/>
X
Home & Office
Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.

Close

We looked for good cheap air conditioners and found one that starts at $70

Summer is nearly over, but in some places, the weather is still unbearable. If you're in the need of a good cheap air conditioner but don't want to spend a fortune, ZDNET did the work for you. We found the best that you can buy, on a budget of course.

The summer heat is still hanging on with a vengeance, and it's time to think about how to stay cool. A pool or beach will only go so far, especially when you lay awake at night drowning in your own perspiration. Buying a new air conditioner may not always be in your immediate budget, however, even if it is an immediate need.

To help, these are the best cheap air conditioners for your home or business this year. 

Features

  • 8,300 BTU power
  • For medium-sized spaces
  • Wi-FI-enabled with an app
  • Works with your Android or iPhone device
  • Supports Google Assistant or Amazon's Alexa
  • Cost: Starts around $395

The Windmill Air Conditioner may not be the cheapest on our list, but it is our top pick for the best cheap air conditioner, given the fully loaded benefits this model provides. It is a smart air conditioner that goes right into your window, its sleek design requiring a very small footprint. It comes ready to go right out of the box, so you can save the time and heartache of set-up. A convenient guide is included to steer installation in the right direction. 

The unit comes with 8,300 BTU power, giving a bit more than the average air conditioner, so it is enough to cool down a medium-sized space. That in itself offers far greater flexibility in where you can use it and still feel the cooling effects. It is also the quietest machine on our list, as soft as the evaCHILL that is a fraction of its size. However, it still comes packed with features. It is Wi-FI-enabled with an app that easily works with your Android or iPhone device, allowing you the option to control the unit remotely. With an auto-dimming LED display, you can use Google Assistant or Amazon's Alexa to control the unit by voice. The air conditioner comes with a 30-day, no-questions-asked return policy, just in case you are not satisfied with your purchase.

Pros

Cons

  • Simple installation
  • Great coverage area
  • Smart home compatible
  • Limited cooling area
  • Not compatible with all systems 

Features: 

  • 8,000 BTU power
  • For no larger than 150 square feet
  • Compact unit
  • 24-hour timer
  • Cost: Starts around $310

The Black+Decker Portable Air Conditioner with Remote Control is a great pick for those smaller rooms, like your bedroom or office. The unit is designed for areas no larger than 150 square feet for maximum performance. It is a corded model, so it can only go so far, but there is a handy remote control that comes included to help you control the unit from across the room. Thanks to an unobtrusive design, it is a compact unit in white that seamlessly blends in with most home decor. 

Still, this air conditioner packs in some extra features. It boasts a fan speed that you can easily adjust to your liking with a convenient LED display. The coolest setting will bring the room to a brisk 65°F, plus there is a 24-hour timer option that can help you save money on those monthly bills. While this is not one of the noisiest units out there, it is not the quietest, either, so users are sure to appreciate the option of a quiet fan mode at night. The unit also features a built-in dehumidifier to combat those pesky humid summer days.

Pros

Cons

  • Built-in dehumidifier and fan
  • Sleep mode and timer
  • Washable filter

  • Set up can be difficult
  • Not ideal for bigger spaces

Features: 

  • USB-powered
  • For rooms as large as 21 square feet
  • Night light feature
  • Cost: Starts around $67

The Evapolar evaCHILL is one of the most popular models for the best compact air conditioner, and it is also one of the cheapest, making it our pick for the best budget air conditioner. 

At just two pounds, this is a USB-powered unit that is super easy to transport wherever you like in just the palm of your hand. It is energy-efficient with a 5 Star Energy Star rating, and its battery is enough to power for up to six hours.  Despite its diminutive size, this is a unit that is very capable, holding its own in rooms as large as 21 square feet. 

Of course, it is not the pick you want when you are looking to cool bigger spaces, but for your typical school or office desk, it could be the perfect reprieve you have been needing in your room, office, or dorm. Simply touch to control the unit, and choose the feature you want between cooling and humidifying. There is even a night light feature to help you find your way, whether it is to your home or to your dreams.

Pros

Cons

  • Affordable
  • Portable and stylish design
  • Made of biodegradable fibers

  • Only works for small spaces
  • Operates six hours

Features: 

  • 8,000 BTU power
  • Total coverage area of more than 215 square feet
  • Built-in dehumidifier
  • Cost: Starts around $310

The SereneLife Powerful Portable Room Air Conditioner packs some power with an 8,000 BTU unit and a built-in dehumidifier to combat those humid nights. It can rest on the floor and has wheels attached for added convenience, but you will need to plug the unit in for use. Set up is made simple so you can start using your air conditioner right away. Once ready, there are two different fan settings that you can use based on your changing needs. There is also the option to choose your temperature, plus a timer that will automatically turn itself off after 24 hours. A digital remote control helps simplify operations, but there is also a digital touch button control panel.  

Despite all of its features, this model is affordably priced at $310, making it a far more affordable and economical pick than many of the other options out there. It also is capable of cooling rooms much larger than other units can, giving a total coverage area of more than 215 square feet.

Pros

Cons

  • Excellent portability
  • Energy-efficient design
  • Built-in wheels
  • Can be noisy
  • Heavy

Features:

  • 12,000 BTU power
  • Coverage of up to 400 square feet
  • Built-in dehumidifier
  • 24-hour programmable timer
  • Cost: Around $414

When you have a large area to cool, the Whynter Elite Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner can be a great choice, thanks to its coverage of up to 400 square feet. At almost $465, its price tag belies its power with maximum 12,000 BTU coverage, the largest of any unit on our list. Despite a conveniently portable size, this unit features a dual-hose system that allows for cold air to spread more evenly and quickly throughout your space. It easily works in conjunction with your home or building's A/C unit to better facilitate the movement of cold air, so you can better enjoy the effects of your area's built-in air conditioning. 

This unit is one that is easily portable and offers a simplified set-up process to get you started. Whynter claims the built-in dehumidifier can remove 76 pints of excess moisture each day. To help save money, use the 24-hour programmable timer, so your unit only runs when you need it the most.

Pros

Cons

  • Solid performance
  • High BTU unit
  • Largest coverage area on our list
  • Can be difficult to install
  • High price tag

What is the best cheap air conditioner?

The best cheap air conditioner is the Windmill Air Conditioner, which offers an impressive coverage area while still managing to remain under $425. It has good power, plus it is far quieter than many other machines. However, the other cheap air conditioners on our list are definitely worth a second look before you buy.

Cheap air conditioner

Price

Features

Windmill Air Conditioner

Starts around $395

  • 8,300 BTU power
  • For medium-sized spaces
  • Wi-FI-enabled with an app
  • Works with your Android or iPhone device
  • Supports Google Assistant or Amazon's Alexa

Black+Decker Portable Air Conditioner with Remote Control

Starts around $299

  • 8,000 BTU power
  • For no larger than 150 square feet
  • Compact unit
  • 24-hour timer

Evapolar evaCHILL

Starts around $79

  • USB-powered
  • For rooms as large as 21 square feet
  • Night light feature

SereneLife Compact Portable Air Conditioner

Starts around $289

  • 8,000 BTU power
  • Total coverage area of more than 215 square feet
  • Built-in dehumidifier

Whynter Elite Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner

Starts around $400

  • 12,000 BTU power
  • Coverage of up to 400 square feet
  • Built-in dehumidifier
  • 24-hour programmable timer

Which cheap air conditioner is right for you?

With so many A/C units out there, it can be difficult to determine exactly which cheap air conditioner is right for your space. Our expert recommendations can help. 

Choose this cheap air conditioner...

If you...

Black+Decker Portable Air Conditioner with Remote Control

Want a portable option for those smaller spaces

Evapolar evaCHILL

Want a little portable device you can take anywhere 

SereneLife Compact Portable Air Conditioner

Want an affordable portable option for those larger areas

Whynter Elite Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner

Don't mind spending extra for an air conditioner/heater combo 

Windmill Air Conditioner

Want to automate your A/C unit

How did we choose these cheap air conditioners?

In our search for the best cheap air conditioners, we consider several factors and compare different models to find the best units for your family. These are a few of the criteria we recommend you consider during your search.

  • Coverage area: The best cheap A/C units can vary significantly in their cooling capability. While some are better suited for smaller areas, there are other larger units that can tackle much larger spaces. We include air conditioners with a range of coverage so you can choose the most appropriate solution for your situation.       
  • BTU rating: BTU, or British Thermal Units, also helps determine the air conditioner you need. The rating is based upon square footage, letting you know which unit is appropriate for your space.  
  • Noise level: Air conditioners can be quite noisy, so it is critical you consider how loud each unit will be in your designated area. Even a quieter machine can seem loud when it is next to you, so be sure to watch out for noise issues. Air conditioners use decibels to measure sound, so the lower the dB rating, the quieter the unit will be. 
  • Price: Cost is always a concern, so we look for cheap air conditioners that suit a variety of different needs and budgets. Our top picks for the best cheap air conditioners range in price from less than $100 to over $400 per unit. 
  • Convenience: Things like built-in timers and remote controls can be an enormous help when you are not within arm's reach of your air conditioner. Consider what extras may accompany your machine to simplify your life and get the most use out of your cheap air conditioner. 

Do cheap air conditioners work?

You do not have to spend a fortune to find a quality air conditioner. Cheap air conditioners can come in a variety of different sizes, so they each may work differently based on room size requirements and cooling methods. 

Be sure to consider your specific needs and room requirements before choosing the best cheap air conditioner for your space.

How much do the best cheap air conditioners cost?

The best cheap air conditioners can vary significantly in cost, depending on the model you choose. Our top picks for the best cheap air conditioners range from under $100 to almost $475 to suit a full range of budgets.   

Are cheap air conditioners worth it?

While they're not the most energy-efficient, they supply some much-needed comfort. And considering the lower cost relative to central A/C units, it makes cheap air conditioners worth it for cozier spaces. 

Are there alternative air conditioners worth considering?

In our search for the best cheap air conditioners, we consider many different models. These are a few of the options that almost made our list:

While shopping for your home, consider our picks for the best smart thermostats, the best space heaters, and the best home office cooling solutions

Editorial standards

Related

Baby, these space heaters keep the cold outside with Wi-Fi connectivity
replace-this-image.jpg

Baby, these space heaters keep the cold outside with Wi-Fi connectivity

Always dropping your tablet? See our top rugged, damage-proof picks
A woman in a hardhat and coveralls using an Acer Enduro T1 tablet on a construction site.

Always dropping your tablet? See our top rugged, damage-proof picks

Clean your floors on a budget with the best vacuums under $100
replace-this-image.jpg

Clean your floors on a budget with the best vacuums under $100