The Whynter ARC-122DS Elite is one of our all-time favorite portable air conditioners. If you live in an area that regularly experiences high temperatures, this dual-hose unit is more than capable of keeping you cool in situations where single-hose models would flounder. Not only does this appliance boast excellent cooling abilities, it barely makes a sound. Its energy consumption isn't egregious, but noticeable. If you need an AC unit that can really crank out cold air, the Elite is the portable AC for you.Editor's Note: This review was updated on April 21, 2022, to give additional purchase recommendations.
Whynter ARC-122DS Elite Review
Pros: Very quiet, decently portable, solid cooling performance
Cons: Expensive, bulky window insert
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|Pros||Very quiet, decently portable, solid cooling performance||Great value, highly portable, performed well in our energy-efficiency test, solid cooling performance||Very quiet, exceptional cooling power||Energy efficient, easily portable||Easy to move, decent energy efficiency|
|Cons||Expensive, bulky window insert||Runs on the louder side||High energy consumption, expensive||Underwhelming cooling abilities||Poor cooling abilities, noisy|
|Bottom Line||If you live in a consistently hot climate, this is our favorite dual-hose portable AC||You'll save cash and receive exceptional performance, though it does run a touch louder than others||This is a solid performer for large rooms and one of the quietest models we tested||The lower cooling abilities do not quite make up for the energy-efficient capabilities||This is an expensive machine that is easy to move around but ultimately offers poor cooling abilities|
|Rating Categories||Whynter ARC-122DS E...||SereneLife SLPAC10||Whynter ARC-14SH||Airo Comfort||Midea 3-in-1|
|Cooling Power (40%)|
|Energy Cost (15%)|
|Specs||Whynter ARC-122DS E...||SereneLife SLPAC10||Whynter ARC-14SH||Airo Comfort||Midea 3-in-1|
|Modes||Cool, dry, fan||Cool, dry, fan||Cool, dry, fan, heat||Cool, dry, fan||Heat, auto, cool, dry, fan|
|Number of Fan Speeds||3||3||3||3||4|
|Measured Weight||60.4 lbs||54.7 lbs||77.2 lbs||51.5 lbs||56.2 lbs|
|Window Kit Length (without modification)||Min: 20"
Max: 50 1/8"
|Measured kWh on High (Average)||1.06 kWh||0.91 kWh||1.12 kWh||0.71 kWh||0.85 kWh|
|Measured dBa on High at 4'||57 dBa||62 dBa||56.5 dBa||58 dBa||60.5 dBa|
|Room Rating||400 sq ft||350 sq ft||500 sq ft||350 sq ft||200 sq ft|
|Single or Dual hose||Dual||Single||Dual||Single||Single|
|Projected Summer Cost||$131.61||$116.22||$159.06||$88.17||$122.60|
|Measured Temperature Drop After 60 Minutes||10°F||11ºF||11.99°F||6ºF||8ºF|
Our Analysis and Test Results
At 40%, cooling power is responsible for the largest portion of the overall score for each of these home appliances. Our set of cooling assessments has 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 AC 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 AC. The ARC-122DS Elite did fairly well, meriting an average score for its efforts.
This 12,000 BTU portable air conditioner is rated for rooms up to 400 square feet; it 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 80s.
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. This compares well with the rest of the group.
This is one of the easier models to push around and it offers 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.
We weren't huge fans of the handle design, finding it to be both difficult to hold on to and exceptionally uncomfortable. However, the window insert is fairly easy to install. It requires the use of a screwdriver, but it allows for a ton of adjustability, from 20" to 46".
Next, we evaluated how loud each of the appliances are. This metric is responsible for 20% of the total score for each portable AC, based on how each product did in two different tests. We measured the sound output of each unit with an SPL meter from four feet away and then had a panel of testers rate the tone of the noise produced, looking to identify any particularly vexing sounds that our SPL measurement might not pick up. This portable air conditioner is actually one of the quietest and least acoustically intrusive products we've tested.
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 didn't identify any noticeably aggravating noises, 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 AC will get, but the relative ranking should be the same, even if your usage is wildly different. The Elite is about average when it comes to energy consumption.
For our projected cost, we assumed that you would run the AC for 12 hours a day, every single day of summer (90 days). We also assumed that two 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 Elite, this led to a projected 1000.8 kilowatt-hours used and an additional $131.61 added to your electric bill.
Should You Buy the Whynter ARC-122DS Elite?
The Whynter ARC-122DS Elite is one of our favorite portable air conditioners that we have tested to date, easily meriting an award. It is very quiet, decently easy to move, and its dual-hose construction makes it one of the products best equipped to handle the hottest summer days.
What Other Portable Air Conditioners Should You Consider?
If you need the most powerful model in our test group, we recommend the Whynter ARC-14SH, which cranked out the most cold air with its 14,000 BTUs. It's a bit pricier and less energy efficient, but it trumps the rest for cooling power. If you don't need something so powerful, the SereneLife SLPAC10 is our favorite model for its low price, low energy consumption, and good cooling power.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer
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