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The Best Portable Car AC you can buy today! (2024)

On a scorching Summer day, the sweltering heat practically barbecued us during our car camping trip. Unable to bear the scorching temperatures, we decided to cut our trip short before succumbing to dizziness. Unfortunately, our car’s AC couldn’t provide sufficient relief either, leaving us waiting for hours to experience a hint of coolness. This unforgettable experience made me believe that camping in summers was simply unbearable. However, our saving grace came in the form of portable car AC, some of which can even be used inside small tents.

After extensively researching and testing various models, we have compiled a detailed review of the best portable car ACs available. Save yourself from the agony we endured and read along to find the perfect solution for your next car trip!

Best Portable Car AC Air Conditioners

Product NameBrandRatingCooling MethodSpecial FeaturesGet Price
Evapolar evaCHILLEVAPOLAR3.6/5EvaporativeHumidifier, Eco-friendlyAMAZON
Evapolar EvaLIGHT PlusEVAPOLAR3.5/5EvaporativeHumidifier, Timer functionAMAZON
Arctic Air Ultra EvaporativeONTEL3.4/5EvaporativeLightweight, Hydro-Chill TechAMAZON
SereneLife SLPAC8SERENELIFE4.4/5Traditional ACDehumidifier, Heater modeAMAZON
RecPro RV Air ConditionerRECPRO4.5/5Traditional ACHeat Pump, Large coolingAMAZON
Best Portable Air Conditioner Breakdown

Honorable Mention of 2024: EcoFlow Wave 2 Portable Air Conditioner

The Best Portable Car AC you can buy today! (2024)

So, we decided to give the EcoFlow Wave 2 model a shot in late 2023 after seeing all the amazing reviews from influencers online. And guess what? It totally lived up to the hype (at least on one aspect!) This thing is seriously portable, with a built-in battery that can keep things cool or hot for a solid 6-7 hours. Plus, you don’t even need to worry about venting it out a window. It’s perfect for cars, tents, RVs, and even those semi-enclosed spaces like seasonal patios.

Now, here’s the thing. We didn’t include the EcoFlow Wave 2 in our top options because, well, it’s not as powerful as the others we’ve talked about. We encountered a situation where the AC heating system failed to activate when the surrounding temperature fell below 5 degrees Celsius (deal-breaker for me, totally!). But if portability and long battery life are your main priorities, then this is definitely a fantastic choice.

1. SereneLife SLPAC8 Portable Air Conditioner

Portable AC SLPAC8

The SereneLife SLPAC8 Portable air conditioner is arguably the best option on this list for car camping, but it does have some features that don’t make it suitable for everyone. It can be used as both an air conditioner and a heater, making it a great all-season option. The unit also has a built-in dehumidifier, which has helped to reduce the humidity in my home and make it feel more comfortable.

The control panel is easy to use and allows us to adjust the temperature and fan speed to our liking. The remote control is also a convenient feature that allows you to adjust settings from anywhere in your vehicle.

It is the most powerful air conditioner so far and unlike the evaporative coolers it works like a traditional air conditioner and can remove moisture and allergens from the air.

One of the biggest drawbacks is the power supply, as this unit requires to be plugged into an outlet that some vehicles or unpowered camp sites don’t provide. This is our choice for larger cars or vans with it’s ability to cool a much larger space, pairing this with a large battery bank or portable power station is best if you are travelling to unpowered sites frequently.


  1. Versatility: Can be used as both an air conditioner and heater, making it a great all-season option.
  2. Ease of use: The control panel and remote control make it easy to adjust the temperature and fan speed to your liking.
  3. Built-in dehumidifier: Helps to reduce humidity and improve the overall comfort level of your home.
  4. Reliability: The unit has received positive reviews and has proven to be a reliable and efficient air conditioning option.


  1. Size: The unit may be too large or heavy for some users to store in smaller vehicles.
  2. Noise level: Some users have reported that the unit can be quite loud, which may be a concern for those who are sensitive to noise.
  3. Energy efficiency: The unit may not be as energy efficient as some other air conditioning options, and requires a powered site or battery bank.
  4. Price: It’s more expensive than some other portable air conditioner options on our list, but is by far the most practical and feature packed.


When reviewing the SereneLife Portable Air Conditioner it was available on Amazon for $311.65 USD including the option of free delivery. Although more expensive than the evaporative coolers on our list this is a lot more effective with additional features giving it plenty of value for money. For up to date pricing see the SereneLife Portable Air Conditioner listing.

2. Evapolar evaCHILL Portable Conditioner

Evachill portable AC

The Evapolar evaCHILL is compact and portable, making it easy to use and take in a car or van for those camping trips and overnight stays.

One of the standout features of the evaCHILL is its ability to both cool and humidify the air. It uses a natural evaporation process to cool the air and add moisture, making it a great alternative to traditional air conditioners that can dry out the air. This device is energy efficient and easy to operate, with a simple one-button control panel.

The Evapolar evaCHILL is a great choice for anyone looking for a portable and eco-friendly way to cool and humidify their car.


  1. Compact and portable: The device is small and lightweight, making it easy to take with you wherever you go.
  2. Energy efficient: The evaCHILL uses a natural evaporation process to cool and humidify the air, making it a more energy-efficient alternative to traditional air conditioners.
  3. Eco-friendly: Because it uses evaporation rather than chemical refrigerants, the evaCHILL is more environmentally friendly than traditional air conditioners.
  4. Two-in-one: The device not only cools the air, but also adds moisture to the air to help combat dryness.
  5. Easy to operate: The evaCHILL has a simple one-button control panel, making it easy to use and adjust to your desired settings.


  1. Limited cooling power: Because it uses a natural evaporation process to cool the air, the evaCHILL may not be as powerful as traditional air conditioners. It may not be suitable for use in extremely hot or humid environments.
  2. Limited coverage area: The device is designed for use in small to medium-sized rooms and may not be suitable for cooling larger spaces.
  3. Requires regular maintenance: The evaCHILL uses water to cool and humidify the air, so it will need to be refilled regularly. It also requires regular cleaning to maintain its performance.
  4. May not be suitable for dry climates: Because the evaCHILL adds moisture to the air, it may not be suitable for use in very dry climates where increased humidity is not desired.


At the time of reviewing the Evapolar evaCHILL the unit was available on Amazon at a list price of $95 USD, making it a relatively cheap option in this list. For up to date pricing make sure to see the evaCHILL listing.

3. Evapolar EvaLIGHT Plus

The Evapolar EvaLIGHT evaporative humidifier and air conditioner is a great small and lightweight solution for cooling your car. It effectively cools and humidifies the air in your car, making it much more comfortable to breathe whilst reducing the overall temperature.

It is very easy to use with a simple control panel and a timer function. The water tank is easy to fill and has a handy low water indicator, the tank size is also bigger than the EvaCHILL counterpart meaning less frequent maintenance.


  1. Portable: The EvaLIGHT is small and lightweight, making it easy to transport and set up in a variety of locations, such as tents, cars or vans.
  2. Effective: The unit is able to effectively cool and humidify the air, improving the comfort level in the surrounding area.
  3. Easy to use: With a simple control panel with three fan speeds and a timer function, making it easy to operate.
  4. Low maintenance: The water tank is easy to fill and the unit has a low water indicator to let you know when it needs to be refilled.
  5. Sleek design: This is one of the prettiest devices with a sleek design that fits in well with a variety of surroundings.


  1. Limited cooling ability: While the unit is able to effectively cool and humidify the air, it may not be able to provide the same level of cooling as a traditional air conditioner.
  2. Water usage: The unit relies on water to function, so it may require frequent refills depending on the humidity level and usage.
  3. Limited coverage: The unit is designed for small areas, so it may not be effective in larger spaces.
  4. Noise: Some users have reported that the unit can be noisy, particularly on the highest fan speed setting.
  5. Cost: The unit may be more expensive than other humidifiers or air conditioners on the market.


At the time of writing the EvaLight evaporative cooler was for sale for $128.45 USD inclusive of a 14% discount from its regular list price of of $149 USD. For up to date pricing visit the Evapolar EvaLight listing.

4. Arctic Air Ultra Evaporative Air Cooler

The Ontel Artic Air Ultra Evaporative Portable Air Cooler is a compact, personal air conditioner designed to provide relief from hot and humid conditions. It operates using a simple evaporation system, which uses a fan to draw in hot, humid air and pass it through a wet filter, cooling and moisturizing the air as it passes through. The cooled, moist air is then blown out of the unit, providing a refreshing cooling effect similar to that of traditional air conditioners.

One of the main benefits of this air conditioner is its portability and its energy efficiency, using minimal electricity to operate.

Overall, the Ontel Evaporative Portable Air Conditioner is a practical and effective solution for those looking to cool their car camping setup or stay comfortable in hot and humid conditions. It is reasonably priced, being one of the cheapest options we’ve reviewed and has received mostly positive reviews from users, with many praising its effectiveness and ease of use.


  1. Effective cooling and moisturizing of air through evaporation system.
  2. Simple, one-button control panel and LED display.
  3. Compact, lightweight design allows for easy movement from room to room.
  4. Reasonably priced compared to other portable air conditioners.


  1. Not as effective as more expensive alternatives, although this helps keep temperatures down to an extent it seems to be lacking the power of other devices.
  2. Noise: Some users have reported that the air conditioner can be noisy, particularly when it is first turned on.
  3. Limited features: The air conditioner has basic features, such as a timer and temperature display, but does not have more advanced features like a remote control or air purification.
  4. Limited cooling capacity: The air conditioner is designed for personal use and is most effective in small, enclosed spaces. It may not be suitable for cooling larger rooms or areas.


At the time of review the Artic Air Ultra Evaporative air cooler was available on Amazon for $42.44, making it the cheapest option on our list. For up to date pricing checkout the listing for the Ontel Artic Air Ultra here.

5. RecPro RV Air Conditioner

Last is the RecPro Portable Air Conditioner, this is traditionally a RV air conditioner and is quite large in size making it not suitable for all vehicles. This is best for vans that have been converted to live in full time and is a great permanent solution.

The unit is versatile and can be used as both an air conditioner and heater, making it a great all-season option. This is especially useful for those travelling cross country or living in their vehicle full time to battle all the fluctuating temperatures.

It is easy to use and has a convenient remote control that allows you to adjust the temperature and fan speed from any where in your vehicle. The control panel is also easy to navigate and has a clear display that shows the current temperature and settings.

It also has a built-in dehumidifier, which helps to reduce the humidity in your vehicle along with a timer function, which allows me to set it to turn on or off at specific times.


  1. Large cooling capability: This air conditioner has a BTU rating of 15000BTU/ H making it extremely effective at cooling spaces.
  2. Ease of use: The control panel and remote control make it easy to adjust the temperature and fan speed to your liking.
  3. Built-in dehumidifier: Helps to reduce humidity and improve the overall comfort level of your home.
  4. Timer function: Allows you to set the unit to turn on or off at specific times.


  1. Installation: This unit requires the biggest amount of installation and in some cases will require cutting a hole in your vehicles roof.
  2. Size: This unit is quite big, making it unsuitable for smaller vehicles, however it is ideal for large vans such as Ford Transits or Mercedes Sprinters.
  3. Cost: At over $1,000 this is the most expensive option on our list.


During our review the RecPro RV Air Conditioner was available for $1,399.95 USD, making it the most expensive option on our list. The seller does offer buy now, pay later options which takes away some of the pain of the purchase. For up to date pricing see the listing on Amazon for the RecPro RV Air Conditioner.

What to look for when buying a portable aircon for your car?

When looking to buy a portable air conditioner for your car, there are a few key factors you need to consider. These include but are not limited to the following:


Portable air conditioners come in a range of sizes, so it is important to choose one that will fit comfortably in your vehicle without taking up too much precious space.

Cooling power

Cooling power is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units), and you’ll want to choose one that has enough power to cool your car effectively. The more BTUs a aircon has the more space it can cool

Energy efficiency

Portable air conditioners, especially high capacity ones, can be quite energy-intensive. With the limited access to power you have in most cars when camping it’s a good idea to look for one that is energy-efficient or low power consumption.

Ease of use

You’ll want to choose a portable air conditioner for your car that is easy to install and operate, with clear and straightforward controls. Most are user friendly and straight forwarded designed for user comfort. 


Portable air conditioners can vary drastically in price, so it’s important to consider your budget and needs to choose one that offers good value for money.

In general, it’s a good idea to do some research and read customer reviews before deciding on a portable air conditioner for your car, to ensure that you’re getting a high-quality product that will meet your individual needs.

How to use portable air conditioners in your car

Using a portable air conditioner for your car is a relatively straightforward process, with most simple to setup and use straight out of the box. Here are some the typical steps you’ll need to follow for most of the options in our list:

  1. First, make sure your portable air conditioner is fully charged and ready to use. This will typically involve plugging it into a power source, such as a car cigarette lighter or power outlet.
  2. Once the air conditioner is charged, place it in your car in a location where it will be able to effectively cool the air. This might be on the passenger floor, the dashboard, or on the center console. We’ve found having it situated higher up to feels more effective at cooling.
  3. Next, adjust the settings on the air conditioner to your desired level of cooling. Most will allow you to change setting the temperature, fan speed, and airflow. In most cases running extreme cooler temperatures will deplete the battery faster so it is important to choose a middle ground between coolness and power consumption
  4. Once the settings are adjusted to your liking, turn on the air conditioner and allow it to start cooling the air in your car.
  5. To maintain optimal cooling, you may need to occasionally adjust the settings on your portable air conditioner, or move it to a different location in your car. At night temperatures are less likely to fluctuate so less less attention.
  6. When you’re finished using the air conditioner, turn it off and unplug it from the power source (if not battery operated). Be sure to also clean and maintain the air conditioner according to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure it continues to work properly for years to come.

Note: portable air conditioners running off your car’s battery or 12v source can use a significant amount of power overnight. Having an additional battery system for your car is ideal to reduce the strain of power and avoid a flat battery next time you go to turn your car on. 

Benefits of a portable Air conditioners for car camping

There are many reasons you might opt for an air con over other cooling methods for car camping such as fans. Benefits of using a portable air conditioner in your car include:

Improved comfort 

A portable air conditioner can help to keep your car cool and comfortable on hot summer days, making your driving experience more enjoyable.

Better air quality

A portable air conditioner can help to improve the air quality in your car, with some systems designed to remove pollutants and allergens from the air.

Easy installation

Portable air conditioners are easy to install and can be transported just as easy. And unlike installing a permanent aircon system in your car or van, portable options allow for use in multiple vehicles.


Portable air conditioners are small and lightweight, so you can easily take them with you on camping or road trips.

Cost savings

Using a portable air conditioner in your car can save you money on fuel costs, as it can help to reduce the need for air conditioning from running your car’s engine.

Overall, using a portable air conditioner in your car can provide a range of benefits, making it a worthwhile investment for anyone looking to stay cool and comfortable while on the road.


In conclusion, portable air conditioners can be valuable additions to any car camping set-up from their benefits of improved comfort, better air quality, and cost savings. There are plenty of great portable air conditioners on the market to choose from, whether you’re looking for budget-friendly or a powerful and feature-packed model.

Before purchasing make sure to research and consider factors such as size, cooling power, and energy efficiency. This will allow you to find the perfect portable air conditioner for your car and start enjoying a cooler, more comfortable car camping experience.


Portable air conditioners for cars are specifically designed to be compact, lightweight, and energy-efficient for vehicular use. They often run on 12V power sources, like a car’s cigarette lighter, whereas home units typically require a standard electrical outlet.

The duration varies based on the air conditioner’s power consumption and the car battery’s capacity. However, running a portable air conditioner for extended periods without the engine running can drain the battery. It’s advisable to monitor battery levels and consider using an additional battery system if planning to use the air conditioner overnight.

Yes, many portable air conditioners are designed to be used while driving. However, ensure it’s securely placed to prevent it from moving or causing distractions. In most cases if your car or van is already fitted with a factory air conditioner it is ideal to run this.

Evaporative coolers use water to cool the air and work best in dry climates. They may not be as effective as traditional air conditioners, especially in humid conditions. However, they are generally more energy-efficient and eco-friendly.

Noise levels vary between models. While most portable air conditioners are designed to be relatively quiet, some users might find them noisy, especially on higher settings. It’s a good idea to check product reviews or specifications for noise level details.

Many portable air conditioners for cars can be powered using a car’s 12V outlet. For extended use or in areas without access to electricity, consider using a portable power station or battery bank.

Generally, it’s safe as long as there’s proper ventilation, and the unit doesn’t pose a risk of carbon monoxide exposure. Always ensure that the car is in a well-ventilated area and avoid running the car’s engine for extended periods in enclosed spaces.


  • Zaara

    Zaara, a kindred spirit of the open road, has nurtured a deep-seated love for RV travel since her childhood. Journeying with her parents, she learned early on to cherish the little things that make life rich and fulfilling. This emotional depth and appreciation for simplicity have become the cornerstone of her life philosophy. A firm believer in the idea that true happiness is found in nature's embrace, Zaara continues this legacy of exploration alongside her husband, Augustus. Her passion extends beyond landscapes to the joy of connecting with life's purest forms - the unconditional love of dogs and the innocence of babies. These connections reflect her nurturing soul and emotional acuity. Zaara is also a culinary enthusiast, delighting in creating meals that blend flavors from their travels, infusing each dish with memories and love. Her expertise lies in living fully, finding joy in every moment, and inspiring others to seek happiness in life's simple, natural wonders.

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