As you might already know this, portable ACs aren’t the quietest on the market. Compared by their noise level, this type of ACs is probably the closest to the window units. And generally speaking, even window units have often better preferences regarding the noise level. The fundamental structure of portable ACs is the main source of all of the issues with the noise. All of the parts are put into a single casing and this is very challenging when it comes to making the devices like these less noisy. Given the fact that you are here, you have probably had issues with a noisy one already. In this article we are going to present you with some of the quietest portable air conditioners on the market and hopefully help you find the one that fits you the best.
If you are however, less concerned with the noise and you are simply looking to buy a good portable AC, you might want to check our list of picks of best portable air conditioners that we prepared for you.
For those who do get annoyed with the noise, we have worked on preparing this guide. We will first present you with the list of some of the quietest portable ACs on the market and then we will include some installation tips and other useful information that can help you get less noise from your portable AC.
Now, before we show you our picks for the quietest ACs, here’s a fun fact for you:
Did you know that all air conditioners (including the portable ones) produce a kind of noise which is called white noise? And the fun fact is that while plenty of people complain that the noise from their air conditioners won’t let them sleep, there are videos on YouTube where you can find hours of fan noise recording and people use these to help them fall asleep! More about that in the bottom section of this article and now here are our picks:
TOP PICK: Haier HPC12XCR 12000 BTU Portable AC
We decided to choose this 12000 BTU unit from the Haier brand as our top pick for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, let’s talk about the noise level of this air conditioner.
The noise level specified by the manufacturer is 50 dbA, which is really quiet considering the fact that we are speaking about portable air conditioners.
However this is not all that we have to say about the noise level of this small and powerful AC. We were intensively reading user feedbacks for this model and we found that users indeed recognise this device as a pretty quiet one, claiming that it feels/sounds rather like a 40 dbA unit.
There is, though, a small issue regarding the noise of this model although this might not be the case with all of the units, we found that this model can produce a slightly noisier thump when the condenser starts to work. This is not any close to be called as a strong noise however it is a little bit noisier than how the unit sounds while operating normally. If you are really sensitive to noise changes, you might still hear this while sleeping.
When it comes to its efficiency, this 12000 BTU model seems to be very efficient when covering surfaces of up to 450 square feet.
We did find some complaints regarding how fast it starts to cool however, it should still be able to cover the given surface without any issues. In the provided user manual is said that this unit needs no more than 5 minutes to cool down your room completely, however this won’t always be true, you will have to wait up to half of an hour to get your room cooled completely, depending of the rooms size and weather conditions of your area.
Another great feature of this portable AC is the auto draining option which means that you won’t need to deal too much with the draining of the condensated water.
This portable AC isn’t too heavy but it also isn’t a lightweight unit that you can lift easily. It weighs 55 pounds and measures 16.9 x 27.8 x 14.25 inches (W-H-D). Although you might have issues moving it upstairs and downstairs, it will be still easy to move around room because it has a set of wheels attached on it.
This is a single hose model which comes with a DIY installation kit including a 5 ft hose.
It has a nicely designed digital display and comes with a built-in thermometer with a 24-hour timer. This, combined with the full control remote, makes this unit easy programmable. It has 3 cooling and 3 fan speeds and can blow air in 4 different directions.
It will also perform very well as a dehumidifier with the capacity of up to 100 pints of moisture removed per day.
Haier has really put some effort also in making this unit to look really good. It is a modern and stylish black and white design that should fit with the rest of your furniture nicely. The design is pretty unique when compared to other portable ACs and it doesn’t look like just another portable AC.
- Proven to be one of the quietest portable ACs on the market
- Beautiful and unique design
- Very efficient
- No need to deal with draining condensate water too often, it will do the draining automatically, most of the times
- All of the standard features and controls that you need from an unit of this type
- It is pretty quiet but you might notice a noise change and even hear a slight thump when the condenser kicks in
Note that there is the auto-evaporator feature to help you reduce the draining work to the minimum, however, if you live in an area where there is a lot of humidity in the air, you might still have to drain it manually if it starts to fill with the condensate water faster than the evaporator can handle it, make sure you read our installation and maintenance instructions to learn more about why this happens.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: With the operational noise level that is around 50 dbA, nice and stylish design, all the controls and programmable options and pretty good cooling capacity, this portable AC deserves its place as our top pick not only as one of the quietest portable ACs but also as one of the better units of this type on the market in general.
BEST FOR LARGE ROOMS: Whynter ARC-142BX 14000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
This model has everything that you need to cool a large room efficiently. We decided to pick it as our best for large rooms pick simply because it has enough of capacity to cover even a smaller condo.
With its 14000 BTU cooling capacity, this unit can cool up to 500 square feet of space.
Of course we didn’t forget the noise level. This model comes with the noise-level specification of only 53 dbA which is great for an unit of this size and capacity.
Also, when it comes to reducing the noise, this unit, given the fact that it can cool even larger spaces, can help you reduce the impact of the noise simply by letting you to put it a little bit further from the place where you spend the most time. This way you can reduce your direct exposure to the noise significantly.
If you are a fan of black gadgets, you will probably love the design of this portable AC. It is a nice and unique design with fully black casing with really nice display and set of the buttons at the top of the casing.
This is a single hose unit, comes with a 59 inch long hose and the proper installation kit.
This unit also has the self-evaporative system which will take care of the condensate water that collects inside. This model will actually even re-use the collected water to improve cooling performance. However, this really depends on the weather conditions of your area. If there is a lot of humid air in your room this AC will remove it quickly but if your place lacks the proper insulation and there is plenty of air-leaking from the outside you might end up draining the bucket every couple of hours.
So, don’t forget that proper room insulation is very important to stop any leaks of the air into the room while the AC is turned on, especially with the single hose models.
This model comes with all the standard options and controls. Has a programmable timer which will let you pre-define when to turn it on or off anywhen during the time (this can be also a very handy option when you are trying to reduce your exposure to the noise).
While you can move it around the room on its wheels easily, this isn’t the most lightweight AC on the market. It weighs 76 pounds and measures 15.8 x 19.2 x 32 inches. It is pretty heavy to carry and you will probably need someone to help you if you need to do that.
- Great for larger rooms
- Reasonably quiet, also given its cooling capacity, you can put it further from you so you don’t hear the noise – in some cases you can install it into a different room and still have the both of the rooms cooled perfectly
- Great design
- Has all the standard features and control options
- The hose might not be made of the highest quality materials, it may happen that you will need to use some kind of a glue or a duct tape to keep it fixated both to the AC and to the window adapter.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: This portable air conditioner, with its noise level of 53 dbA and 14000 BTU capacity can do a lot for you to cool even larger rooms and still with acceptable amount of noise.
BEST FOR MID-SIZED ROOMS: Whynter Elite ARC-122DHP 12000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner + Heater
The only reason that we didn’t choose this portable air conditioner as our top pick is the fact that it might lack some capacity to cool larger rooms.
Everything else makes this portable AC a great pick for its price.
Starting with the noise level, this portable comes with a very low noise-level specification of max 52 dbA which puts it among the quietest room air conditioners on the market.
With its 12000 BTU cooling capacity it can cover spaces of up to 400 square feet.
This portable AC is not only good for cooling, it can come as handy during the winter days as well, since it has a built-in heat pump with the heating capacity of 1000 BTU.
It has a specially designed auto-drain feature that should work well even in the most humid areas. If you however need to drain it manually, it comes with a built-in AutoPump that can take care regarding pumping out the condensate water from the inside tank.
Another feature worth of mention is that is a dual hose unit which comes with the full installation kit. The dual hose system allows it to perform better and cool faster, even in the rooms that might not have a top-notch insulation from air leaks from the outside.
It has a dual-layer filtering system consisting of a carbon air filter and washable pre-filter.
It is not the most light-weight portable AC but you can expect to move it easily around the room. It weighs 60 pounds and measures 17″ W x 16″ D x 29.5″ H.
It has all the standard programmable options and controls including a remote controller that you need to run this unit with ease and comfort.
- It is a dual hose unit that performs better than single hose models
- It can be used both as cooler and heater
- There is auto-drain technology built-in and a handy pump to pump out the condensate water form the tank, which can be very useful when you use this unit as a heater
- The material from which this model was built might feel as pretty cheap for the price
- The housing is made of a thin plastic which might happen to vibrate slightly
- It can get noisier when you use it as a heater
OVERALL IMPRESSION: This portable air conditioner has plenty to offer being able to serve both as a cooler and heater. It is a great choice for mid-sized rooms. The specified noise level for this AC is pretty low compared to other models. It is not the most perfect AC on the market either but it is a good option to consider when buying a quiet room AC for a mid-sized room.
BEST FOR SMALL ROOMS: Emerson Quiet Kool EAPC8RD1 Portable Room AC
If you are looking for a small quiet portable air conditioner to use in a smaller room, you might have found the ideal one.
This small portable AC, with its 8000 BTU cooling capacity is a great pick for anyone who needs to cool a smaller room of up to 150 square feet. It is a perfect pick for student dorm rooms, small garages or kitchens.
It is a very efficient AC which will work good even during the highest temperatures.
We didn’t forgot to pay attention to the noise level. This small AC has a respectable noise rating of 52 dbA and according to the available reviews it really does operate reasonably quiet. However, considering that this is designed for use within smaller rooms only, you need to consider the fact that 52 dbA might feel a little bit noisier in a such small room than in a larger space.
There are also the 3 fan speeds that can help you in controlling the level of the noise.
The overall impression from the numerous reviews for this portable AC is that is pretty quiet compared with even more expensive models or window units.
Even though this unit is built to perform best in the spaces of up to 150 square feet, according to the reviews we managed to read for this specific model, you might actually expect from it to perform pretty well in a rooms that are even larger than that. So, if you are looking for something that could be good both for a small and mid-sized room, you could choose this one to experiment with.
It is designed for use in small rooms but it isn’t that lightweight. It weighs 52.9 pounds and measures 17.3 x 12.8 x 27.4 inches.
It can be used as cooler, fan and dehumidifier. It has a built-in 24-hour timer which will let you program it to turn on or off at the specific times of the day. There is also a display with the control buttons on the top of the casing. It can be fully operated using a full control remote as well.
There is the auto evaporation technology inside which should help in reducing the required work regarding the draining.
Although this might not be the one that has a stylish unique design, the quality of materials used to build the casing is surprisingly high for a unit of this price.
- Pretty efficient room AC for use in smaller rooms, can be even used in a slighltly larger rooms than the specified 150 square feet limit
- Low noise-level rating of 52 dbA and good feedbacks from the previous buyers regarding the noise puts it among the quietest portable ACs
- Good quality of the plastics used for the casing
- It might not always feel as quiet as 52 dbA since it is supposed to be used within a smaller room
- The user manual might be harder to understand especially the part regarding programmable controls
OVERALL IMPRESSION: This 8000 BTU room AC is a great choice for smaller rooms. It has a good noise rating of just 52 dbA and has a good overall rating from the previous buyers regarding the noise. It is meant to be used within smaller rooms but if you want to try your luck you might get it perfectly working even for a little bit larger spaces.
BEST FOR BUDGET: Global Air YPL310C 10000 BTU Portable AC
If you are looking for a model that is cheaper than the others and still has some acceptable operational noise-level, this portable AC from Global Air might be a great pick for you.
It is a 10000 BTU unit that is expected to work well within the spaces of up to 300 square feet surface (although in perfect conditions it has proven to be working well even in larger spaces, up to 400 sq ft).
Since we are concerned here with the noise-level the most, let’s get to it straight off. This is probably not the quietest portable AC on the market. However, for the price that you can get it for, this unit should be still a good buy, considering its overall performance and other features.
So, this unit has the minimum noise level specification of 52 dbA and the maximum noise level of 55 dbA. This puts it into the group of relatively quiet models.
It has all the standard features and control options like digital display, programmable 24-hour timer, two speeds of cooling and two fan speeds, 4-way air direction and a remote control.
It has also built-in the self-evaporative technology so, if you insulated your room adequately, you probably won’t have to deal with the draining work at all.
- Small, reliable and reasonably quiet portable AC
- Cheaper than the other ACs with the same specs
- Has all the standard features and control options
- The design is not anyhow special, looks like a regular portable AC
- There might be some minor issues with the connecting the hose to the AC, you might need some extra glue or duct tape to attach it properly
- The installation kit might lack the weather striping so you might want to have some prepared if you ordered it and expecting to receive this item soon
OVERALL IMPRESSION: This model, besides it is a reasonably quiet one, is usually priced around $100 cheaper than other similar models which is why we decided to choose it as our best for budget pick. If you decide to go through the reviews of the previous buyers of this model, you could see that many claim that they are positively surprised with its performance and usually they feel like this portable AC is more powerful than the other of the same capacity.
RISING STAR: Friedrich PH14B 13500 BTU Portable Cooler And Heater
This model from Friedrich might not look as fancy as its competitors, from the outside but, under that regular white casing design, there are some really cool features hiding inside.
This 13500 BTU model is intended for serious use within larger rooms of up to 700 square feet. It comes with a built-in heat pump so it can be also used as a heater during the winter days. The heating capacity is 10700 BTUs. It can be also used as a fan and dehumidifier.
The dual hose feature as well as the self-evaporative technology that re-uses the condensate water to cool down the internal parts of this unit will ensure very high efficiency of this product.
The fact that the condensate water is also used for internal cooling of this device will make this AC easier to maintain and reduce the work needed to do around the manual draining of it.
The noise-level rating is just 51 dbA which puts this AC on the list of the quietest portable ACs currently available on the market. The reviews of the previous buyers are also pretty good both regarding the noise-level and the efficiency of this AC in general.
Considering that this is a model built for use in larger spaces, you can expect to get much less of noise because you will be able to put it further from you however, even direct exposure to its noise from the closest distance shouldn’t make you annoyed or feel uncomfortable.
Note that this item is pretty heavy to carry around without the wheels, so if you need to move it upstairs and downstairs, you will need another person to help you carry it. It weighs 95 pounds and measures 15.5 x 19.5 x 33.5 inches.
It has all the standard features and control options that you can expect from a portable AC of this type.
- Highly efficient portable AC that can cool large spaces and can also be used as a heater
- Very quiet and has very good ratings and reviews from the people who bought it and used it
- A dual hose unit with advanced internal cooling system
- The design of the casing might not be the best feature of this particular model and given the fact that it is a dual hose unit, it might look really weird and you might find it harder to hide the hoses
- Quite pricey compared to other models of similar capacity and features
OVERALL IMPRESSION: This portable AC might not be the one with the most stylish design but underneath the regular white casing there hides a really powerful cooler which can be used to cool large rooms. It can be also used as a heater which makes it a great solution for use through the whole year. The only thing that might be a real drawback when considering to buy this product is the fact that it is a slightly more expensive than other models of the same capacity. However, high ratings and unusually good reviews from the existing users for this type of AC make it a serious option to consider when buying a room air conditioner.
Buying A Quiet Room Air Conditioner – Installation And Maintenance Tips + Everything That You Need To Know Before You Buy One
Buying a central air conditioning system, due to the high costs of purchasing it and even higher costs of installation, is not always an option.
Even easier to install solutions like mini split systems require too much of effort regarding the installation for those who need something that is easy to use and can be quickly set up.
So, for those who want a quick solution, there’s not plenty of choice left. Either you go with a window unit or with a portable AC.
Both of these types of ACs aren’t the best regarding the noise they produce while operating but still they are pretty efficient and save you from heat, especially if you live in a rented space where the place owner won’t let you do anything regarding installing a better solution.
Central systems and mini split systems are way more quiet than the latter two. The window and portable units are, by their structure, harder to make quiet. Simply because, unlike with the central or split systems, all of the parts are put into a single basket.
For the manufacturers, it is a huge challenge to make these types of ACs quiet. And this is especially the fact with portable ones. Why? Because they are designed to stand literally next to you or your bed. Completely inside your room.
Despite all the challenges mentioned above, there are still portable ACs that have pretty good noise level ratings.
Assuming that you are here primarily because you are concerned with the noise, we worked hard on compiling a list of top picks primarily having in mind the noise level specified by the manufacturer. We tried to pick the best ones that are also the quietest.
However, noise-level specification provided by the manufacturer is not always something that you can rely on when buying a portable AC and want it to produce less noise. There is a lot that can be done from the moment you receive your unit all to the way you use it everyday.
In this guide we will also present you with some tips regarding precautionary steps that you can do in order to get your portable AC to work as quiet as possible.
Why portable ACs aren’t as quiet as mini split or central AC systems?
Portable ACs are a little bit different than other types of ACs. They are units that are completely put inside your room. There aren’t parts left for the outside installation. You get them as a whole with all the noisy parts like condenser, compressor plus the fans. All that just next to your bed.
This is the main reason why they are so noisy. And it is really hard to find the one that would be so quiet like a mini split AC would be.
For example, the average noise level for an indoor unit of a mini split AC would be somewhere near 30 dbA. And FYI, the outdoor units produce something like 55 dbA.
When buying a portable unit, you would be happy to get something of a range of 45 – 55 dbA. Simply because all of the noisy parts are put in the same place and they all work together at the same time.
So, it is hard to expect from an air conditioning device that has all of the parts put inside the same casing to be as quiet as the split systems. However all this doesn’t mean that portable ACs are so noisy so you can’t even sand near them. If they were so noisy, no one would be buying them at first place. The noise levels that we are talking about here, while they might not be as good as what you would get with the other types of ACs, they are still acceptable and are perfectly quiet enough for regular daily use.
How quiet is 50 dbA?
Given the fact that the quietest portable ACs on the market currently can’t rarely go below 50 dbA regarding the operational noise level, let’s try to illustrate how noisy or how quiet is this actually.
The noise level of 50 dbA is still considered as pretty quiet. For example the average noise in the library is measured at approximately 40 dbA.
50 dbA is double intensity of 40 dbA (if you want to know more about the noise level measurement methods, you can check our article about the quietest window air conditioners, we explained there how the noise measurement works).
50 dbA is the noise-level of a quiet nearby conversation. It is also close to the noise that average kitchen fridge does produce.
So, 50 dbA is not that noisy at all. However, if you are in a really quiet room, you can still get annoyed with this level of noise.
What kind of noise do portable ACs actually produce?
The noise that portable ACs and other ACs in general produce is considered as white noise.
When you call it a white noise it suddenly doesn’t sound that bad right?
Well, you might be surprised with this but, white noise actually helps people to block all kinds of disturbing noises and it actually helps you sleep peacefully.
White noise can be defined as a combination of all of different frequencies of sound as one. Each of these noises from the given spectrum have equal intensity. This makes white noise as a perfect tool for sound technicians to mask other background noises.
Sudden changes of the noise around us when we sleep can be very disturbing and can wake us up. This is the reason why many people feel it more comfortable to fall asleep when there’s a sound of refrigerator or a fan in the room.
And if you go to YouTube and search for white noise videos, you will be surprised with how many views a video featuring hours of a regular fan noise has. Thousands of people are actually using these white noise recordings to block all kinds of annoying noises while at work or while sleeping.
Of course, this is not for convincing anyone that the noise is not a noise. It’s still a noise and some people need more time to get used to it.
Is your noisy unit producing the regular noise?
Every buyer of any kind of air conditioner should know this:
There is a difference between a regular noise that your AC produces and the rattling noise which indicates that something is wrong with it.
Many of the owners aren’t even aware of the fact that their air conditioners aren’t working properly. This is primarily due to the issues with shipping. These devices are pretty sensitive to how they are shipped. And if you add to that bad handling during the shipping, it can really go wrong with that device.
For example, every air conditioner has a warning written with large letters on the shipping box saying something like: Please ship this item in an upward position.
However, shipping companies aren’t always that responsible to do this – they probably even don’t have time to read what’s written on the box anyways, so you might end up with an item that is shipped wrongfully.
This is not that bad if you follow the instructions for situations when your AC isn’t shipped in an upward position. There you can find clearly written not to turn it on for at least 24 hours while leaving it to stand upward.
If you miss to do this, you are risking to have a malfunctioning device that is brand new even before you are able to use it at all.
This is just one of many examples of how wrong shipping or some other malfunction that your device came with can affect the way your AC works and the noise it produces.
It is important for you to be able to judge if the noises from your portable air conditioner are normal or if there’s something wrong with the device.
If you are not sure, you can always find a sound level meter (there are some cool smartphone apps which can help you with this as well) and measure the sound of your AC to see if it is any close to the sound level specified by the manufacturer.
You need to be aware that rattling noise inside the unit is not something that you should accept as normal. If your brand new unit is acting like that it either came with the malfunction from the production line or it was broken during the shipping. So, in that case, it is obviously a good time to start thinking about returning it as soon as you notice something like that.
What To Look For When Buying A Quiet Portable AC?
When looking to buy a portable air conditioner that is quiet, one of the most important things is to look for the noise-level specifications provided by the manufacturer.
However, this is not the only thing that you should be looking for. Actually you should be very careful not to rely only on this single specification provided by the manufacturer.
Why? Because the specified noise level is not always what you get. In other words, it may be marked as a 55 dbA unit but it might sound more as 60 dbA when working on the highest settings.
There are couple of things to take care of while looking to get a portable unit that is as quiet as it gets.
Choosing the proper capacity
This is one of the most common reasons why an unit that has been described by so many reviewers as quiet seems not to be so quiet in your room.
In order to operate properly, your portable AC has to have enough of power or cooling capacity to handle the given area where you installed it. This means that it has to have enough of capacity to be able to cool your room so it can afford to take some breaks as well. If your portable AC is not able to get any break and take some rest while working during the whole day, it may start getting hotter and hotter from inside thus producing more noise.
If there’s enough of capacity for the size of your room, your portable AC will be able to put itself into a lower cooling mode and reduce the fan speed, after the initial cooling of your room which shouldn’t last more than a half an hour. And eventually it can turn off the condenser as well, continuing to maintain the temperature turning it on and off from a time to time.
This is why you need to pay extra attention to the capacity of the unit that you are buying and would it be enough to handle the surface of your room effortlessly.
NOTE: It is important to mention that in this case it doesn’t mean that a portable AC which is larger, weighs more or has higher cooling capacity will produce more noise. Contrariwise, it can happen that these large models have better inner insulation of the noisy parts, better stability of the casing and less vibration of the internal parts in general, making it quieter than the models with smaller capacity.
Would a dual hose unit be quieter than a single hose one?
While this criteria is not crucial when deciding which model would be better (and quieter) to buy, it is something that you can pay attention to, when deciding what to buy.
Dual hose units should perform better simply because of the way they are built. Single hose units will have more issues with battling the internal heat than the dual huse units.
Single hose units will have harder time to deal with internal heat because they have to “steal” some of the air in the room that is already cooled and to use it to cool themselves and then send it outside of the room. This is not the case with dual hose units, they get that air from the outside, use it for handling the internal heating and send it back outside, while the air inside your room will stay intact with this process.
Also, there are some dual hose units which are built also for commercial use as coolers in server rooms, which makes them more of a professional kind of a choice than the single hose ones.
Paying extra attention to the reviews
Reading reviews of a product that you plan to buy is something that you should be doing anyways but, when looking for a quiet portable AC, you really want to read them all (or as many as possible).
However, it is important to know what’s really relevant to you and what is not. There might be all kind of reviews that could even talk you out of buying a particular model even though they aren’t anyhow related to the issues with the noise.
Make sure you trust the most those reviews where you can clearly see that the buyer knows how to use portable ACs in first place and the reviews where buyer put some extra effort to explain his experience regarding all of the aspects of using the particular AC model.
And finally, reading the reviews of the products that we chose as our best picks, you might get a better insight regarding what could be the best solution for you.
NOTE: There is a good old “trick” that some buyers of this kind of devices always use when deciding what to buy – they get in contact with a local repairman who works on fixing all kinds of air conditioners and they ask them what’s the most reliable brand or model that doesn’t breaks so often. This kind of advice can be very helpful when deciding which of the offered brands or models to choose.
Is there any special technology used inside to make it quieter?
Manufacturers are aware of the issues with the noise-levels of these units so they are constantly working on building and patenting various technologies in order to reduce the amount of noise that their models are producing.
It is not uncommon to find within the specifications of a portable AC that the manufacturer applied a kind of special patented technology regarding making it quieter. There is a lot of what can be done with the insulation of the internal parts to produce less noise. Also, you might look for the models which took care about reducing the vibration of the internal parts and the noise of fan blades as well.
Plenty of collected dust inside the portable AC can also cause additional heating of internal parts which will cause the AC to produce more noise. So, better filtering of the air could have some decent impact on reducing the noise of an AC of this kind.
There are portable ACs with some very advanced filters and what you might want to look for could be an AC that has at least two layers of filters, the one that stops larger particles from coming through and the other that will filter out the smallest particles of the dust. This way of filtering of the intake air improves efficiency of the filters because it prevents the larger particles to block the other filter which is more sensitive and would otherwise become inefficient if the larger particles of the dust would come through to it.
Installation And Usage Tips To Get Less Of The Noise
No matter how your portable AC is quiet, you can still take some stronger measures while placing it in your room to make it even quieter. Installing it properly not only will save you from a decent amount of noise but, you can also lessen the risk of actually getting your portable AC to be noisier than it should.
Incorrectly installed AC can be less efficient and as a consequence of that it can start producing more and more noise.
There are couple of things that you can do about this.
Always make sure that you attach the hose properly
One of the most common mistakes that is done with portable ACs is that people simply turn it on without attaching the hose.
Truth to be told, they often advertise these units in a way that you can’t see the hose anywhere. So, some buyers might be thinking that attaching the hose is not something that is mandatory to do.
Well, despite the fact that you might haven’t seen the hose at all on the photos while you were buying your portable AC, it turns out that the hose is actually one of the vital parts of this kind of devices. It has to be there if you want your AC to work as expected.
Not attaching the hose will cause your AC to overheat (because the main i.e. exhaust hose serves just for that, to cool down your AC while it is cooling your room) and overheated AC will start producing more and more noise as it will be trying to cool down itself and your room at the same time.
Another misconception regarding the hoses is that if you buy a dual hose unit, it is still OK to use it as a single hose i.e. just to use the exhaust one and get rid of the air intake one.
Well, this is also pretty wrong. While this is not as bad as not using the hose at all, it still can affect your ACs performance significantly.
If there’s a place for the second one, then it means that your AC has more power and needs better cooling. And you should be aware that being a dual hose unit, your AC is more expensive just because of that because this type of portable ACs is considered more efficient, so you need to know that you actually paid to have two of them – so why not use them both?
By deciding not to install both of the hoses as required, you risk to make your AC less efficient and more noisy.
NOTE: Although you shouldn’t have any doubt regarding choosing a dual hose model over a single hose one, there is a case when the dual hose system might not be the best solution i.e. there are conditions when you want to have the air intake hose disconnected for some time. When the the temperature of the outside air is extremely hot and you can clearly conclude that the air from the outside can’t help cooling your hose from heating anyhow because it is too hot, you might want to consider removing the air intake hose and leave only the exhaust one. This might be applicable to only extreme weather conditioners but in most of the cases the temperature of the outside air will be still lower than the temperature of the internal parts of the room AC so it will still be very helpful in cooling these.
Would putting it further from you affect its efficiency?
Portable air conditioners can be a pretty fun things to use. From a time to time you may wish to get them closer to you and enjoy all the benefits of direct exposure to the cold airflow coming out from them.
However, you should already know that, if you bought the proper capacity for the surface of your room, these units should still be able to cool the whole room, no matter how far you place it from the part of your room where you spend the most of your time.
There shouldn’t be the need to keep it just next to your bed or your desk.
So, this could be a logical step to do in order to reduce your exposure to the noise coming out from your portable AC. Puting it even couple of feets further can have a significant impact on its noise level. You probably know already that the noise level of an object gets decreased as the distance between you (or the noise-level measurement point) is increasing.
Another important thing to do when deciding where to put your portable AC is to make sure that there is enough of free space around it so it can operate properly. Your portable AC needs to be able to freely take all the possible air from your room in order to cool it efficiently and in order to not to get overheated. If there’s not enough free space around it, it might start circulating a small amount of the same air constantly thus getting hotter and noisier.
Make sure that there aren’t other heat sources near your portable AC
Portable ACs, being more sensitive than the other types of air conditioners, need to be carefully placed onto a place where there won’t be anything that could prevent them from working properly.
If they are put very close from a device that would often produce some heat, they can start having issues with their performance and they can get noisier.
This is especially the case when they’re used within kitchens. If you use a portable AC to cool your kitchen you need to make sure that you put it as further away as possible from the direct heat sources.
And if you use a portable AC inside a living room that also contains a kitchen, you need to put your AC somewhere away from the kitchen so it won’t get affected by the direct exposure to the possible heat coming out from the kitchen devices.
Don’t forget the programmable controls
While battling against the noise, even a smallest tweak can be a true game changer. Portable air conditioners usually come equipped with various control options including a programmable timer.
This means that you can program your air conditioner when to turn on and when to turn off every day. You can use this single feature as your edge to get less disturbed with the noise.
For example, if you feel like you can’t fall asleep while your AC is turned on, you can set it to turn off during the hour when you usually go to sleep and then you can set it also to turn on an hour later when you should be already deeply asleep.
And if you don’t want it to run during the whole night, you can again set it up to turn of after some time. And the best thing about this is that when you set it once, you won’t have to repeat the process of setting this up every day. And most of the portable ACs will also save these settings even if there is a sudden power failure and your AC gets restarted.
These options can be really handy and it is important to spend some time reading the user manual just to be able to use these programmable controls properly.
Another feature that you can play with while tweaking your portable AC to produce less of noise is cooling speed an fan blade speed. Both of these can be also set up so make sure you use these settings to your advantage.
It needs to be put onto an even surface
If you ever saw the outside part of a split AC system, you know how well the outdoor unit needs to be fixated either to the wall or to the ground. This is all for the purpose of keeping the outdoor unit (which consists mainly from condenser and compressor – the two noisiest and most vibrating parts of any AC) steady in place and to prevent it from jumping around. They even put anti-vibration pads made of rubber in order to get less of the vibration. Considering that room air conditioners have all these parts put into the single casing, this is something that needs to be taken care of as well.
There is plenty of very fast moving parts inside of any AC and there is a lot of strong rotation force inside. All this can cause vibration if not leveled properly.
So, if they do care about this with the outdoor unit then what could we say for the portable ACs that are fully inside your room?
These ACs need proper leveling and insulation from the direct contact to the floor even more.
With mini split systems you practically have only the fan blades as the noisiest part of the indoor unit. However, with portable ACs everything is there, a couple feet far from you. All the noisiest and most vibrating parts are put together into a single box – the condenser, the compressor, the fans etc.
So what you can do here to reduce the noise?
First, you should make sure that your surface where you are putting the unit is even. It needs to be flat as much as possible because your AC is made to perform best on a flat surface.
The next thing you want to do is to put a piece of thick carpet or maybe some proper kind of a rubber mat and put that on the place where you want to install the AC. This will use as an extra insulation between the (usually wooden) floor and plastic wheels to prevent possible vibration if your device starts to shake while operating.
Then you can put your portable AC on top of that and use a leveler again to make sure your AC is leveled properly. If you think that this can’t help, just try to look at these devices as they were washing machines. You know how bad it can be for a washing machine if it is not put on an even surface and leveled properly. Portable ACs, especially the larger ones, can indeed produce plenty of rotational force inside to cause vibration of the inside parts and the casing of the unit.
Check if there are places in your room that you have to insulate to prevent air leaks
This is one of the most common misconceptions regarding portable ACs and it happens so often that it is never enough to keep mentioning it.
Portable ACs are very limited with their cooling power. They aren’t as strong as the split systems or window units. But they have to be efficient IF your space fulfils three basic conditions:
- The surface is not larger than the recommended surface for the cooling capacity i.e. amount of BTUs that your model has
- Your room is insulated so there is no major air leaking from outside
- You have to mount the hose and insulate it as well
This is all that you need to have your room AC work as expected. While this sounds easy, many people fail with at least two of three of these conditions listed above.
First most common misconception is that you don’t need the hose, which is very wrong. And even when you install it, if it is weak or shaky, you need to insulate it to prevent vibration and air leaks.
The next thing that many people aren’t even aware of is how the air that leaks in from the outside can affect performance of these sensitive ACs.
If you want your AC to work properly, heat less and produce less of noise, you need to make sure that there is minimum leaking of the air from the outside of the room. This is especially the case with the single hose models.
Not only that it will be noisier but it won’t be able to cool your room at all. And if you are in the area with extremely humid air, you could also have plenty of issues with draining of the condensate water. It can happen that you have to collect this water every couple of hours. If this is happening to you, than you most likely have issues with the insulation of your room.
So, what you can do is to check for the gaps around the doors, assuming that you already have good windows. The doors are usually the most frequent source of the leaking air from the outside.Even a half-inch gap at the bottom of the doors can cause huge performance issues to your portable AC.
And usually, it requires very little effort to get these gaps insulated properly.
You need to clean it from time to time
If you read reviews for any type of ACs online you will often find a review like this one:
- My air conditioner was pretty quiet when I bought it but, next summer when I installed it again it started producing a rattling noise.
Of course, there might be many reasons why this could happen but, it is true that poor maintenance can increase noisiness of your portable AC.
Although your portable room conditioner might have like two or three filters, it still can get dirty from inside. There can be plenty of dust on condenser and even worse this dust can mix with the moisture. And not only that this can cause operational issues to your AC but it can smell bad as well.
This is why it is important to always clean the filters and you should clean the inside of your portable AC using a vacuum cleaner at least once a year.
Consider insulating the hoses as well
Although the hoses might look pretty weak (in some cases so weak that you might start wondering do they serve for any purpose at all), they are really important parts of portable ACs. And this can be proven best by the fact that they can get very hot when your portable AC is operating constantly for a longer time.
Most of the users of this type of ACs will simply leave the hoses as they are but there is a lot that you can do around them in order to help your AC perform better and produce less noise.
Truth to be told, most of the manufacturers do not put enough of effort into making the hoses as quality as they should be. Having in mind that they can significantly affect the performance of the entire unit, it is quite surprising that manufacturers of this kind of ACs don’t pay more attention to how these hoses are built.
So, in most cases you will get a pretty basic thin hose made from a thin plastic material which will barely do the job. And not to mention at all the issues with the attaching it onto the window adapter or the AC unit.
As these hoses can get very hot very quickly and having in mind that portable ACs are very sensitive to any heat source that is too close to them, the hose indeed can start acting as a kind of a heat source that can affect the performance of your AC and make it noisier. This could be more often the case with the models that are meant to cool larger space and have larger cooling capacity.
So if you don’t want to take this for granted, you can insulate your hoses using some kind of a ready-to-use pipe wrap or sleeve that is designed for these purposes. Using this kind of insulation can make your hose to serve its true purpose which is to remove the heat away from your portable AC efficiently.
The sleeves are usually very easy to wrap around the hose so this won’t take you more than couple of minutes.
The only drawback regarding this could be the fact that the hoses might not look as appealing as they would do without the wrap. This is especially the case if your insulation sleeve is much wider than the hose. So, you should get the one that fits the best your hose width and eventually use more zip ties to make it look as tight as possible.
If you don’t like the idea of using the ready-to-use insulation sleeve and you feel like you could do it better on your own, you can do this using some regular materials that are used for the heat insulation of the pipes.
All this will make your portable AC way more efficient and less noisier.
Wrapping It Up
Whether you need them as a supplemental source of cooling or you plan to use them as a main room air conditioner for the smaller and mid-sized spaces, portable ACs can be very handy devices.
However, while reading the available reviews for those products we came to a conclusion that there is plenty of misconception regarding this type of ACs. Simply, there are plenty of users who don’t understand the special needs that these devices have.
Portable ACs are sensitive because of the way they are built – there is no outside parts except the hose that connects to the window. This makes them very sensitive to how they are installed and maintained.
All this makes it harder to decide what to buy when looking for a quiet one. This type of ACs, due to the way they’re built, can’t be considered as quietest. But, still they can be reasonably quiet if used and maintained properly.
Wrongfully installed and maintained portable ACs can become an unexpected source of annoying noise.
In this article we tried to get you closer to finding and having a quiet room AC. Not only that we looked for the ones with the lowest noise-level ratings but, we also read the reviews from the previous buyers and finally we prepared some in-details tutorials regarding what to look for when buying and what to take care of when installing them and maintaining.
All this should help you get a quiet portable AC which you will be happy with. We hope that this article helped you in achieving that goal.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Are portable air conditioners quieter than window ACs?
This is hard to answer but in most cases the portable ACs are, if not quieter then at least as quiet as the window models with the equivalent cooling capacity. Since window units are meant to be cheaper, manufacturers of portable ACs are putting more and more effort to make them as quiet as possible.
Are portable ACs quieter than mini-split ductless ACs?
The answer is no. The mini-split systems are built so the noisy parts like compressor and condenser are put outside so there are only the quiet fans left inside within the indoor unit. Therefore mini-split systems have the noise-level specification which can vary from 29 to 35 which is way quieter than what you would get with portable ACs.
Is 50 dbA portable AC quiet?
This depends on many factors like how far away from you it is placed, how much of the noise comes from the outside and how do you react to that all but, generally speaking, 50 dbA is considered as loud as a quiet nearby conversationor average noise of a kitchen fridge.
How do I find a quiet portable AC?
You need to pay attention to couple of things in order to find a quiet one. First you want to check its noise-level specified by the manufacturer. After you find the ones that produce the least amount of decibels of noise, you should also check what previous buyers have to say about how noisy it is. Finally you might want to look for other specific built-in features that would ensure the given unit will be quiet.
How can I measure the noise of my portable AC?
You can do this either by using a smartphone app or you can do it using a more precise instrument called sound level meteror decibel meter.
Is white noise produced by ACs good for sleeping?
This depends up to you however, technically it is. Because of its structure, it reduces intensity of all the other noises and this way keeps you protected from exposure to sudden noise changes in the nearby that might wake you up.
Is 14000 BTU portable AC noisier than the 8000 BTU one?
The noise level of any portable AC shouldn’t be directly related to how many BTUs it has. The noise intensity that a portable AC produces primarily depends on how the AC is built and what technology the manufacturer might have used to make it quieter. It might happen, though, that a model with the larger capacity can be even quieter than the one that has less BTUs.
Will my portable AC be quieter if I attach the hose?
Yes, your portable AC should be quieter when you attach the hose. Actually you should always mount the hose because your AC might have serious issues with working properly if you don’t do so. Attaching the hose will make your portable AC to put less effort into cooling your home thus making it quieter.
Is dual hose portable AC quieter than the single hose one?
Technically, it should be because dual hose models are proven to be better performing than the single hose ACs. However this all also depends on what manufacturer did for the specific device to keep the noise-level as low as possible.
What makes one portable air conditioner quieter than the other?
There are various technical features that can make portable AC quieter like specially designed fan blades that produce less noise, less noisy compressor and condenser, better cooling of internal parts etc. The noise-level can be also reduced by better quality of the casing, better filters and even better quality of the attached wheels can make a difference when it comes to the intensity of the output noise of the AC.
Can I make my portable AC quieter?
Yes, you should be able to make your portable AC quieter by taking more care about what you do when installing it like making sure that there is enough free space around the unit, puting it further away from you, making sure that there aren’t any heat sources placed near it, leveling it properly and putting it onto an even surface and also insulating the hose. All this combined together can help you significantly reduce the noise produced by your portable AC.
Would cleaning my portable AC make it quieter?
You should clean your portable AC unit from inside at least once per year. The condenser can collect a significant amount of dust over time which can mix with the moisture making it smell bad and affecting the overall performance of your condenser and AC thus making it noisier. So, yes, cleaning can make it quieter if it’s dirty from inside.
What is the noise level of the quietest portable AC?
According to what’s currently available on the market (2019) the noise levels for the quietest portable air conditioners is within the range of 49 to 55 dbA.