10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioners

10000 btu image

A 10,000 BTU portable air conditioner doesn’t really have 10,000 BTU of cooling capacity.

Total cooling capacity is reduced by

heat added by the unit’s ducting

the unit exhausts warm air that heats up the ducting used to remove it from the room. This ducting is usually made of a thin plastic that readily radiates heat back into the room which effectively reduces cooling BTUs

heat added by infiltration air

a portable AC unit exhausts warm air from the room being cooled which creates an area of low pressure inside the room. This causes higher pressure hot outdoor air – "infiltration air" - to get sucked into the room

The end result is that total BTUs are drastically reduced. Units that would have a total cooling capacity of 10,000 BTUs have a total capacity as low as 5,500 BTUs when accounting for these inefficiencies.

The end result is so egregious that the Department of Energy now requires portable AC manufacturers to test all new units released to market by a new standard for measuring BTUs. This new standard is called Seasonally Adjusted Cooling Capacity – SACC.

The equation to calculate SACC looks like this

SACC = ACC95 × 0.2 + ACC83 × 0.8

In which

ACC95 = CapacitySD − Qduct_SD − Qinfiltration_95
ACC83 = CapacitySD − Qduct_SD − Qinfiltration_83

First, note how SACC takes into account each AC unit’s performance at two different outdoor temperatures – 83° F and 95° F. Its performance at 83° F counts for 80% of the total SACC. The unit’s performance at 95° F accounts for 20% of the total SACC.

Two different temperatures are used because the two inefficiencies we listed above – heat added by ducting and heat added by infiltration air – are heavily influenced by outdoor temperature. The inefficiencies are more pronounced at higher temperatures (95° F) than they are at lower temperatures (83° F). The DOE believes most portable AC units will be used closer to 83° F the majority of the time – hence why the score is weighted in its favor.

Second, note how the building blocks for SACC are ACC95and ACC83. ACC is simply “Adjusted Cooling Capacity”. The “Seasonal” component of SACC involves weighting ACC at different temperatures. ACC is the baseline measurement that takes the total cooling capacity from before (10,000 BTUs for 10,000 BTU units) and subtracts out BTUs lost by ducting and infiltration air.

Now that you understand what SACC is and how it impacts total cooling capacity, the BTUs listed under the SACC column in the table below shouldn’t surprise you.

ModelTraditional BTUsSACC BTUs
Whynter ARC-102CS 10,000 7,000
Frigidaire FHPC102AC1 10,000 6,500
Black + Decker BPP06WTB 10,000 6,000
LG LP0621WSR 10,000 6,000
Black + Decker BPACT10WT 10,000 5,500

Units are listed from highest SACC down to lowest SACC.

Note how even the most efficient 10,000 BTU unit still loses 3,000 BTUs when accounting for heat added by ducting and infiltration air at 83 and 95° F.

The most inefficient unit loses almost half of its total BTUs to these inefficiencies under the conditions outlined for calculating SACC.

We see similar trends in other size classes.

The most efficient 8,000 BTU unit has a SACC of only 6,000 BTUs.

The most efficient 14,000 BTU unit has a SACC of 12,000 BTUs.

Our Recommendations

Clearly, 10,000 BTU portable AC units don’t really have a total cooling capacity of 10,000 BTUs under real life circumstances – in which heat from ducting and infiltration air is added back into the cooled room.

But what can you do with this information?

You can use it to easily locate the best units on the market in each respective size category.

In the 10,000 BTU size category, the Whynter ARC-102CS has a SACC of 7,000 BTUs – the best in the category. This is the model we recommend as the best 10,000 BTU portable air conditioner.

The Whynter also has the best CEER (combined energy efficiency ratio) and is the best value in its size class, which further cements its number one position in the category.

The next highest SACC in the category belongs to the Frigidaire FHPC102AC1 with a SACC of 6,500 BTUs. The Frigidaire isn't a bad option by any means. It only offers 500 BTUs less cooling capacity than the Whynter. And it's even more energy efficient on its cooling mode.

CEER accounts for energy efficiency on all modes, including drying mode and fan only mode.

You can use SACC/watts of power draw to determine a portable AC unit's energy efficiency only on its cooling mode. And by this metric the Frigidaire actually does better than the Whynter.

It is usually more expensive though, which along with its lower SACC, puts it behind the Whynter in our 10,000 BTU rankings.

Check the Frigidaire FHPC102AC1's current price on Amazon.

10,000 Traditional BTU Models SACCCEERSACC/wattsSACC/$
Whynter ARC-102CS 7000 6.9 6.3 21.5
Frigidaire FHPC102AC1 6500 6.7 7.0 17.3
Black + Decker BPP06WTB 6000 6.6 5.7 15.4
LG LP0621WSR 6000 6.5 6.5 18.8
Black + Decker BPACT10WT 5500 8.7 4.8 13.1

The 9,000+ BTU SACC alternative

If you’re shopping in the 10,000 BTU size class, chances are that you’re not looking to cool the smallest space. Chances are you’re not trying to cool the easiest to cool space.

If you were, you would be looking for a smaller 8,000 BTU unit instead.

Here’s the thing:

Our own testing showed a quantum leap in performance going from sub 9,000 to 9,000+ BTU seasonally adjusted cooling capacity even in a relatively small 150 sq. ft. test environment.

9,000+ BTU (SACC) units cooled the room much faster and were able to get the room to much lower temperatures.

Portable AC units are inherently inefficient. And our testing showed that you have to cross the 9,000 BTU (SACC) threshold to get to a cooling capacity that can handle the majority of applications.

Yes, you can certainly get away with a 10,000 BTU or even 8,000 BTU (assuming high SACC for the category) unit in

  • A small space
  • A non-challenging space (e.g. outdoor temperatures aren’t very hot, the room being cooled isn’t on a second story with a lot of windows, etc.)

But, the only way to guarantee that you’re buying the best possible portable air conditioner for any potential space under any conditions is to buy at least a 9,000+ BTU (SACC) unit.

If you're more of a value-oriented buyer, we recommend the 10,000 SACC BTU Black + Decker BPP10WTB. This unit more than exceeds the 9,000 SACC BTU threshold, and it's not that much more expensive than top rated 10,000 (traditional) BTU models.

The best high SACC portable air conditioner, and the best portable air conditioner we've tested overall is the Midea Duo. It is the highest SACC, the most energy efficient (by CEER and SACC/watt metrics), and one of the best value portable air conditioners on the market. It's highly recommended if you have a larger space or a space that's more challenging to cool (like a room on a second story or a room with a lot of large windows, for example).

Otherwise, for smaller and less challenging spaces, the best 10,000 BTU portable air conditioners are

For an in-depth discussion on portable air conditioner sizing see our general buyer’s guide.

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Comments (4)

ROY B Caglesays...

There is ducting? Cool


I think your right.


The shorter your exhaust on the portable the better even with the dual sided, but there’s not anything to be done on the fan venting, and the motor, consider the humidity setting when automatically is insufficient to your comfort. Black&Decker does comparison to Frigidaire..

And the overhead fan does have a effect too on the( sacc ) 6degress does not look like much, but it will make you want to have a sweater in reach .

Thanks for your consultation, consumer Analysis.


What if you were to insulted the ducting would that have an effect?