Portable AC Amps – 2024 Study [Lowest Amp Unit Revealed]

Last updated: February 24, 2024.

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 in 2024 & see the amperage of the most efficient units.


Continue reading to see how many amps the most energy efficient portable ACs draw by room size and get key amperage considerations.

The data is based on manufacturer listed amperage of 56 of the most popular portable air conditioners on the market (updated for 2024). The listed amperage is generally the maximum current that the unit will draw when running. This does not include startup power surges – more on this below.

Portable Air Conditioner Amps Image containing a portable AC unit and an ammeter

How many amps does a portable air conditioner use?

Portable air conditioners use 6A to 12.8A, with 10.44A being the average and 12A being the most common amperage.

Portable AC amp categoryAmps
Most common12A

These amperage figures are results from a study (updated for 2024) of 56 of the most popular portable air conditioners on the market.

In general, the higher the BTU cooling rating the higher the amperage.

The majority of portable AC units have an amp draw on the higher end of the scale.

85.7% of portable air conditioners draw 9A or more.

10.2% of the portable AC units studied draw between 6.1A and 8.9A. This amperage range can be considered the “medium amp draw” for portable ACs.

To see how the amperage of window air conditioners and wall units compare with portable models, check out Window AC Amps and Wall AC Amps.

But what about the low amp portable air conditioners?

Low amp portable air conditioner

Low amp portable air conditioners draw 6A or less.

Just 4.1% of the portable AC units studied fall within this low amp range.

The standout low amp portable air conditioner identified in this study is the very popular, and highly rated BLACK+DECKER BPT05WTBA.

While rated at 9A, a power consumption test review shows that this unit draws 6A continuously (9A on startup).

This low amp portable unit is also the standout low wattage portable air conditioner.

Related: Are Portable Air Conditioners Quiet? [Quietest Revealed | 13 Noise Reducing Tips]

Low amp portable air conditioners, along with their higher amp counterparts, experience startup current surges. This, along with other factors, are important amperage related considerations.

Let’s take a look at some of these considerations in more detail.

Portable air conditioner amp considerations

Portable air conditioner amperage is listed by the manufacturer. Generally, this is the maximum amount of amps that the unit is expected to draw when running.

However, the actual amount of amps drawn will depend on many factors including the settings (e.g. temperature), cooling stage / cycle, and input power supply. 

Typically, portable air conditioners are designed to run on standard household circuits (15A, 110V, AC). 

Standard household circuits and breakers cater to startup surges. As a result, portable AC amperage is less of a concern for typical US residents running the appliance from mains power / standard outlets. 

Portable air conditioner amperage is more of an important consideration for those running their device off of generators or batteries.

Power systems should cater to portable air conditioner startup amp surges. Otherwise the system, and even the appliance, is at risk of damage.

As a rule of thumb, startup power surges are 2 – 3 times the running amp draw.

However, you really should contact the manufacturers (of both the unit and power system) to ensure that the appliance can run on your system without risk.

And, to be clear, startup power surges don’t just occur when you first turn on or start up the device.

Power hungry portable AC components (e.g. condensers, evaporators, compressors) cycle on and off during operation. The cycling on and off of these components impact the current the device draws.

When the power hungry components start running, the current drawn spikes.

The amount of amps drawn quickly drops after startup power surges.

And when the unit is not actively cooling the amount of amps drawn will be considerably lower than the listed amperage.

To reduce the amp draw when the unit is running, consider lowering the power settings, increasing the temperature settings, and changing the mode. 

For example, Eco mode tends to be a quick and easy option that reduces the amount of amps drawn.

Speaking of Eco, let’s take a brief look at how many amps the most energy efficient portable air conditioners draw.

How many amps do the most energy efficient portable ACs use?

The table below lists how many amps the most energy efficient portable air conditioners draw, by room size.

Room sizeMost efficient portable air conditionerAmpsLinks for more details
150 sq. ft.BLACK+DECKER 5,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner (SACC), 8,500 BTU (ASHRAE); Model# BPT05WTBA6A (9A on startup)See the latest price, here.
250 sq. ft.KingHome 10,000 BTU (6,000 BTU DOE) Portable Air Conditioner; Model# KHPA06AK10.8AHome Depot
350 sq. ft.GE 8,000 BTU (DOE SACC) / 12,000 BTU (ASHRAE) Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier; Model# APCD08JALW9.9AHome Depot
400 sq. ft.Whynter Elite 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Heat/Drain Pump & Dehumidifier; Model# ARC-122DHP9AAmazon
450 sq. ft.Honeywell 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier & Fan. Model# HJ0CESWK711ABest Buy
500 sq. ft.NewAir 14,000 BTU (8,600 DOE) Portable Air Conditioner & Heater; Model# AC-14100H12.8A (11.4A when heating)Amazon
550 sq. ft.DOLCECLIMA 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner (4 in 1); Model# 214912.3AHome Depot
600 sq. ft.FRIGIDAIRE GALLERY 13,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Wi-Fi Control; Model# GHPC132AB111AHome Depot
700+ sq. ft.Honeywell 775 Sq. Ft. Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier & Fan. Model# HJ5CESWK011ABest Buy

Get more details about portable air conditioner energy efficiency, here, which includes the EER and / or CEER figures for the devices listed above.

As mentioned in the energy efficiency results, the standout all-rounder is the Whynter Elite ARC-122DHP, which draws 9A while running

See the features and price, here.

None of the most energy efficient portable air conditioners fall into the low amp range.

Amperage is not a key performance indicator when it comes to energy efficiency.

If you’re solely looking for a low amp portable air conditioner, check out the BLACK+DECKER BPT05WTBA.

Related: see a direct comparison of amperage, wattage, overall energy efficiency, and more, between portable and window AC – check out: Window AC vs Portable AC.

Final thoughts

Whether running a portable air conditioner from a mains supply or battery, amperage is an important consideration.

The breaker and power supply should match the manufacturer’s stated power requirements to ensure safety.

Another important consideration is energy efficiency. However, amperage is not a key performance indicator for this.

If you’re interested in portable AC energy efficiency, don’t miss Portable AC Wattage Results [Most Efficient Revealed].

If you’d like to make a more significant impact on your electricity bills and carbon footprint, get the 6 Quick Wins Cheat Sheet here: