When you’re shopping for the best cheap portable air conditioners under $200, it’s important to keep your expectations in check. At this price point, you probably won’t be able to snag a traditional portable unit (the kind that pulls air from the outside, cools it down, and disperses the now-chilled air into your space). Instead, you’ll likely have to opt for an evaporative air conditioner fan, sometimes called a swamp cooler, which uses a water tank and moisture-soaked pads to cool the room.
On the bright side, evaporative fans simultaneously humidify the air while it cools, which can be great for your hair and skin. They’re also usually small and don’t need to be hooked up to a window with an exhaust kit, so they’re much more portable than your average “portable” AC unit (which is called that because it has wheels and can technically be hooked up to another window, though not without hassle). That said, note that the smaller the evaporative unit, the smaller the water tank tends to be, and the more frequently it will need to be refilled.
If you’re looking to save money and bring your source of cool air just about anywhere, these are the three best units on the market for less than $200 — plus a standard portable AC if you’re willing to spend just a little bit more.
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1. The Overall Best Portable Air Conditioner Under $200
With an overall rating of 4.1 stars and several great features, this AMEIKO portable air conditioner is the best cheap pick for most people. It uses evaporative technology to create a cold water mist before blowing it out into the room. It also has three adjustable fan speeds, built-in timers, and mood lighting. Last but not least, it’s lightweight and easy to refill, but the 14-ounce water tank lasts longer than most — reviewers say around 10 hours.
One reviewer wrote: “My master bedroom remains very hot during the summer months. I was somewhat skeptical in purchasing this product but it has really proven to work well! The water tank, when filled with ice water really cools the room down. […] This small device delivers a powerful solution to a hot environment.”
2. The Most Portable AC Unit — & The Cheapest
The Mikikin portable AC fan is about as portable as they come. That’s because it plugs into any USB port (including your laptop), has a built-in handle, weighs just over a pound, and can also be used alongside a portable battery. As a result, it’s a great option for the park, beach, campsite, or office — and the soothing LED light, ice tray, and three fan speeds are nice additional touches. When fully charged, it can run for up to eight hours without a plug. Get it in white or blue.
One reviewer wrote: “This is tiny and just what I needed. I have a solar charger that’s the size [of] a cell phone that I can plug this in to use in a stroller for when I take walks in the summer or go to the beach. This is so perfect. Very lightweight, so it can easily be hung in the stroller and wont just blow hot air around.”
3. The Best Personal Air Conditioner For Work
The Evapolar evaCHILL cools, humidifies, and removes dust from the air all at the same time. It’s also whisper-quiet and leak-proof, which is why it’s the best option if you want to take a personal air conditioner to work with you — though it’d also work great while you’re sleeping. Its minimalist design comes in black, pink, or white (so it’ll look especially sleek no matter where you put it), while the built-in handle and intuitive control panel make it easy to transport and use. Last but not least, the tank can run for up to nine hours.
One reviewer wrote: “I work in a studio with several computers right next to my chair. They give off quite a bit of heat! I’ve tried a couple of personal fans that work fairly well, but this Evapolar evaCHILL Personal Evaporative Air Cooler and Humidifier Portable Air Conditioner Fan works much better than the fans.”
Also Great: The Best Portable Air Conditioner Under $300
Last but not least, if you’re willing to go a bit over budget, you can get a great traditional air conditioning unit that also doubles as a dehumidifier and fan. This Midea portable AC costs just under $300, but it’s highly rated models because it’s lightweight, has built-in wheels, and comes with the full exhaust kit plus a remote control. It’s even temperature adjustable. Thanks to its 8,000 BTUs, it can cool spaces up to 150 square feet. Since no water is needed for this unit, there’s no need to refill to keep it running.
One reviewer wrote: “I bought the 8000btu, as it is mainly for a combo living/cooking space. It can be easily moved to a bedroom, if needed. It works very, very well and is unobtrusive. The quality and price are at an excellent point.”