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Quietest Portable Air Conditioners

Top 5 Quietest Portable Air Conditioners 2020: Reviews & Buying Guide

Looking for a whisper-quiet 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.


Do You Really Need A Quiet Portable Air Conditioner?

zero breeze 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.

Best Quietest Portable Air Conditioners: Comparison

Disclamer: All links below go to Amazon.com

Honeywell HL12CESWK
  • Honeywell HL12CESWK

  • Editor's Top Pick
  • 12,000 BTU
  • Noise:


    49-52 dB
  • Cooling Area:


    450-500 sq. Ft.
  • 18.9 x 15.7 X 31.3 inches
  • 72lbs

De'Longhi
  • De'Longhi PACAN120EW

  • Quietest portable AC
  • 12,000 BTU
  • Noise:


    Not listed
  • Cooling Area:


    500 sq. Ft.
  • 15.5 x 17.5 x 29.5 inches
  • 68.4lbs

Whynter ARC-143MX
  • Whynter ARC-143MX

  • Quietest portable AC for a large room
  • 14,000 BTU
  • Noise:


    56 dB
  • Cooling Area:


    500 sq. Ft.
  • 16 x 19 x 35.5 inches
  • 79lbs

Emerson Quiet Kool EAPC8RD1
  • Emerson Quiet Kool EAPC8RD1

  • Quietest portable AC for smaller rooms
  • 8,000 BTU
  • Noise:


    52 dB
  • Cooling Area:


    300 sq. Ft.
  • 17.3 x 12.8 x 27.4 inches
  • 52.9lbs

EdgeStar AP8000W
  • EdgeStar AP8000W

  • Quietest portable AC for RVs and tiny homes
  • 8,000 BTU
  • Noise:


    53-56 dB
  • Cooling Area:


    150 sq. Ft.
  • 14.2 x 19.5 x 24.8 inches
  • 56lbs

Top 5 Quietest Portable Air Conditioners: Reviews

Honeywell HL12CESWK Portable Air Conditioner

Our top pick is the Honeywell 12000 BTU Portable AC. It packs a lot of cooling power while keeping noise levels low.

Pros

  • Dual motor technology reduces noise.
  • Powerful enough to cool large rooms.
  • Auto evaporation.
  • Dual filters keep out dust and other allergens.

Cons

  • Louvres don't swing – you cannot focus airflow towards a specific direction.

Our Review 

To reduce noise levels, the Honeywell portable AC uses dual motors.

The manufacturer doesn't explain exactly how that makes the AC quieter, but customers say the unit makes less noise than other ACs they've had before.

The manufacturer stated the noise level is 49-52 decibels when the fan is at the highest setting. That's quieter than a conversation.

The Honeywell AC has three fan speeds, so you can further reduce noise by selecting the middle or lowest setting. At the lowest setting, the AC is barely audible. Use this setting when you sleep.

The 12,000-BTU portable AC is ideal for medium to large size rooms under 500 square feet.

In addition to cooling, the Honeywell portable AC also dehumidifies. It has a dehumidification capacity of 86 pints/day.

If you live in a humid area and prefer leaving the dehumidifier mode on all the time, you'll need to connect a hose for continuous draining.

In less humid places, the AC auto-evaporates the collected moisture, meaning you don't need to bother draining it.

Installing the Honeywell portable AC is easy. It comes with a complete window kit that can be installed on a vertical or horizontal sliding window.

The Honeywell HL12CESWK comes with remote control with which you can adjust fan speed, set an auto shut-off timer, and select a mode (fan, cool, dry, or sleep).

Issues & Limitations 

The louvers on the Honeywell AC are static, which means you cannot swing them at directing airflow toward a specific direction.

Bottom Line 

Though not the quietest portable AC, the Honeywell portable air conditioner is much quieter than you'd expect from a 12,000-BTU AC. We recommend it if you want a lot of cooling power with minimal noise.

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.

Pros

  • Quiet operation.
  • The dedicated mode that further reduces noise.
  • Auto-evaporation.
  • Multi-function remote control.
  • Real Feel mode automatically controls the climate to keep you comfortable.

Cons

  • Pricey.

Our Review

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 Line 

If 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.

Whynter ARC-143MX 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.

Pros

  • Dual hose design increases efficiency.
  • Ideal for large spaces.
  • Quiet.
  • Dual filters.

Cons

  • Pricey.
  • Noisy in smaller rooms.

Our Review 

The 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.

Bottom Line 

The Whynter ARC-143MX portable AC is powerful, efficient, and quiet – all the important things you need in a portable air conditioner.


4. Quietest Portable AC for Smaller Rooms:

Emerson Quiet Kool EAPC8RD1 Portable Air Conditioner 

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.

Pros

  • Quiet operation.
  • Auto-swing louvers provide better room coverage.
  • Includes timer and remote control.
  • Easy to set up and maintain.
  • Great price.

Cons

  • LED indicator lights don't turn off, even in sleep mode.

Our Review 

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.

Bottom Line 

The Emerson Quiet Kool EAPC8RD1 portable AC is the perfect choice 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. Quietest Portable AC for RVs and Tiny Homes:

EdgeStar AP8000W Portable Air Conditioner

EdgeStar AP8000W Portable Air Conditioner

If you are looking for a small, relatively quiet, and cheap portable AC for your RV or tiny home, we recommend the EdgeStar AP8000W

It is rated for small spaces up to 150 square feet and produces between 53 and 56 dB of noise.

Pros

  • Low cost.
  • Three fan speeds + adjustable thermostat.
  • Programmable timer.
  • Space-saving design.

Cons

  • Highest fan speed can be a little loud in a small room.

Our Review 

If you need to cool an extra-small space like an RV or a tiny home, the EdgeStar AP8000W is the best choice. It is not as quiet as other portable ACs (especially at the highest fan speed), but it's not overly noisy either.

It's rated for spaces up to 150 sq. Ft. You can use it to cool the entire RV (if it's small) or a single room (for larger RVs).

The EdgeStar AP8000W comes with a complete window kit that fits windows up to 55" long or high. The exhaust hose is 49" long, giving you plenty of flexibility in how far you can place it from the window (but it's advisable to use the shortest hose length possible).

Two filters clean the air passing through the AC. One is a washable filter, and the other is a replaceable carbon filter.

Using the included remote control, you can adjust the thermostat, change fan speed, and select a specific mode (fan, cool, or dehumidifier).

The EdgeStar AP8000W also comes with a 24-hour timer to automatically turn the unit on or off.

One feature RV and tiny homeowners will appreciate the compact design. The AC takes up very little floor space.

Issues & Limitations 

At the highest fan speed, the EdgeStar AP8000W can be a bit noisy, especially in a small room. We recommend turning down fan speed. At the lowest setting, it produces only 53 dB of noise, which is perfect for sleeping, working, or watching a movie.

Bottom Line 

The EdgeStar AP8000W portable AC is an affordable and fairly quiet choice for extra-small spaces such as RVs and tiny homes.


Tips To Get The Quietest Portable Air Conditioner

quiet portable ac

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 Qualifies a Portable AC as 'Silent'? 

A 'silent' portable air conditioner should have a noise level below 55 decibels. This is close to the hum of a refrigerator.

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?

quiet portable ac

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.


Portable Air Conditioners vs. Window Air Conditioners

Portable Air Conditioners vs. Window Air Conditioners

When it comes to noise levels, there's no argument – window air conditioners are quieter than portable air conditioners.

The reason is simple. A window air conditioner is partly outside the window. Most of the noise it produces is channeled outside. The noise that comes into the house can be as low as 43 decibels.

Also, many window air conditioners employ several noise-reduction mechanisms, such as compressor blankets.

Portable air conditioners sit entirely inside a room. The compressor, fan, and motor all produce some noise.

On top of that, many portable ACs lack any major noise-mitigating designs or features. Low-quality ACs can be as loud as 60 decibels.

The more common range is 50-60 decibels with quiet portable ACs producing between 50 and 55 decibels of noise.

Of course, the fact that the entire unit is inside the room is not a completely bad thing. It is the sole reason portable ACs are…well, portable. You can easily move the unit from room to room.


How to Make your Portable AC Quieter 

quiet portable ac

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.
  • Locate the air conditioner further away. Portable ACs have extendable hoses, so you can move the unit around to where it doesn't sound as noisy.
  • Turn down the fan speed. Almost all portable air conditioners have multiple fan speed settings. If your unit is noisy, it's probably running at the highest fan speed. Try the lower fan speed levels to reduce the amount of noise. Note, however, that turning down fan speed reduces cooling performance (the AC will cool the room slower).
  • Turn on sleep mode. Many portable air conditioners have a dedicated sleep mode that automatically lowers fan speed. Use this mode when you want to sleep, work, or watch TV without the loud whine of the AC in your ears.
  • Check for the wrong installation. Installing the AC wrongly can result in noise, usually an unusual kind of noise. If your AC sounds louder than it should be, try re-installing the window kit.
  • Check the filters. If your AC was quiet but has gradually become nosier, it's probably time to wash or replace the filters. Clogged filters can make the AC noisier as it struggles to pass air through the filters.
  • Get the right size. If you use a powerful AC in a small room, it is going to be noisy. The constant turning on and off can also be annoying. Under-sizing can also cause a noise problem. If the AC is not powerful enough to cool the room, it'll whine louder as it struggles to cool the large space.

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.


Wrap Up

quietest portable ac

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.

About the Author Tom Hanson

I’ve worked as an HVAC tech in Phoenix, AZ for the past 10 years. I created CoolAndPortable.com to help home owners select the right portable air conditioner, cooler or air purifier for their needs & budget in just a few minutes.

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