Best Portable Air Conditioner for Home
One of the biggest hesitations most consumers have when shopping for portable air conditioners is the question of whether or not they are getting the highest quality unit for their money, or they’re unsure which is the best portable air conditioner for their home.
With a array of selections and power levels to choose from, it can become a daunting task.
While many people simply buy the cheapest unit to save money, or the most expensive model because they assume the price point defines the quality of the unit, these scenarios are not always the case.
There are several ways, however, to help ensure you have the tools and knowledge to be able to select the best portable air conditioners from the wide variety of units on the market.
- Best Portable Air Conditioner for Home
What Are Portable Air Conditioners?
A portable air conditioner woks on the same basic principle as a window air unit. By pulling the warm air and humidity from the room and emitting cooler air, it is able to significantly decrease the temperature in a room.
They typically resemble a rather large tower fan in appearance, though some models tend to be manufactured in basic boxier shapes. They are stand alone units than can be powered through a standard electrical outlet.
They do have an exhaust hose that must be run to a window, however, the window can be in another room if necessary.
How Do They Work?
A portable air conditioner works by sucking in the warm air from a room and releasing most of it through an exhaust hose that leads outside.
It also acts as a dehumidifier, pulling moisture out of the air that can make the temperature feel warmer than it actually is.
The unit reserves a portion of the warm air intake and passes it over and through a series of cooled coils and blows it back out through a fan device.
This process replaces warm air in the room with cooler air and, therefore, decreases the overall room temperature.
What Size Do I Need?
The easiest way to ensure you are getting the best portable unit for your money is to accurately measure the room it will be placed in. Once you have those measurements, you can best determine the power of unit you need.
This is a crucial step since buying a unit designed to work on a room much smaller than yours will produce poor results.
Likewise, buying a unit too powerful can be ineffective when it comes to reducing humidity in a room.
What Features Do I Need?
Before you decide to spend money on all the bells and whistles the portable units can come with, make sure you are buying features you actually need.
While some of the better features include electronic temperature controls, variable speed settings, and easy to clean filters, not everybody may need a unit that can run strictly as a dehumidifier when you need it to.
While Southern residents will consider this a must have feature, those in drier climates will most likely never utilize this feature. Always take the time to read the product description and make sure the unit you are purchasing has the features you will actually use.
Just because it has every possible feature a portable unit can have doesn’t necessarily make it the best on the market.
Technically speaking, the best unit on the market is one that has the features you need and omits the ones you don’t
What Do Other People Think?
Finally, before buying any portable air conditioner, take your time to see what other people have to say about the models you are considering.
Consumer reviews can be a vital source of information on a unit that manufacturers may not be advertising on their websites.
One of the best ways to judge a product’s effectiveness is by listening to people who have actually used it like we have. That’s why you really should read what we have to say.
Benefits Of Portable Air Conditioners
The primary benefit of a portable air conditioner when compared to a traditional central home air conditioner is the upfront cost as well as the ongoing energy efficiency for usage.
While a portable air conditioner is only designed to be used in a single room, unlike a central air system, there are times when only one or two rooms need to be cooled.
For example, if you have a three bedroom house and two of those bedrooms belong to your children who are off to Summer camp for a month, it’s not very cost effective to run the house’s larger air conditioner when only one of the three bedrooms needs cooling.
Portable air conditioners are more than easy to install, simply requiring that you plug the power cord in and run the exhaust hose to a window to vent the warm air. This is not only convenient to get the unit going initially, it also makes it fairly easy to move the unit from room to room as needed.
For example, if you work from home and only need to have your office cooled during the day, you can set up your portable unit there. Once you are done working for the day, it’s simple to move the unit into your living room or bedroom, since you no longer need the office cooled.
Portable air conditioners are also ideal for rooms that cannot or have not been connected to your main air conditioner’s ductwork. If you have a garage or workshop that you regularly spend time in during the warmer months, it is typically very costly and very difficult to connect these rooms to your main unit.
A portable air conditioner is perfect for this situation and can provide the needed cooling without the hassle of redesigning ductwork.
Portable air conditioners are also multi-purpose units. While they can work as traditional window units, removing warm air and humidity and replacing it with cooler air, the unit can also be used as just a traditional fan or just a traditional dehumidifier.
This means that it can essentially be used year round, instead of just in the warmer months, especially in southern states where humidity remains an issue regardless of the temperature outside.
Downsides Of Portable Air Conditioners
One of the primary downsides to portable air conditioners is their overall level of effectiveness. While they are much less costly than a standard central air conditioner, they cannot cool down a room to the lower temperatures that a central unit can achieve.
Even though portable air conditioners are ideal for situations where normal window unit won’t work, they are slightly most costly than regular window units and, again, less effective. In essence portable air conditioners are ideal for cooling a room down, not making it cold.
They are more effective than standard room fans but less effective than other air conditioning methods, be it a window or central unit.
Portable air conditioners also require some amount of floorspace. While it may not be significant, in smaller rooms sometimes every square foot of open space counts.
Since window units are mounted off the floor and central air units are run through the walls and ceilings, neither of them require any floor space in the room itself.
Finally, unlike window units or central air units, portable air conditioners do require some maintenance.
Since the unit works as a dehumidifier, the humidity it pulls from the air collects as water in a containment pan in the unit. This pan needs to be emptied on a regular basis to ensure operating efficiency.
Choosing The Correct Portable Air Conditioner
In order to determine the best fit for your room, you must first calculate the rooms square footage. You can do this by multiplying the width of the room by the length.
For example, if your room measure 12 feet by 12 feet, the total square footage is 144 square feet. Since there are four basic strengths of portable air conditioners, manufacturers recommend buying the one closes to your rooms actual square footage recommendation.
The strength of the units are measured in BTUs, or British Thermal Units.
Portable air conditioners are primarily found in 7,5000 BTU models, designed for 150 square foot rooms, 9,000 BTU models, ideal for rooms that are 200 square feet, 10,000 BTU models, recommended for 250 square foot rooms. And 12,000 BTU models, meant for rooms up to 350 square feet.
Unlike window units, portable air conditioners are not intended for rooms with a square footage larger than 350 square feet.
While window units can handle a much larger area, the portable units are significantly less powerful and require more BTUs than a window unit to cool the same size room.
Portable air conditioners are a great way to either supplement your existing central air conditioner or use in rooms that are not connected to the main ductwork. They are affordable to purchase and cost effective to operate.
How Can I Get The Cheapest Unit Possible?
The main key to get the best unit for the least amount of money is by correctly picking the strength of the unit you need. Portable air conditioners are designed to cool rooms up to 350 square feet, depending on their BTU, or British Thermal Unit, rating.
By correctly measuring the room you will primarily use the unit in, you can avoid buying a unit that is more powerful, and therefore more expensive, than needed.
You can also look at the various features the units include such as digital temperature readouts and the ability to run as either a cooling unit, a fan, or a dehumidifier.
While the added features may be beneficial to some people, they often increase the price of the unit.
Also pay attention to the units energy rating. While you may be tempted to opt for a cheaper unit with a lower energy rating, this may not always be the best idea. In the long run, a portable air conditioner with a higher energy rating will use substantially less electricity, reducing its usage cost.
In this case, it is usually recommended to pay the higher price upfront in order to save money on each monthly electric bill.