Some call it glamping, some call it being resourceful. Either way, setting up an air conditioner in your tent revolutionizes your camping experience.
Don’t let hot or humid climates stop you from setting up camp. We’ve gathered a list of the best tent air conditioners, so you can be comfortable in any location.
If you’re ready to invest, we suggest jumping straight to the Zero Breeze Mark 2. The convenience of this handheld air conditioner is hard to beat.
Keep reading to learn more about tent ACs for every budget.
|Top Pick||Zero Breeze Mark 2||
|FRIGIDAIRE 17″ Window Air Conditioner||
|Coleman Deluxe Chillgrille||
|Zero Breeze Air Conditioner||
|IcyBreeze V1 Cooler||
|Emerson Quiet Kool||
|Black + Decker Portable Air Conditioner||
|Uninex KOOLZONE Mobile Spot Cooler||
|Whynter Elite Portable Air Conditioner||
Review of The Best Tent Air Conditioners in 2021
The Zero Breeze Mark 2 is our pick for the best tent air conditioner in 2020. Zero Breeze is an innovative, industry-leading company. The Mark 2 is a redesign of the Zero Breeze Air Conditioner with updated specs and features.
The Mark 2 is among the smallest portable air conditioners on the market. It measures 20″L x 10″W x 11″H and weighs only 16.5 lbs.
This product is a true air conditioner, not an evaporative cooler. It has four modes: cool, fan (4 speeds), sleep, and super cold. The noise level of this AC is about 52 decibels (dB[A]).
The cooling capacity of the Mark 2 is 2,300 BTUs. This is a low power level in comparison to the other tent air conditioners in this review. However, the air blowing out of this AC can be up to 30 degrees Fahrenheit lower than its surrounding temperature.
The Zero Breeze Mark 2 can be plugged in using a power adapter (included). Or, can be powered by a Zero Breeze battery (additional cost) that attaches to the bottom of the cooler. However, the battery life of this battery is only 3-5 hours. If you are planning to run this cooler in your tent throughout the night, you will need to plug it in.
The Zero Breeze Mark 2 comes with everything you might need to set it up in a variety of locations. It retails between $949 and $1699, depending on how many batteries you purchase with the unit.
The size and convenience of the Mark 2 is hard to compete with. Sure, there are a couple of drawbacks, such as low power level and low battery life. Overall, we rate the Zero Breeze Mark 2 9.8 stars.
- Window Air Conditioner with 5000 BTU Cooling Capacity
- Quick Cool & Quick Warm When you need to cool down quickly or warm up faster, use the quick cool/warm mode to speed up the fan.
- Effortless Temperature Control Our air conditioners maintain the preset room temperature, so you will remain comfortable at all times.
- Easy-to-Clean Washable Filter Capture dust from the air and keep your air conditioner working efficiently with our easy-to-clean washable filter.
- SpaceWise Adjustable Design Optional Side Panels With the Adjustable Side Panels, the side panels will extend to best fit your window.
The runner up for the best air conditioner for a tent is the Frigidaire 17″ Window Air Conditioner. Once you know what you’re doing, window units are simple to set up outside of your tent. Plus, they are small and out of the way.
The Frigidaire 17″ Window AC has a 5,000 BTU cooling power, so it can cool an 8-10 person tent well.
This unit is easy to use. There are two dials, one for cooling and one for fanning. You can easily adjust the power level of each mode by turning the dials left and right. Additionally, there is a quick cool function, if you want to cool your tent quickly.
This window air conditioner has a long rectangular vent with adjustable blades inside. This means you can angle the air to blow exactly where you want.
The measurements of the Frigidaire 17″ window AC are 15.2″ D x 16″ W x 12″ H, and it weighs 39.7 lbs. The noise level of this unit is 56 dB(A).
This AC unit can be purchased for about $249.95. Before using this unit on your next camping trip, remember to bring along a stool or stand of some sort to prop the unit upon.
The Frigidaire 17″ Window Air Conditioner has a rating of 9.4 stars.
- Operation and control knobs are located on the horizontal surface for easy access
- Low-profile, Euro style provides a contemporary look and feel and covers the existing ceiling imprints when replacing earlier ceiling assembly design
- Pop-out retainer Grilles for easy, tool-free access to the washable Air filters
- Electric heat strip ready makes installation a breeze
The Coleman Deluxe Chillgrille offers your basic cooling necessities at an affordable price. This is why the Coleman Deluxe Chillgrille is our budget pick.
This air conditioner is small in both price and size. It retails around $100, measures 10 x 8 x 4 inches, and weighs only one pound. This is a great product to purchase as your first tent AC because it allows you to test the waters without making a huge investment.
This unit works as both a cooler and a heater, and it has a fan mode. Two knobs control the temperature and the modes. There are two circular vents and two rectangular louvers that can be controlled to manage the direction of airflow.
The Coleman Deluxe Chillgrille has a 9.4-star rating.
The Zero Breeze Air Conditioner is the smallest tent air conditioner on this review. It is even smaller than the Zero Breeze Mark 2, and it only weighs 12 pounds.
Like the Mark 2, the Zero Breeze Air Conditioner can be run on its matching Zero Breeze battery (additional cost) for a maximum of 5 hours. For longer use, the Zero Breeze can be plugged into an electrical outlet.
This air conditioner has a power level of 409-511 BTU. The Zero Breeze blows air up to 10 degrees cooler than the surrounding air. With these two specs in mind, the Zero Breeze air conditioner works best as a small spot cooler.
The Zero Breeze Air Conditioner was the pioneer of small portable air conditioners with a compressor. Zero Breeze has improved the design and performance with the Mark 2, nonetheless, the original Zero Breeze is extremely convenient for a smaller tent. Plus, it’s half the price of the Mark 2. The original Zero Breeze has received a rating of 9.5 stars.
- Rugged Polyethylene Construction. Ice Lasts up to 7 Days at Temps up to 90 When Not Using Air Conditioning. Holds 30lbs of Ice. 38qt Interior Holds 49 Cans.
- Interior Dimensions: L-18.5 W-11.25 H-11| Exterior Dimensions: L-23.5 W-16.25 H-18.5 | Dry Weight: 16 lbs | Amp Draw: 1.0a - Low, 1.3a - Medium, 2.3a - High
- 3 Speed Fan Blows up to 25 MPH. Integrated Vent and Stay Put Flexi-Hose.
- Large wheels roll over a variety of terrains. Wide drain for emptying contents after use
- Durable, sturdy plastic construction. Thick, insulated sidewalls keep contents cold longer
The IcyBreeze V1 Cooler is a great cooler for a good time. It is an ice chest that doubles as an evaporative cooler. This is why it is our pick for the best dual-purpose tent air conditioner.
One downside of bringing a tent air conditioner along is that it takes up extra space. The IcyBreeze V1 Cooler solves this problem by bundling a cooler and an AC. And, did we mention that it has wheels? That solves another problem altogether.
The cooler does not use any chemicals, so you don’t need to worry about harming the food and beverages inside. Instead, the IcyBreeze uses a radiator and the ice-cold water from the cooler’s bottom to pump out cold, dry air. It has three fan speeds that will blow air up to 25 mph and up to 35 degrees (F) below ambient temperature.
The IcyBreeze V1 uses a 12v power supply that plugs into an outlet. There is a detachable hose on top of the cooler that can be aimed in any direction. When the AC is not in use, the cooler will keep your drinks cold for up to 7 days.
The IcyBreeze V1 Cooler is a great option for a tent air conditioner because it was designed for camping. It can be used indoors or outdoors, is easy to move, and is multi-purpose. This cooler/ AC combo has received a rating of 9.9 stars.
- SMART VOICE CONTROL WITH ALEXA AND GOOGLE: This Wi-fi enabled, smart portable air conditioner pairs easily with both Alexa, through the Smart Life skill, and Google Home, by enabling Smart Life in the Home Control section. Additional Wi-Fi controls via the HE Smart app on your smartphone or tablet supplement these voice controls.
- EXCLUSIVE 1-2-5 : Your Emerson Quiet Kool Wi-fi enabled air conditioner comes with an industry-exclusive 1-2-5 that covers 1 year of labor, 2 years of parts, and 5 years on the compressor. Buy and use with confidence.
- QUIET COOLING FOR LARGE ROOMS: This 14000 BTU (ASHRAE) / 8000 BTU (DOE) portable air conditioner efficiently cools up to 550 sq. ft. At 52dB, this unit is among the quietest in the industry, making it ideal for family rooms, living rooms, and other large sized rooms. Included window kit and hose fit windows from 26. 6 to 50. 7 inches in width.
- BUCKETLESS DESIGN: The auto-evaporation system efficiently removes water created by the natural dehumidification process, allowing for a bucketless design that doesn’t routinely need draining (except on the most humid days of the year).
- PROGRAMMABLE TIMER AND SLEEP MODE: Integrated 24-hour timer can be set via on-board controls, remote control, phone/tablet app, or voice controls. Intelligent sleep mode takes it one step further by slowly adjusting the temperature and fan speed to keep you comfortable overnight while saving you energy and money.
The most powerful portable air conditioner in this review is the Emerson Quiet Kool. It is well made and cools an area of up to 550 sq. ft., making it great for tents of any size.
The Quiet Kool does take up some space. It measures 14.8″ L x 17.5″ W x 28.4″ H. However, its features outweigh its size. First of all, Quiet Kool has an outstanding power level of 1400 BTU. It has cool, fan, and dehumidifying modes. And, it runs at a noise level of 52 dB, so you can still fall asleep to the sounds of the great outdoors.
Maintenance is a breeze with the Quiet Kool. It has a bucket-less design, which doesn’t require any draining on your part. The unit is equipped with a digital thermostat and automatic louvers for the best air circulation. It can be remote-controlled, phone/tablet app-controlled, and even voice-controlled with Alexa and Google.
This is a great tent air conditioner that can be used in larger tents simply by sticking the venting hose out the door or window. This AC has a 9.1-star rating.
- QUIET & POWERFUL - Our 6,000 BTU DOE (10,000 BTU ASHRAE) compact air conditioner (16.5 x 11.5 x 26 in,) will keep you cool and comfortable all summer. An adjustable fan speed cools the air to 65°F at the coolest setting. Sleep mode makes it extra quiet while you rest
- PERFECT FOR SMALL ROOMS - This floor-standing portable AC unit provides steady, fast, effective cooling for rooms up to 150 sq. ft. It’s the ideal small air conditioner for dorms, apartments, cabins, campers, offices, bedrooms, or living rooms
- SIMPLE & QUICK TO INSTALL – Just wheel this portable air conditioner into any room with a double hung or sliding window. Attach the included hose (4’ 11”) & window adapter, & plug it in to an outlet! At the end of the season, just unhook & store
- EASY TO USE & CLEAN – The simple remote control & top-mounted LED display with 24-hour timer allow you to precisely control the air temperature. To clean the filter, just slide it out twice a month, rinse it thoroughly under running water, & put it back
- 3-in-1 FUNCTIONALITY - Combines 3 energy efficient functions for all of your cooling & ventilation needs with cool, fan, & dehumidifying modes all in one machine. Bucket-less, self-evaporating operation makes your living space cool, clean and dry
The Black + Decker Portable Air Conditioner is the best valued AC for tent camping. It is moderately priced with all the features a camper may need.
The Black + Decker Portable AC measures 16.5″ L x 11.5″ W x 26″ H and has a power level of 10,000 BTU. The air cools to a minimum of 65 degrees Fahrenheit and has a sleep mode that decreases the decibels to 51 for a quieter sleep. This unit has cooling, fan, and dehumidifying modes.
This AC is great for camping because it dehumidifies as it cools, it is easy to set up in a tent, and has the right amount of power. Thousands of reviewers praise the Black + Decker Portable Air Conditioner. It has received an average rating of 9.4 stars.
- Industrial grade, ETL certified, Reliable and safe, 6,293 BTU, CER 9.55
- R410A Refrigerant (Contains no ozone depleting R22 refrigerant which has been banned by the U.S. EPA in new equipment after January 1, 2010)
- No assembly required, Portable, Indoor / Outdoor
- Energy efficient, 1/2 ton cooling capacity, Noise level: 60 - 62 db
- Dehumidification, Built-in evaporator removes most condensate
Our pick for the most durable tent air conditioner is the Uninex Koolzone Mobile Spot Cooler. This is an industrial grade cooler that has been tested for safety by Intertek’s Electrical Testing Labs.
This unit has a cooling capacity of 6,293 BTU with an effective area of 77 sq. ft. Something to keep in mind is the Koolzone is rather large. It measures 18.7″ W x 10.4″ D x 24″ H and weighs a whopping 50 lbs. Its size is a trade-off. However, you may consider it worth it for the durability.
The Koolzone blows air between 64 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Its heating capabilities may also be of use to you when camping in the colder months. The AC runs at a noise level between 60-62 dB.
This unit has received a rating of 9.1 stars. Some of these cooler specs suggest that the Koolzone may be most ideally used as an outdoor camping cooler. However, if you have a large tent and don’t mind the noise, you can certainly use it inside your tent too.
- 12,000 BTU (ASHRAE) / 7,000 BTU (SACC) cooling capacity
- Three operational modes: air conditioner, fan or dehumidifier. This unit can cool up to a 400 square feet space (ambient temperature and humidity may influence optimum performance)
- Full installation set includes extendable exhaust and intake hose (up to 60") and window kit: 6.5" W x 20" (min)/ 46" (max) L
- AWARD WINNING : 1. Good Housekeeping's "Best Portable Air Conditioners to Buy in 2019" 2. The New York Times Wirecutter named "the most efficient and fastest cooling portable AC"
- Full thermostatic control (61°F - 89°F) with digital readout, 24 hour programmable timer; Eco-friendly CFC free Green R-32 refrigerant; Patented auto drain function fully exhausts all condensate automatically in most environments
The Whynter Elite Portable Air Conditioner is our pick for the most reliable tent AC. It has won two prestigious awards. In 2019, Good Housekeeping named it the “Best Portable Air Conditioners to Buy.” It was praised as “the most efficient and fastest cooling portable AC by The New York Times Wirecutter.
The Whynter Elite Portable Air Conditioner has a high cooling capacity of 12,000 BTU. Its power level allows it to cool a space up to 400 square feet. It has three modes, which include fan, air conditioner, and dehumidifier. These modes are beneficial in almost any summer camping setting.
This unit operates between 61 and 89 degrees Fahrenheit. Like many others on this review, the Whynter Elite Portable AC has three modes: fan, cooling, and dehumidifying. And, it runs at a quiet noise level of 52 dB(A). The Whynter Elite Portable AC measures 17″ L x 29.5″ W x 16″ H, and it weighs 60 lbs.
We love that this unit is eco-friendly because it uses CFC free GREEN R-410A refrigerant and lead-free materials. It is a fan favorite among customers and has an overall rating of 9.1 stars.
Types of Air Conditioners
Window ACs are small and easy to carry. Many have easy to use dials or digital thermostats. One perk of using a window unit for camping is that it is stored outside the tent, so you save space inside.
However, window ACs cannot sit directly on the ground, so you will need to prop them up on a stool or step ladder.
It is most ideal to use a window unit in a tent with ground vents. You can set the AC on a small stool outside of the tent and the air will blow directly into the sleeping zone.
Small Portable ACs
Small portable ACs are units that are typically used in a room of a house. They measure around 27 inches tall and 15 inches wide, which is close to the size of a large roller suitcase. If you can picture this in your tent, it’s not actually that small.
Nonetheless, they do an excellent job at cooling small spaces. These units are sleek and easy to use. They have higher power levels than other portable AC options and can be remote controlled.
Small portable ACs are super easy to set up in a tent as long as you have space. A ventilation hose hooks up to the unit to simply stick out the door or window of your tent.
Spot coolers are designed to cool small spaces. Since tents are small, generally speaking, they make great tent air conditioners.
A key feature of a spot cooler is a hose that aims the airflow to a particular location. You will see this IcyBreeze V1 Cooler and the Uninex Koolzone Mobile Spot Cooler later on in this review.
12V/24V Portable AC
12 volt and 24-volt portable ACs are the true small portable ACs. Because they are so small, they are most often considered the most convenient option for tent camping. They are about the size of a toolbox or the portable stereo you used to have in the ’90s.
These AC units are innovative and practical. You can easily carry them from place to place or create a semi-permanent spot for them by using the included ventilation hoses.
In addition, many of these small portable ACs can run on a DC battery and are remote controlled.
Are some air conditioners more portable than others?
Portable air conditioners suitable for camping have varying levels of portability. Size, weight, handles, and wheels all play into an air conditioner’s portability factor.
The most portable air conditioners on the market are the Zero Breeze Mark 2 and the original Zero Breeze Air Conditioner. These units are small, lightweight, and have a handle. They are about the size of a stereo and are carried as such.
On the other end of the spectrum are the portable AC units, such as the Emerson Quiet Kool. Although they are portable, these units were not made to be frequently relocated, so they don’t have a ton of portability features. They do have wheels, but not the kind you should be rolling across your campsite. It’s best to lift and carry these units from place to place.
Understanding AC Power Levels
AC power levels are measured and expressed in British Thermal Units (BTUs). The most straightforward definition of a BTU is a unit that measures heat.
In terms of power levels, the BTU level is the amount of BTUs (heat) per hour that the AC unit can remove from the air. This makes sense because we want to know how well or how quickly an AC can minimize heat.
A power level of 5,000 BTUs is generally suitable for a tent. However, read the section below about tent size for more detailed information.
Portable Air Conditioners in Relation to Tent Size
Power output also translates into the size of space the air conditioner can cool. This is why it is important to take into account your tent size when shopping for a camping air conditioner.
HVAC specialists recommend 5000 BTUs for a 150 sq. ft. space and 6000 BTUs for a 250 sq. ft. space. For a frame of reference, an 8-person tent is about 140 sq. ft. and a 12-person tent is about 200 sq. ft.
While we’re on the topic, we also need to consider the insulation qualities of a tent. Tent material is thin and breathable, so it does not contain the cold air well. Depending on your tent’s insulation qualities, you may want a higher power level to combat poor insulation.
How are portable air conditioners powered?
Most portable air conditioners require an outlet to plug them into. This may be considered a drawback to some because it requires you to either have electrical outlets on-site or a generator.
As portable air conditioners become more innovative, we are seeing more and more that run on batteries. The Zero Breeze Air Conditioner and the Zero Breeze Mark 2 can both be run on a battery for 3-5 hours or plugged into an outlet.
Air Flow and Ventilation Features of Portable Air Conditioners
The amount of airflow is dependent on the power level of the unit. The higher the BTU level, the more powerful the airflow.
To optimize airflow, you need proper ventilation. It is important to make sure your air conditioning unit has a vent or ventilation hose that will work with your tent. When shopping for a tent AC keep in mind the location of windows, doors, and ground vents inside your tent. These are spots where you can position the AC unit so that it will properly ventilate.
How noisy are portable air conditioners?
Noise level is measured in decibels (dB). For a frame of reference, a telephone dial tone is 80 dB(A), a vacuum is 75 dB(A), and a refrigerator is 55 dB(A).
Noise level can certainly be a red flag. We’ve found that some of the quietest portable AC units have a noise level of 52 dB(A).
If you’re looking for a quiet tent air conditioner, check out the Zero Breeze Mark 2 or the Emerson Quiet Kool.
Price Range of Portable Air Conditioners
The tent air conditioners on this review range in price from $100-$1400.
Generally, window units run less expensive than portable standing units. A good budget-friendly tent air conditioner is the Frigidaire Window Air Conditioner.
Some of the more expensive options are priced as such because they higher power levels and more functions. The Uninex Koolzone Mobile Spot Cooler is on the higher end of the spectrum, but it has a dehumidifying function.
And the Zero Breeze Mark 2 is the most expensive option, yet the most convenient. It is small, lightweight, and can be run on a battery.
How will humidity levels affect my air conditioner?
Humidity harms air conditioners. Air conditioners do take moisture out of the air. However, high humidity levels often mean more moisture in the air than what your A/C can take out.
High humidity levels can overpower an air conditioner, essentially turning the air conditioner into a fan rather than a cooling unit.
How can I insulate a tent to help the AC?
Cooling an uninsulated tent is a lot like running the AC in your house with all the windows open. It’s extremely inefficient and costly, and many times ineffective.
To insulate a tent, first, make sure all doors and windows are closed, and any holes are sealed. Duct tape is highly effective in sealing tent holes on-the-go.
Second, use a reflective tarp to create a barrier between the hot sun and your tent. Reflective material helps bounce warm air and hot sun rays away from your tent.
I have a larger tent. Which is a good choice?
A good choice for a large tent is an AC that has a higher power level. This gives it the capability to push air throughout the entire tent. Any of the standing portable ACs are a good choice.
We would recommend the Emerson Quiet Cool, which is the most powerful on this list. It runs at a power level of 14,000 BTUs. Another great option is the award-winning Whynter Elite Portable Air Conditioner. This unit runs at 12,000 BTU.
I have a small 1-2 person tent. Which AC should I use?
Small tents do not need a macho AC unit. In fact, one of the larger, more powerful units would take up too much room and may even waste energy in a 1-2 person tent.
We recommend the Zero Breeze Air Conditioner or the Zero Breeze Mark 2. These small portable tent air conditioners are easy to move around and powerful enough to cool a small tent.
If you’re looking for a less expensive small tent AC, check out the Frigidaire 17″ Window AC. This is a great option for small tents because the unit sits on the outside of the tent.
Is it safe to use AC inside a tent?
It is safe to use AC inside a tent. AC units are electrically powered, so they do not release any gases into the air. This means you don’t need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning.
There are some safety precautions you can take. Always keep your AC unit and electrical cord dry. If rain is expected in the forecast, then unplug your unit until the rain clears.
In addition, keep your AC unit on a level surface to prevent it from tipping over. If needed, you can set the unit on a stool or table.
Which tents come with a hole for my Air conditioner?
More tents are being made with air conditioner ports. Others have ground vents that are just the right size for an AC hose.
The Ozark Trail, 12-Person Instant Cabin Tent, has a ground vent that fits an AC hose.
The Bushnell Shield comes in three sizes: 6-person, 9-person, and 11-person. All Bushnell Shield tents, no matter the size, are equipped with an AC port.
The Wenzel Klondike is a very reasonably priced 8-person tent with an AC port.
What is the best air conditioner for a Tent?
The winner of this roundup is the Zero Breeze Mark 2. This air conditioner is so small it can be held in one hand, it can be battery operated, and blows cold air without much noise. The Mark 2 will cool you off without taking up too much room in your tent.
Other great options include the Emerson Quiet Kool and the Frigidaire 17″ Window Air Conditioner. These two different types of air conditioners can be used in both small and large tents. They are easy to use and have high power levels.
We’ve listed out various types of air conditioners that are compatible with tent camping. Whichever option you choose, you’re sure to have a more comfortable camping experience.