A portable ac for a car can magically turn your hot and sweaty car into a wonderfully cool environment even if it feels like the earth is on fire out there.
Here we bring you portable ac for car reviews to ease your search for the best portable ac for a car if your built-in car air conditioning system has finally capitulated.
Before that, we will explain why portable air conditioning for cars can be a lifesaver during hot weather and the different types of car air conditioners you can use to stay cool when driving across the country on a sun-baked day.
Finally, we will teach you how to approach the purchase process.
Let’s get down to business.
Table of Contents
Types of car air conditioners
Four major types exist with each serving best in certain conditions.
Take a look:
Car summer cooling fans/vents
This is nothing else but a portable cooling fan- but could be added with water or ice (in buckets or reservoirs) to help cool the car during summer’s sweltering days.
Some come with ducts to help distribute cold air to the back seat.
This type uses the 12V DC power option (via a car cord or 12V accessory outlet ) for the most part and suits nearly all types of automobiles- family cars, delivery vans, tents, sleeper cabs, SUVs, RVs, ATVs, ….you name it.
Key winner: low energy consumption
Key weakness: not the best if you want instant cooling.
Portable car ACs
These are mostly complete movable air cons for car that you connect to a 12 volt source such as car receptacle or the battery pack (with a 12-volt receptacle).
There is a mammoth variety of them in the market these days including variations that work from the USB port.
Key winner: an extremely quiet operation and low power draw.
Key weakness: May not cool (some) the entire car effectively.
Electric air conditioner for car
This is an elaborate AC powered unit and helps distribute cool air powerfully and evenly for quick and consistent cooling.
It could have features you don’t get in the rest such as overload protection on its compressor and motor to prolong its life.
Key winner: they bring excellent breeze all around.
Key weakness: generally pricier.
PS: There could be other types but these dominate the market and serve best as portable air conditioning unit for cars.
Why Buy One?
Its summer and it’s blazing hot.
Yet your vehicle’s built-in air-conditioning system has long shown the white flag.
Which means that you are vulnerable to the effects of the unforgiving heat including excessive sweating and other heat-related hostilities especially when driving for many hours.
You are likely thinking: but I can repair or replace the car’s original air conditioning system.
Well, it’s actually the best solution if you have the finances.
But if you’re still sorting out your finances or searching for an affordable substitute, then your best bet is a portable car ac – a good one that should rapidly get rid of the heat and vastly improve the humidity (and ventilation).
And what I love most about mini ac for cars is that they are super easy to mount and operate (thanks to the easy buttons and controls).
Of course, that’s a much better idea than, let’s say, rolling down all the car windows (and risk suffocating from the dust storms and pollution) or accelerating (you can’t always drive fast!).
Or even having a cooler (filled with icewater) in the car.
Portable air conditioners for cars Buying Guide
As promised, here is how to stay out of trouble when shopping for an air conditioner for car:
Consider the cooling capacity and its physical Size
Cooling capacity relates to the space it can effectively cool down and is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units).
As a rough guide, most portable air conditioners for cars start at 2000 BTUs but can soar to anything between 6000-8000 BTUs, enough to bring a faux sea breeze cool to a camper van during the hottest hours of the day.
Keep in mind that the recommended aircon size depends on myriad factors including how big is your vehicle – for example, you can’t seriously expect a 50 passenger bus to be cooled by a mini air conditioner for a car).
Another thing you can consider is the physical size – a small air conditioning unit is more portable and can be moved to the corners where cooling is needed most.
Mounting and maintenance considerations
Most portable air con requires simplistic installation, with the exception of a couple of electrical units that are connected via adapters.
Importantly, the model you pick needs to work with the power sources available in your car- 12v, USB port, cigarette lighters, etc.
If your choice is not install-ready, you might want to consult with a professional.
Maintenance is seamless too. In fact, some have reminders to notify you when it’s time to drain them. You want to pick such models if suitable.
Check the energy usage
Portable car cooling fan brands lead the pack when it comes to saving energy.
The good thing is that various models have their energy ratings indicated on the package and it’s advisable to confirm before purchase that you are ordering an energy-efficient portable ac for car.
Research its cooling performance
Regardless of the type of portable car air con, look for a swift cooling effect, humidification, and air cleaning so you can enjoy the freshest, healthiest possible environment in your car.
Needless to say, bigger, more powerful units outperform their smaller competition when it comes to balanced air distribution and speed of cooling.
Additionally, they offer more operational flexibility (because of features such as the multiple fan speeds and multidirectional airflow)
But you have to be worry about devices that make loud, annoying noises, which is common in larger machines because of the distraction.
Other factors to rope in
If you got a tie (you found that you liked two or more machines equally), separate them by looking at the following issues:
- Bells and whistles– additions such as smart digital thermostat, soft touch control panels, and remote control make life easier for you.
- Looks- a little bit more beauty won’t hurt either.
- Weight- the lighter, the better for portability.
Best Portable air conditioners for cars reviews
It turns out there are plenty of formidable options to help buffer your car from the heat.
We focused on the very best.
Meet them below:
Honeywell 9000 BTUs Portable Air Conditioner
This portable car air conditioner whips off a nice blast of extra-chilled, conditioned air to keep your car at the ideal temperature all the time.
And its dual motor technology makes the air conditioner the quietest – 49 to 52 decibels (most conversations are within this range) – at this level (9000 BTUs).
Not only does this Honeywell freshen up the interiors- the dual filtration nabs dust and other impurities- but is also a brilliant dehumidifier and will make your car more hospitable.
The fan (3 speeds) is solid and the automated vertical wind motion helps it circulate cool air to every corner consistently. This makes it one of the best portable air conditioners for cars.
This intelligent portable ac unit for a car also features nice digital controls, a power-saving timer (easy to set), and remote control (you can operate it from anywhere in the car).
The addition of overload protection –on the compressor and motor –makes it safe to run while it’s self evaporating meaning you have no clumsy buckets to empty.
- Stylish unit.
- Powerful. Can work in bigger trucks.
- Easy maintenance (filters cleans under a faucet).
- Not the easiest to mount in a car.
Fan-Tastic Vent 01100WH-Endless Breeze
There are very few experiences worse than trying to remain sane in a hot, sweaty car.
But with this 12V portable fan, things can take a dramatic turn for the better thanks to the breeze effect it brings when it runs at its 10 mph wind speed.
This design isn’t quite up there with fully-fledged pro models but it is far more affordable.
Plus, you can use it for a variety of cooling needs (has feet so you can easily place it where you want).
The hardier motor makes it move an astonishing amount of air while the low sounds mean it’s hardly detectable (and masks other road noises).
Crucially, even your passengers will feel the breeze. Yup, it’s that impressive.
And, of course, as expected, it’s unbeatable as far as power consumption goes.
A 5’ cord is included in the package.
- Keep things awesomely cool.
- Super strong breeze.
- Straightforward setup.
- Suits small cars only.
Arctic Air Portable Airplane Air Conditioner
This 52 quart Arctic air conditioner works for airplane’s baggage compartment but it’s built flexibly and serves well in cars too.
Its wind-chill breeze effect will help you relax despite the outside feeling like hell.
This comes with 2 removable ducts to give you the freedom to place it where you feel it will be most efficient.
And because they are quite tall, your kids (or whoever is in the back seat) will also be in for a refreshing treat.
In fact, the 2 fully adjust in all directions to supply chilled air maximally.
You get so much here including a pump out provision to allow you to drain excess water effortlessly out of the cooler using a 6′ drain hose.
And it’s another power saver- the 12 volt one pulls just 10 amps.
For durability, the manufacturer has used a ballistic nylon outer cover (with a hardened plastic inner shell).
The pump drain hose and power cord are packed when being delivered.
- Superb cold air output.
- Durable construction.
- Multidirectional airflow.
- You have to buy a louver vent separately (if needed).
Taotuo Car Cooling Air Fan
This 12V car cooling fan forces a perfect breeze in your cabin and you will breathe easier and stay cooler.
It comes with a cigarette-lighter plug to conveniently let you power it from your car’s lighter socket.
Taotuo has ridiculously stringent standards and has once again released a topnotch car cooling fan in this item.
The fan features an excellent set-up that includes 2 settings to produce a high or low breeze depending on how brutal the heat feels.
A winning design it is considering that the fan rotates to any angle you wish.
The unit is additionally ultra-silent (just 42 decibels) for improved concentration on the wheel.
That it’s bladeless makes it safe to have in the car even when traveling with a toddler (no risk of him/her being cut).
And with the flat stand, you can position it anywhere.
- Lower energy usage.
- Cage shape design.
- Somewhat big.
MightyKool A Converter Bundle (12-Volt 120/12-volt)
There are many things to love in this unit but perhaps the greatest of them all is that it runs on water- not Ice.
You will be shocked if you think that it may not cool you because of that.
Well-surprise, surprise- it’s one of the most efficient car coolers on the market.
Straight out of the box, this MightyKool model is built to cool you quickly and it can easily transform your car from feeling like a 400-degree oven into a cocoon of comfort.
It’s built powerful enough to cool you, your passenger or pet and will cycle and move hefty amounts of air to introduce a fresh breeze in no time.
The MightyKool aggressively releases 25 mph of chilled air through its air outlets hence the instant relief.
Besides, the unique wicking filter absorbs the water further boosting its cooling efficiency.
The model arrives with a 2V plug and you can opt to use it from your car’s cigarette lighter if that suits you better.
It’s a reliably engineered portable air conditioner that will handle rough handling and should surely outlast its peers.
- Unmatched efficiency.
- Energy saving.
- Standout craftsmanship.
- A bit loud (on higher settings).
Portable air conditioners for cars – Final words
When the heatwave comes, you need to be prepared for all eventualities including the threat of punishing heat when driving from coast to coast for your vacation (and the endless summertime fun).
A good ac for car should hence feature high in your list of things to carry in your car if your original air condition system failed or frequently malfunctions.
Implement what you have learned in this guide and get yourself a car air conditioner that will serve your cooling needs this summer.
You will be so glad you did.