The 3 Quietest Portable Air Conditioners

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When it comes to shopping for a cooling alternative to central air a portable air conditioner can be a great option for beating the heat. However, be aware that the average portable AC emits a significant amount of noise. And, if you don't do your research, you may find yourself forced to choose whether you want your space to be cool or quiet. Luckily, several of the quietest portable air conditioners exist so that you don't have to choose.

While portable AC units typically have decibel levels of 55 and higher, there are a few especially quiet models that clock in well-below that, ensuring that you won’t have to turn the TV or computer volume up extra-high while enjoying your portable air conditioner. Because, no matter what your budget is or what kind of BTUs (British Thermal Units, a unit of measurement for how quickly an air conditioner can cool) you require for the size of your space, you shouldn't have to sacrifice cool air for peace and quiet.

As you decide, keep in mind the square footage of the space you want to cool, and whether or not you have access to a window (if you don't, there's a quiet evaporative air cooler on this list that'll suit your needs without needing to be set up in a window).

To help you determine the best and quietest portable air conditioner for your needs, scroll down for an in-depth look at three different top-rated options.

1The Quietest Overall

Honeywell Contempo Series Portable Air Conditioner

$400

Amazon

This unit receives high marks by experts and reviewers alike for its noise level (49 to 52 decibels in volume). It can cool a room up to 550 square feet, has three speeds, and comes with a programmable timer and remote.

Ideal for bedrooms, this Honeywell portable AC boasts 12,000 BTUs and can quickly and consistently cool a room up to 550 square feet, all while emitting only 49 to 52 decibels in volume.

Not only is it the only model that Consumer Reports gave a “very good” rating to for indoor noise when running on low, it also ranked in the top five on their overall list of best portable air conditioners, thanks to its high marks for other criteria, like how well it would perform in extreme heat and how comfortable it makes a standard room during testing.

It comes equipped with a programmable timer, remote, dual dust filters to keep the air clean, and an easy-to-install window kit. Plus, it has three speeds, including an especially quiet energy-saving sleep mode. (Although it should be noted that Consumer Reports gives it a thumbs-up for its noise level at high speeds as well.)

2The Best For Large Spaces

Honeywell MM14CCSBB Portable Air Conditioner

$563

Amazon

For a slightly higher price point, this portable AC is great for rooms up to 700 square feet in size. It's a little bit louder than the one above (51 to 54 decibels), but has a built-in dehumidifier, dust filter, and a quiet sleep mode.

This Honeywell MM14CCSBB portable AC offers a lot of the same advantages as the model above, like remote operation, a built-in dehumidifier, dust filter, and sleep mode, but with 14,000 BTUs, it's powerful enough to handle a room up to 700 square feet in size. As a result, it’s a bit louder than the overall quietest given its increased cooling capabilities, but not by much. The machine’s volume ranges from 51 to 54 decibels. In fact, one Amazon reviewer praises this AC's decibel level, saying, "The noise level is low as far as I'm concerned. I have it in a rather small room and it doesn't interfere in watching tv."

3An Even Quieter Evaporative Air Cooler

Quilo 3in1 Portable Tower Fan

$169

Amazon

This evaporative air cooler functions similarly to a portable AC, but does not require window access to set up. This one from Quilo is particularly quiet (just 24 decibels of noise), and works the best in dry, low-humidity climates.

Important note: This is not a true portable air conditioner. But, because portable air conditioners require installation near a window in order to properly remove hot air and humidity, if you need to cool a windowless room like a basement or workspace, you'll want to purchase an evaporative air cooler like this one from Quilo. Not only is it priced at less than $200, this unit only requires placement near an electrical outlet and some source of cross-ventilation — if not from an open window, then from an adjoining open door — in order to cool down a small space. And, best of all, on its lowest setting it is twice as quiet as the quietest portable air conditioner: 24 decibels.

To operate it, you simply add water and a few pieces of ice to its tank, and the machine’s system transforms it into cool air that it blows out a fan. However, please note that, unlike a portable AC, an evaporative cooler actually adds moisture into the air in order to cool it, so it’s best used in dry, low-humidity climates, like the southwestern U.S. Otherwise, it may have the opposite effect than you intended.

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