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The Ultimate Guide to the Best Quiet Portable Air Conditioners in 2024

As the summer temperatures continue to climb year after year, more and more people are turning to portable air conditioners to keep their homes and workspaces comfortable. According to a recent market analysis report, the global portable air conditioner market is expected to reach $1.5 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 4.5% from 2020 to 2027.

But one common complaint about portable ACs is that they can be quite noisy, sometimes generating up to 60 decibels (dB) of sound. To put that into perspective, 60 dB is about the volume of a normal conversation or background music. While not necessarily earsplitting, it can definitely be disruptive if you‘re trying to sleep, work, or enjoy some quiet time at home.

Fortunately, advancements in compressor technology and sound dampening have enabled manufacturers to develop portable air conditioners that deliver powerful cooling with minimal noise output. If you‘re in the market for a quiet portable AC unit, you‘re in luck. We‘ve scoured the latest offerings to bring you our top picks for the best quiet portable air conditioners you can buy in 2024.

What Makes a Portable Air Conditioner Quiet?

The main culprit behind a noisy portable air conditioner is the compressor. As the heart of the AC unit, the compressor is responsible for circulating the refrigerant that absorbs heat from the air inside your room and expels it outside.

Traditional compressors operate at a fixed speed, cycling on and off to maintain the desired temperature. This constant starting and stopping is what creates that telltale buzzing or humming noise associated with most air conditioners.

However, many newer portable ACs now use inverter compressors that can vary their speed to more precisely match the cooling demand. Rather than cutting in and out, inverter compressors smoothly ramp up or down to maintain a consistent temperature. This not only significantly reduces noise levels but also improves energy efficiency.

According to a study by the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, switching from a fixed-speed AC to an inverter model can cut energy use by 20-40% and reduce noise levels by up to 12 decibels.

In addition to compressor type, the overall build quality and sound insulation of a portable AC also play a role in noise reduction. High-end units often feature thicker, denser housing materials and anti-vibration mounts to further minimize sound transmission.

So, when shopping for a quiet portable air conditioner, prioritize models with inverter technology and look for noise ratings under 55 decibels – the lower, the better. Some of the quietest units we‘ve seen hover around an impressive 40-45 dB, which is just above the sound level of a soft whisper.

Sizing Your Portable Air Conditioner: BTUs and Square Footage

One of the most important factors in selecting a portable air conditioner is making sure it‘s properly sized for the space you want to cool. An undersized unit will struggle to keep up on hot days, while an oversized one will cycle on and off too frequently, wasting energy and wearing out components prematurely.

Portable AC sizing is typically measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs). The higher the BTU rating, the more powerful the cooling capacity. As a general rule of thumb, you‘ll need about 20 BTUs per square foot of living space. So, for a 150 square foot room, a 7-8,000 BTU portable AC would be appropriate. For a 350 square foot space, look for a 10-12,000 BTU unit.

However, it‘s important to note that there are two different BTU rating standards used by portable AC manufacturers: ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) and DOE (Department of Energy). Without getting too bogged down in the technical details, just be aware that ASHRAE BTU ratings tend to be significantly higher than DOE ratings for the same size unit.

For example, a 10,000 BTU unit rated under ASHRAE standards might be only 6,000-7,000 BTUs under the DOE standard. So, when comparing portable AC models, make sure you‘re using the same BTU rating system for accurate sizing.

To further complicate matters, other factors like ceiling height, window size and orientation, insulation, and occupancy can all impact an air conditioner‘s effective cooling capacity. When in doubt, consult the Energy Star website for a handy BTU calculator that takes many of these variables into account.

Comparing Noise Levels: How Loud Are Portable Air Conditioners?

As mentioned, portable air conditioners typically range from around 40 to 60 decibels. But what does that really mean? Let‘s take a look at how portable AC noise levels compare to some common household appliances and sounds:

Noise Source Decibel Level (dB)
Whisper 30
Quiet library 40
Quiet portable AC 40-45
Refrigerator hum 50
Moderate rainfall 50
Average portable AC 50-55
Normal conversation 55-60
Loud portable AC 60
Vacuum cleaner 70
City traffic 80
Lawn mower 90
[Sources: CDC, How Stuff Works]

As you can see, even a moderately noisy portable AC is still quieter than many everyday sounds like traffic or a vacuum cleaner. But for those sensitive to noise or looking to use their AC in a bedroom or office, a model on the quieter end of the spectrum under 50 dB will be much less intrusive.

It‘s also worth noting that portable air conditioner noise levels are typically measured from a few feet away. The farther you are from the unit, the quieter it will seem. Proper placement – away from walls and other hard surfaces that can reflect sound – can also help minimize perceived noise.

Top Picks: The 10 Best Quiet Portable Air Conditioners for 2024

Without further ado, here are our top recommendations for the quietest portable ACs currently available, based on a combination of measured noise levels, cooling performance, energy efficiency, and overall user satisfaction:

  1. Midea Duo MAP16S1TWT Inverter Portable Air Conditioner (42 dB) – With a powerful 16,000 BTU SACC rating and unique dual-hose design, this inverter model tops our list for its ultra-quiet operation and excellent cooling coverage up to 1,000 square feet.

  2. Black + Decker BPACT14WT Portable Air Conditioner (44 dB) – A solid choice for medium to large rooms up to 700 square feet, this 14,000 BTU unit delivers efficient, near-silent cooling at an affordable price point under $500.

  3. Whynter ARC-14S 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner (50 dB) – The ARC-14S utilizes dual hose technology and an auto-drain function for faster, maintenance-free cooling with 40% less noise than similar single-hose models.

  4. De‘Longhi PACEX390LVYN Pinguino 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner (45 dB) – Featuring De‘Longhi‘s "Arctic Whisper Extreme" technology, this versatile unit provides quiet, multi-mode comfort including cooling, dehumidifying, fan, and heat pump functions.

  5. SereneLife SLACHT128 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner (52-56 dB) – With four operating modes and a compact yet powerful design, the SLACHT128 is an efficient and relatively quiet solution for spaces up to 450 square feet.

  6. Frigidaire Gallery GHPC132AB1 Cool Connect Smart Portable Air Conditioner (47 dB) – This smart Wi-Fi enabled unit offers convenient app and voice control, along with near-silent cooling and supplemental heating in a stylish package.

  7. Honeywell HL14CHESWW Contempo Series Portable Air Conditioner (50-53 dB) – A sleek, self-evaporative 14,000 BTU portable AC with a tolerable noise level around 50 decibels, plus bonus dehumidifying and fan-only modes.

  8. LG LP1419IVSM Smart 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner (44 dB) – LG‘s dual inverter variable-speed compressor helps this smart model achieve impressively low 44 dB noise levels and outstanding 15,000 BTU ASHRAE/10,200 BTU DOE cooling performance.

  9. Rollibot ROLLICOOL Alexa-Enabled Portable Air Conditioner (52 dB) – Enjoy the convenience of Alexa voice controls and the durability of an upgraded metal frame with this app-enabled smart AC, cooling rooms up to 550 square feet at a reasonable 52 dB.

  10. Whirlpool WHAP141AW 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner (50 dB) – Whirlpool‘s WHAP141AW rounds out our list with its eco-friendly dual filtration system, 50 dB quiet operation, and Wi-Fi connectivity for remote monitoring and control via the Whirlpool app.

Smart Features to Look For in a Quiet Portable AC

As you may have noticed, many of the top quiet portable ACs now come with smart Wi-Fi connectivity and app control. These smart features aren‘t just for show – they can actually help optimize your cooling and energy usage for maximum efficiency and comfort.

For example, some smart portable air conditioners can use geofencing to detect when you‘re away from home and automatically adjust the temperature to conserve power. Others may sync with your smart thermostat or allow you to set custom cooling schedules around your daily routine.

Intelligent, variable-speed compressors can also use machine learning to analyze your cooling habits and make real-time adjustments to keep your space at the ideal temperature with minimal energy waste. Over time, these smart algorithms can generate significant electricity bill savings.

According to a study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), smart thermostats alone can cut cooling costs by 10-15%. Combine that with the 20-40% efficiency boost of an inverter compressor, and a smart quiet portable AC could easily pay for itself within a few seasons.

Of course, not everyone needs or wants a portable air conditioner with all the extra bells and whistles. A basic unit with straightforward controls and good old-fashioned buttons can still get the job done just fine. But if you‘re keen on having the latest and greatest cooling technology, a smart AC is definitely worth considering.

Tips for Maximizing Portable Air Conditioner Performance and Efficiency

Regardless of which quiet portable air conditioner you choose, there are several steps you can take to ensure it operates at peak performance and efficiency:

  1. Proper placement: Position your portable AC away from walls, furniture, and other obstacles that could block airflow. Aim to provide at least 6-12 inches of clearance on all sides. Avoid placing the unit in direct sunlight or near heat-generating appliances like ovens or refrigerators.

  2. Regular maintenance: Clean or replace the air filters every few weeks, or as recommended by the manufacturer. Accumulated dust and debris can restrict airflow and make the AC work harder than necessary. Also, periodically check and clean the condenser coils, evaporator, and exhaust hoses.

  3. Seal air leaks: Make sure the window or wall vent kit is properly installed and sealed to prevent hot air from seeping back into the room. Use weatherstripping or foam insulation to fill any gaps around the hoses. Keep doors and windows closed while the AC is running.

  4. Moderate temperature settings: Resist the temptation to crank the AC to the coldest setting, especially on very hot days. Each degree below 75°F can add 3-5% to your cooling costs. Instead, set the thermostat as high as comfortably possible and use fans to help circulate the cool air.

  5. Take advantage of smart features: If your portable AC has smart connectivity, use the app to create custom cooling schedules, monitor energy usage, and make remote adjustments as needed. Many apps also provide helpful maintenance reminders and troubleshooting tips.

  6. Supplement with other cooling methods: Portable air conditioners work best in conjunction with other cooling strategies like ceiling fans, window shades, and light-blocking curtains. Minimizing heat gain from sunlight and appliances can also help your AC run more efficiently.

The Future of Portable Air Conditioning: What‘s Next?

As global temperatures continue to rise and more people seek affordable, flexible cooling solutions, the demand for portable air conditioners shows no signs of slowing down. But what advancements can we expect to see in the coming years?

One area of focus is the development of more eco-friendly refrigerants. Many current portable ACs still use hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants like R-410A, which have a high global warming potential (GWP) when leaked into the atmosphere. Newer, more sustainable alternatives like R-32 and R-290 (propane) are starting to gain traction, offering similar cooling performance with a fraction of the environmental impact.

Another exciting frontier is the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning into smart portable air conditioners. Beyond just basic app control and scheduling, future units may be able to analyze factors like weather patterns, occupancy levels, and energy prices to optimize cooling on the fly. Some companies are even exploring the use of AI-powered predictive maintenance to detect potential issues before they lead to costly breakdowns.

Of course, as with any new technology, these advancements will likely come with a higher price tag – at least initially. But as economies of scale kick in and more consumers demand energy-efficient, sustainable cooling options, we can expect to see increased availability and affordability of next-gen portable ACs.


When it comes to staying cool and comfortable during the hot summer months, a quiet portable air conditioner can be a game-changer – especially if you don‘t have central AC or can‘t install a window unit. By prioritizing models with inverter compressors, low noise ratings, and smart features, you can enjoy powerful, efficient cooling without the disruptive hum of traditional portable ACs.

Of course, finding the perfect quiet portable air conditioner for your needs will depend on a variety of factors, including room size, climate, budget, and desired features. But with our top picks and expert tips, you‘re well on your way to a cooler, more peaceful home or workspace.

Just remember to properly size your unit, keep up with regular maintenance, and take advantage of any smart features to maximize performance and efficiency. And don‘t forget to supplement your portable AC with other cooling strategies like fans, shades, and mindful temperature settings.

As technology continues to evolve, we can look forward to even more advanced, eco-friendly portable cooling solutions in the years ahead. But for now, the current crop of quiet, inverter-powered ACs offer a compelling option for anyone seeking a flexible, low-noise way to beat the heat.

Happy cooling!