Portable Air Conditioner Buyer’s Guide 2020 & Easy BTU Calculator






Budget Pick

Black + Decker BPACT08WT

 A great price while still packing a good punch makes the B&D model our budget pick for this year


Best silent Portable AC

Honeywell HL10CES

 The Honeywell model is our bedroom pick with a noise level of only 45 DB in sleep mode,

Beste High BTU Portable AC

Whynter ARC-14SH

 The most powerful consumer portable AC in the US. 14,000 BTU makes this AC very suitable for larger rooms and offices

Best Energy efficient portable AC

Whynter Elite ARC-122DS

 An EER of 12 makes the Whynter model the most energy efficient portable AC we have seen in 2019






Budget Pick

Jack Stonehouse Air Conditioner

 A basic model for a great price, The Jack Stonehouse model is one of the most popular AC's in the UK

Best silent Portable AC

DeLonghi AN 112 Silent

 Designed to be silent! The AN 112 is the quietest AC we've seen in 2019

Beste High BTU Portable AC

Modern Life 16000

An absolute unit of an airconditioner! 16.000 BTU makes this AC compatible for rooms up to a 100 m3

Best Energy efficient portable AC

DeLonghi PAC EX100 Silent

 The "greenest" airconditioner for sale in Europe. The EX100 is the best buy for long term usage.

Welcome to MobielAirco.com!
This website is Dutch from origin, but we have translated this popular page for our US and UK visitors.

If you have landed on this website then you’re probably considering to purchase a portable or mobile AC. You also might know by now that a split unit or window unit will be more effective but are too pricey, don’t fit, or are simply not an option in a rented house.

Next, some other questions might raise like: Do mobile units break easily? How much power will the unit consume? What are the costs involved? How much cooling power does my room require?

These questions and more will be answered in this buyer’s guide. We will provide an overview of the best portable AC units in several categories, answer several frequently asked questions, and provide you with tips and tricks for general usage.


What to take into consideration before buying

You should pay attention to several factors when purchasing a mobile air conditioning unit. In our opinion, the most important are: Price, cooling capacity and noise. These are all related to each other. If you want more power or less sound, then the price will go up, and vice versa.

Other important things to consider are energy efficiency, remote or app control, different modes like sleep mode, dehumidifiers and air filters, the exhaust hose, and last but not least: the window seal/vent kit

Cooling capacity / capability (BTU)

Cooling capacity is usually measured in KW (Kilowatt) or BTU (British Thermal Unit). This number will accurately describe how effective the air conditioner is in cooling your room space. Other than technical specifications, its also important to know how well your space is isolated and other factors that might increase the amount of BTU you require to cool your room. Factors like double/single windows, big windows, electric devices and the number of persons in the room will all increase the required cooling capacity of your device.

To calculate the amount of BTU, you first need to know the volume of the room you’d like to cool, in cubic feet (or meters for the UK). To get to that number, simply multiply the width, length, and height of the room.

With the cubic feet calculated, you can use a complex formula to calculate to BTU. But to make your life a bit easier, you can use the calculator below to do the hard work for you!

Easy BTU Calculator for air conditioners

[tabby title=”BTU Calculator US”]
[tabby title=”BTU Calculator UK”]


Price is obviously a very important consideration to make. Prices start around 200 pounds, but you have to ask yourself if you’re getting plenty of BTU and a nice noise level for that price. AC’s in that price range might be from an unknown brand, which might give you warranty issues in the future.
On the other hand, there are also very pricey ACs up to a thousand USD. These might just add more flair or have a cool design but might have the same or worse capacity compared to much cheaper models.
Always make sure to consult plenty of reviews and do your own research!


How much an AC’s noise will bother you is subjective, but know that they will always at least make a bit of sound. This makes it hard to do a proper review of an air conditioner’s noise level, as one can only state facts like “This AC has a loudness of 62db, measured from one-meter distance” or “Out of 5 air conditioners we have tested, AC number 3 is the most silent”. One other feature that might help, especially when using an AC in the bedroom, is a “sleep mode”. This is not a functionality similarly to computers where the AC turns off completely, but a mode where the air conditioner will be the most silent it possible can be, while still cooling the room. We will definitely take this into consideration when giving our advice!

The DeLonghi Pinguino PAC EX100 SILENT, specifically designed for the bedroom

Energy efficiency

A mobile air conditioner uses quite a bit of energy, so it’s definitely worth paying attention to the model’s energy efficiency. You can measure this yourself by calculating the energy efficiency ratio (EER): BTU (Cooling Capacity) / Power usage (Watts). An easier way is to look at the energy label which comes with most Models in the UK. Most AC’s are A or A+, with one model being A++.

Remote & app

They still exist, ACs without a remote control. It’s unlikely that they will appear in our guide but we will definitely let you know if it’s the case

What’s more interesting is that some air conditioner brands have models which are configurable by Android or iPhone application. Nice to have your house cooled before you come home but keep in mind that some companies have better privacy policies that others!

The exhaust hose

There is no way around it, every portable AC requires a hose to transport hot air outside. The hose needs to be installed through an open window or door. This allows the room to cool of and dehumidify

Window seal / vent kit (AirLock)

Probably the number one thing you didn’t think about before purchasing an AC. A window or door seal/vent kit is not a requirement per se, but in our opinion an absolute must. The seal makes sure that the open window or door surrounding the hose is sealed off, which means that no hot air will come inside. This can make a huge difference in cooling capacity and energy efficiency

A few examples are the MorningRising Seal and AC Parts in the US, and for Europe and UK the kits from Trotec: Airlock 100 for windows and Airlock 1000 for doors

Humidifier & air filter

An added advantage of the hose is that it allows the AC to dehumidify the room, making it less humid. Most air conditioners also carry a proper air filter which has proven to be good for your health.

Functions and modes

Most air conditioners have several speed modes and other useful functionalities like sleep mode. The higher end models have a very useful automatic mode, where the speed of the fan automatically adjusts to the configured temperature in the room.

Another useful functionality is heating mode, where the AC can act like a heater. Very useful for climates with hot summers and cold winters.

Best Portable air conditioner in each category

For this buyer’s guide, we have selected 4 common categories in which consumers usually base their purchase on. Both for the US and British markets:

  • Best portable AC on a budget
  • Best silent portable AC
  • Best high capacity/BTU portable AC
  • Best energy efficient/green AC

Best portable air conditioner on a budget

[tabby title=”Our 2019 Budget pick for US”]

Cooling Capacity: 8,000BTU | Noise: 58-75dB | Power Consumption: 950W | Energy rating: N/A | Weight 52.9 pounds

The Black + Decker PBACT08W is one of the most popular models in the US, and rightfully so. With a price starting around 250 USD you get a lot of bang for your buck. 8,000BTU makes this a suitable AC for small rooms up to 250 square feet.

The AC comes with a remote, LED screen and 4 wheels for easy maneuverability, weighing only 53 pounds. The AC also comes with Flexible programmable configuration, a dehumidifier, window kit and slide out filter.

+ Mobile and compact
+ Programmability
+ Window kit included

– Not suitable for large rooms

[tabby title=”Our 2019 Budget pick for UK”]

Cooling Capacity: 8,000BTU | Noise: N/A | Power Consumption: N/A | Energy rating: A | Weight 23,5kg

The 8000BTU model from Jack Stonehouse is a great basic AC, you can find one for as low as £250

The AC comes with a portable lightweight design, 3 fan intensity levels, a 24 hour time and is energy efficient, having received a Class A energy rating

+ Lightweight and mobile
+ Time functionality

– Noise and energy consumption unclear


Best silent portable air conditioner

[tabby title=”Our 2019 Silent pick for US”]

Cooling Capacity: 9,000BTU | Noise: 45dB+ | Power Consumption: N/A| Energy rating: N/A | Weight 66.2 pounds

The Honeywell HL10CES is our bedroom pick for 2019, having a noise level of only 45dB in sleep mode! The model comes with a cooling capacity of 9,000 BTU, making it suitable for small to medium offices and bedrooms.

Why we are enthusiastic about this product:

  • 3-in-1 Functions: AC Cooling, Fan & Dehumidifier
  • De-humidification capacity: Up to 80 pints per day
  • Easy install window vent kit for vertical/horizontal windows
  • Dual Filtration System – Easy to clean regularly under a faucet.
  • Smart Digital Thermostat control with digital display & soft touch control panel
  • 24 Hour Energy-Saving Timer
  • Full function remote control with display

+ Great de-humidification functionality
+ Rich in features
+ Very positive user review

– On the heavy side

[tabby title=”Our 2019 Silent pick for UK”]

Cooling Capacity: 11,000BTU | Noise: 47-63dB | Power Consumption: 900W | Energy rating: A+ | Weight 30kg

The name already gives it away, DeLonghi has designed this AC to be silent! We can see this in the reviews of this product. German magazine Haus & Garten gave the AC a 9/10 for noise and a 9/10 overall. Another German test form Home & Smart rates it as the best AC they’ve seen that year, with a noise level of 47-50DB.
Officially the mobile air conditioner has an ISO noise rating of 63DB, which is the lowest we have seen so far.
On top of that, the AC has a very good A+ energy rating and a BTU of 11,000, making it the perfect all-round air conditioner!

The AC comes with all the functionality you expect from a higher end model: 3 fan intensity levels, ability to adjust fan speed to surroundings, wheels, and grips for mobility, 24h timer, and a remote

+ Great energy rating
+ Good cooling capacity
+ Best ISO noise score we have seen

– Exhaust hose is short, 1,2M
– Pricey


Best high capacity / BTU portable air conditioner

[tabby title=”Our 2019 High BTU pick for US”]

Cooling Capacity: 14,000BTU | Noise: dB | Power Consumption: 1250W | Energy rating: N/A | Weight 80 pounds

The Whynter ARC-14SH is recommended by many experts, not only for its cooling capabilities but also it’s energy efficiency. With a massive 14,000 BTU, the AC will surely be able to keep your house cool during the heatwaves this summer!

The Whynter comes with the following features:

  • Heating
  • Three operational modes: Air conditioner, Fan or Dehumidifier. (110 Pts/day)
  • Adjustable digital thermostat control range from 61° – 89°F
  • Self-Evaporative System – exhausts most or all condensate under average ambient conditions
  • Auto restart after a power outage.
  • 24-hour programmable timer.
  • Protective cover with storage pocket for user manual and remote control.

+ Heating capability
+ Fast cooling
+ Energy Efficient

– Relatively noisy
– Very Heavy

[tabby title=”Our 2019 High BTU pick for UK”]

Cooling Capacity: 16.000BTU | Noise: 50dB+ | Power Consumption: 1500W | Energy rating: A+ | Weight Unclear

The Modern Life 16,000 is a monster of an air conditioner, the cooling capacity allows you to cool rooms up to 60m2! On top of that, the AC has many interesting features:

  • 4 Kinds of modes, refrigeration, heating, suction, air supply
  • 4 speeds optional: high, medium, low, auto
  • Two-way timing function can be scheduled to boot and time shutdown
  • 140 wide-angle air supply, reduce refrigeration blind area, more comfortable
  • Rubber universal wheel, protective floor, moves easily from room to room
  • Dehumidified and filtered air cycle improve breathing environments effectively
  • Besides the remote control, your one-touch electronic pad also provides easy-identifying manual operation
  • Unique sleep control function, de-humidification, humidification, and air purification
  • 1.8-meter cord with plug, LED display


+ Massive cooling capacity
+ 4 Different modes, including heating
+ Rich in features

– Weight unclear
– Huge!


The best energy efficient/green air conditioner

[tabby title=”Our 2019 green pick for US”]

Cooling Capacity: 12,000BTU | Noise: <52dB | Power Consumption: 10000W | Energy rating: N/A | Weight 60 pounds

The Whynter Elite ARC-122DS has the best EER (12!) we’ve seen on the US market this year. The green AC comes with a cooling capacity of 12.000 BTU, making it very suitable for medium-sized rooms.


  • Carbon air filter and washable pre-filter.
  • Three operational modes: Cool, Dehumidify, and Fan.
  • Dehumidifying Capacity: 76 Pts/day
  • Adjustable digital thermostat control range from 61° – 89°F.
  • Self-Evaporative System – exhausts most or all condensate under average ambient conditions.
  • Digital and remote control.
  • Auto restart after a power outage.
  • 24-hour programmable timer

+ Fantastic EER
+ Silent!

[tabby title=”Our 2019 green pick for UK”]

Cooling Capacity: 10,000BTU | Noise: 49-53dB | Power Consumption: 900W | Energy rating: A++ | Weight 30kg

The DeLonghi EX100 Silent is the most energy efficient air conditioner we have ever seen, with a massive EER of 15! Other than being green, the AC is also very silent. One of the reasons it was tested as the best mobile air conditioner by the German equivalent of Consumer Reports


  • R290 propane gas: natural refrigerant gas, non-toxic, eco-friendly and offering also energy savings
  • Fan function
  • Dehumidifying function
  • LED control panel display
  • Revised remote control with remote control holder integrated in machine top
  • 24h electronic timer and thermostat

+ First ever AC with A++ Rating, very green
+ Silent

– Quite Pricey


24 tips for usage, maintenance and increasing lifespan

24 tips for portable air conditioners

Get ultimate cooling power

  • Make sure to read the manual before the first usage and ensure that the AC is fully installed before turning it on
  • Turn on the AC in the morning, before the temperature reaches the highest peak of the day. It’s easier for an AC to maintain a cool room then the cool it down!
  • Keep doors and windows closed (excluding the window for the exhaust hose)
  • Use a window or door seal/vent kit.
    A few examples are the MorningRising Seal and AC Parts in the US and for Europe and UK the kits from Trotec: Airlock 100 for windows and Airlock 1000 for doors
  • Even better, create a hole in the wall for the exhaust hose (consult your landlord beforehand 😉
  • Don’t install the exhaust hose in any weird angles, keep it as straight as possible
  • Turn of electrical equipment and other heat sources
  • Block the hot sun from shining directly into the room
  • Don’t use the AC as a little table, this will decrease its effectiveness
  • Ensure that all exhausts and vents are not blocked by any other objects
  • Don’t put the AC in a room that’s often very humid like a bathroom, it will take a long time to humidify decreasing effectiveness.
  • Don’t put the AC in a room that has a larger cooling power requirement then the AC is specified for, purchase a bigger air conditioner if needed!
Trotec Airlock 100, window seal kit
Trotec Airlock 100, a window seal kit

Maintenance and lifespan

  • Empty the condensate bucket regularly according to the manual
  • Remove dust from the AC with a moist cloth and dry it off afterward. Do not soak in water!
  • Clean the dust filters inside the AC regularly
  • Check if any liquid is leaking from the machine from time to time
  • If the AC breaks down and you’re out of warranty, call a professional to fix it, do not try to repair it yourself as it might be dangerous.
  • Don’t place the air conditioner in a dusty or humid area
  • Limit moving the AC as much as possible. While it’s a mobile AC, it still contains a lot of moving elements
  • When possible, try to replace the filters every couple of seasons

Tips before storing in the winter

  • Make sure that there are no liquids in the AC left before storing it at the end of the season. Check the manual on how to remove these
  • Put the AC on ventilator mode to get rid of any moisture in hard to reach spots
  • Don’t store the AC in a room which changes temperature a lot during off-season like a shack or garden (risk of freezing)
  • Or simply get an AC with heating functionality so you can use it in the winter too!

6 Portable AC Frequently Asked questions

Do you need to refill a mobile AC? Will it break quickly? In this part of the buyer’s guide we picked 6 common questions and answered them with help from industry experts

Many thanks to our friends from DeLonghiTristar and Trotec who helped realize this article

1. Do you have to refill a portable Air conditioner?

Answer: No, and only by a professional if it’s broken

We can confidently answer no to this one! Under normal circumstances you’re not required to refill a portable AC during its lifetime. You probably don’t even have the tools available to do so.
If there is a leak of cooling liquid, that means that the product is broken and you should use your warranty to get it fixed. If your warranty has run out, make sure to get the machine repaired by a certified professional.

2. Does a portable air conditioner require regular maintenance?

Answer: Cleaning: Yes. Technical: No

A portable AC does not require regular technical maintenance by a service engineer like a split unit air conditioner. You do however need to perform regular cleaning maintenance yourself:

  • Cleaning the filters
  • Cleaning the exhaust hose
  • Empty and clean the condensate bucket
  • Regular check-ups of cooling liquid and moisture leakage.

3. Is a portable air conditioner bad for your health / Can you get a cold from a portable AC?

Answer: No, only if you sit directly in the cold air / do not clean the machine regularly

People tend to forget that you’re already exposed to AC regularly, for example in the car or your office. You won’t get a cold in those situations and neither from a mobile unit unless you sit directly in the cold air. Try to prevent this as much as you can!
Furthermore, AC’s are vulnerable for bacteria and mold, make sure to clean the filters regularly.

Two more tips that we can give you are related to the humidity and fast temperature differences: The ideal humidity is between 45 and 60 percent. If it drops below those numbers, the air will be to dry which might result in dry eyes.
With regards to temperature difference, try to have a maximum difference of 6 degrees Celsius compared to outside. If it’s more then that then the sudden transition might give you a higher chance of getting a cold!

4. What is the lifespan of a portable air conditioner?

Answer: Several years to 10-15 yes, depending on maintenance and usage

There is no easy answer that any of the industry specialist that we contacted could give is. It all depends on how you treat the machine: If you never clean it, place it in a dirty room, move around a lot, or use it 24/7. All factors that will decrease the lifespan significantly. A poorly maintained AC might only last for 2 or 3 seasons, while a well maintained one might last for 10 years or more! Make sure to stick to our 24 tips and you will enjoy yours for a long time!

5. Will a portable air conditioner break quickly?

Answer: No, if you perform regular maintenance and cleaning

Basically the same answer as the previous question. As long as you maintain it well there will be no reason for a mobile AC to break down. If something goes wrong anyway, make sure to use your warranty or hire a professional, do not go fiddle around yourself!

6. Portable air conditioner without a hose, is it worthwhile?

A portable AC without a hose our exhaust, it almost seems like the perfect situation, a nicely cooled room without needing to open the window to let the hot air out. Unfortunately, most AC’s without a hose are nothing more than a glorified air fan. Let us explain!

How does an air conditioner work? In Short:

To understand why an AC without a house is not very effective, you first need to understand how an AC works in the first place. It’s kind of complicated so we’ll try to explain in an easy way:
An AC will draw in hot air from the room where it’s placed (this goes for all types, monoblock (portable), split-unit and window ACs). The hot air is then lead to a so-called heat exchanger. The heat exchanger contains a cooling liquid which removes the heat from the air (complicated physics). Then the air, which is now cold, guides back into the room again with a fan.
Where does the heat go you might ask? The heat evaporates the cooling liquid, which is guided to the outside unit (split unit) or the backside where the hose is attached (portable/window unit). The cooling liquid’s heat is then transferred back to the air and lead outside.

It’s simple: The heat needs to go somewhere.

You probably understand by now that the heat needs to go somewhere, it can’t just disappear into thin air. Some manufacturers get creative by transferring the heat to ice water. Interesting idea in theory but not very effective, it might cool down the room by only a couple of degrees. Moreover, some reviews even claim that the room increased in temperature instead of decreasing, as you’re adding yet another electronic device (creating warmth). Another downside of not using a hose is the lack of de-humidification.
Devices like this are known as air coolers, you will stumble upon these machines a lot when searching for ACs, and they tend to be a bit cheaper than actual portable air conditioners, so make sure to pay attention to what you’re buying!

Dyson pure cool, is it an AC?

Another alternative to air conditioners are the products from Dyson, they usually have a really pretty design (with a really “pretty” price as well), and are sometimes advertised by stores as ACs. Which they are not, and which Dyson also not claims to be

Dyson Pure Cool
Dyson Pure Cool

What does a manufacturer say which makes both products?

Trotec, which is a manufacturer of air conditioners, also offers aircoolers to it’s customers:

With the portable air coolers of the PAE series Trotec offers a particularly smart and energy-efficient solution for the convenient temperature control of small to medium-sized rooms. Generally designed as 3-in-1 devices, our air coolers produce an all-round agreeable feel-good climate through air cooling, ventilation and air freshening. And the best of all: Unlike conventional air conditioners, the air coolers do not need any chemical cooling agents or complicated installation work – even the otherwise customary exhaust air hose at doors or windows is rendered superfluous with this innovative system.

Trotec describes two positives for air coolers: No chemicals and no complicated installation.

However, on the page about air conditioners, they make a rather big statement about the differences in cooling capabilities between the two types, claiming that ACs are much more effective

No hose, no cooling!
There is absolutely no need to be unsettled by illustrations of air conditioners that suggest the task can be accomplished without hoses – the use of at least one hose is inevitable, even though it may not always be apparent from the picture! Why? It’s quite simple:
Air conditioners are compression cooling devices. And they generate cold and warmth in equal measure – due to the unalterable laws of physics. The generated cold is wanted in the room, the warmth is not. Which is why it has to go – outside.

With a difference of 10 to 18 °C between the incoming and exiting air at the device, air conditioners of the PAC and PT series produce far greater temperature differences than air coolers which generally can attain no more than 1 to 3 °C difference.
Seeing as the room is constantly supplied with warmth at the same time – be it through walls or door gaps – the room air can, on balance, be cooled down by approx. 4 to 15 °C using compressor-operated air conditioners – as usual depending on the applied model as well as on the climatic conditions in the room (temperature and relative humidity).

But the hose will go trough a window or door, resulting in hot air coming back inside?!

This is correct, most mobile air conditioners will only carry a hose to be placed in an open window or door. There is however a solution for this: The Window seal / vent kit (AirLock).
The window kit is a great solution which allows the hose to go outside, while still blocking the hot air coming in. A few examples are the MorningRising Seal and AC Parts in the US, and for Europe and UK the kits from Trotec: Airlock 100 for windows and Airlock 1000 for doors

Conclusion: Go for the hose, or consider a different type of air conditioning

This website focuses mostly on portable units, but we know very well that split or window units are usually more effective air conditioners. We have to conclude that the only alternatives for not using a hose with your AC is considering a split or window unit.
If this is not feasible, then your only option is to purchase an AC with a hose when the next heatwave is upon us!

Thanks for reading our buyer’s guide, we hope it was helpful. Please leave any comments in the section below!

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