Quietest Portable Air Conditioners – 2021 Round-up Review

Most people assume cooling power is the feature most important to a buyer in a portable air conditioner. After all, it’s relief from the heat you are seeking.

However, anyone who has suffered through a night of sleep with an unbearably loud or rattling unit can tell you how much the noise level should be considered in purchasing.

Comparison of the Quietest Portable Air Conditioners

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Up to 3 operating modes included
  • Quickly and easily cool down to maximum capacity
  • Lightweight and compact design for easy use
View Latest Price ?
  • Will quickly and easily cool down a 400 square feet space
  • Up to 12000 Btu output capacity
  • Will operate quietly at less than 52 dBA
View Latest Price ?
  • Best for the Money
  • Up to 300 square feet room cooling capacity
  • Very easy to install in sliding window
View Latest Price ?
  • Quietest 8000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
  • Boasts 3 operating modes included fan and AC unit
  • Up to 5 years compressor warranty included
View Latest Price ?
  • Quickly and easily cool down to maximum capacity
  • Very easy to install portable unit
  • Up to 450 square feet room cooling capacity
View Latest Price ?

Can You Really Find a Portable Air Conditioner That's Affordable and Quiet? 

A portable air conditioner that gives your wallet a break does not necessarily have to give your eardrums a beating. It is possible to find a unit that gives you the cooling power you need along with a reasonable price and a reasonable decibel level.

Manufacturers consider consumer reviews as they design new products, improve older ones, and “too noisy” is a chief complaint regarding many portable air conditioners, so this is a real competing point for many of the companies.

They understand to compete for your dollars, they need to provide a machine that is both affordable and produces a reasonable level of noise without being burdensome to the owner.

SereneLife SLPAC8

What Size Portable Air Conditioner Do I Need? 

The size of your portable air conditioner will relate to the size of your space and the corresponding BTUs of the unit.

BTUs are “British Thermal Units,” which describe how much heat the unit moves per hour. You may see them described as “ASHRAE BTUs,” which is a designation from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers.

The maximum square footage that can be cooled by a small portable air conditioner is typically in the 400-450 range, and that would be with 12,000 BTUs. It is possible to cool very small spaces (think a desk or a small sleeping area) with fewer than 10,000 BTUs. However, it can never hurt to estimate higher when it comes to the BTUs and square footage range.

Review of the Quietest Portable Air Conditioners 

If you are looking to cool a small space and you do not want to end up with the noisiest portable air conditioner on the market, we can take the guesswork out of your shopping as we have reviewed the quietest portable air conditioners available.

Best Overall:
SereneLife SLPAC8

SereneLife SLPAC8 Portable Air Conditioner Compact Home AC Cooling Unit with Built-in Dehumidifier & Fan Modes, Quiet Operation, Includes Window Mount Kit, 8,000 BTU, White

PROS

  • Can include heat and wifi capabilities
  • Six versions available, from 8,000 to 12,000 BTU
  • Built-in dehumidifier and handy remote control
  • Sleek body design and wheels for easy portability
  • Incredibly simple setup and operation, with a universal window mount exhaust kit

CONS

  • Hose not included, must be purchased separately
  • Only average cooling ability reported by some users

What Recent Buyers Report

With proper installation and set up this unit works well for most buyers. One recent customer noted that the addition of some weather stripping was necessary based on the type of window sill, and this may be a simple fix to help consumers get the best experience out of this portable air conditioner.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The SereneLife lives up to its name thanks to a low noise level quiet operation mode that can be activated to cool a room quietly. We think this unit is a great pick for cooling bedrooms, offices, and other small spaces, and the consumer does not have to be tech-savvy to operate it.

An LED control panel and a simple, user-friendly remote make the SereneLife easy to adjust to different settings as needed.

Bottom Line

While you may need to take some extra steps in setup, such as weather stripping, it will be worth it for the result, which is a unit that cools effectively without being extremely loud.

Runner-up:
Whynter Elite ARC-122DS

Whynter Elite ARC-122DHP 12,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner and Heater, Dehumidifier, Fan with Activated Carbon Filter Plus Autopump and Storage Bag for Rooms up to 400 sq ft, Silver

PROS

  • Includes an auto pump to address excess condensation
  • Four modes of operation: air conditioning, heating, fan, or dehumidifier
  • Dual hose with intake and outtake for greater cooling power and constant air pressure
  • Utilizes eco-friendly Green R-32 refrigerant and components all free of toxic chemicals
  • Can cool spaces up to 400 square feet at a moderate noise level (though heat function will be louder)

CONS

  • Heat cycle is especially noisy
  • Setup and installation more challenging for some consumers because of the dual hoses

What Recent Buyers Report

For a unit that includes both cooling and heating capabilities, the Whynter Elite is your best bet among the quietest portable air conditioners.

Some users have had difficulty with the initial setup and installation but are pleased once it is set up correctly. Dual hose construction means this unit should not be sucking in hot air from your other windows, and regular maintenance will keep this unit functioning well in your small space.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We give the Whynter Elite high marks among small portable air conditioners because it is the closest to the way permanent HVAC functions. In other words, its function more closely resembles a “built-in” HVAC system in a home, thanks to the dual hoses.

Additionally, the Elite addresses the need for heat in the colder months and can work in larger spaces than many other portable units on the market. The auto pump function sets it apart from most competitors as well.

Bottom Line

If you are the type who struggles to change the batteries in remote control or cannot figure out a smartphone, this is probably not the unit for you—unless you have someone very handy who can help you install it. The Whynter Elite is a powerhouse portable air conditioner as long as it is installed properly. In cooling mode, it will offer a reasonable noise level that most users have no problem tolerating.

Best for the Money:
TOSOT 8000 BTU

TOSOT 8,000 BTU(ASHRAE) 5,000 BTU (DOE) Portable Air Conditioner Quiet, Remote Control, Built-in Dehumidifier, Fan, Easy Window Installation Kit - Cool Rooms Up to 300 Square Feet

PROS

  • Child-lock function providing additional safety
  • Setup and installation process of 15 minutes or less
  • Timer function to save energy and remote for ease of use
  • Three machines in one (air conditioner, fan, and dehumidifier)
  • Quiet operation available with only 49 decibels when running at low fan speed

CONS

  • Higher speeds on fan yielding noisier output
  • Some buyer confusion regarding drainage not cleared up by manufacturer’s manual

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers love that this relatively quiet portable air conditioner is a breeze to set up and cools a small room efficiently, without too much noise. They also appreciate the sleek look of the unit and how it takes up a minimal amount of floor space.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This 8,000 BTU portable air conditioner is one of our favorites for both reliability and simplicity. It may not be packed with “smart” features, but it does the basics well, which is what you need when you are trying to beat the heat.

If you don’t need the dehumidifier mode, you can switch the machine to a fan or cool only, and the unit can work with both horizontal and vertical sliding windows.

The display panel is easily visible to users, and the remote makes it handy to change the temperature without leaving your favorite recliner. While running on low fan speed, this unit’s noise output should be the equivalent of a light rainstorm.

Bottom Line

If your needs in a portable air conditioner are (1) something that cools efficiently, (2) is attractive to look at, and (3) is not overly complicated by too many extra bells and whistles, this is the best choice for you.

Quietest 8000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner:
Emerson Quiet Kool EAPC8RD1

Emerson Quiet Kool 150-Sq 3 in 1 Portable Air Conditioner, Dehumidifier & Fan with Remote Control, for Rooms up to 300-Sq. Ft. EAPC8RD1, Up to 250 Sq, White

PROS

  • Window kit and hose included
  • Programmable timer controlled by panel or remote
  • Three fan speeds to accommodate the user’s comfort level
  • Warranty covering one year labor, two years parts, and five years compressor
  • Innovative bucketless design to avoid constant draining (only needs draining in peak humidity)

CONS

  • Window panels that can be tricky to fit
  • Non-digital remote without a display--users find disappointing

What Recent Buyers Report

Users appreciate the sleep and eco modes, ensuring the machine can cut back on energy used when temperatures get cooler at night (read: saving money!) During the warmer daytime hours, the unit cools small spaces effectively after an easy installation and setup.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Quiet Kool is consistently rated as one of the quietest small portable air conditioners, living up to its name. Realistically speaking, no portable air conditioner will be “noiseless,” and a user should expect a period of adjusting to the noise.

We know from comparing this unit to others that it is one of the best you can get, both for the price and the noise level. Additionally, Emerson stands behind this portable air conditioner with a warranty that gives the consumer some reassurance when purchasing the unit.

Bottom Line

Until we live in a world with noiseless portable air conditioners, this is the next best thing. The Emerson Quiet Kool is our top choice for users who want the least amount of noise while cooling a small space.

Honorable Mention:
Quilo QP110WK

Quilo Portable Air Conditioner, 10000 BTU Standing AC Unit with Dehumidifier and Cooling Fan for Rooms Up To 450 Sq. Ft. with Easy-To-Install Window Kit, QP110WK

PROS

  • Can cool spaces up to 400 square feet
  • Long-lasting filter that is easy to clean
  • Sleep mode with a 45-decibel noise output
  • An auto evaporating drip hose with no drainage pans needed
  • Simple installation with a window kit that can expand up to 49.6 inches

CONS

  • Exhaust hose needs an additional insulating wrap
  • Quiet in fan mode but some complaints about noises from compressor

What Recent Buyers Report

Despite a few kinks, like the need for buyers to provide extra insulation for the exhaust hose, this unit does the job well once you are up and running. Despite the manufacturer’s claim that the unit can cool spaces up to 450 square feet, it is more likely to max out at 400 square feet as a stretch. For spaces smaller than that, this is a good bet.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This Quilo unit earns our honorable mention as it is an affordable choice with some of the most attractive features we look for in a portable air conditioner: easy setup, a timer and sleep mode option, wheels for easy portability, and window kits that can adapt to either horizontal or vertical windows.

The built-in dehumidifier is the true workhorse of this unit, removing up to 80 pints of moisture per day. We also love the digital display remote, which makes operating the unit easy for users.

Bottom Line

This is a great choice for a portable air conditioner that checks all of our boxes: it is easy to set up and use, cools a small space well, and the noise level is not overwhelming or completely overbearing.

Portable Air Conditioner vs Window - Comparison Overview 

Many consumers think “portable air conditioner” and “window air conditioner” describe the same product, but they have some specific differences. It is true that a portable air conditioner “needs” a window to function, but it is not mounted inside the window. Rather, the main compartment rests on the floor of your home (near a window).

A portable air conditioner is preferred by some consumers because;

  •  It is typically easier to install

  • It can be moved from room to room if needed

  •  It does not violate homeowners association rules that may prohibit visible window units

On the other hand, the reason many people opt for a window unit is simple: it has greater cooling power.

The setup of a window unit enables it to use energy more efficiently than a portable air conditioner. However, that is not the only area where a window unit outshines a portable unit.

The window units can also direct more noise outside than in, so users are less bothered by the amount of noise from these versus portable air conditioners. Window units also save floor space where space may be at a premium, such as in a small apartment.

Whynter Elite ARC-122DS

How to Clean a Portable Air Conditioner 

As is the case with every appliance, machine, and other “tools” in your home, proper cleaning and maintenance will extend the life of your portable air conditioner and enhance its functionality.

If you have ever tried to vacuum when your vacuum bag or filter is full or defective in some way, you know what you are usually left with: a big mess. Just like a vacuum filter needs to be cleaned or changed, the filter systems with portable air conditioners should be tended to by owners to prevent malfunction.

Refer to your specific manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning, but you can also use these steps as a general guide after you have run the unit on fan mode for several hours to dry it out:

  1. Unplug the unit and drain excess water

  2. Remove and clean the filter, allowing it to air dry

  3. Vacuum the vents and wipe down the coils with a simple solution of water, vinegar, and lemon juice

  4. Wipe down dust and debris on the exterior as well

What Makes These Portable Air Conditioners Quieter Than Normal? 

Portable air conditioners have to put out noise as they function. Still, manufacturers continue to find ways to reduce the noise output in small, sleek, and compact units that deliver a surprisingly powerful cooling experience. 

In each of the units, we have recommended, the specific design and parts (including the compressor) are intended to make the least noise possible for the cooling output.

Because they are still not “noise-free,” users can find ways to reduce the noise in their own setup: for example, you might consider placing the unit on carpet or padding of some kind, rather than the bare floor, to muffle some of the noise.

Conclusion 

Portable air conditioners can be a lifesaver for those suffering in sweltering heat in small spaces; they can make the dog days of summer bearable (or even enjoyable).

When shopping for a portable air conditioner, the noise will always be a consideration, and you should pay attention to the decibel output and how it can be reduced in the various operating modes.

Chances are a unit that prevents you from melting right into your desk chair will be a welcome relief no matter how loud it is, but it cannot hurt to find one with a noise level that is at least tolerable.

People Also Ask

When shopping for portable air conditioners, consumers often ask the questions below. Check out our answers to help guide you through the process and get you on your way to cooler days!

How Loud Are Normal Portable Air Conditioners?

The decibel range for portable air conditioners is from 40 to 60.

How Do I Quiet a Portable Air Conditioner?

Run it in fan mode, place it on padding, or wrap it in a blanket.

How Long Do Portable Air Conditioners Last?

With proper care and maintenance, you may be able to get 10 years out of your portable air conditioner.

How Does a Portable Air Conditioner Work?

It pulls stagnant air from inside a small space and then cools the air with a motor before recirculating it.

How Much is a Portable Air Conditioner?

You can expect to spend between $300 and $600 on a portable air conditioner.

What is the Highest BTU for a Portable Air Conditioner?

The highest BTU in portable air conditioners is 14,000.

How Much Power Does a Portable AC Use?

Portable air conditioners have an average power consumption of around 1,100 watts.