The Facts: Investing in Portable Air Conditioners

Portable Air Conditioner

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A portable air conditioner can seem like the perfect solution on a hot summer day. They are relatively small, easy to move from room to room and cost significantly less than a fitted air conditioning unit.

However, is a portable air conditioner really a good investment? When you start comparing them to the industrial air conditioning option available you’ll realize that it’s not quite as good as it appears to be.

How The Portable Air Conditioner Works

The basic operation is the same as any fixed air conditioning unit. The air is sucked into the unit and cooled as it passes over the liquid-filled coils. This creates cool air. Of course, cool air holds less moisture, the warm and moist air needs to be expelled.

With fixed units, the air is expelled outside because the unit is outside. However, portable units rely on a hose that is hung out your window.

Cooling Efficiency

An industrial air conditioner is designed to cool a specific sized space. The space is generally sealed, allowing the air conditioner to work efficiently and surprisingly quickly.

This is not the case with a portable air conditioner. It may not be powerful enough to handle the space it’s been put in. In addition to this, the room is never sealed. The exhaust pipe on the air conditioner must go out the window, this allows some warm air to come in from outside. This can make it difficult for the portable unit to cool the room effectively.

Even if it does cool the room it will use more energy doing so. Similar to a boiler that is too small, it is simply not as efficient and, over time, will end up costing you more than a fixed unit.

DeLonghi Pinguino 7,200 BTU Smart Wi-Fi Portable Air Conditioner w/ Heat
Smart Wi-Fi Portable Air Conditioner w/ Heat

DeLonghi Pinguino 7,200 BTU Smart Wi-Fi Portable Air Conditioner w/ Heat

Ease of Movement

Although portable units are intended to move between rooms effortlessly, there are two complications you need to be aware of.

    • Access to Outside

      No matter where you put it the portable unit needs to vet outside of the house. The hose is generally short, meaning that your unit needs to be near a window and a power socket.

      As mentioned, this reduces the efficiency of the machine. To avoid this you can have special plates fitted to windows, blocking outside air and giving a vent attachment point. But, using these makes it even harder to move the unit around.

    • Weight

      Portable air conditioners are not light. They are usually on heels which makes moving them fairly easy on one level. However, if your home is on two levels you’ll find they are very heavy to carry up and down the stairs.

    • Noise Level

      You also need to consider the noise level of a portable unit. It is surprisingly loud, making it difficult to undertake many other tasks. This is in stark contrast to the fixed units, the main unit is on the wall outside your home, keeping the noise outside.

      This can make a big difference to your enjoyment of the cool air in your home.