Last updated: February 22, 2023.
Find out how loud portable AC units are and which is the quietest portable air conditioner in 2023. Plus, keep your unit’s noise level low with these 13 easy-to-implement noise reducing tips.
This article will help you stay cool in a manner that limits noise pollution, while also keeping your electricity bills and carbon footprint low.
Here you’ll find noise level insights from a study of 56 of the most popular portable air conditioners on the market.
- Portable air conditioner noise levels range from 44 dB to 64 dB, with 56 dB being the most common and 54.6 dB being the average.
- Portable air conditioner noise levels are equivalent to being as low as a whisper, to as high as a normal conversation.
- In terms of the human perceived difference, the noisiest portable air conditioners are 4 times as loud as the quietest units.
- The quietest portable air conditioner is the LG LP1419IVSM, coming in at 44 dB – check it out on Amazon, here, or Home Depot, here.
- The most energy efficient portable air conditioner has a sound rating of 52 dB – check this unit out on Amazon, here.
Continue reading to get 13 tips to reduce your unit’s noise level and see the noise levels of the most energy efficient portable air conditioners, by room size.
Plus, see how many decibels are considered Quiet, Medium and Loud for portable AC units.
- Are portable air conditioners quiet?
- Quietest portable air conditioner
- Noise levels of the most energy efficient portable air conditioners
- How can I make my portable air conditioner quieter – 13 tips
- Final thoughts
Are portable air conditioners quiet?
Portable air conditioners are not quiet. They produce noise levels that range from 44 dB to 64 dB, with 54.6 dB being the average and 56 dB being the most common.
Portable air conditioners have a noise level that is equivalent to the sound level of a whisper right up to the sound level of a normal conversation.
These decibel figures are based on a study of 56 of the most popular portable air conditioners on the market.
The table below summarizes the noise level results from the study.
|Portable air conditioner sound level category||Noise level (decibels)|
|Most common||56 dB|
For context, noise levels 70 decibels or lower are considered safe.
It’s also worth noting that the term “quiet” is subjective. It’s used to refer to something that makes no or little noise.
Portable air conditioners make noise and some of them can sound as low as a whisper. You might consider this quiet during the day. But at night, when you’re trying to sleep, you’ll likely consider this loud.
So, technically speaking, portable air conditioners are not quiet. And some are a lot louder than others.
The Hearing Health Foundation notes that “each 10 point increase in dB equals a tenfold increase in sound intensity (energy), and this is perceived as twice as loud by humans.” Source
There is a 20 point difference between the quietest and loudest units in the study. This means that there’s a significant perceived difference between quietest and noisiest.
The noisiest portable air conditioners are 4 times as loud as the quietest units.
So even small increases in decibel levels make a big difference.
With that in mind, let’s categorize the sound levels from the study into Loud, Medium and Quiet categories.
Portable air conditioner decibel levels
Decibel levels are an important consideration for many when choosing a portable air conditioner.
Below are decibel level insights from the study.
Loud portable air conditioners
Loud portable air conditioners have a noise level that ranges from 58 dB to 64 dB and higher.
12.96% of the portable AC units studied fall into this category.
An example of a loud portable air conditioner is the powerful DOLCECLIMA 14,000 BTU 4 in 1 AC unit.
This loud portable AC unit has a decibel rating of 64 dB. However, it’s designed to cool larger rooms (up to 550 sq. ft.) and, as a result, its noise level is expected to be higher than its counterparts.
It has an impressive Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) of 9.9.
As a result, it’s a great unit for cooling large rooms where noise consideration is not a factor.
Get more details about this unit on Home Depot, here.
Typically, loud units cater to larger rooms. However, this is not always the case. Some loud models cool an area of just 320 ft. sq. – this is below the average room size catered to by portable air conditioners.
Medium sound level for portable AC units
The medium sound level of portable air conditioners ranges from 52 dB to 57 dB.
Most portable AC units fall within this noise range. Specifically, 77.77% of the units studied emit between 52 and 57 dB.
The average (54.6 dB) and the most common (56 dB) decibel ratings fall within this range.
The most energy efficient portable air conditioner appears in this category too, at the quieter end, with a sound rating of 52 dB.
Interestingly, the cooling area for medium sound level portable AC units is mixed, ranging from 150 to 700 sq. ft.
Quiet portable air conditioner noise range
Quiet portable air conditioners have a noise level that ranges from 44 dB, or lower, to 51 dB.
Just 9.26% of the portable AC units studied fall within this range.
The most energy efficient quiet portable air conditioner is the BLACK+DECKER BPT05WTBA, which has a 9.55 EER and sound rating of 51 dB.
This model is the portable air conditioner with the lowest wattage in the study.
Check it out on Home Depot, here.
However, while it does fall into the quiet noise range, it’s not the quietest unit.
Related: Quiet Air Conditioner: The Ultimate Study [1,323+ ACs].
So what is the quietest portable air conditioner?
Quietest portable air conditioner
The quietest portable air conditioner has a sound rating of just 44 dB.
With its LoDecibel Quiet Operation, the LG LP1419IVSM portable AC unit takes the top spot.
This unit has many impressive features, attractive design, and a lot of positive reviews.
It has a 14,000 BTU cooling capacity, cools large areas (up to 500 sq. ft.), and can operate as a dehumidifier too.
Without going into too much detail, all these factors combine to make this one of the most popular portable air conditioners on the market – it’s not just the quietest.
Related post: Quietest Window Air Conditioner.
So now that we know how loud portable air conditioners are, and which is the quietest, let’s take a look at how loud the most energy efficient models are by room size.
Noise levels of the most energy efficient portable air conditioners
The table below lists the most energy efficient portable AC units by room size along with their decibel rating. Links to each unit are also provided.
|Room size||Most efficient portable air conditioner||Links for more details||Noise level (decibels)|
|150 sq. ft.||BLACK+DECKER 5,000 BTU (SACC) Portable Air Conditioner, 8,500 BTU (ASHRAE); Model# BPT05WTBA||Home Depot||51 dB|
|250 sq. ft.||KingHome 10,000 BTU (6,000 BTU DOE) Portable Air Conditioner; Model# KHPA06AK||Home Depot||53 dB|
|350 sq. ft.||GE 8,000 BTU (DOE SACC) / 12,000 BTU (ASHRAE) Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier; Model# APCD08JALW||Home Depot||Not available|
|400 sq. ft.||Whynter Elite 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Heat/Drain Pump & Dehumidifier; Model# ARC-122DHP||Amazon||52 dB|
|450 sq. ft.||Honeywell 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier & Fan. Model# HJ0CESWK7||Best Buy||49 dB|
|500 sq. ft.||NewAir 14,000 BTU (8,600 DOE) Portable Air Conditioner & Heater; Model# AC-14100H||Amazon||57 dB|
|550 sq. ft.||DOLCECLIMA 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner (4 in 1); Model# 2149||Home Depot||64 dB|
|600 sq. ft.||FRIGIDAIRE GALLERY 13,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Wi-Fi Control; Model# GHPC132AB1||Home Depot||46 dB|
|700+ sq. ft.||Honeywell 775 Sq. Ft. Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier & Fan. Model# HJ5CESWK0||Best Buy||52 dB|
For energy efficiency details on each of the units listed, check out Portable AC Wattage Results [Most Efficient Revealed].
Here you’ll see that the Whynter Elite ARC-122DHP (52 dB) takes the title for most energy efficient overall (check it out on Amazon, here) and the powerful NewAir AC-14100H (57 dB) got an honorable mention (see this unit on Amazon, here).
As you can see, the noise levels of the most energy efficient portable AC units vary considerably.
As mentioned, small increases in decibels can have a large impact on the human-perceived noise level.
So, with this in mind, let’s take a look at ways you can reduce your portable AC’s noise level.
How can I make my portable air conditioner quieter – 13 tips
Portable air conditioners are not quiet, and some are a lot louder than others. But there are steps you can take to make your unit quieter.
Here are 13 easy-to-implement tips that can help you reduce your unit’s noise level.
- Secure the casing if it’s loose. Over time, your portable AC’s casing can become loose and start to rattle. Check the casing and secure it if needed by tightening any screws or taping / tying any sections that are loose.
- Wrap it up. Consider covering the device with a towel or blanket. If you do this, take care not to impede vents, sensors or any feature that will obstruct its operation and air flow.
- Place it on an even surface. This will help avoid extra knocking noises during operation.
- Place it on a soft surface. Simply moving the appliance onto a carpet, for example, can dampen the sound emitted.
- Consider using an anti-noise and anti-vibration mat – see an example on Amazon, here.
- Absorb the noise. Consider using noise absorbing panels (see an example on Amazon, here) or other items that will help absorb the noise being produced. Simply place them near the device. This helps reduce any potential reverberating noises and echoes in the room.
- Move it away and use a fan. Place the unit further away from you and consider circulating the cooler air better with a more powerful fan if it’s quiet – ceiling fans are a great option for this because they’re generally quiet and energy efficient.
- Change the setting. If your portable air conditioner has a Night Mode, Quiet Mode or Energy Efficient Mode, consider using it. These typically reduce the noise output. If these options are not available, consider increasing the temperature setting and / or lower the speed setting, if it’s comfortable of course. This will help reduce the amount of work required, and, as a result, the noise output.
- Keep it away from heat sources. Moving the appliance away from direct sunlight, cookers, etc., will help reduce the device’s workload making it quieter. Closing the curtains can help reduce sunlight heating the room too.
- Don’t forget the window insert. Make sure that it’s essentially airtight so warm air doesn’t enter, which will increase the unit’s workload and noise level. It’ll also help prevent additional noise entering the room.
- Follow the maintenance instructions. Unusual rattling, grinding and humming noises can creep in if you don’t maintain the device. Additionally, vents can get blocked restricting airflow, making the device less effective at cooling.
- Don’t use an unnecessarily powerful portable AC unit. Models designed for larger rooms tend to be louder. This is because they need more power to cool the larger area. Using a more appropriately powered device for a smaller room will, as a rule of thumb, be less noisy.
- Consider upgrading to a quieter, ideally more energy efficient, model. See above for the quietest portable air conditioners, including the quiet models that stood out in terms of energy efficiency. For more in depth energy efficiency details, check out Portable AC Wattage Results [Most Efficient Revealed].
Next, let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions that cropped up during the study.
Are portable air conditioners louder than window units?
No. Portable air conditioners are not louder than window units.
On average, portable air conditioners are slightly quieter, by just 1.8 decibels, than window units.
However, the most common decibel level for both is 56 dB.
The noise range for both portable and window units are similar, with window AC units showing a slightly broader range.
The quietest window unit is quieter than any portable air conditioner. And the loudest window air conditioner is louder than any portable AC unit.
See how the noise levels, efficiency, running costs, and more, for portable units compares with window units – check out Window AC vs Portable AC.
Overall, however, noise levels for both are very similar.
Are portable air conditioners quieter than wall units?
Yes, portable air conditioners are quieter than wall units.
Wall air conditioners are 5.1 dB louder than portable AC units, on average.
The quietest wall AC in the study is 8 dB louder than the quietest portable unit.
The loudest wall mounted unit can reach up to 5 dB more than the loudest portable air conditioner.
The decibel rating of the loudest portable unit falls within the typical noise range for wall ACs.
For more details on throught-the-wall AC noise levels, check out: Quietest Wall AC Revealed [Noise Level Study Results].
And don’t miss this high level view of all results, which combines and compares the noise levels of window, portable and wall ACs.
The noise level of portable air conditioners is an important consideration for many people.
I hope that you found the combination of noise level results and energy efficiency insights useful.
This combination is intended to help you stay cool in a manner that both limits noise pollution and keeps your electricity bills and carbon footprint low.
If you’re looking to make more significant savings on your electricity bill, don’t miss this 6 Quick Wins Cheat Sheet:
Choosing to go with a window or portable air conditioner is simple, when you have the data. Window vs portable AC – which is best? Find out here, based on data from comprehensive studies.
How much does it cost to run a portable air conditioner? Find out here. Also, get running costs of the lowest wattage & most efficient units. Plus, use this calculator to see your own specific costs.
How many amps does a portable air conditioner use? Find out here. Plus, get low amp portable AC details, see which unit has the lowest amp draw & see the amperage of the most efficient units.
James, Eco Cost Savings co-founder and Editor-in-Chief, is also our experienced in-house energy management and sustainability expert, and manager of our network of sustainability consultants.
Before his journey into sustainability, James studied engineering. Additionally, he has experience in HVAC installation, and data analysis. A self-proclaimed practical environmentalist, and avid penny pincher, James established Eco Cost Savings to share his and his colleague’s expertise with the aim of helping to reduce energy bills and carbon footprints at scale.