The Best Portable Air Conditioners

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Portable air conditioners are great for emergency situations. In our experience, central ACs break down in the worst possible moments, usually when it’s over 90 degrees outside.

If this is your home you can grin and bear it but if you have tenants, it’s a completely different situation, especially if it’s an older tenant or tenant with young children.

While in most states ACs are considered an amenity and are not legally required to make the property habitable, landlords have obligations to fix any problems that threaten the tenants’ health and safety. 

Portable ACs solve this problem. We keep two units that we lend to tenants when we have AC repair that can’t be fixed very quickly. This gives us time to get quotes if a replacement is needed or we have to wait for a part.

Over the years we tried a couple of portable ACs, this is our recommendation based on our personal experience and on the experience of some of our landlord friends.

The Best Portable AC

BLACK+DECKER BPACT12WT Portable Air Conditioner

BLACK+DECKER 12,000 BTU portable air conditioner is our best overall pick.

Why is the BLACK+DECKER our favorite?

We own two of these units and use them regularly when we have emergencies. We like them because we haven’t had any issues with both units. They are fairly quiet and cool well for portable units and are priced well.

While many people use these for their main cooling system, I would rather buy a window unit or ductless HVAC system for everyday use if central AC is not an option.


Portable air conditioners work by pulling the hot air and moisture from the room, and cooling it inside the unit. This process also extracts moisture from the air by condensing the water vapor onto the condenser coils. This process creates heat that is exhausted through a hose to the outside.

The hose is attached to the unit and the window panel by hose connectors.

To install the window panel, just open the window, place the panel and close the window to keep the panel in place.

The BLACK+DECKER portable ac comes with a window kit that contains 3 window panels, the exhaust hose, rear panel hose connector, and the window panel hose connector.

If your window is smaller than 20.5” inches you will have to cut the panel to size. The panel expands to fit a horizontal or vertical window up to 59″.

The only issue we’ve had with this unit is that the exhaust hose keeps popping off. We solved it by taping it with professional HVAC tape.

Other Great Options

Shinco Portable AC

Shinco 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioners with Built-in Dehumidifier Function, Fan Mode

Quiet AC Unit Cools Rooms to 400 sq.ft.

LED Display, Remote Control, Complete Window Mount Exhaust Kit

Honorable Mention

SereneLife Portable Air Conditioner

SereneLife SLPAC Portable Air Conditioner, 12,000 BTU

Haier Portable Air


Haier 14,000 115V Dual-Hose Portable Air Conditioner with 10,000 BTU Heat Mode

About the author

Chris Christo owns a property maintenance company and writes for Rentce on all rental maintenance topics.
He is also a rehabber and a landlord.
When he doesn’t work on properties or writes about properties, he can be found fishing.