Portable air conditioners aren’t very energy efficient or effective at adequately cooling a room. These are far more expensive than our window AC units, and they’re often louder. They’re also, uh, not very portable. We haven’t tested many, but these two are solid options, if you must have one.
EcoFlow Wave for $1,499: The Wave (4,000 BTU) has done a pretty great job cooling my partner’s 150-square-foot office during the most recent heat wave. Standing directly in front of the outflow is immensely cooler than the entire room, but it made the whole space much more. You’ll definitely want to install the exhaust tube and direct it to a comfortable window, otherwise, the heat it generates will nullify the cold air. You can plug it into any AC outlet, use it with EcoFlow’s add-on battery pack when the power’s out (or if you’re out glamping), or hook it up to a solar charger. (At max settings, the battery pack offered around two to three hours of cooling.) There’s an app you can use to control it remotely, and at 39 pounds, it’s reasonably portable. It produces excess water when cooling, but the Wave sprays this on its internal condenser to evaporate it. I never had to drain any water, but if you’re in a high humidity environment, you might need to use the included draining tube to direct it elsewhere.
Zero Breeze Mark II for $1,499: At 2,300 BTU, you won’t be able to get the same cooling power as the EcoFlow Wave, but the Zero Breeze (7/10, WIRED Review) is much lighter at 17 pounds. This bundle includes a battery that will make the whole thing weigh about 30 pounds, but you’ll get four hours of use without needing to be near a wall outlet. Like the EcoFlow, you get a few vent pipes to direct exhaust away and direct cool air to a specific area, but unlike the EcoFlow, you can’t charge the battery and use the AC at the same time.