We Put Air Conditioners to the Test, and These Are Our 7 Favorites

We Put Air Conditioners to the Test, and These Are Our 7 Favorites

Portable air conditioners aren’t as energy efficient or effective at adequately cooling a room. You’ll need to spend a lot of money to get adequate cooling, and the three models below are the ones we like. They’re often louder, and uh, not very portable.

Dreo Smart Air Conditioner for $460: The Dreo Smart Air Conditioner not only cools a large bedroom effectively and quickly, it also can be controlled by the app in my iPhone. And, as my son pointed out, the Dreo is a dead ringer for Eve from the movie WALL-E. It even rolls, making for easy moving; something I can’t say about window units. Along with the Dreo’s easy-to-use app, it can be paired with Amazon Alexa or Google Home. It has an easy-to-read LED display and control panel, along with a magnetized place for the remote, and louvers that open and close, adding to its robotlike aesthetic. The setup was easy, and I didn’t drill in a single screw, as I was able to close the window on the expanders. It’s not entirely clear how I was supposed to snap the hose into the window hole, but I shoved it in and it seems to fit in there. It’s not super airtight, which is fine. One of the issues with portable air conditioners is the single hose. It can create a vacuum in an airtight space; think pressure in your ears like an airplane. And it can create enough negative pressure that the room can potentially suck in hot air from the outside. So, leave the window open a crack. —Lisa Wood Shapiro

EcoFlow Wave 2 for $1,299: The EcoFlow Wave 1 has cooled down my wife’s office for more than a year just fine—we can’t use a window AC there because it would block the fire escape. Lo and behold, there’s a new version that’s slightly cheaper (8/10, WIRED Recommends). It’s a little lighter than its predecessor at 32 pounds, yet has a higher 5,100 BTU rating (up from 4,000). New here is a heating mode rated at 6,100 BTU, so you can keep using it in the winter to warm up a room. The company says it’s best for rooms up to 107 square feet. You do need to place it near a window to have one of the included ducts connected to the vent to take hot exhaust from the back of the unit out of the room. What makes this unit versatile is how you can power it. You can use a standard AC outlet, but you can buy the version with a battery to keep it working when you don’t have access to power, or you can hook it up to solar panels.

Zero Breeze Mark II for $1,698: With its 2,300 BTU, you won’t be able to get the same cooling power as with the EcoFlow Wave, but the Zero Breeze (7/10, WIRED Review) is much lighter at 17 pounds. This bundle includes a battery that will make the whole thing weigh about 30 pounds, but you’ll get four hours of use without needing to be near a wall outlet. Like the EcoFlow, you get a few vent pipes to direct exhaust away and direct cool air to a specific area, but unlike the EcoFlow, you can’t charge the battery and use the AC at the same time.


Julian Chokkattu, Lisa Wood Shapiro

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