Air conditioners can be bulky energy hogs, with even the smallest versions weighing upward of 50 pounds. Taking them on the road is inconvenient or impossible. While there’s no replacement for a good air-conditioning unit, there is a chance for some relief from the heat with a personal air conditioner.
Unlike other portable air conditioners, window units, and central air conditioners, personal AC units lack the powerful refrigerant other air conditioners use to cool air. However, they can create a cool mist by using ice water instead to offer some relief on a scorching summer day.
In addition to using far less power than a standard air conditioner—many can run for hours on a rechargeable battery alone—they’re much smaller. A portable air cooler can make an ideal companion for camping trips, a day at the beach, and other outdoor excursions.
This guide will delve into the world of personal air conditioners to cover how they work and to identify the features that are important to look for in the best personal air conditioner.
- BEST OVERALL: ComfortneSS Mini Air Conditioner
- RUNNER-UP: Mistletoe Portable Air Conditioner
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: ConBlom Portable Air Conditioner
- MOST PORTABLE: Arctic Air Pocket Chill Personal Air Cooler
- BEST RECHARGEABLE: Hamswan Evaporative Air Cooler
- BEST FEATURES: Judrt Portable Air Conditioner
- ALSO CONSIDER: Wolmund Portable Air Conditioner
How We Chose the Best Personal Air Conditioner
We considered several factors when choosing from dozens of personal air conditioners for our list. We included models with reservoirs large enough to supply cool air for at least 4 hours. A portable air cooler should also be easy to carry from room to room, so we included portable units that are compact and lightweight enough to transport. We leaned toward models that offer useful additional functions, including oscillation settings, shut-off timers, and night lights. Plus, we included models that run off rechargeable batteries, giving you the ability to use them virtually anywhere.
Our Top Picks
The list below narrows the field to some of the top personal air conditioners on the market. These machines are small enough to take on the road, have ample reservoirs that can hold enough water to cool for hours, and include useful additional features.
With its numerous extra features and large reservoir, this personal air conditioner is a great alternative to a traditional air conditioner. It comes equipped with a 600-milliliter reservoir, allowing it to create more cool air (through evaporation) for longer than other personal air conditioners with smaller reservoirs.
This mini portable air conditioner, which runs off a USB power cord, also comes with four fan speeds and oscillates up to 160 degrees, and there are louvers that allow you to adjust the flow of air up or down. It comes equipped with an auto-shutoff timer that you can set to 2, 4, or 6 hours, and it doubles as an LED night light with seven color options, making it ideal for bedrooms. This personal air conditioner travels easy with its compact size and convenient carrying handle.
- Longevity: 8 hours
- Additional features: Night light, auto shut-off timer
- Size: 9.5 inches high by 5.9 inches wide by 4.2 inches deep
- 4 fans speeds; oscillates up to 160 degrees
- Large reservoir lasts up to 8 hours
- Auto-shutoff timer with 3 timed shut-off options
- A little bulkier than other personal air conditioners out there
Get the ComfortneSS personal air conditioner at Amazon.
Multiple speeds, a large water tank, and useful additional features make the Mistletoe one of the best all-around personal air conditioners on the market. The unit uses a 550-milliliter tank to create ample cooling power through the process of evaporation. Three fan speeds and adjustable louvers allow you to manage the flow of cold air.
An LED night light with seven color options is built into its water tank, making it a great option for bedrooms. There’s also an aromatherapy box on the top of the unit where you can add essential oils. Its lightweight design and compact size make it easy to transport from room to room. The Mistletoe runs off of a USB power cord and requires an adapter.
- Longevity: 6 hours
- Additional features: Night light, aromatherapy
- Size: 8.66 inches high by 5.31 inches wide by 4.02 inches deep
- Also functions as an aromatherapy machine and night light
- Compact size and handle make it easy to move
- 3 fan speeds allow you to adjust airflow
- Doesn’t come with its own power adapter
Get the Mistletoe personal air conditioner at Amazon.
ConBlom’s personal air conditioners are an affordable solution for keeping cool while working at a desk or sleeping. Similar to other personal air conditioners, it creates cool air by evaporating water from its built-in reservoir. The ConBlom air conditioner has three fan speeds, the highest of which has a range of up to 4 feet.
Unlike other personal air conditioners that require a standard power outlet separate charging unit, the ConBlom comes with its own built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery, which allows it to run for up to 8 hours on a single charge. With its compact size and handy carrying strap, it’s easy to carry from place to place.
- Longevity: 8 hours
- Additional features: Aromatherapy, rechargeable battery
- Size: 6.7 inches high by 3.8 inches wide by 6.7 inches deep
- Fan has a range of up to 4 feet
- Comes with a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts up to 8 hours
- Compact size and carry strap make it easy to transport
- Some customers complain that the air conditioner’s fan isn’t powerful enough
Get the ConBlom personal air conditioner at Amazon.
This pocket-size personal air conditioner is a great solution for keeping cool while on the go. The fan is about the size of a smartphone and weighs less than 8 ounces, making it easy to carry in a pocket or purse. The three-speed fan uses a small water reservoir to create cool air through evaporation.
The Arctic Air personal air conditioner runs off a rechargeable battery and lasts for up to 12 hours on a single charge. A built-in kickstand allows it to stand upright on a flat surface, such as a desktop. In addition to functioning as a handheld air conditioner, it also serves as an LED night light with seven color options.
- Longevity: 3 to 12 hours
- Additional features: Night light, rechargeable battery
- Size: 8.78 inches high by 6.02 inches wide by 1.26 inches deep
- Small enough to fit inside a pocket or a purse
- Small reservoir allows it to create cool air through evaporation
- Functions as both a night light and a personal air conditioner
- Small size limits its airflow to very short distances
Get the Arctic Air personal air conditioner at Amazon or Walmart.
This personal air conditioner’s ability to oscillate makes it ideal for cooling off more than one person at a time. It uses its 6-ounce reservoir to provide cooling through evaporation. The three-speed fan can oscillate 90 degrees to reach a broader area than most personal air conditioners, and its louvers allow you to direct the airflow up or down.
A rechargeable lithium-ion battery powers the fan for up to 4 to 6 hours. In addition to functioning as a fan, the Hamswan air cooler, which uses a USB power cable, also comes equipped with an LED night light that has two color options.
- Longevity: 4 to 6 hours
- Additional features: Night light, rechargeable battery
- Size: 7.09 inches high by 5.51 inches long by 5.12 inches deep
- Functions as both a personal air conditioner and a night light
- Powered by a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 6 hours
- Oscillates up to 90 degrees, allowing it to distribute air over a broad area
- Some customers complain about the quality of the air conditioner’s construction
Get the Hamswan personal air conditioner at Amazon or Walmart.
Judrt’s portable air conditioning unit comes loaded with extra features that make it more than just a portable air conditioner. Similar to other personal air conditioners, this model uses the process of evaporation to create cool air. It comes equipped with a large 800-milliliter tank (most personal AC units have far less capacity), which gives it an above-average running time of 8 to 10 hours.
There are four fan speeds, and adjustable louvers allow you to direct the air 120 degrees up or down. The Judrt has plenty of useful extras, including a shut-off timer and a night light with seven color options. Though a little larger than other personal air conditioners at about 2 pounds, the Judrt personal AC is still easy to carry from room to room.
- Longevity: 8 to 10 hours
- Additional features: Night light, shut-off timer
- Size: 9.5 inches high by 6.5 inches wide by 5.6 inches deep
- Comes with a shut-off timer with 4 programmable options
- Includes LED night light with 7 color options
- Large 800-milliliter reservoir lasts for up to 10 hours
- Some customers complain that it doesn’t cool the air enough
Get the Judrt personal air conditioner at Amazon.
This personal air conditioner comes equipped with long-lasting ice packs, quiet noise level, and multiple speed options. Unlike most portable AC units, which work by evaporating water, this unit creates cool air via two leakproof cold packs. A fan with three adjustable speeds blows over the packs, distributing cool air over a broad 120-degree wide angle. The packs last up to 10 hours before requiring a recharge in the freezer.
With a box shape that measures about 6 inches wide by 6 inches deep and a carrying handle, the Wolmund personal air conditioner, which runs off a USB power cord, is easy to carry from room to room.
- Longevity: 10 hours
- Additional features: None
- Size: 9.5 inches high by 6.5 inches wide by 5.6 inches deep
- Provides cool air for up to 10 hours via 2 cold packs
- Compact size, light weight, and handle make it easy to carry
- Can cover more area thanks to fan with 120-degree wide angle
- Some customers complain that it takes the ice packs too long to freeze
Get the Wolmund personal air conditioner at Amazon.
What to Consider When Choosing a Personal Air Conditioner
How long a personal air conditioner lasts before it needs a recharge or a reservoir refill is important to consider when shopping. Ahead, learn more about these and other features of these small cooling devices.
Most personal air conditioners are not intended to cool an entire room (they lack the cooling power for that job) but rather to provide relief to someone sitting near the fan. Personal air conditioner tank sizes range from 500 milliliters to 700 milliliters, which give them an operating time of about 4 to 8 hours, depending on the fan speed. You’ll want to take a look at average runtime as you shop.
Personal air conditioners work by evaporating ice water and distributing the cool air with a fan; as a result, unlike standard air conditioners that have a compressor, they use very little electricity. In fact, many models can run entirely off of a rechargeable battery for hours.
The main function of any air conditioner is to produce cool air. The best personal air conditioners do this by pulling in air from the surrounding area, passing it through a wick moistened with ice water, evaporating the water, and distributing it back through the air with a small fan.
Since personal air conditioners evaporate air, they also offer the side benefit of adding humidity to a space. This allows personal air conditioners to serve a double function as cool mist humidifiers. Most models also have a mode that allows the air conditioner to work exactly like a standard fan.
Since personal air conditioners do not use a compressor, they are much quieter than other types of air conditioners. They produce a noise similar to that of a small fan, which is about 30 to 40 decibels.
Ease of Use
Personal air conditioners are simple to use. They require the user to load the reservoir with ice water, then turn the air conditioner to its cool setting and set the fan speed. Most personal air conditioners will run for at least 4 hours before requiring a refill of the reservoir; some run for as many as 12 hours on one fill.
The personal air conditioner’s controls typically appear on the unit’s housing. Some models include a convenient remote control that allows you to change the unit’s settings without having to leave the desk or get out of bed. Since personal air conditioners are designed to be portable, most include handles that make them easy to carry.
Personal air conditioners come with a variety of additional features that add functionality while making them easier to use. This includes colored LED lights that you can adjust to one of seven colors—to set mood lighting or a night light, for instance.
Other features include programmable timers that can shut the air conditioner off after a selected preset time of 2 or 4 hours. Some models also include oscillating functions that cause the fan to oscillate 60 to 120 degrees to distribute cool air to more than one spot. And some models offer small reservoirs that hold essential oils the fan can distribute with chilled air.
Since personal humidifiers and air conditioners usually sit on nightstands, desktops, and other conspicuous places, they typically look attractive. Many feature streamlined boxy looks with touch controls that give them an appearance that’s similar to popular virtual assistant devices. Most come in neutral colors that blend easily with a room’s decor, including black and white.
If you still have questions about how well personal air conditioners work, then read on for answers to some of the most commonly asked queries about these devices.
Q. How much electricity does a personal air conditioner use?
Personal air conditioners are very energy efficient and use far less electricity than a traditional air conditioner. The average personal air conditioner uses about 10 watts of electricity per hour. This is just a small fraction of the 900 to 1,440 watts per hour that a window air conditioning unit uses.
Q. How effective are personal air conditioners?
Personal air conditioners provide cooler air than a standard fan; however, they are no replacement for a traditional air conditioner that uses refrigerant and a compressor. To be most effective, they need to blow directly onto the user from no more than a few feet away. Unlike a traditional air conditioner, they will not reduce the temperature in a room.
Q. Can a personal air conditioner cool a room?
A personal air conditioner does not have enough cooling power to reduce the temperature in a room. This type of air conditioner evaporates water to cool the air that blows out of it by a few degrees. While the moving air that the personal air conditioner’s fan creates and the mist in the air has the effect of making you feel cooler when the fan blows directly on you, it won’t actually reduce the air temperature in the room like a traditional air conditioner.
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