Earning one of the top scores out of the entire group, the ARC-122DS Elite by Whynter is one of our all-time favorites when it comes to portable air conditioners and earning it an Editors' Choice Award. This is a dual-hose unit, making it particularly suited to areas that routinely have extremely high temperatures, as it won't start struggling as the single-hose models will. The Elite is also one of the quietest models we have tested and is also quite easy to move from room to room. The Whynter ARC-122DS delivered a strong showing in our cooling test and isn't terribly egregious when it comes to energy consumption. If you want the best of the best when it comes to dual-hose air conditioners, then the Elite is the portable A/C for you.
Whynter ARC-122DS Elite Review
Pros: Very quiet, decently portable, solid cooling power
Cons: Expensive, bulky window insert
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Our Analysis and Test Results
This model of portable air conditioner matched the results of the Whynter ARC-08WB, though for different reasons. Both of these portable air conditioners by Whynter performed about the same in our relative cooling power test, but the ARC-08WB did much better in our energy efficiency test and is a tiny bit easier to move around. The ARC-122DS Elite is significantly less noisy, but it does cost about $80 more. However, while the ARC-08WB may seem like a natural first choice, you have to remember that it is a single-hose model, making it much less preferable to the Whynter ARC-122DS Elite if you are going to be running it in the hottest locales.
To figure out which portable air conditioner is really the absolute best at keeping you cool and being convenient to use, we extensively researched dozens and dozens of different models. We then looked through every existing user or expert review we could find, then picked the most promising portable A/C's to purchase and test head-to-head to pick our award winner. We divided our test into four weighted metrics — Noise, Energy Cost, Portability, and Cooling Power — with the results of the Whynter ARC-122DS Elite outlined below.
Responsible for the largest portion of the overall score for each portable air conditioner at 40%, our set of cooling assessments had the biggest impact on the overall score of the ARC-122DS Elite. We tested out the cooling capabilities of each portable AC by heating up a 161 square foot room with space heaters in the middle of the afternoon on a hot summer's day, then turned them off and gave the room a chance for the temperature to stabilize. We then turned on each portable A/C and ran it for an hour, scoring their performance based on the temperature drop achieved, measured with a laboratory-grade digital thermometer, held out of the direct path of the A/C. The ARC-122DS Elite did fairly well, meriting a 5 out of 10 for its efforts.
This 12,000 BTU portable air conditioner is rated for rooms up to 400 sq. ft. dropped the temperature of the room by 10°F after 60 minutes, with a drop of 6.75°F after 20 minutes. This was with an outside temperature in the mid to high 80's.
Following our cooling tests, our next set of tests assessed how portable these portable air conditioners are. We looked at how much effort it took to roll around each portable A/C, how difficult they are to carry, and how long it took to install or remove the exhaust duct and window insert. These tests account for 25% of the overall score for the ARC-122DS Elite, which delivered an above average showing, earning a 6 out of 10 for its efforts. This compares quite well with the rest of the group.
This is one of the easier models to push around, offering only a slight amount of rolling resistance. This makes it very easy to maneuver, with only the occasional slight pull to one side while you are pushing it as the casters swivel around.
Unfortunately, this air conditioning unit is one of the heaviest units of the entire group.
Additionally, we weren't huge fans of the handle design of the Elite, finding it to be both difficult to hold on to and exceptionally uncomfortable.
However, it is fairly easy to install the window insert. It does require the use of a screwdriver, but it allows you a ton of adjustability, able to adjust the size from 20" to 46" at any point you want.
Next, we moved on to evaluating how loud each of the appliances are. This metric is responsible for 20% of the total score for each portable A/C, based on how each product did in two different tests. We measured the sound output of each unit with an SPL meter from 4' away and had a panel of testers rate the tone of the noise produced, looking to identify any particularly vexing sounds that might not be picked up by our SPL measurement. This portable air conditioner is actually one of the quietest and least acoustically intrusive products we have tested, earning it an 8 out of 10.
This air conditioner measured in at 55.9 dBa on the SPL, one of the lowest measurements out of the group.
Our panel of judges also didn't identify any noises that are noticeable aggravating, making this air conditioner a great option if you are a light sleeper.
For our final testing metric, we estimated the cost of running each of these units for a summer and scored their performance based on how much additional cost they would add to your power bill. This accounts for the remaining 15% of the total score. We did this by making a few assumptions on the cost of electricity and how much usage the A/C will get, but the relative ranking should be the same, even if your usage is wildly different. The Whynter ARc-122DS Elite is about average when it comes to energy consumption, earning it a 5 out of 10 in this metric.
For our projected cost, we assumed that you would run the A/C for 12 hours a day, every single day of summer (90 days). We also assumed that 2 of those hours would be on high, right when you got home to quickly cool the house, then the remaining 10 would be on low to keep it cold. We measured the power draw of each unit on both modes with a wattmeter, then used $0.135 per kilowatt-hour to compute the total cost for a summer. For the ARC-122DS Elite, this led to a projected 1000.8 kilowatt-hours used and an additional $131.61 added to your electric bill. You can see how this compares to the rest of the group in the chart below.
This air conditioning unit isn't a fantastic value, as you can get comparable performance with a slightly less expensive unit, but it is totally worth it to pay a little bit extra for the ARC-122DS Elite if you deal with triple-digit temperatures on a regular basis.
The Whynter ARC-122DS Elite is one of our favorite portable air conditioners that we have tested to date, easily meriting an Editors' Choice Award. It is very quiet, decently easy to move with solid cooling power and is one of the products best equipped to handle the hottest summer days.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer