The Best Portable Car Air Conditioners For 2020

Let’s be honest. Driving around all summer with no air conditioner is absolutely no one’s idea of fun. Thankfully, there’s a solution: a portable air conditioner.

Portable air conditioners have been around since 1945, but because they are often overshadowed by in-built air conditioning, they tend to be seen and not heard. That makes it pretty difficult to choose the perfect model for your car. But don’t stress – TheCarXpert is here to help. 

In this article, we are going to compare the 15 best portable air conditioners available at the click of a button (or rather, on Amazon). 


The Best Portable Air Conditioners Compared

After learning you don’t need to spend your entire summer sweating while you drive, I’m sure you’ve got one question on your mind. What’s the best portable air conditioner for my car? 

To help you answer that question, we’ve put together reviews of the 15 best portable air conditioners available on Amazon. Before we continue, here’s a handy table.

Power SourceAir Conditioner ModelCooler TypeDimensionsWeight 
Battery OperatedYleadea Portable Handheld FanFan7.87 x 7.87 x 2.76 inches0.66 poundsCheck Price
Comlife Car FanFan7.9 x 5.5 x 2.6 inches0.52 poundsCheck Price
GQQG Personal Air ConditionerBucket Fan5.9 x 5 x 7 inches3.31 poundsCheck Price
Arctic Cove Bucket FanBucket Fan12.88 x 12.25 x 14.88 inches7.55 poundsCheck Price
Rovta Tripod Clip Fan13.07 x 6.34 x 2.8 inches3.44 poundsCheck Price
Reyo Portable Air ConditionerBucket Fan12 x 12 x 8 inches1.55 poundsCheck Price
SkyGenius Clip On CoolerFan8 x 6.4 x 3.8 inches0.75 poundsCheck Price
USB Charged Willcomes Dual Head Car Auto Air Fan Fan8.07 x 3.74 x 5.51 inches1.1 poundsCheck Price
KOXXBASS Portable Fan With LEDFan7 x 5.9 x 4.5 inches1.85 poundsCheck Price
HOPEME Car Cooling Fan Fan4.5 x 4.4 x 4.4 inches0.5 poundsCheck Price
MSM Air HumidifierBucket Fan6 x 5 x 6 inches5 poundsCheck Price
C-Color Personal Air CoolerBucket Fan8.5 x 6 x 6 inches1.95 poundsCheck Price
SmartDevil USB FanFan3.94 x 3.94 x 3.94 inches2 poundsCheck Price
Semoic Car FanFan4 x 3 x 3 inches1.5 poundsCheck Price
MOOCII Neck FanFan10.87 x 8.31 x 2.87 inches1.12 poundsCheck Price

For each of these products, we’ve given a detailed review below. To help you select the best portable air conditioner for you, we have compared each air conditioner based on the amount of noise it generates, how much power it uses, its warranty, and whether or not it is safe for use around children. As prices are subject to change at Amazon’s discretion, each product is marked with a price range based on the table below.

Price Range (USD)Symbol
$10 - $30$
$30 - $60$$
$60+$$$

Battery Operated Portable Air Conditioners

In this section, we will be reviewing the best portable air conditioners that are battery operated. Battery operated models are fantastic for anyone who needs cooling on the go – as many models are small and flexible enough to move from your car to your backpack in a pinch. 

For drivers who own older vehicles, battery-operated models may be your only choice – as USB ports only became standard in vehicles in the last five years. As every model has different strengths and weaknesses, we’ll be reviewing a large range of options at every price point. Let’s dive in (and get cool). 


‘Best Portable Air Conditioner’ (Battery Operated)

Yleadea Portable Handheld Fan

Brand: Yleadea 

Price Range: $

Air Conditioner Type: Rotatable Fan

Warranty: 6 months

Pros: The Yleadea Portable Handheld Fan is a perfect (and affordable!) choice for any vehicle. The fan is able to rotate 360 degrees and will operate for 5 – 6 hours before needing recharging. It uses a non-removable 220mAh battery, which recharges in 2 – 3 hours via USB (included with purchase). Despite the battery, the fan is lightweight and is mounted on a tripod that can be wrapped around any surface in your vehicle. This makes it steady, yet removable in a pinch. 

For drivers needing a powerful and affordable option for their daily commute, we’ve chosen this fan as the ‘Best Portable Air Conditioner’ for its affordability and flexibility. 

Cons: Although the fan itself is made with ABS baby-safe materials, it is possible for an infant to get their fingers stuck in the fan. For that reason, always install this product at a safe distance from young children. 


Runner Up For ‘Best Portable Air Conditioner’ (Battery Operated)

Comlife Car Fan

Brand: Comlife

Price Range: $

Air Conditioner Type: Rotatable Fan

Warranty: 1 year

Pros: The Comlife Car Fan is a powerful and compact little fan that is easily mounted in the air vents of your car. Weighing less than a pound, it offers four speeds up to 4000rpm. The 2200mAh battery is USB rechargeable and will operate up to 7 hours before needing to be charged. You can also remove the fan from its clips, but you will then have to hold it (as it has no suspension option or hook). When removed from the clips, it rotates 360 degrees. The Comlife Car Fan is also extremely quiet – which is excellent for drivers who want cooling that won’t ruin their concentration. 

Cons: While this fan is very stable once installed, it is not suitable for passengers in the backseat, as it clips onto the dashboard air conditioner vents. As it is quite powerful, it is dangerous if installed around young children. This model is suitable for solo drivers, but may not be the best choice for families. 


GQQG Personal Air Conditioner

Brand: GQQG

Price Range: $$

Air Conditioner Type: Bucket Fan 

Warranty: 1 year

Pros: The GQQG personal air conditioner is a pretty and portable option for drivers who want cool air in style. Made from ABS materials and leather, this bucket fan’s 240mL tank holds either ice or water, pushing out cool air into the car. With a 2000mAh battery, it operates for 3 – 7 hours without needing charging. This cooler can be mounted on your dashboard with adhesives (not included) or taken out of the car and carried by its strap. This model is ultra-quiet and has three different fan speed levels. Overall, it’s sleek, stylish, and easy to clean. 

Cons: While this little air conditioner is extremely pretty, you would need to acquire adhesive straps to install it in your vehicle. As it hangs, it could be suspended on the roof of your car, but we do not recommend this (as it is heavy enough to hurt someone if it falls off). Although it’s a great cooler, it won’t be suitable for every driver.


Arctic Cove Bucket Fan

Brand: Arctic Cove

Price Range: $

Air Conditioner Type: Bucket Fan

Warranty: 1 year

Pros: The Arctic Cove Bucket Fan is a flexible and powerful fan. In a car, this fan runs from an 18v battery and lasts up to two hours without needing charging. It has two-speed settings and is easily removed from your car. If you’d like to use this car outside your vehicle, it also mounts on a (not included) ice bucket – though we don’t recommend using the bucket in your car. This model can be mounted on the dashboard of your vehicle or the center console.  You are also able to take the fan apart to clean it, which is very handy. To charge it, you simply remove the battery from the fan and plug it into a wall socket. 

Cons: Although this model can be mounted anywhere in the vehicle, you need to install this product with great care – as it does not clip onto the car. Some tape or adhesive surfaces might help with this, but they are not included with the fan. The fan is very powerful (yay!) but it’s also loud enough to disturb sleeping children and easily distracted drivers.


Rovta Tripod Clip Fan

Brand: Rovta

Price Range: $$

Air Conditioner Type: Fan

Warranty: 1 year

Pros: The Rovta Tripod Clip Fan is super convenient, as it’s flexible legs secure it to any surface within seconds. Coated in rubber, it will stay in place as you drive but can be removed in less than a minute. The fan operates at three speeds, spinning 360 degrees at a top speed of 4.4m/s. It’s built with a 5000mAh battery, which will run between 6 and 20 hours before needing charging. This unit is charged with a USB cable in 2 – 4 hours – so it can easily be used throughout the day and charged at night. 

Cons: As this fan has a rubber coating on its legs, dust can cling to the fan. However, this is easily fixable by rubbing the fan with a cloth. As this fan runs out of power, it begins to slow down quickly, which is frustrating. The manufacturer also warns that running the fan at top speed in an odd position may wear the tripod down faster – so be careful. 


Reyo Portable Air Conditioner

Brand: Reyo

Price Range: $$

Air Conditioner Type: Bucket Fan

Warranty: 2 Years

Pros: The Reyo portable air conditioner is cute, powerful, and handy. The unit includes two 2500mAh batteries, but it runs extremely quietly – at less than 55 decibels at top speed. The bucket holds 300mL of water, which runs for 4 – 5 hours before needing to be changed. The unit has LED lights that run in 7 different colors. As it runs on just 1W – 8W, this unit saves a lot of energy and won’t cost you very much to run. This unit also gives the option to spray mist, and it runs at three speeds. A strap is also attached to the top of the unit, so it can be suspended from a hook. Overall, this cooler is well worth the investment if you are looking to spend a few extra pennies. 

Cons: Although the Reyo fan is so small, it’s one of the more expensive options on this list. Naturally, it won’t suit every driver. To mount this cooler on your dashboard you’d also need to acquire some adhesive or a hook. 


Best Budget Buy 

SkyGenius Clip On Cooler

Brand: SkyGenius

Price Range: $

Air Conditioner Type: Fan

Warranty: 6 months

Pros: The SkyGenius Clip-On Cooler is our choice for ‘budget buy’. Mounted on a clip, the fan can be installed anywhere in your vehicle. The 2500mAh battery lasts for 3 – 6 hours and the fan itself operates at three different speeds. The fan turns 360 degrees, but the fan blades cannot be reached by a small child. This product is ideal for anyone who wants to use it throughout the day, as it simply charges via USB for 2 – 3 hours at a time. This fan is also faster than many other fans at this price range, as it spins at 16.5ft/s. Overall, this is a fantastic budget buy for any driver who needs cooling in a pinch, without the worry of installing a more expensive fan. 

Cons: As this fan is made with plastic, it may not last long if used at the top speed. The battery can be swapped out for other 18650 batteries, but this wouldn’t be worth it at the cost. Although the clip is sturdy and the fan itself is safe, you should check this product is secure before installing around young children – as the blades are removable for cleaning. 


USB Operated Portable Air Conditioners

If you’re looking for an air conditioner you won’t have to recharge or remove, a USB powered unit is perfect for you. These units run with either a USB connection or with power from the Bluetooth plug on your console. 

As they do not require a battery to operate, USB operated air conditioners tend to be cheaper, lighter and more powerful. Below, we’ve reviewed seven of the best portable air conditioners on Amazon – with products suiting families and solo drivers at every price point. 

Let’s review. 


‘Best Portable Air Conditioner’ (USB Operated)

Willcomes Dual Head Car Auto Fan

Brand: Willcomes

Price Range: $

Air Conditioner Type: Fan

Warranty: 1 year

Pros: The Willcomes Dual Head Car Fan is the perfect portable fan for families with children in the backseat. The fan has two fan heads, which are available with either a 12v or a 24v battery. The fan clips into either the seat or the dashboard, and operates two speeds from a large button. The 12v model is very quiet, but the 24v model is still fairly quiet (for a giant fan, anyway). The fan is mounted on its battery, so it won’t vibrate the front seats of the vehicle if installed there. Overall, this fan is great value for money, as it can be removed from the car extremely quickly if needed. It is simply powered from the car’s 12v port, but the cable is easily long enough to reach the backseat. 

Cons: The large orange/blue button on the front of this fan is probably not the best design choice for a child-safe product. Although it’s very easy to operate, the button will definitely attract the attention of preschool-aged children. Unfortunately, it’s also easy for children to put their fingers into the fan blades, so install carefully. 


Runner Up For ‘Best Portable Air Conditioner’ (USB Operated)

KOXXBASS Portable Fan With LED

Brand: KOXXBASS

Price Range: $

Air Conditioner Type: Fan

Warranty: 6 months

Pros: The KOXXBASS Portable Fan with LED is a very safe option. The fan is designed to be mounted hanging from the ceiling of a vehicle, with the fan suspended. This gives the fan 270-degree rotation but also keeps it out of the driver’s vision (and out of the way of children in the backseat!). The LED lights can be turned on from the base of the fan, and there are several light settings. The fan itself has three-speed settings, all of which are fairly quiet. Strangely enough, this fan also has an aroma chamber, which allows you to put essential oils in to distribute about the car. For its unique (okay, downright strange) design, affordability, and child-safe nature, we’ve named this the runner up for ‘best portable air conditioner’. 

Cons: Although the KOXXBASS portable fan is good, the excessive rotation will wear the plastic down quickly if you aren’t careful. This fan is also able to run powered by 5200mAh batteries, but we do not recommend this – as the fan will operate for less than 2 hours before needing recharging. 


HOPEME Car Cooling Fan

Brand: HOPEME

Price Range: $

Air Conditioner Type: Fan

Warranty: 6 months

Pros: The HOPEME Car Cooling Fan is one of the most affordable products on this list. This cooling fan comes in several colors with LED mood lighting. With 5v of power, it is very quiet and strong and turns 360 degrees with three-speed options. This model is mounted with clips that secure it to air conditioning vents or the car’s front seats. It’s built with stainless steel and rubber, meaning it won’t slip once installed and won’t melt in the heat. As this product is very small, it won’t abstract the driver’s vision if installed in the backseat. You can also disassemble the fan to clean it. Overall, this is a funky, affordable, and decent quality choice suitable for most vehicles. 

Cons: This fan is sold with a 3.7ft USB cable, which can leave you with a lot of extra cord in a small car. On the top setting, the fan is known to vibrate a little, which may annoy the driver if you choose to install this in the back of the car. 


MSM Air Humidifier

Brand: MSM

Price Range: $$

Air Conditioner Type: Bucket Fan

Warranty: 1 year

Pros: This adorable little bucket fan is ideal for mounting on the dashboard of your car. With a lightweight and simple design, it blends into your vehicle easily and is available in light green, red, black, and white. The unit carries 350ml of water at a time, which lasts between 3 – 5 hours. Plugging into a USB port, the 5v fan runs very quietly – under 55 decibels on its maximum speed. There are three total speeds, which reach a maximum range of 2m. If you’re a solo driver who doesn’t want a big clunky fan cluttering up your view, the MSM fan is a great option for you (as is the GQQG fan). 

Cons: Although this fan is very pretty, the water needs to be refilled daily. Adhesives for mounting on the dashboard are not supplied, and the unit does not run without being plugged into power. This unit is not suited to installation in the backseat, and cannot be suspended. 


C-Color Personal Air Cooler

Brand: C-Color

Price Range: $$

Air Conditioner Type: Bucket Fan

Warranty: 1 year

Pros: The C-Colour Personal Air Cooler is a very powerful bucket fan, powered at 18W. Its water tank holds 480ml’s of fluid, expelling around 70ml into the air hourly. The unit is able to cool the air down by 3 – 10 degrees, with three-speed options to choose from. The fan is nice and quiet, under 58 decibels at maximum speed. As the fan is very light, it can be mounted on the dashboard or hung from the roof if you choose. Like many other choices, the unit also comes with seven LED light options and will tolerate essential oils being added into the water. In winter, this product can also be used as a humidifier (if you live in a dry climate or are concerned about dry skin). 

Cons: This cooler sprays far more liquid than other coolers, so won’t suit drivers with fabric seats who need a cooler for long distances. The cooler is also fairly heavy, so isn’t perfect for small vehicles or for mounting in front of the driver – as it might obscure vision. 


SmartDevil USB Fan

Brand: SmartDevil

Price Range: $

Air Conditioner Type: Fan

Warranty: 1 Year

Pros: The SmartDevil USB fan is very small and can easily be installed anywhere inside your vehicle – as long as it is plugged into a 5V power supply. The fan is available in three fairly pleasing colors (pink, white, and blue) and rotates 360 degrees. It spins at three settings, the highest of which only generates 50 decibels –  making it the quietest fan on this list. The fan has rubber seals on the base to hold it in place, and the USB cord stretches 3.9 feet. Most customers only operate this fan on the lowest setting, as it is quite powerful for short-range cooling. The cover on this fan is quite small, so it would be very difficult for children to reach through.  

Cons: As there is no hook on this fan, you would need to separately acquire a hook to hang it up inside your car. However, as it is only 3 pounds, this fan would be perfect for suspending behind the drivers and passengers seats for children. 


Best Budget Buy

Semioc Car Fan

Brand: Semoic

Price Range: $

Air Conditioner Type: Fan

Warranty: 6 months

Pros: The Semioc Car Fan is the cheapest USB operated fan we are reviewing today. It is designed to be mounted on the dashboard of your vehicle and rotates 180 degrees. The fan itself moves at three speeds, two of which are very quiet. The fan has some small LED lights installed, which create a relatively pleasing rainbow effect when turned on. Installing the Semoic fan is very easy, as the base is coated in an adhesive. This means you simply peel off the paper and stick the fan onto your dashboard in a few seconds. Although the fan is very small, it’s strong enough to cool down the driver and won’t block your vision. Overall, a fantastic buy for a solo driver on a shoestring budget. 

Cons: As this fan is stuck to your dashboard, it cannot be removed. While you can install this on air conditioner vents, you may need to purchase extra slips to do so. It is also made with plastic, so you may need to replace it every season. The fan does not operate without being plugged in, and the cord is only 1m.


Most Unique Air Conditioner

MOOCII Neck Fan

Brand: MOOCII

Price Range: $$

Air Conditioner Type: Fan

Warranty: 6 months 

Pros: The MOOCII neck fan is a unique fan that hands around your neck while you drive and blows air 180 degrees. It’s got two fan heads that sit on either side of your neck, with three available speeds. It is USB charged, but also works with two 1600mAh batteries. This strange device can run between 2 and 8 hours. Overall, this strange product won’t suit everyone – but is a great investment for solo drivers who want to wear their air conditioning. 

Cons: The MOOCII neck fan is quite expensive, but is the only neck fan TheCarXpert recommends. At 1.12 pounds, it may be quite heavy to carry around, and the sound of fans close to your ears may be distracting for many drivers. This product is not suited for children under the age of 12.


Portable Air Conditioners: Explained 

Portable air conditioners are a truly magical invention. While air conditioners were invented in 1902, they wouldn’t find their way into cars until Packard started offering them in the 1940s. By 1969, more than 50% of new cars sold had an air conditioning unit. 

But how do portable air conditioners even work? 

Before we compare the best portable air conditioners available on Amazon, I’ll briefly explain the science behind the three main types of air conditioners used in automobiles today.  

Image sourced from Auto Mobile Mag

Fan Coolers

Automotive fan coolers are simply a more portable type of fan cooler. As you can see from simply watching them operate, they are designed to move air around quickly – creating a refreshing breeze that will cool you down. 

Bucket Fans

If you are willing to spend some extra pennies for a good fan cooler, you can find oscillating fans (that rotate) or a bucket fan. Bucket fans are a type of cooler fan with a bucket for ice water. 

The fan blows air through the ice, creating a cool breeze or a gentle mist that cools you down. Before investing in any old bucket fan, you’ll need to make sure it’s got a sealable water container. Otherwise, a sharp brake will coat you and your pride and joy in ice-cold water.

Rooftop Air Conditioners 

Browsing Amazon, you might notice plenty of ‘out the window’ air conditioners units. As the name implies, these units literally hang out the window of your vehicle. These units are as large as a 1990’s TV, with their own compressor, evaporator, and thermostat included in-unit. 

HOWEVER. 

While this bulky unit might seem tempting, TheCarXpert does not recommend rooftop air conditioners for cars. These air conditioners reduce your visibility while driving, and if badly installed, they can fall out onto the road. Yikes.  Although rooftop air conditions might be powerful, they are only suitable for campers and RVs – so we won’t be reviewing any of these today. 


Installing & Maintaining Your Air Conditioner Safely

Once you’ve chosen the best portable air conditioner for your vehicle, it’s important to install the unit safely and according to the manufacturer’s instructions. To help you out, here are some hot (or rather, cool) tips: 

Clip-on Air Conditioners

Clip-on air conditioners are super easy to install, but to ensure they don’t move, make sure you: 

  • Secure the clip to rubber, fabric, or a surface with high friction. 
  • Keep the fan upright so its weight won’t lose the clip as it runs. 
  • Always use the entire clip where possible. 

Tripod Air Conditioners

Tripod air conditioners are extremely flexible, which is great! To ensure they don’t move, make sure you: 

  • Wrap the legs around their anchor multiple times. 
  • Keep the unit upright to prevent gravity from loosening it. 

Adhesive mounted Air Conditioners

Bucket air conditioners can be tricky to install in any car. Thankfully, double-sided adhesive tape is perfect. To install your air conditioner, you simply:

  • Wipe both the dashboard and the fan base clean, and let them dry. 
  • Peel the adhesive off side-by-side and mount carefully. 
  • Leave the mount for two hours to dry before operating the fan

Maintaining Your Air Conditioner

Maintaining your air conditioner is really important. The better you care for your unit, the longer it will last. Here are some tips to get the most out of your unit.

  1. Clean the blades of the fan before setting it up. If you’ve left your cooler in storage, it might blow a faceful of dust if you don’t.
  2. Wash out the tank of a bucket fan regularly. Although you might just be putting water in your bucket fan, mold and bacteria can still build up.
  3. Keep the battery dry. This is self-explanatory, but ensure your unit’s batteries stay dry, as they will rust if exposed to water.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

In this section, we will briefly answer some common questions about portable air conditioners. If your question isn’t answered here, feel free to ask it over on our Facebook page

What portable air conditioner is the quietest? 

The quietest portable air conditioner is the SmartDevil USB fan, which only generates 50 decibels on it’s highest setting. If you require a battery-operated air conditioner, the GQQG Personal Air Conditioner only generates 55 decibels at maximum speed. 

How do portable air conditioners work?

Portable air conditioners come in three types: air conditioner, bucket fan, and fan. Air conditioners use refrigerant to generate cold air, while bucket fans blow air over ice to create cold air. Fans simply replace hot air with cold air, generated by spinning. 

Which portable air conditioner is the most energy-efficient? 

The Reyo Portable Air Conditioner is the most energy-efficient portable air conditioner, as it runs at 1W on the lowest setting and 8W on the highest setting. If you are looking for a USB powered fan, the SmartDevil USB fan is also fairly energy-efficient, running at 5W on the highest setting. 

Which portable air conditioner is the best value? 

If you are looking to mount an air conditioner in your car, the Semoic Car Fan is the best value air conditioner, as it sticks to your dashboard with adhesive and retails for less than $15. For a more flexible and portable option, the SkyGenius Clip On Cooler is the next best budget buy. 

How long do portable air conditioners last? 

Portable air conditioners used on the lowest setting will last the longest. If the unit is built with plastic, it will last you 1 – 2 years before needing replacing. If you only need an air conditioner short term, a budget buy will be more than enough. However, if you need an air conditioner that will last you 2 – 4 years, we recommend investing in an air conditioner built with higher quality plastic, fibreglass or steel. 

How to stop the portable air conditioner from falling?

When installing a portable air conditioner in your vehicle, it is essential to ensure it is secured either with adhesive or a clip that holds it in place. Many fans clip onto air conditioner vents, while others cling to your seat headrests. If you are looking to mount your air conditioner on the dashboard, we recommend either suction cup or adhesive mounting.  

Do portable air conditioners have to be emptied?

If you invest in a bucket fan as a portable air conditioner, it will need to be refilled with water or ice after 5 – 7 hours of use. In a very hot climate, you will need to empty the ice from the air conditioner after it melts into warm water. For air conditioners that use filters, we recommend cleaning the filter every few months. Otherwise, you will accidentally get a face full of dust when you turn it on next. 


Conclusion

When choosing the best portable air conditioner for your vehicle, the best choice for you is subjective. For some drivers, a single dashboard-mounted fan is more than enough, while other drivers will need to consider a fan that reaches the backseat.

Whether you’re looking to invest in a high-quality cooler or a budget buy, TheCarXpert recommends choosing an air conditioner that:

  • Has a warranty of at least six months
  • Won’t distract you while driving
  • Can be secured in place with either a clip, adhesive tape or a tripod.

If you’d like to read more of our buying guides, please see our speaker guide here and our guide to your first car here.

Karie is the happy owner of a funky 2018 Nissan Juke Ti-S AWD. After growing up around her family’s mechanics shop, she is passionate about bringing budget-friendly car care to every driver. Karie has a business degree and is a lifelong wakeboarder from the sticks.

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