Best Air Conditioner for Basement: What’s Best?

During the summer, a basement can get downright unbearable. If you’re considering finishing your basement, then air conditioning is a possibility but with a few caveats.

If your basement has a window, you will be able to install a window air conditioner (although you may need to do modifications to the window kit). If your basement doesn’t have a window, you will need to either get a mini-split system installed or consider other options like a fan.

Below we’ll dive deep into what the best air conditioning for a basement is and its pros/cons.

Let’s get into it.

What to Consider Before Adding an Air Conditioner to Your Basement

Air conditioners use energy when they turn hot air into cold which in turn creates hot air that must be vented outside. An exhaust hose is necessary to remove this hot air otherwise you’ll end up with that hot air staying inside of your basement and a useless air conditioner.

Your options are limited unless you have a window in your basement. Some basements will have a basement window called an “Egress window”. If you have an egress window, you can install a window air conditioner with some modifications to the window installation kit.

If you don’t have a window in your basement, then you can opt for a ductless mini split system. The benefit of a mini-split air conditioner is that 1) it’s energy efficient and won’t cost a ton on energy and 2) they can also heat your basement as well. The caveat here though is that you will need to have a vent professionally installed which can cost upwards of $10,000.

If you don’t want to spend a ton of money, then you can opt for a portable air conditioner. As I stated before, you will however need to have the ability to vent your air conditioner unit somehow. You can also opt to dehumidify your basement instead resulting in a less humid environment.

If you’re strapped on cash and don’t feel like upgrading your current HVAC system, then you can use a high powered fan to get the air moving in your basement. Choosing the right air conditioner for your basement will depend on how much you’re willing to spend. I recommend going for a mini split system if you can afford it.

Can I put portable AC in basement?

Yes, you can put a portable air conditioner in your basement as long as you have a window to vent the hot air outside. You will however need to mod the window installation kit.

If you’re looking to get an egress window installed in your basement, then it will cost around $100 to $700 per window plus installation costs. This will also allow your basement to be considered as a finished basement by residential building code standards. You can see how to mod your air conditioner’s window kit below.

5 Best Air Conditionering Options for a Basement

1. Mini-Split

Cooper & Hunter 12,000 BTU

What I like

This 12000 BTU mini split system will be able to cool down 350-400 square foot basement. If your basement is larger or smaller, you can opt to go with the 9000 BTU, 18,000, 24,000, 30-36000 units depending on your preference. Remember, you should get a unit that is quoted for a bigger size than your current basement.

I like that you’ll be able to enjoy from a 7 year warranty on the compressor and 5 years parts warranty. They do however recommend you get this professionally installed as do I, you don’t want your investment into upgrading your HVAC system to go wrong.

You’ll be able to enjoy its quiet operation if you plan to turn your basement into a bedroom. You can opt to include a WiFi USB module if you prefer to use the app on your phone. If you don’t, it’s ok as you’ll still be able to enjoy from a full featured remote control.

A mini-split system will also allow you to enjoy the heat as well as cold air. Whether it’s winter season or summer, you’ll be in comfort in your basement all year long. Reviewers mention this air conditioning unit also kept the humidity down even when temperatures were around 83 degrees.

What I don’t like

The one downside with a mini split system is that it costs quite a bit to have installed.


If you don’t mind spending a bit an investing into your basement, then you’ll be able to enjoy the best air conditioner for your basement! You’ll also enjoy increased air quality as you’ll have fresh air coming into your basement at all times.

2. Portable Air Conditioner

TOSOT 10,000 BTU

What I like

With so many portable air conditioners to choose from, this one is sure to keep your basement cool. I’d even say it’s up there for best portable air conditioner! Remember that you will have to do modifications to the installation kit as it will not fit into a normal basement window.

With built in dehumidifier and fan speed settings, you’ll be able to control this portable air conditioner from anywhere with the included remote. It’ll cool down a 400 square foot basement with ease. You can even turn your basement into a finished basement and sleep well with the lower noise mode.

You can install this on a horizontal or vertical sliding window if you have a full sized window in your basement. It shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes to set this bad boy up if you have a normal window in your basement.

This model also has X-fan technology, which will keep the fan spinning to dry any accumulated water within the system and the exhaust hose. It has child lock and adjustable timer functions as well. Not only that, the reusable air filter is going to make this portable air conditioner easy to maintain.

What I don’t like

If you don’t have a full sized window in your basement, you will have to deal modding the installation kit to fit a portable air conditioner. They aren’t as efficient as a mini-split system as well.


If you have a full sized window in your basement, then portable air conditioners are a good option. You will save money over a mini-split system, but don’t expect it to work as good either.

3. Fans

Vornado 660 Large Whole Room

What I like

Another option for air conditioning in your basement is a fan. A fan like this is going to not just blow air around, it creates a vortex which will make it feel like there is a draft inside of your basement. I also recommend this unit as a garage gym fan which many people have cherished as the hot season comes through.

You’ll be able to choose from 4 speed buttons right on the top of the fan. The deep pitched blades are perfect for circulating air in up to 100 ft! That’s incredible, and with how many positive reviews I see this fan having, it’s hard not to recommend it.

The price point on this unit over other air conditioners on this list is great. You don’t need to break the bank to enjoy the cooling power of this fan right in your basement. You can upgrade the unit if you’d like to work with Alexa as well.

It comes with 5 years of hassle-free warranty which is great if you notice anything wrong with your AC unit. Reviewers mention that this fan running on 1 or 2 speed is as quiet as a faucet running in the background.

What I don’t like

You will have to keep in mind that a fan is not going to be the same as a basement air conditioning system. You’ll be circulating air around in your basement but it won’t be anything like having a mini split installed.


If you don’t want to spend a ton of money, the Vornado 660 is a stylish pick that’ll keep air circulating around in your basement without any issue.

4. Dehumidifier

hOmeLabs 3,000 Sq. Ft

What I like

Instead of upgrading your existing unit, you’ll be able to take care of the humidity inside of your indoor air and reduce mold growth and any condensation issues. In turn, you may realize that you don’t need to install a pricy air conditioner after all!

This unit is rated to remove up to 35 points from the air per day. You’ll be able to enjoy from its energy star certification so you’ll have less energy bills to pay at the end of the month VS any other air conditioner on this list.

You won’t have any trouble using this dehumidifier either as its front panel is easy to read and control. You can choose from comfort, continuous, or turbo options depending on how much humidity you want to remove from the air.

Odors will also be a thing of the past as this unit will reduce the condensation in your basement and take away any damp/mold growth that may be occurring due to excess humidity. This unit is also rated to work between 1500 and 3000 square feet which is going to be large enough for any basement.

What I don’t like

One problem with basement dehumidifiers is that you’ll need to drain the water somehow. Normally, you’d set it to use continuous drain and feed the exhaust hose outside. You will however be in a basement so you’ll have to take the water up and down the stairs every so often.


If you don’t mind taking the water up the stairs every other day, then you’ll be able to save on upgrading to a pricy basement air conditioner system.

5. Window AC

Frigidaire Window-Mounted Room Air Conditioner

What I like

Basement window air conditioners will only be able to be installed if you have a full-sized window available in your basement. If you have a smaller egress basement window, then you will not be able to install a basement window air conditioner so keep that in mind.

Window air conditioners are some of the most energy-efficient models out there which is something I always enjoy seeing. You’ll be able to enjoy not only dehumidifier functions but multiple fan speeds and sleep mode. No matter what season it is, you’ll be able to use this window air conditioner to its max capacity.

It also has a 24 hour on and off timer should you be forgetful like me. The remote control is a nice touch, giving you access to your window air conditioner no matter where you are in the room. Adjust the temperature or control the fan speed settings from the comfort of your bed.

The washable filter is another nice touch that makes maintenance super easy. Once the check filter light comes on, all you need to do is give the filter a quick rinse and you’ll be on your way.

What I don’t like

As stated earlier, a window air conditioner will not work in a basement unless you have a full sized basement window. Depending on how your basement is laid out, this may be impossible to install.


If you do have the ability to install this into a full sized basement window, then this basement window air conditioner is another great choice.

6. Vent Your Central AC to Your Basement

Your second option would be to vent your current HVAC system to your basement. The issue here though is if your current AC is already near its capacity, you won’t be able to add more load to your current air conditioner.

If you’re dead set on using your current central AC system, you will need to consult with an HVAC technician and find the best way to get cool air into your basement.

Final Thought

The best air conditioner for your basement will be dependent on your budget. If you have a ton of money to spend, a mini-split system will be your best option. If you don’t have money to spare, then you can opt for a fan or a crawl space/basement dehumidifier to try and make your basement a pleasant place to stay.

If you’re interested, you can also check out our guides for best 15000 window air conditioners, best 12000 BTU window air conditioners and best 14000 portable air conditioner.

About Roy Cohen

Roy Cohen has a burning passion for heating, cooling, and ventilation. He aims to help you save money on expensive repairs and bring you the best HVAC products. He has years of experience behind him in HVAC repair and garage maintenance.

You can find Roy at his LinkedIn or his email: [email protected]

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