Narrowly missing out on the top spot, the Whynter ARC-14SH is one of the better portable air conditioners that we have tested. This 14,000 BTU air conditioner has solid cooling power and is particularly quiet. Additionally, it is also decently easy to move. However, this model consumes tons of energy and is a bit on the expensive side, so you are probably better served by other models if you don't need the BTU's.
Whynter ARC-14SH Review
Pros: Very quiet, decent cooling power
Cons: High energy consumption, expensive
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Our Analysis and Test Results
This portable air conditioner finished just a few points behind some of the top models, the Whynter ARC-08WB and the Whynter ARC-122DS Elite. The ARC-14SH is the most expensive of this trio and costs the most to run, but it did perform better in our cooling tests. The ARC-08WB is much louder than both the ARC-122DS Elite and the ARC-14SH, but uses much less energy and is quite a bit more portable.
In our quest to find the best portable air conditioning unit out there, we did tons of research, then bought the products that showed the most potential and tested them head-to-head. We ranked and rated their performance in four different rating metrics, with our tests and the Whynter ARC-14SH's results described below.
Responsible for the largest portion of the total score for each air conditioner at 40%, our cooling capabilities test is the most important one that we conducted. We essentially heated up a room as hot as we could in the middle of summer, then ran each air conditioner for 60 minutes and scored them off of the temperature drop. The ARC-14SH delivered one of the better performances of the group, earning a 6 out of 10 for its results.
The Whynter ARC-14SH dropped the temperature by 11.99°F after 60 minutes — one of the largest drops of the group.
This portable air conditioner dropped the temperature quite quickly, achieving an 8.2°F drop after 20 minutes — expected, as our test room was only 161 sq. ft. and it has one of the highest BTU ratings of the bunch.
Moving on to how easily moved these portable air conditioners are, we graded and scored how much effort it took to roll these around and carry them, as well as how hard it was to install or remove the exhaust hose and its window insert. The Whynter ARC-14SH is about average overall in these tests, earning it a 5 out of 10 in this metric, which accounts for 25% of the total score.
This A/C is quite easy to roll around, though there is a tiny bit of weirdness with its steering. It only has a small amount of rolling resistance, but will pull to one side every so often.
This portable A/C is fine to roll around, but is absolutely horrendous to carry. It is one of the heaviest units out of the entire group, weighing in at a little more than 77 lbs.
The handles are also on the small side, creating undue pressure on your hands and easily making this one of our least favorite air conditioners to carry up or down a flight of stairs.
However, it is one of the easiest models to move when it comes to installing or removing the window insert. You do need a screwdriver, but you can tighten the screws down where ever you want, affording you the entire range between 20" and 46".
Responsible for 20% of the total score, we next assessed how much noise each of these appliances generated and if any were particularly irritating. The Whynter ARC-14SH did very well in this metric, earning an 8 out of 10 for its almost silent operation — one of the highest scores of the group.
We had a group of users rate the tone of the sound of each air conditioner, as well as measuring the audio level with an SPL meter to determine the scores. This meter was placed about 4' away and out of the direct line of the vents of the A/C.
Both our panel of judges and the SPL meter agreed that this was both one of the quietest units we tested, measuring in at 54.8 dBa.
Additionally, all the judges noted that this one of the least intrusive air conditioners soundwise, making it a great option for lighter sleepers.
For the final 15% of the total score for each product, we scored each one on how much you can expect it to add to your energy bill with moderate use. We defined moderate use as running the A/C for 12 hours each day of the summer (90 days), with 2 hours on high to quickly cool the room upon your return and 10 hours on low to keep it cool. The Whynter ARC-14SH is a bit of an energy hog, earning it a 2 out of 10 for this metric.
We measured the power draw of each portable A/C on both low and high power modes, then used an average cost of electricity to project the additional added cost. With this amount of usage, the ARC-14SH would add about $160 to your power bill over that time period — quite a bit higher than most of the products we tested.
This A/C isn't a great value, having a relatively high initial cost, as well as a higher cost to run.
While this A/C is quiet and has solid cooling power, it's a bit expensive and is exceptionally heavy. Overall, we would recommend you stick with another model, unless you absolutely need a 14,000 BTU portable air conditioner.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer