Cost to run portable ACs in 2022 [Cheapest to run + Calculator]

How much does it cost to run a portable air conditioner? Find out below. Also, get running costs of the lowest wattage & most efficient units. Plus, use this calculator to see your own specific costs.

Based on a study of the most popular units on the market, below you’ll find the running costs of portable air conditioners.

Spoilers:

  • It costs $0.11 to $0.22 per hour to run a portable AC, with $0.18 being the average and $0.19 being the most common.
  • The 754W BLACK+DECKER BPT05WTBA (see link below) is the cheapest to run, costing 11 cents per hour.
  • The most energy efficient model costs $0.15 per hour – see this powerful unit on Amazon, here.

Continue reading to see the daily and monthly running costs. And use the calculator to see the costs based on your kWh rate. Plus, see how the running costs compare with other standard household appliances.

Cost To Run A Portable Air Conditioner Image containing a portable AC unit and dollars

How much does it cost to run a portable air conditioner?

It costs $0.18 per hour to run a portable air conditioner, on average.

The most common cost to run a portable AC is $0.19 per hour.

Overall, portable air conditioners cost between $0.11 and $0.22 per hour.

These costs assume a kWh rate of 15 cents (the US average) and are based on the power consumption of 56 of the most popular units on the market.

Per day, at 8 hours of continuous usage, portable air conditioners cost between $0.90 and $1.78, with $1.41 being the average running cost and $1.50 being the most common.

The running costs get more considerable per month.

Running a portable AC for a full month (specifically, 8 hours per day for 30 days at max power consumption), you can expect the electricity cost to range from $27.14 to $53.28.

The table below summarizes the cost to run a portable air conditioner over various durations of usage.

Portable AC Running Cost CategoryCost per hourCost per day / 8hrsCost per month (8hrs p/d for 30 days)
Average$0.18$1.41$42.32
Most common$0.19$1.50$45.00
Highest$0.22$1.78$53.28
Lowest$0.11$0.90$27.14

These costs assume continuous usage at max power consumption and a cost per kWh of 15 cents (USD).

It’s worth noting, however, that portable ACs don’t operate at their max consumption continuously. They cycle on and off, go through different cooling stages, and consume different levels of power depending on the settings and surroundings among many other factors.

The costs listed, however, still provide a good sense of the expense, albeit slanted towards the higher end of the scale.

So which portable air conditioner is the cheapest to run?

It’s of course the model that consumes the least amount of electricity – let’s take a look at this in more detail.

Cost to run the lowest wattage portable AC

The lowest wattage portable air conditioner is the 754W BLACK+DECKER BPT05WTBA, which costs 11 cents per hour to run.

See the price and features on Home Depot, here.

With the same assumptions as above, this unit costs 90 cents per day, which works out to $27.14 per month – approx. 36% less than the average portable AC running cost.

However, a portable AC with a low wattage does not automatically mean that it’s energy efficient (although the model above is the most efficient for room sizes 150 sq. ft. or less).

It simply means that the appliance doesn’t consume as much electricity as others.

This is particularly important for those running their portable ACs off of batteries or generators.

Related: Portable AC Amps [Lowest Amp Unit Revealed]

Low wattage portable ACs may not cool as effectively as their more power hungry counterparts.

They may even consume more electricity to achieve the same result.

EER, CEER, and many other factors come into play when it comes to portable air conditioner energy efficiency.

So, with this in mind, let’s take a look at the cost to run the most energy efficient portable air conditioners on the market.

Cost to run the most energy efficient portable air conditioners

Based on a study of 56 of the most energy efficient portable air conditioners, the table below lists the cost to run the most energy efficient models, by room size.

Room sizeMost efficient portable air conditionerLinks for more detailsCost per hourCost per day / 8hrsCost per month (8hrs p/d for 30 days)
150 sq. ft.BLACK+DECKER 5,000 BTU (SACC) Portable Air Conditioner, 8,500 BTU (ASHRAE); Model# BPT05WTBAHome Depot$0.11$0.90$27.14
250 sq. ft.KingHome 10,000 BTU (6,000 BTU DOE) Portable Air Conditioner; Model# KHPA06AKHome Depot$0.19$1.49$44.71
350 sq. ft.GE 8,000 BTU (DOE SACC) / 12,000 BTU (ASHRAE) Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier; Model# APCD08JALWHome Depot$0.17$1.34$40.32
400 sq. ft.Whynter Elite 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Heat/Drain Pump & Dehumidifier; Model# ARC-122DHPAmazon$0.15$1.19$35.64
450 sq. ft.Honeywell 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier & Fan. Model# HJ0CESWK7Best Buy$0.19$1.52$45.54
500 sq. ft.NewAir 14,000 BTU (8,600 DOE) Portable Air Conditioner & Heater; Model# AC-14100HAmazon$0.21$1.70$51.12
550 sq. ft.DOLCECLIMA 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner (4 in 1); Model# 2149Home Depot$0.21$1.68$50.40
600 sq. ft.FRIGIDAIRE GALLERY 13,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Wi-Fi Control; Model# GHPC132AB1Home Depot$0.18$1.44$43.20
700+ sq. ft.Honeywell 775 Sq. Ft. Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier & Fan. Model# HJ5CESWK0Best Buy$0.19$1.52$45.54

Assumptions for these costs are the same as those listed above.

As mentioned in the study, the portable AC unit that stood out as the most energy efficient all-rounder is the Whynter Elite ARC-122DHP. This powerful model costs just $0.15 per hour, $1.19 per day and $35.64 per month (approx. 20% less than average).

Check it out on Amazon, here.

Again, costs are based on a unit rate of 15 cents per kWh. 

Your unit rate might be different. To work out your own costs, simply use the Portable AC Running Cost Calculator below.

Portable AC running cost calculator 

Easily work out the cost to run your portable air conditioner – enter how much you pay per kWh of electricity and your usage duration in the calculator below.

The calculator is pre-populated with the most common wattage for portable AC units and the average cost per kWh in the US.

Again, these costs make the same assumptions as above. This includes the assumption that the appliance will operate at its max power consumption.

Now that we know how much it costs to run portable air conditioners, let’s put the figures into context.

Are portable air conditioners expensive to run?

Portable air conditioners are expensive to run.

Running 1 unit for 1 hour can account for over 4% of a typical US household’s daily electricity consumption and, therefore, bill (excluding standing charges).

Portable ACs are energy guzzlers.

To put the expense into perspective, let’s compare the running costs with other common household appliances.

Running a portable air conditioner for 1 hour costs $0.18, on average. That’s equivalent to:

So, compared to other household appliances, portable air conditioners are expensive to run.

Related: Are Portable Air Conditioners Quiet?

Final thoughts

With a cost per hour of 18 cents, on average, portable air conditioners can get very expensive to run over long periods of time.

Check back in soon to get energy and cost saving tips, and to see how the cost to run portable ACs compares with the running costs of wall and window ACs.

In the meantime, you can quickly make considerable savings on your electricity bills and carbon footprint with this 6 Quick Wins Cheat Sheet, so be sure to check it out:

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