Best Tent Air Conditioner to Beat The Heat Outdoors

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Camping in the warmer months can be both a blessing and a curse. Hot days mean shorts, swimming, and cold drinks, but hot nights can make sleeping in a tent a real pain. With the best tent air conditioners on the market, you can have your cake and eat it too.
The Black + Decker Portable Air Conditioner: Our Best Choice Overall

This is The Wise Adventurer’s guide to the best tent air conditioners on the market today. Tent air conditioners turn sleeping outdoors into a true luxury: No matter how hot and humid it gets outside the tent, an AC unit lets you bask in climate-controlled bliss inside your shelter day and night.

After testing and analyzing dozens of tent air conditioners on the market, we found the Black + Decker 4,000 BTU portable AC to be the best tent air conditioner overall. We love the Black + Decker’s combination of high power, reliability, and price.

Of course the Black + Decker won’t be everyone’s first choice, and that’s alright. Some folks have larger tents that require more powerful air conditioners, some folks prefer window-mounted units, and some folks don’t need a full-sized AC unit at all. That’s why we put together the list below, which includes something for every kind of camper on any size budget.

If you’re new to the tent air conditioner concept (or just want to learn more about it), make sure to check out our handy buyer’s guide down at the bottom. Different ACs use different technologies, and there are a lot of “tech words” you’ll want to familiarize yourself with before taking the plunge. Our guide explains the different types of tent air conditioners out there, gives guidelines on how to choose the right type and size AC for your tent, and breaks down some of the common terms and phrases you’ll see when you’re shopping for a tent air conditioner. If you are not sure which tent you need to pair with your AC your unit, don’t forget to check our reviews of the best tents with AC port!

Right, let’s get to it!

Air ConditionerBenefits
Black + Decker 4,000 BTU Portable AC: Best Tent Air Conditioner OverallThis AC unit combines all the essential features of a good tent AC into a portable and easy-to-use unit. A brand you can trust at a solid price point. See Review
Honeywell HL10: Best Overall Quality10,000 BTU of cooling power combined with premium feature and a sleek design. This air conditioner is lacking nothing for campers with larger family tents. See Review
SereneLife SLPAC8: Best Tent Air Conditioner On A BudgetA high-powered unit with premium features at an affordable price. Multiple output modes and a dehumidifier bring added versatility. See Review
LG 115V Window Air Conditioner: Best Window AC UnitA powerful and compact window unit from a brand we know and trust. Premium features like remote operation and oscillation make for a well-rounded and surprisingly affordable unit. See Review
Amazon Basics Window AC: Best Window Unit On A BudgetEverything you need and nothing you don’t. Amazon Basics delivers on a simple window-style unit with a no-fuss design. See Review
Honeywell CO48PM: Best Evaporative Tent Air ConditionerAn evaporative air cooler with serious power. Capable of cooling even the largest tents at a fraction of the energy cost. See Review
Vivibyan Personal Air Cooler: Best Evaporative AC On A BudgetA personal-sized air cooler that’s outrageously affordable. Compact and efficient enough to cool small tents using battery power. See Review

Best Tent Air Conditioners

Black + Decker Portable Air Conditioner: Best Tent Air Conditioner Overall

Specs:
AC Type: Portable
Cooling capacity: 4,000 BTU
Recommended tent size: Up to 12 person
Power: Plug-in AC
Size: 17” x 12” x 26” (43cm x 30cm x 66cm)
Weight: 52.9 lbs (24 kg)
Price: $$

Portable air conditioners are the most versatile and best suited for use in a tent, and none is more popular or more highly regarded than the Black + Decker Portable Air Conditioner. The Black + Decker unit may seem nearly identical to your typical portable unit at first glance, but it takes our top spot for good reason.

First and foremost, we love the power-to-price ratio of this unit. The Black + Decker isn’t the cheapest unit out there, but it’s the most cost-effective unit you’ll find from a brand you know and trust. At 4,000 BTU, this tent air conditioner is built to handle large cabin tents up to 12 persons, but it’s not overkill for smaller family camping tents like 6 or 8 person models either.

As far as features go, the Black + Decker checks all the most important boxes. Set-up is quick and easy for pretty much any type of tent thanks to the included intake duct and window mounting kit. Ownership is easy thanks to the maintenance-free dehumidifier that never needs to be monitored or emptied by hand, and living with the Black + Decker is a pleasure thanks to its blissfully quiet “sleep mode” setting that keeps fan noise to a minimum while you snooze.

For 99% of campers looking for a tent air conditioner, there really aren’t any cons to the Black + Decker. Yes, it costs a little more than your typical window unit (and a lot more than your usual evaporative cooler), but because it specs a lower cooling capacity than your typical portable AC, it’s actually more affordable than most. 4,000 BTU is plenty for most tents, but if you’ve got one of those backcountry castles that sleep over 12 people (or a bell tent with tons of extra ceiling space), you might need something with a little more juice.

Pros:Cons:
– Built-in dehumidifier is maintenance-free
– Super quiet sleep mode available
– Included kit makes set-up easy
– Not the cheapest option
– Larger tents (12 people and up) with higher ceilings may require more power



Honeywell HL10: Highest Overall Quality

Specs:
AC Type: Portable
Cooling capacity: 10,000 BTU
Recommended tent size: 10 person or higher
Power: Plug-in AC
Size: 19” x 16” x 31” (48cm x 41cm x 29cm)
Weight: 64 lbs (29 kg)
Price: $$$

Did somebody say more power? The Honeywell HL10 is here to deliver.

With 10,000 BTU of cooling capacity, the Honeywell HL10 is more than capable of cooling even the largest and tallest tents on the market in the hottest conditions. This is essentially a premium home AC unit, so it’s built to handle large spaces and comes equipped with all kinds of premium bonus features.

Multiple fan modes, digital controls, remote control, a built in dehumidifier, and duel air filters all come stock on this powerhouse. We also love that the Honeywell HL10 comes equipped with automatic vertical oscillation, which helps blow air evenly around large tents with multiple rooms. Setup is quick and easy with this unit as well thanks to a pre-assembled hot-air exhaust hose than expands from as short as 11” out to as far as 59”.

So yes, you could certainly argue that the Honeywell HL10 has it all, but if you’re interested in this premium unit, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind: First, this kind of quality and performance comes at a cost, and the Honeywell is significantly more expensive than other portable units on our list. Second, this is a big and powerful unit, and as such, it takes up more space than other options. It’s not ridiculously huge or heavy, but it is several inches wider and taller than other portable options on our list. We figure it’s going in a large tent anyways, so chances are you’ve got the room to spare, but keep the Honeywell’s dimensions in mind as you plan your layout.

Pros:Cons:
– Premium features throughout
– Higher cooling capacity than most
– Built in dehumidifier doesn’t require draining
– Larger footprint than most
– Overkill for anything smaller than a 10 person cabin
– Expensive



SereneLife SLPAC8: Best On A Budget

Specs:
AC Type: Portable
Cooling capacity: 8,000 BTU
Recommended tent size: 6 person or higher
Power: Plug in AC
Size: 16” x 14” x 27” (41cm x 36cm x 69cm)
Weight: 46.3 lbs (21 kg)
Price: $$

If you’re sold on a portable-style tent air conditioner but prefer to save your money for gear and firewood, check out this portable unit from SereneLife. The SereneLife SLPAC8 is the least expensive option on our list, yet still manages to crank out 8,000 BTU of power, which is more than enough to cool even the largest tents out there.

We were pleasantly surprised by the amount of premium features SereneLife engineered into the SLPAC8 for the money. It’s got smooth-rolling caster wheels for easy transportation, multiple operating modes including a fan and dehumidifier, a swing/oscillation function for better airflow throughout the tent, and even a remote control that lets you tweak the temperature without leaving your bed.

It’s also worth noting that although this SereneLife unit packs a serious punch, it’s surprisingly portable and compact. Dimensions wise, the SLPAC8 is roughly the same size as our list-topping Black + Decker, yet weighs several pounds less and cools a much larger area.

As far as drawbacks go, the SereneLife AC isn’t pulling any punches, but it’s got the kind of flaws you might expect from a budget option. Most notably for us is the need to manually drain the SereneLife’s water tank: You can probably get away with a full weekend of AC without touching the catch bucket, but if you’re camping in particularly hot and humid conditions (or planning on running the dehumidifier) you’ll likely have to drain the unit at least once every 48 hours. Aside from that we’ll also note that the overall quality of this unit isn’t quite on par with established brands like Black + Decker or LG. That means it runs a bit noisier, doesn’t have the same sleek fit and finish, and likely won’t last quite as long either. Still, if you’re only planning to use the unit when you’re out camping, it should provide you with many seasons of faithful service.

Pros:Cons:
– Outstanding power output
– Budget-friendly
– Premium features like remote control and oscillation
– Requires manual draining
– Fit and finish (materials, design, etc.)  not on par with established brands
– Noisier than some



LG 115V Window Air Conditioner: Best Window Tent Air Conditioner

Specs:
AC Type: Window
Cooling capacity: 6,000 BTU
Recommended tent size: Up to 14 person models
Power: Plug in AC
Size: 14” x 18” x 11” (36cm x 46cm x 28cm)
Weight: 39.6 lbs (17.9 kg)
Price: $

Window AC units aren’t for everyone, but for the folks who can make them work, you stand to gain quite a lot in terms of value and performance. Our favorite pick for a window tent air conditioner, the LG 115V Window AC, is the perfect example of what a window unit can do for you.

For starters, even as a rock-solid unit from a premium brand, this window AC costs less than even the most budget-friendly portable unit, yet still packs an impressive 6,000 BTU of cooling power. That’s plenty for even the largest 14-person cabin tents, yet costs about half of what you’d normally pay to cool one using a portable AC.

On top of that, this LG window AC is also surprisingly light and compact. We were pleased to note that the entire unit weighs less than 40 pounds (which makes it relatively easy to haul to and from the tent), and is just 17-inches wide on its business end.

We don’t really have any complaints to register with this LG window unit aside from those that come with any window-style tent air conditioner: Mounting these units properly can be a hassle, especially if your tent isn’t specifically designed to work with a window-style AC unit. That means you’ll likely have to get creative with how you position the LG, and you’ll also need to be mindful of keeping the electronics on the front-facing end out of the weather. Still, if you’ve already a window-unit camper and you want a reliable performer for your next outing, this LG is tough to beat.

Pros:Cons:
– Affordable
– LG reliability
– Surprisingly quiet
– Typical window unit mounting hurdles
– Limited applications  



Amazon Basics Window AC: Best Window Tent Air Conditioner On A Budget

Specs:
AC Type: Window
Cooling capacity: 5,000 BTU
Recommended tent size: Up to 12 person
Power: AC
Size: 16” x 13” x 12” (41cm x 33cm x 30cm)
Weight: 35.3 lbs (16 kg)
Price: $

Amazon is always expanding their line of affordable everyday goods under their in-house “Amazon Basics” brand, and their 5,000 BTU window AC is as affordable as they come.

Cooling a tent doesn’t need to be fancy, and the Amazon Basics Window AC is a no-frills no-problem solution that’ll get the job done. This unit sports a respectable 5,000 BTU cooling capacity, which is plenty for a large cabin tent with multiple rooms.

For your money you’ll also get a decent level of adjustability: This Amazon Basics air conditioner allows you to select both temperature settings and fan speed settings, and also allows for the manual adjustment of the air direction itself. Maintenance is simple and straightforward, with a single washable/reusable filter keeping the dust and dander outside where it belongs.

If simplicity is your bag, you’ll likely have no complaints about this window-mounted unit, but you should know that when Amazon says “basics”, that’s exactly what they mean: all of this unit’s controls and settings are selected by hand from the front of the unit. There’s nothing flashy or sleek about the design, although truth be told that’s to be expected from any window unit. It’s also worth noting here that if you’re not a lover of background noise while you sleep, you may want to keep looking: This AC unit is definitely the noisiest of the bunch even on its lowest setting. Still, if you don’t mind a little “white noise” while you sleep, there’s just no cheaper way to get into a high-powered tent AC.

Pros:Cons:
– Dirt cheap
– Gets the job done
– Light and compact
– Noisy
– Build quality matches price
– No remote control



Honeywell CO48PM: Best Evaporative Air Conditioner

Specs:
AC Type: Evaporative
Cooling capacity: N/A
Recommended tent size: 10 person or larger
Power: Plug in AC
Size: 24” x 15” x 35” (61cm x 38cm x 89cm)
Weight: 30.9 lbs (14kg)
Price: $$

Alright, we’ve covered the usual suspects for the best tent conditioner, but now let’s talk about an unusual one: Evaporative air conditioners. Specifically, the Honeywell CO48PM.

Evaporative air conditioners (also called “swamp coolers”) leverage the power of water evaporation to naturally lower air temperature. Typically these units are popular in large-scale projects like warehouse cooling or open outdoor areas, but they’re actually a surprisingly viable option for tents as well.

Evaporative cooling air conditioners aren’t rated in BTUs, but this full-sized Honeywell is rated to cool areas up to 610 square feet. While the actual cooling effect of an evaporative cooling system won’t be quite as dramatic as a refrigerant-powered AC unit, that still means the Honeywell CO48PM has the equivalent cooling power of a 14,000 BTU air conditioner, which makes it ideal for even the largest tents out there.

The best part about evaporative cooling is that is uses significantly less energy (about 80% less) than traditional air conditioning, which can be a big plus if you’re paying for metered power at a campsite. Units like this Honeywell are also great to have around the campsite because they do double duty as a powerful cooling fan outside the tent (imagine a constant cool breeze while you eat at the picnic table).

The Honeywell CO48PM is our favorite evaporative option due to its outright power and versatility, but it’s also got a few shortcomings you’ll want to be aware of. For starters, there’s no easy way to direct air outside of the tent, which means you’ll be relying on your tent’s ventilation for air circulation. The second downside is that the initial cost of this Honeywell is about the same as a premium portable AC unit. You’ll definitely see some savings in energy costs over time if you camp fairly often though, so it’s a great option for folks who camp often in larger tents.

Pros:Cons:
– Incredibly powerful evaporative cooling option
– Uses less electric power than traditional AC units
– Doubles as a great cooler outside the tent
– No outside air routing options
– Similar cost to high end portable AC units



Vivibyan Personal Air Cooler: Best Evaporative AC On A Budget

Specs:
AC Type: Evaporative
Cooling capacity: N/A
Recommended tent size: Up to 2 person
Power: Plug in AC or USB
Size: 6” x 6” x 7” (15cm x 15cm x 18cm)
Weight: 2.5 lbs (1.3 kg)
Price: $

On the opposite end of the evaporative cooling spectrum, we’ve got the Vivigyan Personal Air Cooler. This is a cool evaporative AC option with a unique trick up it’s sleeve: It’s truly portable, and built for personal (as in one person) use.

It’s so portable, in fact, that it makes a great candidate for tent air conditioning in small one and two-person tents! The overall cooling output of this little unit is arguably too small to measure, but it’s great for blowing cool air directly at one or two people, so cooling “the whole tent” really isn’t the point. This also makes it great for van life on a budget or for a power-conscious build.

We also love the Vivigyan Personal Air Cooler because it draws so little power, it can be run off a standard USB port. That means you can run it as a night time AC unit off a standard lithium power bank, so you don’t even need access to electrical hookups to stay cool. Talk about eco-friendly.

Drawbacks of this unit all ultimately come from its compact size and comparatively small power output. Unlike the Honeywell above with it’s 10+ gallon water tank, the Vivigyan uses a compact water reservoir that needs refilling after a few hours of use. A full tank (preferably with a few ice cubes thrown in the mix) provides up to six hours of cooling though, so it’s great to fill and leave on overnight as you sleep. The Vivigyan also happens to be the least expensive (by a long shot) tent air conditioner on this list, so even with its limitations, it’s a smart investment.

Pros:Cons:
– Inexpensive
– Small tent friendly
– Can run on battery power
– Personal use only
– Evaporative cooling requires water/ice  



Buyer’s Guide For The Best Tent Air Conditioners

Have we piqued your interest in tent air conditioners yet? It’s never too late to start spoiling yourself with a tent-mounted AC, but if you’re still not sure where to start your search for the perfect unit, here are the essentials you’ll want to know.

Air Conditioner Types

Generally speaking, you’ve got two main options when it comes to tent air conditioners: Portable AC units, or traditional “window” style air conditioners.

We overwhelmingly prefer the portable design option due to its outright versatility, but if you own or are considering buying a tent with built-in window-unit compatibility like the Bushnell Shield Series, window units can be a great option that will save you some serious money.

Example of Portable AC unit: The Black + Decker
Example of Window style AC unit: The LG 115V

As you’ll note above, you’ve also got an interesting third option in evaporative air coolers. Technically these units aren’t actual “air conditioners” as they don’t use compressors or refrigerant, but they do blow cool air and noticeably reduce the internal temperature of your tent. The main perk of evaporative coolers (aka “swamp coolers”) is that they consume dramatically less power, so if you’re looking to conserve energy, cost, or both, an evaporative cooler is a great option.

Power/Cooling Capacity

Cooling capacity is typically measured in “BTU” which is short for British Thermal Units. Knowing the cooling capacity of your AC unit is important, because it tells you how much space your air conditioner can reliably cool.

You’ll want to calculate your tent’s total floor space in square footage, then use that number to determine how much power your air conditioner will need. On average, you need about 23 BTU of power per square foot of floor space to keep your tent cool. You can use the chart below for reference, or just multiply the floor dimensions of your tent together, then multiply that number by 23 to get an idea. So for a 15’ x 15’ floor, you would get:

(15’ x 15’) = (225 sq. ft) (x 23 BTU) = 5,175 BTU

Tent Floor DimensionsFloor Space (sq. ft.)Recommended BTU
10’ x 10’1002,300
10’ x 15’1503,450
16’ x 16’2565,888

Most portable AC units run well over 5,000 BTU, and are able to handle pretty much any tent on the market. Remember it’s ok to have an AC with more power than you need, just make sure you don’t buy one with too little.

Ease Of Set-up

Most tents aren’t actually designed to accommodate AC units, so ease of set-up for your air conditioner should be a big part of your decision. Setting up an AC unit always requires two things: First, you have to be able to run power to the air conditioner itself, and second, you have to be able to route cool air into your tent from outside.

Portable AC unit = Connection to an air duct required

We generally recommend portable AC units because they utilize flexible air ducts that can be easily routed in and out of your tent. You can get as creative as you want here: The fast and easy way is to simply route your duct outside a door of the tent, then zip the door down around it to minimize weather and bug encroachment. Tents with screen rooms are particularly useful in this regard, as their bonus screen rooms provide both the ventilation and weather protection you need.

Photo by The Instructables

As stated above, window units are also an option, although because they need to be partially outside of the tent to work properly, they’re a little trickier to mount.

Noise

Tent air conditioners vary in the amount of noise they produce, but at the end of the day, none of them are silent. Many air conditioner companies will list the amount of noise their units produce rated in decibels (abbreviated dB), and the dB level of an AC can give you a good idea of how much noise to expect.

AC units noise is coming from the fans

For reference, the average noise level of a regular human voice is about 60 dB, and the average whisper is about 25 dB. Many AC units feature “quiet modes” that run at 50dB or below, which is comfortable for most users. Keep in mind though that the quiet mode of an AC is also the lowest fan speed setting, so if you plan on running your AC on high throughout the night, expect considerably more noise.

Portability

Unless you’re looking at truly “portable” option like a personal swamp cooler, the term “portability” is kind of a misnomer when we talk about even the best tent air conditioner. That’s because most air conditioning units weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of 45 pounds (give or take a few), and stand around three feet tall.

Ultimately, when factoring in the portability of your tent air conditioner, we recommend taking the dimensions of both your tent and your vehicle into the equation and shopping from there. If you’ve got enough space in your vehicle to transport your AC, and enough space inside your tent to set it up (all furniture and sleeping arrangements considered), portability isn’t a big concern. With that being said, make sure that the unit you buy is one you’re able to lift and move yourself, as those handy castor wheels found on most AC units won’t do you much good on dirt or a crunchy tent floor.

Conclusion

Taking all the above features into consideration, we found that the Black + Decker 4,000 BTU portable AC was the best tent air conditioner overall on the market. We love the Black + Decker’s combination of cooling power, reliability, and overall price compared with the competition.

If you’re looking for something a little more premium (and powerful) than the Black + Decker, check out the Honeywell HL10. With its sleek design, premium features, and impressive 10,000 BTU output, the HL10 is an absolute powerhouse of a tent air conditioner from a brand we know and trust.

Our Highest Quality Pick: The Honeywell HL10

And, of course, if you’re looking to keep your tent cool this season but don’t want to spend a fortune doing it, the SereneLife portable AC provides a great combination of convenient features, versatile output modes, and budget-friendly pricing.

If you’ve got your heart set on a tent air conditioner, but we haven’t convinced you to go the portable AC route, remember you’ve still got options. If you’re leaning toward a window style unit, the LG 115V Air Conditioner above delivers brand-name reliability and plenty of power on a shoestring budget. Remember you’ve always got the option of using an evaporative cooling alternative as well, and the Honeywell CO48PM delivers unmatched cooling without running up the power bill.

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