Looking for the quietest portable air conditioner?
You've come to the right place.
Portable air conditioners make it easy to efficiently cool any room. Unlike window ACs, you can easily move a portable AC from one room to another..
For all their convenience, however, most portable ACs are annoyingly noisy. A portable AC that's as loud as a white noise machine is acceptable for most people – even desirable for those who love the lull of white background noise.
But if you cannot watch the TV with the AC on, that's a problem. A noisy AC can also be an issue if you prefer a quiet sleeping or working environment.
While most portable ACs are moderately loud, there are a few models designed to produce minimal noise even when the fan speed is set high.
They use special motors and sound dampening design to reduce the amount of noise coming from the fan and motor.
What's In This Guide?
In this in-depth buying guide, we review the quietest portable air conditioners.
They all range between 8,000 and 14,000 BTUs, making them ideal for medium size and large rooms.
If you are looking for a portable AC for a smaller space (150 sq. ft. or less), read our small portable AC buying guide for smaller AC options, though they may not necessarily be the quietest.
Who Needs a Quiet Portable Air Conditioner?
It depends. Some people don't mind the noise from a loud air conditioner and have no reason to look for a quieter option. Other people love the background hum of an AC. Your baby might even sleep easier when the AC is on.
But for most people, low noise levels are important when shopping for a portable air conditioner.
For one, a noisy portable AC is distracting and annoying. It doesn't have to be as noisy as a gas generator to irritate you. The persistent whine of a loud AC can make it hard to watch TV, talk to someone, or work.
Many people also find it hard to sleep with a loud AC next to their bed. Poor quality sleep can affect your productivity and health.
To be clear, portable air conditioners are generally not extremely loud. Even the loudest portable ACs are nowhere near as noisy as a vacuum cleaner.
But if you are used to a quiet house, or you need a super quiet work or sleep environment, even a 60-decibel AC (as loud as a normal conversation) can feel too noisy.
Something else to keep in mind when shopping for a quiet portable AC is that there's a limit to how quiet a portable air conditioner can be. Unlike a window or central AC, the entire unit is inside the room.So check your expectations. If you want a super quiet room cooling solution (other than central AC), try a window unit or a mini-split air conditioner. They are typically quieter than even low-noise portable ACs.
Comparing The Most Silent Portable Air Conditioners
Disclamer: All links below go to Amazon.com
- 1Best for Home Office Use: SereneLife 3-1 Portable Quiet AC
- 2Quietest Portable Air Conditioner: De'Longhi 3-in-1
- 3Quietest Portable AC for a Large Room: Whynter ARC-143MX 14,000 BTU Dual Hose
- 4Quietest Portable AC for Smaller Rooms: Emerson Quiet Kool EAPC8RD1
- 5Best for Dorms & Apartments: BLACK+DECKER BPACT12HWT
- 6Quietest 10,000 BTU Portable AC: SereneLife SLPAC105W SLPAC
- Best for Home Office Use
- 12,000 BTU
450 sq. Ft.
- 17.4 x 13.4 x 32.1 inches
- Quietest portable AC
- 12,000 BTU
500 sq. Ft.
- 15.5 x 17.5 x 29.5 inches
- Quietest portable AC for a large room
- 14,000 BTU
500 sq. Ft.
- 16 x 19 x 35.5 inches
Emerson Quiet Kool EAPC8RD1
- Quietest portable AC for smaller rooms
- 8,000 BTU
300 sq. Ft.
- 17.3 x 12.8 x 27.4 inches
- Best for Dorms & Apartments
- 6000 BTU
325 sq. Ft.
- 17.1 x 13.8 x 28.1inches
- Quietest 10,000 BTU portable AC
- 10,000 BTU
300 sq. ft.
- 27.6 x 12.8 x 11.6 inches
- 55 lbs
Top 6 Quietest Portable Air Conditioners: Reviews
1. Best for Home Office Use: SereneLife 3-1 Portable Quiet AC
Looking for a nice quiet portable air conditioner for your home office?
The unique combination of powerful cooling, portable design, and silent operation makes this SereneLife air conditioner a perfect pick. It can cool an area of up to 450 sq. ft. with maximum energy efficiency.
This SereneLife air conditioner comes with a 12000 BTU cooling power, enough to cool a 450 sq. ft. area. This makes it an ideal choice for even the largest home office.
It is specially designed to be portable and lightweight so that you can move it around as per your requirements. There are rolling wheels at the bottom to enhance portability. Plus, the sleek and stylish perfectly complements the interior of your home and office.
What makes this air conditioner stand out to us is its 3-in-1 functionality. While it offers powerful cooling performance, it can also be operated on dehumidifier and fan mode. The built-in dehumidifier maintains the humidity level and provides a comfortable room environment.
There is an automatic swing mode feature to allow maximum air circulation in the room. This user-friendly unit has a digital touch screen control panel for adjusting temperature, mode, timer, and speed settings. It is also remote-controlled, allowing you to change the settings while sitting in your chair.
Another good thing about this multi-functional machine is its super-quiet operation. The manufacturer-stated noise level is 56 dB only, making it a perfect option that will stay quiet during your phone calls in the office.
Issues & Limitations
While this SerneLife air conditioner is packed with features, the quality of the exhaust adaptor is not up to par.
Overall, this SereneLife air conditioner does an excellent job of keeping your home office cool. It is portable, lightweight, and quiet with a powerful cooling performance. And the price is great.
2. Best for Light Sleepers: De'Longhi 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner
The De'Longhi 3-in-1 portable air conditioner is another good choice if you are looking for a powerful but quiet portable AC to cool a large room.
The De'Longhi portable AC is a bit pricey compared to other 12,000-BTU portable air conditioners. But it has a couple of features you won't find in other ACs, and which makes the price tag worth it.
The first is the surprisingly quiet operation. Even at the highest fan speed, the AC is barely louder than a white noise machine.
You can comfortably watch TV or even sleep while the De'Longhi AC is on full blast.
If you are sensitive to even white noise, select Whisper Cool mode on the remote control. The AC cuts noise in half, making the fan almost inaudible. On the downside, it reduces airflow and cooling performance.
In Whisper Cool mode, customers say they can't hear the AC even when sitting right next to it.
The second unique feature is the Real Feel mode.
Normally, you have to keep adjusting an AC's thermostat as the room gets hotter or colder. You also have to turn the dehumidifier on or off depending on how clammy the air feels.
Real Feel saves you the trouble. The AC automatically adjusts the room temperature and humidity to keep you comfortable.
Lights on the unit indicate the state of the room. Orange indicates far from optimal; green means near-optimal, and blue indicates the best comfort level.
With 12,000 BTUs of cooling power, the De'Longhi portable AC easily cools large rooms up to 500 sq. Ft.
As for the dehumidifier, it can remove up to 86 pints of water per day from indoor air. In most cases, you don't have to worry about draining the collected moisture. The AC exhausts it outside together with hot air.
Installing the De'Longhi portable AC is straightforward. A complete window kit is included, and the instructions are easy to follow.
The AC comes with remote control for adjusting the thermostat, setting the auto-off or on the timer, changing fan speed, and selecting different modes.
Issues & Limitations
The De'Longhi 3-in-1 AC is pricey compared to other 12,000-BTU portable AC. But we think it's worth it.
It's quieter than almost all other portable ACs, and the Real Feel mode works like a charm to keep the room perfectly comfortable.
Bottom LineIf you don't mind the higher price, the De'Longhi 3-in-1 portable AC is a great choice if you want a quiet and powerful portable air conditioner.
3. Best for Large Room: Whynter ARC-143MX 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner
It can be hard to find a powerful portable AC that cools a large room without making a racket.
With its dual hose design, the Whynter ARC-143MX quickly and efficiently cools spaces up to 500 sq. Ft. while keeping noise to a minimum.
Dual hose portable air conditioners are the best for large rooms.
Traditional single-hose ACs create negative pressure inside the room because they take air to cool from the room, rather than outside.
This causes some of the outdoor hot air to flow into the room, which increases the cooling time and reduces the efficiency of the AC. It takes more energy and time to cool down the room.
A dual-hose AC exhausts hot air outside using one hose and collects air from outside for cooling using the other hose. This prevents negative pressure, which shortens the cooling time and increases AC efficiency.
The added efficiency is great for large rooms, which takes more time and energy to cool.
Rated at 14,000 BTU, the Whynter ARC-143MX easily cools a 500 sq. Ft. room. It's so good that customers say it even cools adjoining rooms.
Despite being powerful, it is reasonably quiet, at least as quiet as you'd expect from a powerful portable AC.
It produces about 56 decibels of noise at the highest fan speed. It's quieter at lower fan speeds.
Like other portable ACs, the Whynter ARC-143MX has three modes: cooling, fan, and a 91 pints/day dehumidifier. The dehumidifier is self-evaporative, so you do not need to empty the pan unless it's overly humid.
The Whynter ARC-143MX comes with a 61°F – 89°F thermostat, remote control to adjust temperature and other settings, two air filters, and a complete window kit for windows up to 46" long or high.
Issues & Limitations
The Whynter ARC-143MX is quiet, but only if you use it in a large room. If you use it in a room that's much smaller than the recommended max (under 250 sq. ft.), the quiet advantage vanishes.
The AC can get noisy to the point that it's hard to watch TV.
If you want to move the Whynter ARC-143MX AC from your large living room to a small bedroom or home office, we recommend lowering fan speed or buying a second smaller, and quieter, portable air conditioner.
The Whynter ARC-143MX portable AC is powerful, efficient, and quiet – all the important things you need in a portable air conditioner.
4. Best for Smaller Rooms: Emerson Quiet Kool EAPC8RD1 Portable Air Conditioner
Even quiet portable air conditioners can get noisy when used in a small room. If you need an AC to cool your small bedroom or home office, you'll need an extra-quiet portable AC.
The quietest one we found for small rooms is the Emerson Quiet Kool EAPC8RD1 Portable Air Conditioner. At the highest fan speed, it produces less than 52 decibels of noise.
Getting a portable air conditioner that's too big (in terms of BTUs) for the room has several disadvantages. It wastes energy, and it's noisy.
The noise issue can be especially disruptive when you are trying to sleep, work, or watch TV.
That's why we recommend the Emerson Quiet Kool EAPC8RD1 for smaller rooms. AT 8,000 BTU, it's not nearly as powerful as other ACs in this buying guide, but it's perfect for rooms measuring 300 sq. ft. or less.
It works very quietly, even with the fan turned to the highest speed setting. Turn on sleep mode, and the unit gets even quieter – it produces a soft white noise that most customers found to be great for sleep.
The compactly designed Emerson Quiet Kool easily fits in the corner of the room. The included window kit is easy to set up, and you can take it down at any time and set it up in another room.
Caster wheels make it easy to wheel the AC from one room to another.
The Emerson Quiet Kool AC includes a cooling, fan, and an auto-evaporative dehumidifier.
It also comes with remote control, a programmable auto-on or off timer, swinging louvers, and a washable filter.
An indicator light on the control panel will remind you when it's time to wash the filter.
Issues & Limitations
The most common complaint from customers is the LED indicator lights. They do not turn off even when you select sleep mode.
In the dark, they are annoyingly bright. Most customers have taken to cover them with a cloth or tape.
The Emerson Quiet Kool EAPC8RD1 can be the quietest portable air conditioner only for for small and medium-size living rooms, bedrooms, and home offices.
It's powerful enough to keep the space cool yet quiet enough that it doesn't affect your work or sleep.
5. Best for Dorms & Apartments: BLACK+DECKER BPACT12HWT Low Sound Portable AC
A reliable choice for small dorms and apartments, this Black+Decker air conditioner will keep your living+working space cool without the commitment of an installed unit. It is remote-controlled and equipped with energy-efficient features.
If you need an air conditioner for a small area like a dorm or an apartment, this Black+Decker unit is a good option. With a 6000 BTU DOE cooling power, this air conditioner is suitable for areas up to 150 square feet.
It features a beautiful white body that is designed to be highly portable. The wheels allow you to move the unit from one room to another without hassle. It is lightweight and ensures excellent cooling performance.
This air conditioner also doubles as a heater to keep you toasty warm on winter days. You can easily adjust the fan speed between three fan levels; high, medium, and low.
One of the best things about this small air conditioner is the 4-in-1 functionality. It is packed with four energy-efficient modes, including cool, fan, heat, and dehumidifier. This means it can effectively serve your home cooling, heating, and ventilation needs.
The LED display on top of the unit allows you to adjust multiple settings with a single touch. With the 24-hour built-in timer, you can control the air temperature all day long.
Apart from its classy design and exceptional cooling functionality, this unit is low-maintenance and easy to clean. Simply wipe it using a damp cloth or place it under the running water, and you are all good to go.
The machine comes with a remote control so you can turn it on or off and change the setting from a distance.
Issues & Limitations
The unit can be noisy on high fan speed, which can be a dealbreaker for some.
Also, the vent attachment in the package is not compatible with most windows, causing inconvenience for some buyers.
This portable air conditioner can efficiently cool or heat a small room. The compact design with energy-efficient features makes it a good choice for cabins, dorms, and apartments.
6. Best for Living Rooms: SereneLife SLPAC105W SLPAC Portable Air Conditioner
If you are looking to cool a medium-size room (about 200 to 300 sq. ft.), we recommend a 10,000 BTU portable AC. The quietest one we found is the SereneLife SLPAC105W.
It can cool spaces up to 300 square feet, and runs quieter than most window air conditioners.
The 10,000-BTU SereneLife portable AC is perfect for moderately sized rooms up to 300 square feet. This covers most living rooms and bedrooms.
It’s also great for your home office, especially if you are looking for a powerful portable AC that will stay quiet during your phone calls and Zoom sessions.
The manufacturer-stated noise level is 57 decibels, which is lower than we expected for 10,000 BTU AC. It is quieter than some window ACs and fans.
The SereneLife SLPAC105W portable AC has three modes: cool, dry and fan. They also have a different version with an added heat mode for year-round use.
The AC comes with a remote control with which you can adjust temperature and fan speed, set the timer and select one of the three modes.
If you want, you can also connect the SereneLife SLPAC105W to your home WI-Fi network and control it remotely from your smartphone. You’ll need to download the Smart Life app.
The SereneLife portable AC has an auto-drain feature, so you’ll rarely need to empty it manually. But if you ever need to because of high humidity, it’s easy to connect a hose and drain the excess water.
Size-wise, the SereneLife SLPAC105W measures slightly over 2 feet wide and about 1 foot deep, so it shouldn’t take up much space in the room. It weighs 55lbs. While we wouldn’t call that easily portable, you can wheel it from room to room. The problem is if you need to carry it upstairs.
Issues & Limitations
Despite advertising it as a Wi-Fi connected portable AC, the manual that comes with the SereneLife SLPAC105W doesn't have any instructions regarding setting up the Wi-Fi connection or which app to use.
The app is Smart Life. Search for it in the App store or in the Google Play store.
Connecting the AC to Wi-Fi takes a few tries. But once you get it done, you can turn the AC on or off and adjust temperature from your smartphone.
The Wi-Fi feature is ok, but what we like most about the SereneLife SLPAC105W 10,000 BTU portable AC is quiet but powerful cooling (and dehumidifying) performance.
Quiet Portable Air Conditioner: Buying Guide
To find the right quiet air conditioner for your home or office, focus on the following features and capabilities first:
A properly sized unit will cool your room properly. However, an undersized air conditioner won’t cool your room, while an oversized one will burn through energy while generating excess humidity.
To find the right-sized air conditioner, calculate the square footage by multiplying the width by the length of the area to be cooled.
Another essential thing to know is the air conditioner's BTU (British Temperature Unit). It indicates the amount of heat a unit can remove from an area. The higher the BTU rating of an air conditioner, the larger room it can cool.
While most manufacturers also recommend the ideal BTU rating for specific room sizes, here is a general guideline.
- A 200 sq. ft. area – 8000 BTU
- A 300 sq. ft. area – 10,000 BTU
- A 400 sq. ft. area – 12,000 BTU
- A 600 sq. ft. area – 14,000 BTU
You may need more BTUS to deal with additional issues that prevent cooling like excessive sunlight, placement of the unit in a kitchen, and the number of people in the room.
Single hose vs. Dual hose
A single-hose air conditioner is equipped with one hose at the back of the unit to remove hot air from a room. It is also used to remove the moisture from the dehumidification process.
This type of air conditioner is suitable for cooling small rooms, plus it's relatively quieter than the dual hose systems. That said, one-hose units can create negative pressure in the room they are cooling due to the one-way air flow created (from the room to outside).
Dual dose air conditioners come with one exhaust hose and one intake hose, which eliminates the pressure issue completely.
The intake hose draws outside air into the unit to cool down the internal components. The exhaust hose channels the warm air to the outside.
Generally speaking, dual-hose air conditioners are more efficient and provide a better overall cooling effect than single-hose units.
To ensure your air conditioner is quiet, check the decibel rating of the air conditioner before buying one.
It is generally listed in the unit's technical specifications.
For a quiet unit, look for something between 40-60 decibels. Most quiet portable air conditioners come with a 50-decibel rating. This factor is essential for light sleepers and office use.
It is an important feature as it pulls out the moisture and cools down the room simultaneously. Some models can also serve as dehumidifiers without air conditioning. Those who live in a humid area should always look for a unit with a dehumidifying mode.
A heating mode on the portable air conditioner will make it useful in winter.
It will blow warm air into the room, thereby saving you from buying a separate heater.
Not all portable air conditioners come with this feature, so you check the air conditioner's specifications before purchasing.
In addition, most portable air conditioners do not come equipped with a heater powerful enough to warm a room as large as they can cool… so think of it as a space heater, not a replacement for your HVAC system.
The auto evaporation mode in the air conditioner helps remove moisture collected during the dehumidification process.
This saves you from the hassle of emptying the water bucket frequently. The moisture will automatically condense and expel through the exhaust hose to the outside.
While most people do not consider this feature, we think timers are critical important feature for any portable AC.
Using the timer, you can program the unit to turn it on or off at a particular time. You can set the unit to turn off shortly after you fall asleep, and once that time is reached, the air conditioner will automatically turn off.
Timers are one of the best ways to minimize energy use.
A remote-control air conditioner is convenient to operate. You can easily adjust the settings without having to get up from the sofa.
Tips To Get The Quietest Portable Air Conditioner
There's no official or voluntary standard for the noise level in portable air conditioners. But knowing the amount of noise most portable ACs produce can help you choose a quiet one.
What Is The Standard Noise Level For Portable Air Conditioners?
Most portable air conditioners range between 40 and 60 decibels. The exact noise level of a particular unit depends on fan speed, room size, and how far you are from the air conditioner.
An AC in a smaller room is going to be louder because you'll be nearer. Similarly, a high fan speed results in more noise from the motor and the fan itself.
How Many Decibels will the Quietest Portable Air Conditioner produce?
A 'silent' portable air conditioner should have a noise level below 55 decibels. This is close to the hum of a refrigerator.
Comparing Noise Level: Portable Air Conditioners vs. Window Air Conditioners
Both window units and portable AC units use standard compressors that fall in the decibel range of 48 to 56.
But window ACs tend to be less noisy for several practical reason.
First, window units contain the noisiest components outside of the window, keeping the noise outside. This alone can reduce noise inside by 10 decibels or more.
Second, window air conditioners are equipped with better insulation like compressor blankets to reduce the noise further.
In contrast, portable air conditioners are placed in the room, so the noise produced by the fan, motor, and compressor remains inside. Also, there are no special noise-mitigating features in this type of air conditioner.
However, there are multiple advantages associated with portable air conditioners over window air conditioners, like better aesthetics and, of course, portability.
Pros and Cons of Using Low Sound Portable Air Conditioners
There are both upsides and downsides to having the best quiet portable air conditioners. Let's have a look at both of them.
Peace and Quiet
A low-sound air conditioner will ensure better sleep and less interference while working. These are designed to operate without making much noise so you can continue working without any disturbance. Meanwhile, these are a perfect option for light sleepers to use in bedrooms.
Portable air conditioners have a specialty for "space cooling". These are equipped with multiple energy-efficient modes, helping you cut down on monthly electricity bills.
Another plus point of portable air conditioners is the straightforward installation. They are the easiest type of air conditioning to install. They come with a detailed instruction guide to help you assemble the unit.
Easier to move around
Most portable air conditioners are lightweight and equipped with wheels. This makes it easier to roll them to the area you need it. Unlike a window AC, a portable air conditioner does not require more than one person to move.
Don’t block natural light
Not to mention, portable air conditioners offer better aesthetics than window air conditioners. Since they need a small space in the window for the intake/exhaust hose, they do not block the view and natural light. This makes them a suitable choice for those with limited natural lighting in their house.
Quiet and portable air conditioners are not the cheapest units. They generally come with a hefty price tag compared to standard window AC.
Undersize for space
This is the most common problem with portable air conditioners. Most of them are not capable of cooling or dehumidifying an area effectively as advertised by manufacturers.
While the installation is easy, portable air conditioners need more care and maintenance to keep them running efficiently.
You need to make sure that the intake/exhaust hose is clean plus the air filter is free of debris. The water pan should be emptied on a regular basis as it can lead to leaks and water damage.
How to make your Portable AC Quieter?
If you buy a portable air conditioner and realize it is too loud (or if you already have a loud portable AC), there are a few things you can do to enjoy a quieter cooling experience.Here are some tips.
In a few cases, you may have received a lemon unit. If your AC rattles and vibrates, you should probably return it and request another one.
If the rattling happens after a few weeks or months of use, it's likely a faulty part. Contact the manufacturer for advice. If your warranty is still active, they might offer free repair or replacement.
A noisy portable air conditioner can be more disruptive than you think. Even if you don't think you'll mind a little noise, we recommend getting a quiet portable AC.
You'll enjoy better sleep and a more peaceful environment overall. You can also enjoy the cooling and watch the TV without having to turn up the volume.
The Honeywell HL12CESWK 12000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner is our top recommendation for most people. It's powerful enough for most homes and provides fast cooling without making much noise.
What decibel level is considered quiet for portable air conditioners?
Generally, a portable AC that produces 55 decibels or lower of noise will be pretty quiet. However, powerful portable ACs (10,000 BTUs and higher) tend to be noisier, with most coming in at between 55 and 60 decibels.
But because these bigger units are typically used in larger rooms, they don't sound all that loud.
Window vs. Portable AC Noise Levels: Which one is noisier?
Window air conditioners are generally quieter than portable ACs. Some window ACs can be as quiet as 43 decibels, while the quietest portable ACs get is about 50 decibels.
Why is my portable AC making a loud noise?
Common reasons for a loud portable AC include mechanical problems inside the unit, a window kit that's not installed properly, and clogged filters.
How Can I Tell If a Portable Air Conditioner Is Quiet?
Before you buy, check whether the manufacturer has provided the number of decibels the AC produces at the highest fan speed.
If they don't (most don't), then the next best source of information is customer reviews. But these tend to be highly subjective. You might find as many customers saying a portable AC quiet as those complaining it's noisy.
But with some units, it can be clear from customer reviews whether it is pleasantly quiet or a major noise nuisance.
The surest way to tell whether a portable air conditioner is quiet is to buy it. You can then hear it for yourself.
Check the noise of the AC from different parts of the room and at different fan settings. Also, check how noisy it is at night at different fan speeds. See how well you can sleep with the AC in the room.
If you want to be precise, use a decibel meter to check the exact level of noise at various distances from the AC and at different fan speeds.
If the AC is too loud for your liking, return it and look for a quieter one.
Are Quiet Portable Air Conditioners More Expensive?
Generally, yes. If two portable ACs have the same BTUs and general features, the quieter one is likely going to cost more.
The reason is simple: making an air conditioner quiet requires more and higher quality materials as well as a special design. This increases production costs, which results in a higher price.