Every year, as spring turns to summer, your home and car AC systems are pushed to the limit. In some places, the entire power grid is pushed to its limit- just ask residents of the state of Texas! Record-breaking heat waves make it hard for people to spend time outside (and sometimes inside).
Fortunately, there are a few products you can buy online that make the sweltering heat bearable. Wearable air conditioners keep you cool and sweat-free, even amid the hottest summer days. Check out our list of the best wearable air conditioners to find the one that fits you best!
What is a Wearable Air Conditioner?
Heat is an ever-present and dangerous aspect of the summer. Each year, hundreds of people die from heat-related illnesses, and seniors are the most vulnerable to them. If you’re an older person or you have an elderly loved one, an unexpected heatwave such as the one that struck the Pacific Northwest in June 2021 can quickly become a disaster.
Wearable air conditioners are portable, personal cooling products that help you keep from overheating and sweating too much. Wearable ACs are also helpful for dealing with hot flashes that occur as part of menopause. Whether you’re walking around the neighborhood, trying to stay cool while exercising, or trying to outlast the “dog days of summer”, these small electronic devices are here to help!
How Does a Wearable Air Conditioner Work?
Wearable air conditioners are electronic products, worn around the neck and shoulders, that gently blow cold air onto the user. They are small, lightweight, and battery-powered, operating quietly and generally unobtrusive- they let you go about your day without getting in the way.
Wearable ACs use two types of technology. The first is obvious: electronic fans that circulate air around your neck and face. The second type of technology is a bit less common: manufacturers call them superconductors, even though this term isn’t entirely accurate. They consist of a thermoelectric chip inside the AC device and an aluminum plate on the outside, that makes contact with your skin.
These chips can efficiently transfer heat back and forth because of a process called the Peltier effect. It’s too technical to get into here, but it means the superconductor in a wearable AC simultaneously draws heat away from your body while remaining very cold. Wearable ACs do not blow cold air; rather, they circulate normal air and the superconductors make the back of your neck cool. This cooling sensation slowly spreads down your back, keeping you comfortable and cozy.
Most wearable air conditioners will run for at least 2 hours before the batteries need to be changed or charged. Many will last far longer, typically 6-8 hours but sometimes up to 30 hours!
Wearable AC vs Portable Fan
Sometimes, you will see very inexpensive items listed as “wearable air conditioners”, but be wary of these products- they are usually just portable fans. There is nothing wrong with them, per se- it’s just that they aren’t technically air conditioners unless they have a cooling element.
If you want a portable fan with no cooling element, that is completely fine- it’s just very frustrating to purchase an item and realize that it isn’t the type of device you thought it was!
Pros and cons of Wearable Air Conditioners
Best Wearable Air Conditioners
1. Best Wearable Air Conditioner (Overall): TORRAS Coolify Portable Fan
The Torras Coolify is a sleek, effective air conditioner that uses a superconductor to instantly cool your neck. That cool sensation will quickly spread throughout your body, and the whisper-quiet fans will keep a continual and cool breeze on your neck. The fans have three different power settings, and the superconductor can be turned on and off, saving the battery when you need it.
The batteries on the TORRAS Coolify will last for 8 hours on the lowest setting and two hours on the most intense setting. When the battery is drained, all you have to do is plug the unit into a wall for 2.5 hours, and it’s ready to go again!
The Coolify is one of the most expensive wearable air conditioners on the market because it’s the highest-performing wearable conditioner on the market. No other fan or personal AC gets quite as cold, making the Coolify an absolute no-brainer for anyone who can afford it!
Best wearable air conditioner (Runners-Up)
2. Best Budget Wearable AC: Normia Rita Personal AC
This inexpensive wearable AC works just like the TORRAS Coolify- it has a sleek design and uses a superconductor to cool your neck and face. The biggest differences between this AC and the Coolify are price and performance.
While this wearable AC costs one-third of what the TORRAS Coolify does, it doesn’t cool you off quite as quickly, nor does the battery last that long. If you can’t afford a $150+ wearable air conditioner or can’t justify that price to yourself, though, this is the best wearable AC for you.
3. Best Adjustable Portable AC: Northfan Hands-Free Personal Air Conditioner
There are two key differences between this device from Northfan and other wearable AC units. The first is adjustability: it lets you adjust the direction of the fans up to 45 degrees, focusing the air on different parts of your upper body and head.
The second difference is that the superconductor has what resembles an “exhaust vent”, which draws heat away from your neck and makes the cooling sensation of the superconductor more effective.
The biggest drawback comes as a result of the adjustability. Rather than providing a breeze all around you, the fans only blow directly from each end. If you like having cool air surrounding your head and neck, this isn’t the right device for you. If, on the other hand, you prefer the ability to control where the air is hitting you, choose the Northfan Hands-Free Personal Air Conditioner!
4. Best Wearable AC for Battery Life: BLAUX Wearable AC Plus
This device works similarly to the others on our list, with one major advantage: the battery lasts for up to 30 hours before it needs to be recharged! If you live in a home without AC or the AC is broken, battery life like this can go a long way toward getting you through the hottest days of the summer.
Alongside the long battery life, the BLAUX Wearable AC Plus has a very efficient cooling plate that stays colder longer than similar superconductor plates on other devices. It also has 120-degree rotating fans and can expand to accommodate larger users. If you’re looking for an efficient, adaptable neck AC that will keep you cool all summer long, this is it!
Buying Guide: How to Choose a Wearable Air Conditioner
Price Range of Wearable Air Conditioners
If you want to get a portable neck fan, you can expect to spend less than $40 to be satisfied. Portable air conditioners, however, will cost between $45 and $150. Why the big price difference? It all comes down to the superconductor chips.
Because wearable AC’s use the same type of superconductors that are found in refrigerators, they are more expensive to manufacture, leading to a higher purchase price. If you know that a simple fan won’t be enough for you, you will have to spend more to stay cool. If simple air circulation is all you need, however, you can save a decent chunk of money by choosing a neck fan without cooling technology.
What to Look for in a Wearable Air Conditioner
This is an essential feature of wearable air conditioners. If the battery dies out after just 90 minutes and takes 3 hours to charge, you are going to spend far more time waiting to feel cool than actually feeling cool!
Before you buy a wearable AC, make sure you know both how long the battery lasts and how long it takes to charge. If you’re only using it for daily exercise, short battery life shouldn’t deter you- people without home AC, though, should take this feature very seriously!
Aside from battery life, this is where different models of wearable ACs vary the most. Some are extremely quiet, others can be distracting when set at their highest intensity. Depending on how/where you use them, noise levels can be meaningless or crucially important.
For example, if you are using your wearable AC at home during the summer, a noisy unit is going to get annoying pretty quickly. If you only use it while running or cycling outdoors, however, noise isn’t so much of an issue.
No matter what your purpose, however, make sure you consider how loud or quiet the wearable air conditioner you buy will be!
Some wearable ACs have internal fans and multiple vents that will circulate air everywhere around your face, neck, and shoulders. Others have two simple fans on either end, blowing cool air directly at your face only.
If you typically sweat in your neck area, you may be disappointed by a wearable AC that only blows air in two places. Before you make your purchase, confirm whether or not the device will circulate air where you need it!
If you have long hair, this is an important consideration for you. The more exposed the blades of a fan are, the more likely it is that your hair will eventually get caught in the fan. Luckily, most wearable air conditioners have well-concealed fans to deal with this potential issue.
Other products, though they are effective and comfortable, do not fully conceal the fan blades- think about #4 on our list, the BLAUX Wearable AC Plus. If you have long hair, a product like this might result in a frustrating (and painful) journey of untangling your hair!
People with long hair will be best served by the TORRAS Coolify, #1 on our list, with fans so well-hidden you can hardly hear them, much less see them!
Wearable air conditioners won’t solve all your problems, but they are an effective way to deal with heat and prevent heat exhaustion during the hottest parts of the summer. If you’re tired of sweating your way through the day, one of the wearable ACs on our list should be able to help!
Have any questions about wearable technology? Or, do you have recommendations for other readers? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!