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How to Clean an Air Conditioner

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Photo: Alejandra Matos

A filthy fan or air conditioner is not only less efficient at cooling you down, it’s also a potential health risk, especially if you have sensitive lungs or allergies.

“If you don’t maintain them well, and everything you breathe is filtering through this gigantic sheet of dust, that’s not very helpful,” Dr. Richard Lebowitz, a rhinologist in New York City, told The New York Times in 2017.

So don’t wait to clean your fan or AC until next summer, when the sweltering heat is overbearing. Instead, clean it now, before you store your AC or fan for the cooler months. If you live in warm climates year-round, you should clean your AC or fan at least once a month.

 

What you’ll need

  • Hot water: If your fan is really gross, you may want to have some vinegar and dish soap handy.
  • Rags or paper towels: We like the Utopia Towels Kitchen Bar Mops for wiping down big messes, including a dirty fan. These towels are cheap, so you don’t have to worry when they get stained or tattered. If you opt for paper towels, we like the Bounty Select-A-Size Paper Towels.
  • A toothbrush or sponge for scrubbing: Put that free toothbrush from the dentist to good use. If you use a sponge, we like the Scotch-Brite Heavy Duty Scrub Sponges.
  • A flat-head screwdriver, butter knife, or something similar: This will make it easier to open the fan. Some models require a Phillips head screwdriver, so it may be helpful to have a multi-bit screwdriver.
  • A vacuum (optional)

How long will this take?

Set aside half an hour, although time may vary depending on the kind of fan or AC you own. You may also need to add some extra time to allow the components to dry.

How to clean a fan

This fan had not been cleaned in more than two years. You should clean a fan at least once a month. Photo: Alejandra Matos

Remove the cover to access the blades

If you still have the instructions, they may offer you some guidance; here are the cleaning instructions (PDF) for our favorite room fan.

Examine the fan to locate the seams between the plastic parts. Remove any screws holding them together; then wedge your knife or flat-head screwdriver into the seam and gently pry the two halves apart. They should pop right open. Try to avoid touching the casing around the motor itself, so you don’t have to mess with any electronics.

Remove any dust that’s collected on the blades

Use a vacuum to remove large amounts of buildup. Photo: Alejandra Matos

If there is a lot of buildup, you’ll need to use a vacuum to remove the thick layer of dust on the blades.

After you’ve taken care of the big, obvious stuff, scrub the blades using hot water. Depending on how gnarly they are, you may want to add vinegar or soap to the water. And you can really get at grime with a toothbrush or sponge. Otherwise, a wet rag should do the trick.

Once the fan blades are clean, repeat to remove any dust on the outer case or grille.

One thing to note: the PDF instructions for the Vornado 630 (our top pick) instructs readers to remove the fan blades from the motor shaft before cleaning. But several Wirecutter staffers found from personal experience that the blades wouldn’t budge. Instead of trying to remove the blades, you can simply clean the backs while they remain attached, just as we explain above, and it should be fine.

Use a toothbrush to remove dust from the outer case. Photo: Alejandra Matos

Dry it all out

All the pieces need to dry out completely before you reassemble the fan. To be safe, let them dry for at least an hour. Afterward, put the fan back together.

This is the fan after it’s been cleaned. Photo: Alejandra Matos

Note: Tower fans are notoriously difficult to take apart or clean, and this is a large part of why we don’t recommend them. In order to thoroughly clean our former Seville pick, you had to dismantle nearly every part of the fan and clean each tiny hole with a cotton swab.

How to clean an air conditioner

This AC unit’s reusable filter hasn’t been cleaned in a year. Photo: Alejandra Matos

Pay attention to the filter

Whether you have a window AC or central air, it should have some kind of filter. And it’s incredibly important that you clean or replace the filter according to the instructions.

Window or Portable AC: Clean the filter every month

Most window air conditioners have a reusable filter. The filter blocks dust from getting into the important parts of the system. It’s sort of like the lint filter on a clothes dryer—it’s usually easy to remove, sliding out from the front of the unit.

Vacuum the AC filter at least once a month. Photo: Alejandra Matos

You should take the filter out at least once a month to clean it, “or it can lead to both poor performance and biological growth,” says Gary Woodruff, sales and marketing manager at HD Air. Most modern units (including all the models we tested) have a light that will remind you to do this after every 250 hours of use. Most WiFi-connected ACs will send you a cleaning reminder through the app as well.

Woodruff recommends vacuuming your filter, and then rinsing it off with hot water and leaving it to dry. “A mild detergent should be fine as well,” he says. “But I’d be cautious on something acidic like vinegar unless it was in the manufacturer’s instructions,” Woodruff adds.

This is what the AC filter looks like after it has been cleaned. Photo: Alejandra Matos

Drain condensed water

While your filter is drying, empty the condensation from the base of your air conditioner (you may need someone to help you do this, especially with a Portable unit). Some models come with a drainage plug, but otherwise, simply tilt the AC toward the back and pour out the water. This is particularly important to do before you put your AC back into storage for the winter.

Central AC: Turn off your system before you do anything else

Trust me, you don’t want to get a face full of unfiltered dust.

Replace your filter every one to three months

Most central air systems use 1-inch, medium-efficiency MERV filters, such as the Nordic Pure MERV 12. Depending on the specifics of your home (and pets), you should replace these every one to three months. “If the filter looks dirty, it is dirty,” Woodrow says. “The smallest particles get pulled into the filter, causing it to turn gray or brown, so it’s possible that it’s time to replace the filter even if it’s not covered with dust on the surface.

If you want your filter to last a little longer, you could try vacuuming off any obvious debris (read: pet hair) that’s collected on the surface, but don’t try to push it. A dirty filter will make your system less efficient, which means it’ll cost more to run. So it’s worth spending the money for a regular replacement.

If you have a 4- to 6-inch-wide high-efficiency media air filter, you should check on it every six months, even though it could last up to a year. Check with your service person to figure out the specifics of your system. If you have a smart thermostat, some are able to remind you when it’s time for a replacement filter.

Throw out your old filter

Your old filter is going to be full of dust, so make sure you dispose of it right away. It’s a good idea to wrap it in its own plastic trash bag and tie it off immediately, so the dust doesn’t escape. Our favorite filters are made of recycled (and recyclable) beverage board paper, but check your local ordinances and the filter materials before you dispose of the filter.

Double-check that your new filter actually fits

Photo: Alejandra Matos

Most filters are marked with a directional arrow that shows you which way the air should be flowing. Make sure this matches up with your equipment. Otherwise, all that dust and debris—and maybe even the filter itself—will get sucked into the system.

You should also check that the filter fits snugly into the slot. Even if the filter is the right width, it may not be the correct length. And that can be a problem.

“If air can get around the filter, so can dust and debris,” Woodruff explains. If this happens—or if your filter is loose for some other reason—you can try to seal the gaps with duct tape, or ask your HVAC service provider if they can add a cover to keep the system air-tight.

Bring in a professional to look at your HVAC system once a year

Changing the filter is crucial, but regular maintenance will help your central air system live a long and healthy life. A routine checkup by a professional serviceperson will ensure that your system is working at maximum efficiency, and it will catch any problems that might make things worse over time. Newer systems may need less attention; older systems may need more. Find a local company you can trust, and let it be your guide.

Meet your guide

Thom Dunn

Thom Dunn is an associate staff writer at Wirecutter reporting on HVAC and other home improvement topics. Sometimes his curiosity gets the best of him, such as when he plugged a space heater and a Marshall guitar amp into the same power strip. Pro tip: Don’t do that.

Further reading

Wirecutter is the product recommendation service from The New York Times. Our journalists combine independent research with (occasionally) over-the-top testing so you can make quick and confident buying decisions. Whether it’s finding great products or discovering helpful advice, we’ll help you get it right (the first time).

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Best Portable Air Conditioner And Heater Combo 2023

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Table of Contents_

  • Top 10 Best Portable Air Conditioners and Heaters
    •  #1  Whynter ARC-147WFH Portable Air Conditioner
    •  #2  Honeywell MO10CESWB Compact Portable Air Conditioner
    •  #3  Ukoke USPC01W Smart Portable Air Conditioner
    •  #4  Newair AC-14100H Portable Air Conditioner
    •  #5  Honeywell MN4HFS9 Portable Air Conditioner
    •  #6  Whynter ARC-148MHP Portable Air Conditioner
    •  #7  LG ‎LP1021BHSM Portable Air Conditioner
    •  #8  Black & Decker BPACT12HWT Portable Air Conditioner
    •  #9  Shinco SPF1-12 WiFi Portable Air Conditioner
    •  #10  Frigidaire FHPC102AB1 Portable Air Conditioner
    • How We Decided
  • Best Portable Air Conditioners and Heaters Buyer’s Guide
    • The Most Important Factors to Consider

The best portable air conditioners and heaters can be a smart solution for an individual who, for whatever reason, can’t install a permanent option like central air or a mini-split system. You’ll want to think about the BTUs as this determines how powerful a portable air conditioner is, as well as whether it’s compatible with the square footage of the space you want to cool. Features like single versus dual-hose, dry mode vs cool mode, and the CFM rating will also impact efficiency. Likewise, key features like programmability, sleep modes, and even quiet operation can impact your purchasing choices.

Sale

Whynter 14,000 White ARC-147WFH (10,000 BTU SACC)…

Honeywell MO08CESWK6 9,100 BTU (ASHRAE)/6,100…

(1495)

UKOKE USPC01W Smart Wifi Portable Air…

(532)

After conducting thorough research through thousands of verified customer reviews, we nominated the Whynter ARC-147WFH portable air conditioner as our Top Pick. Keep reading to learn more about our research criteria and don’t forget to check out our top recommendations for the best air conditioners.

Top 10 Best Portable Air Conditioners and Heaters

 #1  Whynter ARC-147WFH Portable Air Conditioner

Sale

Our #1 Pick is the Whynter ARC-147WFH Portable Air Conditioner

Award: TOP PICK

WHY WE LIKE IT: A portable air conditioner and heater combo that’s perfect for medium-sized rooms up to 500 square feet with four-in-one functionality and a more efficient dual-hose design.

Pros

  • Ideal for up to 500 sq. feet
  • Modes inlude cool, dehumidifier, and fan
  • Dual hose design for more efficient airflow

Cons

  • 56dB noise output may be loud for some

For people who aren’t interested or able to permanently install a heating or cooling system in their homes, a portable air conditioner is fantastic. But some of them come as a cooler and heater combo, which makes them an excellent solution for people in more temperate climates. We’re nominating the Whynter ARC-147WFH as the best portable air conditioner and heater combo because it’s ideal for medium-sized rooms of up to 500 square feet and is a four-in-one solution. You’ll get 14,000 BTUs for cooling and 8,200 BTUs for heating. This pick also comes with a dehumidifier that can cool the room by removing moisture, thanks to the 134 pints per day evaporation rate.

And a fan function with three speeds is also nice. As is standard, this model comes with an installation kit. The dual-hose design means that this portable air conditioner can use cooled air to reduce temperatures quicker. A 270 cubic feet per meter (CFM) rating puts it in the mid-range for performance. You’ll also get a digital readout thermostat that can be adjusted between 61 to 89 degrees Fahrenheit either through the control panel or included remote control. Plus, the auto-drain feature recycles the collected moisture for more efficient operation. You may also want to integrate your AC unit into a smart home system with the best ductless mini-split air conditioner.

See Also: Other options can be found in our best portable air conditioner buying guide.

 #2  Honeywell MO10CESWB Compact Portable Air Conditioner

1,495 Reviews

Our #2 Pick is the Honeywell MO10CESWB Compact Portable Air Conditioner

Award: BEST QUALITY

WHY WE LIKE IT: A compact portable air conditioner with three-in-one functionality that’s perfect for smaller rooms thanks to the 10,000 BTUs and a washable dust filter.

Pros

  • Washable dust filter
  • 3-in-1 cooling, dehumidifier & fan
  • 10,000 BTUs for rooms up to 400 sq. ft.

Cons

  • Lower 192 CFM rating
  • Lacks heating element

Even though having a portable air conditioner that can also double as a heater is nice, the truth is they’re not as efficient at heating as they are at cooling. So, for people who just want a portable AC that can be moved from room to room, this pick from Honeywell is a solid choice for average-sized rooms. You’ll get 10,000 BTUs to cool a room up to 400 square feet. This pick is a three-in-one solution that comes with cooling, a dehumidifier, and a fan. However, note that the 192 CFM rating is slightly lower than the average for this product category.

Still, you’ll get a dehumidifier that can remove up to 61 pints per day with an auto-evaporation function which means you don’t need to empty the collection bucket. We like that this is a truly compact option that is only 14. 6 inches wide and 13.5 inches long so it can fit in smaller spaces. The single-hose system comes with an installation kit. But you’ll also like that you can remove the washable air filter to keep it clean and that there’s an easy-to-use digital LED display with soft-touch controls, along with a remote control. And in case you’re planning a camping trip, you should take a peek at the best portable AC for camping that will keep you cool in your tent or cabin.

 #3  Ukoke USPC01W Smart Portable Air Conditioner

532 Reviews

Our #3 Pick is the Ukoke USPC01W Smart Portable Air Conditioner

Award: BEST FOR SMART HOMES

WHY WE LIKE IT: A small portable air conditioner and heater four-in-one solution with 12,000 BTUs that’s designed for smart home integration thanks to its Alexa-enabled functionality.

Pros

  • Control panel with LED temp display
  • 12,000 BTUs for up to 400 sq. ft.
  • 4-in-1 heating, cooling, dehumidifier, and fan

Cons

  • No carbon filter

Some people can’t imagine not living in a smart home. So, if you’ve already synced your door locks, fridge, and lights through Alexa, it only makes sense that you would want your home’s temperature to also be smart-enabled. The Ukoke air conditioner with heat functionality is a great option because it comes ready to pair with Alexa. We think this small portable air conditioner and heater is a great option thanks to the four-in-one functionality. This model includes cooling, heat, a dehumidifier, and a fan.

With 12,000 BTUs, you can cool spaces as large as 400 square feet. And even if you’re not using Alexa, you can rely on the Ukoke app to control this appliance remotely — even when you’re not at home. However, it does also come with a remote. As is standard, this pick comes with the installation kit. And while the removable filter is washable, note that there is no carbon filter. For options regarding a self-evaporative technology to remove condensation and purify the air, have a look at the best portable air conditioner for RVs.

 #4  Newair AC-14100H Portable Air Conditioner

Sale

85 Reviews

Our #4 Pick is the Newair AC-14100H Portable Air Conditioner

Award: BEST FOR SENIORS

WHY WE LIKE IT: A powerful portable air conditioner with 14,000 BTUs that can cool rooms up to 550 square feet, an easy-to-use control panel with push buttons, and a large digital temperature display that is great for seniors.

Pros

  • Fan and dehumidifier included
  • 14,000 BTUs for up to 550 sq. ft.
  • Efficiency booster improves performance with less energy consumption

Cons

  • May be noisy in heating mode

Sometimes buying appliances can be a chore for seniors as concerns around accessibility or ease of use can become a concern. We like the Newair portable air conditioner and heater combo because it features an easy-to-use control panel with push buttons, easy-to-read labels, and a large digital temperature display that’s ideal for older individuals to use. You’ll also get 14,000 BTUs that can cool a room up to 550 square feet.

We also liked that this pick has a 250 CFM rating, which puts it in the medium range and makes it a solid choice. There’s also an efficiency booster mode that helps to improve the air conditioner’s performance while using less energy. Likewise, the self-evaporating mode helps to reduce the frequency of emptying the collection basket. However, we did note that while the Newair is a four-in-one solution, many people noted that it was especially noisy in the heater mode. The listed noise output is 57 decibels, so this might not be a good choice for bedrooms. You’ll also get standard features like a remote control, and a single-hose installation kit. For bedrooms, you may require the best tower air conditioner that features a low sound output and white noise functionality. If you’re unsure how a tower A/C works, our info articles can assist you.

 #5  Honeywell MN4HFS9 Portable Air Conditioner

142 Reviews

Our #5 Pick is the Honeywell MN14CHCSBB Portable Air Conditioner

Award: BEST WINDOW COMPATIBILITY

WHY WE LIKE IT: A sleek portable air conditioner that can work with a variety of window configurations that offers four-in-one functionality and 14,000 BTUs to cool rooms up to 700 square feet.

Pros

  • Powerful dual-hose system
  • 14,000 BTUs
  • Dehumidifier removes 51 pints per day

Cons

  • 70.5-lb weight may be difficult for some to move between floors

This Honeywell portable air conditioner and heater is a great option for people who are concerned about the installation process. While all portable air conditioners come with an installation kit, not all kits are compatible with all window types. This Honeywell pick has an installation kit that can work with both vertical and horizontal sliding and crank windows. You’ll get a four-in-one solution that includes cooling, heating, a dehumidifier, and a fan. The dehumidifier removes a decent 51 pints of moisture per day.

With 14,000 BTUs, this portable air conditioner is perfect for rooms from 550 to 700 square feet. The easy-to-use control panel with digital backlighting is easy to use, even in low light. But of course, you’ll also get a remote control for better accessibility from across the room. And the fact that this is a dual-hose system means that it works faster to cool or heat spaces. Note that you also get smart thermostat control, a 24-hour energy-saving timer, and three fan speeds. For those that live in drier climates like the Southwest, where the humidity levels are low, the best evaporative air conditioner is a perfect choice.

 #6  Whynter ARC-148MHP Portable Air Conditioner

383 Reviews

Our #6 Pick is the Whynter ARC-148MHP Portable Air Conditioner

Award: BEST CFM RATING

WHY WE LIKE IT: A 14,000 BTU four-in-one portable air conditioner with an easy-to-use control panel and a powerful 292 CFM rating for fast and efficient functionality.

Pros

  • Easy to use control panel and remote
  • 14,000 BTUs for up to 550 sq. ft.
  • 4-in-1 heater, cooler, dehumidifier, and fan

Cons

  • Lower evaporation rate of 71 pints/day

While not all brands make it easy to determine the CFM ratings for their portable air conditioners, we make a point to disclose that information where available. The Whynter ARC-148MHP has one of the best ratings for air movement that we found from our research at 292 CFM. You’ll get 14,000 BTUs that are powerful enough to cool spaces up to 550 square feet. While the evaporation for the dehumidifier isn’t the highest, it’s 71 pints per day which should be sufficient for many people.

We liked that this pick also comes with a 3M filter that contains a SilverShield for antimicrobial protection. As is standard, it’s removable and washable. The four-in-one functionality means you’ll get heating, cooling, a dehumidifier, and a fan with three speeds. And the self-evaporative system improves efficiency and minimizes the need to empty a collection bucket. And if you don’t want to have to constantly empty a collection bucket, the best windowless air conditioner will be perfect due to the self evaporative feature.

 #7  LG ‎LP1021BHSM Portable Air Conditioner

Sale

95 Reviews

Our #10 Pick is the LG ‎LP1021BHSM Portable Air Conditioner

Award: BEST DEHUMIDIFIER

WHY WE LIKE IT: The best portable air cooler with a dehumidifying function that is ideal for spaces up to 450 square feet and with an intuitive auto-start and 24-hour on and off timer.

Pros

  • 10,000 BTUs for up to 450 sq. ft.

Cons

  • Not Energy Star Certified

LG is a reliable home electronics brand, so we picked their ‎LP1021BHSM model as our best portable air cooler. It’s ideal for studio apartments or medium-sized rooms that are up to 450 square feet. This pick has 10,000 BTUs. Still, you’ll get a dehumidifying function that works pretty well.

The included installation kit is designed for standard windows with a single-hose connection. You’ll also get a removable washable mesh filter to improve air quality. Other key features include an auto-restart function as well as a 24-hour on and off timer. Keep in mind that portable air conditioners are, by default, louder with higher noise levels than mini-split or central air systems. However, this pick has a lower 521-decibel output which is fairly quiet for portable options and ideal for use in bedrooms. Much like the best LG air conditioner that is also quiet but has a much higher BTU.

 #8  Black & Decker BPACT12HWT Portable Air Conditioner

42,460 Reviews

Our #8 Pick is the Black & Decker BPACT12HWT Portable Air Conditioner

Award: BEST ON A BUDGET

WHY WE LIKE IT: The best budget portable air conditioner and heater combo that can cool rooms up to 300 square feet and heat to 325 feet thanks to the four-in-one functionality.

Pros

  • Removable and washable filter
  • 12,000 BTUs
  • 4-in-1 cooling, heater, dehumidifier, and fan

Cons

  • Heater may not be as efficient as the cooling function

Portable air conditioners can be pricier than standard window models because they’re easier to install and of course, portable. So, if you’re shopping on a budget, you’ll appreciate this pick from Black & Decker. We think this is the best budget portable air conditioner and heater combo from our research. Along with the wallet-friendly price, we liked that this pick offers 12,000 BTUs to cool rooms up to 300 square feet, and warm rooms up to 325 square feet. While the manufacturer failed to share the CFM rating, our research showed that consumers were happy with the cooling capabilities of this unit.

Still, you’ll want to take note that a common complaint we found was that the heating function wasn’t as efficient as the cooling. In some cases, there were complaints that the unit would have to stop heating to defrost itself before continuing operation. However, we do like that you get four-in-one functionality of heating, cooling, a dehumidifier, and a fan. Likewise, you’ll get an easy-to-use control panel, an installation kit, and a remote control. The best air conditioner for sliding windows also comes with an installation kit and has a lower noise output.

 #9  Shinco SPF1-12 WiFi Portable Air Conditioner

Sale

5,096 Reviews

Our #9 Pick is the Shinco SPF1-12 WiFi Portable Air Conditioner

Award: BEST FOR BEDROOMS

WHY WE LIKE IT: A three-in-one portable air conditioner with a high evaporation rate that is powered by 12,000 BTUs to quickly cool rooms as large as 400 square feet in five minutes.

Pros

  • Self-evaporating mode is efficient
  • Self-evaporating mode is efficient
  • 3-in-1 cooler, dehumidifier, and fan
  • 10,000 BTUs for rooms up to 300 sq. ft.

Cons

  • Can be noisy in heater mode

If you’re going to put a portable air conditioner in your bedroom, you want it to be effective and quiet. We think the Shinco portable AC is a great pick for this because they promise to cool rooms as much as 400 square feet in as little as five minutes. Plus, it’s a three-in-one solution with cooling, a dehumidifier, and a fan. We like that this option has a high evaporation rate of 105 pints per day and is self-evaporating to take one more item off your to-do list.

The Shinco portable air conditioner gives you 12,000 BTUs of cooling power. As is standard, you’ll get an installation kit and a remote control to operate the appliance. However, we did note through customer reviews that the dehumidier mode could be noisy — even though this air conditioner is promoted as quiet with a noise output range of 51 to 55 decibels. And if you’re looking to compare this with units that prioritize the BTUs and energy efficiency rating, then have a look at the best window air conditioner. Alternatively, you can also check out the top-rated window air conditioners with heat, so you’ll save on buying a separate heating device.

 #10  Frigidaire FHPC102AB1 Portable Air Conditioner

175 Reviews

Our #10 Pick is the Frigidaire FHPC102AB1 Portable Air Conditioner

Award: BEST FOR COLLEGE

WHY WE LIKE IT: A four-in-one portable air conditioner with 13,000 BTUs of power to cool rooms as large as 600 square feet, and smartphone app integration makes this perfect for a dorm room.

Pros

  • Comes with smartphone app
  • 6,000 BTUs for up to 350 sq. ft.
  • Removable washable filter

Cons

  • Fan may not turn off when desired temperature is reached

While most new college dorms are built with central air, that’s not always the case for older dorm rooms. And that means that you’ll need to bring an air conditioner. If a window unit is the last thing you want to deal with — or your dorm charges significant fees for you to install one — then a portable air conditioner is a smart alternative. This Frigidaire portable AC heat combo is a great alternative. With 6,000 BTUs, you can cool rooms as large as 350 square feet.

You’ll get a four-in-one solution with cooling, a dehumidifier, and a fan with three speeds. More importantly, we like that this pick comes with a remote control that allows you to wirelessly control the air conditioner. As is standard, the filters are removable and washable, and the installation kit is removable. And for hot summer days spent on your patio or for people who live in drier climates, the best outdoor air conditioner is perfect.

How We Decided

Portable air conditioners can be a great solution for people who, for whatever reason, aren’t able to install a more permanent temperature control solution like central air conditioning or a mini-split system. To create our guide, we looked at the BTUs, whether it was single or dual-hose units, room size, the CFM rating, programmability and operating modes, and additional features. Keep in mind that these models will need some floor space near a window which may be a problem for some.

Air conditioning units can have a wide range of BTUs. In our guide, we prioritized options from 10,000 to 14,000 BTUs. Within this range, you should be able to find a portable AC that can accommodate rooms from 300 to 700 square feet. So, this will work for bedrooms, living rooms, and even larger oversized spaces. If you’re focused on efficiency, a dual-hose option is best since it can cool faster than a single-hose unit. While the majority of our recommendations are single-hose models, we did include a few dual-hose models.

CFM ratings will determine how efficiently an appliance can move air in a room. Assuming you picked a unit that is compatible with the space that needs to be cooled, a higher CFM rating is preferable as this will be more efficient. However, it’s important to note that often manufacturers don’t readily share this information if you’re shopping online through many retailers, although that information will be in the instruction manual. Where available, we made a point to share the CFM rating so you can make a more informed decision.

All portable air conditioners come with a control panel and remote control. But many of them include 24-hour on and off programming or the ability to auto-adjust the temperature once it reaches a certain level. And in some cases, you can find options that are smart-enabled, with functionality to integrate into a smart assistant like Alexa or Google Assistant. In our guide, we included a few options that came with proprietary apps for wireless control, as well as a pick that was Alexa-enabled.

And finally, additional features like a dehumidifier can help to improve your comfort without the need for cranking down the temperature to a frigid level. A good dehumidifier should be able to efficiently remove moisture from the air, thereby helping to naturally reduce the temperature. You’ll want to pay attention to the evaporation rate which is listed in pints per day or pints per hour. Where available, we included this information in our recommendations. And as their name suggests, these portable models will come with rolling caster wheels to help make moving them from room to room easier.  

Best Portable Air Conditioners and Heaters Buyer’s Guide

The Most Important Factors to Consider

  • BTU Rating
    Before buying any good portable air conditioner combo, you’ll want to start by focusing on the BTUs or “British Thermal Units”. This reference defines how much air an air conditioner can move around a room. Larger rooms are going to need air conditioners with higher BTU ratings. Typically BTU cooling can range from 8,000 BTU, 10,000 BTU, and 12,000 BTU, to as much as 36,000 BTUs. Additionally, higher BTUs will also increase the warmth of many portable air conditioners with heat. Thankfully portable models can be more easily moved around your home, but if you have a more stationary model, you can learn how to move an air conditioner unit.
  • Dual vs. Single Hose
    Portable AC heater combos still need an efficient way to remove the exhaust and warm air. This is done through an exhaust hose that is usually connected to a window. You’ll need to pick between a single or dual-hose window kit design. Both are efficient, but dual-hose models can be more energy-efficient and cool a large room quicker. Single hose tends to be simpler to set up, like the model in our Honeywell CO30XE portable review.
  • Room Size
    You can’t just rely on BTUs since the concept of “bigger is better” won’t always apply. A small room of 300 square feet doesn’t need a 16,000 BTU air conditioner that’s rated for 700 square feet. In short, that will just waste energy whenever you use a portable AC and heater device. While it will cool the room, there’s a good chance that you’re overpaying for more power than you’ll ever need in portable units. Always check to confirm that the portable air conditioner you’re picking is compatible with the square footage of your room by thoroughly reading our portable air conditioner with heater reviews. Keep in mind how to maintain your AC unit in the long run, like how to not overuse the unit, in case you’re asking yourself, “How long can you run a portable air conditioner continuously?” It’s important that you’re familiar too with the locations of the major components of your unit, such as the AC drain pan location in case it winds up becoming full of water that needs to be emptied. Now if you notice that the portable AC is leaking water, then a repair may be needed.
    • But, if you’re strapped for cash, you’ll want to make your own AC out of ice and a fan.
  • Cubic Feet per Meter Rating
    Also known as the CFM, the cubic feet per meter signifies how efficiently an air conditioner or fan can circulate air through a room. The higher the number, the better the airflow.
    • But also keep in mind that for this number to be relevant, you also need to pick the right BTU rating that’s compatible with the square footage of the space that you want to heat or cool.
    • For an efficient cooling process, you should look for models that are Energy-Star certified to make sure your energy bills won’t go up too much. Although, it should be noted that a portable model will almost always have less energy efficiency than a window AC.
    • Plus, if you’re experiencing problems with it, you’ll want to look into repairing a portable AC.
  • Programmability
    These days, more and more appliances are being made with smart functions in mind. While not all portable ACs with heat will have this, if you want to be able to cool or heat a room to the perfect temperature before you arrive, a great WiFi smart air conditioner or one that can be integrated into smart voice assistant technology is a perfect option. Although, if you already have a great AC/heater combo, you can buy a smart plug to use with your current unit.
  • Additional Features
    While not a necessity, features like a dehumidifier can help to reduce the excess moisture and make your interior climate more comfortable, which can be found on some models like the one in our Honeywell 525-790CFM portable review. Likewise, consider whether you want a portable AC that self-evaporates, as this is more convenient than one where you need to manually empty the collection tank. Additionally, having wheels on your portable AC makes moving it much easier. All in all, you’ll find the best air conditioner with a heater function by reading our many portable AC and heater combo reviews available on our site. Be sure to check out the quietest portable air conditioner, so you can stay cool and comfortable during those hot summer days.
    • You’ll also want to learn about the portable AC P1 meaning, especially when it pops on the unit’s screen.

Heating with air conditioning in winter is profitable!

More and more questions began to sound: “Is it possible to turn on the air conditioner for heating in winter or is it not intended for this? What models of air conditioners are better to use to get heat in winter? It’s time to figure it out!

In the modern world, there are practically no split systems left that cannot heat the air, because technologically it is very easy to introduce the possibility of heating into the air conditioning system. A four-way valve is installed inside the outdoor unit, which changes the direction of the refrigerant when switching modes.

It is worth noting that the air conditioner was created precisely as a device that cools the air and for the most part serves people with a warm climate. But, unfortunately, conditions in Krasnoyarsk are much harsher than in most regions of the world.

When to use an air conditioner for heating is advisable

So, let’s take a closer look at the cases in which the use of an air conditioner in winter is economically beneficial for the user:

1) Off-season. It’s no secret that heating in our apartments does not come all year round. And, unfortunately, the establishment of a comfortable temperature at home and on the street does not always coincide. So, when the heating has already been turned off or has not yet been turned on and you need heating in the air conditioner! The air conditioner creates comfortable and very economical heat. The cost of heating with an air conditioner is several times lower than with an electric heater, because the air conditioner only transfers heat, and does not create it.

2) Cool summer. Not every summer in Krasnoyarsk is very hot. Sometimes daytime temperatures in summer are 15-17 degrees, and nighttime temperatures are 10. Then your friend comes to the rescue – air conditioning! Turn it on for heating, or in automatic mode, set the temperature that is comfortable for you, and after a few minutes you can take off your woolen socks.

3) Mild winter. Fortunately, we are sometimes lucky and the winter is not very severe. Most air conditioners quietly work for heating when it is not colder than zero degrees outside. Most inverter models of air conditioners are designed for heating when the outdoor temperature is not colder than minus 7.

But the most advanced inverters, for example, the Mitsubishi Heavy SRK25ZM-S inverter air conditioner, work confidently for heating at temperatures down to minus 15 degrees. Such “winter air conditioners” are also present in other Japanese brands – Toshiba and Daikin.

Heating with air conditioning in a private house is real!

The energy efficiency indicators of the heating process in the best inverter models today have reached such high values ​​that heating a private house with wall-mounted air conditioners is becoming a real alternative to classic water heating systems. Consuming 1 kW of electricity, an inverter split system is capable of producing 4-5 kW of heat, which is an absolute record in the field of electric heating!

True, the high energy efficiency of obtaining heat using a heat pump – an air conditioning system is maintained only up to an outdoor temperature of -15/20 degrees, and at lower values, air conditioning heating loses its attractiveness, as the efficiency approaches the performance of conventional electric heaters – consumes 1 kW of electricity, produces 0.95 kW of heat.

Separately, I would like to talk about such a topic as

Heating with mobile air conditioner? Can’t be!

Despite a common misconception, mobile air conditioners are not suitable for heating. Despite the fact that the instructions for some mobile models indicate the heating function, it is performed in a completely different way than in wall-mounted split systems.

To begin with, most of the mobile models do not know how to work for heating at all. Some devices provide for such a function, but it is implemented very “clumsily” – due to the built-in heating element of the “TEN” type, as in a conventional household fan heater. In this case, a 1 kW electric heating element will produce the same 1 kW of heat, and no more.

The most advanced mobile models have a heat pump function, but since this is a monoblock model without an outdoor unit, it cannot accumulate heat from the street. Heat is accumulated here not from outside air, but from indoor air, heat is simply accumulated from a large volume and transferred to a small volume – due to this, it appears that warm air is coming out of the air distribution grille. But in fact, no heat is added to the room … Therefore, mobile models of air conditioners, unfortunately, are not suitable for use for heating.

So let’s recap. In winter, heating with an air conditioner is, in principle, possible, but subject to a number of conditions: firstly, it can only be a wall-mounted air conditioner, and secondly, it is better that it be made using inverter technology, which allows you to expand the operating temperature range outside.

But to organize a quick heating in the apartment during the off-season, almost any wall-mounted air conditioner-split system is capable of organizing, regardless of what technology it is made of.

It’s easy to choose the right option in our solid CATALOG OF AIR CONDITIONERS! For permanent heating of a private house with the help of air conditioners, we recommend choosing INVERTER SPLIT SYSTEMS.

Heating with air conditioning not only in spring but also in winter is a convenient and economical way to get warm!

HEATER OR AIR CONDITIONER – 8 points comparison

Residents of apartment buildings cannot always rely on centralized heating. Sometimes it is turned on late, turned off early, the temperature in the radiators sometimes clearly does not meet the needs of the residents. Heaters or air conditioners in heat supply mode help to solve the problem.

For heating, which is better: air conditioning or heater

This section of the article will focus on heating efficiency. In the case of an air conditioner, when choosing equipment, look at the thermal units (BTU). One such unit corresponds to the amount of heat required to heat 1 pound of water by 1 degree. If we translate into the usual watts, we get the ratio: 1000 BTU / hour are approximately equal to 293 watts. To heat 15-20 “squares” you need a 7000 BTU air conditioner. It can be compared with a 2 kW heater. “Duychik” of such power costs 20 times cheaper. In terms of energy efficiency, of course, it will yield, but the difference will not be 20 times.

In terms of price / power ratio, the air conditioner will lose to a fan heater, ceramic or infrared heater. And this should not come as a surprise, since air conditioning is designed to cool rooms, and heating is an auxiliary function. Air conditioners are mainly heated in Spain, Israel and other warm and rich countries. In the summer it is difficult to live there without a split system, and in the winter, if there is full air conditioning in the apartment, it is quite comfortable.

If we compare purely in terms of efficiency, which is better: an inverter air conditioner or a heater, then a split system is preferable. However, it is desirable to make a choice based on several criteria.

Choosing the best: Convectors and infrared heaters: comparing 5 parameters

Heating rate

When compared with a similar power “air blower”, the air conditioner will heat up the room many times faster at a suitable temperature (5-15 degrees). To determine the energy efficiency in heating mode, the COP indicator is used. If it is equal to 3, this means that a unit with a power of 1 kW in 1 hour will be able to pump a thermal power of 3 kW into the room. The more COP, the easier it is for the air conditioner to bypass the heater, the characteristics of which indicate similar kilowatts. The catch is that at negative temperatures, COP drops, and the rate of heating the room decreases accordingly. In frosts, it is much more expensive to heat a house with an air conditioner, the cold levels out its advantages over heaters.

In addition to the COP in the characteristics of equipment, you can find SCOP – a new energy efficiency unit that appeared in 2013. It shows the same thing, only it is measured more correctly: tests are carried out at different positive and negative temperatures (-7, +2, +7, +12), and then the average value is calculated. In the case of COP, only +7 degrees were taken.

Getting ready to move: How to remove the air conditioner from the wall: 13 steps to dismantle it yourself

Which is more economical: a heater or an air conditioner

Heaters convert energy from the electrical network into heat. As a result, 1 kW of electricity allows you to get a maximum of 1 kW of heat. The air conditioner works on the principle of a heat pump, so the output of heat energy is many times greater. Approximate relationship between values ​​is shown by SCOP. In 2013, the following gradation was adopted:

That is, even an air conditioner with low energy efficiency is 2-3 times more economical than a heater of the same power when operating under normal conditions. However, if we compare their work in the range from -10 to -15 degrees, the split system is unlikely to show a more impressive result.

Organizations developing standards for climate technology take their climate into account with winters that are more characterized by positive temperatures. For Kyiv, average winter temperatures are around 2-3 degrees below zero. In such a climate, the answer to the question of what is more economical: an air conditioner or a heater is definitely in favor of a 2-block unit. A split system is 1.5-2 times more economical in winter and 2-5 times more preferable if we take the entire heating season.

We bring the split system to life: Why the air conditioner does not heat: 10 reasons

Safety

At first glance, air conditioning is safer. The indoor unit hangs itself on the wall, does not touch anyone. Getting to it is problematic, which can not be said about the heater. An oil cooler, a mobile convector or an infrared heater on a leg can be accidentally turned upside down.

The second aspect is sustainability. For dusty rooms or apartments with pets, installing a split system is associated with certain inconveniences. The indoor unit drives the air, and with it the dust, pet hair. With fan heaters, the situation is similar, other heaters are safer in this regard. In addition, an air conditioner without cleaning in a couple of years will become a breeding ground for germs. Heaters do not require maintenance.

As a result, it turns out that there is no clear favorite in terms of security.

Features of inverter units: What is an inverter air conditioner and how does it differ from an ordinary one: educational program from 6 sections

Mobility

Air conditioners are usually not reinstalled. They choose the optimal place, mount it, and after the expiration of the service life, a new unit is hung in the same place instead of the old one. There is a separate category of mobile air conditioners, but they are still tied to the street with air ducts, and, as a rule, they can only cool.

In the case of mobile heaters, things are much better. Models on wheels or legs can be easily moved around the rooms. There are also heavy ceramic panels for permanent installation. Some of them weigh more than 20 kg, so their mobile use is difficult. Such heaters are used as analogues of heating radiators.

We warm ourselves as best we can: How to heat a room without a heater: 9 life hacks

Service life

The service life of air conditioners depends on the manufacturer. Units representing famous Japanese brands: Daikin, Mitsubishi and Fujitsu have been operating for 12-15 years. Buyers of NeoClima, Cooper&Hunter split systems and other models from China can count on 7 years or more of trouble-free operation. A rather modest service life is compensated by moderate prices for equipment from China.

For heaters, this is the picture:

  1. oil coolers – from 5-7 years of operation;
  2. infrared heaters – from 10 years;
  3. ceramic – from 20 years;
  4. fan heaters – from 3 years.

Duychiks fail earlier than other heaters, in part because of moving parts. However, budget models of fan heaters win in price compared to other types of devices. They do not have sensors and protective mechanisms that prevent some breakdowns. In this they are inferior to air conditioners.

Easy maintenance and operation

The heaters do not require complex maintenance, especially for models with closed housings. If you have a ceramic panel or an oil cooler, it is enough to periodically wipe the dust from the outside.

Air conditioners are more capricious in terms of maintenance. Measures for the indoor unit include:

  1. Cleaning the dust filters. The recommended frequency is 2-4 times a month.
  2. Replacement of filters with new ones. Some manufacturers recommend performing the procedure once a quarter, but usually it is enough to change the filter elements once a year.
  3. Complete cleaning of the unit with the removal of the housing. Frequency – 1-4 times a year, depending on the dustiness of the room.

The outdoor unit needs to be cleaned once every 2 years if it is installed on a quiet street in your home. The device, which operates on the lower floor of a skyscraper in a gassed quarter, needs an annual cleaning.

Regardless of whether you are heating with an air conditioner or a heater, the process of controlling the device is unlikely to cause any difficulties. The split system has several modes and a remote control, but the instructions describe in detail how to set up the equipment. As for the difficulties associated with care, they will be, even if you turn on the unit only in the summer in the cold. Winter operation will not cause much trouble, except that a small glacier will form under the outdoor unit in frost.

Price

Prices for fan heaters start somewhere from 500 UAH.

The second place is shared by oil radiators, infrared heaters, convectors and ceramic panels. The most budget models cost about 2000 UAH.

Air conditioners can’t compete with heaters for the price, since inverter units start at $400. Price tags for Japanese brands are somewhere in the region of $1000. However, the comparison with heaters cannot be called correct, since non-compressor equipment can only produce hot air, but is not able to cool the room in summer.

What the air conditioner can do: Functions and modes of operation of the air conditioner – an overview of 7 basic and 4 additional options for climate technology

Air conditioning and heater: comparing the pros

One of the options to simplify the choice is to count the number of pluses.

For a split system, these are:

  • energy efficiency,
  • space heating rate,
  • multifunctionality,
  • service life.

For heaters:

  • easy control,
  • mobility,
  • easy maintenance,
  • reasonable price.

Comparison of the benefits of the heater and air conditioner showed a draw. And what about the downsides?

More fun with a thermostat: How to connect a thermostat to a ceramic heater: 4 steps to controlled heat

Disadvantages of devices

There is an opinion that air conditioners dry the air. It is difficult to disagree with this, however, the operation of heaters also leads to a decrease in humidity in the room. With the problem of dry air in winter, you can fight with a humidifier – another type of climate technology.

The next disadvantage of a split system is the noise, which can be compared to the rustling of leaves in a light breeze. However, the budget model can buzz like a “duychik”, turned on at maximum power. Heaters without fans do not make noise, they can only crackle a little when the temperature rises.

Unpleasant odor may come from an open coil heater. If the stench comes from the air conditioner, then it is faulty or needs cleaning.