So you have this one room in your house that’s just way too hot to handle, but there’s no way to install an air conditioner in the window. Well, as luck would have it, the best Portable Air Conditioners are lifesavers for just this situation. There are pros and cons here, such as it’s great to have a machine on wheels that will make any room cold. But they need to pump out all that hot air with a hose which needs to be connected to a window or exhausts outside. So windows and access to the outside are still required.
Unlike the air conditioner window units we are all familiar with, many building regulations do not allow their use. The great advantage of portable air conditioners is that all the mechanical parts actually sit in the room, although they do need their space in order not to block the air flow. While some may be large and heavy, they are on wheels and portable once you want to move them. Be sure to install the hose and window vent well in order to keep the hot air from leaking back into the room.
Best Portable Air Conditioners
- 1 Best Portable Air Conditioners
- 1.1 Honeywell MN10CESWW 10,000 btu Portable Air Conditioner
- 1.2 BLACK and DECKER BPACT12WT 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
- 1.3 Titan TT-ACP10C01 10,000 btu Portable Air Conditioner
- 1.4 Whynter ARC-14ST 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
- 1.5 Haier HPND14XCP 13,500 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
- 1.6 Honeywell HL14CHESWW, 14000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
- 1.7 Shinco YPL310C 10,000 BTU
- 1.8 Honeywell HL12CESWG 12000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
- 1.9 Whynter Platinum ARC-12S 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
- 1.10 Haier HPND14XHP 13500/11000 BTU Heating Portable Air Conditioner
- 1.11 11. 13,700 BTU – ENERGY STAR – 115 volt – 12.2 EER Kuhl Series Room Air Conditioner
- 2 Buying Guide
- 2.1 Why Buy a Portable Air Conditioner?
- 2.2 Benefits of Portable Air Conditioners
- 2.3 Who Buys Portable Air Conditioners?
- 2.4 Disadvantages of Portable Air Conditioners
- 2.5 Deciding Between Portable and Window Air Conditioners
- 2.6 What Size Portable Air Conditioner Should I Go For?
- 2.7 How will using a Portable Air Conditioner Affect My Electric Bill?
- 2.8 How Do Portable Air Conditioners Work?
- 2.9 Operating a Portable Air Conditioner
- 2.10 Venting Portable Air Conditioners
- 2.11 Installing Your Portable Air Conditioner with a Window Kit
- 2.12 Replacing Portable Air Conditioner Window Kits
- 2.13 5 Tips for Maintaining Your Portable Air Conditioner
- 2.14 How Does the Water Drain from Portable Air Conditioners?
- 2.15 Some Dos and Don’ts in Using Portable Air Conditioners
- 3 Summary
- Brand: Honeywell
- BTU: 10,000
- Dimension: 15.2 x 18.1 x 29.4 inches
- Weight: 61.7 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
- Brand: BLACK+DECKER
- BTU: 12,000
- Dimension: 17.1 x 13.8 x 28.1 inches
- Weight: 59.5 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
- Brand: Titan
- BTU: 10, 000
- Dimension: 14.4 x 17.9 x 27.6 inches
- Weight: 62.8 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
- Brand: Whynter
- BTU: 14,000
- Dimension: 16 x 19 x 35.5 inches
- Weight: 80 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
Honeywell MN10CESWW 10,000 btu Portable Air Conditioner
A clear fan favorite is the list topping Honeywell MN10CESWW 10000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner. This modestly-priced beauty is a sleek white cooling machine that easily handles jobs up to 350 square feet without breaking a sweat. In fact, this modern, high tech marvel gets a good chill going and provides full on dehumidification.
What really makes this Honeywell model the highest rated Portable Air Conditioner is it’s environmentally friendly compressor, 3M electrostatic filter and auto-evaporation function that delivers hours of blissful cool air with absolutely no water to mess with or bucket to empty. Add to that a shiny little remote control and digital LCD with feather touch controls and a #1 rating from Consumer Reports. The Honeywell MN10CESWW is a 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner that weighs 61.7 pounds and 74.5 pound in its shipping container. The product dimensions are 15.2 x 18.1 x 29.4 inches. This modestly priced unit comes with a 5 year limited warranty and can be easily installed without a professional.
BLACK and DECKER BPACT12WT 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
Black and Decker is well known to hardware aficionados as an excellent brand. This is one of the top portable air conditioners not only because it very effectively cools your 500 square foot space quickly, but it does it very quietly. The vertical motion in the louvers provides powerful and consistent airflow and temperature all day and night.
This powerhouse has done away with the water bucket altogether and the removable filter can easily be rinsed out, providing an endless supply of cool, fresh air. The 24 hour on/off timer and sleep mode allows you to return home to a nice, cool environment and sleep in comfy silence. It’s in the middle of the price range, but in comparison to other models, this top performer shines and is worth the extra investment.
The Black and Decker BPACT12WT is a12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Remote Control. It weighs 59.5 pounds and 73.3 pounds in its shipping container. The product dimensions are 17.1 x 13.8 x 28.1 inches. This mid-range priced unit comes with a one-year labor and parts warranty and five-year warranty on the compressor and can be easily installed without a professional. The maximum length of the exhaust hose is 4 feet and 11 inches.
Titan TT-ACP10C01 10,000 btu Portable Air Conditioner
As it’s name would imply, the Titan TT-ACP10C0110000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner is a true beast of burden that cools and dehumidifies up to 350 square feet with a powerful three speed fan. This reasonably priced Portable Air conditioner is one of our top picks because of it’s ingenious Auto Restart Function that stores your last temperature and power setting and automatically restarts where you left off, even after a power outage.
The Titan Self-Evaporative System auto-drains water by forcing hot moist air outside through the vent hose. Micro drops of water are sent flying out harmlessly so you don’t have to bother emptying heavy water jugs all the time. To top it off, this is an Eco-Friendly & Energy Efficient room cooling solution that uses CFC free, lead free, non ozone-damaging refrigerant. So now you can get cold quick and really feel good about it.
The Titan TT-ACP10C01 is a 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner that weighs 62.8 pounds and 71.6 pound in its shipping container. The product dimensions are 14.4 x 17.9 x 27.6 inches. This reasonably priced unit comes with a 115V/60HZ power supply and a 7.5 ft. power cord. It is UL listed and it’s easy non-permanent installation can be easily removed.
Whynter ARC-14ST 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
This powerhouse lands in our top five highest rated Portable Air Conditioners. The Whynter ARC-14ST, at 14,000 BTU, will blast 500 square feet of cool, fresh air and expel the hot air with a Dual Hose exhaust system, all in Compact, Eco-Friendly Design. Also a dehumidifier, this top pick operates under full thermostatic control from 61°F to 89°F.
The Whynter does not come with the best window installation kit and can be pretty noisy, but it does a great job of draining the water by pulling moisture from the air and recycling it. This method prevents excess condensation from accumulating.
This cool baby is perfect for continuous use and is ideal not only for the odd bedroom or living room, but for computer or server rooms, workshops and any place with sensitive equipment. The dual exhaust cools your room much more efficiently and the odor-neutralizing, washable carbon filter, keeps that cooled air fresh and clean all day and night.
The Whynter ARC-14S Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner, outputs 14,000 BTUs and weighs 80 pounds and 100 pounds in its shipping container. The product dimensions are 16 x 19 x 35.5 inches. This reasonably priced unit comes with a one year limited warranty and three-year warranty on the compressor.
- Brand: Haier
- BTU: 13500
- Dimension: 17.8 x 29.4 x 15.2 inches
- Weight: 67 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
- Brand: Honeywell
- BTU: 14000
- Dimension: 18.9 x 15.7 x 31.3 inches
- Weight: 64 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
- Brand: Shinco
- BTU: 10,000
- Dimension: 17 x 13 x 31.3 inches
- Weight: 54 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
- Brand: Honeywell
- BTU: 12000
- Dimension: 18.9 x 15.7 x 31.3 inches
- Weight: 64 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
Haier HPND14XCP 13,500 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
Another power player on our list is the Haier HPND14XCP. With its air blasting 13,500 BTU, you’ll keep 500-600 square feet nice and cool no matter what’s happening with the weather outside. We’ve had this guy operating with ease, keeping us nice and cool at 74 degrees, even on days with more than 50% humidity and 100 degree temps.
You’ll thank the self-evaporation feature on those brutal days when the water would normally build up fast. The Haier’s double exhaust and serious compressor manage to operate on 1,250 watts and won’t kill your electricity bill, although it’s serious capabilities in comparison to the other machines are matched by a very hefty price tag.
Haier HPND14XCP is a 13500 BTU Portable Air Conditioner that weighs 67 pounds and 80 pounds in its shipping container. The product dimensions are 17.8 x 29.4 x 15.2 inches. This unit comes with a 1 year limited warranty and 5 year warranty on the compressor and can be easily installed without a professional.
Honeywell HL14CHESWW, 14000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
Honeywell manages a second entry in our top ten list with its room busting HL14CHESWW, 14000 BTU super-cooler. This unit’s massive capabilities are made even more impressive by its silence and modest price. It will quietly and instantly cool even the most exposed sunroom in your house.
As part of the Honeywell line, it manages to keep a sleek, cool look with an array of powerful and high end features under the hood, such as dehumidifying, heating, continuous draining that will remove up to 111 pints of moisture through the vent hose every 24 hours. This machine keeps you cool as a cucumber on a sultry day and toasty warm in a blizzard.
The Honeywell HL14CHESWW is a 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner that weighs 64 pounds and 72 pounds in its shipping container. The product dimensions are 18.9 x 15.7 x 31.3 inches. This relatively pricey unit comes with a 5 year limited warranty and can be easily installed without a professional.
Shinco YPL310C 10,000 BTU
The Shinco YPL310C, at 10,000 BTUs, manages serious cooling power in spaces up to 300 square feet at a very low price in comparison to the competition. If you’re looking to cool an RV parked in the hot Texas sun, this guy will do it in spades and it won’t bust your budget.
The Self-evaporative system doesn’t even bother including a water tank since the condensing water is recycled, which improves efficiency in cooling your room. This is a rather large and noisy air conditioner which bothers some owners, but you’ll love the digital controls and the remote with precise temperature adjustments.
The Shinco YPL310C is a 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner that weighs 54 pounds and 64.2 pounds in its shipping container. The product dimensions are 17 x 13 x 31.3 inches. This modestly priced unit comes with a warranty that covers 1 year of labor and parts and three years for the compressor and can be easily installed without a professional.
Honeywell HL12CESWG 12000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
Crank this big boy up and it will chill a small bedroom very quickly even on a very hot day. And by big boy we mean 80 pounds boxed, which is a bit of a chore for you guys with man caves in the attic. Its three speed fan is rated to cool and dehumidify up to 450 square feet and removes most of the water it draws out. There will be occasional trips to the sink to empty the water pan which is not so conveniently located.
If you are looking for a stylish addition to your room, this isn’t the model to choose. But if you are looking for serious cooling, this is a good option. The rollers are smooth and the installation is simple, so moving it around is a breeze. Turn it on before you go the bed and set the timer to shut off automatically. Maybe it will make coffee for you as well when you wake up.
The Honeywell HL12CESWG HL Series is a 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner that weighs 64 pounds and 81.9 pounds in its shipping container. The product dimensions are 18.9 x 15.7 x 31.3 inches. This unit is priced in the mid-range and comes with a 5 year limited comes with everything needed for installation, including a flexible exhaust hose and window venting kit, which can be removed when not in use.
- Brand: Whynter
- BTU: 12,000
- Dimension: 15.5 x 17 x 31 inches
- Weight: 62 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
- Brand: Haier
- BTU: 13500/11000
- Dimension: 17.8 x 29.4 x 15.2 inches
- Weight: 68 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
- Brand: Friedrich
- BTU: 13,700
- Dimension: 29 x 25.9 x 17.9 inches
- Weight: 140.2 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
Whynter Platinum ARC-12S 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
This Whynter model makes the list of best portable air conditioners because it packs a big punch of cold air for its relatively small size in comparison to many of the other units. The odor-neutralizing carbon filter does its job keeping the air fresh and clean. But the hose, sticking out from the back of the machine, requires extra space in your room and the hose gets very hot, so that extra space tends to warm up quite a bit.
This is a sleek-looking, platinum colored machine that is environmentally friendly. The air conditioner uses ozone-safe R-410A refrigerant and lead-free, RoHS-compliant components. Just like the other Whynter model in the list, you can use this strong performer in a server or machine room. In this model the air vents only allow left-right adjustment, not up and down, nor do they oscillate. So be sure to set it far enough away so the cold air will blow where you need it.
The Whynter ARC-12S is a 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner and weighs 62 pounds and 76.8 pounds in its shipping container. The product dimensions are 15.5 x 17 x 31 inches. This lower priced unit comes with a one year limited warranty and three-year warranty on the compressor and can be easily installed without a professional.
Haier HPND14XHP 13500/11000 BTU Heating Portable Air Conditioner
Imagine needing to keep your home nice, cool and fresh in Key West during the hot, humid summer. Well this unit does the job and even after months of constant use, you may never drain the water pan. Rated for rooms up to 500 square feet, this dual hose model has a three speed fan and full remote control.
On the downside, it can be noisy when the compressor cranks in and the highest speed fan does not push as much air as some of the other units. Like most Haier products, the design is cool and modern, with a glowing blue light in the center of the machine – that never turns off. If you’re a light sleeper that needs a completely dark room, get your scissors and tape ready.
The Haier HPND14XHP is 13500/11000 BTU Heating Portable Air Conditioner. It weighs 68 pounds and 81 pounds in its shipping container. The product dimensions are 17.8 x 29.4 x 15.2 inches. This unit comes with a 1 year limited warranty and 5 year warranty in the compressor and can be easily installed without a professional.
11. 13,700 BTU – ENERGY STAR – 115 volt – 12.2 EER Kuhl Series Room Air Conditioner
Kühl says it like this, “it has been engineered for quiet, yet powerful operation” and they are right. This is an old school product made to work, with quality, heavy materials and build. They use thick rubber mounts and insulation that absorb motor vibration and reduce noise. An 8-way air flow systems delivers your cold air where you need it and when you need it. Now!
The ENERGY STAR is rated to cool rooms up to 700 square feet and can be vented through the window, but works best and is quieter when the hose is place through the wall. This is already a very expensive machine and installing through the wall will add more cost to the project, but delivers results.
The cool thing about this model is the wifi enabled app that lets you control the unit with your device using a FriedrichLink Wi-Fi Adapter, sold separately. It’s big, it’s heavy and very expensive, but it does the job you’re buying it for and is quieter than many in-window units.
The Kuhl ENERGY STAR is a 13,700 BTU BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Remote Control and weighs 140.2 pounds. The product dimensions are 29 x 25.9 x 17.9 inches. This top of the line unit is built by Friedrich in San Antonio, Texas. It comes with a one-year labor and parts warranty and five-year warranty on the sealed refrigerant system. It is recommended to be installed through the wall, if possible, by a professional and comes with a window venting kit. Color kits available in Deep Red, Cobalt Blue, Designer White, Classic Beige, Black Onyx and Pink Diamond.
Why Buy a Portable Air Conditioner?
If you’re tired of sweating in your man cave or just avoiding certain rooms in your home that have no access to central air or do not allow window units, Portable Air Conditioners can provide a needed blast of cold air. The best portable air conditioners are a breeze to set up, are mobile and have become an increasingly popular cooling option. Whether your problem room is a bedroom, basement, dorm room, RV, attic or sunroom, you can find a portable air conditioner that is big enough, small enough or quiet enough to fit your specific needs.
Another great reason to purchase portable is versatility. Most portable air conditioners also dehumidify and freshen the air in your room. In fact, some of the units draw excess moisture out of the air in order to recycle this into cool air. If summer isn’t your only problem, heating functions make these units useful all year round.
Like most of us, once you’re comfortable in your favorite chair or nicely ensconced between your fresh, clean sheets, you will not want to get up to deal with your portable air conditioner. Such useful features as remote controls, self-timers, auto-reset, wifi options, blast modes and self-draining will set your mind and body at ease. Bottom line? There is a plethora of models manufactured by the most known brands in the cooling business, so you’re sure to find the portable air conditioner with your name on it.
Benefits of Portable Air Conditioners
A portable air conditioner is what it sounds like, a fully functional air conditioner that you move around. It stands on the floor in a room instead of sitting in a window and is meant to cool one room or space at a time. They can be easily moved from one room to another because they sit on wheels, making these units an excellent option in comparison to window units.
If you don’t know which type of air conditioner is right for you or your home, we will present some of the options for your consideration. Price is certain to be high on the list, but there is more than just price to consider. So let’s go in with an open mind towards making an educated decision.
Who Buys Portable Air Conditioners?
Since portable air conditioners can be moved around from room to room, home to home, or office to office, these are popular purchases for homeowners, renters and business owners alike. These units work well in any environment, and some are so good at reducing moisture and condensation, they have become popular additions in machine and server rooms.
Cooling One Room at a Time
Central air and large window air conditioners take a huge amount of electricity to operate. And as we all know, that means a pretty hefty bill at the end of the month. Part of your financial planning may be to install central air in only the larger rooms of your home, like the living and master bedroom, and leave the smaller rooms or less used rooms for portable air conditioners.
Many portable air conditioner models are eco-friendly and operate more economically than other methods of cooling. This option provides cooling everywhere you need it, while minimizing the cost. For times when you are home alone and need to little cool relief, charge up the portable, grab a nice cold iced-tea, sit back and relax knowing you’re not busting your budget.
Controlling the Room Environment
In hay season do your allergies or asthma make sleep a distant memory? Most serious allergy and asthma sufferers need cool, dry, optimized air to get a proper sleep. Most central air units do not address these needs well, nor do you want to run them all night.
Setting up a portable air conditioner in your loved one’s bedroom will provide just the right relief from air-borne allergens with a mix of dehumidification, air filtration, cooling and freshening. You can set the unit in sleep mode to run all night at just the desired temperature without freezing out the entire house or floor.
If you have a few children, they probably all like their rooms different temperatures. Blasting central air would not only waste money, it would not solve the problem. Placing portable air conditioners in the room or rooms of those who love the cold, brings affordable peace, relief and quiet to your home.
Portable air conditioners do not require building codes, holes in the wall, special electric plugs or extra phases of electricity to operate. All you need to do is hook up the 4″ hose to the back or top of the machine and vent the hot air from the inside to the outside, usually through a window. Installing a portable air conditioner requires a few simple steps and you can even move it around and install it in another room without damaging the window or the hose.
For offices and server rooms, there are venting kits to specially install these units through doors and drop down ceilings so the heat can get outside properly.
Whereas energy consumption of portable air conditioners varies by model, they do come in many sizes with suitability for different spaces. You can find the right sized model for your needs and chose a portable air conditioner that has solid energy efficiency ratings. Do your homework and check the energy requirements on the package or in the description in your online store.
Since portable air conditioners work best in single rooms at a time, they enhance your energy efficiency in comparison to operating a central unit when only needing to cool a specific room. You can use a small energy efficient portable unit to keep your room cool, making it a smart energy saving choice.
Disadvantages of Portable Air Conditioners
There are some solid and useful benefits with portable air conditioners, but with the good always comes some disadvantages. Some portable air conditioners need to be drained more than others, the purchase price can be higher than window units and they are not always efficient in cooling a room.
The Water Needs to Drain
Some portable air conditioners need frequent or constant draining, especially when using the dehumidifier. If you think about it, the moisture pulled from the air has to go somewhere. Some portable air conditioners have a tank included that would need to be emptied on a regular basis.
To overcome the drainage problem, you can a purchase a unit with auto-evaporation that basically does away with manual draining. Or some models allow you to plug a small hose into the water out take, that will take the water out without any more manual intervention. Keep this in mind when you do your research, because if you live in a hot and humid environment, in some homes, draining the water will be a constant issue. The best auto-evaporation models that mostly hands off cost a bit more, so you will have to decide which is best for you.
The Cost of Buying a Portable
Price is definitely an issue with portables in comparison to window units. When you have the choice and ability to install a window unit and price is your primary concern, window units can be had for far less investment. But that has not deterred the huge upsurge in demand for portable units. Mobility, simplicity, cool features and reputable manufacturers have made portable air conditioners a major category in the sector.
Portable air conditioner models start around $300 and can range all the way up to $1200 for top of the line, premium models, whereas smaller window units can start as low as $150. The advantages of portables, such as heating in the winter, motion sensing and dehumidifying provide extra features along with the higher prices.
BTU for BTU, some people think that portable air conditioners don’t measure up to the efficiency of window units. This may be true in many cases as window units don’t have to compensate for the enclosure and safety requirements of indoor operation.
Deciding Between Portable and Window Air Conditioners
We buy air conditioners for one primary reason, to defeat the elements in order to stay cool. Whether its portable or window-mounted, the final result needs to be a cool and comfy room while getting the most energy efficiency we can. In order to achieve the best results, there are a number of issues to think about in deciding which type of air conditioner to buy.
Window Air Conditioners
Window air conditioners have been an extremely popular and affordable way of cooling homes and offices for many years and have been hard at work for much longer compared to portable units. In most cases all you need to do it place the unit in an available window, extend the plastic side panels for the best fit and plug it in.
Problems Installing Window Units
Window air conditioners are made to standard sizes only and will not fit in non-standard sized windows or small windows. If your unit is large, most people will find it difficult to install and would not be possible as a one-person operation. Larger units also require the installation of a bracket system to support the bottom of the machine. In some cases this is quite difficult and if you rent, the landlord may not allow this installation. The downside of all window air conditioners in any case is losing the use of a window.
Can I install a Window Unit?
In many cases you simply have no option of a window unit, whether because of building codes and beauty, rental contract requirements or non-standard windows. In this case, you will find the best portable that suits your needs.
How much space is available?
One of the first considerations is space, or how much of it you have in your room. If you are severely limited, you may consider a window unit, since it does not sit on the floor and is always out of the way. But if you have the space and don’t want to kill your window, a portable unit can be perfect for you.
How large is your room?
In an average size bedroom, a relatively small window unit and a normal sized portable would suffice and work quite well, under normal conditions of use. In larger rooms, such as living rooms and basements, larger units would be necessary. A primary problem in cooling most living rooms is air leakage if there are no doors that can be closed or stairs that draw the air away. In these cases, the precious cold air can escape, meaning your unit will operate longer and it would be harder to maintain ideal temperatures.
What Size Portable Air Conditioner Should I Go For?
Like all other air conditioners, the common unit of measurement of power for portable air conditioners is BTUs, which stands for British Thermal Unit. As a unit of energy, you can think of it like this; a four-inch wooden kitchen match, completely burned, generates about 1 BTU.
Size definitely matters when it comes to BTU cooling power. The more your unit has, the more room it can cool. The following basic guidelines demonstrate the capacity your space will require, based on standard 8-foot ceilings:
- 7,500 BTUs = 150 square feet
- 9,000 BTUs = 200 square feet
- 10,000 BTUs = 300 square feet
- 12,000 BTUs = 400 square feet
- 13,000 BTUs = 450 square feet
- 14,000 BTUs = 500 square feet
We can categorize portable air conditioners by room size:
Small Rooms: portable air conditioners with 7,000 – 10,000 BTUs work well in small bedrooms or offices up to 300 square feet.
Medium-Sized Spaces: portable air conditioners with 10,000 – 14,000 BTUs work well in cooling medium to large areas such as living rooms, sun rooms, or larger bedrooms or offices that are between 350 and 700 square feet.
Large/Commercial Applications: There are industrial-sized portable air conditioners that are suited for commercial and larger industrial applications, such as server rooms, manufacturing facilities, and special event spaces. Some of the larger retail portable air conditioners work well in machine and server rooms.
The hotter it is outside the more BTUs you will need to stay cool. So if you’re in the Nevada desert on a hot summer afternoon, you will require more power than the cooler evening hours or in your cabin on a lake in Maine. Other things to consider would be the amount of sun exposure of your room, glass doors or larger windows and the heat that is being generated in your room by other appliances. Therefore, consider both room size and your living conditions when choosing the size of your portable air conditioner.
How will using a Portable Air Conditioner Affect My Electric Bill?
Like any air conditioner, it will consume energy. How much it consumes simply depends on the model, as portable air conditioners come in many sizes that are suitable for different spaces. The model will list the BTU and energy efficiency ratings, which can be found online as you do your research. Using a portable air conditioner can save energy in comparison to a central unit. Keeping the door and windows closed keeps the cool air in the room, which is the most efficient way to operate your machine.
Some simple math can show you a sample cost factor. If your unit runs 24/7, meaning the compressor never turns off or you never reach your temperature – and a kilowatt hour in your area is 12 cents – this unit would cost you about $2.88 a day or about $85/month. But the chance is you will use your machine a few hours a day, or overnight. In that case your cost of ownership would be from $15-30/month. But the amount of energy your unit draws depends on the BTUs and energy efficiency rating, so do your homework.
Your electric utility bill will show your actual cost per kilowatt (kW) hour and you can do the math like this: average kW cost per hour (.12) x amount of hours (4) x one month (30) = $ 14.40.
How Do Portable Air Conditioners Work?
Portable air conditioners are ingeniously designed to allow their use with a very simple installation. The big takeaway is this; air conditioners need to suck in fresh air and propel the hot exhaust outdoors to prevent the hot air from coming back into your room. This is much simpler for window air conditioning units since the compressor, which brings in fresh air and pushes out hot air, is already outside, which is part of the unit.
Portable air conditioners overcome the complications of installation by using a tube to accommodate air flow in and out. The tube is connected to the unit and placed through a window or other convenient opening. If you move the unit, the tube will come with it. Dual-hosed portable air conditioners work by acquiring air from the outside with one hose and using that air to cool the unit. The hot exhaust air is removed with the second hose, making these units more efficient, but usually larger than single hose models.
Operating a Portable Air Conditioner
Operating portable air conditioners is quite simple. You can roll it into the room where it will be used, plug it into the electricity with the supplied electric cable, and connect the hose(s) from the unit to the outdoors.
Some maintenance may be required to empty of the water reservoir as all air conditioners draw water from the humid air and condensation can build up. This is not an issue with window and central air conditioners that are installed mostly outdoors, unless the water drainage hose gets blocked or some other malfunction occurs.
Since portable air conditioners are kept indoors, the unit either self-evaporates, provides a fitting for a drainage hose, or collects the condensation in a water tank that must be emptied regularly. Most models will shut off if the tank becomes full in order to prevent leakage.
Venting Portable Air Conditioners
You must install your portable air conditioner properly in order exhaust the hot air, or it won’t cool properly. The warm air is exhausted using a window venting kit, although normal-sized windows are not always available. There are kits available to install and vent portable air conditioner using dryer vents, for casement windows, ceiling ventilation, through the wall and even doors.
Installing Your Portable Air Conditioner with a Window Kit
Most portable air conditioners are very simple to install using the provided window venting kit. Standard window kits include a window bracket, one or two vent hoses and adapters. Vent hoses range from 4 to 5 feet, so you the unit should be close to a window.
Step 1: Attach the hose connectors or adapters and insert the hose or hoses into the unit.
Step 2: Place the adjustable window kit in your window and open it until it fills the entire width. You may need to cut the window bracket to fit your window properly and some models provide screws to secure the window kit. Finally close the window to fasten the kit in place. No need to remove screens you may have on the outside of the window.
Step 3: Next you will connect the vent hose to the window kit. Once your model is properly installed and vented, plug it in, power it on and start cooling your room.
Step 4: Most models allow you to program your fan, temperature and self-timing settings. It’s that easy!
Replacing Portable Air Conditioner Window Kits
It’s not uncommon to need a replacement window kit or a different kit to fit your specific window or door. Portable air conditioner accessories are widely available for purchase, although the best option is to find an alternative from the manufacturer or the model. In any case, the chances are good that you can find a replacement that will fit your needs. Some people go to hobbyist stores and make their own kits with canvas or other materials.
Most of the window brackets supplied with portable air conditioners are meant for horizontal installation at the bottom of a window. With some minor modifications they can be installed vertically to accommodate sliding windows and doors.
Sliding Windows and Doors
Sliding windows present the problem of length, so the bracket must be long enough to fit the larger opening. Some models provide window kits with double window brackets that work in sliding windows. A double bracket is a standard window bracket plus an additional bracket that lets you fill in the extra space. Once you set up the brackets, you can fill the opening with filler materials like canvas, wood or Plexiglas.
Although it is a more substantial project, there are advantages to exhausting the hot air and running a drainage hose through a wall vent, directly to the outside. You can use a jigsaw or other device to cut the correct a hole in the wall and can seal the edges with silicone caulk. You may also call a technician to do this for you.
Connecting to Dryer Vents
Although dryer vents and portable air conditioner vents seems very similar, using dryer vents is not recommended. Most dryer vents have smaller diameters than the exhaust hoses for most portable air conditioners, so they would not fit well. Also, if the external opening of the dryer vent has a flap, which many do, the portable air conditioner’s hot air exhaust will likely not be strong enough to push it open.
Do Not Extend Vent Hoses
You should not try to extend the vent hose during portable air conditioner venting because it will result in decreased efficiency, and it could also void the warranty.
Single or Double Exhaust Hose?
Portable air conditioners use a single or double-hosed application for pulling in air to cool and to exhaust hot air. Here’s is how they work:
Single-Hose operation takes in air from the room, cools it and blasts the now cold air back into the room. Some of the air brought into the machine will actually cool the appliance before being blown out of the air conditioner’s exhaust hose. This creates some negative air pressure because it uses room air to cool down the compressor.
Dual-Hose operation takes in room air, cools it, and provides nice cold air back into your space, just as the single hose option. Because the unit generates a lot of heat, an intake hose draws air from outside to cool it down. Then, the hot air is expelled through a second exhaust hose. The dual-hose option, as a result, does not create negative pressure inside the room and may be more efficient as it doesn’t have to work as hard during the cooling process. The negative aspect of dual-hose operation is the use of warmer, unconditioned air to cool the compressor, which often results in slightly less operational efficiency.
5 Tips for Maintaining Your Portable Air Conditioner
Like any valued appliance, keeping your portable air conditioner in great shape will extend its life and help you save plenty of money with its more efficient operation. Take care of your unit properly and it will keep you cool and take care you of in return.
Keep it Clean, Inside and Out
The true measure of beauty is what we carry inside of us. The same can be said for portable air conditioners. This is not a joke. If you want your unit to work efficiently over time, you’ll need to keep it clean.
The most important parts to keep clean and beautiful are the condenser coils. Take a look at them from time to time and if their beauty begins to fade use a coil-cleaner. Alternatively, you can use an acidic solution made from water and either lemon juice or vinegar. Spray the mixture onto the coils and let it sit for a few minutes to take care of dust and debris.
When cleaning the house, remember your portable air conditioner. It likes to look good like the rest of us. Make sure it’s turned off and use a clean, damp cloth without cleaners or chemicals, to wipe the exterior. Make sure you clean and vacuum all the dust out of the vents that bring in airflow.
Filters and Exhaust Hoses Need to be Maintained
Air conditioner filters work best when they are clean. Keeping all filters free and clear of dust and dirt helps your unit achieve its optimum performance. Your filters will last longer and clean the air more efficiently when they are clean.
If you don’t clean your filters, dirt and dust gets drawn into the machine and settles on the evaporator coil. If you let it build, the coil will be so dirty it won’t be able transfer heat properly and may overheat. Some filters should be changed regularly, so check the instructions in your model user guide to find out if that applies to you.
Your exhaust hose wants to be as straight and short as possible in order minimize the amount of moisture getting inside, which will just end up in the unit. Water leakage most likely damages or shortens life of the appliance.
Even if you do keep your exhaust straight and short, it’s still a good idea to check it every once in a while to make sure there is no excess moisture gathering inside. Taking a few minutes to check this every month could potentially add years to the life of the device.
Positioning Your Unit
Just as the unit itself needs to be cleaned regularly, it should also be positioned in a relatively clean environment. If you place it in a very dusty or dirty corner, that grime will get into the machine. So either keep the surrounding area clean, or move it to a better location.
The same applies to humidity. If you place your unit in a particularly humid room, even if it is a self-evaporating unit, the chances are it will need to drain. So in humid rooms or environments, you will want to use a drainage hose that either leads to a bucket that you can empty or goes directly outside.
Storing Your Portable Air Conditioner
If your portable air conditioner isn’t a year round appliance, you will need to store it properly. Clean it and drain it of any water or moisture, inside and out. By running the unit on high speed fan setting for a few hours, the interior will get dry enough to store. Cover the unit to keep if free of dust and place it in a dry, cool place. Do not store your portable air conditioner in excessive heat or cold, so your attic or garage are not recommended.
Double Check Your Power Source
Your portable air conditioner needs at least 120VAC to power the compressor and get you cool. If your electric circuit doesn’t deliver the juice, you can easily short the fuse or your circuit. Surge protectors are always a good idea if you’re afraid of frying your unit.
How Does the Water Drain from Portable Air Conditioners?
Portable air conditioners eliminate warm air and moisture from the air and expel the hot exhaust outside through a window kit. But there is still a lot of moisture to deal with, which is called condensate water:
There are advanced portable air conditioners pull the moisture out of your room along with the warm air and expel it in the exhaust hose. This requires you to never or occasionally empty the collected condensate water. These models are popular since they are generally hands-off.
Gravity Drain and Condensate Pump
A frequently used method of expelling the collected water is to attach a drainage hose, which some models include. There is a drain port that allows you to direct the water to a collection point or a condensation pump, which pumps the water out through the window.
Standard, or simple portable air conditioners, have water buckets that must be emptied regularly. Some as often as hourly in very hot and humid conditions and others as little as once a month, depending on your humidity and amount of use.
All air conditioners need water to create cool air, and portable units make their own water by pulling the moisture out of the air. Since the units are in your home and not sitting out the window, it makes sense that you should keep your eye on water leakage or make sure that excess water has a place to drain.
If your unit is full of collected water, it will refuse to turn on. Most experienced consumers place a long clear tube into the drainage plug which is usually located near the bottom rear of the machine. You will want to experiment to see what works for you and the needs of your unit.
But keep in mind that even if your unit says it has an auto evaporation mode, in principal you are not supposed to dump water by hand. But many buyers in humid climes find that there is a build-up of water that needs to be dealt with. Draining it one way or the other will be necessary at some point.
Some Dos and Don’ts in Using Portable Air Conditioners
Air Conditioners are simply not designed to be used with extension cords. Every unit issues a caution on the box and in the user manual: DO NOT USE WITH AN EXTENSION CORD because it is a serious safety hazard.
Use of air conditioners with extension cords in very hot conditions are a frequently reported to be a cause of household fires by Fire Departments. When it’s very hot outside, air conditioners may not cool the inside of the room sufficiently, so the compressor will run continuously instead of turning off at regular intervals. As a result, the continuous cycling causes heat to build up and can eventually cause the cord to burn out and start a fire.
DO: How Do I place a hose in a window with a screen that can’t be removed?
Most vent mounts are designed for sliding windows and casements. With a little ingenuity, you can mount the diffuser against the screen and use an insulating panel, canvas or wood to cover the rest of the window. You will need to then secure the improvised cover so that it won’t fall out or blow away in a strong wind.
DON’T: Do Not Touch the Vent Hose
It is quite normal for the exhaust vent hoses to get hot, some get very hot depending on the size of the unit and the temperature outside. Vent hoses can get especially hot in single hose air conditioners while they are in use. Not only will they be hot to the touch, but these hoses can radiate heat as well. If you are bothered by that or you have small kids around, you can install insulation sleeves or tape to keep the heat in.
DO: Change the Filters
Most units have removable air filter that can be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner or washed in warm water using a mild detergent. Most models recommend cleaning your filters at least every two weeks, but depending on the indoor air quality, you may want to increase the frequency of the cleanings. Dirty air filters restrict and reduce airflow which reduce efficiency.
Portable air conditioners are ideal solutions if this is what you need. In cases where you are simply prevented by code or other agreement from using window units and are not in a position to use central air, portables will do the job and will not feel like a compromise.
When you do have the choice between a window unit and a portable, you should take some time to consider your needs and balance that with price considerations to decide if a portable is a good fit for you. The best benefit of portable air conditioners is the ease with which you can install them and move them from room to room, or to a new home.
Large units can be wheeled into a room and set up in minutes by anyone, with a hose positioned from the unit to a venting kit in a nearby window. A large window until typically requires two people to place it in the window, and requires a bracing fixture to be installed on the outside wall to balance the heavy unit. On a second floor or attic, this can be a cumbersome and dangerous task.
Portable air conditioners bring state of the art cooling and heating technology exactly where you need it and to places that may not be accessible to any other solution. For people with allergies or asthma, portable air conditioners with their dehumidification and air freshening, may be the best and most energy efficient solution for a restful sleep.
Consider energy efficiency ratings and the method of evaporation before you purchase. Many models are eco-friendly and energy efficient, which brings your cost of ownership down. There are also many models that tout self-evaporation that don’t require you to collect and dump water on a regular basis.
After reading our best portable air conditioner reviews and buyers guide, we hope you have enough information to make an informed purchasing decision. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with information overload, feel free to call and ask for a recommendation for your home improvement center, a manufacturer or a local installer.
While we hope that you will find the right portable air conditioner and enjoy the cool fresh air and reduced energy usage in your home. Making the right investment in a good portable air conditioner will improve your quality of life and may increase your happiness just a little bit.