The 6 Best Cheap Portable Air Conditioners Under $200 (Reviews and Buyer Guide)

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Best Cheap Portable Air Conditioner Under $200Whenever someone buys a cheap product, there is often that sense of dread that you’re just about to flush money down the drain.

However, when it comes to a cheap air conditioner, it won’t just be money wasted, but very long, hot summer nights that make you wish you didn’t have sweat ducts.

Luckily, we have scoured the web, checked thousands of verified reviews to find you the best cheap portable air conditioners under $200.

We’ve also written a comprehensive guide that explains how to choose the right AC, how to maintain it, and why you have no reason to fear buying cheap air conditioners.

Ready, set, read!

My Overall #1 Rated Pick
My overall top pick for the best cheap portable air conditioner under $200 is the COSTWAY unit because it cools naturally and inexpensively. Apart from cooling, it can also humidify and circulate air using its fan - giving it a slight edge over others.

Last update on 2021-04-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Our Best Cheap Portable Air Conditioners Under $200

1. Best Energy Saving AC  – COSTWAY Portable AC 

2. Best Portable Tower AC – NewAir, AF-310 

3.Best Personal Evaporative Cooler – Evapolar EvaLIGHT Plus EV-1500 
 
4. Best for Large Spaces – Whynter 8,000 BTU Eco-Friendly Portable AC  
 
5. Best Smart Portable – hOmeLabs Evaporative Cooler 
 
6.Best Air Conditioner Fan –  Hayi Portable AC Fan
 

Reviews of the Best Cheap Portable Air Conditioner Under 200 dollars 

Here’s our review of portable AC under $200 for you to choose from. Remember to read through the buyer guide section as well

1. NewAir, AF-310, Portable Indoor Outdoor Evaporative Air Fan and Humidifier – Best Portable Tower AC

Sale
NewAir, AF-310, Portable Indoor Outdoor...
  • SWAMP COOLER - This powerful fan and evaporative cooler offers two ways to cool your personal space
  • FEATURES - With 3 fan speeds, 3 cooling modes and an automatic timer, this air humidifier has is all
  • ECO-FRIENDLY - Instead of freon and other chemicals, get climate control that uses clean evaporation
  • QUALITY - This portable air conditioner is made with quality materials, to keep you comfy all day
  • NEWAIR - With good quality products and excellent customer service, NewAir is a name you can trust
  • Wattage: 80 watts

Last update on 2021-04-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


The NewAir evaporative cooler and tower fan is a compact cooling alternative that targets hot, arid climates. You can use the fan alone to refresh your personal space on humid days.

However, whenever you need a bit of humidification, just fill the one-gallon tank and begin adding cool moisture to your room. Either way, you’re guaranteed a cool breeze across 100 square feet without having to rearrange the room for a larger appliance.

The product’s slim design ensures exceptional flexibility, allowing you to use the fan and cooler in multiple settings. It has three fan speeds and three cooling modes, so you can customize your indoor air conditions to fit your needs best. The AF-30 has no chemical refrigerants and consumes about the same power as an energy-efficient light bulb.

Built-in remote control means you can control the cooler-fan conveniently without getting off the sofa. Alternatively, you can use the easy-to-read display screen with push-button controls to change or adjust settings. There’s also a timer if you wish to program your cooling.

Pros 

  • Small design and compact footprint
  • Intuitive comfort settings, including three cooling modes
  • Great for dry climates
  • It has a built-in air filtering system
  • One-year warranty

Cons 

  • No built-in humidistat
  • Not Energy Star certified

CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

READ – The Quietest Portable Air Conditioners

2. Evapolar EvaLIGHT Plus EV-1500 – Best Personal Evaporative Cooler

Sale
Evapolar EvaLIGHT Plus EV-1500 Personal...
  • 3-in-1 COOLING – Evapolar evaLIGHT PLUS cooler humidifies, purifies and chills the air using evaporative technology. Best for hot dry climates
  • EASY TO SET UP AND USE – simply add water then plug into power supply, computer or power bank to get started! Cools the area in front of the device (45 sq. ft. ), approximately the size of a desk, couch or bed
  • PORTABLE - evaLIGHT personal air conditioner sits conveniently on any desk and is easy to transport around
  • FOR PERSONAL USE – Cools the area in front of the device (45 sq. ft. ), approximately the size of a desk, couch or bed
  • LEAKAGE-PROOF SYSTEM and ENLARGED WATER TANK

Last update on 2021-04-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


The Evapolar Evalight Plus EV-1500 is an upgrade of the EV-1000 portable air conditioner. Though the older device was a masterpiece and arguably the best personal evaporative cooler, EvaPolar has changed a couple of features to make the new device even more valuable.

The unique control wheel and the screen, which doubles up as a button, are retained. However, the blue LCD screen is replaced with a stylish and slightly bigger B&W LED screen.

The front grilles are adjustable, so you can place the device anywhere and change the air output to the direction you wish. The device is also bigger in physical size, with a larger tank. From 750ml, you now get a one-liter tank.

Thanks to the larger tank, the improved Evapolar Evalight Plus runs for up to 8.0 hours straight, and the unit can cool a space up to 45 sq ft.

You’ll also love that the device is impressively quiet, generating as little as 27 decibels on the low setting. A Sleep Timer setting allows you to program the portable evaporative air cooler to run at the desired level overnight and shut down automatically once the selected period elapses.

Other key features of the appliance include water level notification, the leak-proof design, and insufficient water level notification.

Pros 

  • Removable one-liter water tank
  • Full-spectrum lighting and Night Mode
  • Very quiet at just 27 decibels (low mode)
  • Easy-use LCD control panel
  • One-year warranty

Cons 

  • No smart//Wi-Fi controls
  • No remote control

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3. COSTWAY Portable Air Conditioner  – Best Energy-Saving AC

COSTWAY Portable Air Conditioner, 8000 BTU Air...
  • ❆【Fan Mode and 2 Optional Fan Speed: 】The multiple functional portable air conditioner offers fan mode as well as cool, dry, and sleep modes to meet various needs of users. Under the fan mode, there are 2 fan speeds accessible, and you can set the high or low speed as you wish.
  • ❆【Sleeping Mode and Quiet Operation:】 In sleeping mode, this air conditioner will become quiet (Noise≦56dB). It’s able to maintain the temperature while you are sleeping. And you can use the 24-hour timer in combination to free you from additional worries.
  • ❆【Fahrenheit and Celsius Display Data:】Like most air conditioners, the temperature settings of this portable air conditioner range from 64℉ to 86℉. The temperature display data can be switched between Celsius and Fahrenheit, the default is Celsius, but you can choose the unit that you are familiar with.
  • ❆【Remote Control and Wide Coverage: 】There is a modern design that everyone loves, the remote control, that allowing you to set it up conveniently. The compact 8000 BTU/H air conditioner unit delivers fast, effective cooling for spaces up to 230 Sq.Ft in home, office, cabin or camper.
  • ❆【Multiple Safety Protection Functions:】This air conditioner features multiple safety protection functions, such as 24-hour timer to set times as needs, water full indicator light to show when the internal bucket is full, self-evaporation system design to save energy and efforts of pouring water, etc. Notice:The most suitable window size is 22.5-42inch.

Last update on 2021-04-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


When you think of a cheap portable air conditioner, you probably picture a large unit that takes a lot of room space, unattractive, and heavy. However, COSTWAY has done a great job by introducing this small, lightweight, portable air conditioner.

This evaporative cooler provides ample airflow and cooling for rooms up to 200 square feet. Apart from cooling your room, it can also humidify, circulate air using a fan. It has a sleep mode that is intended to save you energy when your set temperature is reached.

You can adjust the temperature, fan speed (low, medium, and high), and timer as you desire using the remote control. If you want to move it to another room that needs chilling, you can take advantage of the four casters. This is one of the portable ACs that can be installed through a horizontal or vertical opening window.

It also has a massive 8-liter water tank that can provide you with a constant stream of cool air while you sleep. For quicker results, fill the tank up with ice. You can program this air cooler for up to 7.5 hours.

Pros:

  • 7.5-hour timer 
  • Modern LED display with convenient
  • Caster wheels make it highly portable.
  • Uses evaporative technology instead of ozone refrigerant
  • 70° auto oscillation
  • Slick and elegant white color design for an array of interior décor

Cons:

  • Noisy when running at twin-speed.
  • It is less effective in sweltering weather conditions.

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4. Whynter 8,000 BTU Eco-Friendly Portable Air Conditioner – Best for Large Spaces

Whynter 8,000 BTU Eco-Friendly Portable Air...
  • Three operational modes: Air conditioner, fan or dehumidifier
  • Self-evaporative system - exhausts most or all condensate under average ambient conditions
  • CFC free r-410a refrigerant, lead free rohs compliant components
  • Remote control with full functionality. Coverage Sq. Ft - 250 q. ft
  • Upgraded Plastic window kit included. Max. window kit length = 48" , Min. window kit length = 26.5"
  • Air Flow (at high speed): 270m3/h /159CFM

Last update on 2021-04-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


The Whynter ARC-08WB is another small portable air conditioner that would fit perfectly in limited spaces up to 250 square feet. If your room doesn’t need much cooling, this 8,000 BTU portable air conditioner can cool rooms as large as 300 square feet.

Like any other Whynter portable air conditioner model, Whynter ARC-08WB has a self-evaporating system to reduce maintenance needs. Besides, it’s an Eco-friendly unit thanks to the unique refrigerant.

Many cheap portable air conditioners can function as fans or dehumidifiers, and this unit is no exception. Its dehumidifier can remove up to 45.6 pints of moisture a day. If you don’t feel like air conditioning your room, you can use the fan mode to circulate air across the room to avoid stuffiness.

You can select your ideal temperature using the adjustable thermostat and set a timer that can run up to 24 hours.

When the set time lapses or the preferred temperature level reached, the air conditioning unit will automatically turn off. This will help you use the AC only when you need it. You can initiate all these functions via remote control.

Pros:

  • Delivers impressive results in dry climates
  • It can be used as an AC, fan, and dehumidifier
  • Easy and fast to set up
  • Has washable Pre-Filter that removes large particles such as dust, pet hair, and dander
  • An Activated Carbon filter that is designed to neutralize smoke and other odors
  • Features ECO-FRIENDLY CFC-free GREEN R-410A refrigerant and lead-free RoHS compliant components.

Cons:

  • Not compatible with most standard windows.
  • Excessively vibrates and produces loud noises, especially when placed on hardwood floors.

CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

5. hOmeLabs Evaporative Cooler – Best Smart Portable

hOmeLabs Evaporative Cooler - Cooling Fan with 3...
  • Need a quick relief from the heat? Our portable hOmeLabs Evaporative Cooler got your back to keep you cool over the summer. This indoor swamp cooler is designed to conveniently cool a room with up to 200 square feet dimension and has a tank container that allows you to add up to 10-liter of ice water for extra coolness.
  • Our high-quality air cooling machine is smartly designed with an LED display control panel and includes a handy remote control to easily set the time, swing direction, temperature, speed, and mode from across the room. Choose your preferred power level from Low, Mid, and High. Natural, Sleep, or Normal wind mode? There’s always one that is perfect for you.
  • What’s cooler than being cool? This 14.7 x 13.1 x 34 inches space-saving evaporative cooler with oscillating vents for faster and even air distribution only uses water to cool the air, unlike traditional air conditioners that use heavy compressors or refrigerant gas. Our cooler increases humidity to help you feel more comfortable.
  • No worries if you don’t want to leave the cooler running while you’re asleep as we designed our evaporative cooler with a 24-hour programmable timer that you can easily set to help save energy by turning the unit on and off automatically. Also designed with a visible and audible low-water indicator to easily monitor the water level of your cooler.
  • To provide clean cool air for your optimum relaxation and comfort, we designed a removable and reusable nylon air filter to protect your family and living space from dust and pet hairs. To extend the life and performance of this unit, we recommend you to clean the filter every week of operation. Simply slide the filter out and clean with mild detergent and a soft brush.

Last update on 2021-04-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 
There are times you read a review and think this company has thought of everything. That shouldn’t be a surprise, given the stellar track record hOmeLabs has had over the years. This evaporative cooler can comfortably lower the temperature in a room up to 200 sq ft.

With its 10-liter water tank, you can throw in some ice water for an extra chill. This portable air cooler distinguishes itself from the pack when it comes to control features. There are three power levels: low, mid, and high. There are also three wind modes: natural, sleep, and wind.

There is an LED display on top of the air cooler and a handy remote control that allows you to set the temperature, wind mode, fan speed, and swing direction. It also has a 24-hour timer to ensure you never leave it running for longer than necessary.

On top of all that, this air cooler uses evaporative technology instead of harmful refrigerants. The nylon filter is removable and reusable. When your water supply is low, you can see it via the water indicator or wait for the low-level alert sound.

This is an excellent product with only one major flaw – this cheap portable air conditioner is best for climates with very low humidity.

Pros

  • Different fan modes and wind modes
  • 24-hour timer
  • Decent-size water tank
  • Remote control with a wide range of features
  • Reusable air filter

Cons

  • It is not suitable for most climates 

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6. Hayi Portable Air Conditioner Fan – Best Air Conditioner Fan

Portable Air Conditioner Fan, Personal Evaporative...
  • 💨🌠[ 4-in-1 Air Cooler ] This evaporative cooler can be used as a desk fan, humidifier or night light.Also, this air conditioner with intelligent timer function. This 2/4H timer saves electricity and avoid the subconscious anxiety before you fell asleep.
  • 💨🌠[ 3 Speeds & Large Air Outlet ] Easily switch to 3 wind speeds. Natural wind for daily activities and powerful wind for exercise. The air conditioner uses 6 inches fan blades, which providing more powerful wind & wider cooling range.
  • 💨🌠[ 500ML Detachable Water Tank ] Adding water to the tank, you could use air cooler with humidifier. Adding cold water or ice cube will be more cooler. When the water tank is exhausted, the cooling humidifier mode is automatically stopped and then it can be used as a normal fan. Warning: Please keep balance to avoid water leaking.
  • 💨🌠[ 7 Colours Night Light ] The cooling fan has 7-color LED light. You can select your favorite color to improve sleep and use it as a night lighting. Please note that: Air Cooler is designed for personal use only and doesn't cool rooms.
  • 💨🌠[ Portable Air Conditioner ] Compact, space-saving, portable and easy to move! Perfect to use in various scenarios such as home, office, bedroom, etc. Any problem? Please feel free contact us and we must try our best to solve them for you.

Last update on 2021-04-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 
Finally, we come to the cheapest portable air conditioner under $200 on our list. When you see something so small, you have to wonder if it is worth it. The verdict – it’s worth it!

The Hayi portable air conditioner is a fantastic desk fan that blows cold air enough to cool you and one other person seated next to you. It works great while you’re working at your desk, reading on your front porch, or your bedside table when you sleep.

This portable AC is the best-reviewed desk fan for a reason. Besides the evaporative cooler, it can also be used as a fan, humidifier, and night light. You can fill the 500ml water tank with ice water for an even better cooling experience.

Once the water is exhausted in this little evaporative air cooler, the humidifier automatically shuts off and reverts to a fan. Speaking of the fan, it has three speeds, so you can have it nice and quiet while you sleep or crank it up while you watch scary movies on Netflix.

This personal evaporative air cooler has 7 LED light color options, which you can use as a night light or a decorative feature during the day. There is also a 2.4-hour timer to help you save electricity.

Pros

  • Very affordable and powerful desk fan
  • It can be used as a cooler, humidifier, fan, or night light
  • It has a large water tank for its size
  • Very easy to move about
  • It has three fan speeds

Cons

  • Has limited range
  • Water can spill if the fan isn’t on a flat surface

CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON


Importance of Air Conditioning Your Home

Now that you’ve seen the best portable air conditioners under $200, we have to answer this all-important question: “Do you really need an air conditioner in your home?”

As much as this may seem obvious, many people argue against using an air conditioner because it can be bad for health and bad for the environment.

Surprisingly, these are valid points. However, there is a way to combat and minimize these adverse effects, which we will discuss later on.

But first, here are some of the reasons why you should air condition your home.

Better Air Quality

When you have an air conditioner, you don’t have to worry about dust, smoke, dirt particles, bacteria, or micro-organism. This is particularly important if you suffer from allergies or asthma.

Air conditioners work by filtering the air and creating a healthy environment inside your home, minimizing the irritants and allergens that can trigger an attack.

The catch is, to continue enjoying these benefits, your air conditioner must function effectively and efficiently throughout its years of service. That is, you have to make sure your system’s filters, coils, and fins are cleaned and properly maintained. If not, your system can become another cause of air pollution in your home.

Decreased Heat-Related Health Risk

This is another crucial factor, which could very easily come first.

Between 2001 and 2010, there were 28,000 reported cases of heat-related hospitalizations. There were also 9,000 cases of heat-related deaths in the US between 1979 and 2013.

An air conditioner could have prevented many of these cases.

Enhanced Workplace Productivity

Suffering from non-specific symptoms or feeling ill or unwell (for no apparent reason) when you step into your working office could be a clear sign of sick building syndrome.

This condition is usually associated with people spending most of their time indoors, more often, in working offices or stations. Unsurprisingly, this feeling of ill-health tends to decrease over time or even disappear when you’re out of the building.

So, how does this relate to air conditioning and your productivity?

Sick building syndrome symptoms worsen if the building you occupy is poorly ventilated. The result is a reduction in work efficiency and an increase in sickness absenteeism.

An air-conditioned environment, therefore, improves not only your health but your work productivity as well.

Better Sleep

This is one I take personally because I love my sleep!

During winter and cool summers, nobody worries about cooling their rooms at night. But once summer’s warm sweltering nights roll around, keeping your bedroom’s temperature or humidity at optimal is no longer an option.

If you don’t, you would either lose sleep or not get sufficient rem sleep. The results of which could be as mild as losing concentration and as severe as impaired memory.

Besides keeping your bedroom’s temperature at a consistent, optimum level, air conditioners also remove excess moisture from the air. As a result, they provide a favorable environment for your body to regulate its temperature – a very critical factor in getting to and staying asleep.

Less External Noise

Depending on the type of air conditioner you choose, there’s a high possibility that your house will be free of noise pollution.

Since the windows and doors of air-conditioned rooms are often closed, there’s little to no noise from the external environment. So, if you’re always concerned about the noise in your neighborhood and the air quality in your home, an air conditioner can give you a quick fix.

Depending on your room size, you might need an air conditioner with a high British Thermal Unit (BTU) rating. Large units are considerably louder, but even these often come with sleep modes.

Plus, some of the units on our list are quieter than fans while delivering significantly more chill.

Portable Air Conditioner Buying Guide

Now that we’ve settled the air conditioner debate, it’s time to choose the right one. Well, almost time to choose.

There are so many different air conditioners, yet none of them beat a portable air conditioner’s convenience and price. As these units are so affordable, it’s tempting to litter your house with a bunch of them.

However, there is an art to choosing the best cheap portable air conditioner. Before we get into that, let’s first understand why buying a portable air conditioner could be the best solution for you.

dual hose portable AC in use

Benefits of Portable Air Conditioners

No Restrictions

The most popular types of air conditioners for cooling small spaces are window air conditioners and cheap portable air conditioners. However, many apartment owners do not allow you to install window air conditioners. The next best alternative would be portable air conditioning units.

While some still require a window for operation, they do not stick out of your home as a window unit does. More importantly, they are portable, so they can easily move from one room to another, cooling only those spaces you’re residing in.

Great for Space-Constrained Areas

If you live in a small apartment, or your room size does not exceed 250 sq ft, these units fit your needs perfectly (some can just about manage 300 square feet like the Whynter Arc).

Unlike cheap window air conditioners under $100 these units are easy to install. Also, they are easy to disassemble and transport to another room for quick cooling or storage.

You also don’t have to sacrifice natural light from your windows. While they’re still vented through a window, the kit only takes up a fraction of window space, meaning you won’t lose the whole view or natural light.

Cuts Cost and Keeps Cool

The first and foremost reason for using a cheap portable air conditioner is to keep your home cool and save energy. These units can be used independently or to supplement central air conditioning systems.

For instance, when you need to cool one or two rooms, cheap portable ACs will be less expensive than turning up the thermostat on your central unit.

Notice the emphasis on cheap portable ACs. If you need more power, you’re going to pay a lot more. On average, an 8,000 BTU portable air conditioner costs $0.11 per hour.  A 10,000 BTU portable air conditioner costs $0.14 per hour. For a 12,000 BTU portable air conditioner, you’re going to spend an extra 2 cents per hour.

So, while portable air conditioners are cheaper, it depends on the BTU rating. Of course, a personal evaporative cooler (swamp cooler) is the cheapest of them all.

Alternative On-the-Go Cooling

Having a reliable cooling system in your RV, travel trailer, or pop-up camper is essential. However, most of these recreational vehicles or motorhomes have unreliable systems, and that’s where portable ACs come to the rescue.

A portable AC, especially a personal evaporative cooler, is an excellent solution for small spaces within these recreational vehicles. They will keep the vehicle comfortable whether your nomadic lifestyle is temporary or permanent.

Cools and Dehumidifies at the Same Time

Some portable air conditioners not only provide efficient cooling for your home but also dehumidify the air. This is especially important if you are sensitive to humidity or live in very humid areas.

An excessively humid indoor environment not only affects your health but also increases the risk of mold infestation and damage to your home. Keeping your indoor air at a reasonable humidity level will also minimize allergy triggers, allowing your family members to breathe comfortably and be healthy.

Factors to Consider When Looking for Cheap Portable AC under $200

Now that we’ve covered the advantages, it’s time to help you pick the best cheap portable air conditioner.

In this section, we’ll tell you what you to look for when shopping for a portable air conditioner for a pop-up camper or home. 

Cost

Having a realistic budget is the most important factor in choosing the best portable air conditioner. Typically, the higher the cooling capacity of an air conditioner, the higher the cost. So, the larger the room, the more you should be willing to spend.

That being said, there are fantastic air conditioners under $200 for a room size of between 200 square feet – 300 square feet, such as hOmeLabs evaporative cooler and Whynter ARC-08WB.

However, for a bigger room, like 400 square feet, you will need a device with a higher British Thermal Unit rating, which costs over $300.

Remember also that the cost of purchasing the unit is only a fraction of the total cost involved, even for a swamp cooler. You should also consider air filter changes, electricity, and other maintenances costs.

Unit Size

positioning a portable air conditioner

One of the benefits of using a portable air conditioner is how easily you can move them from one room to another. Other people also prefer their small size and how they fit in small spaces, like a 200 square feet room, without rearrangement.

If you intend to portable ACs in various rooms, choose a lightweight and easy to move around unit. If it’s huge, make sure it has caster wheels that enable you to push it when transporting it from one room to another.

In this regard, the Costway portable air conditioner takes the prize, as it weighs only 13.5 pounds, which is a fraction of the other large-ish portable ACs on our list.

Room Size

Now, this is the most important factor to consider, and for obvious reasons. If the air conditioner isn’t the right size for your room, then you would have wasted your time and money, no matter how little.

Every portable air conditioner comes with room specifications to prevent disappointed customers. The first thing you need to do, therefore, is to measure your room.

If you are going to be using the unit in different rooms, measure the largest one. It is okay to use a large unit for a smaller space, but you can’t use a small unit for a large space.

So, while the Evapolar can cool your home office, it won’t keep up with your bedroom.

You can check out this table to better understand the number of BTUs you’ll need for specific room sizes.

BTU CHART BASED ON ROOM SIZE

[wpsm_comparison_table id=”9″ class=””]

Keep in mind that this table is just a guideline. Some factors require you to increase the size and power of your portable air conditioner.

Energy Usage

Another important factor is energy efficiency. Portable air conditioners use a lot of energy – about 13% of an average home’s energy bill goes to cooling costs – so you should take the cost of using the unit into consideration.

Portable air conditioners under $200 are designed to minimize energy use, but you should still expect an increase in your monthly electricity bills.

However, the amount of energy it consumes depends on the type of AC you purchased and how you use it. Today, you can find energy-star-rated portable ACs which are more energy-efficient than standard units.

The Costway portable air conditioner does not have an energy star rating, and its 75W usage is seriously impressive.

Additionally, you can save energy by choosing a compact portable AC with programmable thermostats or a 24-hour timer. This feature is designed to automatically switch off the unit when your set temperature is reached.

The Whynter Arc and hOmeLabs portables have 24-hour timers, but the Whynter Arc is also Energy Star rated on 8,000 BTU, making it the most energy-efficient choice for larger rooms.

Ventilation

All portable air conditioners must be able to vent out hot air to cool your space. That is why you need to position your AC close to a window. You can also vent your unit through the floor, ceiling, chimney, or even another room.

If you choose to vent your portable AC through a window, you’ll need a window venting kit – they are usually included with the purchase. Follow the installation process step by step when setting up the air conditioner so that it vents properly.

Sometimes, you may want to position your air conditioner away from the window. In that case, check the maximum width of the window kit. If it can extend to your preferred position, you’re good to go. If not, you’ll need to purchase an extension hose or vent kit that will allow you to install the unit in your preferred spot.

Dual-Hose vs. Single Hose

When you’re shopping for the best cheap portable air conditioners, you’ll come across two hose configurations to choose from: a single hose and a dual hose air conditioner.

You’ll also find ventless air conditioners, which are also known as swamp coolers or portable evaporative coolers.

  • Single Hose Portable AC: This type of unit uses one hose to pull air from within the room and expel warmed air and moisture outside. These units are less efficient since they have to work twice as hard to cool your room.
  • Dual Hose Portable AC: This type of unit utilizes two separate exhaust hoses; an intake hose that draws air into the unit and an exhaust hose. Dual portable air conditioners are more energy-efficient than single-hose ACs. They also cool rooms quickly, approximately 40% quicker than single-hose models. However, they cost a bit more and use more electricity.

The only product on our list with any hose is the Whynter Arc, which has just one. Again, this has to do with the budget, and thankfully, it doesn’t affect performance.

Noise

All air conditioners produce some level of noise. However, this noise isn’t usually distracting, and many people describe it as “background noise.” But that doesn’t mean you should assume all portable air conditioners will be quiet.

If you want a quiet portable air conditioner, you need to look at the decibel rating. At just 25dB, the Evapolar is very quiet and won’t interfere with a baby’s sleep.

If you can’t find the decibel rating on the unit you want to buy, read customer reviews to know what to expect regarding the air conditioner’s noise level.

Installation

Portable air conditioners can only do their job successfully if they are installed correctly and exhaust hot air. This warm air is typically exhausted outside using an included window kit.

This kit has all the information you need to install the unit. This process is relatively quick and straightforward. If you don’t have much DIY experience, hire a professional to do the job for you.

Portable air conditioners are easy to install, so you can do it yourself. We have included an installation guide video so you can have a better idea of the whole process.

If you plan to use the portable AC in more than one room, it’s a good idea to invest in multiple window kits and install them in different areas. This way, you don’t have to disassemble everything when you want to move the unit.

Aesthetics

For some homeowners, the air conditioner’s design isn’t a big deal as long as it’s cooling the room adequately. However, these units take up a little bit of space in your room, and they can be a design hindrance for most homes.

If you care about your interior design and decor, then you’ll want to choose a unit that can integrate well into your space without compromising its cooling capacity and efficiency. That means there has to be a balance between aesthetics and function.

This is possible because you can find different units in different sizes and colors. So, take time to look around, and you should find one that matches your visual preferences.

Condensate Type

Portable air conditioners cool the air in your space as well as remove water from the air. When this water builds up in the unit, you must drain it for the AC to continue functioning correctly. Different portable air conditioners have different draining options:

  • Fully self-evaporative air conditioners are those units that continuously evaporate the extra moisture automatically. This means you don’t have to empty a water tank manually, such as the NewAir AF and a few others on our list.
  • Partially self-evaporative air conditioner works the same way as fully self-evaporative ACs. However, the amount of water that the unit can evaporate depends on how you use it and other environmental factors.
  • Portable air conditioners with a drain hose remove the excess water through an exhaust hose.
  • The most common and uncomplicated type of compact portable air conditioners is one with an internal bucket, which needs to be manually drained regularly, e.g., the Whynter Arc.

Ease of use

While every cheap portable air conditioner is easy to use, some ACs have unique control features that add convenience and influence how much effort they require.

Here are the special features that will add convenience and enhance your cooling experience.

  • Self-evaporating technology: A portable air conditioner with self-evaporating technology removes moisture automatically and expels it out through the vent hose. 
  • Programmable thermostat: This lets you set your air conditioner to run until it reaches a specific temperature level. When it achieves the set temperature, it turns off automatically.
  • Programmable timer: While a programmable thermostat lets you adjust the temperature to the exact point of your comfort, a programmable timer allows you to set your air conditioner to turn on/off within a specific period.
  • Remote control: A remote control enables you to operate the unit even when you’re further away from it.
  • Washable air filters: Some cheap portable air conditioners have disposable or reusable/washable air filters. Both are essential as they help in removing allergens circulating in your home. However, choose a cheap portable air conditioner with washable air filters because they trap 10X more dust and allergens than disposable filters.
  • Multiple fan speeds: A fan will help distribute the air conditioner’s cold air across the room. They can also help you avoid room stuffiness on days when cooling isn’t needed. Multiple fan speeds are even better as you can set the fan to circulate the air at your desired level.
  • Dehumidifier: When your room feels a little too stuffy and humid, a dehumidifier will help dry the air and remove excess moisture. Dehumidifying your room also helps with mold control and other health benefits.
  • Heater/AC Combo: An air conditioner that doubles as a heater can save you the trouble of purchasing a separate portable space heater when the cold weather kicks in.
  • Casters/Carrying Handle: If you intend to use your air conditioner in multiple rooms, you should be concerned about how easy it will be to carry and move around. Casters will ease mobility, while a carrying handle will make it easy to lift, even when it’s a heavy unit.

Portable Air Conditioner Tips and Tricks: How to Install, Maintain and Use Your AC unit.

Portable air conditioners require proper care and maintenance for them to work to their full potential.

To help you learn how to install, maintain and use your AC unit, we have put together the following tips and tricks. With these tips, you’ll increase not only your ACs efficiency but also longevity and overall cooling ability.

Straighten the Exhaust Hose

how to vent portable acIf you want your portable air conditioner to cool the room effectively and stay in good condition, you must straighten the exhaust hose. Whether you vent your AC through a window, wall, ceiling, or door, make sure the hose remains straight without any twists or kinks.

Also, do not attempt to extend the length of the hose. You can only shorten it for maximum efficiency. Make sure your preferred location for positioning the AC is not far away from the window. You can check the specification provided in the window kit manual to verify the length of the hose.

Close the Windows and Doors

The primary role of a portable air conditioner is to cool the room. It gives off cool air that is distributed across the warm room until the entire area is cool. It usually takes some time before the whole room reaches a constant and comfortable temperature.

If you open the window or doors, you hinder this process by introducing warm air into the room. Therefore the AC has to work twice as hard and take much longer to keep the temperature moderate. This can affect the efficiency of the unit and can even become faulty prematurely.

Get an Early Start

Turning on your portable air conditioner a few hours before you need your room cool can help save energy. The best time to turn on the unit is during the cooler hours of the day – early morning and late afternoons. During these hours, the AC takes less time to cool the room because the temperature is relatively cooler.

Take advantage of the programmable timer, if your ac has one, and set the unit to turn on at a time of your choosing.

Turn off Unnecessary Heat Sources

The heat from the sun, light bulbs, and other electronic equipment will keep the room hot, which in turn forces your air conditioner to work much harder. To prevent this, draw the curtains, drop the blinds and turn off any heat source in your house.

It’s also important to change your daily routine. When it’s hot during the day, you can cook outside or use your microwave instead of the oven. While a change in your lifestyle might not seem like a big deal, it can make a big difference in your AC efficiency and save you money in the long term.

Keep it Clean

How often you clean your AC depends on the model you own and how you use it. Some manufacturers recommend you clean or change the filter every week, while others can last for more than a few months before needing attention.

So, even if you have used multiple portable air conditioners before, check the manufacturer’s manual before you start cleaning.

Our Verdict

Now, it is time to unveil our top overall pick. The overall best cheap portable air conditioner under $200 is the Costway Evaporative CoolerIt is lightweight, energy-efficient, it is silent, AND it can cool a good-sized room.

Our runner-up is the Energy Star rated Whynter Arc, which has various helpful features and can be used in intense heat. However, it uses more energy than the Costway and at 54 pounds, it is not as portable.

The third-best option overall and the best for small spaces is the colorful and cute Evapolar EvaLight.

So, there you have it; all the information you need to choose the right inexpensive portable air conditioner. Happy shopping!