Best portable air conditioners according to Consumer Reports tests

The advantage of a portable air conditioner – that it is not bolted to a window – is also its disadvantage.

Unlike a window air conditioner, which uses the outside air to cool the coils on the outside of the unit, a single-pipe portable air conditioner uses the air conditioning in the room it is in to cool the mechanical components. . This creates negative pressure which causes hot, unconditioned air from neighboring rooms or from outside to flow into the room you are trying to keep cool. So it’s a struggle to maintain a comfortable temperature.

“You might not get what you think when you buy a portable model,” says Chris Regan, who oversees CR air conditioner testing. “It’s hard to compare cooling to a window air conditioner. “

In our air conditioner tests, we measure how long it takes for a portable model to lower our test chamber temperature from 90 ° F to 85 ° F. It takes an average of 20 minutes. By comparison, the best window air conditioners can cool a room by 10 ° F in about 15 minutes or less.

But not all portable air conditioner news is bad. According to CR’s Brand Reliability Survey, two brands, Whynter and Frigidaire, achieve the highest rating of Excellent for expected reliability, and three other brands receive a rating of Very Good. Owner satisfaction, which is based on the proportion of our members who are extremely likely to recommend their AC, was not as high, with most brands scoring an average of good.

We test portable air conditioners from brands such as LG, Whynter, Whirlpool, SPT and TCL. CR members can read ratings and reviews of models that rank at the top of our tests.

Karl M. Bailey

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