At some point during a sweltering summer, most people reach a point when fans simply don’t cut it anymore. Unfortunately, other cooling appliances tend to produce even more noise than most fans! Besides, they’re usually not as easy to move around your house — unless you’re willing to consider mobile units. And even then, you’ll want to get your hands on the quietest portable air conditioner available.
Luckily, there are plenty of products that fit the definition of a quiet air conditioner. They even come with different features that might nudge you into making that purchase. But before we get into all that, let’s talk about how much noise a standard portable air conditioner makes as opposed to quiet units.
How Many Decibels Should a Quiet Portable Air Conditioner Make?
If you tend to prioritize quiet performance when shopping for home appliances, you’re probably familiar with decibel levels. After all, most products that are advertised as being particularly silent make a point of including the noise level they produce in the product description. Sometimes, the manufacturer even puts that number right on the packaging.
The only problem with that is that many brands don’t mention the distance from which such measurements were taken. While some decibel levels signify the amount of noise you’d hear while standing right next to the appliance, others were recorded from 10 feet away — or more!
Still, since these numbers are still a good indication of the noise level you’d have to put up with — you might as well learn what they mean. Typically, the volume of sound you should avoid is higher than 80 decibels. So people shouldn’t be exposed to the sound of alarm clocks, vacuum cleaners, and traffic for too long. The longer you have to hear the sound in question, the greater your chances of developing hearing damage are.
With that in mind, any appliances that need to be active for a long time should produce well under 70 decibels. As you may be aware, sounds in the 70-decibel range are about half as loud as those in the 80-decibel range. So even that will take you out of the danger zone, so you should ideally look for units that produce under 50 decibels.
If even that is too loud, getting some distance between you and the AC unit should help. And you could also check out the other tips I’ll share after the reviews. For now, let’s discuss some of the other features you should have in the quiet air conditioner of your dreams.
Before you start looking for the portable air conditioner of your dreams, you ought to keep a few things in mind. To begin with, you should familiarize yourself with the concept of BTU ratings.
Energy Efficiency (BTU vs ASHRAE) and Room Capacity
One of the first things you’ll notice when we get into our reviews — or when you go looking for air conditioners in general — is the BTU rating in every product name. Typically, you’ll be looking at 8,000, 10,000, 12,000, and 14,000 BTU units. Since BTU stands for British thermal unit, that number is a signifier of the heat the unit is capable of removing.
In recent years, manufacturers have started to add different BTU ratings followed by the words DOE and ASHRAE. Those stand for the Department of Energy and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, respectively. So you can feel free to disregard those acronyms unless you’re specifically looking for a certain score.
In general, though, most consumers use those numbers to quickly determine the space an AC unit can process. Typically:
- An 8,000 BTU unit can cool up to 200 square feet
- A 10,000 BTU unit can cool up to 300 square feet
- A 14,000 BTU unit can cool between 450 and 600 square feet
But of course, all that depends on the height of your ceilings as well. If you have particularly tall ceilings, you’ll want to spring for a unit with a greater cooling capacity.
Functionality (Key Features)
Most traditional portable air conditioners can perform cooling, dehumidifying, and blowing (fan) actions. They also allow the user to set the speed at which those functions are performed. However, as you’ll find out later on, those aren’t actually the quietest portable AC units you could get.
Rather, that prize seems to go to evaporative coolers even though they are less effective at keeping the temperature down. Since they use water and fans to cool down the room, they are often the quietest units you might find. And since they add moisture rather than removing it from the air — they don’t need to have an exhaust hose.
Like most window-mounted air conditioners, portable units usually come with some kind of remote control feature. Either they’ll have actual remote control devices or the manufacturer will enable app connectivity. Whichever option you choose, you’ll be glad to be able to control your AC from the comfort of your couch.
As we have established, traditional portable air conditioners also function as dehumidifiers. That means that you’ll have to do something about the moisture they wick from the air. Even the ones that claim to be self-evaporating will eventually need to be drained if you don’t want to see a puddle forming on the floor. But then, that’s what those window mounting exhaust pipes are for.
Additionally, those kinds of AC units also require the occasional filter replacement. However, you can also make your filter last a bit longer by washing it every two weeks or so. That is — as long as the manufacturer has specified that their filter is, in fact, washable.
On the other hand, evaporative coolers also require their fair share of maintenance. After all, you’ll have to fill them with water or ice several times per day. And, if you don’t use filtered water, you’ll also have to clean the tank every other week.
As you’ll soon find out, most of the big portable ACs can be pushed around on caster wheels. Many of them even have built-in handles to help with the chore. But believe it or not, traditional AC units still aren’t that easy to move around.
Namely, most of them have to be connected to an exhaust pipe that leads to a window. And the pipes that come with the units can be anywhere from 8, down to 4 feet long! So really, those wheels are only there to help you direct the airflow or get the unit out of the way at the end of the season.
But if you’re looking for miniature ACs you can lift and take around the house with you — stick around. The miniature evaporative coolers you’ll see at the end of the following list might be just what you need.
Best Quiet Portable Air Conditioners for Homes and Offices
At this point, you can probably find your way around a portable air conditioner lineup. But just to save you the effort, here are some of the best quiet AC units you’ll find right now.
1. BLACK+DECKER BPACT08WT Portable Air Conditioner With Remote Control
When it comes to small home appliances like mini-fridges and, indeed, portable air conditioner units, BLACK+DECKER has got you covered. In the interest of giving other brands a fighting shot, we’re only going to highlight one BLACK+DECKER unit.
The model in question is about 26 inches tall, 16.5 inches wide, and 11.5 inches deep. As you’ll see, the white upright unit looks pretty standard, with caster wheels in the bottom and two built-in handles on the sides. Those features are sure to come in handy since the unit itself weighs about 53 pounds.
Now, the control panel is located above the air vent near the top of the unit. However, since the product comes with a small remote control, you won’t have to get up to adjust the settings. The device has several working modes, including one that helps it adjust the temperature of a room while you’re sleeping. You can also control its fan speed and even set the timer for up to 24 hours.
On top of all that, the AC unit should also effectively reduce the humidity in areas between 100 and 150 square feet. It’ll even be easy to maintain, thanks to the washable filter and automatic water evaporation feature. Best of all, the unit comes with all the parts you’ll need for the setup — even the exhaust hose!
- 26 by 16.5 by 11.5 inches
- Cools between 100 and 150 square feet
- Produces up to 75 decibels
- 5,000 BTU DOE (8,000 BTU ASHRAE)
- Comes with an exhaust hose and remote control
» BLACK+DECKER Portable AC (Amazon) «
2. SereneLife slpac8 Portable Electric Air Conditioner Unit
The next item on our list may not have the sleek and pristine appearance of the previous contender, but it promises a quieter performance. According to measurements that were taken from about 10 feet away, this SereneLife unit only makes about 56 decibels of noise while operating.
Even though the cooling capacity of this unit is similar to the previous one at 4,000 BTU DOE and 8,000 BTU ASHRAE, it’s seemingly able to cool larger areas. Apparently, the unit has proven itself useful in rooms that are up to 225 square feet. It’s even capable of removing 1.2 liters of moisture from the air per hour. So like the previous product, this one is classified as a room cooler, dehumidifier, and fan. In other words, it’s a 3-in-1 air conditioner.
Other similarities between these first two units include the fact that both have a washable filter as well as a remote control. Even though everything is in a different place, this unit has similar features to the previous one, including a 24-hour timer. This product also comes with a universal window mount exhaust kit which includes a window seal in addition to an exhaust pipe.
The SereneLife portable AC unit weighs about the same as the previous one on our list at 53 pounds. However, according to its dimensions, it is a bit taller and slimmer from the front, at least. You’ll find a conveniently located handle in the back of the device, allowing you to push it around on its wheels.
- 27.2 by 14.6 by 13.8 inches
- Cools up to 225 square feet
- Produces 56 decibels (from 10 feet away)
- 8,000 BTU (up to 14,000 BTU)
- Comes with an exhaust hose, window seal, and a remote control
» SereneLife Portable AC (Amazon) «
3. Airo Comfort Quiet Portable Air Conditioning Machine
Airo Comfort kindly produced yet another quiet but powerful air conditioning unit for your consideration. While an 8,000 BTU version capable of cooling up to 200 square feet is available, we’ve chosen to feature the 14,000 BTU unit, which can process up to 600 square feet.
The white unit with a black top stands at 30.5 inches tall. It’s about 15 inches deep and just shy of 18 inches wide. As always, you’ll have some integrated handles in the back and four caster wheels helping you move the appliance around. The cool air will be dispersed from the very top of the device, where the control panel is also positioned.
The current temperature of the room will be conveniently displayed not just above the control panel but also under the logo on the front side of the unit. However, if you don’t want the LED lights disrupting your sleep, you can always turn the temperature indicator off. Simply press the LED button on the remote control and the lights should go dark.
Like some other air conditioners of this caliber, this unit has a double-layered air filter you should ideally wash every two weeks or so. In the meantime, the component will effectively trap any pollutants along with the moisture the dehumidifier feature takes from the air.
In addition to the cooling and dehumidifying modes, the device also has plain old spinning fans that can be set to three different speeds. On the slowest setting, you shouldn’t hear more than 50 A-weighted decibels.
- 30.5 by 17.8 by 15 inches
- Cools between 450 and 600 square feet
- 50 A-weighted decibels
- 14,000 BTU and 8,600 SACC (or 5,000 SACC or 8.600 SACC)
- Comes with a remote and all window installation components, including a hose
» Airo Comfort Portable AC (Amazon) «
4. RolliCool Alexa-Enabled Portable Air Conditioner
Rollibot’s RolliCool air conditioners have quite a unique appearance — they’re almost cuboid. This one has a base measuring 13 by 12 inches, and its height coming up to 30.5 inches. The device has a large oscillating grille in the front, right above the company logo, while the LED control panel takes up the top side. There are also two handles carved out of the sides, allowing you to pull the 48.4-pound unit on its caster wheels.
The device has three main functions, including cooling, fan only, and dehumidifying, which should be able to cover up to 275 square feet. On its own, the device could pull up to 40 liters of moisture out of the air. Naturally, you’ll be able to engage the timer feature with any of these modes. Best of all, this AC can do all that without exceeding a volume level of about 52 decibels!
At this point, you might find yourself looking for flaws. And, to be fair, there is one potential detriment — depending on whether you enjoy smart home appliances or not. Namely, if you want to adjust the temperature remotely, you’ll just have to ask Alexa to do it for you. So this unit doesn’t come with a regular remote control.
Instead, you can connect it to Alexa through any 2.4 or 5.0 GHz Wi-Fi network or even just via Bluetooth. Once you do, you’ll be able to remotely power on the device and even tweak the temperature.
- 30.5 by 13 by 12 inches
- Cools up to 275 square feet
- Produces about 52 decibels of noise
- 10,000 BTU
- Alexa-compatible comes with a window kit and drainage hoses
» RolliCool Portable AC (Amazon) «
5. COMFYHOME 3-In-1 Evaporative Air Cooler With Humidifier
If COMFYHOME is to be believed, this 3-in-1 evaporative cooler might just be the quietest portable AC unit we’ve been looking for. On the slowest fan speed setting, the unit will only produce 35 decibels of noise. Conversely, the fastest setting can create an airflow of 455 cubic feet per minute. At that speed, any sound the device produces will basically be white noise.
Unlike the other air conditioners we’ve mentioned, this one works by allowing the water in its tank to soak through its filter, which is then cooled with fans. So rather than being a dehumidifier as well as an air conditioner, this cooler adds moisture to the air. Depending on the kind of climate you live in, you might find that a particularly useful feature.
With an empty tank, the unit only weighs about 9 pounds, even though it’s only slightly smaller than the other products on this list. Even when you fill the tank up with water, the device will be easy enough to move, thanks to the built-in handle in the back and the wheels it stands on.
Now, there are two access points to the water tank, allowing you to fill it in the back or from the top. Conveniently, the LED display panel is also situated on top of the device. However, you can also use the remote control that comes with the unit to alternate fan speeds, engage the 65-degree oscillation, or set the 12-hour timer.
- Evaporative cooler and humidifier
- 22 by 10 by 11 inches
- Cools up to 170 square feet
- Produces 35 decibels of noise
- Two integrated water tanks and two bonus ice packs
» COMFYHOME Portable AC (Amazon) «
6. Socool Portable Water Tank Air Conditioner
Since we’ve already broached the subject of evaporative coolers, there’s another kind of product you ought to keep in mind. If your desk fan can no longer offer the relief you need, try a tabletop evaporative cooler!
These kinds of products aren’t like the first few AC units on this list — they don’t hook up to an exhaust pipe that leads to your window. And like the previous evaporative cooler we’ve discussed, they add, rather than remove moisture from the air. So if the exhaust setup and dehumidifying functions were dealbreakers for you, these devices might suit you better.
If you need a bedside AC or something to keep you cool while you’re working, these little guys could get the job done. This 2.16-pound device is only 9.1 inches tall, 5.7 inches wide, and 6.1 inches deep. In this example, you’ll see that the body of the unit is pearl white and has a handle attached to the top. But that’s only one of the many color schemes you can find.
In essence, this evaporative cooler works in the same way as the previous product on this list. However, rather than having a tank that fits a gallon of water, this one only fits about 700ml. The modest reservoir will afford you up to 9 hours of cooling and humidifying action depending on the fan speed you use. Best of all, you can rely on its 5000 mAh rechargeable battery when you move it around.
- Mini humidifying AC
- 9.1 by 5.7 by 6.1 inches
- 700 ml tank provides up to 9 hours of cooling
- Ultra quiet operation
- Rechargeable 5000mAh battery
» Socool Portable AC (Amazon) «
7. Air Choice Portable Mini Air Conditioner
This personal air cooler from Air Choice is fairly similar to the previous product. Nevertheless, we wanted you to have some options.
This unit only makes about 45 decibels of noise so it won’t bother you while you work or sleep. It has a 500 ml tank capacity, which may give it a decent run time — again, depending on the fan speed you use. Even so, you’ll only have between 6 and 8 hours of cool breeze.
Obviously, these small devices can’t do much to cool anything outside of the fan’s path. But still, if you only want to cool one person and save some money while you’re at it, these evaporative coolers are the best option for you.
- Mini humidifying AC
- 5.7 by 5.7 by 7.1 inches
- 500 ml tank provides 6–8 hours of cooling
- Produces 45 decibels of noise
- Batteries or USB charging
» Air Choice Portable AC (Amazon) «
How to Make Your Portable Air Conditioner Quieter
If you have already bought your portable air conditioner only for it to start making more noise than you signed up for, there are a few ways to silence it:
- First, you’ll want to check if your device is level. After all, the refrigerant liquid in your AC won’t be able to move properly if the unit is standing on uneven ground. If a bubble level confirms that that is the case, put folded papers under the caster wheels as a temporary fix while you work on leveling the floor.
- If your AC unit is sitting on a hard floor, it might be transferring the fan vibrations through the plastic wheels. Putting a thicker carpet under the appliance should eliminate the noise.
- Naturally, most devices are going to be louder when forced to run at maximum speed. So one way to keep them quiet would be to use the slowest speed setting — at least while you’re in the room. If you put it on high speed when you go on a grocery run, your home will be cool by the time you get back.
- Alternatively, you could put your air conditioner further away, or even in a different room, and use fans to get that cool air over to where you are.
- Make sure the device isn’t exposed to the sun. Obviously, these AC units need to be close to a window because of the exhaust hose. Still, having a dark curtain in place should prevent the AC from overheating.
Since you can’t disrupt any of the AC unit’s functions, implementing these tricks will have to do.
See also: How To Quiet A Noisy Air Conditioner
So What’s the Verdict?
By now, you probably know what kind of AC units are the quietest. As we’ve found out, that honor goes to the evaporative coolers on our list. However, those aren’t exactly the most efficient appliances in this case. Moreover, if you live in an area with particularly humid summers, you’ll definitely want to avoid them.
Luckily, even though the traditional portable air conditioners reviewed above are louder — 50 decibels isn’t that bad! So just pick whichever one struck your fancy and enjoy the cool, dry air.