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14 Best Outdoor Air Conditioners for Decks, Patios, and More

The Hessaire MC37M Evaporative Cooler is an outdoor air conditioner capable of cooling a large outdoor space at an affordable rate. That said, other coolers like the VAGKRI Evaporative Cooler and Hessaire MC18M may also be preferable, depending on the user’s needs.

Best Outdoor Air Conditioners

Outdoor cooling can be a troubling prospect, particularly during the summers when the heat just won’t let up. Fortunately, you can use outdoor air conditioners to cool your outdoor patio, deck, or porch. The selection of outdoor air conditioners on the market is huge, which makes choosing one that fits your needs perfectly difficult. What follows is a comprehensive look at the 14 best outdoor AC units that you can consider when looking for a new cooling device.

Listed below are the best outdoor air conditioners:

  • Hessaire MC37M Evaporative Cooler: The Hessaire MC37M air cooler is excellent for large spaces with its ability to cool about 950 square feet and a high CFM rating of 3,100. Its high power may result in noticeable noise compared to Honeywell's portable evaporative cooler.
  • VAGKRI Evaporative Cooler: An air cooler boasting three cooling methods - water, air, and ice. Powerful cooling for up to 700 square feet. While its 8-gallon water tank allows for long-duration cooling, the instruction manual's clarity lags behind other models.
  • Honeywell Portable Evaporative Cooler: The Honeywell evaporative cooler has a compact design, ideal for medium-sized outdoor spaces. The smaller size and coverage area of only 350 square feet make it less effective for larger spaces compared to the Hessaire MC37M.
  • Hessaire MC18M Portable Evaporative Cooler:  The Hessaire MC18M is an affordable and lightweight option. It can cool medium to semi-large spaces, covering up to 500 square feet. This cooler has fewer secondary features, in comparison with the VAGKRI evaporative cooler.
  • Honeywell CO48PM Evaporative Cooler: Honeywell CO48PM is an evaporative cooler characterized by high-power cooling suitable for large areas and a hefty 10.6-gallon water tank for extended use. Mobility might become an issue due to its weight, unlike the lightweight Hessaire MC18M.

1. Best Overall: Hessaire MC37M Evaporative Cooler

The Hessaire MC37M evaporative cooler is an air conditioner geared for outdoor usage with a low-weight build for easy mobility. It is designed to be compact yet has enough power to cool about 950 square feet of space with no issues.

This portable air conditioner comes with four heavy-duty locking casters, further leaning into the mobility aspect of the air conditioner. I found that I could move it around my patio without much trouble, even with a full tank. If it suits your fancy, you can take the cooler along on a camping trip, as it is light and mobile enough for RVs.

As for its cooling capacity, the MC37M has a high CFM rating of 3,100. The fan in this cooling unit has three speeds and oscillating louvers for even distribution, comfort, and coverage. Both of these components can be controlled separately, allowing you a degree of control over the intensity of cooling. That said, I did find the cooler to be a little louder than what would be ideal.

The three sides of the unit have high-density cooling pads that increase evaporative surface area and spread cooler air. Moreover, you can attach a garden hose to the float adapter to make use of the continuous fill option. With this, you needn’t worry about repeated refills, as the cooler will do it for you.

Coverage Area: 750 Square Feet | CFM Rating: 3,100 | Power Consumption: 250 Watts | Reservoir Capacity: 10.3 Gallons | Number of Fan Speeds: 3

2. Best Powerful Cooler for a Moderate Price Range: VAGKRI Evaporative Cooler

The VAGKRI evaporative cooler uses three cooling methods to provide you with cool air: water, air, and ice. It can reduce ambient temperature, add humidity, and act as a fan when using these modes.

As for its power, the VAGKRI portable swamp cooler can cover up to 700 square feet of area at the rate of 2,100 CFM, which makes for powerful cooling with decent area coverage.

Furthermore, it has an intake panel on three of its sides that allows quick cooling and delivery of cold air through a powerful motor. Additionally, it has an 8-gallon water tank large enough to provide sufficient cooling, and it can store ice in a compartment for a chilling effect. The water tank can be filled manually or by using the continuous fill option that keeps the cooler running for hours on end.

Lastly, the portable air conditioner features a digital display paired with an electronic control panel to keep the operation simple. For secondary features, the VAGKRI cooler has multiple fan speeds to choose from, a timer for auto-shutdown, and a fully functional remote control. I did find the instructions manual to be a little unclear about the functionalities of the swamp cooler, however.

Coverage Area: 700 Square Feet | CFM Rating: 2,100 | Power Consumption: 105 Watts | Reservoir Capacity: 7.9 Gallons | Number of Fan Speeds: 3

3. Best Compact Outdoor AC: Honeywell Portable Evaporative Cooler

For medium-sized outdoor spaces, the Honeywell Portable Evaporative Cooler may be an option to look into. It is constructed with three primary components: a fan, a pump, and a honeycomb-shaped absorbent panel.

Being geared for medium-sized spaces, the Honeywell portable air conditioner is appropriately small. Thus, it can be moved around with ease and placed anywhere you like, so long as it has access to a power outlet. And because of its smaller size, the cooler doesn’t cover as large an area.

Covering 350 square feet, the Honeywell portable air conditioner can provide a cool breeze for lounging on your patio on summer days. It comes with three humidity settings to keep you comfortable while it runs: fan, ice, and water.

The water tank on this cooler is detachable, allowing you to fill it up separately without having to move the whole unit. And much like the VAGKRI outdoor air conditioner before it, the Honeywell cooler features an ice compartment for cooler air distribution in hotter spaces.

For secondary features, the cooler comes with a remote control and a timer that is programmable for up to 7.5 hours.

Coverage Area: 350 Square Feet | CFM Rating: 806 | Power Consumption: 288 Watts | Reservoir Capacity: 7.9 Gallons | Number of Fan Speeds: 3

4. Best Affordable Outdoor AC: Hessaire MC18M Portable Evaporative Cooler

The Hessaire MC18M is an affordable option that is designed to cool spaces that are medium and semi-large. It functions as a humidifier in dry climates, using low electricity to increase condensation and air delivery.

At 16 pounds, the unit can be lifted up and moved around without any issues. It does include caster wheels to improve mobility when the water tank is full. And despite its small size, it is capable of covering a relatively large area of 500 square feet.

This model features knob-style controls that can be used to switch between two fan speeds. Moreover, you can combine high and low fan speeds with the pump to create the humidifying environment needed. 

Hessaire has included both the manual and continuous fill for water filling, much like the MC37M that I reviewed earlier. The cooler can run for about four hours on a single manual refill, which is a decent water tank capacity. That said, the lack of any additional features may be a point of contention for some.

Coverage Area: 500 Square Feet | CFM Rating: 1,300 | Power Consumption: 85 Watts | Reservoir Capacity: 4.8 Gallons | Number of Fan Speeds: 2

5. Best Weather-resistant Outdoor AC: Honeywell CO48PM Evaporative Cooler

The Honeywell CO48PM is a high-power evaporative controller intended to be used in large spaces. This tower-type outdoor air conditioner can be used in patios, garages, decks, backyards, and more.

It makes use of honeycomb pads on three of its four sides to maximize coverage. And combined with its powerful cooling, the CO48PM can be placed anywhere in a large area without sacrificing cool air.

To sustain this high cooling capacity, the Honeywell cooler comes with a large 10.6-gallon tank. Moreover, the tank can be connected to a garden hose for continuous refilling, enabling it to run for hours uninterrupted.

The body of this outdoor air conditioner is weatherproof as well as UV resistant, meaning it can withstand being outside for a good while. Its high build quality means that the unit will continue to function for a long time.

As for mobility, the CO48PM can’t be lifted without help, but it does come with caster wheels to help with it. Even so, it may be difficult to move around because of its weight. It also has a long electrical cord that allows you to move it without interrupting the airflow. Additionally, you can avoid messy tangles with the dedicated cord storage.

Coverage Area: 1037 Square Feet | CFM Rating: 1,702 | Power Consumption: 150 Watts | Reservoir Capacity: 10.6 Gallons | Number of Fan Speeds: 3

6. Best Battery-powered Outdoor AC: EEIEER Portable Air Conditioner

The EEIEER Portable Air Conditioner is a small and affordable cooling fan that can sit on a desk in an outdoor office. It is targeted towards personal use and so, its fan covers a relatively small area.

This model combines the functionalities of a table fan, an air cooler, a humidifier, and night lights for a complete home office cooling solution. It comes with three distinct wind speed functions in the form of natural, cold, and strong wind that cater to different needs.

Much like most other outdoor air conditioners on this list, the EEIEER cooler uses water evaporation for fast cooling. While it doesn’t have a dedicated ice storage compartment, you can add ice to the water tank to further speed up the cooling process.

But unlike most other electric outdoor air conditioners on this list, the EEIEER cooler runs on a 4,000 mAh battery. Combined with its lightweight and low power consumption, the desk cooler can be taken to summer camps and other travels as the primary cooling device. The small water tank also means that it can run out of water very quickly.

For secondary features, the EEIEER air conditioner comes with a remote controller that is fairly responsive, along with a 2/4 H timing setting.

Coverage Area: 120 Square Feet | CFM Rating: 700 | Power Consumption: 10 Watts | Reservoir Capacity: 0.11 Gallons | Number of Fan Speeds: 3

7. Best Humidifying Cooler: Paris Rhone Evaporative Cooler

If you want to maximize cooling in your outdoor space, you may look at the Paris Rhone cooler as an option. This is a swamp cooler that comes with four ice packs to spread moisturized and cool air across a wide area.

The Paris Rhone portable air conditioner is a 2,943 CFM outdoor air conditioner that features a maximum air velocity of 29.5 ft/s. This is paired with a large 11.9-gallon water tank that can keep the air conditioner going for up to 24 hours at low speed. It has a top-fill design for refilling, although I am not quite sold on its effectiveness.

You can use the Paris Rhone cooler as a humidifier as well which has a moisture output of 6 L/h for refreshing and humidified air. It comes with three wind speeds to choose from that spread air across the area with both auto and manual oscillation.

Despite the weight, the cooler can be moved around with the caster wheels. You can position the air conditioner in a manner that keeps it closer to the garden hose for the continuous fill feature.

And lastly, it has an easy-to-use remote control, along with a touch-operated panel. 

Coverage Area: 1470 Square Feet | CFM Rating: 2,943 | Power Consumption: 25 Watts | Reservoir Capacity: 1.58 Gallons | Number of Fan Speeds: 3

8. Best Build Quality: Uthfy Evaporative Cooler

The Uthfy Evaporative Cooler is a high-powered swamp cooler that comes with three ice boxes and a large water tank to facilitate cooling. Its body is made from sheet metal that is impact and corrosion-resistant and easy to clean.

It features a powerful fan with a high cooling capacity of 3531 CFM, which is combined with three fan speeds and auto side-to-side oscillation. The fan works in tandem with the three rigid high-density cooling pads that increase the evaporative surface area for spreading cooler air. And with the included ice boxes, the cooling effect increases even further.

The large 10.6-gallon water tank can be filled both manually and by using the continuous fill option. It can fit a standard garden hose with the water pipe joint included on the body. Additionally, it features a drainage port at the bottom to make cleaning and maintenance easy.

As for operation, the Uthfy air conditioner has four independent round buttons that control fan speed, from low to medium and high. The console also includes a built-in oscillation button that controls the side-to-side oscillation. For vertical adjustment, you can manually move the louvers up and down as required. These functions can also be accessed from the remote control.

It is a little heavier than most portable air conditioners, but it remains mobile with four heavy-duty caster wheels. Two of these feature brakes as well for easy maneuverability. 

Coverage Area: 1715 Square Feet | CFM Rating: 3,531 | Power Consumption: 200 Watts | Reservoir Capacity: 10.6 Gallons | Number of Fan Speeds: 3

9. Best Small Evaporative Cooler: Sharper Image Portable Evaporative Cooler

The Sharper Image Portable Evaporative Cooler is a small cooler geared towards relatively smaller spaces. It strives to maintain a comfortable space with an evaporative system both indoors and outdoors.

This model features three different speed settings to choose from, namely low, medium, and high. The Sharper Image cooler can be used as a humidifier as well to improve the air quality of your patio or room.

You can find the swing and oscillation features in this cooler, in addition to the built-in timer settings. The timer ranges from 0.5 hours to 9.5 hours, with an interval of 30 minutes between each set. Additionally, this cooler has an energy-saving mode to further reduce the amount of power it consumes during operation.

Featuring a detachable water tank capacity of 1.6 liters, the Sharper Image cooler can run for a few hours without interruption. That said, the tank capacity does leave a bit to be desired. You can view the water level on an LED display to get a better idea of when to refill it.

Lastly, it comes with a wireless remote control that allows you to control all of these functions from a distance.

Coverage Area: 250 Square Feet | CFM Rating: 750 | Power Consumption: 90 Watts | Reservoir Capacity: 0.42 Gallons | Number of Fan Speeds: 3

10. Best Premium Outdoor Air Conditioner: Big Ass Fans Cool Space 400

It is indeed a big fan with a high cooling capacity! The Big Ass Fans Cool Space 400 is a premium high-power portable air conditioner that covers a large floor area without much trouble. It makes use of a refrigerant to power its cooling even further.

Using its 36-inch fan, the Big Ass Fans cooler can cover an area of 3,600 square feet comfortably. Boasting a CFM rating that ranges from 6,400 to 9,700, the portable air conditioner is capable of cooling down air up to 33 degrees Fahrenheit.

It has a 46-gallon tank that can keep the fan running for up to 10 hours without needing a direct connection to a water source. That said, you can keep it connected to a garden hose to make use of the continuous fill function to keep it running endlessly.

The cooling media used by the Big Ass Fans cooler is 8 inches thick, long-lasting, chemically treated, and coated in a thermosetting resin. This makes it resistant to algae and dirt, which can reduce the effort needed to clean the media. Dirt and other particles cannot penetrate into the substrate, which can be convenient for maintenance.

As is the standard, the Cool Space 400 has variable speed controls that allow you to maintain the desired temperature. It comes with locking swivel casters, automatic low-water shutoff, and a drain plug for maintenance.

These features don’t come in an affordable price tag, though. This means that the Cool Space 400 may be priced too high for some users just looking for a moderately-sized cooler.

Coverage Area: 3,600 Square Feet | CFM Rating: 6,400 to 9,700 | Power Consumption: 515 Watts | Reservoir Capacity: 46 Gallons | Number of Fan Speeds: 10

11. Outdoor AC With Best Evaporation Rate: Portacool Cyclone 140

The Portacool Cyclone 140 is a portable outdoor cooler designed to be used in patios, garages, and outdoor spaces. It’s a portable air conditioner that sits in the premium price range, featuring many options to customize your cooling preferences.

Equipped with Kuul Comfort evaporative media, the Portacool Cyclone 140 has a high rate of water evaporation to provide cooling comfort. It is powerful enough to cool up to 900 square feet of area, along with a cooling capacity of 3,900. The lack of different fan speeds does leave a bit to be desired.

Facilitating this cooling is the large 40-gallon water reservoir, which comes with an LED water level indicator that pinpoints when you need to refill it. The reservoir can be filled manually or using the continuous fill option for continuous use.

Moreover, the Cyclone 140 can be moved around using the caster wheels without any issues. It can be placed where needed so long as it is within range of a power outlet. 

Coverage Area: 900 Square Feet | CFM Rating: 4,200 | Wattage: 480 | Reservoir Capacity: 40 Gallons | Number of Fan Speeds: 2

12. Quietest Evaporative Cooler: MEPTY Evaporative Cooler

Designed to be fast and effective at cooling, the MEPTY evaporative cooler features three high-density cooling pads for maximum evaporative surface area. Combined with a high-powered fan, the MEPTY cooler is capable of quickly reducing the ambient temperature.

The 3,531 CFM portable air conditioner can cool outdoor areas and rooms up to 900 square feet while spreading 3,100 cubic feet per minute of cool air. Using a wide oscillation system, the cold breeze can be distributed throughout the personal space with no trouble.

Featuring a built-in 10.6-gallon water tank, the MEPTY cooler can keep working for several hours. The large water tank leans into the cooling aspect of the evaporative air conditioner, spreading even more cool wind. 

Besides, it has a top-refill design that ensures the water hits the cooling medium more effectively. Moreover, the water tank level will be visible to you as you refill it, giving you an idea of when to stop refilling. 

As for other features, the MEPTY portable air conditioner has four universal wheels with brakes on two for mobility. It can be moved around on a flat surface with relative ease in large spaces without needing help to lift it up. And for operation, the cooler has round buttons for fan speeds, as well as three switches for swing, cooling, and power options. Its remote battery compartment was surprisingly difficult to access, I must add.

Coverage Area: 900 Square Feet | CFM Rating: 3,531 | Power Consumption: 200 Watts | Reservoir Capacity: 10.6 Gallons | Number of Fan Speeds: 3

13. Best for Customizable Cooling: Yescom Evaporative Cooler

Sitting in the low-to-medium price range, the Yescom Evaporative Cooler is an option to look at as an outdoor air conditioner. It is geared towards efficient energy consumption, meaning that it consumes very little power to cool down a given area.

This is a portable remote control-operated cooler that can switch between fan and humidifier modes quickly. With its 17-liter water tank capacity, the cooler can keep going for several hours.

It comes with three fan speed options and a built-in timer to turn the machine on and off automatically. You can choose from 13.5 m/s on high, 10 m/s on medium, and 7.5 m/s on low for fan speeds. This can work with the timer, with the latter featuring a 1-8 hour customizable window, along with a 120-degree wind direction adjustment function.

The Yescom cooler has side handles on top, along with four caster wheels on the bottom for mobility. These features make the cooler highly mobile, requiring little effort to move around the space. Though its power may feel relatively low in comparison to other portable air conditioners.

Coverage Area: 650 Square Feet | CFM Rating: 525-729 | Power Consumption: 200 Watts | Reservoir Capacity: 4.49 Gallons | Number of Fan Speeds: 3

14. Best Low-priced Outdoor Table Fan: HIFRESH Small Evaporative Air Cooler

Designed for outdoor office usage, the HIFRESH evaporative air cooler is a small desk fan that can sit unobtrusively on your table. It is a small portable cooler that can be moved around easily and features 360-degree auto oscillation.

The HIFRESH cooler works using a 4,000 mAh battery that can be recharged using an ordinary USB-C type cable. You can charge it on the go in your car or from a power bank if needed, further adding to its portability. It can be operated with the LED touch panel that sits on top of the cover.

Its water tank can hold up to 16 fluid ounces of water, which is sufficient to keep the air conditioner going for some time. Additionally, you can add ice cubes to the tank to add a little oomph to the cooling. That said, it doesn’t have a particularly large coverage area.

The HIFRESH evaporative air cooler can also double as a humidifier by toggling the humidification mode on. It sprays a continuous mist to simulate humid climates that can help reduce nasal congestion, dry skin, and cough that a dry summer day can cause. 

Coverage Area: 300 Square Feet | CFM Rating: 700 | Power Consumption: 5 Watts | Reservoir Capacity: 0.12 Gallons | Number of Fan Speeds: 3

What is the Best Outdoor Air Conditioner?

If you're on the lookout for the best outdoor air conditioner, the table below displays specifications detailing the coverage area measured in square feet, the CFM rating, power consumption in wattage, reservoir capacity measured in gallons, and the number of fan speeds available.

Outdoor ACsCoverage AreaCFM RatingPower ConsumptionReservoir CapacityNumber of Fan Speeds
Hessaire MC37M750 Square Feet3,100250 Watts10.3 Gallons3
Vagkri Evaporative Cooler700 square feet2,100105 Watts7.9 Gallons3
Honeywell Portable350 square feet806288 watts7.9 Gallons3
Hessaire MC18M Portable500 square feet130085 watts4.8 Gallons2
Honeywell CO48PM1037 square feet1702150 watts10.6 Gallons3
EEIEER Portable AC120 square feet70010 watts0.11 Gallons3
Paris Rhone Evaporative Cooler1470 square feet294325 watts1.58 Gallons3
Uthfy Evaporative Cooler1715 square feet3531200 Watts10.6 Gallons3
Sharper Image Portable250 square feet75090 Watts0.42 Gallons3
Big Ass Fans Cool-Space 4003600 square feet6400 to 9700515 watts46 Gallons10
Portacool PACCY140 Cyclone 140900 square feet4,200480 watts40 Gallons2
MEPTY Evaporative Cooler900 square feet3,531200 Watts10.6 Gallons3
Yescom Evaporative Cooler650 square feet525 to 729200 Watts4.49 Gallons3
HIFRESH Small Evaporative Cooler300 square feet7005 Watts0.12 Gallons3

Buying Guide for the Best Outdoor Air Conditioner

Unlike indoor Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) units, outdoor air conditioners make use of an evaporation system to cool air in a space. Since there are no walls to contain the cool air outdoors, these units have to function in a manner that is fundamentally different. 

Unlike a central air conditioner, the British Thermal Unit is not used to determine how capable an outdoor cooling unit is. A different unit, named “CFM” (short for cubic feet per meter), is used to gauge the cooling capabilities of an outdoor air conditioner.

Thus, picking the right air conditioner for your outdoor space is fundamentally different from picking one for your living room or bedroom. Here’s a comprehensive look at the factors that make for a good outdoor air conditioner.

Water Tank Size

Outdoor air conditioners make use of a water tank as a part of their evaporation system. The larger this tank is, the longer your air conditioning unit will be able to cool your room down.

Now, the water tank should only be as large as what is needed to consistently cool the required area. Any smaller, and you will need to refill it frequently to keep the air conditioner working well. And an oversized one will consume too much water and electricity, on top of potentially simulating humid climates.

Some models come with an autofill or continuous fill feature that requires the unit to be connected to a garden hose. The air conditioner will draw water from the exhaust hose when the tank goes below a certain water level, circumventing the need to refill it repeatedly. And, if you need quick fills, you may also find dual hose models on the market.

Air Conditioner Size

The size of an outdoor air conditioner directly affects its mobility, and units with large water tanks will be difficult to move around. Ideally, if you want the unit to not be a semi-permanent fixture in your patio, you will want it to be as light as possible. A tower-type air conditioner may also work here, provided that it is designed for outdoor use. This includes the weight of the water in its tank as well. 

Something that is of extreme importance to outdoor air conditioners is their ability to handle weather conditions. Some models can handle the sun when placed outside, but it’s generally a good idea to keep them away from direct exposure. You will need the air conditioner to be mobile enough to circumvent this issue.

CFM Rating

The CFM rating is a metric that determines how efficiently an air conditioner moves air in any given space. Outdoor conditioners with high CFM ratings are highly efficient at moving surrounding air in said space. Be sure to match your space with a unit that has the appropriate CFM rating.

Advanced Features

Secondary features add to the quality-of-life aspect of outdoor conditioners. These features are not strictly necessary for an outdoor AC to perform its task as necessary, but having them adds to their overall value. Some of them can be:

  • Fan oscillation
  • Fan speeds
  • Programmable timers
  • Auto-shutdown feature
  • Humidifier
  • Remote controls

A small caveat associated with air conditioners that come with these features is that they, too, require regular maintenance to function properly. Evaporators, condensers, and compressors are all vital parts of the air conditioner that must be taken care of properly every once in a while. Doing so will keep every part of your AC working properly for a long while.

Electronic and Mechanical Air Conditioners

Electronic air conditioners are the most common type of portable outdoor air conditioner. These include all the features mentioned earlier in order to perform their function in a convenient manner. But if you don’t want to commit to the relatively high maintenance needs of such devices, you could look into an alternative.

Mechanical air conditioners feature analog controls and mechanically controlled vents that work in a way similar to electronic portable air conditioners. The key difference here is that these are more affordable and simplified options that only require very occasional maintenance. Owing to their simplified nature, mechanical portable air conditioners can also be DIY-fixed, which is usually not possible with their electronic counterparts.

Moreover, these portable air conditioners have a mechanical air cleaner that uses a fibrous mesh that clears the air passing through them. It does so by trapping the particles onto the surface of the fibers, where they remain immobile.

You may also find mechanical outdoor air conditioners to be energy efficient, saving you some money on the electricity bill.

How long can I keep my evaporative cooler on?

Yes, you can keep your evaporative cooler on continuously for long periods if necessary, although it's essential to ensure adequate water supply. To prolong its lifespan and maintain efficiency it is advisable to turn it off when the desired temperature is reached or when not in use. Routine maintenance and inspections should also be carried out to ensure optimal operation.

How do I extend the lifespan of my outdoor air conditioner?

To extend the lifespan of your outdoor air conditioner, regular maintenance is crucial, including cleaning or replacing the filter, inspecting refrigerant levels, and ensuring the unit is clear of debris. Periodic professional servicing can catch small issues before they become bigger problems. Moreover, reducing the workload on the unit by using it judiciously and improving home insulation can also increase its lifespan.

Can I run an evaporative cooler without water?

While it is physically possible to run an evaporative cooler without water, it is not recommended. The primary function of an evaporative cooler, also known as a swamp cooler, is to cool the air through the evaporation of water. Running it without water will cause the unit to simply circulate air without cooling it, and continuous operation in this manner can potentially damage the system.

Are outdoor air conditioners environmentally friendly?

The environmental friendliness of outdoor air conditioners depends on factors such as the type of refrigerant they use and their energy efficiency. Traditional models that use HFC refrigerants can contribute to global warming if the refrigerant is released into the atmosphere. Newer models are becoming more energy-efficient and use environmentally friendly refrigerants, which can reduce their environmental impact.

For the simple fact that evaporative air coolers require more power to function correctly, gauging how powerful yours needs to be is a bit tricky. There is no shortage of options for a great portable air conditioner, after all.

During my testing, I found the Hessaire MC37M Evaporative Cooler to be the best outdoor air conditioner. It offers everything that an evaporative fan needs at an affordable rate without consuming too much power.

That said, evaporative coolers from brands like VAGKRI and Honeywell are not far behind, offering something similar while trading out a feature or two. They serve slightly different needs, and they may just be what you need.

At the end of the day, there is no correct answer when it comes to the conundrum of choosing a portable outdoor air conditioner. As a customer, what you need out of the evaporative cooler is all that matters, after all.