Last updated: April 21, 2023.
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.
- Portable air conditioners have an amp draw that ranges from 6A to 12.8A.
- The average portable AC amperage is 10.44A and the most common is 12A.
- With an actual amp draw of 6A (rated at 9A), the BLACK+DECKER BPT05WTBA draws the least amount of amps while running.
- The most energy efficient portable air conditioner draws 9A – see the features and price on Amazon, here.
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. 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.
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 category||Amps|
These amperage figures are results from a study 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.
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 size||Most efficient portable air conditioner||Amps||Links for more details|
|150 sq. ft.||BLACK+DECKER 5,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner (SACC), 8,500 BTU (ASHRAE); Model# BPT05WTBA||6A (9A on startup)||See the latest price, here.|
|250 sq. ft.||KingHome 10,000 BTU (6,000 BTU DOE) Portable Air Conditioner; Model# KHPA06AK||10.8A||Home Depot|
|350 sq. ft.||GE 8,000 BTU (DOE SACC) / 12,000 BTU (ASHRAE) Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier; Model# APCD08JALW||9.9A||Home Depot|
|400 sq. ft.||Whynter Elite 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Heat/Drain Pump & Dehumidifier; Model# ARC-122DHP||9A||Amazon|
|450 sq. ft.||Honeywell 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier & Fan. Model# HJ0CESWK7||11A||Best Buy|
|500 sq. ft.||NewAir 14,000 BTU (8,600 DOE) Portable Air Conditioner & Heater; Model# AC-14100H||12.8A (11.4A when heating)||Amazon|
|550 sq. ft.||DOLCECLIMA 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner (4 in 1); Model# 2149||12.3A||Home Depot|
|600 sq. ft.||FRIGIDAIRE GALLERY 13,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Wi-Fi Control; Model# GHPC132AB1||11A||Home Depot|
|700+ sq. ft.||Honeywell 775 Sq. Ft. Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier & Fan. Model# HJ5CESWK0||11A||Best 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 on Amazon, 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.
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:
See the quietest air conditioner on the market, along with the quietest window, portable and wall ACs. We also reveal the quietest AC type, in this, the most authoritative AC noise level study.
What is a good SEER rating for a heat pump, & what’s the highest? Find out here, based on a comprehensive study of 2,126 of the most energy efficient heat pumps.
Which is the quietest through-the-wall air conditioner? Find out here, based on a comprehensive study. Plus, see the average & most common decibel ratings, and see how loud the most efficient wall ACs are.
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.