The Quietest Portable Air Conditioner Units of 2018

The majority of the room air conditioning units you will come across produce sounds ranging between 50 and 60 decibels. To put it otherwise, the intensity of the sound produced by these machines is the same as that of the sound produced by a regular conversation or light traffic. Read on to get acquainted with some ways of keeping things quieter.

Do you have central air-conditioning in your home? If yes, then you must be tired of listening to the shrill hum and whine your AC unit makes just after being switched on. This, however, usually doesn’t create many problems for homeowners like you as the units producing such noise are located outside. On the other hand, the portable AC machines, as a result of being inside the home, often make life difficult for us with its irritating sound. So, to make your stay in your home more comfortable, you might need to buy the quietest portable air conditioning machine.

While doing our elaborate research on some of the top AC units available on the market right now, we have concentrated particularly on units marketed by reputable brands like Whynter, Haier, Honeywell, Friedrich, EdgeStar, LG, etc. We tested almost 40 portable air conditioners, with strength ranging between 8,000 and 14,000 BTUs. The study revealed that on average these machines produce noise of around 53 decibels, which is similar to the noise created by your refrigerator according to this chart from YALE. For your reference, at 75 decibels, the sound made by most vacuum cleaners is slightly more intense.

So, it can be said that portable ACs are not too noisy but can cause problems for individuals who are used to living or sleeping amid quiet surroundings. However, there are also some who find the sound of air-conditioning units beneficial. For instance, babies tend to sleep better amid such white noise. According to experts, this happens because such sounds are similar to the echoed sound floating inside the mother’s womb.

However, for most users and situations, it is important to keep the background noise as low as possible.

The Quietest Portable Air Conditioners

#1 Pick#2 Pick#3 Pick
Haier HP12XCR - 12,000 BTUFriedrich PH14B - 13,500 BTUWhynter ARC-122DHP - 12,000 BTU
Haier HP12XCRFriedrich PH14BWhynter Elite ARC-122DHP
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After checking the best models available right now, we came to the conclusion that the Haier HP12XCR is the best performing quietest AC unit. We recommend this product to anyone looking to buy a small portable air conditioner. The machine’s petite size allows it to keep its noise low (only 50 decibels); however, still, it comes with cooling power of 12,000 BTUs. The machine is powerful enough for offering consistent cooling.

Individuals looking for a bigger and more powerful AC unit should ideally opt for the Friedrich PH14B. This high-performing quietest portable AC machine operates at around 51 decibels and showcases an impressive cooling power of 13,500 BTU. This combination is truly astounding as machines (Whynter ARC-14SH and others) with BTU rating ranging between 13,500 and 14,000 tend to operate at around 56 decibels

Our final recommendation would be the Whynter ARC-122DHP. It operates at around 52 decibels, which is also less than the average intensity of sound made by AC units. This Whynter creation is one of the most efficient air-conditioners launched to date. It comes equipped with the path-breaking dual-hose technology and also has a clean design.

Models you should avoid buying

The noise produced by portable AC units is usually less than the central air-conditioning machines. However, during our research, we found that some portable models come with significantly high decibel ratings. Examples of such units include the Tripp Lite SRCOOL12K and Kenmore 84126, which respectively produce sounds of 57 and 60 decibels.

How we managed to spot the quietest air-conditioners

As mentioned above, we studied around 40 different AC models, which other than being well-known are available easily from retailers such as Sears, Home Depot, Amazon, and so on. From the information available on the retailers’ websites, we came to know the decibel ratings for the products as stated by the respective manufacturers. In order to have a more real-world understanding, we compared the information with the experience shared by users

The decibel level mentioned by manufacturers might be different from the unit’s actual rating. The difference can easily be tested by means of a machine called decibel meter. So, in spite of having our focus on the information provided by the manufacturer, we wanted to make sure that users were happy with the intensity of sound produced by their respective AC machines.

Consumer reports are often the most authentic information we can gather about any product; information obtained from other sources might be published with the intent of promoting the product. However, during our research, we also kept in mind that there are reviewers and reviews that might not be objective. For instance, a resident of Manhattan might find a unit with a noise rating of 53 decibels absolutely comfortable, while people in rural areas may feel that the same level of sound is creating problems for them.

Keeping all the above factors in mind, we reviewed the models shortlisted by us and ranked them based on their decibel ratings, overall performance, and last, but not the list users’ feedback. In addition, we also checked industry reviews published on Home Depot, Your Best Digs and such other platforms.

For cleaning up our process and data, we didn’t qualify units that don’t have a decibel rating stated by the manufacturer. Some of these disqualified products belong to highly trustworthy brands; still, we avoided them as our primary goal was coming up with consistent and reliable ratings.

We tested a total of 37 units, whose average decibel rating was around 53.4. A total of twelve units came with a rating under 53dBA, while eleven came with a rating of 55dBA or more. Nearly all big units with a BTU rating of around 14,000 had a decibel rating of 54dBA or more. The Friedrich PH14B was the only product to have a decibel rating below 54 and BTU rating more than 12,000.

Top Pick: Haier HPC12XCR

Haier Portable Electronic Air Conditioner with Remote 12,000 BTU, HPC12XCRHaier HPC12XCR: It’s our recommendation for individuals looking for small and quiet units.

This Haier model in spite of having a small body and making minimum sound is capable of showcasing amazing cooling performance.

The HPC12XCR is a perfect device for cooling a 450 sq. ft room.

However, the room’s layout, its solar orientation, and the surrounding environment (whether or not it’s exposed to direct sunlight, level of humidity etc.) would decide how efficient the cooling would be.

If your room is bigger than 450 sq. ft., it would be a good idea to pick the Friedrich PH14B; this unit is perfect for rooms as big as 700 sq. ft.

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Some features of Haier HPC12XCR that makes it a favorite of modern users include its digital panel, advanced air circulation features, and remote control. You would also like its auto-evaporative setting; this feature ensures that the users don’t need to drain the machine manually. AC machines without this setting run until the water container gets filled and stop operations once the container is filled.

You will be able to run the HPC12XCR at multiple fan speeds. It’s true that there are some users who feel that the machine doesn’t cool the room as quickly as they would like; however, the fact is that you will come across such complaints from a section of users irrespective of which portable AC model they are using.

Haier Portable Air Conditioner Installation Video

Considering all the factors stated above, the HPC12XCR can be described as a perfect choice for people looking to keep the white noise produced by ACs as low as possible. Its petite structure ensures that it can fit easily in small bedrooms. The machine’s simple aesthetics, on the other hand, stop it from sticking out and making the interiors look unattractive. The machine is highly user-friendly and also enables easy maintenance.

Quietest High-Performing Portable AC: Friedrich PH14B

Friedrich PH14B 13500 btuFriedrich PH14B: If you are looking to cool a room bigger than 450 sq. ft without much white noise in your background, you should opt for the Friedrich PH14B. It is also a perfect unit for smaller rooms that need more efficient cooling as a result of being exposed to direct sunlight. The Friedrich PH14B has a BTU rating of 13,500.

According to Friedrich, a company founded way back in 1883, the PH14B is capable of cooling rooms as many as 40 times quicker than any other normal air-conditioning unit. In spite of being so powerful, the machine has a decibel rating of just 51. So, individuals looking for a combination of cooling power and quietness should consider buying this machine.

Unlike the Haier creation discussed above, which uses just a single hose for venting hot air, the PH14B comes with a couple of hoses. This allows the machine to vent the hot air before it starts circulating inside the room. You cannot expect such promptness from a single-hose unit.

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The Friedrich unit is significantly more efficient and bigger compared to the Haier HPC12XCR and thus it makes slightly more noise during operations. The difference, however, is absolutely negligible.

Other than offering excellent cooling, the PH14B also works as an efficient heater (you can also use it as a dehumidifier and fan). The machine’s heating capability is also pretty impressive at 10,700 BTUs. This makes the product a perfect buy for individuals living in areas with harsh winters and summers. With the PH14B in your home, you will not need to use separate devices for heating and cooling.

Similar to the Haier unit discussed above, this product also comes equipped with self-evaporating technology. So, you will not need to worry about jobs like emptying the water container once it’s filled. Some other pluses of the AC machine include a 24-hr timer, a remote, auto-start feature (in case the machine shuts off due to a power outage), and so on.

Installation of the machine has also been made super easy by the manufacturer thanks to the specially designed quick-installation kit.

The other most striking feature of the AC machine is its washable air filter, which makes maintenance an absolute cakewalk for the users. The only thing that you might find a bit bothersome about this product is its bulkiness. The PH14B is pretty big in size and weighs a whopping 78 lbs. You would not like the idea of moving it from one place to another very often; however, to make the job of moving the machine a bit simpler for you, the manufacturer has added casters to the PH14B.

An alternative recommendation

Whynter ARC-122DHPWhynter ARC-122DHP: This is another air-conditioning unit that focuses on offering excellent cooling performance without making much noise. It comes with an impressive decibel rating of 52. The combination of low noise and high performance has made it Sweet Home’s model of choice recently.

According to the experts at Sweet Home, the ARC-122DHP showcases amazing cooling performance and thus offers a high level of user satisfaction. They also feel that the machine is capable of cooling a room much faster than any other portable AC available on the market right now.

Like the Friedrich PH14B, the ARC-122DHP can also work both as a cooler and heater (you will also be able to use it as a dehumidifier). Its heating and cooling powers are respectively 10,000 BTU and 12,000 BTU. Some standard features the machine comes with include digital settings, timer, remote, etc.

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The machine’s window kit makes its installation process pretty simple. However, it would still be a good idea to use some kind of seal or tape for stopping the cold air from escaping your room. The Whynter ARC-122DHP can cool a room up to any temperature between 61F and 89F. Like other units discussed in this write-up, this one also comes with self-evaporating ability. So, in most settings, you will not need to drain the water container from time to time.

The ARC-122DHP might not be as bulky as the Friedrich PH14B but it’s still pretty hefty. It weighs 63 lbs and requires a big space for installation. So, opt for this machine only if you have enough space in your room.

The ARC-122DHP has a decibel rating of 52 which is still less than the average noise made by the products reviewed by us. You should be happy with that noise level if you are not bothered much by the sound your home refrigerator makes. However, remember that the sound might seem a bit louder during the night, especially when you will be getting ready for bed.

Still, we have to admit that the ARC-122DHP offers a perfect blend of low noise and industry-leading performance, which makes it a good alternative to the other air-conditioning units discussed above.

Which AC unit should you opt for?

If you are someone who lives in a small space (smaller than 450 sq. ft.) and values quietness, go for the HPC12XCR from the house of Haier. It is less than 28 inches long and comes with an impressive noise level of 50 decibels. You would love to have it in your home if you are looking for compact and quiet cooling.

Go for the PH14B by Friedrich for cooling rooms bigger than 450sq. ft and smaller than 700sq. ft. Users, who want their AC machines to offer maximum cooling but without making any significant noise, should opt for this dual-hose portable air-conditioner.

You should pick the ARC-122DHP by Whynter if your goal is to have an industry-leading AC unit in your room. It scores impressively both in terms of decibel rating and performance and is thus a favorite of users.

Things you must keep in mind

The recommendations made in the section above are based mainly on decibel ratings stated by manufacturers, industry opinion, and consumer feedback. You must remember that at times the real world findings are different from the information provided by manufacturers.

Manufacturers carry out field and laboratory tests and gather data from third parties for verifying and reviewing their own data. However, still, there are a series of environmental factors that decide how well or how badly the product will perform at the user’s home.

For example, a room that remains exposed to direct sunlight all through the day tends to be 5-15 degrees warmer than all other sections of the same house. For cooling that room perfectly, you might need to install a more powerful AC machine than what other rooms of similar square footage would need.

The same thing happens even in case of the noise level. The manufacturer-stated decibels often turn out to be different than the noise level experienced by users depending on the way the product runs. Even when a particular unit runs normally, it might be found to have a decibel rating higher or lower than what’s mentioned by the company.

During tests experts found that the decibel ratings of the most highly rated portable AC machines are significantly higher than the decibels mentioned by manufacturers. They even come across units that are in the 60-70 decibel range, which is pretty alarming.

quietest portable air conditoner stats decibelsBryan Vu of Your Best Digs said that noise made by any AC machine can be segregated into two types, the noise it makes when starting or stopping and the noise it makes when running.

Vu added that all these machines are usually designed for making a sound when they reach a certain temperature and requires cooling; gradually they reach their loudest point (things go vice versa as the machine shuts off).

The team found that the Whynter unit makes significantly more noise than the one from Haier when starting or shutting off. Such tests show that decibel ratings of AC machines vary widely; it’s something that must be considered when making a purchasing decision.

Another factor that you must keep in mind is the ambient noise of your home, which also varies significantly from one household to another. The ambient noise of apartments, flats, and homes in urban locales are much louder; as a result, an AC unit running at 53 decibels shouldn’t cause any problem for people living in such places. However, if you live in a home with minimum outside noise, your life might be disrupted significantly if your AC machine runs at 53-55 decibels.

The next thing that should be considered is the placement of your AC machine. These units posses a power cord and hose that are around 5 to 7 ft long and need ventilation via a window. This automatically limits your choices as far as positioning of the machine is concerned. You should, however, try to install the AC away from your desk or bed. This will help in lessening the noise level reaching your years even further.

Buying guide for portable air conditioners

The size of the unit should be perfect for your room: Like all other climate control device, an air conditioner you buy should also suit your space aptly. In other words, every machine comes with an area rating which suggests how much area it would be able to cool efficiently. We have talked about the area ratings of all the models recommended by us.

Check the unit’s decibel ratings: Checking the decibel ratings of an air-conditioning machine is the easiest way of knowing how quietly it would be able to function. Ideally, you should pick a unit with decibel rating between 40 and 60 decibels (the ones with the lowest ratings are the quietest).

Never hold back on power: Besides determining which size would be ideal for cooling your room, you must also consider the fan speed you would be using as that’s one of the main factors determining the noise level of any AC machine. Keeping your desired fan speed in mind, you should look to overpower the space a bit. Having a bigger machine would mean that your air conditioner would have to work less, operate at a lower speed, and as a result would produce much less noise for cooling your space.

If possible, avoid the budget models: If you have purchased a cheap device before, you must already know how low quality they usually are. Budget AC units will most likely showcase more rattling and less sound insulation. So, instead of opting for these lightly built products, you should look to buy machines made of thicker plastic, which would mask the machine’s noise to a great extent.

Now what?

We feel that the discussion above has answered all kinds of questions that might be cropping up in your mind when looking for the quietest portable AC unit. Also, you can check Amazon’s best selling portable air conditioners.