner has two hoses coming out of the back of the unit.

The first hose on a portable air cooler is used to draw outdoor air into the unit to cool down the internal compressor and condenser coils. The second hose in a dual hose system is an exhaust hose. Its purpose is to send the air that’s been used to cool down the portable AC unit to the outside.

The top benefit of using a dual hose air conditioner is that these units can cool down a large room much quicker because the design is more efficient. With two hoses, these types of portable ACs don’t have to work as hard as single exhaust hose units.

Portable Air Conditioners & Dehumidification

When you’re buying a stand up air conditioner, another thing you need to be aware of is dehumidification.

Dehumidification is the process where a portable air conditioner removes moisture from the air, thereby lessening humidity to make you feel cooler.

When dehumidifying, most portable air conditioners tend to collect this water vapor on its coils and depending on the unit you choose, the water can be removed in one of three ways:

  • By dumping out a collection bucket
  • Routing an attached tube to a floor drain
  • Automatic self-evaporation which removes the collected moisture for you

If this process of portable air conditioner maintenance concerns you, keep this information in mind when selecting a portable AC unit.

The automatic self-evaporation method would probably be the best type for your needs and it’s available on the best standing air conditioners reviewed on this page.

As a side note, there are continuous dehumidifying air conditioners called mini split air conditioners; however, these units are installed in two separate parts: an outside compressor and an indoor evaporator. Mini splits are much more expensive to buy and install but do provide the most hassle-free and constant dehumidification.

Features to Look for in the Best Stand Up AC Units

Now before you go off and buy the best portable air conditioner with the highest reviews, we recommend that you consider these top features below.

The trick for how to choose an air conditioner that’s right for you, is to pick a unit that includes the right modes and controls that can best serve your cooling needs well into the future.

Dehumidifier Mode

Sometimes it’s not the indoor temperature that’s making you feel hot but the humidity that’s in the air. And, picking a portable air conditioner with a dehumidifier mode will remove moisture from the air. Thus, you and the room air will feel cooler without lower energy costs. Some portable ACs are so effective that they can extract up to 100 pints of water out of the air per day.

Heat Mode

If you’re investing in a portable floor AC unit for the long-term, why not get one that also includes a heating function? That way, you can use the AC unit all year round. Having a heat mode means that your portable AC can deliver warm heat in the winter and cool air conditioning in the summer.

Sleep or Night Mode

These modes automatically adjust your portable air conditioner to a quiet setting so you can enjoy a more peaceful sleep. They also adapt the temperature setting so the room doesn’t get overly hot or freezing cold.

Remote Control

Not all portable AC units include a remote control, so if you want to be able to operate the air conditioner from the couch or your bed, look for this feature.

Smart Wi-Fi Control

Similar to a remote, not all portable ACs have smart Wi-Fi controls. If you want to operate the air conditioner from your smartphone or other mobile device, then a portable AC unit with smart Wi-Fi capabilities is a must-have feature. 

Timer Function

This is a useful setting you want to set your portable air conditioner up to automatically go off after a set number of hours. Many portable air coolers feature a 24-hour countdown clock regardless if it comes with a remote or has smart enabled features.

What Are the Benefits of Portable Air Conditioners?

If you’re wondering are portable air conditioners worth it, the fact is that these units offer many advantages for home cooling.

Here are just a few of the benefits of freestanding air conditioners:

  • Easy to move from room to room
  • Easy to install on your own
  • Cheaper than a central air conditioning unit
  • Small and compact
  • Can be used in rental homes/apartments without landlord concerns

What to Know About Air Contioning BTU

BTU stands for British Thermal Unit and it’s the standard unit of measurement for air conditioners.

Technically speaking, BTU is the amount of thermal energy needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.

In the HVAC industry, BTUs also measure the quantity of heat an air conditioning unit can remove from a room per hour. When you’re dealing with portable ACs or window ACs, the more BTUs there are, the large a room those units can cool.

Higher BTUs also means a higher price for the product since more energy is required for more powerful cooling.

How Many BTUs Do You Need to Cool a Room?

When you’re comparing portable AC units it’s best to choose a model that meets the demands of the room you’re going to use it in. And this is a prime factor for how much does it cost to run a portable air conditioner.

To pick the most appropriate portable air conditioner for your cooling needs, you’ll want to match the British Thermal Unit (BTU) to the total square footage of the room. Doing this will also ensure that you don’t spend too much money on the electricity use of the air conditioner.

While that may seem like a hard thing to figure out, it’s actually quite easy. To get the square footage of a room, all you need to do is measure the width (in feet) and multiply it by the length (in feet). Multiplying those two numbers gives you the square feet you need to match up to a particular BTU size. For example, a 20′ x 30′ room = 600 square feet.

With that number in hand, you can find a portable AC unit with the right BTU rating that can handle that amount of space. To make that process simple for you, here’s an easy to read chart that takes all of the confusion out of it.

Room Area To Be Cooled BTU Capacity Needed
up to 250 sq. ft. 6,000 BTU
up to 350 sq. ft. 8,000 BTU
350 to 400 sq. ft. 9,000 BTU
400 to 450 sq. ft. 10,000 BTU
450 to 550 sq. ft. 12,000 BTU
550 to 700 sq. ft. 14,000 BTU

Note: Some portable AC units may cool more or less than the room size listed above. So, check the technical specifications to be sure. This chart is just a general guide.

BTU Ratings: ASHRAE vs DOE Ratings

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) is an organization that tests the efficiency of air conditioners and it has been helping to measure BTU ratings on all types of air conditioning since 1959.

ASHRAE reflects the old testing standards when portable AC units were tested in the same way as window AC units. The BTU rating here refers to the technical amount of energy that’s required to remove heat from a room as opposed to the actual efficiency experienced by the user.

The Department of Energy (DOE) is the new standard for testing stand up AC units. The DOE found inefficiencies specific to the portable air conditioners that resulted in the units being less efficient than the ASHRAE BTU measurement.

Therefore, the DOE BTU rating should be considered when buying a new standing air conditioner as it better represents the total room size coverage of the unit as experienced by the user.

The DOE developed the Seasonally Adjusted Cooling Capacity (SACC) that accounts for the inefficiencies of portable air conditioners. And the SACC is usually 50-60% lower than the ASHRAE BTU rating.

Examples of ASHRAE vs SACC include:

  • 14,000 ASHRAE = 7,500 SACC
  • 12,000 ASHRAE = 6,500 SACC
  • 10,000 ASHRAE = 6,000 SACC
  • 8,000 ASHRAE = 4,500 SACC
  • 6,000 ASHRAE = 3,000 SACC

As of today, not all stand up AC units list the SACC rating. If only one BTU rating is given, then it’s probably the ASHRAE rating.

However, some of the top portable air conditioner manufacturers do list both the ASHRAE and SACC ratings on their portable air conditioners.

But if you don’t see two numbers listed, then it’s safe to assume that it’s the ASHRAE rating being displayed, and you can just cut it in half to get the average SACC rating for the unit.

Overview: Portable Stand Up Air Conditioners

ImageAir Conditioner DetailsPrice
hOmeLabs Portable Air Conditioner
  • Best quiet portable air conditioner for large rooms
  • Single hose design
  • 12,000 BTU
  • Covers 450 sq. ft.
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Honeywell HL09CESWK Portable Air Conditioner
  • Best stand up AC unit for medium rooms
  • Single hose design
  • 9,000 BTU
  • Covers 400 sq. ft.
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Whynter Elite ARC-122DHP Portable Air Conditioner
  • Best portable air conditioner and heater combo
  • Dual hose design
  • 12,000 BTU
  • Covers 400 sq. ft.
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Whynter ARC-14S Portable Air Conditioner
  • Best overall standing air conditioner
  • Dual hose design
  • 14,000 BTU
  • Covers 500 sq. ft.
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Honeywell HL14CESWB Portable Air Conditioner
  • Best standing air conditioner for large rooms
  • Single hose design
  • 14,000 BTU
  • Covers 700 sq. ft.
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Frigidaire Cool Connect Portable Air Conditioner
  • Best smart portable air conditioner
  • Single hose design
  • 12,000 BTU
  • Covers 550 sq. ft.
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RolliCool COOL100H-20 Portable Air Conditioner
  • Best portable air conditioner with dehumidifier for large rooms
  • Single hose design
  • 14,000 BTU
  • Covers 375 sq. ft.
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Honeywell MN10CESWW Portable Air Conditioner
  • Best portable air conditioner for bedroom
  • Single hose design
  • 10,000 BTU
  • Covers 350 sq. ft.
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Haier HPP08XCR Portable Air Conditioner
  • Best small stand up air conditioner
  • Single hose design
  • 8,000 BTU
  • Covers 250 sq. ft.
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Most portable AC units are similar and many brands claim to be the best standing air conditioners on the market, which can make it hard to know which stand up air conditioner to choose,” says Patrick Holmes, Senior Air Quality & Comfort Specialist at Home Air Guides. “So we made the most detailed list of freestanding air conditioners that meet the following criteria: efficient at cooling, good at cutting down on high humidity, easy to use, and install.”

Best Portable Stand Up Air Conditioner Reviews

Whynter ARC-14S Portable Air Conditioner

Whynter ARC-14S: Best Overall Standing Air Conditioner

If you want an award-winning and stylish portable AC unit that covers a lot of space, then you’ve found it right here.

This top portable AC unit is also one of the best looking indoor air conditioners you can buy that handles large rooms up to 500 sq. ft. It’s a dual hose unit that has 14,000 BTUs of power.

With it, you can cool large living rooms, basements and multiple connected rooms on a single level floor. You’ll also get a wide range of temperature settings, three cooling speeds, a 24-hour timer, a remote and a digital display.

It also includes an Activated Carbon air filter that works to purify the air. This special feature leaves your home smelling fresh and clean in addition to pumping out cold air. This floor AC unit is outfitted with a self-evaporative dehumidifier that removes up to 71 pints of moisture per day. It automatically exhausts the condensation for you so you don’t have to empty a water bucket.

There’s not much else you can ask for in the best standing air conditioner unit.

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Whynter Elite ARC-122DHP

Whynter Elite ARC-122DHP: Best Portable Air Conditioner and Heater Combo

The Whyner Elite is another one of our top picks.

For starters, it has four operation modes:

  • Air conditioning
  • Fan only
  • Dehumidifier
  • Heat

Those settings allow you to use this indoor air conditioner all year round to not only cool but also heat up your rooms.

It’s also good for medium to large rooms up to 400 sq. ft., which includes living rooms, basements, big bedrooms, etc. It’s a dual hose unit that has 12,000 BTUs of power. It can extract 76 pints per day of moisture from the air, too.

If you want a model that can be used year-round, this may be the best standing air conditioner unit for you.

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Frigidaire Cool Connect

Frigidaire Cool Connect: Best Smart Portable Air Conditioner

The Frigidaire Cool Connect is one of the best portable air conditioners for a handful of reasons.

It’s a single exhaust hose unit, covers 550 square feet and has 12,000 BTUs of power — and better yet, you can control it from your smartphone and set up personalized cooling schedules.

Better yet, it’s compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, so you can control it with your voice too.

The 360-degree air cooling design also helps distribute cool air more evenly by sending it upward. This advanced feature cools a room down much better than other portable ACs that just push the air out horizontally.

As for other useful benefits, this top rated portable air conditioner includes:

  • 3 fan speeds
  • 24-hour on/off timer
  • Auto cool function
  • Energy Saver mode
  • Sleep mode
  • Dry mode (i.e. dehumidifier)

That said, if you’re looking for something similar but a bit more budget-friendly, we recommend looking into the. also a Frigidaire Cool Connect 10,000 BTU version.

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Honeywell MN10CESWW

Honeywell MN10CESWW: Best Portable Air Conditioner for Bedroom

If you’re trying to cool a bedroom in your home or apartment, the Honeywell MN10CESWW is the best portable AC unit for that purpose.

It’s very quiet and depending on the fan speed setting you choose, the noise level is between 51 to 54 decibels. It’s a single exhaust hose unit, covering 350 square feet and has 10,000 BTUs of power.

Another reason it’s one of the best portable air conditioners for bedrooms is that you can choose between three operational modes:

  • Air conditioning
  • Fan only
  • Dehumidifier

With these features, you can find the perfect comfort level for a good night’s rest.

This indoor air conditioner also comes with an easy to use remote control so you can make adjustments right from your bed. And finally, the self-evaporation dehumidifier system removes 2.75 pints per hour of moisture with a bucketless design.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Honeywell HF0CESWK6 is also available if you want a two-toned black and white version.

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hOmeLabs AC Unit

hOmeLabs AC Unit: Best Quiet Portable Air Conditioner for Large Rooms

If you want a quiet unit that can be used in a large room, look no further than the hOmeLabs AC unit.

It’s the best quietest portable air conditioner that’s made for large rooms up to 450 sq. ft., such as a living room, office space, basement, workshop, etc. This means it has a more energy-efficient AC system as well. It’s a single exhaust hose unit with 12,000 BTUs of power.

The automatic vertical swinging air outlet distributes cool air more evenly throughout the room too.

And it includes three cooling modes:

  • Air conditioning
  • Fan only
  • Dehumidifier

The dehumidifier function can remove up to 100 pints per day of moisture, but keep in mind that this unit only self evaporates in AC mode.

When you run the dehumidify mode, you’ll have to attach the included drain hose to get rid of the collected water. That’s because this portable air cooler doesn’t have a built-in reservoir tank.

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Honeywell HL09CESWK

Honeywell HL09CESWK: Best Stand Up AC Unit for Medium Rooms

This is another good portable air conditioner if you want something that’s a bit more affordable to cool a larger single room.

This floor AC unit covers up to 400 sq. ft. and includes a vertical wind motion feature to distribute cool air more evenly and faster inside the room. It has 9,000 BTUs of power and is a single exhaust hose unit.

The added advantage that this model has over the last portable air conditioner review is that it has an auto evaporating dehumidifier which makes manual draining unnecessary.

That’s a good feature to have since this air conditioner can remove up to 80 pints per day of moisture.

A few other notable benefits of the best stand up AC unit include:

  • 3 fan speeds
  • 24-hour timer
  • Digital controls
  • Remote control
  • Wide range of temperature settings

Something else that makes this one of the top portable air conditioners you can choose is that it comes in three color options:

  • White
  • White and black
  • White and blue

That means you can pick the best standing air conditioner that matches the existing decor in a single room of your home, office, or apartment.

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RolliCool COOL100H-20 Portable Air Conditioner

RolliCool COOL100H-20: Best Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier for Large Rooms

This best portable air conditioner unit from RolliCool has it all. With it, you’ll get:

  • Voice control with Amazon Alexa
  • Wi-Fi control with a mobile app
  • Air conditioning mode
  • Fan only mode
  • Dehumidifier mode
  • Sleep mode
  • 3 fan speed settings
  • Digital display
  • Washable air filter

No doubt, this is the most advanced portable AC unit for large rooms you can choose today.

This indoor air conditioner is energy efficient and quiet, with the maximum noise level at 56 decibels on the highest speed setting. As for the dehumidifier mode, it can remove up to 148 pints per day of moisture to make large rooms feel comfortable and less muggy.

It’s a single exhaust hose unit with 14,000 BTUs of power that covers 375 square feet.

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8. Honeywell HL14CESWB: Best Standing Air Conditioner for Large Rooms

If you need one of the most powerful portable ACs available for very large rooms, the Honeywell HL14CESWB is the one to buy.

This is the best stand up air conditioner with the most amount of cooling power available. It covers the largest rooms up to 700 sq. ft, and has 14,000 BTUs of power. It’s a single exhaust hose uint. 

It’s good for large basements, open concept living areas, office spaces and more. This portable air cooler is also outfitted with a single exhaust hose design, so you can more easily move it between rooms if you ever need to.

With this top rated portable air conditioner, you get stress free and easy self-evaporation with the dehumidifier function that removes up to 111 pints per day—more than any other product on this list.

Automatic vertical air output helps distribute cool air more evenly and fast in large rooms. Plus, it includes a set of air purifying filters to remove harmful pollutants from the air around you.

Finally, this top portable air conditioner has all of the standard features you’d expect on a unit this powerful:

  • 3 fan speeds
  • Digital controls and display
  • Remote
  • Incremental temperature settings
  • 24-hour timer
  • Comes in three stylish colors: pure white, white and black, or white and blue

This unit does tend to sell out quickly, so if you can’t get your hand on it then you may want to consider the Honeywell HJ4CESWK9. It’s just as powerful but has a more rectangular design.

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Haier HPP08XCR: Best Small Stand Up Air Conditioner

Haier HPP08XCR Air Conditioner

If you’re looking for the best stand up air conditioner for a small room, the Haier HPP08XCR is our top pick.

This floor AC unit is perfect for small bedrooms, dens, and home offices because of the low noise level and energy efficiency. It’s a single exhaust hose unit with 8,000 BTUs of power, and covers up to 250 square feet.

It also has all of the top features you need in a small portable AC unit:

  • 2 fan speeds (high and low)
  • 3 cooling settings (air conditioning, fan only, and dehumidifier)
  • Precise temperature settings
  • Sleep mode for quiet operation
  • 24-hour timer
  • Easy to use remote control

As for the dehumidifier setting, it can remove up to 3.6 pints per hour and has a self-evaporation design.

That means this freestanding air conditioner can dehumidify a 250 sq. ft. room to make it feel much cooler and get rid of the collected moisture automatically for you.

Many other models at this price level require you to empty a water collection bucket.

If you want a good air conditioner that’s affordable and efficient, this is the top portable air conditioner in its class.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are stand up AC units any good?

Yes, portable AC units are good appliances for cooling a room. Portable air conditioners are energy efficient devices that draw hot air out of a room and expel it outdoors.

What makes portable AC units good for people is the fact that these models are easy to move from room to room and don’t require much set up to get running. These ACs also provide excellent cooling for a low price when compared to HVAC systems (see what does HVAC stand for if you’re unaware of this term).

Additionally, people who don’t want to deal with the inconveniences of a window air conditioner highly appreciate a good stand up AC unit. But if you could go either way, then you may want to check out our guide on the best window air conditioner brands.

Do all freestanding portable air conditioners have to be vented out a window?

Portable air conditioners must be vented out a window or through another method. Some other options are to vent a portable AC unit out a door, through a wall, or ceiling. It’s necessary to vent portable air conditioners because they extract hot room air. If you want the AC system to cool the room effectively, you need to let the hot air vent to the outside.

What’s better: window or portable AC?

When deciding between a portable AC or a window AC, the better option depends on your particular needs.

As for cooling capacity and efficiency, both window and portable ACs deliver similar results. Most people choose a portable AC unit because it’s easier to install, doesn’t take up as much window space, and can be moved between rooms.

Can you use a portable air conditioner in a room with no windows?

Yes, you can use a portable air conditioner in a room without any windows, but you’ll have to get creative with the installation. All AC systems need to release heat somewhere and a window is the most convenient place to do it.

However, you can also vent a portable air conditioner out an exterior wall, through the ceiling, into another room through a door, or into an existing dryer vent outlet.

Do you have to empty water from a portable air conditioner?

In most cases, you will not have to empty water from a portable air conditioner. Many standing air conditioner units come with self-evaporative dehumidifiers that wick moisture away as it’s pulled out of the air.

However, not all models include this top feature, so make sure to look for it when choosing a top rated portable air conditioner.

When that feature is not available, you’ll need to drain an internal water tank or connect a drain hose that sends the water to a floor drain or outside.

When it comes to humidity and air conditioning, the removal of excess moisture in the air is important as it can help make a room feel cooler. Therefore, it’s best to buy a stand up air conditioner that includes a dehumidifying function. In some cases, just running the unit in the dehumidification mode can be enough to make the air feel pleasant.

How do I fix a portable air conditioner?

If you ever have trouble with your AC unit, then you can check out our portable air conditioner repair guide. It lists the most common problems and solutions for fixing even the best portable AC unit.

Bottom Line

There are many best portable air conditioner models to choose between. And the top stand up AC unit for your needs will depend on the various features you want it to include and the total room size you need to cover.